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

Soxtober? So what?

Over at The Hardball Times, Maury Brown (chair of SABR's Business of Baseball Comittee and owner of the Business of Baseball website crunches the numbers and reaches the obvious conclusion: if you didn't live in Chicago or Houston, you probably didn't give a shit about the World Series:

For the World Series, here’s the television breakdown comparing the 2005 World Series to the 2004 World Series between the Red Sox and the Cardinals:

2005 World Series Nielson Ratings

Rating 2005/2004 % +/-
from 2004
Game 1 9.5/17 13.7/25 -30.7%
Game 2 11.1/17 15.9/24 -30.2%
Game 3 13.1/23 17.3/25 -24.2%
Game 4 14.8/24 9.7/29 -24.9%

What do the numbers bear out? Welcome to the lowest rated World Series... ever. Yep, it averaged an 11.1 national rating with a 19 share, 7% lower than the previous low of 2002 between the Angels and Giants that garnered an 11.9 national rating with a 20 share.
And from what we hear from St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Derrick Goold, apparently not everyone in Chicago is all that ecstatic, either:
WRIGLEYVILLE — The only reason a White Sox pennant is pinned up at all is that every Cubs opponent from this season gets one at Murphy's Bleachers, a bar in the shadow of Wrigley Field and a game-day hub of Cubdom.

The pennant is purposefully hidden behind one of the TVs.

On Friday, all of the TVs were tuned to live coverage of the parade rolling proudly through Chicago's South Side and into downtown's ticker-tape tempest. Two Sox fans, regulars even in these parts, watched from the bar.

In the parade's third hour, a Cubs fan sneered: "We're into Day 5 of the White Sox parade?"
For all the talk of history being made, it's certainly panning out to be a yawner....


Len on 10.31.05 @ 06:47 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Good Thing I Can find fafblog News...

...Always on the JOB.

From fafblog news:

If Only Corruption Came With Cliff Notes!

Michael Kinsley points us to a compelling flaw in the rationale behind the Fitzgerald investigation today: Michael Kinsley doesn't understand it.

True, the Plame scandal is simple enough to be summarized in one sentence,(1) but the devil is in the details. There are names and people and places - names like "Niger", which sounds very much like Nigeria and yet is not Nigeria - and people like "Scooter", which is the name of the Vice President's chief of staff and yet is also the name of a muppet. Will the muppet be indicted? If so, will the muppet himself be charged alone, or are the puppeteers who operate his mouth and limbs also under investigation? Was he voiced by Jim Henson, and if so, how will the Justice Department prosecute the dead? Sorting out these intricate questions of "who" and "what" would take a reporter, and Mr. Kinsley doesn't appear to know any of those.

Mr. Kinsley is also troubled by the impossible paradox of press freedom the Plame scandal presents. Should reporter-source privelege be an implied contract in which a journalist protects her source's identity in exchange for reliable information, or should it be an absolutist right wantonly abused by state officials to disinform the populace, crush their critics, and commit crimes from beyond the veil of a shield law? Mr. Kinsley can't quite decide.

The Medium Lobster could answer these questions, but that isn't the point. The point is that he shouldn't have to. Scandals should be accessible and easy to follow for all of us - even for someone like Mr. Kinsley, who was an editor of The New Republic and remains easily distracted by shiny things. America is meant to have a government of the people - and its scandals should be scandals of the people, too. Outing CIA agents, silencing war critics, covering for the false pretext of a false war - it's all too cerebral to have the kind of mass entertainment value that is the raison d'être of the American criminal justice system. Where's the heart, the soul, the semen-stained dress?

Don't worry, Mr. Kinsley - we'll work on getting you a proper, decent scandal with a proper, decent blowjob. After that there will be a big car chase and many flashing lights.

1. "White House staffers leaked a covert CIA agent's name to the press in an attempt to discredit a critic of the flawed intelligence used to support the Iraq War."


Karen on 10.31.05 @ 05:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Lying for Jesus...

"...So in January, [former Dover school board member William Buckingham] is as bewildered as all of us as to where [Pandas books] came from.

He muses that perhaps there was some connection to Bonsell, but he doesn't know for sure. And whoever did it, it was a kind gesture. But the truth is that he himself solicited donations to purchase the books and wrote a check to Bonsell for the purchase of the books himself.

In fact, he knew precisely where the books came from. And remember, this lie is brought to you by the same folks who claim that evolution undermines morality. But apparently, lying for Jesus is perfectly okay.

-- Ed at Dispatches From the Cultures Wars

Check out the full post to see how all this Lying for Jesus is just falling out of the mouths of the Babes on the Dover School Board in PA.


Karen on 10.31.05 @ 03:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Child-in-Chief's Sense of the Ironic...

"...It is particularly troubling that President Bush would nominate a judge who would reverse American progress and make the Supreme Court look less like America on the same day that most Americans are honoring the life and legacy of Rosa Parks...."

-- Howard Dean on the Alito Nomination

Molly Ivins has also commented frequently at Bush-penchant for rolling-out of some devastating policy on the anniversary or commemorative date for particular program. (Can't locate the archived article - Drat!)

It's just his *tweak* at the world, ole Child-In-Chief - can't help yanking that chain to get more attention.

Karen on 10.31.05 @ 12:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sacrificial Lambs and Obvious Lies...

Like Most Bloggers…I’ve been musing over the indictment and some thoughts about “Why not Rove too.”

For a long ramble on how I think we've got to the Obvious Lies and the Sacrificial Lamb click on the "more" button to read further.

Karen on 10.31.05 @ 09:52 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Haven't figured out a costume for tonight? There's still time....

Len on 10.31.05 @ 08:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Yuk o'the Day:

A rabbi walked into a bar with a frog on his head. The bartender said, "Hey, where'd you get that?" And the frog said, "Brooklyn! They're all over the place!"

Len on 10.31.05 @ 08:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Quotables...

“…For some of us, daily life has remained safe and comfortable, so the nightmare has merely been intellectual: we realized early on that this administration was cynical, dishonest and incompetent, but spent a long time unable to get others to see the obvious.

Apologists can shout all they like that no laws were broken, that hardball politics is nothing new, or whatever. The fact remains that officials close to both Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush leaked the identity of an undercover operative for political reasons. Whether or not that act was illegal, it was clearly unpatriotic.

And as for the media: these days, there is much harsh, justified criticism of the failure of major news organizations, this one included, to exert due diligence on rationales for the war. But the failures that made the long nightmare possible began much earlier, during the weeks after 9/11, when the media eagerly helped our political leaders build up a completely false picture of who they were.

So the long nightmare won't really be over until journalists ask themselves: what did we know, when did we know it, and why didn't we tell the public?”

-- Paul Krugman (NY Times) Ending the Fraudulence.

Karen on 10.31.05 @ 07:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

We wuz robbed!!!!!

Harriet Miers's sudden withdrawal of her nomination to Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court meant that suddenly Garry Trudeau, the cartoonist who writes and draws "Doonesbury", found himself with a week of strips that had been overtaken by events, so he was forced to withdraw them. A pity, since it looks like some of them are pretty good:

Fortunately, Trudeau posted the series on the Web, so you can still see them if you feel so inclined.

Meanwhile, it appears that Bush has nominated Judge Samuel "Scalia-lite" Alito of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to replace Miers. Not surprising; we've now traded a marginally (if that) qualified non-entity for a politically obnoxious (to me personally, but no big surprise) nominee with sterling qualifications.

With all due respect to Ms. Miers, I feel marginally better about this nomination. I don't ever expect Bush to nominate anyone I approve of (hey, if you don't like it, tough shit; this is a battle we lost last November), but at least he's nominated someone qualified. Which is the best I could expect under the circumstances.

Len on 10.31.05 @ 07:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

All Hallow's Eve...

Not a *masterpiece* of FUN Like Len's post...

But we had a good time carving them (playing with the Carve a Pumpkin - which is about the only way Len would "carve" one. *teehee*)

DSC01096 (151k image)


Karen on 10.31.05 @ 06:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy Halloween, y'all!

[I think this one appeals to me because it's so reminiscent of the demented snowman tableaux that Calvin used to sculpt in the comic strip, "Calvin and Hobbes".]

Len on 10.31.05 @ 06:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Scooter who? You may remember how George Bush's friendship with Enron chairman Ken Lay evaporated when the energy company came under investigation. That looks likely to happen with Scooter Libby. Libby has resigned. Vice President Cheney has vouched for his patriotism and talents. And now the White House will attempt to change the subject.
--John Dickerson

Len on 10.31.05 @ 06:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Apparently poor Dick didn't have a very merry Fitzmas, and he's still not out of the woods, yet.

Len on 10.30.05 @ 10:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Silly blogmeme time....

The idea is, you take this list of characteristics that defines "an average American", and then cross out every characteristic that doesn't apply to you.

Eats peanut butter at least once a week
Prefers smooth peanut butter over chunky

Can name all Three Stooges [Hey, I can name all six Three Stooges!]
Lives within a 20-minute drive of a Wal-Mart [Usually; depends on traffic.]
Eats at McDonald's at least once a year
Takes a shower for approximately 10.4 minutes a day
Never sings in the shower
Lives in a house, not an apartment or condominium
Has a home valued between $100,000 and $300,000

Has fired a gun
Is between 5 feet and 6 feet tall
Weighs 135 to 205 pounds
Is between the ages of 18 and 53
Believes gambling is an acceptable entertainment option
Grew up within 50 miles of current home

Pretty damn average, I'd say.

Stolen from BSTommy, who's about as average as me, I'd say, but in different ways.

Len on 10.30.05 @ 10:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Plenty of girls and bands and slogans and lots of hoopla, but remember, no politics. Issues confuse people.
--The Penguin [TV series
Batman; his mayoral election platform]

Len on 10.30.05 @ 09:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Jim Rockford: [answering machine picks up] This is Jim Rockford. At the tone leave your name and message. I'll get back to you.
Feminine voice: Hi, Jim, it's Jamie at the police impound. They picked up your car again. Lately, they've been driving it more than you have.
The Rockford Files [TV Series]

Len on 10.29.05 @ 03:00 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A 6th Century Mentality...

Osama Bin laden has his Caliphate. This is his Model society. The thing he asserts as the *Muslim Model of World Order* to complete his vision - recreating all societies he can undermine with his terrorism goals. A 12th century period of enlightenment with a Muslim Governmental authority controlling everything. And himself as Caliphate, of course.

But, other other side of the fundamentalist coin, the Evangelical - Christian - Fundamentalists proposing and arguing for Intelligent Design - in an attempt to re-write the rules of science - have their quintessentially "perfect world order."

According to their adherents, this would be defined by the period of Christianity in the 6th century.

Just generally, this is the time of the ascension of Pope Gregory I (also known as Gregory the Great). This would be a pre-enlightenment model for the world where Biblical Scriptural Authority Ruled. It also included the co-opting of the Salian Franks and consolidation of Christianity through the conversion of Charlemagne to the faith in the 800’s.

Now there's a period for the world to re-aspire to - NOT.

But in the Fundie's visionary retro-world, they rule all that they can survey and impose the punishments for HERESY as they see fit for deviations from this perfect world order.

Laughing are you? Return to the 6th century model for the United States? - Hahahaha. Well, don’t take my word for it – when we have their own words describing this model ideal for re-imposing Christian values on those they consider "faithless".

Click on the “more” button to read this excerpt from the Washington Un. Law Review.

Karen on 10.29.05 @ 11:45 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Sox-Cessful Parade!

Living in the Outskirts of the Greater Chicago Area has its upside and sometimes its downside - like being TOO FAR from Downtown to just take off and go to the Celebration parade for the Soxtober WIN in the World series.

But the Chicago Tribune had some wonderful pictures (like the one below) on it's webpage.

soxparade (85k image)

So, click on this link to see more photos and take a peek through the festivities.

Congrats to the Chicago White Sox!!!


Karen on 10.29.05 @ 10:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Un-Intelligent Design...

The Brontosaurus: Monty Python's flying creationism by William Saletan is one of several Funnies about the Michael Behe "revelations" coming forth during the ID Trial in PA:

"...its resemblance to a famous Monty Python sketch in which a television newsman interviews a theorist.
Q: You say you have a new theory about the brontosaurus.
A: Can I just say here, Chris, for one moment, that I have a new theory about the brontosaurus.
Q: Exactly. Well, what is it? …
A: Oh, what is my theory?
Q: Yes.
A: Oh, what is my theory, that it is. Well, Chris, you may well ask me what is my theory.
Q: I am asking.
A: Good for you. My word, yes. Well, Chris, what is it that it is—this theory of mine. Well, this is what it is—my theory that I have, that is to say, which is mine, is mine.
Q: Yes, I know it's yours. What is it?
A: Where? Oh, what is my theory? This is it. My theory that belongs to me is as follows. This is how it goes. The next thing I'm going to say is my theory. Ready?
Q: Yes.
A: … This theory goes as follows and begins now. All brontosauruses are thin at one end; much, much thicker in the middle; and then thin again at the far end.

...Like the theorist in the Monty Python sketch, Behe throws up a blizzard of babble: process, intelligent activity, important facts. What process? What activity? What facts? He never explains. He says the designer "took steps" to create complex biological systems, but ID can't specify the steps. Does ID tell us who designed life? No, he answers. Does it tell us how? No. Does it tell us when? No. How would the designer create a bacterial flagellum? It would "somehow cause the plan to, you know, go into effect," he proposes..."


And there is this one about Steve Fuller, another ID defender, written about in a column by Mike Argento (York Daily Record): Intelligent design's plea for help:
“….On the positive side, [Fuller] seemed very energetic about whatever it is. He was more animated than the Cartoon Network and talked really fast. As he announced the first break of the court session, federal Judge John E. Jones III pointed to Fuller and suggested to the school board attorney, Pat Gillen, "Water or decaf."

I would have made a different suggestion.


A whole bottle.

The bottom line of Fuller's testimony is that intelligent design as a science is not accepted because the rest of the scientists won't let it in their little club. It's as if the real scientists are the cool kids, smoking out behind the administration building at recess, and intelligent design is the geeky kid who isn't allowed to join them because he just isn't cool enough.

What Fuller was suggesting, I think, is that science won't let intelligent design in merely because it doesn't meet the requirements of a scientific theory, as far as science is concerned.

In fact, he said to call intelligent design a scientific theory, you had to change the definition of a scientific theory. The last defense witness who did that said his definition of a scientific theory included astrology. (I don't mean to disparage astrology, which has proven to be scarily accurate since that witness uttered those words.)

Fuller said intelligent design is, essentially, a half-baked idea, pretty much something the intelligent design guys have whipped up without doing much in the way of producing evidence.

And that's why it should be taught to ninth-graders in Dover.

And in another bit of testimony, he said intelligent design needed "affirmative action."

Which raises the question: Why drag the brothers into it?

Or you can also read these accounts of other information surfacing during the trial: Behe's claim of 'peer' review' for his book or Curriculum 'designer' Buckingham lies under oath for a few more laughs.


Now Funnie as this all IS - and it is a HOWL - There is much less funnie motivation for these folks to want to rewrite the definition of science and get some sort of accreditation for these biblically laced notions.

There is a bit from the Washington Un. Law Review article that explains their motivations, and since it's overly long, I'll put it in a separate post for review.


Karen on 10.29.05 @ 09:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Is this where we'll get Harriet's replacement?

Credit: BBSpot's "BBBloopers".

Len on 10.28.05 @ 09:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Sad news in St. Louis.....

Longtime St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports editor Bob Broeg is dead at age 87. Longtime as in, he started his stint as sports editor when I was one year old, and never really retired, though he was "given an official retirement notice" in September of 1985. Appropriately enough, he entered the hospital for the last time after the last game to be played in Busch Stadium II. Somehow, I suspect he wanted it that way.

Among other honors, he recieved the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 1979 (which he shared with New York based baseball writer Tommy Holmes).

[I'll vent my pet peeve here: receipt of the Spink Award is not "election to the writer's wing of the Hall of Fame", nor is receipt of the Ford C. Frick Award "election to the broadcaster's wing", though this misconception is so well rooted that it is probably hopeless to rail against it.]

Len on 10.28.05 @ 08:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Fitzmas 'Breaking News'...

Just Heard this on CNN:

Update: Here is the PDF file for the indictment. (It says and *error* - but keep hitting to refresh button and then it will be readable.)

Documents were presented to the Federal Magistrate and have now been released with the following indictment:

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby (Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney) Indicted- 5 Counts:

2 counts - Perjury; 1 count - obstruction of justice; and 2 counts -making false statements

Whether these other folks get something...well, we will have to see

Dan Bartlett (Counselor to the President)
John Bolton (U.N. Ambassador)
Claire Buchan (Former Deputy Press Secretary)
George W. Bush (President)
Andrew Card (White House Chief of Staff)
Dick Cheney (Vice President)
Ari Fleischer (Former White House Press Secretary)
Alberto Gonzales (Attorney General)
Stephen Hadley (National Security Advisor)
John Hannah (Aide to Vice President Cheney)
Israel Hernandez (Former personal assistant to President Bush)
Karen Hughes (Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy)
Bob Joseph (Under Secretary of State for Arms Control)
Adam Levine (Former communications Aide)
Catherine Martin (Former assistant to the Vice President Cheney)
Mary Matalin (Former Senior Advisor to Vice President Cheney)
Scott McClellan (White House Press Secretary)
Miller, Judith (New York Times reporter)
Powell, Colin (Former Secretary of State)
Susan Ralston (Personal assistant to Karl Rove)
Condoleezza Rice (Secretary of State)
Karl Rove (Deputy White House Chief of Staff)
David Wurmser (Middle East Advisor to Vice President Cheney)

One down!!

Karen on 10.28.05 @ 11:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Brings back some happy memories....

BSTommy graces us with some pictures of his recent trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Been quite a while since I've been to the Hall (August of 1991, to be precise). He isn't the reason I went (like Ryne Sandburg's induction this year was BST's reason for making the trek), but I'll always be grateful that my visit to Cooperstown occurred the year this guy was elected:

Len on 10.28.05 @ 11:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Passing Drive by Shooting...

The Onion has taken some flak this week from the White House over use of the "Presidential Seal."

Not to be Undone by these picayune machinations, The Onion has fired these shots across the bow --

Halloween Presidential Weekly Address.

Week-Ender Update.



Karen on 10.28.05 @ 11:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day, World Series Edition:

You know what I get sick of hearing? This broken-down cliché of a line:

“How can they call it a World Series when it only involves teams from one country?”

Over the years, it’s been slightly updated to include Canada, but it doesn’t matter: it’s a stupid question. You know why?

The World Series has every right to be called the World Series for the simple reason that it involves the two teams who draw from the talent pool of the best players in the world. And why are the best players in the world playing here, in North America? Because this is where the money is and if it’s one thing we should all know: talent and money will find each other.

So please, until a player the likes of Vladimir Guerrero makes Japan or Mexico or Cuba his first choice as a place to ply his trade during his prime, this is most definitely the World Series.

Semantically and otherwise.
--Jim Baker [Baseball Prospectus]

Len on 10.28.05 @ 10:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

About those Staunch 'Conservative Principles'...

"...It's hard to escape the idea that with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald breathing down the administration's neck, the president decided he could not afford any further fractures in his own political coalition. So he threw Miers over the side.

This has been a powerfully instructive moment. The willingness of conservatives to abandon what they had once held up as high and unbending principles reveals that this battle over the Supreme Court is, for them, a simple struggle for power...."

-- E. J. Dionne (WaPo).

Karen on 10.28.05 @ 07:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's GEM...

"...Fitzgerald has been thrust into the role of the un-George W. Bush -- the gritty cop vs. the rhinestone cowboy. In this corner, the scholarship kid from Brooklyn who worked summers as a doorman and went on to be the stellar student mentoring the less gifted. In the other, the son of privilege who goofed off at school, ducked the draft and always fell back on his dad's influential pals to -- in the memorable phrase of Colin Powell's former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson, writing this week in the Los Angeles Times about Powell's role in the Bush White House -- clean all the dog poop off the carpet.

It's hard not to see Fitzgerald as the possessor of authentic traditional American virtues. Fitzgerald deals in facts, and lets facts speak for themselves. Bush talks ceaselessly of faith. The prosecutor is all about substance, the president all about surface..."

-- Tina Brown (Wa Po).

Karen on 10.28.05 @ 06:57 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Waiting for Fitzmas...

...maybe coming Today.

But while we enjoy our Fret Free Friday in Soxtober - Here's the:

The 2001 Pop Quiz from Entertainment weekly.

Have to have some Fun and Amusement on a Friday.


Karen on 10.28.05 @ 06:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Soxtober Parade Today

The White Sox World Series Championship
Celebration Soxtober Parade will be today beginning at 11 am.

prarade (172k image)

Congrats to the 2005 World Series Champs



Karen on 10.28.05 @ 06:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Still The King...

Forbes magazine ("Capitalist Tool") has announced its annual list of the highest earning celebrities who are in probably the worst position to enjoy their good fortune:

They're famous across the globe. Their work is treasured by millions. And they're rolling in cash--they just can't spend any of it.

The 13 members of our annual Highest-Earning Dead Celebrities list brought in a collective $186 million in the last year. They, or more accurately, their estates, earned that money by selling their work--both written and recorded--or just the rights to use their likenesses on T-shirts, posters or in advertisements. Sometimes their life stories themselves are worth something: Musician Ray Charles makes the list for the first time this year, in part because of income related to his 2004 biopic. Johnny Cash, who also makes his first appearance this year, has his own movie out in November.
It comes as no surprise to me that the the top name on the list is the one... the only..... Elvis. After all, I live in Memphis (where Elvis is the single biggest industry), and I've seen Graceland, up close and personal, so I stand in awe of the Presley Family Moneymaking Machine.

The not-so-fortunate 13:
1. Elvis Presley
2. Charles Schulz
3. John Lennon
4. Andy Warhol
5. Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel
6. Marlon Brando
7. Marilyn Monroe
8. J.R.R. Tolkien
9. George Harrison
10. Johnny Cash
11. Irving Berlin
12. Bob Marley
13. Ray Charles
In addition to the list of the top earning celebs, Forbes also listed a few of the also-rans, the dead celebs who just barely failed to make the cut:
James Dean
Albert Einstein
Jerry Garcia
Tupac Shakur
Cole Porter

Len on 10.28.05 @ 06:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

A lot of readers thought I was crazy for liking "Ghosts of Mars" (2001) and "Red Planet" (2000) and "Total Recall" (1990), but blast it all, at least in those movies, you get to see Mars. I'm a science fiction fan from way back. I go to Mars, I expect to see it. Watching "Doom" is like visiting Vegas and never leaving your hotel room.
--Roger Ebert

Len on 10.28.05 @ 05:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Maybe these have a valid use after all...

Bryan over at WHY NOW? was lamenting the infiltration of the Holiday and pure Un-Hallo-Merican-Weenie Spirit of "Ghost Pumpkins"

But Hold The Presses - I May have found a *perfect use* for them Ghost Pumpkins over at American Daughter.

*Tee* and *Hee*

Ghost pumpkins would get the the *undead skin tones* right...eh?

Karen on 10.27.05 @ 06:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Just for FUN...

This FUN site found on Pen Elayne On The Web:

Carve your own Pumpkin and see it LIGHT UP!!

Go Ahead, pretend ya has still got the Halloween Whooooo-Ahhhhh's Spirit and Give is a try - or several trys for that matter!!


Karen on 10.27.05 @ 01:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

My obligatory World Series post.....

There are only three people I "know" (interpreting that term rather loosely; one of them I have yet to meet in person) who live outside of Chicago's South Side and who actually claimed to be fans of the Chicago White Sox this season: my co-blogger, Karen, who lives in Greater Chicagoland, Steve Steffens, the "LeftWingCracker", who's a native of Northern Illinois, and Mad Molecule (the blogger formerly known as SadPunk; I'll get around to fixing the blogroll Real Soon Now), a Memphian who adopted the Sox in the middle of this season after being a somewhat half-hearted "hereditary Braves fan". Enjoy your good fortune guys, and remember, I only have five words for you:

Lowest. World. Series. Ratings. Ever.

Remember, the rest of us in the Real World™ will have forgotten this in less than a week. In fact, quite a few of us have forgotten already.

:-) [Actually, I'm happy for y'all, but I just have to take this opportunity to tease Karen yet again...]

As long as we're actually thinking about the White Sox, let's talk about their anthem: "Na Na Hey Hey [Kiss Him Goodbye]". The band which charted this one, Steam, may have missed its chance at being a one hit wonder by virtue of the fact that it was even less of a band than The Archies, if such a thing is possible:

Considering that they only charted one hit record and that they scarcely even existed, the background of the group Steam is amazingly complex. Their story actually begins in Bridgeport, CT, in 1960-1961, with a group called the Chateaus, who cut a handful of unsuccessful records for Coral and Warner Bros. before breaking up. Cut to the end of the 1960s: Paul Leka, their pianist, by then was a producer and songwriter, co-authoring "Falling Sugar" by the Palace Guard in 1966, producing "Green Tambourine" by the Lemon Pipers in 1968, and also producing sides by the Left Banke, and was working for Mercury Records in 1969. His former Chateaus bandmate, Gary DeCarlo, arranged to cut four solo sides for Mercury with Leka producing, but DeCarlo's songs so impressed the label, that it wanted to issue all four as A-sides, which meant that they needed an additional B-side in a hurry for the first single.

It happened that the night they were cutting what was supposed to be a throwaway, their fellow Chateaus member Dale Frasheur was present and he suggested they cut a song they'd performed eight years previously called "Kiss Him Goodbye," which the three of them had written in 1961. It was Leka's idea to put a chorus into the number, which, at the piano, in the absence of a lyric, became "na na na na, na na na na." Then fate really took a hand when the management at Mercury Records heard the throwaway side and determined that it should be the single. The three musicians, especially DeCarlo, were outraged and they refused to put their names on the record, though they did claim the songwriting credit, which proved to be a shrewd move. "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," released late in 1969, rose to number one on the charts that December and sold more than a million copies in America alone. In place of their names, the trio okayed it going out under the name Steam.

Suddenly, with a number one single to its credit, however, there were demands for Steam to perform, make appearances on television, and do all the other things that were usually done by groups to support a hit record -- except that there was no group. Leka put together a band, consisting of Jay Babina and Tom Zuke on guitar, Mike Daniels on bass, Hank Schorz at the keyboards, Ray Corries on drums, and Bill Steer (no, not the same one who was in Napalm Death) handling the lead vocals. All came from Leka's hometown of Bridgeport, CT, and toured behind the single during 1970. A self-titled Steam album was cut at Mercury and a handful of follow-up singles appeared, only one of which ("I've Gotta Make You Love Me") ever charted, just missing the Top 40 in 1970.


"Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" never did disappear -- quite the contrary, it rode the charts for a big chunk of 1970 and then got put into every and any hits anthology that Mercury could release or license, and was quickly accepted as into oldies collections (it qualified as a '60s hit, after all, and offended no one)... According to performing rights organization BMI, the song is in the elite company of pop/rock compositions that have had at least three million airings on radio. The song has also been the (ex officio) anthem for the Chicago White Sox and is one of those '70s hits that listeners never seem to tire of.
Not bad for a song that, technically, is unfinished....

And now that there's only one remaining classic sports curse left to be lifted, I'll voice my fervent desire:

The Cubs can't win the World Series until 2009.

I think that it will be a great, great misfortune if some team doesn't go a full century (or longer) without taking it all, and I want to see that happen in my lifetime. The Cubs are the best shot at that achievement, and it'll only take three more seasons to accomplish it.

1n 2009, you can have it all, guys. Just wait til then.

Len on 10.27.05 @ 12:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The 'Rain Man' of Baseball...

This week's Sports Illustrated edition has this piece from Rick Reilly about A.J. Pierzynski, A Madness to his Method:

"...He wakes up. His first thought is, Who am I catching tonight? If it's righthander Jose Contreras, he must get out on the right side of the bed. The first foot to touch the ground must be his right. If he forgets, he must get back in bed and start over.

Everything he picks up, all day, must be with his right hand first. Toothbrush, spoon, wallet, doesn't mater. If he messes up, he's certain the Sox will give up a run in the first inning. As he walks from the parking lot to the clubhouse, he looks like a man crossing a river on turtles' backs. Each time he comes to a new surface -- asphalt, curb or grass -- he must lead with his right foot.

"I know, I know," he says. "It's weird."

Oh, it gets weirder.

Once he's at the stadium, he cannot walk anywhere near the trainer's room, even if it means taking the long way around the clubhouse. Always, his bat must stand barrel down, handle against the wall...

...He is Rain Man in a mask. He leaps, hops and loops, navigating oddly around bases and plates and umpires. In his locker he must have three full bottles of water -- not two, not four -- unopened and warm, though he'll drink only one. And his shin guards must face up, left on the bottom, right on top.

He can't touch the bullpen gate on his way to warm up the starter. He must have all his weight on his right foot (for a righty) during the national anthem. He must be the last man out of the dugout when his team takes the field..."

But people have often noted what a *supertitious bunch* baseball players are (and teams - as demonstrated in the Astros desire to have the Astodome roof closed for the World Series games because they have better win average, and felt they'd be jinxed other wise.)

So, if Pierzynski is merely more superstitious than most player...Hey, could be worse.

He could be a *Superstitious Loser*! Sorry, Astros, better luck next time!

Karen on 10.27.05 @ 09:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

No More Troubles With Harrie...

CNN is just reporting Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination for the Supreme Court. From her letter:

"...I am concerned the confirmation process presents a burden to the White House and our staff is not in the best interests of the country..."


Now What??? Or rawther WHO?


Update: CNN also reports NO Announcements will be coming from the Special Prosecutors Office from Ftizgerald. No press conference either (I presume.)

So - It's an all Harriet Miers-All Day experience. (Except for the WHITE SOX Win *wink*)

Karen on 10.27.05 @ 07:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

...to read the Bush-Miers correspondence is to gain a disturbing insight into Mr. Bush's personality: he likes having his ass kissed. Ms. Miers' cards and letters to the then-Governor of Texas belong in the Brown-Nosers Hall of Fame. You can be sure the younger and less experienced Bush White House aides are even more obsequious. The last thing this President wants is the first thing he needs: someone to slap his spoiled, pampered, trust-funded, plutocratic, never-worked-a-day-in-his-life cheek and make him face the reality of his foul-ups.
--Paul Begala

Len on 10.27.05 @ 07:47 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A data point...

showing that Bush is feeling some heat recently. The Associated Press is reporting that the bAdministration is reversing its suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act's wage protections. The best news in this is an apparent breakdown of solidarity in the GOP ranks:

The White House promised to restore the 74-year-old Davis-Bacon prevailing wage protection on Nov. 8, following a meeting between chief of staff Andrew Card and a caucus of pro-labor Republicans.

Democrats and the moderate Republican group both claimed their pressure caused President Bush to reconsider his open-ended suspension of Davis-Bacon starting Sept. 8 in hurricane-affected areas.

The Republican group originally sent a letter to the White House in September arguing that suspension of the wage law only leads to shoddy workmanship, reduces federal oversight and allows workers outside the region to undercut the local market.

Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, who founded the pro-labor caucus with Rep. Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey earlier this year, said the Bush administration was not receptive to the initial letter. But the White House eventually acknowledged the suspension of the wage law was not saving the government money on billions of dollars in Katrina contracts, he said.

Len on 10.27.05 @ 07:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The wit and wisdom of the blogger formerly known as SKB....

From Facing South, we get this story on hurricane preparedness. Writing on Jeb Bush's comments on the failure of Florida residents riding out Hurricane Wilma to stock up on necessities, Randy Neal observes:

One wonders, though, if he knows what it's like out in the real world. I know from personal experience that employers often won't let people take off work to prepare. They want everyone working up until the last minute, or until a mandatory evacuation is declared. Even if you are able to get time off, Home Depot runs out of plywood, plastic sheeting, and duct tape days before the storm arrives. Grocery store shelves are emptied of bottled water, pork & beans, toilet paper, and diapers. Long lines form at gas stations, and many run out. That's the situation even in affluent communities where people have money and transportation. That's the real world.

Which reminds me of a story from when we lived in Florida. A storm was approaching and even Disney had shut down for the first time in their history. On the way home from scavenging for hurricane supplies, we stopped by the local 7-11 store looking for batteries. I walked in and announced "OK, I need Spam, beer, batteries and ammunition!" Folks in the long checkout line chuckled, and the cashier said "Sorry, we're all out of Spam and batteries." "That's OK," I replied. "If you've got ammunition I can get everything else."

OK, then.

Len on 10.27.05 @ 07:32 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Parade to Celebrate...

Grant Park rally, parade to come - City officials planned to announce Thursday details regarding a parade and rally for the White Sox.

City Hall sources said late Wednesday that the celebration "probably" would be on Monday, beginning with a motorcade of players and their families leaving U.S. Cellular Field. The motorcade likely will wind through several Chicago neighborhoods before arriving at Grant Park for a rally.

-- Chicago Tribune.


Karen on 10.27.05 @ 07:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Geek eroticism....

Just for those of you who want to be on the bleeding edge, tech-wise: The Toy

The Toy is a Bluetooth vibrator which is worn internally and … ahem …activated … by SMS messaging via Bluetooth. Yes, really. The Toy is the invention of British company Cool & Groovy Toy Co., who refer to “The Toy” Bluetooth vibrator as a “a hi-tech vibrating bullet". Or maybe an SMS Ben Wa Ball.

Explains Cool & Groovy, “The Toy is worn internally, linked to a mobile phone and controlled by sms text messages sent to the phone. Once read, the message is transported automatically to The Toy, which turns it into vibrations - with a huge range of movements, depending on what you have written. Just say what you feel, The Toy will do the rest.”

Ok, we’re all geeks here, so I know that what you really want is the specs. So here they are:

The Toy has onboard undiscoverable Bluetooth, turbo-boost circuitry “for more motor power", a power status and charge indicator (The Toy’s charge, not hers), will run all day on a 4-hour charge and has an “intelligent CPU” (you know, I’m not sure that I’d want to shove something with a CPU in my..well, anywhere.)

As for the SMS aspect, The Toy responds only to messages which come from the paired phone, and which are specially tagged. Each letter of the alphabet has three different movement profiles, each of which have five associated speeds and time settings. That means that there are dozens of possible movement-speed-time combinations for each letter. Which means that every word you send via SMS to The Toy will trigger several different vibrations.

Cool & Groovy claims that The Toy has a “worldwide range, the only limit is network coverage.”
Just the thing to liven up a dull day at the orifice....


Len on 10.27.05 @ 07:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]


My Horoscope from The Onion:


October 24 - November 21

You've felt for weeks as if they were on the verge of figuring out your secret shame, which is ridiculous, as no one even knows who you are.


Thanks Onion - I needed that. Keeps me from getting a "swelled-head."


Karen on 10.27.05 @ 06:37 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Hit a nerve, apparently....

Major League Baseball is apparently seething over a set of commercials which were aired (at least in some parts of the country; I didn't see them, myself) during the baseball postseason:

SAN FRANCISCO - The latest "Got Milk?" commercial hit a little too close to home for Major League Baseball. Poking fun at the league's steroid scandal, the television ad for the California Milk Processor Board talks about a player getting pulled from a game "after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance."

In the next scene, a coach pulls a carton of milk from the slugger's locker.
If you're interested in seeing the ads themselves, they're on the web (of course). However you may run into some network congestion issues (I did when I tried to look at them); unsurprisingly, they appear to be quite popular.

Len on 10.27.05 @ 06:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Harriet Miers has suffered badly because she doesn't fit into any of those established camps. She's too politically tone-deaf to be a hack. She's too obsessed with process to be a wonk. And apart from a promising stint in the Latin Club at Hillcrest High, she doesn't have the numbing credentials to be a nerd.
--Bruce Reed

Len on 10.27.05 @ 06:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Curse is 'Broken'...


The White SOX have swept the Astros and WON the World series in a 4 Game sweep!!! (A 1-Zip game winning score.)

The Curse of Shoe-Less Joe Jackson is Broken. Chicago is a Happy Town (and Fie on them *Texans* - wink) and have the first World Series win in 88 years.

This a Historic Baseball Moment for the Record books. Congrats to the Chicago White Sox!!!


Update: As a statistical footnote. On the third game in the extra innings, the camera caught a shot of Roland Hemond (a retired former White Sox General manager kissing his wife at 12:01 am.

Roland was interviewed on WSCR - sports radio Chicago - and asked about the kiss. He told the announcer that the game ahd rolled over into the 26th and so at 12:01 it was his birthday - and his wife kissed him.

But, he noted, that since the White Sox had a chance to win the game that night, he'd be the only Former General manager who's team won a World Series in a 4 game sweep, ending an 88 year old Curse, in TWO games won on his birthday.

TOO FUNNIE!! Happy Birthday to Roland Hemond.

Karen on 10.27.05 @ 05:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Geek Toy o'the Day

This is the best one since the Baby Name Wizard Name Voyager:


As you enter in a zip code, you'll see the application highlight the "map" so as to narrow down the communities within that zip code range (if that sounds confusing, I'm not explaining it right. Just play with it a bit, and you'll intuit it).

For a real fun time, click on "zoom" (or hit the "z" key) to enable zooming, and as you enter the zip code the "map" will zoom into the community you're finding the zip for. The only thing I could ask for is more map details (especially in zoom mode; it'd be interesting to zoom down to, say, a street map of my neighborhood when I type in my zip code). I think this application, overlaid on Google Maps using the Google Maps API, would be awesome.

Credit: The For Real Deal (formerly "The Phil Harwell Blog Type Thing"; I'll get around to changing that on the blogroll Real Soon Now).

Len on 10.26.05 @ 09:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Jury Duties and Late Night Court visits...

Hmmm....Since I have not so much experience with Criminal law and these kind of indictments - Dan Froomkin (WaPo) has this *interesting* tid-Bit:

"...I can't think of any reason for Fitzgerald to put anything under seal -- unless he's offering his targets the opportunity to turn themselves in before it turns into a real circus over there.

So, two suggestions for the folks staking out the courthouse:

* Even if he seals everything, Fitzgerald would have to take any indictments returned by the grand jury to a judge today. And he would be accompanied by his grand jury foreperson. So keep an eye out for that.

* Also keep an eye out for senior administration officials showing up at the courthouse very, very late at night.

Karen on 10.26.05 @ 04:42 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Do NO harm...

Today’s Gem from David Corn:

”…Should liberals and Democrats choose sides in this shootout [over Miers] between the neocons/legal cons and the social cons?

Here's an idea that I reserve the right to reject upon further reflection: Democrats in the Senate should vote "present" on the Miers nomination. It's not an aye,†and it's not a nay.

Oh, some cranky think-tankers and commentators will call this a cop-out, a dereliction of constitutional duty. But why validate--or be used by--either side in the Republicans civil war? Once in a while, the correct response to a situation is, don't just do something, sit there.

In the meantime, the Senate Democrats ought to consider taking a Hippocratic approach to the vote on Miers' nomination: First, do no harm.

Karen on 10.26.05 @ 02:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

While we WAIT...

...Via Larry Johnson over at No Quarter is a bit on this piece from Richard Sale:

"...Although most press accounts emphasized that Fitzgerald was likely to concentrate on attempts by Libby Rove and others to cover-up wrongdoing by means of perjury before the grand jury, lying to federal officials, conspiring to obstruct justice, etc. But federal law enforcement officials told this reporter that Fitzgerald was likely to charge the people indicted with violating Joe Wilson's civil rights, smearing his name in an attempt to destroy his ability to earn a living in Washington as a consultant.

The civil rights charge is said to include "the conspiracy was committed using U.S. government offices, buildings, personnel and funds," one federal law enforcement official said.

Other charges could include possible violations of U.S. espionage laws, including the mishandling of U.S. classified information, these sources said..."

-- Richard Sale at Sic Semper Tyrannis 2005

Karen on 10.26.05 @ 11:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

From the Billy-Ball mailing list, on the FOX broadcast of last night's 14 inning World Series Game:

It’s time for Tim McCarver to stop talking…and talking…and talking. I don’t mind if he talks about the fact that Geoff Blum's home run was the first extra-inning game-winning home run by a visiting player in the World Series since his own three-run, 10th-inning homer enabled the Cardinals to defeat the Yankees in Game 5 of the 1964 Series. But please stop making puns, please stop talking about “Journey” please, stop talking.
I'm already on record with this (but when have I let that stop me before?), but the Buck-McCarver broadcast team is the absolute pits. If there is a hell, I'm sure that its deepest, most painful circle consists of nothing but listening to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver call baseball games for the rest of eternity.

And I say this knowing that both men have significant ties to St. Louis (Joe is, of course, a native St. Louisan, spawn of the Cardinals' "Hall of Fame" broadcaster Jack Buck, and himself broadcasts Cardinals games on occasion (having started his major league broadcasting career with the Cardinals), while McCarver played with the Cardinals for 12 of the 21 seasons he spent in The Show).

Fascinating factoid of the day: McCarver's Baseball Reference stat card is sponsored by ShutUpTimMcCarver.com:
Can't stand him? Neither can we!! Join the millions of McCarver haters around the world at our site!
So see, I'm not the only one who feels this way:

Len on 10.26.05 @ 10:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A few blog read around GEMS...

The clock ticks down towards High Noon by Driftglass.

2000 by Bilmon.

Brownie Really Wanted His Stiff Margarita BEFORE Katrina by Karen Russell.

and - Unfortunately, CNN is reporting NO Fitzmas indictments will be revealed yet.

So it’s still *Anticipation* in the waiting.


Karen on 10.26.05 @ 10:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

No More Pardons

Add your voice to those insisting that there be NO More Pardons over the forthcoming indictments in the outing of Valerie Plame's CIA NOC status.

Use this link to send a letter on this to the Child-In-Chief. (They have a pre-prepared text for your editing to use as a template.)

Make your postion KNOWN to this administration - Today!

Hat tip to John Conyers (Huffington Post Op-Ed).

Karen on 10.26.05 @ 08:58 AM CST [more..] [ | ]


Well, well - let's see Fitzmas, Sox win third World Series game in a row, soon the PA court will issue a ruling that is sure to take those IDer's down, Harriet Miers gets Borked and her nomination has cause the scales to fall away from a core of conservative CIC supporters.

Nationally historic sports curses - soon to be broken,

Evil government cabals - soon to be broken,

Evil religious cabals - soon to be broken,

Cronyism for the unqualified - soon to be broken.

Were just having a Banner MONTH. And still have the Regular Holiday season to look forward to.

I always love the Fall…when the “Aspens will already be turning …”


Karen on 10.26.05 @ 07:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Good news for you Dilbert fans....

For the record, even though I am a geek, I'm not a big Dilbert fan. Yes, Dilbert can be amusing at times, but frankly, the newspaper comics world took a big hit when Gary Larson retired from "The Far Side", and when Bill Watterson hung up his spikes and retired "Calvin and Hobbes", that was the end of the newspaper comics world for me. "Dilbert", compared to The Big Two, is at best a mere third rate also-ran.

But for those of you who are Dilbert fans, you'll be pleased to know that Scott Adams has started a Dilbert Blog. In the Dogbert's New Ruling Class newsletter, Adams explains how he came to that momentous decision:

When I see news stories about people all over the world who are experiencing hardships, I worry about them, and I rack my brain wondering how I can make a difference. So I decided to start my own blog. That way I won’t have time to think about other people.

People who are trying to decide whether to create a blog or not go through a thought process much like this:
  1. The world sure needs more of ME.
  2. Maybe I’ll shout more often so that people nearby can experience the joy of knowing my thoughts.
  3. No, wait, shouting looks too crazy.
  4. I know – I’ll write down my daily thoughts and badger people to read them.
  5. If only there was a description for this process that doesn’t involve the words egomaniac or unnecessary.
  6. What? It’s called a blog? I’m there!
The blogger’s philosophy goes something like this:

Everything that I think about is more fascinating than the crap in your head.

The beauty of blogging, as compared to writing a book, is that no editor will be interfering with my random spelling and grammar, my complete disregard for the facts, and my wandering sentences that seem to go on and on and never end so that you feel like you need to take a breath and clear your head before you can even consider making it to the end of the sentence that probably didn’t need to be written anyhoo.
So enjoy.

Len on 10.26.05 @ 06:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the Spam Folder this morning....

an email with the subject line: "With VIAGRA Soft Tabs You Can Screw A Horse".

Which raises the even more interesting question: why would I want to?

Len on 10.26.05 @ 06:06 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

In the movie, which takes place in a “not too distant future” (though if current space travel events are any indication, maybe all of the main characters should have been Chinese), something has gone awry at the Olduvai Research Station on Mars. Something called the Union Aerospace Corporation had been conducting archeological research there, and now they’ve lost contact with one of their science teams. It’s up to the Marines’ Rapid Response Tactical Squad to go there and sort things out, hopefully with lots of explosions and messy disembowelments.

The RRTS is made up of the usual multicultural, shallow-as-a-wading-pool suspects: Sarge (The Rock) is the steely-eyed squad leader, while Reaper (Karl Urban) is the Brooding Killing Machine with a Past. There’s also a psychotic Bible thumper, a pervert, the inscrutable Japanese guy, and two black dudes – one a stoic badass, the other a jive-talking pussy hound. Fascinating, I know, but let’s not forget that “Doom” wasn’t exactly a video game that focused on character development (the movie, in fact, would’ve been more accurate if it only had one guy). Knowing that the majority of these dudes are demon food tends to take the edge off any artistic outrage.
--Pete Vonder Haar [on the film

Len on 10.26.05 @ 06:03 AM CST [link] [ | ]

About that Government inside a Government...

He's not quite done about the evil "cabal"...

"...It takes firm leadership to preside over the bureaucracy. But it also takes a willingness to listen to dissenting opinions. It requires leaders who can analyze, synthesize, ponder and decide.

The administration's performance during its first four years would have been even worse without Powell's damage control. At least once a week, it seemed, Powell trooped over to the Oval Office and cleaned all the dog poop off the carpet. He held a youthful, inexperienced president's hand. He told him everything would be all right because he, the secretary of State, would fix it. And he did — everything from a serious crisis with China when a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was struck by a Chinese F-8 fighter jet in April 2001, to the secretary's constant reassurances to European leaders following the bitter breach in relations over the Iraq war. It wasn't enough, of course, but it helped.

Today, we have a president whose approval rating is 38% and a vice president who speaks only to Rush Limbaugh and assembled military forces. We have a secretary of Defense presiding over the death-by-a-thousand-cuts of our overstretched armed forces (no surprise to ignored dissenters such as former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki or former Army Secretary Thomas White).

It's a disaster. Given the choice, I'd choose a frustrating bureaucracy over an efficient cabal every time.

-- Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (LA Time Op-Ed)

Karen on 10.25.05 @ 08:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the Jarring Comics Crossovers department:

"The Crossover You've Been Dreading": The Punisher Meets Archie

Len on 10.25.05 @ 06:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Is IT Science Yet?...

Off on a Slow Day...but spent part of it reading this most excellent Washington University Law Quarterly article: Is it Science Yet? Intelligent Design Creationism and the Constitution.

A long piece (149 pages) with a complete review of all the issues and legal/historical context for refuting the claims by the I.D. proponents. Well worth the time and effort to read through it.

Great Job by Matthew Brauer, Barbara Forrest and Steven Gey in comprehensively explaining and debunking the latest in a series of legsl skirmishes on this issue. Can't wait to see the end of the trial conclude and the Judicial opinion forthcoming in this matter.


Karen on 10.25.05 @ 05:28 PM CST [link] [ | ]

High atop the list of Holiday gifts I'll be giving myself.....

is The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.

In honor of the release of TCCaH, CNN gives us an update on the whereabouts and recent activities of Bill Watterson, creator of the devilish 6 year old and his preternaturally wise stuffed tiger.

Bill Watterson, 47, hasn't made a public appearance since he delivered the commencement speech in 1990 at his alma mater, Kenyon College. But he recently welcomed some written questions from fans to promote the October 4 release of the three-volume "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes," which contains every one of the 3,160 strips printed during its 10-year run.

Among his revelations:
  • He reads newspaper comics, but doesn't consider this their golden age.
  • He's never attended any church.
  • He's currently interested in art from the 1600s.
Never attended any church? I knew there was a reason I loved Watterson and his work so much.

There are two things you have to admire about Watterson. First, you have to admire anyone that can walk away from a tremendously successful media property at the height of its popularity, while he's still on top of his game. Second, and more important in my mind, is his incredible artistic integrity. During its heyday, you could make a damn good case that "Calvin and Hobbes" was simply The. Best. Newspaper. Comic. Strip. Ever. And it was certainly the most popular of its time (possible exception: "The Far Side"). And in a time when syndicated comic strips were considered cash cows, especially for lucrative marketing and licensing deals (see, e.g., "Garfield"), Watterson was known for his unwillingness to market or license "Calvin and Hobbes".

Especially admirable, when you realize that if Watterson had licensed the rights to just one "Calvin" spin off--a stuffed "Hobbes"--he would have probably received wealth far in excess of that of Bill Gates. And that's just his share; whoever he'd granted the licensing rights to would be richer than Croesus as well.

This steadfast unwillingness to cash in on the "Calvin and Hobbes" cash cow makes me especially saddened when I see unauthorized "Calvin" merchandise out there. Like t-shirts, or the ubiquitous "Calvin pissing on a" [insert symbol of object of derision here]. Like the "Calvin pissing on a Chevy logo" you'll see on some Ford trucks. Or "Calvin pissing on a Ford logo" that you see on Chevy trucks. (I'm sure you can think of others).

Worst of all, though, is a Calvin sticker I see way too much of here in the Bible Belt. That's the "Calvin kneeling reverently in prayer in front of a cross" sticker.

This one pisses me off for two reasons. First and foremost is, of course, that it's an infringement on Watterson's rights to his character, and the violation of Watterson's own integrity in not exploiting Calvin for commercial gain.

But even worse, the production of that sticker rubs me the wrong way because it evidences such a complete and utter lack of understanding of everything that Calvin stands for (to the extent that Calvin stands for anything, which is debatable). Anyone who's a true "Calvin and Hobbes" fan knows that Calvin has reverence for nothing, and the likelihood of his kneeling reverently before the cross anytime before his 45th birthday is about zero.

Now Calvin pissing on the cross would be much, much more in keeping with the character. And watching the Jebus lovers pop a few blood vessels in their brains wrapping their minds around that would be well worth the price of admission....

Len on 10.25.05 @ 08:04 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Even more sad news....

Air America Radio this morning is reporting that we've passed the 2000 dead mark in Iraq. The Iraq War Casualty Count is still sitting at 1999, for what that's worth.

UPDATE (1:02 PM): Now Air Am is going with the 1999 figure reported by Iraq War Casualty Count. Interesting....

Len on 10.25.05 @ 06:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Just in time for your second childhood....

Adult Sized Big Wheels.

It's at a time like this that I wish I was still in the Navy, and posted to someplace like Subic Bay, where we'd have weeks to months of very little to do, punctuated by days of frenetic activity (i.e., the fleet being away from port, versus the fleet making a port call; this is the JAG's version of the standard line about naval warfare: "hours of boredom punctuated by minutes of sheer terror"). During the slow periods, we'd find our amusement by engaging in activities like miniature golf tournaments and go-cart races (very elaborate, day long multiple elimination tournaments; you have a tendency to do that when you belong to a group of overeducated bastards who have a love of complexity for it's own sake, and a lot of time on their hands).

Somehow, if we could have gotten our hands on about six of these back then, we could have done some serious road racing around the base...

Credit: Tony Rickey, who apparently is letting Law Review get in the way of more important things. Like blogging. :-)

Len on 10.25.05 @ 06:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sad news this morning....

Civil rights icon Rosa Parks, dead at age 92.

Requiescat In Pace, Ms. Parks.

Len on 10.25.05 @ 06:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Numerous quotations and bibliographic citations found in this book have been copied verbatim from the original sources. If you believe you have found a typographic error, you must prove it by showing that the original was incorrectly transcribed; believe it or not, your language has changed over the years, just as English has.
--Donald E. Knuth [partial "ground rules" of his system of paying readers for spotting errors in his magnum opus,
The Art of Computer Programming]

Len on 10.25.05 @ 05:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Goldberg on Scowcroft...

In anticipation of the article "Breaking Ranks" by Brent Scowcroft, the New Yorker Magazine [for an Oct 31st edition] has this on-line interview about Scowcroft - provided by Jeffery Goldberg and their reporter, Amy Davidson: The Republican Rift.

Give it a read through.

Hat tip to Digby: and Digby's take on the new *lingo* coined by Goldberg in the piece is a GEM and worth it's own read through.

Karen on 10.24.05 @ 11:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

For some folks...

...Life just couldn't be good enough. Decisions...decisions...

The best doubleheader ever?:

Lucky fans leave early from Soldier Field to head south for Game 2 of World Series:

"Around halftime of Sunday's Bears game, the march began. Sports fans clutching World Series tickets, strolling--nearly floating on the chill autumn air--from Soldier Field toward cars and trains and traffic and lines, hyped to spend a few more hours outside in the rain.


For those lucky enough to hold tickets to both games--and to witness a Bears win and a dramatic White Sox victory--a dreary Sunday in Chicago felt like a sunny spring day..."

Sheesh, some folks have all the *luck* to have tickets to EVERYTHING.


Karen on 10.24.05 @ 10:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

About those 'bAdministration' Successes...

In addition to this one about the Illinois lawsuit against “No Child Left Behind” act , a while back I issued a "challenge" of sorts for anyone defending this bAdministration to list five *successes* -Except "No Child Left Behind" was disqualified.

I promised a Whack upside their head for anyone showing temerity enough to put that boondoggle forward as a *success.*

So here is the National Report Card on the flat performances of testing results since the policy’s implementation:

"Reading scores among fourth- and eighth-graders showed little improvement over the past two years, and math gains were slower than in previous years, according to a study released yesterday. The disappointing results came despite a new educational testing law championed by the Bush administration as a way to improve the nation's schools.

Most troubling for educators are the sluggish reading skills among middle-school students, which have remained virtually unchanged for 15 years...


...No one can be satisfied with these results," said Ross Wiener, policy director for the Education Trust, an advocacy organization that backed No Child. "There's been a discernible slowdown in progress since '03, at a time when we desperately need to accelerate gains. The absence of particularly bad news isn't the same as good news."


Some scholars cautioned against tying the scores directly to No Child this early. "Let's put it this way," said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, "reading scores were flat and math scores on the rise before No Child Left Behind, and reading scores are flat and math scores are still up after No Child Left Behind. It's impossible to know whether NCLB had an impact -- either positively or negatively..."

Here is the graph of results:

GR2005102000117 (30k image)

Hardly a stunning *Success* or any success at all. So, anyone out there got any *successful bAdmin policies* they'd like to list? Hahahahaha!

[Just remember the rules: To be a policy success - they have to have measured goals, fit within the purpose and design of the policy, and fit within the costs as laid out at their inception.]

Karen on 10.24.05 @ 10:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

About that NOLA Flooding...

As I mentioned in an earlier piece about the NOLA shipping canal design flaws exacerbating the flooding from Hurricane Katrina:

"Investigators in recent days have assembled evidence implicating design flaws in the failures of two floodwalls near Lake Pontchartrain that collapsed when weakened soils beneath them became saturated and began to slide. They also have confirmed that a little-used navigation canal helped amplify and intensify Katrina's initial surge, contributing to a third floodwall collapse on the east side of town. The walls and navigation canal were built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for defending the city against hurricane-related flooding.
Experts now believe that Katrina was no stronger than a Category 3 storm when it roared into New Orleans, and Congress had directed the Corps to protect the city from just such a hurricane.

"This was not the Big One -- not even close," said Hassan Mashriqui, a storm surge expert at LSU's Hurricane Center. He said that Katrina would have caused some modest flooding and wind damage regardless, but that human errors turned "a problem into a catastrophe..."

-- Link Levee Failures to Design Flaws: Three Teams of Engineers Find Weakened Soil, Navigation Canal Contributed to La. Collapses

For "human errors" - read *Army Corps of Engineers*! But give the article a full read through and *you decide.*

Karen on 10.24.05 @ 09:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Squeezing 'Spongy'...

Seems like the Senate is about the put James "Spongy" Dobson through the wringer and squeeze out the information he so *coyly* referred to over the Harriet Miers nomination:

"...Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said yesterday that his panel is likely to require Dobson and perhaps others to testify about such purported conversations. Asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" whether the committee will "bring some of these people who said they were told things that perhaps they shouldn't have been told, like Mr. Dobson," Specter replied: "my instinct is that they'll be called. And the American people are entitled to clarification."...

That IS unless the Child-In Chief and Dick-Yourself and Blooming Shit-Head can *think* of a graceful way to scuttle her nomination after this weekends Camp David consultation and select a replacment candidate before the Congressional hearing begin in earnest.

Karen on 10.24.05 @ 09:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Aww...More Temper Tantrums from the Party of the Five Year Olds...

"Bush usually reserves his celebrated temper for senior aides because he knows they can take it. Lately, however, some junior staffers have also faced the boss' wrath.

"This is not some manager at McDonald's chewing out the help," said a source with close ties to the White House when told about these outbursts. "This is the President of the United States, and it's not a pleasant sight."

-- Thomas M. DeFrank (Daily News)


Maybe we need to send the Child-In-Chief to his corner for a TIME-OUT.

Or settle him down for a good Long Nappie (with his favorite safety blankies: Cheney, Rove, Libby and Card.)

Better yet - a permanent *recess break* to his fake Texas ranch in Crawford via impeachment, while his underlings languish in a Federal Prison they can dub the "Western White House" - While we let some Grown-Ups run the Country! What a novel idea.


[A great funnie is this one...give the entire piece a read through.]

Karen on 10.24.05 @ 08:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Since Halloween is right around the corner...

Double helping of candy bowl research:

“David Kessler of MIT informs us of an unplanned experiment with a candy bowl:

MIT Sloan School has lots of candy sitting around on the various desks. I work in a cube where all the students and administrators come to drop off forms, ask questions, get guidance on a range of B-school miscellany. On the reception desk for them is a bowl of candy. It used to brim with a variety of candies but has slowly been whittled down to the one kind of candy that no one seems to like -- banana flavored Laffy Taffy.

The bowl was too big for it's space, so someone took it away and left the Banana Laffy Taffy in a small pile where the bowl was. No one touched the Banana Laffy Taffy. Some people even commented that it was so sad how no one liked this candy -- and they didn't take it either.

Today, Brian Pope, one of the students, arranged the Banana Laffy Taffy in 2 neat columns, and over the past hour since I've seen at least 4 people take one. Yup, a candy that no one has taken for a couple of weeks has suddenly started going like gangbusters because it is set out in orderly rows.

This comes on the heels of other candy bowl research news. An Associated Press report explains:

Scientists studying candy-jar psychology have confirmed what most of us know instinctively: Out of sight is out of mind.

Secretaries who were given Hershey kisses ate more of them when the jars were clear or on their desks than when the chocolates were in opaque containers or placed a short distance away....

The study was led by Brian Wansink, a Cornell University food marketing and eating behavior expert....”

BUT I like the Banana Laffy Taffy™. (Remember it's the Candy Corn™ everyone HATES!!)


Karen on 10.24.05 @ 08:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Close (well, not that close), but no cigar....

A Slate column pointed me to an interesting clothing site: Jewish Fashion Conspiracy ("Putting the 'racy' back in conspiracy"). One of their products:

brought back a happy memory.

Back in the early '80s (late '70s to early '80s, to be precise), there toiled in the vinyards of The Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field a journeyman infielder by the name of Ivan DeJesus (his main claim to fame now is for serving as trade bait, heading to the Phillies in 1982 in return for Larry Bowa and Cubs legend (and Hall of Famer) Ryne Sandberg). One of my favorite pastimes in law school (I attended A Highly Overrated Law School In Chicago Which I Refuse To Name Here, though I have mentioned it in the past) was cutting class to attend baseball games at Wrigley Field. And one day, when attending a game at Wrigley, I saw one of the funniest t-shirts I've ever seen. It said: "Jews for DeJesus". Much better, IMHO, than "Jews for Jeter". But you just had to be there.....

Once again, alas, Google Images fails me, so instead of a picture of the "Jews for DeJesus" t-shirt, I'll just have to settle for this:

dating from when Ivan did a stint with the Cardinals in '85

Len on 10.24.05 @ 08:12 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Funnie...

From McSweeny's is this GEM:


- - - -

The Earthworker Who Engages in the Practice of Shrinking and Thickening Wool and Dwells Near the Thicket, President

The Brave Power Who Hails From the Oak Forest Around the French Town of Brieuse, Vice President

The Manly One Who Prepares Wool for Spinning and Weaving and Lives Near a Mound, White House Chief of Staff

The Bright Nobleman Who Is Son of the Battlemaker, Attorney General

The Fierce Warrior With Sweetness, Secretary of State

The Ruler of the World and the Ruler of the Home Who Hails From the Field of Wild Garlic, Secretary of Defense

The Wellborn Warrior Who Regularly Invokes the Name of God, Secretary of Agriculture

The Warrior Who Descends From the Ruler of the Army, Secretary of Commerce

The Little Pearl-Encrusted Scythe, Secretary of Education

The Bathhouse Builder Who Has Been Heard by God, Secretary of Energy

The Pious and Humble Man From the Beloved Gate That Lies in the Land of Many Yokes, Secretary of Health and Human Services

The Pious and Humble Man Who Is Descended From the Devil, Secretary of Homeland Security

The Battle-Ready Man Who Is Descended From One Who Believes in the Grace of God, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

The Graceful Tempest From the Northern Settlement, Secretary of the Interior

The Torch From the Orchid-Nest, Secretary of Labor

The Exceptionally Pale and Pious Man Who Has a Desire to Protect, Secretary of the Treasury

The Bright and Famous Supplanter Who Is Descended From He Who Represents the Victory of the People, Secretary of Veterans Affairs

- - - -
* Secretary of Transportation Norman Yoshio Mineta omitted due to unavailability of a reliable translation of the name "Mineta."


Karen on 10.24.05 @ 07:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Time to Remove the Two Foxes in the Oil Henhouse

Today’s editorial in The NY Times

“There's no serious disagreement that two major crises of our time are terrorism and global warming. And there's no disputing that America's oil consumption fosters both. Oil profits that flow to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries finance both terrorist acts and the spread of dangerously fanatical forms of Islam. The burning of fossil fuels creates greenhouse emissions that provoke climate change. All the while, oil dependency increases the likelihood of further military entanglements, and threatens the economy with inflation, high interest rates and risky foreign indebtedness. Until now, the government has failed to connect our crises and our consumption in a coherent way. That dereliction of duty has led to policies that are counterproductive, such as tax incentives to buy gas guzzlers and an overemphasis on increasing domestic oil supply, although even all-out drilling would not be enough to slake our oil thirst and would require a reversal of longstanding environmental protections.

Now, however, the energy risks so apparent in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have created both the urgency and the political opportunity for the nation's leaders to respond appropriately. The government must capitalize on the end of the era of perpetually cheap gas, and it must do so in a way that makes America less vulnerable to all manner of threats - terrorist, environmental and economic.


"We know that the days of unlimited, inexpensive gasoline are over," William Clay Ford Jr., chairman and chief executive of the Ford Motor Company, said last week. So be it. Cheap gas is no longer compatible with a secure nation, a healthy environment or a healthy economy - if ever it was. The real question is whether we should continue paying the extra dollar or two per gallon in the form of profits to the Saudis and other producers, or in the form of taxes to the United States Treasury, where the money could be used to build true energy independence.

-- Gas Taxes: Lesser Evil, Greater Good

And not that these proposals to painfully reduce the consumption of petroleum-oil based fuels are not a temporary solution - BUT -- it doesn’t really go far enough in weaning the petroleum dependency at all and removing the root cause of this issue – Petroleum based fuels.

To read further, click on the “more” button.

Karen on 10.24.05 @ 07:36 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Get in on the action....

More fun than your office's annual NCAA Tournament pool: The l'affaire Plame Pool. Predict who'll be indicted, and win..... well, some semi-celebrity, I guess:

Winners with the most correct answers in the Plamegate Pool will be identified by first name, last initial and city only, and will be announced the day the indictments are unsealed.

Len on 10.24.05 @ 07:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Link o'the Day: Turtle Pr0n...

Josh Schulz has all the luck. Back in the day, when I took my daughter to the zoo, all we got to see was an elephant pissing (to which my daughter, then about 2 or so, said, "Mommy, that elephant needs a diaper"). When Josh takes his daughter to the zoo, he gets to see (and take pictures of) turtles screwing.

There is nothing funnier at the zoo then turtles having sex. Nothing. Ever. The highlights are many and varied:

They make a weird noise. It’s like a honk every minute or so, just out of the blue: “honk”.

They don’t appear to move. Except every once in a while they twich. Then it’s back to standing pretty much still. And it takes forever.
I was seriously tempted to post Josh's picture of the inhuman spectacle here, but I won't deprive him of the hits. For a good laugh, go see it for yourself.

Len on 10.24.05 @ 07:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

I wish I could be as hopeful....

But Mad Kane is taking inspiration from signs that this fall is the herald of a Very Merry Fitzmas (audio version here).

As for me, I'll believe it all when I see it happening, and not before....

Len on 10.24.05 @ 06:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Here in Tennessee....

it appears that rich politicians don't have to put their assets in a blind trust; instead, they can have one that requires weak corrective lenses. From the WaPo: Letters Show Frist Notified Of Stocks in 'Blind' Trusts

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was given considerable information about his stake in his family's hospital company, according to records that are at odds with his past statements that he did not know what was in his stock holdings.

Managers of the trusts that Frist once described as "totally blind," regularly informed him when they added new shares of HCA Inc. or other assets to his holdings, according to the documents.

Len on 10.24.05 @ 06:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Full Disclosure?

A good portion of Blogtopia is all over the recently released story that four Kellog Brown and Root contractors were slaughtered in Duluiya on September 20. Interestingly enough, while listening to XM this weekend (XM Comedy 150), I heard a recruiting commercial for KBR. Made it sound like a pretty good job, though they didn't talk about some of the working conditions:

The mob grew more frenzied as the gunmen dragged the two surviving Americans from the cab of their bullet-ridden lorry and forced them to kneel on the street.

Killing one of the men with a rifle round fired into the back of his head, they doused the other with petrol and set him alight. Barefoot children, yelping in delight, piled straw on to the screaming man's body to stoke the flames.
Hmmmmm. Is that the kind of thing they're supposed to tell you about before you hire on?

Len on 10.24.05 @ 06:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Imagine you're I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

I know, it's not easy.

It's not easy imagining yourself striding manfully down the corridors of power or plotting the overthrow of tyrants while answering to the name of "Scooter."
--James Wolcott

Len on 10.24.05 @ 04:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Credit: The Christian Progressive Liberal over at The Flypaper Theory.

Len on 10.23.05 @ 04:54 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Some political porno for a quiet Sunday afternoon...

Majikthise has a photo gallery guaranteed to bring a smile to any true Democrat's face (and to any of us independents who consider scum such as Tom DeLay a growing cancer in the body politic): The Tom DeLay Perp Walk Gallery

Len on 10.23.05 @ 12:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

It isn't just one person....

Over at Why Now?, Bryan reminds us of why l'affaire Plame is so important:

... Robert Novak's column didn't reveal simply the identity of a single CIA agent, he revealed the connection of everyone working for or with Brewster Jennings & Associates, a front company that cost millions of dollars and years to create.

Dozens, if not hundreds, of people were put at risk by what the White House did. A major intelligence operation tasked with monitoring weapons of mass destruction was exposed to unfriendly intelligence agencies around the world.

The ability of the United States to maintain, much less expand, its human intelligence capabilities was permanently damaged by this action.
Reason enough for Rove, Libby, and Cheney to be frogmarched and imprisoned, and for Bush (if he was complicit in their crimes, which I am personally sure he was) to be impeached.

Len on 10.23.05 @ 11:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.

Len on 10.23.05 @ 10:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Funnie...

Jo Fish brings us this GEM of a Funnie:

"Pulling Out?

If the 1600 Crew pulls out the Miers nomination, is that SCOTUS Interruptus?"


Karen on 10.23.05 @ 08:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]


Yikes! It's 34 degrees outside! Frost is on the grass.

Watching the White Sox first winning game of the World Series (*wink*) they said the temperature was dropping as the game progressed. It had been 44 - feeling like 39 with a stiff wind - but it's 34 right now. Yowza!

Fall is HERE. Time for Winter meals: pot roast, turkeys, stews and chilli. Time to break out the Winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves.

Another summer come and GONE.


Karen on 10.23.05 @ 08:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Can The White House Get ANYTHING Right?

...in describing this Supreme Court Nominee?

"The Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas is setting the record straight: Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers is not documented as a Catholic.

A review of records for baptism, first Eucharist and confirmation found no evidence of Miers or anyone in her immediate family, Bronson Havard, a diocese spokesman, said Friday.

Acquaintances of Miers have said she worshiped as a Catholic and attended Episcopalian and Presbyterian services.

Well, as anyone who IS a Catholic knows - baptism, first Eucharist and confirmation - are all standards of being considered a member of the "Catholic Faith." So - what exactly WAS Harriet Miers religious upbringing and faith for the first 35 years of her life?

Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune.

Karen on 10.22.05 @ 04:09 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I got into an argument with an anti-abortionist, and he said, "Well what if Jesus had been aborted? What then?" I replied, "Well, he would have died for our sins... uh, a little sooner?"
--Ryan Stout

Len on 10.22.05 @ 10:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More nomination troubles for 'Harrie'...

The Chicago Tribune is reporting this *troubling* accounts of Harriet Miers continuing nomination problems from her stint as managing partner at Locke Liddell & Sapp:

"... Miers' tenure as the firm's managing partner was among the credentials that President Bush cited when he nominated her for the Supreme Court.

The suits have attracted the interest of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which this week asked Miers for more information about them. Committee staffers said Friday they want to know more because the settlements seemed unusually large for legal malpractice complaints.

Miers' firm, Locke Liddell & Sapp, admitted no fault in the settlements, and a spokeswoman for the firm said Miers was not involved in the cases that gave rise to the malpractice claims.

"We settled the lawsuits . . . on a basis that was agreeable to everyone involved," said Julie Gilbert, a spokeswoman for Locke Liddell.

The incidence of the malpractice suits is notable because as a member of Chicago-based Attorneys' Liability Assurance Society Inc., Miers sat on a committee that reviewed malpractice allegations against the insurer's members and devised ways for law firms to protect themselves against taking on unethical clients, according to company reports and interviews.

Two of the suits alleged that the law firm's management knew or should have known that its lawyers were helping clients devise two Ponzi schemes that together bilked hundreds of investors out of at least $68 million.

Both of the clients, former football star Russell Erxleben and Brian Stearns, had previous brushes with the law related to investment scams. Both men were sentenced to federal prison for fraud for masterminding the scams involving lawyers at Locke Purnell Rain Harrell PC, one of the firms that merged in 1999 to become Locke Liddell.

In charge at the time

At the time of the alleged malpractice, Miers was president of Locke Purnell, a 200-lawyer firm. As head of a firm that size, she could not be expected to know all the clients or what all of the firm's partners were doing, according to legal management consultants.

But she would be responsible for establishing systems to ensure compliance with legal and ethical obligations, said Joel Rose, a New Jersey-based legal management consultant.

The claims against Locke Liddell were paid by the Attorneys' Liability Assurance Society, or ALAS, the same firm Miers had served as a director from 1994 until January 1999..."

Karen on 10.22.05 @ 08:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Applying *Standards* for 'Confidentiality'?

Hmm...this one seems like a No-Brainer for the issue of having some *standards* apply BEFORE a reporter promises a blanket of confidentiality to a potential "source":

"Bill Kovach, the former Times Washington bureau chief, former curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, and founding director of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, has publicly voiced what many in and around the paper are saying privately.

"When I was chief of the bureau in Washington," he told Sidney Blumenthal, "we laid down a rule to the reporters that when they wanted to establish anonymity they had to lay out ground rules that if anything the source said was damaging, false or damaged the credibility of the newspaper we would identify them. If a man damages your credibility, why not lay the blame where it belongs? Whoever was leaking that information to Novak, Cooper or Judy Miller was doing it with malice aforethought, trying to set up a deceptive circumstance. That would invalidate any promise of confidentiality. You wouldn't protect a source for telling lies or using you to mislead your audience. That changes everything. Any reporter that puts themselves or a news organization in that position is making a big mistake."

Regardless of the discussions about enacting a Federal Shield law to protect reporters, this is the underlying premise of what should be the bottom-line of confidentiality promises.

Hat tip to The Huffington Post.

Karen on 10.22.05 @ 08:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the 'As IF We Haven't Noticed' Files...

...the actions of this Fiscally Irresponsible GOP controlled Congress of plundering and looting politics for the past 10 years. Conservative Republicanism - NOT and never has been. These folks need to be REMOVED from office...every last one of 'em - if it's not to late to prevent the financial ruin of our nation.

Pork Projects by Year:

From Chris Edwards’ new book, Downsizing the Federal Government (which cited CAGW):

Number of Pork Projects in Federal Spending Bills

2005 - 13,997
2004 - 10,656
2003 - 9,362
2002 - 8,341
2001 - 6,333
2000 - 4,326
1999 - 2,838
1998 - 2100
1997 - 1,596
1996 - 958
1995 - 1439

Using 2005 numbers, by voting down the “Bridges” amendment, the Senate let the country know that it was unwilling to defund 2 out of 13,997 pork projects today. That’s 0.0142887762 percent.

Hat tip to The Daily Dish.

Karen on 10.22.05 @ 07:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Few [New] *Words*

Mr. Language Wordsmith and I have an ongoing rapport and often work closely together to get *just the right* meaning our of our words. That’s why I am very pleased when I find new and previously unfamiliar words that I've just never run across. These are words I've never thought of using because I didn’t know they existed. *wink*

This week I found two GEMS: Tautological and Osculate.

From the transcripts on the testimony of Professor Behe in the I.D. trial in PA: Tautological:

• pleonastic: repetition of same sense in different words; "`a true fact' and `a free gift' are pleonastic expressions"; "the phrase `a beginner who has just started' is tautological"; "at the risk of being redundant I return to my original proposition"-

• In logic, a tautology is a statement which is true by its own definition, and is therefore fundamentally uninformative. Logical tautologies use circular reasoning within an argument or statement.

From Kissing The Pig at Discourse.net.: Osculate:

• kiss: touch with the lips or press the lips (against someone's mouth or other body part) as an expression of love, greeting, etc.; "The newly married couple kissed"; "She kissed her grandfather on the forehead when she entered the room"

• be intermediate between two taxonomic groups; "These species osculate"

• have at least three points in common with; "one curve osculates the other"; "these two surfaces osculate"

Thanks for these *words* to add to my ever increasing vocabulary. I like new words.


Karen on 10.22.05 @ 07:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Len doesn't *know* this yet...

...but I had to look and see what Dark Bilious Vapors is worth on the Blog market.

How Much is Your Blog Worth?

Your blog, www.cleavelin.net, is worth $55,889.46

My blog is worth $55,889.46.
How much is your blog worth?

*Wink* and *Smile*

Courtesy of Discourse.net

Check out your blog's value.

Karen on 10.22.05 @ 06:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

An Initial Assessment of Hurricane Katrina Response...

...from the White House's own appointed *investigator* - Frances Townsend:

"White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend acknowledged yesterday that the government failed to prepare adequately for the consequences of Hurricane Katrina, noting studies of New Orleans's vulnerability to flooding and lessons from flawed U.S. responses to past natural and terrorist disasters.
"It turned out we were all wrong," Townsend said. "We had not adequately anticipated."
Even before she spoke yesterday, however, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff responded to Senate testimony this week that ousted FEMA director Michael D. Brown and other top officials ignored a staffer's eyewitness report about the collapse of the 17th Avenue Canal levee on the Monday the storm hit. The dismissal of accounts of catastrophic flooding by FEMA's only person in New Orleans, Marty Bahamonde, delayed federal supplies and efforts to move 50,000 people out of harm's way for nearly a day, senators said.
The admission came after weeks of embarrassing disclosures of confusion of roles within the Federal Emergency Management Agency under a new national disaster plan.

-- Bush Adviser Acknowledges Lack of Preparation for Katrina (WaPo)

This is on top of the revelations from Fema's Marty Bahamonde and the shamefully outrageous responses to his Urgent e-mails to Michael Brown about the situation in NOLA.

"For 16 critical hours, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, including former director Michael D. Brown, dismissed urgent eyewitness accounts by FEMA's only staffer in New Orleans that Hurricane Katrina had broken the city's levee system the morning of Aug. 29 and was causing catastrophic flooding, the staffer told the Senate yesterday.
Five FEMA aides were e-mailed Bahamonde's report of "water flow 'bad' " from the broken levees designed to hold back Lake Pontchartrain. Bahamonde said he called Brown personally after 7 p.m. to warn that 80 percent of New Orleans was underwater and that he had photographed a 200-foot-wide breach.
Bahamonde contradicted accounts by Brown that FEMA had positioned 12 staffers in the Superdome before the storm, that Bahamonde's reports Monday were "routine" and that FEMA medical personnel were on hand before Tuesday.

At 11:20 a.m. Aug. 31, Bahamonde e-mailed Brown, "Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical . . . thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water . . . estimates are many will die within hours."

At 2:27 p.m., however, Brown press secretary Sharon Worthy wrote colleagues to schedule an interview for Brown on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" and to give him more time to eat dinner because Baton Rouge restaurants were getting busy: "He needs much more that 20 or 30 minutes."

Bahamonde e-mailed a friend to "just tell [Worthy] that I just ate an MRE . . . along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern."

-- Aide Says FEMA Ignored Warnings: Testimony Covers Communication as Levees Breached

Karen on 10.22.05 @ 06:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The NOC's

The reason I can say unequivocably that Rove and Libby are NOT Patriots and are traitors to These United States [emphasis is mine]:

“…There is, however, one maturing scandal that interests us in its own right: the Valerie Plame affair, in which Karl Rove, the most important adviser to the president, and I. Lewis Libby, the chief of staff to the vice president, apparently identified Plame as a CIA agent -- or at least did not vigorously deny that she was one when they were contacted by reporters. Given that this happened during a time of war, in which U.S. intelligence services are at the center of the war -- and are not as effective as the United States might wish -- the Plame affair needs to be examined and understood in its own right. Moreover, as an intelligence company, we have a particular interest in how intelligence matters are handled.

The CIA is divided between the Directorate of Intelligence, which houses the analysts, and the Directorate of Operations, which houses the spies and the paramilitary forces. The spies are, in general, divided into two groups. There are those with official cover and those with non-official cover. Official cover means that the agent is working at the U.S. embassy in some country, acting as a cultural, agricultural or some other type of attaché, and is protected by diplomatic immunity. They carry out a variety of espionage functions, limited by the fact that most foreign intelligence services know who the CIA agents at the embassy are and, frankly, assume that everyone at the embassy is an agent. They are therefore followed, their home phones are tapped, and their maids deliver scraps of paper to the host government. This obviously limits the utility of these agents. Being seen with one of them automatically blows the cover of any potential recruits.

Then there are those with non-official cover, the NOCs. These agents are the backbone of the American espionage system. A NOC does not have diplomatic cover. If captured, he has no protection. Indeed, as the saying goes, if something goes wrong, the CIA will deny it has ever heard of him. A NOC is under constant pressure when he is needed by the government and is on his own when things go wrong. That is understood going in by all NOCs.

These are the true covert operatives of the intelligence world. Embassy personnel might recruit a foreign agent through bribes or blackmail. But at some point, they must sit across from the recruit and show their cards: "I'm from the CIA and...." At that point, they are in the hands of the recruit. A NOC may never once need to do this. He may take decades building up trusting relationships with intelligence sources in which the source never once suspects that he is speaking to the CIA, and the NOC never once gives a hint as to who he actually is.

The NOCs are the backbone of American intelligence and the ones who operate the best sources -- sources who don't know they are sources. When the CIA says that it needs five to 10 years to rebuild its network, what it is really saying is that it needs five to 10 years to recruit, deploy and begin to exploit its NOCs. The problem is not recruiting them -- the life sounds cool for many recent college graduates. The crisis of the NOC occurs when he approaches the most valuable years of service, in his late 30s or so. What sounded neat at 22 rapidly becomes a mind-shattering nightmare when their two lives collide at 40.

There is an explicit and implicit contract between the United States and its NOCs. It has many parts, but there is one fundamental part: A NOC will never reveal that he is or was a NOC without special permission. When he does reveal it, he never gives specifics. The government also makes a guarantee -- it will never reveal the identity of a NOC under any circumstances and, in fact, will do everything to protect it. If you have lied to your closest friends for 30 years about who you are and why you talk to them, no government bureaucrat has the right to reveal your identity for you. Imagine if you had never told your children -- and never planned to tell your children -- that you worked for the CIA, and they suddenly read in the New York Times that you were someone other than they thought you were.
There is more to this. When it is revealed that you were a NOC, foreign intelligence services begin combing back over your life, examining every relationship you had. Anyone you came into contact with becomes suspect. Sometimes, in some countries, becoming suspect can cost you your life. Revealing the identity of a NOC can be a matter of life and death -- frequently, of people no one has ever heard of or will ever hear of again.

In short, a NOC owes things to his country, and his country owes things to the NOC. We have no idea what Valerie Plame told her family or friends about her work. It may be that she herself broke the rules, revealing that she once worked as a NOC. We can't know that, because we don't know whether she received authorization from the CIA to say things after her own identity was blown by others. She might have been irresponsible, or she might have engaged in damage control. We just don't know.

What we do know is this. In the course of events, reporters contacted two senior officials in the White House -- Rove and Libby. Under the least-damaging scenario we have heard, the reporters already knew that Plame had worked as a NOC. Rove and Libby, at this point, were obligated to say, at the very least, that they could neither confirm nor deny the report. In fact, their duty would have been quite a bit more: Their job was to lie like crazy to mislead the reporters. Rove and Libby had top security clearances and were senior White House officials. It was their sworn duty, undertaken when they accepted their security clearance, to build a "bodyguard of lies" -- in Churchill's phrase -- around the truth concerning U.S. intelligence capabilities.

Some would argue that if the reporters already knew her identity, the cat was out of the bag and Rove and Libby did nothing wrong. Others would argue that if Plame or her husband had publicly stated that she was a NOC, Rove and Libby were freed from their obligation. But the fact is that legally and ethically, nothing relieves them of the obligation to say nothing and attempt to deflect the inquiry. This is not about Valerie Plame, her husband or Time Magazine. The obligation exists for the uncounted number of NOCs still out in the field.

Americans stay safe because of NOCs. They are the first line of defense. If the system works, they will be friends with Saudi citizens who are financing al Qaeda. The NOC system was said to have been badly handled under the Clinton administration -- this is the lack of humint that has been discussed since the 9-11 attacks. The United States paid for that. And that is what makes the Rove-Libby leak so stunning. The obligation they had was not only to Plame, but to every other NOC leading a double life who is in potentially grave danger.

Imagine, if you will, working in Damascus as a NOC and reading that the president's chief adviser had confirmed the identity of a NOC. As you push into middle age, wondering what happened to your life, the sudden realization that your own government threatens your safety might convince you to resign and go home. That would cost the United States an agent it had spent decades developing. You don't just pop a new agent in his place. That NOC's resignation could leave the United States blind at a critical moment in a key place. Should it turn out that Rove and Libby not only failed to protect Plame's identity but deliberately leaked it, it would be a blow to the heart of U.S. intelligence. If just one critical NOC pulled out and the United States went blind in one location, the damage could be substantial. At the very least, it is a risk the United States should not have to incur.

The New York Times and Time Magazine have defended not only the decision to publish Plame's name, but also have defended hiding the identity of those who told them her name. Their justification is the First Amendment. We will grant that they had the right to publish statements concerning Plame's role in U.S. intelligence; we cannot grant that they had an obligation to publish it. There is a huge gap between the right to publish and a requirement to publish. The concept of the public's right to know is a shield that can be used by the press to hide irresponsibility. An article on the NOC program conceivably might have been in the public interest, but it is hard to imagine how identifying a particular person as part of that program can be deemed as essential to an informed public.

But even if we regard the press as unethical by our standards, their actions were not illegal. On the other hand, if Rove and Libby even mentioned the name of Valerie Plame in the context of being a CIA employee -- NOC or not -- on an unsecured line to a person without a security clearance or need to know, while the nation was waging war, that is the end of the story. It really doesn't matter why or whether there was a plan or anything. The minimal story -- that they talked about Plame with a reporter -- is the end of the matter.

We can think of only one possible justification for this action: That it was done on the order of the president. The president has the authority to suspend or change security regulations if required by the national interest. The Plame affair would be cleared up if it turns out Rove and Libby were ordered to act as they did by the president. Perhaps the president is prevented by circumstances from coming forward and lifting the burden from Rove and Libby. If that is the case, it could cost him his right-hand man. But absent that explanation, it is difficult to justify the actions that were taken.

On a personal note, let me say this: one of the criticisms conservatives have of liberals is that they do not understand that we live in a dangerous world and, therefore, that they underestimate the effort needed to ensure national security. Liberals have questioned the utility and morality of espionage. Conservatives have been champions of national security and of the United States' overt and covert capabilities. Conservatives have condemned the atrophy of American intelligence capabilities. Whether the special prosecutor indicts or exonerates Rove and Libby legally doesn't matter. Valerie Plame was a soldier in service to the United States, unprotected by uniform or diplomatic immunity. I have no idea whether she served well or poorly, or violated regulations later. But she did serve. And thus, she and all the other NOCs were owed far more -- especially by a conservative administration -- than they got.

Even if that debt wasn't owed to Plame, it remains in place for all the other spooks standing guard in dangerous places.

-- The Importance of the Plame Affair: By George Friedman (www.stratfor.com).

Karen on 10.21.05 @ 09:45 PM CST [link] [ | ]


Via Dan Froomkin this is a MUST READ from The Washington Note’s blogger, Steve Clemons, writing about the speech and Q&A from Colin Powell’s under secretary; Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson.

A few GEMs:

“…Almost everyone since the ’47 act, with the exception, I think, of Eisenhower, has in some way or another perturbated, flummoxed, twisted, drew evolutionary trends with, whatever, the national security decision-making process.
Now, I could go on and say what Sandy Berger did to Madeline Albright in the realm of foreign policy, and I could make other provocative statements too, but no one, in my study of the act’s implementation, has so flummoxed the process as the present administration. What do I mean by that? Remember what I said about the bureaucracy, if it’s going to implement your decisions, having to participate in those decisions. And let me add one other dimension to that. If you accept the fact – and I do today, and if you’ll look around you at some of these magazine covers – I don’t need any more testimony than that I don’t think – the complexity of crises that confront governments today is just unprecedented. Let me say that again: The complexity of the crises that confront governments today are just unprecedented.

At the same time, especially in America – but I submit to you in Japan, in China, and in a number of other countries soon to be probably the European Union, it’s just as bad, if not in some ways worse -- the complexity of governing is unprecedented. You simply cannot deal with all the challenges that government has to deal with, meet all the demands that government has to meet in the modern age, in the 21st century, without admitting that it is hugely complex. That doesn’t mean you have to add a Department of Homeland Security with 70,000 disparate entities thrown under somebody in order to handle them, but it does mean that your bureaucracy has got to be staffed with good people, and they’ve got to work together, and they’ve got to work under leadership they trust and leadership that on basic issues they agree with, and that if they don’t agree, they can dissent and dissent and dissent. And if their dissent is such that they feel so passionate about it, they can resign and know why they’re resigning.

That is not the case today. And when I say that is not the case today, I stop on 26 January 2005. I don’t know what the case is today; I wish I did. But the case that I saw for four-plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, changes to the national security decision-making process. What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. And then when the bureaucracy was presented with the decision to carry them out, it was presented in a such a disjointed, incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn’t know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out.

Read George Packer’s book, “The Assassin’s Gate,” if you haven’t already. George Packer, a New Yorker – reporter for the New Yorker, has got it right. I just finished it, and I usually put marginalia in a book, but let me tell you, I had to get extra pages to write on. (Laughter.) And I wish I had been able to help George Packer write that book. In some places I could have given him a hell of a lot more specifics than he’s got. (Laughter.) But if you want to read how the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process, read that book. And of course there are other names in there: Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, whom most of you probably know Tommy Franks said was the stupidest blankety, blank man in the world. He was. (Laughter.) Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man. (Laughter.) And yet – and yet – and yet, after the secretary of State agrees to a $40 billion department rather than a $30 billion department having control, at least in the immediate post-war period in Iraq, this man is put in charge. Not only is he put in charge, he is given carte blanche to tell the State Department to go screw itself in a closet somewhere. Now, that’s not making excuses for the State Department; that’s telling you how decisions were made and telling you how things got accomplished. Read George’s book.


But I don’t think that’s the fundamental problem of implementation. I think the fundamental problem is a broken bureaucracy and an inability to do the kinds of things that you need to do in the 21st century to succeed.


The other thing that no one ever likes to talk about is SUVs and oil and consumption and, as one little girl said yesterday at the Yoshiyama Awards, do you know that we consume 60 percent of the world’s resources? We do; we consume 60 percent of the world’s resources. Well, we have an economy and we have a society that is built on the consumption of those resources. We better get fast at work changing the foundation – and I don’t see us fast at work on that, by the way, another failure of this administration, in my mind – or we better be ready to take those assets. We had a discussion in policy planning about actually mounting an operation to take the oilfields in the Middle East, internationalize them, put them under some sort of U.N. trusteeship and administer the revenues and the oil accordingly. That’s how serious we thought about it.


Again, I recommend to you “The Assassins’ Gate.” George Packer gets this right. There was simply no plan, other than humanitarian assistance and a few other things like protection of oil and so forth, with regard to post-war Iraq. There was no plan.

Karen on 10.21.05 @ 04:46 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I see a rawther Sketchy Future for the I.D. Movement...

Evolutionblog has some good coverage from the I.D. trial in Harrisburg, PA., and this bit from The New York Daily Record:

"Dr. Michael Behe, leading intellectual light of the intelligent design movement, faced a dilemma.

In order to call intelligent design a "scientific theory," he had to change the definition of the term. It seemed the definition offered by the National Academy of Science, the largest and most prestigious organization of scientists in the Western world, was inadequate to contain the scope and splendor and just plain gee-willigerness of intelligent design.

So he devised his own definition of theory, expanding upon the definition of those stuck-in-the-21st-century scientists, those scientists who ridicule him and call his "theory" creationism in a cheap suit.

He'd show them. He'd come up with his own definition.

Details aside, his definition was broader and more inclusive of ideas that are "outside the box."

So, as we learned Tuesday, during Day 11 of the Dover Panda Trial, under his definition of a scientific theory, astrology would be a scientific theory.


Who knew that Jacqueline Bigar, syndicated astrology columnist, was on par with Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe?

Eric Rothschild, attorney for the plaintiffs, asked Behe about whether astrology was science. And Behe, after hemming and hawing and launching into an abbreviated history of astrology and science, said, under his definition, it is. He said he wasn't a science historian, but the definition of astrology in the dictionary referred to its 15th-century roots, when it was equated with astronomy, which, according to the National Academy of Science, is a science.

So, taking a short logical leap, something Behe would certainly endorse since he does it a lot himself, you could say that intelligent design is on par with 15th-century science.

Sounds about right.

Actually, that's not quite fair. It shortchanges astrology. For example, my personal horoscope for Tuesday, formulated by the aforementioned famous scientist Bigar, said, "Confusion could be your middle name, but many other people feel confused too."

Nailed it.

These kinds of *OOPs moments* happened quite often. (Here is the link for all the available trancripts from the trial.) Here a GEM from the transcript when the Attorney for the plaintiff's, Mr. Rothchild, would delve into the *critical review* and authorship of the book Of Pandas and People and their I.D. claims. [Behe has trouble giving even a straight-forward answer to some of the questions]:

Click on the "more" button to read this transcript excerpt.

Karen on 10.21.05 @ 01:43 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

From the "WTF?" department....

If you were to go the the National Weather Service point forecast page for Memphis RIGHT NOW (i.e., I don't know that it'll be there when you visit and click on the link), you'll see that the Memphis area is under a "Hazardous Weather Outlook" advisory from the NWS. However, if you click through to the advisory, this is what you see:

424 AM CDT FRI OCT 21 2005

424 AM CDT FRI OCT 21 2005







Our tax dollars at work. :-)

Len on 10.21.05 @ 12:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Not a bad one....

James at '77 Track 7 points us to this "404 Not Found" error message. As creative error messages go, it's one of the better one's I've seen.

Len on 10.21.05 @ 11:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Friday Engrish Week in review...

This week in Engrish:

Decisions, Decisions. To hit the *DELETE* button or NOT…

Be sure to apply that sunscreen liberally…I hear the UV consequences can be Painful!!

Karen on 10.21.05 @ 08:34 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Coming Soon - The Truth About Ann...

I try to avoid the Ann *The Vixen of Vipertude* Coulter as the hate mongering, lying hypocrite she IS.

But this one from C&L, on Ann Coulter's fight with Conservatives, was too good to pass up:

Brad Blog:

“Coulter's greatest fault, however, is not her provocative policy ideas or discriminatory remarks. Ours is a country of free thought and free speech, and Coulter is entitled to her opinions. Coulter's offense is rather that she portrays herself as a Christian conservative, a representative of the views and principles of the Religious Right, and then uses that adopted identity to spread hate and fear, thus stigmatizing all those who embrace Christian conservatism.”

And a new DVD and book coming soon:
“a documentary named The Truth About Ann which aims squarely at political and religious hypocrisy of Rightwing commentator and author, Ann Coulter.

Indeed, Coulter's "faith" may be as empty and phony as her self-proclaimed "conservative" beliefs. The presentation points out the recent TIME Magazine profile of Coulter which implies that she is a member of Redeemer Presbyterian, an evangelical Christian church in New York, and yet the ministry at the church never seems to have heard of her!

The Redeemer church, "whose non-political stance is well-known, disavows all hateful and hostile speech," according to Borchers' presentation, had to "Google" her name to figure out who she was! Apparently Coulter is not a member of that church at all!”

Whether they are in Government or a part of the MSM, Exposing these lying-ass hypocrites IS always good news!!

Karen on 10.21.05 @ 06:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

The Bush White House fears it will be lost without Rove's services. Then again, the Bush White House—and the country—seem quite lost with Rove at the helm.

Rove is routinely described as "the leading architect of White House political and policy plans." At the moment, that's like praising Thomas Andrews for his fine work as architect of the Titanic.

Political plans? The Bush-Rove coalition is in tatters, and Bush's 58 percent disapproval rating ranks alongside his father and Jimmy Carter. Policy plans? Monthly inflation is the worst in 25 years, Americans have gone four straight years without income growth, and the Homeland Security Department that Rove sold as a political masterstroke in 2002 is now the flop that keeps on flopping.

So much for the House that Rove Built: The roof leaks, the foundation is collapsing, and the timbers are rotten with termites.
--Bruce Reed, on GOP fears of a Karl Rove indictment

Len on 10.21.05 @ 06:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

What a letdown....

Unlike the Tom DeLay arrest warrant, which was the most beautiful thing I'd seen yesterday, I have to confess great disappointment with DeLay's mug shot, which looks like a portrait he might have had taken for a campaign brochure (or maybe for a print ad for his exterminator business):

The mug shot was brought to us courtesy of our pals at The Smoking Gun, which also has a gallery of celebrity mug shots. Among which are my two favorites:

The Ozzy Osbourne mugshot--taken in Shelby County's "glamour slammer" in Memphis (Oz had been caught "staggeringly drunk" on Beale Street) while wearing a St. Louis Blues shirt. How can I not love this one?

The Bill Gates mugshot. A modern tech icon.

Len on 10.21.05 @ 05:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

In honor of this weekend's release of Doom, the movie....

Slate gaming columnist Will Carlough--whose main claim to fame is that in his 28 years, he's seen every video-game movie adaptation ever made--gives us his definitive ranking of every video-game movie ever made:

  1. Doom—The winner by default.
  2. Resident Evil—Any movie where a zombie dog gets kicked in the face can't be bad.
  3. Mortal Kombat
  4. Resident Evil: Apocalypse—The best sequel to a video-game movie ever.
  5. Super Mario Bros.—Getting Dennis Hopper to play King Koopa was quite a coup.
  6. Street Fighter—You probably don't believe me that the plot's about finding costumes, but it's true.
  7. Pokémon Heroes—Beats the other Pokémons because it's only 71 minutes long.
  8. Pokémon 4Ever
  9. Double Dragon—I vaguely remember a fistfight with a postal worker in this one.
  10. Pokémon: The First Movie
  11. Pokémon: The Movie 2000
  12. Pokémon 3: The Movie
  13. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
  14. Wing Commander
  15. Final Fantasy—The movie that put a studio out of business.
  16. Alone in the Dark—Best Uwe Boll picture to date.
  17. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life
  18. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever—They fight each either for five minutes then team up.
  19. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
  20. House of the Dead—Remember, there's no house.
And in case you're wondering about Will's opinion of Doom, well here it is:
Doom isn't a great movie, but the plot, which has something to do with mutants on Mars, almost makes sense and sticks reasonably close to the source material. Besides, there are only two or three really stupid scenes. That qualifies it as the best video-game movie ever made, at least until Peter Jackson helps make a movie based on Halo.

Len on 10.21.05 @ 05:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Great days in music history....

Today is the 88th anniversary of the birth of jazzman John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, one of (arguably the) best jazz trumpeters in musical history.

If you subscribe to XM Satellite Radio, I have only this to say to you: XM 70, "Real Jazz". Today. All Dizzy. All Day.

Be there or be square.

Len on 10.21.05 @ 04:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Instead of playing "gotcha" or even "hide the salami," the folks over at the Senate should ask Miers about subjects in which she's known to excel. Some sample questions might include:

  1. Who is the bestest, smartest, coolest president ever?
  2. Please provide the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of everyone with whom you have never discussed Roe v. Wade.
  3. True or False: Barbara and Jenna totally don't appreciate how cool their mom and dad are.
  4. Is it correct for a comma to appear before a coordinating conjunction linking the parts of a compound predicate?
  5. You have named Chief Justice Warren Burger as one of your favorite Supreme Court justices. Is it his devastating intellect, his soaring writing style, or his evenhanded administration of the court that you most admire? Where do Charles Whittaker and James McReynolds rank among your Top 10 Justices?
  6. When you wrote "Dates Not Available" next to most of the events at which you gave speeches throughout your career, did you mean that you were unable to recall the dates of the events, or that Justice Nathan Hecht was stepping out with Priscilla Owen that night?
  7. Best bowling score ever?
  8. If Jesus and President Bush got into a fight, who would win?
  9. Please name any state Bar Associations from which you have yet to be suspended.
--Dahlia Lithwick, "Makeup Test--a questionnaire Harriet Meirs can answer"

Len on 10.21.05 @ 04:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Yet Another Data Point....

in support of the principle that criminals are stupid.....

According to the Associated Press, an Oklahoma felon rejected the 30 year plea agreement that his lawyer negotiated with the prosecutor on charges of robbery and armed assault with intent to kill.

That's not so unusual. Lots of criminals don't want to do all the time the DA wants to give them. What's unusual about this case is that the defendant wanted more time.

A man got a prison term longer than prosecutors and defense attorneys had agreed to - all because of Celtics great Larry Bird.

The lawyers reached a plea agreement Tuesday for a 30-year term for a man accused of shooting with an intent to kill and robbery. But Eric James Torpy wanted his prison term to match Bird's jersey number 33.

"He said if he was going to go down, he was going to go down in Larry Bird's jersey," Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott said Wednesday. "We accommodated his request and he was just as happy as he could be.

Len on 10.20.05 @ 07:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]

This just doesn't seem "right"....

According to a story in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Anheuser-Busch is withdrawing its "Bud Pong" drinking game. Why? Because contestants are drinking beer when they play.

Anheuser-Busch Cos. of St. Louis is discontinuing its "Bud Pong" drinking game because some contestants were playing with beer.

"The promotion guidelines specified the use of water in the cups, not beer, so as not to encourage irresponsible consumption," company spokeswoman Francine Katz said Tuesday in a statement.

"Bud Pong" called for drinkers to play a game of Ping-Pong and drink a cup when they lost a point.
Um.... Is A-B for real here? A brewer sponsoring a drinking game as a promotion for a brand of beer, and they expect the players to drink.... water?

In the immortal words of Dr. Evil: Riiiiiiiiiigggggggghhhhhhhhttttttttt......

My take: A-B's looking for a face-saving way of ducking out from the criticisms of drinking games like "Bud Pong", which are apparently quite popular on college campuses, but which are criticized by college officials as promoting binge drinking.

Len on 10.20.05 @ 07:44 PM CST [link] [ | ]

This is the most beautiful thing I've seen today:

Credit: Daily DeLay, via Talking Points Memo.

Len on 10.20.05 @ 01:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A Baseball Post That's Not About The Cardinals....

2006 may finally be the year that I've been longing for: the Year The Braves Don't Win The NL East. At any rate, if it's not 2006, it's coming shortly.

I actually read this in Lee Sinins's daily "Around The Majors" newsletter this morning, but I'll throw BSTommy the link, since it's been years (it seems) that I've actually linked to him:

Nothing to do with the World Series, Leo Mazzone's going to the Orioles. For my money, he's at least half the reason Bobby Cox has been the success he's been down in Atlanta. Look at the guys Atlanta's brought in and made successes out of...and more importantly, look at the guys who did well in Atlanta, who left Atlanta to go somewhere else, and flamed out (or, at least, didn't perform nearly as well) under somebody else's watch.
For those of you who aren't obsessive baseball nerds, Leo's the pitching coach of the Braves, and from what I've read apparently the new Orioles manager is a childhood friend of Leo's (in fact, at least one commentator suggested that the new manager was hired specifically to lure Leo to Baltimore). Could be an interesting development. As to why a "mere" pitching coach changing jobs would be such news....well, Leo Mazzone's a "mere" pitching coach in the same way that, say, the USS Abraham Lincoln (or another of her class) is "just a ship". Seriously, there have been those who have suggested that Leo should be the first coach (who hasn't been a manger) to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Len on 10.20.05 @ 12:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I like the Concept...

A compelling narrative in The Most Important Criminal Case in American History. It has loads of speculation as fitting of lots of disjointed tid-bits out there…but there is still the matter of Fitzgerald’s evidence and facts to marshal.

But mostly I applaud the idea of :

”We expect you also to have sufficient evidence to prove all of this. There are many of us who are on the verge of losing faith in our democracy. We are convinced that there are people within the highest ramparts of American government who are willing to put our country at great risk to advance their geo-political vision. We want our country back. And all we have left is the power of the law. From what we know, you are the right man come forth at the right time.”
-- James Moore

To take back our democracy and higher ideas from the whole cabal of self-destructive, incompetent Facisto-cons. And using the LAW to do it -- Now that's a great thought!!

Courtesy of The Smirking Chimp.

Karen on 10.20.05 @ 12:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

In a way this was the closing chapter to a story which began back on December 18th of last year. That’s when Cards’ GM Walt Jocketty traded away his best minor-league hitter, one of his two best young pitchers, and one of his top relievers in exchange for Mark Mulder. Many people thought it was too much to unload for such an unreliable pitcher, but I’m convinced Jocketty knew exactly how much talent he was giving up. He just didn’t care about next year, or the year after that, or the year after that. He cared about this year. Specifically, he wanted a big-game pitcher who could win games in the playoffs, on the biggest stage. If he had to give up a hitting prodigy like Daric Barton or a young flamethrower like Danny Haren to get him, he was fine with that, as long as it paid immediate dividends. He was going all in.

Tonight it became pretty clear that Jocketty lost that bet. Mulder didn’t just lack stuff, he lacked focus, composure, grit, and all that other stuff that scouts and pundits squawk about all the time. In the third inning he made a critical mistake when he zonked out and failed to cover the bag on a roller to the right side. Rather than one on, one out, and the pitcher up, Mulder found himself in a two-on, no-out jam. Two pitches later he took a come-backer to the mound on a bunt by Oswalt. Granted the ball was chopped high in the air, but Mulder had time to nab the slow-footed Ausmus at third. But once again he zonked out, faked toward second (God knows why), before throwing to first. Two pitches after that he threw the ball in the dirt about ten feet off of home plate to give the Stros the lead they’d never relinquish. He made some other mistakes the next inning – like a hanger to Jason Lane that the Astros rightfielder hit into next week – but those were failures of execution. The other mistakes seemed like failures of nerve, totally atypical of a so-called “big game” pitcher.

(Of course, when Mulder exited the game the Busch crowd behind the home-team dugout gave him a standing O. I immediately thought of a satirical piece that ran last week at theBrushback.com, which had an “adorable” Cards fan saying “I’m gonna wear my Cardinal-red sweatshirt and bring some pom-poms and cheer with all my might—except when the Astros are up. They won’t get anything from me except the usual polite standing ovation.”)
--Brian Gunn

Len on 10.20.05 @ 12:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Juan Cole On Iraq...

Tomdispatch has an Interview with Juan Cole about Iraq that is worth a read through. Part 1 is available at this link and is called The Treasure, the Strongbox, and the Crowbar.

Here is an excerpt:

… "I was just a Midwestern college professor. I taught my courses and wrote my articles about the Middle East. My interests were in religious institutions, religious movements, especially Shiite Islam and Sunni modernism. I knew where these movements came from. I knew the history of the Shiite clergy in Najaf back to the eighteenth century. And I had lived in the Middle East off and on for a significant period of time.

An "Army brat," with Arabic, Persian, and Urdu under his belt, a scholar who "can make something out of an Ottoman text," he teaches modern Middle Eastern history at the University of Michigan. He is exceedingly mild looking, mild-mannered, and quiet-spoken. Even his humor is hushed. He's ironic. The very name of his blog, he tells me, was meant as a quiet commentary on the "grandiose" blog titles people were then choosing back in 2002. And yet, as anyone who reads his blog knows, his mind is anything but mild. As a reasonable man increasingly appalled by the Bush administration and American policy in the Middle East, he can be, and often is, an impressively fierce essayist.


COLE: It's not just from Iraq. It's our picture of the world. The United States is a peculiarly insular society. Most people here haven't traveled very much and our mass media, all television news of any significance, is controlled by about five corporations.

Basically, the public is informed about things like the Middle East by generalist journalists who were in Southeast Asia or Russia last year, and by politicians and bureaucrats who were dealing with some other region last week. And then there's official Washington spin, and the punditocracy, the professional commentators, mainly in New York and Washington, who comment about the Middle East without necessarily knowing anything serious about it. Anybody who's lived in parts of the world under the microscope in Washington is usually astonished at how we represent them. You end up with an extremely persistent set of images that almost no actual information is able to make a dent in.

TD: Can you apply this to Iraq?

COLE: The famous instance is the interview Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz gave to National Public Radio in February before the Iraq War. He said words to the effect that Iraq will be a better friend to the United States than Saudi Arabia had been. It shows you he was intending to replace Saudi Arabia with Iraq as a pillar of the U.S. security establishment in the Middle East. Saudis are Wahabis and they have sensitivities about their holy cities, Mecca and Medina. Iraq, he said, is a Shia society. It's secular. He juxtaposed Shia and secular. And then he added, it doesn't have the problem of having holy cities.

The Washington power elite that planned out the invasion appears to have thought that Iraq was a secular society, including the Shiites amongst them, and they seem to have been unaware of Najaf and Kabala as among the holiest shrine cities in the world of Islam.

It's not a matter of stupidity on Wolfowitz's part. It's a matter of being uninformed. Willfully uninformed. He just believed whatever people like [long-time Iraqi expatriate politician and corrupt banker, now vice-premier] Ahmed Chalabi told him about Iraq. He probably hadn't read as much as a whole book on Iraq's modern history. Well, Iraq wasn't a secular society.

Part 2, Throwing Grenades in the Global Economic Cockpit, is also up at this link, and it is worth an entire read through.

Karen on 10.20.05 @ 09:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Fun with Lego™

Lego™ Building Program:

"LDraw™ is an open standard for LEGO CAD programs that allow the user to create virtual LEGO models and scenes. You can use it to document models you have physically built, create building instructions just like LEGO, render 3D photo realistic images of your virtual models and even make animations. The possibilities are endless. Unlike real LEGO bricks where you are limited by the number of parts and colors, in LDraw nothing is impossible."

Courtesy of Digg.

Have FUN!!


Karen on 10.20.05 @ 09:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

In the Ever-after...

Now, I get these update e-mails from Bishop Spong and some of them are most illuminating or cover topics that everyone wonders about - or at least those who wonder about religious issues at all *wink* do muse about.

Here is an interesting tid-bit from a recent e-mail:

"Michael from Dayton, Ohio writes:

"My question for you concerns prayer that is directed to those other than the ultimate God. People pray to humans who have moved on to whatever happens after death - to Jesus of Nazareth, to Mary his mother, and to the vast litany of saints, many of whom have been declared patrons of causes, events and professions. All of these are, or were, human beings who have passed over the threshold of death. Does not this type of prayer assume the immortality of the individual human spirit or soul? What are your thoughts on the existence, activity and power of the individual soul/spirit after death? For example, I admire the writings of Thomas Jefferson but I don't try to contact him in his "other world" for enlightenment. Why should I pray to St. Cecelia to help me play the right notes or to St. Jude for some lost cause, or to St. Mary to intercede for me with her son? Do these individual souls still exist and do they have any power or inclination to relate to us? Why should I pray to Jesus of Nazareth if he has returned to the Divine? If God is indeed Being, Life and Love, do not all human souls melt back into this Absolute after death? In a larger sense if the individual spirits of the saints remain intact, does not the soul of every human endure eternally as a unique spirit? This has become a major stumbling block on my path to the Divine. Can you help?"

Dear Michael,

Your questions have much to commend them. My bet is that you grew up in a Roman Catholic background where the Virgin, St. Cecelia, St. Jude and other saints were important parts of your culture. You also seem to be in contact with some eastern religious thought with your idea that all souls melt back into the Absolute after death.

The bottom line is that no one knows what happens after death and the world is reeling today somewhere between the death of traditional religious language and the need to process contemporary religious experience. I am not sure where we will end up.

I suspect praying to saints began because they were so human and God, even Jesus seemed so distant, so unreal. It was not long after these practices were adopted that cults devoted to Mary and various saints developed and they in turn spawned cottage industry in medals, icons, etc. I think most of that represented a superstitious past that is dying.

My only word to you is that I am so busy living that I don't waste much time trying to figure out what happens after life. I believe in life after death but I can't define it. I believe in life before death and I intend to live it. I commend a similar pattern to you.

-- Bishop Spong

Karen on 10.20.05 @ 08:18 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Speaking of Technology...

...Crooks and Liars had this post about the potential "Tracking Dot Decoding" system from printers.

Most *interesting* and *peculiar* as to what ARE they tracking? And WHY?

"This guide is part of the Machine Identification Code Technology project. It explains how to read the date, time, and printer serial number from forensic tracking codes in a Xerox DocuColor color laser printout.
The DocuColor series prints a rectangular grid of 15 by 8 miniscule yellow dots on every color page. The same grid is printed repeatedly over the entire page, but the repetitions of the grid are offset slightly from one another so that each grid is separated from the others. The grid is printed parallel to the edges of the page, and the offset of the grid from the edges of the page seems to vary. These dots encode up to 14 7-bit bytes of tracking information, plus row and column parity for error correction. Typically, about four of these bytes were unused (depending on printer model), giving 10 bytes of useful data. Below, we explain how to extract serial number, date, and time from these dots. Following the explanation, we implement the decoding process in an interactive computer program.

Because of their limited contrast with the background, the forensic dots are not usually visible to the naked eye under white light. They can be made visible by magnification (using a magnifying glass or microscope), or by illuminating the page with blue instead of white light. Pure blue light causes the yellow dots to appear black. It can be helpful to use magnification together with illumination under blue light, although most individuals with good vision will be able to see the dots distinctly using either technique by itself..."

And here's what you can decode:

"Each column is read top-to-bottom as a single byte of seven bits (omitting the first parity bit); the bytes are then read right-to-left. The columns (which we have chosen to number from left to right) have the following meanings:

* 15: unknown (often zero; constant for each individual printer; may convey some non-user-visible fact about the printer's model or configuration)
* 14, 13, 12, 11: printer serial number in binary-coded-decimal, two digits per byte (constant for each individual printer; see below)
* 10: separator (typically all ones; does not appear to code information)
* 9: unused
* 8: year that page was printed (without century; 2005 is coded as 5)
* 7: month that page was printed
* 6: day that page was printed
* 5: hour that page was printed (may be UTC time zone, or may be set inaccurately within printer)
* 4, 3: unused
* 2: minute that page was printed
* 1: row parity bit (set to guarantee an odd number of dots present per row)

The printer serial number is a decimal number of six or eight digits; these digits are coded two at a time in columns 14, 13, 12, and 11 (or possibly just 13, 12, and 11); for instance, the serial number 00654321 would be coded with column values 00, 65, 43, and 21.

[Pictures and diagrams are included to help with the explanation and are most instructive.]

So, Forensically speaking, I guess that should tell ya to NEVER use a printer to commit yer crimes!! Or at least not a Xerox DocuColor color laser printer.


Karen on 10.20.05 @ 08:08 AM CST [link] [ | ]

What drugs are you taking, Steve....

and more importantly, where can I get some (after last night, I need a good vacation from reality myself).

This just in from InfoWorld:

Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer believes the company has ironed out all of the security problems in its forthcoming Windows Vista operating system so that users can consider adopting it the first day it is released. For the most part.

"Most people will trust it from day one on their home computer, and then they will have to decide about their corporate [PC]. I encourage you to get it early but I must be honest among friends," Ballmer joked Wednesday before an audience of IT professionals and analysts at Gartner Inc.'s Symposium and ITxpo 2005.
Seriously--when I read this the coffee squirted right out my nose, I laughed so hard (and do you realize what a PAIN first degree nasal burns are.... hooo, that smarts). Sorry Steve, but WinBlows has become such a bloated nightmare (frequent commenter Bryan, a fellow geek, gets it correct) that really, a completely new, developed from scratch OS is the only answer. The trouble is, Microsoft's track record in this department is so piss-poor that only a complete, brain-dead fucking MORON is going to trust the next WinBlows release from day one.

As far as I'm concerned, it's still an eternal verity: no Microsoft OS or application is out of beta before the issuance of Service Pack 2 to that OS/app--at a bare minimum.

Len on 10.20.05 @ 08:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the 'What will they think of Next' Files...

"Cheap, paper-thin TV screens that can be used in newspapers and magazines have been unveiled by German electronics giant Siemens.
"The technology makes it possible to put moving images directly onto paper ... at a cost that would make it economical to use on everything from magazines to cigarette packets ... where the moving images would give more detailed instructions than any photo could ever do," he said.

He said that the technology will be used for Harry Potter-style dynamic pictures in newspapers but will probably take a little while to get cheap enough..."

-- Paper view technology.

Courtesy of Digg.

Karen on 10.20.05 @ 07:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Statutory Concession Post....

Congratulations to the Houston Astros, 2005 National League Champions, who won the pennant with their 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Actually (and I may have already mentioned it here before), this comes as a mild relief. Following the World Series as a Cardinal fan sucked last year, in large part because there was a huge outpouring of support for the Red Sox everywhere but Cardinal Nation, because of the Sox's longstanding history of Series futility. (Surprisingly, this was true even in Memphis, despite the fact that the local ball club, the Memphis Redbirds, is the AAA affiliate of the Cardinals. Go figure.) Had the Cardinals taken the pennant this year, we'd see the same thing again, with everyone outside of Cardinal Nation rooting for the South Siders because they've not won an AL pennant since 1959, nor a World Series since 1917 (the "Curse of Shoeless Joe"?). Now, I don't have a dog in this fight (I hate to disappoint Karen, but I'm not really pulling for the Sox in this one--nor for the 'stros, though), so I can leave it to the rest of you, who can spend your time up until the first pitch on Saturday wondering which of the two "deserving" teams is more deserving: the team that has never won it all, or the team that hasn't won it all since Christ was playing in A-ball.

So now the TV can go back into mothballs until spring training next year. :-)

Len on 10.20.05 @ 06:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Heaven is like communism, talk shows, the two-party system, or movies based on old TV shows. If you think those ideas sound good, it's only because you haven't actually thought about them.
--Alfredo Ibars [on the GODEXIST mailing list]

Len on 10.20.05 @ 06:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Interesting commentary on the "Fristgate" insider trading scandal...

from the Decembrist:

Let's consider why it might generally be considered a conflict of interest for Frist to own so much HCA stock. The main concern would be that Frist might be in a position to use his public power to improve the financial condition of such hospitals; for example, he could push for some kind of increased coverage for the uninsured or even universal health care. He might have a public motive for doing so, but he might also have a private motive, since it would hugely benefit a hospital chain like HCA. That's the reason for putting all his stock in a blind trust, so that he won't know, and we know that he won't know, whether he would benefit privately.

But when the uninsured ratio goes up, and Frist actually knows that this will affect his own portfolio, paradoxically his reaction isn't what the normal conflict-of-interest analysis would assume. Rather than use his official power to reduce the number of uninsured, he takes a private action, and just dumps the stock. And not just any stock, this is his patrimony he's selling out. It's the stock of his own family's company. But he washes his hands of it. Leaves it to some bigger sucker.
What I find fascinating here is that the result dictated by the normal conflict of interest analysis--increase the number of insured--is actually the socially more desirable action that Frist could have taken. One of those cases where the profit motive might well have motivated Frist to "do the right thing", as it were. Instead, he's willing to dump the family business at a profit, letting someone else take the inevitable loss.
And that, to me, is telling, and it's about more than Frist's despicable character. Because it goes to the great paradox of what is currently called "conservatism." The central constituency of the modern Republican machine is, broadly speaking, business. Yet there are dozens of policies, passive as well as active, large and small, that are going to be a disaster for American business in the medium- and long-term. Some are disasters for specific companies and sectors, others for business generally: the fiscal debacle, the burden and unpredictability of health care costs, climate change, income inequality, short-sighted energy policies designed only to boost supply, chaos in the Middle East, hostility to the U.S. everywhere, lack of access to higher ed, collapsing infrastructure, etc. Somehow, in a way that would not have been the case in previous decades, business leaders and many investors seem bizarrely unconcerned about these trends.

And why is that? I suspect it's integrally related to the "pump and dump" culture that has infiltrated business, a mutation of the cult of "shareholder value." (Pump and dump refers to the practice of talking up a stock or making earnings appear high, then selling just before the inherent weaknesses in the company become apparent. On the Yahoo! Finance message board discussing HCA, Frist is referred to lovingly as the "Pump and Dump Drama Queen.") Investors as well as executives don't look at a company as something to build for the long term; they need to beat their numbers in the current quarter. And for the most part they assume that by the time things get tough, they'll be out. The insiders will bail out before the suckers; the CEO will move on to some other company. Or, if worst comes to worst, he'll retire with a nice package guaranteeing health care, use of the company plane for life, and a nice package of stock to sell when someone else turns the company around.
I did my master's degree in management information systems; technically, that's a business degree, and the school I attended was a graduate school of business administration. And this is something we discussed in a few of my classes. Unfortunately for American capitalism, the system of corporate public stock ownership has bred classes of "owners" and "managers" who aren't concerned with the long term health of their companies, because they don't feel any connection with their companies. For most corporate managers, even those who own large blocks of stock in their companies, don't really view their association as a commitment to an ongoing organization, but rather as a ticket to be punched on their career path.

That may be one of the most serious problems with American capitalism today.

Credit: Thomas Nephew at Newsrack for the pointer.

Len on 10.19.05 @ 08:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Since I can't be at Busch Stadium tonight....

all I can do is point y'all to this Riverfront Times feature on legendary Busch Stadium organist Ernie Hayes:

All great musicians have their quirks. Beethoven, his paranoia. Vivaldi, his arrogance. Tchaikovsky, his headstrong impetuosity. Bach, his temper.

And St. Louis Cardinals organist Ernie Hays, his notorious potty mouth.

"What's better than a rose on your piano?" he asks. "Tulips on your organ!"

Then: "You know why I prefer the piano to the organ? All the damn foot pedals get in the way of the blowjob!"

No doubt about it, Ernie Hays has a great gig going. After all, asks Hays, "How many people get paid to play with their organ?"
[In public, yet! --LRC]

These days, very few. Just half of the 30 American major-league ballparks continue to employ a full-time organist, making Hays an endangered species.

Len on 10.19.05 @ 08:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

We have trouble brewing in the Bluff City....

I don't listen to the local "progressive talk" station here--WWTQ AM 680--mostly because I wanted Air America from the beginning (or as close as I could get to the beginning), so I subscribed to XM Satellite Radio. By the time WWTQ affiliated with Air America, I was quite satisfied with my XM, thank you--and besides, as I've noted elsewhere here, I don't consider myself a Memphian; I'm a St. Louisan in exile. For that reason I really don't have any great motivation to support the local radio station just because it's local, and I would much rather listen to XM, because I'm paying for it anyway.

WWTQ pre-empts the last couple hours or so of Randi Rhodes (I think) for a local host, Leon Gray. Leon's sort of an interesting choice to host a "progressive" talk show (or so I understand; keep in mind I don't listen to him, myself)--apparently he does have "mostly" liberal views, but in a few areas he apparently makes common cause with the social conservatives. For example (again, from what I've heard), Leon has come out in support of school prayer and of the teaching of either creationism or intelligent design in the public schools.

And then we have the latest crisis.

Apparently, Leon's been voicing his opinion on the air that homosexuality is objectively wrong, and a lifestyle choice. I've not heard the broadcasts in question (as I said, I don't tune in to WWTQ), but we can get an idea of the subject matter from a recent blog entry at the WWTQ blog that's universally attributed to Leon (for pretty obvious reasons):

We defend the rights of the KKK to march, rally and spew hatred in the streets, it’s that first amendment thing, which now-a-days gives folks the right to do wrong… talk about an oxymoron!

I will now cut my own throat… Gays and Lesbians wanted feel free to flaunt their sexuality, excuse me their sexual orientation, which without any doubt is a personal choice, and now have managed to force society to see it their way (meaning that their right)… or at least act like it.

The truth is, most of us have chosen to do wrong in our lives and now just don’t feel comfortable openly pointing out the wrongs of others. We’re missing the boat! At this rate, our society will change its position to accommodate any and all wrongs based on a person having the alleged right to choose to do wrong. Folks Free-Will is not a right!!! It’s only a decision…

We the people, for the most part, don’t believe there is anyone who is not doing something wrong and therefore have disqualified almost everyone from being able to hold anyone to higher moral standards.

Do we really want our children and grandchildren to grow up with an involuntary tolerance for everyone else’s behavior, in exchange for everyone else’s acceptance of theirs? If not, the time to change that is now!
Anyway, the Liberal Memphis Blogetariat is in a bit of a tizzy over that one, as you might imagine.

For some pretty good posts on the issue, check out:

autoegocrat at The Flypaper Theory. He first jumped all over Leon for his suggestion that homosexuality is genocide, but he's being more forgiving than I think I'd be, and he's not going to give up on Leon's show yet.

The Left Wing Cracker thinks it's time for a "come to Jesus meeting" over at WWTQ:
I've always liked Leon personally, and known him as a Democratic stalwart. However, I would expect to hear that kind of homophobic bullshit on WREC or WCRV, but not on 680! I'm not yet ready to say he should be canned, but Jerry Dean needs to have a talk with him about this, because he ran off a hell of a lot of listeners today.
Polar Donkey isn't at all surprised:
Am I surprised he said something like this. Well, to be honest, no. He talks about school prayer and such things so I already knew he was a social conservative. That’s why I haven’t listened to 680 between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., I just don’t like the religious talk.

Len on 10.19.05 @ 08:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Our periodic cannibalism review...

Over at The Sneeze, Steve gives us "A small salute to mascots who serve up their own". Go give it a gander if you need a few yux.

Len on 10.19.05 @ 03:27 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

I don't know what indictments, if any, are coming down the pike. But I promise you this: If there are high-reaching indictments from Fitzgerald's grand jury that threaten to rip out several vital organs of the Bush regime, the same milksop Machiavellis who extol "hardball" as the Beltway's favorite sport will suddenly start worming their fingers together in major fits of nervous handwringing and warning us these trials risk "tearing the country apart" and becoming a "terrible distraction" to more "urgent problems facing the nation."

I remember this happening during the early stages of Watergate, when many of the poohbahs of journalism and punditry tried to bottle up the surge force of the investigations, feeling that the country had been through so much pain and woe in the late Sixties (the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the riots at the Chicago convention, etc) that another national trauma would be too much to bear. This was before the full dimensions of the rot and gangsterism were known, and even the Voices of Caution (such as Hugh Sidey) were forced to concede that Nixon had to go. I fully expect a replay if there are major indictments, with David Broder assuming the role of Sidey, Richard Cohen performing his yeoman best to much everything up, etc., and the all the former hardballers going soft, saying that whatever was done to strike back at Joe Wilson is dwarfed by the more important challenges facing us in Iraq, the War on Terror, the Katrina rebuilding, and so on.

If it looks as if Cheney has to resign and Bush himself enters the Nixon danger zone, we'll hear the same frets and cries from the pundit shows about the country being torn apart and Americans losing faith in their government. But it isn't the country that will be torn apart by Plamegate any more than the country was torn apart during Watergate (which provided daily thrilling news entertainment value that bound citizens together); it's the Washington establishment that will be torn apart. And it should be torn apart. It's failed the country, and it's played by its own rules for too long, and "criminalizing politics" is exactly what should be done when political criminals deceive a nation into a war with Judith Miller serving as the Angie Dickinson to their Rat Pack and Richard Cohen auditioning for the part of Joey Bishop.
--James Wolcott

Len on 10.19.05 @ 03:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Late to the party again.....

I heard this on Air America Radio news during Morning Sedition this morning, but my morning newsreading was interrupted by work, so I never got around to following up. But it appears that this morning the New York Daily News revealed the blockbuster that Bush had learned of Karl Rove's involvement in l'affaire Plame two years ago, and had "whacked' Rove for it:

WASHINGTON - An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."
I like this comment on the story from Josh Marshall:
And one more question. For almost two years, Scott McClellan insisted that neither Karl Rove nor Scooter Libby had anything to do with the leaks. He knew because he asked them, he said. He was very categorical.

Now it seems that at least with reference to Rove, the president knew McClellan's statements weren't true. And yet he allowed McClellan to make them. Come to think of it, I guess this one really isn't even a question. It speaks for itself, doesn't it?
Things'll get real interesting soon.

Len on 10.19.05 @ 02:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Wish I had another chance to wander Busch Stadium with a camera...

Over at the Post-Dispatch's "Bird Land" blog, Derrick Goold does an interesting post on Busch as Canvas, on some of the interesting graffiti that have collected at Busch Stadium II in the final season. Bet they'd make a fine photo post. My favorites:

Hopefully not Last Game! 10/13/04


1st Game Busch Stadium, 1967 vs. Pittsburgh, Last Game 2005 vs. Cincy Reds. Kevin & Rich.

From Alaska to STL. My last game today 10/13/05


(near left field foul pole)
If anyone finds a half-eaten hot dog … it’s mine.

Thanks Busch. Ozzie’s backflips. Coleman’s tarp. Shannon … Willie’s glove. JACK.

I received the best news ever!!! Baby Eade is on the way. I can’t wait. 10-13-05.

Going out in style.


(near Dugout Room many ushers signed a pillar)
The Usher Bartman 1982-2005
Well so long old friend Keith 1990-2005

To my brother Ted __, who brought me to my first Cards game at the Old Busch Stadium – thanks brother. No greater fan entered these Gates.


Thanks, Stan, Lou, Bob, Ken, Ozzie, Ted, Willie, Vince, Mark, Jack, Jack, Scott, Albert, Jim, Reggie, So, Dave, Whitey, Red, Mike & Curt.

For a Good Time Call 1-900-CUBS-LOSE

We got married at Busch on July 3, 2003
[I'm envious. My biggest regret about my second marriage is not getting married at the stadium, followed by an intimate reception in the skyboxes. --LRC]


Sportsman’s Park
Busch I
Busch II

Our first baseball home
This is where the tradition, honor, values & love of the game were passed on to the next generation

I was here for Straight A nite 1970. Too bad I only had B’s.

I raised my son at Busch. – DS

I came for the Stones and stayed for for the birds!

My dad watched this stadium being build from his office 40 yrs ago. Now my son watches the new stadium from the SBC bldg. In memory of my dad.

So Long Taguchi!
And my absolute, all-time favorite:

(a drawing of a jersey with “5” on it and this name above it: “SUPERMAN”)

Len on 10.19.05 @ 01:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Just in time for your Holiday shopping....

the perfect gift for the man who has everything (well, providing he's an American Civil War buff): The Battle of Gettysburg - Miniature Model Diarama

Hand made diorama of The Battle of Gettysburg. Constructed over a period of 5yrs, with the intention of depicting the entire 3 days of fighting. A must see and own for any model enthusiast or Museum. The model is complete and the website will be updated with current pictures very shortly.

Website: www.memlane.com/nonprofit/mhmma (updated regularly)

9 - 8ft x10ft tables and 1 - 8ft x 16ft table

Contains 31, 500 hand painted Infantry, 860 Horses, 230 Canon, 10 Buildings, 70 Waggons

There have been over 10, 000 alterations to the original model pieces used for the display.

Realistic offers only. Transportation cost and maintenance of the model can be discussed at time of purchase.
And a steal at only three-quarters of a million dollars (minimum starting bid). Only 5 days and one hour (as of the time I post this) to go, so getcher bid in.

If only it weren't bigger than my whole bloody apartment....

Len on 10.19.05 @ 12:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Stumbling around the baseblogs....

I came across a description of Phat Albert Pujols's game winning blast Monday night at BS Memorial Stadium: King Albert

With Eckstein and Edmonds batting, it was as though two servants were clearing the way for the king- giving themselves up, bypassing smaller glory so that the Big Man could stride to the plate, zero in, flick his wrists and everyone could shut up and watch- staggering power both physically and emotionally jarring loose from those wrists, through his arms and onto his bat, taking a pitch delivered by one of the premier pitchers of his generation and thinking nothing more of it than "crush," or "obliterate," or more importantly, "win." Albert Pujols is royalty among other baseball men, someone those who follow the game so religiously should make their idol- DO make their idol.
Go read the whole thing; there's some excellent baseball prose there (well, the whole first half of that post, that is; for some reason the author then tacks on a post about the Milwaukee Brewers that you can pass on, if you want).

Len on 10.19.05 @ 11:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

We all make mistakes....

and sometimes we try to profit by them.

DKNY Men's Leather Pants I Unfortunately Own
Stylish. Expensive. Very much a bad purchase for me.


You are bidding on a mistake.

We all make mistakes. We date the wrong people for too long. We chew gum with our mouths open. We say inappropriate things in front of grandma.

And we buy leather pants.

I can explain these pants and why they are in my possession. I bought them many, many years ago under the spell of a woman whom I believed to have taste. She suggested I try them on. I did. She said they looked good. I wanted to have a relationship of sorts with her. I’m stupid and prone to impulsive decisions. I bought the pants.

The relationship, probably for better, never materialized. The girl, whose name I can’t even recall, is a distant memory. I think she was short.


These pants are in excellent condition. They were never taken on pirate expeditions. They weren’t worn onstage. They didn’t straddle a Harley, or a guy named Harley. They just hung there, sad and ignored, for a few presidencies.

Someone, somewhere, will look great in these pants. I’m hoping that someone is you, or that you can be suckered into buying them by a girl you’re trying to bed.

Please buy these leather pants.

Len on 10.19.05 @ 11:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

All steamed up...

I've been keeping up with the Antarctic adventures of Simon Coggins over at 75 Degrees South, and this week they are finishing up a series on Antarctic camp-outs (Watch out for those Weenie-roasts. *teehee*)

There is an interesting Quick Time movie of the Wind Pressure shaking the steam right out of their coffee mugs.

Yikes... and it's awful COLD down there!!


Karen on 10.19.05 @ 10:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's GEM is...

...from the Chicago Tribune and Clarence Page writing on the Plame matter:

"... As Democratic operative James Carville said in August, "It's going to be very interesting to see whether [Miller's] problem is a 1st Amendment [problem]--i.e., I want to protect a source--or a 5th Amendment [problem]--I was out spreading this stuff too."
And what kind of source was Miller protecting? Libby does not appear to be a whistle-blower trying to expose internal waste, fraud, abuse or corruption. If anything, the administration was exercising a tactic of smearing its critics in order to suppress information that ran counter to its arguments for war.

What separates this episode of political hardball from the usual political fun and games is the law that appears to have been broken, the outing of a CIA agent and a compromise of national security..."

--Clarence Page: A reporter's conflict: Hero or a stooge?.

It's an Excellent piece - distilling the nuggets down to the essential issues and problems with ole Judy's claims of priviledge and duty. 1st Amd. versus 5th Amd. is really more like it.

Now, we can only hope Fitzgerald has some legal footing for that *accountability moment* for this heinous stuff and disreputable bAdministration actions...can't wait to see the indictments forthcoming.

Karen on 10.19.05 @ 08:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Someday, we'll get the marquis matchup Roger Ailes has dreamed of, in which the Republican nominee is a commentator for Fox and the Democrat is a commentator for CNN. Imagine the synergy: the two candidates could debate each other, then appear on their respective networks to analyze their own performance.

Consider the possibilities: Bill O'Reilly vs. Aaron Brown, Fred Barnes vs. Carlos Watson, and of course, the battle of the party-switchers, Greta Van Susteren vs. Paula Zahn.

Perennial ratings cellar-dweller MSNBC might have to launch a third party to get its candidates into the race – but Pat Buchanan would be up for the challenge. CNBC could corner the market in a new breed of commentator by hiring talking heads who lost instead of losing politicians.

Attention, bookers: When the 2006 Senate race is over, Allan Lichtman will still be available.
--Bruce Reed

Len on 10.19.05 @ 08:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The New 'Blonde Bond'

As a "pre-view" of the new Blonde Bond, Daniel Craig, we rented the film Layer Cake (2004).

It's along the lines of Pulp Fiction (1994) or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998).

The Plot outline summary says:

"Based upon JJ Connelly's London crime novel, "LAYER CAKE" is about a successful cocaine dealer (DANIEL CRAIG) who has earned a respected place among England's Mafia elite and plans an early retirement from the business.

However, big boss Jimmy Price hands down a tough assignment: find Charlotte Ryder, the missing rich princess daughter of Jimmy's old pal Edward, a powerful construction business player and gossip papers socialite. Complicating matters are two million pounds' worth of Grade A ecstasy, a brutal neo-Nazi sect and a whole series of double crossings.

The title "LAYER CAKE" refers to the layers or levels the dealer has to go through as he painstakingly plots his own escape.

What is revealed is a modern underworld where the rules have changed. There are no 'codes', or 'families' and respect lasts as long as a line. Not knowing who he can trust, he has to use all his 'savvy', 'telling' and skills which make him one of the best, to escape his own. The ultimate last job, a love interest called Tammy and an international drugs ring, threaten to draw him back into the 'cake mix'.

But, time is running out and the penalty will endure a lifetime...

It was very well done. Enough violence (tho' not terrible over the top as recent films trend go), sex, intrigue and plot twists to keep you watching. But the accents can be *muuurderous* so be prepared to rewind and pay close attention.

And it's a good long look at the next 007! We likee!!


Karen on 10.19.05 @ 08:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Taking the Axe to Conservative critics...

I cited a Real Clear Politics piece by Bruce Bartlett earlier today...only to stumble across this bit:

"In the latest sign of the deepening split among conservatives over how far to go in challenging President Bush, Bruce Bartlett, a Republican commentator who has been increasingly critical of the White House, was dismissed on Monday as a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative research group based in Dallas.

In a statement, the organization said the decision was made after Mr. Bartlett supplied its president, John C. Goodman, with the manuscript of his forthcoming book, "The Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy."

Mr. Bartlett, who was a domestic policy aide at the White House in the Reagan administration and a deputy assistant Treasury secretary under the first President Bush, confirmed that he had been dismissed after 10 years with the center but declined to make any further comment..."

-- Richard Stevenson (NY Times).

So much for the Principled Conservatives. Only the truly sychophantic conservatives need apply to fill ole Bruce's shoes.

[Ya think it was the title of his book that got to 'em? Just asking...*smile*]

Now, if a Conservative Critic is axed down in the forest and nobody's there to hear him scream...does he make a sound at all?

Think about that *cosmic question* and many other ZEN mysteries of the GOP strategy.

Karen on 10.18.05 @ 12:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Somehow, I'll never listen to this song the same way, again....

According to This Day In Music, "Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear" by Elvis Presley was No. 1 on the U.S. charts on the day I was born (I refuse to believe that the utterly excremental "Love Will Keep Us Together", by The Captain and Tennille, is my "Life Theme" song (i.e., the song that was #1 on your 18th birthday)).... Oh hell. Below the fold the list of what was number one in the U.S. on various significant ages in my life....

The UK charts don't seem to be much better though. "All Shook Up", by The King, was #1 in Old Blighty on my birthday (hmmmm... with a Daily Double like that, it was probably foreordained that I'd eventually find myself in Memphis), while "Tears on my Pillow", by Johnny Nash, would have been my "Life Theme" song if I had been born a subject of Her Majesty (fortunately, I don't recall ever hearing that one, which is probably A Good Thing, though it's a toss up as to whether it's any better than "Love Will Keep Us Together").

Credit: Elayne Riggs, for whom this was the "Silly Site o'the Day".

Len on 10.18.05 @ 12:32 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Real Life TeeVee...Scripted for public consumption...

Your Top Nielsen Rated Daytime TeeVee Fictional-Scripted Drama: The White House

"STEWART: It's obviously not news that many of the administration's media events are scripted and prepared. But in this instance, were you surprised that the Pentagon allowed soldiers to be used in that manner, and then for the rehearsal to be seen by the public?

CORDDRY: A little bit, Jon. but it was a nice gesture to the fans. A little peek at what goes on behind the scenes. And a nice bonus for the fifth season DVD of The White House.

STEWART: I don't think I know what you're talking about.

CORDDRY: Well, I'm talking about one of my favorite show, Jon. For all the hype about Desperate Housewives and Lost, The White House is one of the best scripted dramas out there. That new one, Commander in Chief -- total ripoff. Move over, Geena Davis, this fall a man will ... still be president.

STEWART: But Rob, we're not talking about just a TV show.

CORDDRY: Oh, I know Jon. For me and my fellow White House fans, or "Whities," it isn't just a TV show. We live or die with all these characters.

Like, uh, like on Season Three, uh, when the president, "George W. Bush" -- a competitive, born-again, ex-alcoholic with a Texas twang and a chip on his shoulder -- lands a fighter jet on the deck of an aircraft carrier and yells, "Mission Accomplished." I mean, that is f---ing TV, man!

Although, Jon, although if they're not careful, this thing is going to jump the shark. Like last season, the whole Social Security "B" story. Twelve town hall episodes in a row? C'mon, man. And the dialogue?

TOO Funnie and sadly -Oh Sooo TRUE for this White House.

[Hat tip to Crooks & Liars.]

Karen on 10.18.05 @ 11:56 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And one wonders how far up it goes....

At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall points us to a New York Daily News story that suggests that l'affaire Plame prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald may be investigating VP Dick "Darth" Cheney with respect to his involvement in the outing of Plame--with the help of a "a senior cooperating witness". In criminal defense lawyer terms, "senior cooperating witness" translates to "highly placed snitch". If I were Darth, I'd hire me a high priced criminal defense lawyer if I haven't already (but remember, "nothing says 'guilt' like a high priced criminal defense lawyer"... heheheheheh), and start funneling my share of Halliburton kickbacks and embezzled Iraqi reconstruction funds to him/her. Because from what I have read of Fitzgerald, he's a prosecutorial pit bull, and if Fitzgerald thinks Cheney's crooked, he wouldn't let Cheney's high profile stop him from trying to make Cheney Bubba's next date to the prison prom.

Which reminds me of one of Dick's character references:

I've met Dick Cheney. I've never stood that close to evil.
--Lewis Black
UPDATE: An interesting speculation in a Daily Kos diary suggests that Ari Fleischer is the highly placed snitch that is (I hope) ratting out both Bush and Cheney. Pure speculation, but it sounds plausible....

UPDATE II: An item in RAW STORY fingers John Hannah, a senior national security aide seconded to Vice President Dick Cheney's office from John Bolton's former office in the State Department (Arms Control and International Security Affairs) as the highly placed snitch. Wonder what, if any significance that adds to Bolton's reputed visit to Judy Miller while she was behind bars?

Len on 10.18.05 @ 10:48 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Watch What You Ask For, Because You Might Get It" Department:

Priceless. From Bryan at Why Now?:

The Republicans pushed to ensure that citizens could sue a sitting President during the Clinton administration, so now, after Fitzgerald concludes his investigation, Joseph Wilson will be able to sue Bush and Cheney. As the Supreme Court declared at the time: a lawsuit will have little impact on the President doing his job.

Excuse me while I laugh hysterically. What goes around, comes around.
Couldn't happen to a more deserving bastard. I hope Wilson picks those deep Bush pockets, but good.

Len on 10.18.05 @ 10:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Just one....

From today's Billy-Ball newsletter:

It took just one swing last night to remind us why Albert Pujols is baseball’s greatest.

It took just one swing to remind us why we play 9.

It took just one swing to make it worthwhile to stay awake until the final out.

It took just one swing to show how the St. Cardinals won more games than any other team in the bigs, this past season

It took just one swing to show Brad Lidge that pitching in the post-season is very different from closing in the regular season.

It took just one swing to change First Mother Barbara Bush’s singing from “day-o” to “uh-oh.”

It took just one swing to bring back memories of the Houston collapse against the Phillies in the 1980 NLCS.

It took just one swing to ruin the 45th birthday party for the Houston franchise.

It took just one swing to make certain that the Cardinals still did not have a four-game losing streak this season.

It took just one swing to remind everyone of the phrase “Houston, we have a problem.”

It took just one swing for lip readers to see Andy Pettitte say “Oh, my gosh!”

It took just one swing to reduce the riotous volume from baseball’s loudest venue to the silence of a morgue.

It took just one swing to send the White Sox back to the scouting reports for both teams.

It took just one swing to stun the 2,000 fans watching the game broadcast being projected on the wall of a Houston downtown office building.

It took just one swing to keep the wrecking ball from Busch Stadium, for at least one more day.

It took just one swing to remind us of the mantra, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

It took just one swing to put the champagne away and pack it up to be sent to St. Louis.

With all due homage to Doris Troy:
Just one swing, that's all it took
Just one swing, that's all it took
Just one swing, that's all it took
UPDATE: and today's posting on the Baseball Prospectus Postseason Odds page makes for an interesting commentary:

With two outs and nobody on in the ninth, the Cardinals' chances of winning
that game were down around 0.6%. That means that their LCS-winning percentage
was around 0.18%. Even after Eckstein and Edmonds, the chance of winning was
only about 3%, for an LCS-winning chance of 1%. Albert Pujols single-handedly
made a thirty-fold increase in the Cardinals' chances of winning the pennant.

Win DS Win CS Win WS Yesterday
CWS 100.0000 100.0000 54.2665
LAA 100.0000 0.0000 0.0000
NYY 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
BOS 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
STL 100.0000 29.4463 14.0032 Won 5-4, trail series 3-2
ATL 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
SD 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
HOU 100.0000 70.5537 31.7303 Lost 5-4, lead series 3-2
Like I said below, that's why they pay Albert the big bux...

Len on 10.18.05 @ 09:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Pre-Indictment GOP WHINING...

...Has started already about the "Rule of Law" issues on many Legal Woes faced by GOP and Administration soon-to-be-convicted-criminals.

"...These cases portray an administration and a movement that can dish it out, but want to evade responsibility for doing so, and can't take it when they are subjected to the same rule book that inconvenienced an earlier president. An editorial in the latest issue of the conservative Weekly Standard is a sign of arguments to come. The editorial complains about the various accusations now being leveled against DeLay, Libby, Rove and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and says that ``a comprehensive strategy of criminalization had been implemented to inflict defeat on conservatives who seek to govern as conservatives.''

I have great respect for my friends at The Weekly Standard so I think they'll understand my surprise and wonder over this new conservative concern for the criminalization of politics. A process that was about ``the rule of law'' when Democrats were in power is suddenly an outrage now that it's Republicans who are being held accountable.

-- E. J. Dionne Jr.: 'Rule of Law'? That's So 90s.

Karen on 10.18.05 @ 08:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Fun with Miers and Litmus Testing

The only way out of this mess is for GOP senators to ask — and to require Miers to answer, as a condition of confirmation — direct questions about her judicial philosophy and its application to concrete constitutional issues. Republicans should test Miers' core legal principles. And if she fails the test, or refuses to take it, they can vote against her.

The administration's stealth strategy assumes that it is improper for senators to ask, or for a nominee to answer, a question about Roe vs. Wade or any other substantive constitutional question. This has things exactly backward. The Constitution not only permits such questioning, it arguably requires it. Although the Constitution makes judges independent after appointment, it sets up an explicitly political appointment process before a judge is approved. Why on Earth would determining a nominee's approach to interpreting the Constitution be thought to be out of bounds, before giving her a lifetime appointment to do exactly that?

Is there any line of inquiry that the Constitution does not permit? Yes. It would be improper to try to exact a pledge as to how a nominee will rule in future cases. As long as the inquiry stops short of that, it does not violate the Constitution's protection of judicial independence, nor does it violate judicial ethics. Parties before the courts are entitled to judges who will consider their cases without bias. But they are not entitled to judges who have no views of the law. An open mind is one thing; an empty head is another.

We would go one step further. The most useful way of discovering a nominee's views is through "litmus tests." One question would yield the maximum information about a nominee's judicial philosophy (without requiring a commitment as to any future ruling): "What do you think of Roe vs. Wade"? The answer could explain her theory of constitutional interpretation, her views on the judicial invention of rights not set forth in the Constitution, her views on when courts should follow precedent, and her views about the judiciary's role in our constitutional system.

-- Michael Stokes Paulsen and John Yoo: Make Miers pass a 'litmus test'.

Hmmm, even John "Torture Memo" Yoo wants a "litmus test" of Conservative philosophy of Constitutional interpretation from Miers before confirming her to the Supremes.

Karen on 10.18.05 @ 08:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Another GEM on Miers...

"...The theology that Miers represents can hardly be called progressive. It is one that entails all sorts of conservative political positions and says something about the believer. For instance, when Rove offered his oral wink to Dobson, was he saying that Miers is opposed to stem cell research and abortion under (almost) any circumstance? Was he saying that she opposes the teaching of evolution in the public schools or ``balancing'' it with ``intelligent design"? Was Rove telling Dobson that Miers thinks this is a Christian nation, that religious symbols can be and ought to be in the schools or other public places? Can the government fund churches? Can military chaplains proselytize the unchurched? Should gays be ``reprogrammed'' and should the government recommend abstinence-only as a way to avoid teenage pregnancy? These are all positions taken by many fundamentalist religious leaders. Are they Miers'? Is anyone going to ask?

This is dicey stuff and it crosses a line that probably should not be crossed. But the president has stupidly opened a Pandora's box -- and all sorts of ugly questions may pop out. Can Miers set her beliefs aside? Will the law take precedence? When it comes time to argue a case, will she simply say ``I believe what I believe -- and that's all there is to it.'' I kind of doubt it, but I would like to be reassured. Bush has done his nominee no favor -- especially to suggest that one closed mind has recommended another."

-- Richard Cohen: Miers: Faithful to Whom?.

As a note, I tend to enjoy Richard Cohen's pieces, so I'm going to "forgive and forget" his totally boneheaded piece from last week on the Plame matter. But he does offer this "clarification":
"A number of readers, some of them formerly of the CIA, got the impression from my last column that I don't consider the outing of a covert employee a serious matter. I do."

Karen on 10.18.05 @ 07:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the Conservative Wish List...

... a few conservative principles.

Today GEM quote:

"...Yet if there is anything that defines conservatism in America, it is hostility to government expansion. The idea of big government conservatism, a term often used to describe Bush's philosophy, is a contradiction in terms.

Conservative intellectuals have known this for a long time, but looked the other way for various reasons. Some thought the war on terror trumped every other issue. If a few billion dollars had to be wasted to buy the votes needed to win the war, then so be it, many conservatives have argued. Others say that Bush never ran as a conservative in the first place, so there is no betrayal here, only a failure by conservatives to see what he has been all along.

Of course, this doesn't say much for the conservative movement. At best, conservatives were naive about Bush. At worst, they sold out much of what they claim to believe in."

-- Bruce Bartlett (RCP).

But some of US have noted (for the record) that Child-In-Chief was NEVER your grandfather's type of Conservative - and not really a *conservative* at all, but a psuedo-Christian Radical Neo-con with the intellect of a Mole RAT.

And now to the Chagrin of Conservatives and those Remorse-Buyers- They, We, All of Us, are now STUCK with this hideously inept and incompetent leadership and his criminal bAdminstration. Good Going Conservative Morons! You Four More Years idiots!

And, according to the "Official GWB 'Days Left in Office' Countdown Clock" (DBV's sidebar) we only have 1189 days more of this crap to go. Enough time for GW and his evil crew to think of lots more ways to ruin this country and drive a permanent stake through its heart and soul.

BLEH on all of you Conservatives sellouts!

Karen on 10.18.05 @ 06:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Well, that's why they pay him the big bux.

Albert the Great came through with two out in the ninth inning, tagging Brad Lidge for a three run homer to bring the Cardinals a come-from-behind, 5-3 victory in Game 5 of the NLCS.

Unfortunately, the announcers on FOX were so into the "soon-to-be First Texas World Series" hype that I'd turned the game off at around 10 PM or so and headed to bed; the following day would be bad enough without having to listen to all that crap. So of course I missed. it.

And apparently I missed quite a sight:

Pujols' best swing is a thing to marvel at, and so the Cardinals dugout exploded, while more than 43,000 fans went eerily quiet. Isringhausen still needed to get three more outs, but it almost seemed like a formality even at Minute Maid.

"It was awesome," said Larry Walker. "We all jumped up. There was more noise in our dugout than in the whole stadium at that moment. It was fun to be out there and be part of it."
That's ok. I can live with it.

On to St. Louis....

Len on 10.18.05 @ 06:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

According to Travolta and Preston's account of their own silent labor, somewhere around Hour 13, Preston got to feeling pretty banky, and ordered Travolta to drive her to the hospital for an epidural (even though L. Ron [Hubbard, founder of Scientology] suggests that "the delivery itself should carry as little anaesthesic as possible"). But Vinnie Barbarino and his bride—who's best remembered for sexually terrorizing Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire but was equally unforgettable as the sultry alien "Chirk" in Battlefield Earth—were too late to fight the L.A. gridlock, and Preston wound up delivering their daughter, 9-pound Ella Blue, at home, without benefit of painkillers. Given that her own silent-birth story ended in what was presumably high-volume begging, Preston's advice to Holmes sounds about as useful as her character's diet tips to Kirstie Alley on HBO's Fat Actress (where, as the weight-loss guru Quinn Taylor Scott, Preston recommends her client try eating tissue paper or catching an intestinal parasite).
--Dana Stevens, on Scientology-approved birthing procedures

Len on 10.18.05 @ 06:07 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Really support the troops....

Show that you're in favor of bringing them home (other than maimed or in body bags):

Len on 10.17.05 @ 08:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Happy Birthday!

to the Internet Movie Database, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary today.

Len on 10.17.05 @ 07:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

One could hardly call l'affaire Judy Miller 'inspiring'....

but that doesn't stop Mad Kane from letting it inspire her to pen a quartet of limericks about the worst thing to happen to the Grey Lady in my lifetime.

Audio version here, of course.

Len on 10.17.05 @ 07:41 PM CST [link] [ | ]

First it was Christopher Walken....

Now it's General Zod in 2008.

[If you're unclear on the concept, look here.]

Len on 10.17.05 @ 06:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

What he said....

The only consolation, if any, for Cardinals fans to wring from this truly depressing NLCS has been that at least this time we won't have to wait until the World Series to watch our team distintegrate. Now I can join everyone else in the country (who doesn't live on Chicago's South Side or Houston) in impatiently waiting for The Simpsons and House to come back on.

Premature, you say? Perhaps. There's always the possibility of another Red Sox style comeback, provided Pettite takes another line drive to the knee, and Oswalt comes down with bird flu, and Chris Burke is snatched from the playing field by Martians.

And the ghost of Rogers Hornsby comes and imbues the impotent bats of Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker with mystical energy.
--Pete Vonder Haar

Though unlike Pete, I'll be watching Game 5 anyway, because (in the immortal words of Lewis Black), I'm a fucking idiot.

Len on 10.17.05 @ 06:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Talk about 'dog bites man'...

From the new techie blog at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Windows users say software patch is flawed

In other words, one of Microsoft's latest round of "critical" updates for Windows (released last Tuesday, IIRC), breaks a non-trivial number of computers.

Sounds like business as usual from The Great Satan of Redmond....

Len on 10.17.05 @ 06:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Male Bonding....

From my old high school friend, Dr. Dan....


So you take your boy to a ball game.

Good father and son stuff right?

Male bonding, right?

You buy him hot dogs.

He sees the Home Team hit one over the wall!! . .


Will he remember the time spent with you?

Will he remember the taste of the hot dogs?

Will he often think of the boomer home run . . .


What will he remember?

[The answer, my friend, is below the fold. But.... BE WARNED it ain't work safe.]

Len on 10.17.05 @ 01:30 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

With Halloween coming up....

here are a couple costume ideas that you probably don't want to look into...at least not for your kids:

Len on 10.17.05 @ 01:14 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Groaner o'the Day:

A young couple was making passionate love in the guy's van when suddenly the girl yelled, "Whip me. Whip me!" The guy, eager to please, obviously didn't have a whip, but, in a flash of inspiration, opened his window, snapped the radio antenna off his van, and they shared it until they both collapsed in sadomasochistic ecstasy. A week later, the girl noticed that the marks left by their lovemaking session were starting to fester, so she asked her doctor to check them out. The doctor took one look and asked, "Did you get these marks having sex?" Embarrassed, she admitted that she did. The doctor nodded. "I thought so. In all my years of doctoring... this is the worst case of Van Aerial Disease I've ever seen!"

[Snowed under by work today; barely have enough time to clean up my email. Hopefully, things won't get worse before they get better, but I'm not holding out much hope for that....]

Len on 10.17.05 @ 11:25 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Smiley A Day...

Couldn't quite make it through my e-mail and blogging without a SMILEY. ;-)

So, when I was poking through Digg the other day, I found this one:

"Joke" Conversation Thread in which the :-) was invented

17-Sep-82 10:58 Neil Swartz at CMU-750R Elevator posts
Apparently there has been some confusion about elevators and such. After
talking to Rudy, I have discovered that there is no mercury spill in any of
the Wean hall elevators. Many people seem to have taken the notice about
the physics department seriously.

Maybe we should adopt a convention of putting a star (*) in the subject
field of any notice which is to be taken as a joke.


17-Sep-82 13:04 Scott Fahlman at CMU-10A Elevators (*)
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the elevator...

Unfortunately, the center elevator now contains what seems to be the
remains of 40,000 two-pound pigeons in an advanced state of
decomposition and the right elevator contains a bear of indeterminate
color. The left elevator appears to be safe, but when you stand in it
for too long, your voice gets squeaky and you start running into the
walls, causing the elevator to rise.

Despite the * in the header of this message, this is not a joke and
should be taken quite literallly. Do not panic -- taking the stairs is
good for you.


17-Sep-82 14:43 Thomas Rodeheffer at CMU-10A Candles in Zero-G
I seem to recall hearing about an experiment with burning candles in
zero-G (skylab?) in which the result was that the candle did NOT go
out, even though, as has been noted, you don't get convection
currents without gravity. According to what I recall, a candle
burning in zero-G doesn't have a real flame, just a globular glowing
area around the wick. Supposedly the explanation was that oxygen
diffuses towards the wick (and carbon dioxide and water vapor diffuse
away) fast enough to keep combustion going. Does anybody remember
anything more about this?


17-Sep-82 14:59 Joseph Ginder at CMU-10A (*%)

I believe that the joke character should be % rather than *.


17-Sep-82 15:15 Anthony Stentz at CMU-780G (*%)
How about using * for good jokes and % for bad jokes?
We could even use *% for jokes that are so bad,
they're funny.


17-Sep-82 17:40 Keith Wright at CMU-10A *%&#$ Jokes!
No, no, no! Surely everyone will agree that "&" is the funniest
character on the keyboard. It looks funny (like a jolly fat man
in convulsions of laughter). It sounds funny (say it loud and
fast three times). I just know if I could get my nose into the
vacuum of the CRT it would even smell funny!


17-Sep-82 17:42 Leonard Hamey at CMU-10A {#} (previously *)
A detailed (i.e. > 1 minute) study of the aesthetic and pictographic
effects of the characters available in the ASCII set has led to
the following suggestion:

I think that the joke character should be the sequence {#}
because it looks like two lips with teeth showing between them.
This is the expected result if someone actually laughs their head off.
An obvious abbreviation of this sequence would be the hash character
itself (which can also be read as the sharp character and suggests
a quality which may be lacking in those too obtuse to appreciate
the joke.)


17-Sep-82 18:52 Jim Crowley at CMU-10A BB Jokes
BB jokes are fine and should not require a marker.
But jokes should not be malicious, obscene, or such that they
appear to resemble real warnings to all but a few.
Last nights elevator hoax was a borderline case of this last


18-Sep-82 20:40 Guy Steele at CMU-10A ! Joke markers again
I hope everyone realized that my previous remark about non-use
of joke markers was a joke, and was flagged as such by the
absence of a marker. This message is not a joke, as indicated
by the exclamation point.


19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-)
From: Scott E Fahlman

I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:


Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark
things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use


So, whether ya use :-) or an updated version...Just Keep *Smiling*!!!

Karen on 10.17.05 @ 08:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Spongy's Secret Knowledge...

"...Mr. Dobson says he was surprised the next day to learn that Justice Hecht and Judge Kinkeade were joining the Arlington Group call. He was asked to introduce the two of them, which he considered awkward given that he had never spoken with Justice Hecht and only once to Judge Kinkeade. According to the notes of the call, Mr. Dobson introduced them by saying, "Karl Rove suggested that we talk with these gentlemen because they can confirm specific reasons why Harriet Miers might be a better candidate than some of us think."

What followed, according to the notes, was a free-wheeling discussion about many topics, including same-sex marriage. Justice Hecht said he had never discussed that issue with Ms. Miers. Then an unidentified voice asked the two men, "Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?"

"Absolutely," said Judge Kinkeade.

"I agree with that," said Justice Hecht. "I concur."

Shortly thereafter, according to the notes, Mr. Dobson apologized and said he had to leave the discussion: "That's all I need to know and I will get off and make some calls." (When asked about his comments in the notes I have, Mr. Dobson confirmed some of them and said it was "very possible" he made the others. He said he did not specifically recall the comments of the two judges on Roe v. Wade.)..."

-- John Fund in Judgment Call: Did Christian conservatives receive assurances that Miers would oppose Roe v. Wade?

Karen on 10.17.05 @ 07:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.
--A. Bartlett Giamatti

Len on 10.17.05 @ 06:51 AM CST [link] [ | ]

American League WINNERS


Well, I was 3 yrs old when the White Sox last won the American League Championship...So, I had to stay up late and watch the history in the making!!! TOO Kool. :-)

It was a Great Series and they put up some impressive stats by the pitchers. What a Joy In MudVille!!

GO White Sox!!!

Karen on 10.17.05 @ 06:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

What's a Commander-in-Chief to do?

Reuse, Recycle, Repeat

Len on 10.16.05 @ 08:38 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Meanwhile, on the Kraftwerk front:

1) It appears that the Minimum-Maximum concert DVD, originally scheduled for a release earlier this month, has been put back a bit. We get this word from the email newsletter of http://www.kraftwerk.technopop.com.br/:

Astralwerks announced 6 December 2005 as release date of Kraftwerk Live-DVD for the USA. German EMI announced 5 December 2005.

Live-DVD will appear as a "Minimum-Maximum DVD" double DVD disc set featuring the full live set from Kraftwerk's 2004-2005 World Tour in PCM stereo and DTS 5.1 surround sound (plus bonus track of Aero Dynamik filmed live at the MTV Music Awards in Edinburgh - 2003) and as a box with the title "Notebook".

Contents of the "Notebook" is a deluxe 'laptop' style box featuring the double DVD ("Minimum-Maximum DVD") and double "Minimum-Maximum" audio CD from live set in exclusive 6 page digi-packs with a wide format, 88 pages, hardback book featuring a host of Kraftwerk live photos (including some previously unseen images), stage artwork and technical tour data.

Tracklist from "Minimum-Maximum DVD":

Disc One
01. Meine Damen Und Herren - 00:35
02. The Man Machine - 07:54
03. Planet Of Visions - 04:46
04. Tour De France 03 - 10:40
05. Vitamin - 06:42
06. Tour de France - 06:18
07. Autobahn - 08:52
08. The Model - 03:42
09. Neon Lights - 05:52
10. Radioactivity - 07:41
11. Trans Europe Express - 09:38

Disc Two
01. Numbers - 04:33
02. Computer World - 02:55
03. Home Computer - 05:55
04. Pocket Calculator/Dentaku - 06:14
05. The Robots - 07:23
06. Elektro Kardiogramm - 04:42
07. Aero Dynamik - 07:13
08. Music Non Stop - 09:49
09. Aerodynamik / MTV Awards 2003 - 03:48
2) For those of you who might want a taste, the Astralwerks Records website serves us up a few videos:

Numbers (Live):
Real Player:
Windows Media:

The Robots (Live):
Real Player:
Windows Media:

The Model (Live):
Real Player:
Windows Media:

Tour de France '03
Real Player:
Windows Media:

Len on 10.16.05 @ 08:13 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hmmmmm. Usually it's Karen that points me to this kinda thing...

Fafblog interviews: GOD

Credit: Fellow Memphis Mafioso CG

Len on 10.16.05 @ 07:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Little Lost Notebook of VIP's...

For a HOWLER of a Laugh, Give this a read through - from Neil Shakespeare.

TOO Funnie!!!!


[Hat tip to Mimus Pauly at Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.]

Karen on 10.16.05 @ 05:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]


One of the problems of being part of the St. Louis Diaspora is that I keep being reminded of what I'm missing. Over at Pretty War STL Tom's got a couple of photo sets of places that I'd be frequenting if I still lived in Dutchtown:

The Shangri-La Diner

Java Joe's.

Len on 10.16.05 @ 04:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I wish I'd thought of it....

But then again, I've not paid enough attention to The Village People to make the connection:

Let's see.... cop, indian and biker to go...

Credit: Nitpicker, via Bryan at Why Now?.

Len on 10.16.05 @ 04:41 PM CST [link] [ | ]

First at bat, Game 4, NLCS...

David Eckstein takes a leadoff walk, then sprints to first base like Pete Rose used to.

Hopefully, that indicates a change of attitude that'll bode well for the Cardinals' chances this afternoon.

Len on 10.16.05 @ 03:50 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Being asked by your employer to wear a jacket and slacks when representing the company shouldn't cause this much drama. Not when you make, on average, $4 million a year. The dress code being proposed by the NBA doesn't ask players to wear a suit and tie every day, just to look like working professionals: a jacket with lapels instead of a throwback jersey and a do-rag, a pair of loafers instead of high-top sneaks. And we're talking game days and official public appearances, not eight hours a day, five days a week.

But the sound of the rebellion has been heard from Portland to Miami.

Don't get me wrong, there are players who not only don't oppose the dress code, but like it. "I know a lot of people will say we're in the entertainment industry, but we represent franchises that are sometimes among the biggest businesses in that city," the Wizards' Antawn Jamison said the other day. "I'm fine with a jacket and shirt with a collar and pants that aren't jeans. We're professionals and we should be putting forth a professional image. I don't see what the problem is."

That's because Jamison has some sense that he's paid a lot of money to represent more than himself. A lot of his peers don't have that sense. Some of them don't have any sense of anything, starting with Marcus Camby, now of the Nuggets, who said he can't see adhering to the dress code "unless every NBA player is given a stipend to buy clothes." Camby makes approximately $8 million a year. And he wants folks to believe he cannot afford a suit. It's too bad a judge can't order Camby to spend the rest of this season in New Orleans's Ninth Ward.

Camby's "stipend" speech is now officially the dumbest and most offensive thing uttered in the last five years, surpassing Latrell Sprewell's "I've-got-to-feed-my-family" speech as a reaction to why he was outraged at not being offered more than $10 million a year by the Timberwolves.
--Michael Wilbon

Len on 10.16.05 @ 02:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Judy's 'Flaming' Lies

I Don’t know *why* anyone from the NY Times itself, or a Prosecutor would consider this account believable coming from Judy Miller. There are a few very obvious LIES in her version. Not the least of which was captured in this bit from The News Blog:

“I’m sure people will parse these articles for meaning, but let’s be clear, Judy Miller is a liar, who sided with Scooter Libby over her collegues. She should be fired outright. She lied to her editors and most importantly, she lied to the grand jury. Any reporter who says, when dealing with a notebook of quotes from one source, and says another jumped in the middle of that, is a fucking liar and everyone in the newsroom knows it. You can’t take notes like that. Fitzgerald should indict her for perjury and may well do so.


Well, when taking notes, you usually try to seperate them by source, so you don’t confuse words from different people. Even a couple of lines would have been used. Miller might have jotted the name down, but then, she would have isolated it. So not to confuse the two subjects. But without initials or a notation, her story is just bullshit. Her whole story would not pass muster in a reporting 101 class.

I mean, you have to believe she was taking notes, and in the middle of these notes, from one subject, this name randomly appears. Come on, who is she trying to fool? And then she forgets who it was? Oh my God, she hid the damn notebook in the first place, then she has a memory lapse in a business where memory lapses are usually a hinderance to work? And Fitzgerald knew to ask for it."

And the same inference from my hubby - who also used to be a Television and News reporter (in another lifetime) - this is a violation of Journalism 101 and simply would NOT happen.


It also suggests she has a memory lapse on a yet unidentified second source...who pops up inconvienently in the middle of her I. Lewis Libby notes. Bleh!!! Judith Miller is an unmitigated LIAR. She deserves all the time in jail she received and maybe more…along with these other traitors to our country.

UPDATE: "Judy, Judy, Judy..." (said in an appropriate Cary Grant Accent Imitation):

Now, I'm going to go out on limb here about "WHY" would Prosecutor Fitzgerald ignore the seemingly absurd assertions of Judy's Loss of Memory on who supplied the "Valerie Flame" notation in her notebook.

My guess - a supposition based on no further information than is already available - is that there is only ONE source where anyone could get to the mention of Mr. Wilson and his wife as Valerie Plame in the same sentence.

That single place might be the "Classified memo" provided to Collin Powell on Air Force One. This memo was known to be viewed by a very short list of WH politicos and operatives. Fitzgerald, having as much information as he has gleaned in this case, may already know this is the only potential source of this key info coming from a “classified” document and being merely discussed with those not possessing a “classified clearance” would be a separate Crime from a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. A violation that encompasses the Espionage Act of releasing or discussing classified information with persons not authorized to access that information, as well as violating the WH Executive order of Confidentiality of classified materials.

So, Judy, Judy, Judy…and her notebook - far from protecting herself or her WH Sources and operatives- has confirmed the legal violation that took place.

Karen on 10.16.05 @ 09:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Selling of a Cooked-Up War...

It's Bush-Cheney, Not Rove-Libby by Frank Rich (NY Times):

"... Now, as always, what matters most in this case is not whether Mr. Rove and Lewis Libby engaged in a petty conspiracy to seek revenge on a whistle-blower, Joseph Wilson, by unmasking his wife, Valerie, a covert C.I.A. officer. What makes Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination of a conspiracy that was not at all petty: the one that took us on false premises into a reckless and wasteful war in Iraq. That conspiracy was instigated by Mr. Rove's boss, George W. Bush, and Mr. Libby's boss, Dick Cheney.

Mr. Wilson and his wife were trashed to protect that larger plot. Because the personnel in both stories overlap, the bits and pieces we've learned about the leak inquiry over the past two years have gradually helped fill in the über-narrative about the war. Last week was no exception. Deep in a Wall Street Journal account of Judy Miller's grand jury appearance was this crucial sentence: "Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group."

Very little has been written about the White House Iraq Group, or WHIG. Its inception in August 2002, seven months before the invasion of Iraq, was never announced. Only much later would a newspaper article or two mention it in passing, reporting that it had been set up by Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff. Its eight members included Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby, Condoleezza Rice and the spinmeisters Karen Hughes and Mary Matalin. Its mission: to market a war in Iraq.

Of course, the official Bush history would have us believe that in August 2002 no decision had yet been made on that war. Dates bracketing the formation of WHIG tell us otherwise. On July 23, 2002 - a week or two before WHIG first convened in earnest - a British official told his peers, as recorded in the now famous Downing Street memo, that the Bush administration was ensuring that "the intelligence and facts" about Iraq's W.M.D.'s "were being fixed around the policy" of going to war. And on Sept. 6, 2002 - just a few weeks after WHIG first convened - Mr. Card alluded to his group's existence by telling Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times that there was a plan afoot to sell a war against Saddam Hussein: "From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August."


"Bush's Brain" is the title of James Moore and Wayne Slater's definitive account of Mr. Rove's political career. But Mr. Rove is less his boss's brain than another alliterative organ (or organs), that which provides testosterone. As we learn in "Bush's Brain," bad things (usually character assassination) often happen to Bush foes, whether Ann Richards or John McCain. On such occasions, Mr. Bush stays compassionately above the fray while the ruthless Mr. Rove operates below the radar, always separated by "a layer of operatives" from any ill behavior that might implicate him. "There is no crime, just a victim," Mr. Moore and Mr. Slater write of this repeated pattern.

THIS modus operandi was foolproof, shielding the president as well as Mr. Rove from culpability, as long as it was about winning an election. The attack on Mr. Wilson, by contrast, has left them and the Cheney-Libby tag team vulnerable because it's about something far bigger: protecting the lies that took the country into what the Reagan administration National Security Agency director, Lt. Gen. William Odom, recently called "the greatest strategic disaster in United States history."

Whether or not Mr. Fitzgerald uncovers an indictable crime, there is once again a victim, but that victim is not Mr. or Mrs. Wilson; it's the nation. It is surely a joke of history that even as the White House sells this weekend's constitutional referendum as yet another "victory" for democracy in Iraq, we still don't know the whole story of how our own democracy was hijacked on the way to war.

Karen on 10.16.05 @ 06:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Sha'ria Soccer??

"Recently, Al Watan, a semiofficial Saudi daily newspaper, reported that a young athlete had joined the jihad in Iraq under the influence of a fatwa forbidding playing soccer by regular rules. The newspaper also republished the fatwa, said to have originally appeared on an Islamic Web site."

- Geoff D. Porter (Op-Ed NY Times)

[See below the fold for this translation of the Sha'ria Soccer Fatwa.]

But the Good News (?) is this "...the Saudi government is trying a different tactic, zeroing in on what it considers frivolous fatwas in order to rally support for tougher measures on who can and who cannot issue opinions."

Given that the Saudi's royals and government are of the Ultra-fundamentalist sect of Muslims known as Wahhabists, I'm not sure how much positive effect this really will have on the *ideas* contained in fatwas being moderate and more rational. But as long as it doesn't interfere with the *game* of soccer. Whew, can't have that!!

Karen on 10.16.05 @ 06:24 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Great days in baseball history:

Today is the 59th anniversary of one of the great incidents in St. Louis Cardinals history: "The Mad Dash Home". I steal this description from a capsule biography of Cardinals player/coach (and, for brief periods, manager), Mike Gonzalez which was my maiden post at the Cardinals blog The Birdwatch:

But if Mike didn't make history for the rest of his coaching career, at least he was a participant in one of the more historic events in Cardinals history. It was, fittingly enough, Mike's last game as a coach for the Cardinals, and it was October 15, 1946. Sportsman's Park, St. Louis. Game Seven of the World Series between the Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox, bottom of the eighth inning, two out, and the score tied at 3 apiece. Enos Slaugher was at first base when Harry Walker lined Boston pitcher Bob Klinger's pitch into left-center field for a sure single, and "Country" commenced what has since become immortalized in Cardinals history as "The Mad Dash Home". To achieve it, he blew right past Gonzalez's frantic "stop" sign. Fortunately (for Slaughter and St. Louis), Boston center fielder Leon Culberson bobbled the ball slightly before throwing to shortstop Johnny Pesky. Then, Pesky either checked Walker on base or had a momentary brain spasm when faced with Slaughter's sheer audacity (the point will probably be argued by die-hard fans forever). In any event, the Cardinals took the lead and never relinquished it, and Mike Gonzalez was there to see it happen.

Len on 10.15.05 @ 05:01 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Dead Rules?

From Jerry Politex at Bush Watch, we get these:

Dead Rules For Opposing Judicial Nominations

Republicans from moderates like David Brooks through right wingers such as Trent Lott and George Wills and neocons such as William Kristol to far right wingnuts such as Robert Bork have gone on record opposing Bush's Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers. Thus, the following typical "rules" Republicans have used to defend other presidential judicial nominees and kill Democratic opposition are now hypocritical and forever dead:

1. One shouldn't prevent the President from having the judges he wants, because the American people have given him that right.

2. The nominees shouldn't have a judicial record that Democrats could attack, and if they do, it should not be made public nor be closely questioned.

3. There should not be a litmas test for judicial nominees.

4. Judicial nominees should not be considered on the basis of their position along the liberal-conservative spectrum.

5. Knowledge about the nominees' political position is irrelevant, since they may change after being sworn in.
While I normally don't disagree with Jerry on a lot, I'm not so sure these rules are dead; more likely they're not being honored in the Miers case because they're inconvenient. Over at Lean Left, KTK gave us this pointer to this post at Bottle of Blog which points out that the Rethugnicans can't be accused of being inconsistent in adhering to their principles, since they don't really have any principles but one: do whatever it takes to maintain their hold on power:
When are these people going to get it? You can't consistently defend the...um...principles of the modern Republican party because they don't have any. They don't believe in anything--not anything they can tell you, anyway, and still get re-elected. They have no convinctions.

They have

And if you stupidly adopt one of their "talking points" today as a
principle, as a conviction, as a value today, you're going to look like a fucking idiot tomorrow.

You're outraged that John Kerry said "fuck" today? Tomorrow, Dick Cheney says it on the floor of the Senate. You're
appalled at the 82nd Airborne providing security in Kosovo today? Tomorrow, they're directing traffic in Baghdad. You're incensed at governement spending today? Tomorrow, you're going to have to defend the biggest deficits in the history of the world and the unheard of increases in discretionary spending.

You're pulling your hair out at the unheard of gall of Democrats asking a Supreme Court nominee to disclose his political and judicial positions? Tomorrow, you'll be
demanding a Supreme Court nominee to disclose her political and judicial positions.

Yesterday, you're all for the "rule of law". Today? The world is full of prosecutors out of control!

Don't these people get it? Or don't they care?
Are those two mutually exclusive?

Len on 10.15.05 @ 04:03 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Have you ever wondered?" department.

Do you get all those spam emails telling you about the next stock that's due to explode? Yeah, me too. But have you ever wondered how rich you'd be if you actually followed their advice and invested in those stocks?

Someone else did, too (of course), and so we have: The Spam Stock Tracker.

And the answer to the question is: "You'd probably be declaring bankruptcy soon." The guy who created the Spam Stock Tracker estimates that if he'd actually purchased 1000 shares of every stock touted in every stock-touting spam he's received, he'd be in the hole $7,507.10 (on a total investment of $17,405.00).

Credit: I actually have a note to myself to blog this several days ago... I didn't note the original source that pointed me there, but I'm happy to give Stan Schwarz the credit, since it was his post (that I saw while cruising by his blog this morning) that reminded me that I needed to post that one.

And as long as I'm mentioning Stan, I'm remiss in not having pointed y'all towards his Dead Dot-Coms Gallery before now. A fascinating glance at the seamy underbelly of the history of the Internets....

That being said, I take a special joy (admittedly schadenfreud) in this one.

If that company name doesn't ring a bell, here's a hint: "male escort with White House press credentials".

I knew you'd remember.

Len on 10.15.05 @ 12:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day (and, for the first time in the history of the TftD, the Gem o'the Day as well):

People are often very dependable; they repeat themselves, just like history does. A Progressive Blogisariat long accustomed to fraudulent and faked public pronouncements from Bu$hCo hardly batted an electronic eyelid at the “teleconference” Mr Bush had this week with soldiers of the 42d Division in Iraq. I mean, when you stage a series of “town hall meetings” across the country to hype stealing peoples’ social security money – their retirement guarantees – their futures and pack the meetings with Party faithful who would cheer and clap as he sacrificed an 8 week old baby to Baal, you don’t blanch in shock when he speaks with some bobble heads in camouflage.

Len on 10.15.05 @ 12:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Blonde Bond???

Bond Franchise Shaken. [Presumably "Not Stirred".]

“It’s Craig. Daniel Craig.

bondpress30 (15k image)

Sony Pictures finally put a stop to months of speculation about who would take up Agent 007’s license to kill in the next James Bond adventure, “Casino Royale.”

The London-trained, 37-year-old Craig has officially received the assignment. He becomes the first blond Bond in the 007 movie franchise’s 43-year history...”

Interesting...very, very interesting...


Karen on 10.15.05 @ 08:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The 'Other' Stealth Issue of Harriet Miers...

The NY Times has a good Op-Ed piece about the position of Harriet Miers on the role and reach of the Presidency and Executive Priviledges:

Licence to Torture:

"THE most profound issue that will face the Supreme Court in the coming years is not the one animating many of the conservatives angry at Harriet Miers's nomination to the court, abortion. It is presidential power.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush and his lawyers have asserted again and again that the "war on terror" clothes the president as commander in chief with extraordinary, unilateral power - the power, for example, to designate an American citizen as an enemy combatant and imprison him indefinitely, without trial or a real opportunity to demonstrate innocence.

The right to legal abortion is a subject that moves millions of Americans, con and pro. But the claim of essentially unchecked presidential power goes to the very nature of the American political system.


Harriet Miers has no public record on these issues. But Professor Yoo, writing in The Washington Post after her nomination, said, "She may be one of the key supporters in the Bush administration of staying the course on legal issues arising from the war on terrorism." He did not explain.

When one becomes a Supreme Court justice, the magnitude of the issues facing the court and the burden of final decision may change previously held views. Justice Robert H. Jackson candidly said so in 1950, when as a justice he disavowed a position he had earlier taken as attorney general.

Claims of presidential power during wartime have particularly large consequences today. In the past, when a president made such claims, the war involved lasted a limited time. The war on terrorism has no definable end. In passing judgment on these issues, the justices of the Supreme Court will be defining American freedom for the future. They should guide by the light of Justice O'Connor's statement last year in the Hamdi case:

"A state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of the nation's citizens."

Karen on 10.15.05 @ 08:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]

As a Volkswagen admirer.....

I was really interested to see the latest edition of the EPA's fuel economy listings:

Top 10 vehicles overall:

1. Honda Insight (hybrid) -- 60/66
2. Toyota Prius (hybrid) -- 60/51
3. Volkswagen New Beetle and Golf (diesel, manual) -- 37/44
4. Volkswagen Jetta (diesel) -- 36/41
5. Ford Escape Hybrid FWD -- 36/31
6. Volkswagen New Beetle and Jetta (diesel, automatic) -- 35/42
7. Volkswagen Golf (diesel, automatic) -- 33/44
8. Ford Escape Hybrid 4WD (Also Mazda Tribute and Mercury Mariner 4WD hybrids) -- 33/29
9. Lexus RX 400h 2WD and Toyota Highlander Hybrid 2WD -- 33/28
10. Toyota Corolla (manual) -- 32/41
Volkswagens hit four of the top 10 positions. Makes me feel good that I drive one. And, coupled with the fact that I only commute about 5 miles round trip every day, and have just about all I need within walking distance, I only have to buy gas once a month or so. A nice luxury when gas prices are going through the roof.

Len on 10.14.05 @ 07:26 PM CST [link] [ | ]


While chasing pointers over at McSweeney's I came across this interesting list:

Five Ill-Fated
Store Names.


- - - -

1. Thumbless Pete's Fireworks Barn

2. Big Al's Mullets and More Salon

3. The Flaming Hammer: Hardware for Sissies

4. Ye Olde Shoppe O' Shite

5. Porkers: A Place for Fat Women

Len on 10.14.05 @ 06:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Engrish Week-In-Review time…

This must be “Ladies Week” as opposed to “Ladies Day” over at Engrish.

Check a few of these GEMs out. No further commentary is really necessary. YIKES!!

Ladies Day out.

Ladies Hole-In-One.

Ladies Just gotta Nag, Nag, Nag....

Ladies just gotta Dream....

Karen on 10.14.05 @ 11:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Great Days in Aviation History:

Today is the 58th anniversary of Captain Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager's historic flight in the Bell X-1. In that flight, Yeager became the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound.

May be reason to pop The Right Stuff into the DVD tonight.

UPDATE: I see Karen beat me to it. Tough. I own the domain, so this one's staying.


Len on 10.14.05 @ 11:33 AM CST [link] [ | ]

October Musings...

Haven't had a Fret-Free-Friday in a long while - So, here is the October Meditation Moment:

October’s Ordinary Obsessions with Objects of Orange is Obligatory.


And, as always, you're all welcome to join me in my Friday Meditation!!

Karen on 10.14.05 @ 11:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Halloween Pet Safety...

"Dressing a dog in a costume may seem over-the-top to some, but with Halloween just around the corner, the American Kennel Club (AKC(r)) surveyed dog owners to learn first-hand just how many plan to turn their Fido into a Frankenstein for the evening. It turns out that one in 10 dog owners can't imagine not dressing up their pup for the holiday and nearly half (49 percent) admitted liking the idea.

The poll also found that women are six percent more likely than men to dress their pups up for all holidays, while men are 12 percent more likely than women to wonder why anyone would ever consider dressing their dog in the first place...

...But, the trick is not to treat Halloween as just another day for your dog. Whether your dog dons a frightening frock or not, the AKC reminds owners to follow certain guidelines for keeping your pet safe during Halloween:

-- If you dress your pet up in a "doggie" costume, supervise him at all times. Make sure it fits properly and is not in the way of his breathing, eyesight or hearing. If your dog swallows any elastic or decorative items, it could cause intestinal obstructions or choking.

-- Chocolate and sweets can be dangerous for your dog. A dog's digestive system is not adapted for sweets, and chocolate contains Theobromine, which can be harmful and sometimes fatal to your dog. Baking chocolate is especially high in this chemical.

-- Walk your dog early on Halloween, while it is still light outside. Your dog may find candy, wrappers and broken eggs on lawns and streets. Make sure that these "tempting treats" stay out of reach.

-- Children in costumes can frighten dogs. Make sure pets are in a safe and secure room when you answer the door to prevent them from running out, getting hurt and frightening your visitors.

-- If you want your dog to greet trick-or-treaters, keep him on leash. Your dog may be stressed by the noise, activity or simply the interruption of his normal routine.

-- Don't leave your dog unattended outside on Halloween, even if he is behind a fence. Pranksters may target your dog with eggs, and passersby may be tempted to give your dog harmful treats and candy.

-- If you are having a Halloween party, consider confining your dog securely in one area of the house. Leave a radio or TV and lights on for the dog.

-- Be careful about where you place candles and Jack-o-Lanterns. They can easily be knocked over by your dog's wagging tail and either burn your dog or start a fire."

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 10.14.05 @ 09:01 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Faster than a Speeding Bullet…

“One of the most important flights in aviation history took place on this day in 1947 above the California desert when Chuck Yeager piloted the Bell X-1 faster than the speed of sound for the first time.

The bullet-shaped aircraft was built specifically to reach Mach 1 and is now on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Research from the X-1 and other experimental aircraft contributed much to the design of today's airplanes.

Military fighters now routinely fly at Mach 2, and the nation's commercial airliners carry nearly 650-million passengers each year at speeds only front-line fighters could reach when Yeager climbed into the cockpit of the X-1.”

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 10.14.05 @ 08:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Google FUN...

As an addendum to Brock's post -- try this for an Alternate FUN Google Game.

I typed “[Insert Name] is a” into the Google search box and hit GO.

Len is a…

• Len is a similar array of bytes for the desired target identifier
• Len is a cypherpunk and privacy advocate
• LEN is a function that is rarely used by itself
• Len is a licensed sailplane pilot and ardent bicycle commuter
• Len is a climbing game
• Len is a non-negative length function on the edges of g
• Len is a soft-hearted, well-meaning chap who holds strong views on certain subjects and is fiercely proud of his working-class roots

Brock is a…
• Brock is a conservative
• Brock is a small rural community located west of Weatherford. Welcome to Brock ISD
• Brock is a full service law firm in Toronto
• Brock is a poet and translator
• Brock is a friend to those he serves because Brock's not about the show but about the ministry
• Brock is a true champion
• Brock is a well spoken gentleman
• Brock is a man who walked away from a cult

Karen is a…
• Karen is a lot of things
• Karen is a wonderful and caring person who makes me smile everyday
• Karen is a certified evaluator with Delta, a therapy pet organization
• Karen is a great interview and a tireless advocate for families dealing with Autism
• Karen is a professor herself
• Karen is a virtual representative trained to answer your questions about the safe storage, preparation and handling of meat and poultry products
• Karen is a skilled negotiator

Couldn't resist... this was too much FUN!!!!


Karen on 10.14.05 @ 08:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's GEM...

...from Paul Krugman (NY Times): Questions of Character:

"...Right now, with the Bush administration in meltdown on multiple issues, we're hearing a lot about President Bush's personal failings.

But what happened to the commanding figure of yore, the heroic leader in the war on terror? The answer, of course, is that the commanding figure never existed: Mr. Bush is the same man he always was. All the character flaws that are now fodder for late-night humor were fully visible, for those willing to see them, during the 2000 campaign.

And President Bush the great leader is far from the only fictional character, bearing no resemblance to the real man, created by media images...."

[For the full text of the piece - visit this link.]

Karen on 10.14.05 @ 08:11 AM CST [link] [ | ]


It's about time that the world community smacks the bAdministration upside the head for their crimes against humanity. If they can't haul his ass (and the asses of his co-conspirators) to The Hague for trial, at least call a spade a spade and let the world know what they really are:

Dutch court won't extradite terror suspect


THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- A Dutch court on Wednesday blocked the extradition of a Dutch terror suspect to the United States, saying his legal rights in U.S. custody could not be guaranteed.

The man, who is of Egyptian descent and was identified only by his initials M. A., is wanted on charges of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud, apparently to help the al-Qaida terrorist network. He has been in custody in the Netherlands for around eight months.

The ruling by the Hague District Court said the suspect's "fundamental right" of unlimited access to a defense lawyer and immediate access to a judge may be compromised in the United States.

Last month, the court sought guarantees from U.S. prosecutors that the detainee would be afforded those basic rights if he were extradited. In Wednesday's ruling, it rejected a U.S. submission that "the United States views such a request as unwarranted and unnecessary."


The defendant's lawyer, Bart Nooitgedagt, called the decision a major victory for his client. He said he would seek the suspect's release, although he still could face prosecution by Dutch authorities for the alleged crimes.

"This ruling is unique in Dutch legal history. Never before has a judge ruled that an extradition to the United States could not take place because the rights of a defendant could not be guaranteed," Nooitgedagt said.
Sometimes you gotta appreciate the small victories, though it's sad to think that the opinion of the United States as a respecter of the rule of law and the rights of the individual has fallen so low....

Len on 10.14.05 @ 08:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Patrick Fitzgerald gets it....

so sez Larry Johnson, who was himself a CIA officer (and in Valerie Plame's accession training class):

Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald understands very well that something beyond a crime was committed when Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and other White House operatives spread the name of undercover CIA officer, Valerie Plame, around Washington as part of a coordinated effort to discredit her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson. Someone needs to alert Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen that he is a nitwit and moron for trying to advance White House supplied talking points that no real crime occurred.

Here are some of the facts that will come out when Fitzgerald ends his investigation:

1. Valerie Plame was still a non-official cover officer in July 2003 when her identity was revealed by colostomy bag Bob Novak.

2. Valerie Plame had traveled overseas on secret missions using that cover as required under the statute in question.

3. Valerie Plame's exposure also almost compromised the identity of other non-official cover officers.

4. Valerie Plame did not have the authority to send her husband on the Niger mission and in fact did not make the decision.

Other mental midgets like Cohen, such as Victoria Toensing, continue to insist that no crime could have been committed because Valerie Plame, "worked at a desk job". Newsflash for these so-called Washington insiders who have proven they know nothing about the intelligence community--at least 40% of the people working at CIA Headquarters are working undercover. Just because they may physically go to the CIA building in McLean, Virginia everyday does not mean that their relationship with the CIA is acknowledged.

During my four years of sitting at a desk at CIA I was undercover. My position with the CIA was not even known by my own parents. Only my wife was privy to that secret. Many of the undercover folks still working at CIA are at headquarters on a temporary basis. Some travel overseas on temporary assignments that last less than a month. Others await a semi-permanent posting for a two or three year stint overseas.

The point that Cohen and the other White House hacks have missed is that protecting the identities of intelligence officers, whether they are working under official or non-official cover, is part of national defense. To compromise these identities is to commit an act of treason.
I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that the indictments go higher up into the bAdministration than Libby and Rove.

Anyone remember "unindicted co-conspirator"?

Len on 10.14.05 @ 08:00 AM CST [link] [ | ]

And Bill Frist's Presidential ambitions are in the toilet and swirling....

He's been subpoenaed by the SEC relative to those nearsighted (because it was never blind) trust transactions in HCA stock that he may have indulged in.

Boy, I'm so distraught over that (not!).

Len on 10.14.05 @ 07:49 AM CST [link] [ | ]

If it ain't true, it ought to be....

and it probably isn't true, because it's just too damn good.... From an email to Josh Marshall:

What do you think of some of the speculation out there that Harry Reid suggested Harriet Miers as an effort to sabotage Bush politically? It makes a lot of sense to me - she's not very formidable, yet Reid knew Bush would like the idea of picking someone who's such a close ally/bootlicker (you pick). It's kinda like this: Say you have a colleague at work you can't stand and you know has terrible judgment. This colleague just bought a bunny suit and keeps telling everyone how he can't WAIT to find some occasion to wear it. So you sidle up to him and encourage him to wear it to the company's annual black-tie banquet. "Hey, buddy, I just want you to be happy. Would I steer you wrong?"
Actually, the reason I think that this resonates with me is the mention of the bunny suit, for that takes me back.

Back when I was working in St. Louis for Quilogy, one of our competitors in the IT consulting field was another local company, G.A. Sullivan. Since I minded my own particular garden (database training for the most part), I wasn't plugged into the grapevine with respect to local business, but I was mildly aware that Greg Sullivan, founder of G.A. Sullivan, had a reputation for being a bit off the wall (a quality that I admire), so much so that he'd been known to wear a bunny suit in the office in order to lighten up the atmosphere when tensions and workloads were running high.

Unfortunately, Sullivan sold his firm to Microsoft and Accenture, and if you go to http://www.gasullivan.com/ you'll find that you in fact reach the website of something called "Avanade" (which is what the firm has now been renamedrebranded). Which is a pity, because my favorite recollection of the old G.A. Sullivan website is that it sported a picture of Greg in his bunny suit (and unfortunately, this is one of the few times that the Google Image Search failed me... *sigh*)

Len on 10.14.05 @ 07:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Late to the party again....

I actually got wind of the scripting of Bush's little gaggle with the troops yesterday (via email), but the person who sent it to me just cited NPR (he listens to NPR, a habit I gave up early in the Mess o'Potamia when it became clear to me that they'd pretty well sold out to become a part of the DoD Propaganda Department) without any citation to the Web. Fortunately, Josh Marshall provides a link (of sorts), so I can finally mention it:

Another great Bush administration moment.

In this morning's gaggle, Scott McClellan got asked whether the teleconference the president had with troops in Tikrit was scripted. Here's what he said ...
QUESTION: How were they selected, and are their comments to the president pre-screened, any questions or anything...


QUESTION: Not at all?

MCCLELLAN: This is a back-and-forth.
Here's how the pool report (i.e., from the designated reporter on the scene) described what happened.
The soldiers, nine U.S. men and one U.S. woman, plus an Iraqi, had been tipped off in advance about the questions in the highly scripted event. Allison Barber, deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for internal communication, could be heard asking one soldier before the start of the event, "Who are we going to give that [question] to?"
Oh well ...
Um, here's a hint, guys.... Check that the mikes aren't live before the embarassing shit hits the fan.

In a sense, I'm sort of surprised that this is actually being remarked on as newsworthy. It's been obvious for years that Bush and his handlers simply can't handle anything remotely resembling a spontaneous event... his audiences are screened so that only the properly brainwashed sheep will bleat their praises of Our Glorious Leader, while they had to give a male escort press credentials so that he could throw batting practice fastballs to McClellan for him to try to hit out of the park....

Just business as usual.

Len on 10.14.05 @ 07:22 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day, Silly Blog Meme Edition:

Pete at A Perfectly Cromulent Blog got tagged with a blogmeme, and I have to admit that this one came close to having me spraying coffee all over my monitor and keyboard this morning:

Favorite dance song: It isn't actually my favorite, but I think it's hilarious that - no matter what the Country/Western dancing venue- every last redneck in the place will get on the floor for "Baby Got Back." If you haven't seen a couple hundred people in Rocky Mountains and Wranglers jerking spasmodically to Sir Mix-A-Lot, you have led a trite, meaningless existence.
I could almost (note, I said almost) drag myself to a C/W dance club just to see that....

A thousand thanks to Pete for not tagging anyone with that one (specifically, for not tagging me with it). I'm so pathetically limited in my musical tastes that out of 37 discrete categories of "favorite [foo] song" I could give an answer to only (at most) 13 of them, and I'd probably have to mull a lot of the categories I could answer for at least 24-48 hours.

Len on 10.14.05 @ 06:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

I was a scientist before I was a politician, Peter. And as a scientist I know you need facts, evidence and proof—and then you check, recheck and check again. The fact was that there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. As a politician the most serious decision you can take is to commit your armed services to war from which they may not return.
--Margaret Thatcher, to Lord Palumbo (Former Chair, Arts Council of Great Britian), who asked her if, on the intelligence available at the time, she would have made the decision to invade Iraq [via Tina Brown]

Len on 10.14.05 @ 05:45 AM CST [link] [ | ]

But what about MY needs???

Via PZ Myers, here's another Google game: do a search for "[Your first name] needs", and discover what the Internets think you really need.

Here are the results for all three DBVers:

Len needs...

Brock needs...

Karen needs...

Thank you, and if any of our loyal readers can help us with our Google-determined needs, let us know.

Brock on 10.13.05 @ 08:59 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Let's quickly tick off some recent instances where our trust in George W. Bush may have been misplaced. We trusted Bush to take homeland security seriously, and he gave us Michael Brown. We trusted Bush when he told us that Iraq was an imminent threat because of its WMDs, but there were no WMDs. Bush is now asking us to trust him about Harriet Miers, and for good reason, many of us aren't. Why, then, should we continue to trust him about Guantanamo?
--Carey Cuprisin

Len on 10.13.05 @ 07:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

When You're Jet...You're a Jet all the WAY...

Forgot this GEM from yesterday's Chicago Tribune:

Garrison Keillor In defense of Tom DeLay

"My Dear Mr. DeLay:

I have been waiting two weeks for one Republican to leap to your defense and express outrage at a grand jury so callous as to indict a virtuous man, and nobody has. They've all been coy and cautious and whispering to the press that you are not their favorite guy in the whole world, so I am going to stand with you, sir, and cover your back. I don't like to see a man abandoned that way.

When you're a Jet and the spit hits the fan, you've got brothers around. You're a family man. I am an old liberal and if we had a Hammer, we would support him in the morning, and in the evening, all over this land. You are the greatest political fundraiser since William Marcy Tweed, sir, and that Texas grand jury is trying to referee a football game by the rules of badminton.

Corporate money not used for political campaigns? The thought is preposterous on its face. Any school child knows that politics is not about high-falutin' debates and policy papers; it is about putting the screws to the fat cats and squeezing them until they squeak and then hiring agents to level your hapless opponent with a barrage of rotten fruit and dead cats as you yourself stand above the fray, Bible in hand, your arm around some orphans, eyes upraised to Old Glory, your face nicely lit. And you win the race and go to work flogging your timid colleagues and raising truckloads of dough and building your war chest and scaring the bejeebers out of people. That's how it's done.

This country was not built by nervous Nellies and Sunday school teachers but by bold marauders, dodgers, sooners, buffalo hunters, forty-niners--people who saw what they wanted and took it. You're one of them. Politics is about power. You grabbed hold of it and became King of the Republican Hill, a majority leader who knows that one can never have too much majority.

I am disappointed by your attempts to beautify yourself. It's pitiful, sir, and demeaning to blow-dry your hair and try to project warmth through those drill-sergeant eyes and belt-sander voice. You're the man, sir, who redrew the map of Texas to squeeze more Republican congressmen out of it, and got Indian tribes to pay for you and yours to fly to Scotland first-class and play golf, and who paid his wife as a consultant, etc., etc., etc. Personal warmth was not what got you to the dance. The rest of us tiptoe through the tulips, fearful of giving offense, but you, sir, are one brass monkey.

But politics is treacherous. Those Republicans who kiss your ring at prayer breakfasts and wave the flies away from your plate--if they should sense that you are a wounded elephant, they will throw you out the window without blinking. Count on it, Mr. Leader. Behind those bland faces are neural synapses making intricate calculations. Don't worry about the Democrats, they are harmless, shaking their pointy heads and waving their small, plump hands. It's your friends who will do you in. Look at Julius Caesar. Look at Richard Nixon.

Nixon was done in by the ginks who forgot to burn the tapes, and so a great statesman suffered the ultimate humiliation of being quoted accurately when he was talking like a drunken bus driver about Jews and liberals. You, too, could be sandbagged by your pals, who may suddenly find it convenient to distance themselves from you as if you were not their daddy but just some stranger who came around every month and paid the bills and petted the dog.

Your best strategy is to Instill Fear among the Flock. Yes, you've done certain things that don't look good to grand juries and Unitarian schoolmarms and amateur birdwatchers, but so have your fellow Republicans. They have shoved old ladies down the stairs and feathered their own nests, and you know it, and they know that you know it, and now you need to demonstrate that you will not bend one iota, no mea culpas and don't weep for me Argentina. You did not have sex with that woman, and you intend to go on Hammering, and if they let you down, you will sing like a canary and take those clowns with you.

Meanwhile, sir, I am at your side, your loyal pal and obedient servant.

Karen on 10.13.05 @ 11:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The State of the STATES on Social-economics...

Like Len, I am on a Life-Overloaded Calendar at the moment. So, I have some interesting new information on some social/economic and census data, but not the time to extrapolate it into any commentary or further insights.

But for your information:

"A new analysis looking at links between marriage, fertility and other socioeconomic characteristics was released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, providing the first-ever state-by-state analysis of median age at first marriage. The analysis of the multi-year marriage and fertility data from the American Community Survey (ACS) also shows how socioeconomic characteristics such as mother's income, age, work status and language spoken at home are correlated with birth rates.

The report, Indicators of Marriage and Fertility in the United States From the American Community Survey, 2000 to 2003, found that states with a high estimated median age at first marriage tended to have higher proportions of unmarried-couple households and lower proportions of married-couple households.

"This study demonstrates the power of the American Community Survey to help us understand the kinds of changes taking place in the American family and what those changes mean," said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon. "These are the types of data that policymakers can use to more specifically target programs to strengthen the family."

The analysis of family structure variables showed marked geographic patterns. States in the Northeast had some of the highest levels of unmarried-couple households, particularly Maine (7.3 percent of all households), New Hampshire (7.2 percent) and Vermont (7.1 percent). States in the South, including Alabama (3.0 percent), Arkansas (3.6 percent) and Mississippi (3.8 percent), were among those with the lowest percentages of unmarried-partner households.

Southern states (and the District of Columbia) also tended to have a higher percentage of unwed mothers with infants compared with the national average. These included the District of Columbia (53.4 percent), Mississippi (45.7 percent) and Louisiana (40.2 percent of all mothers). Among the states with the lowest percentages of unwed mothers with infants were Utah (14.7 percent), Minnesota (20.6 percent) and Idaho (21.6 percent).

Teen births were also more prevalent in the South, with Arkansas (where 13.3 percent of births were to teens), Mississippi (12.8 percent) and Louisiana (12.1 percent) among those above the national average (7.7 percent).

The analysis, from a sample of over 3 million covering four years of American Community Survey data (2000 to 2003), showed a link between the proportion of mothers with infants living below the poverty level and low levels of labor force participation, as well as a high proportion of teen births among unmarried mothers.

In fact, one in every two unmarried mothers who had recently given birth were living below the poverty level -- four times the rate of their married counterparts. Nearly 30 percent of all new mothers were unmarried.

Other highlights:

-- Men and women in the Northeast marry later, on average, than their counterparts in the rest of the United States.

-- One-fifth of all women who gave birth in California in the last year either did not speak English well or did not speak it at all. Texas (14.4 percent), Arizona (14.4 percent) and Nevada (14.2 percent) were among the states with rates higher than the national average (8.2 percent).

-- Fifteen percent of all women who gave birth within the last year were noncitizens.

The American Community Survey is a powerful new tool designed to produce current local data for communities on a wide range of issues. The ACS is being mailed to about 250,000 (roughly 1-in-480) addresses a month, nationwide, and will provide current demographic, housing, social and economic information about America's communities every year -- information previously available only once every 10 years.


The American Community Survey data are based on responses from a sample of households across the nation. The estimates and rankings may vary from the actual values because of sampling or nonsampling variations. The statistical statements have undergone testing, and comparisons are significant at the 90-percent confidence level. Additional information and data profiles for the nation, states, counties and places may be accessed at http://www.census.gov/acs or http://factfinder.census.gov.

Courtesy of US News Wwire.

Karen on 10.13.05 @ 10:53 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Missed opportunities....

At Facing South, Chris Kromm raises the sad possibility that progressives are squandering their best chance, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to stop the heartless GOP revolution in its tracks and enact some needful reforms:

The New York Times had a discouraging but, I think, on-target piece earlier this week describing the closing window of opportunity for progressive reform in the wake of the Katrina catastrophe, and why progressives should see this as an issue of urgent national concern:
As Hurricane Katrina put the issue of poverty onto the national agenda, many liberal advocates wondered whether the floods offered a glimmer of opportunity. The issues they most cared about - health care, housing, jobs, race - were suddenly staples of the news, with President Bush pledged to "bold action."

But what looked like a chance to talk up new programs is fast becoming a scramble to save the old ones [...]

"We've had a stunning reversal in just a few weeks," said Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal advocacy group in Washington. "We've gone from a situation in which we might have a long-overdue debate on deep poverty to the possibility, perhaps even the likelihood, that low-income people will be asked to bear the costs."
Katrina put issues of race and class on the national radar in a way that won't be repeated for a very long time. But the opportunity to discuss and act on these issues -- progressive issues -- is being largely squandered.

Let's be clear: If progressives fail to seize this opportunity, what will suffer are not only the people of the Gulf Coast, now at the mercy of real estate speculators, energy developers, far-right ideologues, and other nefarious interests. We will also lose a once-in-a-decade chance to resurrect the progressive agenda on a national scale.
I wish I could be sanguine about the prospects. But with the "two-party system" in this country having slowly deteriorated into the "one party with two-wings system" (those wings being the "anti-abortion and beat down those icky gays wing" and the "pro-choice and those gays aren't all that bad" wing), I'm not sure that the moderate-right wing of Our Only Party (i.e., the Democrats) is going to fight the right ("moderate" Republicans) and batshit crazy right (religious right, neocon and social conservative GOP) wings of Our Only Party in order to see that something mildly resembling "social justice" is done.

Len on 10.13.05 @ 09:28 AM CST [link] [ | ]

About a month now....

Unfortunately, Real Life™ is conspiring against me, and I've been dragged, kicking (vigorously) and screaming (loudly) into the 21st century. Alas, I've (finally) been forced to "upgrade" to Windows XP (some work applications require it, not to mention, of course, that you simply can't get new equipment with Windows 2000 anymore (and unfortunately, my work is a resolutely Windows shop, and I have to use a number of applications that Just Don't Work With Linux (and I don't have the time or money to either diddle with WINE or buy a Windows emulator or Virtual Machine that works)). In my defense, I waited 4 years until XP Service Pack 2, so I'm reasonably sure it's out of beta now.

For the most part, I can't say I particularly care for XP. My attitude towards Windows pretty much formed back when I converted to Windows 95 ("I have to say I loathe it less than I anticipated"), and when Windows NT 4.0 went to the Win 95 user interface I basically got used to it. Converting to Win98 SE (again, making sure it was out of beta) and Windows 2000 was basically an exercise in annoyance (Microsoft just can't stick with something that works; having gotten used to where everything was located in Win95, I was forced gradually to accomodate myself to the gratuitious changes which accompany any new Windows release). XP really pissed me off; I simply can't look at the new XP user interface without thinking that someone's taken away my old computer and replaced it with the latest offering from Fisher-Price's "My First Computer" line. In my job I have to provide support for a number of XP users, and I can't imagine how any of them (grown human beings (some pushing retirement age, even!) with professional degrees (and in some cases, Ph.D.s!)) can stand working with that monstrosity. So the first thing I did to my XP box was to reset every user interface option so that it looks and acts as much like Windows 2000 as possible. Not perfect, but as long as the system sounds or other XP peculiar interface "features" don't intrude, I can delude myself into thinking nothing's changed (nothing important, anyway....).

However, as Mom used to say, "if you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all". Well, really, I thought Mom was full of shit on that one (Mom was a grand woman, but still full of shit on a number of issues), but I will go ahead and give XP props on one feature that seems to work. ClearType. Because most of my XP references stated that ClearType (a video display font smoothing technology that, IIRC, Microsoft stole from somewhere ("innovation" my ass; Windows98 is so similar to Windows95 because Apple hasn't invented anything worth copying since 1995. --Jakob Nielsen)) was designed to make LCD displays look better, and because my XP box is a desktop with a CRT display (my laptop, the only computer I own with an LCD display, is a Win2K/Mandrake 9.0 dual boot box and going to remain that way for the foreseeable future), I hadn't bothered to try it out.

Then Bryan pointed to a post by Steve at Yellow Doggerel Democrat, wherein Steve sings the praises of ClearType for us old, decrepit fogies, even if we're using CRTs. And I have to say, having now experimented with it, that it's a considerable improvement over the default Windows display algorithm. So drop by Steve's and follow the directions he gives; you may just like the results (and if you don't, you can always reset things back to normal).

Len on 10.13.05 @ 08:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

...the Miers pick is more reminiscent of the candidate who in 1999 was asked who his favorite philosopher was. "Christ," Bush famously replied, "because he changed my heart. ... When you turn your heart and your life over to Christ, when you accept Christ as the Savior, it changes your heart and changes your life."

The elites howled at the time. The evangelicals smiled. They understood. The president was trying to tap into that understanding yesterday in the Rose Garden, when he said he knows Miers' heart. The case Bush is making is that in fact, she is the anti-Souter. Before the confirmation hunt, George H.W. Bush wouldn't have known Souter had he been riding on the president's shoulders. But Bush knows Miers.

It's usually time to duck with Bush when he starts playing clairvoyant cardiologist. He said he knew Putin's heart, too, before Putin turned out to be more like Stalin than Jefferson. But he knows Miers not just because they've worked together for 10 years, but because she's walked the same walk. Bush became a committed evangelical Christian at around age 40. She was 34. In that faith, knowing her heart is code for: She's one of us. James Dobson didn't announce his support for Miers so quickly because he heard she was a whiz in the corporate boardroom.
--John Dickerson

Len on 10.13.05 @ 07:20 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The Master: Alfred Hitchcock

" Turner Classic Movies (TCM), will honor iconic film director Alfred Hitchcock this October when it presents 36 films and three documentaries in a week-long celebration of legendary master of suspense from Oct. 24-30.

The festival including such classics as North By Northwest (1959, Oct. 29, 8 p.m.) and Psycho (1960, Oct. 24, 11:30 p.m.), plus two World War II propaganda shorts he directed for the British Ministry of Information, Aventure Malgache and Bon Voyage, and several little-known gems from Hitchcock's early British period, Juno and the Paycock and Young and Innocent.

Films will be presented in themed evenings focusing on such aspects of Hitchcock's career as "Obsession and Repression," "Everyday Killers" and "Hitchcock's Blondes."

A complete schedule of TCM's TCM Spotlight: Alfred Hitchcock is available at Turner Classic Movies"

Courtesy of US news Wire.


Karen on 10.12.05 @ 02:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Too True To Be Funny" department...

via our pals at The Onion: Bush To Appoint Someone To Be In Charge Of Country

WASHINGTON, DC—In response to increasing criticism of his handling of the war in Iraq and the disaster in the Gulf Coast, as well as other issues, such as Social Security reform, the national deficit, and rising gas prices, President Bush is expected to appoint someone to run the U.S. as soon as Friday.

"During these tumultuous times, America is in need of a bold, resolute person who can get the job done," said Bush during a press conference Monday. "My fellow Americans, I assure you that I will appoint just such a person with all due haste."

The Cabinet-level position, to be known as Secretary of the Nation, was established by an executive order Sept. 2, but has remained unfilled in the intervening weeks.

"I've been talking to folks from all across this country, from Louisiana to Los Angeles, and people tell me the same thing: This nation needs a strong, compassionate leader," Bush said. "In response to these concerns, I'm making this a top priority. I will name a good, qualified person as soon as possible."

Among the new secretary's duties are preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution of the United States, commanding the U.S. armed forces, appointing judges and ambassadors, and vetoing congressional legislation. The secretary will also be tasked with overseeing all foreign and domestic affairs, including those relating to the economy, natural disasters, national infrastructure, homeland security, poverty, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The secretary will report directly to the president.

Len on 10.12.05 @ 01:04 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Could things really turn around.....

This would be good:

And this would be positively orgasmic:

While they're only rumors now, there are indications that Patrick Fitzgerald's ongoing investigation may be drawing its nets around Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Cheney and his apprentice, Darth Rove.....

Well, a guy's gotta dream.

Len on 10.12.05 @ 12:52 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Mad Kane's at it again.....

Now her muse is the Harriet Miers-George W. Bush Mutual Admiration Society: Harriet's Song: Bush Is the Sunshine Of Her Life.

As always, there's an audio link.

Len on 10.12.05 @ 12:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Bush Crony Jobs. No doubt the monster.com for the GOoPer set.

Credit Josh Marshall

Len on 10.12.05 @ 12:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy....

We've heard that, apparently, U.S. Senator Bill Frist is in deep shit. From the Nashville Tenneseean we learn Frist accumulated stock in family company outside Senate trusts

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Outside the blind trusts he created to avoid a conflict of interest, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist earned tens of thousands of dollars from stock in a family-founded hospital chain largely controlled by his brother, documents show.

The Tennessee Republican, whose sale this summer of HCA Inc. stock is under federal investigation, has long maintained he could own HCA shares and still vote on health care legislation without a conflict because he had placed the stock in blind trusts approved by the Senate.

However, ethics experts say a partnership arrangement shown in documents obtained by The Associated Press raises serious doubts about whether the senator truly avoided a conflict.

In that case, the HCA stock was accumulated by a family investment partnership started by the senator's late parents and later overseen by his brother, Thomas Frist. The brother served as president of the partnership's management company and as a top officer of HCA. Sen. Frist holds no position with the company.

The senator's share of the partnership was placed in a Tennessee blind trust between 1998 and 2002 that was separate from those governed by Senate ethics rules.


Kathleen Clark, a government ethics expert at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, said she doesn't believe the Senate trusts or the Tennessee trust insulated Frist from a conflict because the senator or his brother were advised of transactions and could influence decisions.

"What I find most appalling is the Senate calls it a qualified blind trust when it's not blind," Clark said. "Since the Senate says it's OK, the Senate has made it a political question. It's up to the voter. But there's no doubt it's a conflict of interest."
Is Frist still planning to run for President? With luck, we may yet see a candidate running a presidential campaign from a prison cell. Who was the last person to do that in the U.S.? Eugene Debs?

Credit chain: Scott Shields at MyDD, via Lurch at Main and Central.

Len on 10.12.05 @ 12:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

'War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.'
--Ambrose Bierce

And here's another data point in favor of Bierce's observation: Invading Countries

Len on 10.12.05 @ 10:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

New Rulings for the World of Sports...

Another megalomaniac after my own Heart -- Rick Reilly (Sports Illustrated) tells us how it would be in *Sports World* from his view in If I Ruled the World:

• Cities that build lavish stadiums for their pro teams must rank among the nation's top 10 cities in per-pupil education spending. Until then, the damn tycoons can build their own palaces.

• Oh, and stadiums shall have no more than one name in a 10-year period. You sold it to Thong.com, you live with it.

• A parent must be able to defeat his kid in a sport, lefthanded, before screaming advice at him during the game.

• Player bios shall now include police blotter stats: 83 touchdowns, five Pro Bowls, three domestic disputes, two DUIs and that weird charge involving the ferret.

• Following Darwin's principles, families who own sports teams that haven't won a championship in 25 years shall not be allowed to pass the franchise to their heirs (shamelessly stolen from genius reader Ken Ura, Troy, Mich.).

Click on the "more" button to read this GEM in full.

Karen on 10.12.05 @ 09:13 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Keep Jumping, Lemmings... the Cliff is SO Tantalizing...

Child-In-Chief is making conservative supporters wince and squirm like...well, like Children. Or many are finally taking a U-Turn before they reach that Cliff...

Doug Bandow, a former special assistant to president Ronald Reagan, is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, writes this scathing review of the Child-In-Chief:

Doug Bandow: Misrule makes you yearn for Clinton

”… Five years after his election, only Republican apparatchiks now praise George W. Bush. He is more partisan, less competent and far less mature than his predecessor. Compared with the BushII administration, the 1990s epitomise good government.


Clinton was a disappointment, a man of enormous promise who failed to fulfil his potential. Bush is far worse, an irresponsible, incompetent big spender who manipulates information to promote his foreign policy fantasies. Sadly, it turns out that the adults left town when Bush was elected.’


And it just keeps coming from those Remorse-Buyer Conservatives...or at least those with any real *Conservative Principles* they stand by. The rest of the Kool-aid sodden supporters are now jumping off the cliff like the mental lemmings they are. Threatening to become an ever further marginalized minority.

*Whew* this is FUN!!!

Karen on 10.12.05 @ 08:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

More Fan Mail From Flounders…

Loving Letters from Dear Harriet Miers to the Child-In-Chief as *imagined from the pen of Maureen Dowd*:

”…April 2004 "There is no other president who would have had the courage to allow torture, dude! (It's only too bad that Abu Ghraib rules out Alberto's chances of getting on the Supreme Court.) You are the best torturer ever!! xo, H."

June 2005 "Make sure you take a good, long vacation this summer! Last year, you only took two weeks. You are pushing yourself way too hard, Sir!!"…

-- Maureen Dowd: To Sir, With Love

Click on the "more" button to read this GEM in full.


Karen on 10.12.05 @ 07:44 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

The Sum of Spongy's Knowledge...

Focus on the Family Chairman James “SpongeBob” Dobson, has provided a transcript of the information he received from White House advisor Karl Rove regarding Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. [He will discuss this Wednesday and Thursday on his daily radio program.]

It's a bit long, so click on the "more" button to read excerpts from this (Emphasis and underlining is mine.)

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 10.12.05 @ 06:49 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

First, there is the assumption—now almost automatic—that celebrities are public intellectuals on whatever issues they choose to take an interest in. I don't know whether Angelina Jolie is smart, smart for Hollywood, or not smart even by Hollywood standards. I do know, because I watched her speech, that she doesn't have much to say about AIDS. Her message to the assembled businesspeople and politicians was that we all must do more to fight this terrible disease. In particular, Jolie pressured the audience to pressure CEOs to pressure politicians to do more. When they have no idea what to do, celebs tell other people to tell other people what to do.

And just how saintly are these stars who give so freely of themselves? Cause-driven organizations like the Global Business Council want celebrity endorsements for the same reason companies like Nike and Coca-Cola do. Beautiful and famous people get everyone else to look at them. They create positive associations for whatever you're selling. But our idols seldom act out of selfless motives. Whereas product endorsements pay cash, actors and musicians gain heft and respectability by supporting fashionable crusades. What fighting AIDS does for Jolie, freeing Tibet does for Richard Gere, relieving African debt does for Bono, and banning land mines does for Paul McCartney. From the cynical celebrity's point of view, the best causes involve the poor, the sick, children, and animals in faraway places, both because of the telegenic aspect and because they bring no objection from fans or employers. If there were endangered baby pandas on the moon, Brad Pitt would be racing Ashley Judd there right now.
--Jacob Weisburg

Len on 10.12.05 @ 06:36 AM CST [link] [ | ]

It's A Revolution (or a Revolt of the Faithful)

"It's not a rebellion, sire: It's a revolution.” With those words, the duke of La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt broke the news to Louis XVI that the Bastille had fallen. Looking back on the events of the past eight days, I wonder whether the Bush White House does not feel the same way..."

--David Frum (AEI).

Karen on 10.11.05 @ 08:43 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Another Funnie GEM from Bill Maher

Bill Maher did a funnie on his Real Time Show about the US Government Consevation Energy Hog [a piece Sooo hokey even Andrew Sullivan thought it was a Gag-spoof.]

Bill Maher: Mr. Don't-Go-Changing did a complete 180 on conservation. He has been against conservation from the beginning. Suddenly the Bush administration, as always – they always do the right thing after the thing that they want to do is completely blocked – but they're, of course, the let's-not-and-say-we-did administration. So instead of real policies on conservation, they came up with this mascot. Look at this. [holds up card with mascot logo] This is the Energy Hog. Piggy the Energy Hog. And he says things like, you know, “Carpool,” and “wear a sweater.”

AFFLECK: That can't be true.

MAHER: That's real.

SULLIVAN: Did you – did you make that up?

MAHER: I'm not kidding. This is what the Bush administration gave us this week.

AFFLECK: Jesus Christ.

MAHER: That is – I'm making up “Piggy,” but he—

AFFLECK: George Bush's brother-in-law runs that department.


SULLIVAN: There's one test of whether they're serious about conservation. That's if they add a dollar to the gas tax.

MAHER: Right.

AFFLECK: Of course.

SULLIVAN: That's the only thing that will do it. And they won't touch it.

MAHER: No, no.

SULLIVAN: They won't touch it with a ten-foot pole.

MAHER: What they do is come up with more mascots. [laughter] [holds up more cards and reads them] Here's “Freddy, the FEMA Catfish.” [laughter] Reminding black folks in the flood plain, “Keep those bus tickets handy.” [laughter] The Department of Agriculture has come up with the “MC Mad Cow,” reminding you that, “What you don't know won't kill you, so stop asking about the hotdogs.”

Here's – oh, the border patrol has come up with Pepe, the Chihuahua. He says, “Ask your cleaning lady to stop telling your relatives how great America is.”

Here's the Social Security Seal, Sammie. [laughter] He says, “Dog food doesn't taste bad with A-1 Sauce.”

And finally, my favorite, from the DEA, “Dora, the DEA Donkey” says, “Help stamp out cocaine smuggling. Try crystal meth. It's made in the USA.”

And there was this GEM from Salman Rushdie:
RUSHDIE: Well, I've been – I've been worrying about God a little bit lately. You know, it seems as if he's been lashing out, you know, destroying cities, annihilating places. [laughter] And it seems like he's been in a bad mood, you know. And I think – I think it has to do with the quality of lovers he's been getting.

MAHER: [laughs] That's right. It's not like Leda and the Swan anymore, right.

RUSHDIE: You know, if you look at the people who love God now, you know, if I was God, I'd need to destroy something.

Karen on 10.11.05 @ 05:19 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Funnie...

How could I resist this Funnie for Today:

miers (32k image)

Coutesy of -- Nobody Could have Predicted

[Hat tip to Cookie Jill at Skippy The Bush Kangaroo]


Karen on 10.11.05 @ 04:37 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Civic Duties...

Daliwood has this important Post about doing our Civic duty to help:

"Are you concerned about global warming and climate change?

Fear not, the Feds have a plan. Not just any old plan, mind you, but a strategic plan to deal with the problem (you know, that problem they knowingly helped to create and then spent years denying).

Apparently, a cast of thousands from many agencies have put their pointy little heads together and come up with--tah dah--the U.S. Climate Change Technology Program Strategic Plan.

I, for one, am all goose-bumpy with patriotic fervor and a lust to see just how the neocons are going to solve the climate change thing. Their track record on addressing national disasters certainly promises good things regarding their abilities to tackle global-scale calamities involving every nation on earth and every living organism. They're still not sure how many people died in New Orleans or what the names of all the known dead might be, but by God they've got a plan (a strategic plan) for dealing with climate change.

Sharpen your writing skills, Dali pilgrims; you've got a homework assignment. The Feds are accepting public comments on the draft plan. You've got until Nov. 2 to read the report and submit your comments via e-mail. Comments will be posted on their website.

Those of you who've read my history know that I spent 20+ years working for the Feds in environmental regulatory compliance activities (mostly writing Environmental Impact Statements associated with large-scale energy facilities and DOD sites). Asking me to comment on that plan is like asking Madonna to be a slut--can do!

Please comment on the report. I don't think you will be allowed to comment anonymously, but your name is not going to be posted on their web site (so they say). If you don't want to comment, then please spread the word. E-mail the link above to your friends. Let's flood the Feds with comments, particularly intelligent comments. I plan to write a fairly lengthy comment or two, so I will post them here--you are welcome to use them as a starting point for your own or copy them verbatim. I'd be flattered, not annoyed, if anyone thought my comments were worth repeating."

So - here is the link for making those suggestions: U.S. Climate Change Technology Program Strategic Plan: Draft for Public Comment

Don't be SHY...I know we have lots of Intelligent and Informed Folks that fly these internet highways. And we ARE all in the same BOAT here. These Pointy-Headed Strategic Planners need all the help they can get.


Karen on 10.11.05 @ 03:11 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Surprisingly well matched....

According to Clay Davenport's Postseason Odds Page at Baseball Prospectus, with the American League Championship Series set to begin tonight, and the National League Championship Series set to begin tomorrow, things are about as evenly matched as you could hope they could be:

     Win DS   Win CS   Win WS    Yesterday
CWS 100.0000 54.0706 29.0604
LAA 100.0000 45.9294 23.3628 Won 5-3, win series 3-2
NYY 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000 Lost 5-3, eliminated
BOS 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
STL 100.0000 52.0007 25.2848
ATL 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
SD 0.0000 0.0000 0.0000
HOU 100.0000 47.9993 22.2920
There you go, with the White Sox having the best shot out of the starting gate. Definitely the ex-Cub factor.

Len on 10.11.05 @ 02:20 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I am not an investor....

since my employer doesn't pay me enough to invest. But if you are you might want to avail yourself of this advice from James J. Cramer: The Gold Parachute Or, how to stop worrying and save yourself from the president’s profligate spending and stubborn insistence on no new taxes.

It’s dawning on wall street that George W. Bush may be the first president since Lyndon B. Johnson who believes that we can have a guns-and-butter federal spending policy without creating a serious inflation spiral, if not outright government bankruptcy. At least LBJ, to his credit, believed that there were limits to profligacy and that taxes had to be raised. Not President Bush. He’s making Johnson look like a fiscal conservative, what with his insistence on waging a war in Iraq that’s costing $177 million a day and rebuilding New Orleans by taking on a monstrous load of federal debt.

For the longest time, because Bush is a Republican, we on Wall Street simply didn’t believe that he could be a reckless spender. We knew only two paradigms: You either spent less and cut taxes or you spent more and raised taxes. Both courses at least presumed some sacrifice at some time. Not Bush’s plan. He’s gone on both the biggest spending binge and the lowest taxation course in U.S. history, which, alas, will produce gigantic liabilities down the road. Of course, he’ll be back on the ranch by the time his successor will have to deal with his inflation and currency debasement. Our only hope that financial disaster won’t strike sooner lies with the Chinese, who actually fund our deficit by buying our Treasuries—$242 billion worth, or 12 percent of all foreign holdings. If the Chinese decide to be good communists and stop buying our bonds, the Feds will have to raise rates to attract new investors and the reaper will be at our doorstep with interest rates more akin to those of South than North America. Right now, it’s not a problem. But in a year or two or maybe less, I perceive that the government will throw a bond auction and nobody will show, including the Chinese, until rates shoot up dramatically.

What if that happens? What if our fiscally clueless president really does keep spending at a rate that far exceeds what our government can take in at these low tax rates? What happens if the president’s acolytes and the Pollyannas in Treasury keep believing that we can grow our way, fairy-tale-like, out of this jam? You can bet that when you cash out your nest egg of nice U.S.-based mutual funds and solid common stocks, your dollars will fit nicely into a wheelbarrow designed specifically to cart worthless currency to the bank.

Len on 10.11.05 @ 01:16 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Picking winners is a difficult proposition, in any sport. I know this firsthand, as does my bookie. A gambler, in order to break even, must win 52.38 percent of his bets (this just covers the vigorish, the extra fee paid to the bookie). If you pay an additional amount to a sports tout, you'll need to win even more. Most gamblers are lucky if they do better than flipping a coin; professional gamblers do well when they get close to 60 percent. Let's be clear, nobody picks 75 percent to 80 percent, especially over any considerable length of time—like a season. I have, occasionally, paid someone to pick winners for me. And every tout has put me further into debt. It could be that I've just gone to the wrong people. Or it could be that people like Lang just don't exist.

If, after seeing the movie, you think that the real Brandon Lane is the answer to your gambling woes, you'll be mistaken. He claims, like every other sports tout, that he's the best handicapper in the business. This, of course, cannot be verified. Short of providing potential clients with his record, his site provides inducements more in the realm of PR hackery. "Listen," he writes, "they only make movies about winners—and that's me!" Apparently, he hasn't rented
Leaving Las Vegas.
--Jacob Lewis [on the film
Two for the Money]

Len on 10.11.05 @ 12:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

How NOT to pick-up Women On-Line...

Catching up on my blog read-around, I caught this link in a piece by Michael Froomkin (Discourse.net) on Virtual rules game playing and legal theory testing:

How Not To Pick Up Women Online:

“Probably the funniest thing I’ve seen at the State of Play conference was watching a demo yesterday evening. I missed the beginning of it, but by the time I got there, Will Harvey, the Founder and CTO of there.com was logged into his virtual world with an avatar of himself (well, a somewhat more buff version of himself). He was walking around, tryng to get virtual dogs to heel, and chatting up female avatars.

The AI doggies liked the treats, but the avatars were not cooperating. There were people with dune buggies and hovering skateboards who were having fun running down pedestrians (you can’t die in there.com, but the victim flies artistically through the air, or suddenly finds itself face down through the dirt). I found it disorienting, but Will seemed to take it in stride. Will didn’t seem to mind being run over too much, but he got very cross about the person with the paint gun shooting puppies. It was entertaining to watch him pulling down menus, buying a paint gun of his own (probably helps to have an infinite supply of there bucks), and going after the evil-doer.

But most of the demo was spent trying to socialize. Will would strike up a nice conversation with female avatars, and at some point the other player (I’d write “women” but who really knows…) would ask him something about himself. He’d very modestly admit to being the designer of the game, and the conversation was suddenly over. It was clear that the other players didn’t believe him (running into a game designer on a balloon-ridden field in a Virtual World is the game equivalent of meeting Zeus in a coffee shop), and basically figured he was either a liar or a nut. Some of the other players were more polite than others, but all of them had reactions that amounted to “oh, sorry, gotta run.”

Conclusion: six years of development of VR is not the most efficient way to pick up women.

Karen on 10.11.05 @ 12:21 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Fear of Flying BARE...

Not since Erica Jong’s smash hit of 1973: Fear Of Flying; and the Cultural Bathroom etiquette and differences she reveled in such detail, have I come across a more interesting view of the Diapering Philosophy.

And NO this is not about plastic/disposable versus the Cloth/Natural substances argument. But about if one Should Diaper your child at all!!!

A most intriguing article.

(Click “more” to read the article in full below the fold)

As an addendum to this piece, my husband and I will never forget an incident with a certain couple (who will remain nameless to protect the sensitivities of their now teenage son). Their son was born at about the same time as our eldest daughter, Lauren.

As all of us were new parents, we had lots of discussions about how things were going and the learning process of our on-the-job parenting issues. But my husband and I had a bit of a tricky time getting round a discussion of potty training when our friend claimed - with all seriousness - that she’d been FULLY potty trained at 6months – 9 months old.... and was certain to do the same for her son.

Alright, all you Real Parents out there can stop rolling on the floor, HOWLing with laughter.

We just smiled at each other and raised our eyebrows at that one.

But some year or more later we were tempted to revisit this topic and ask, “So, How’s that toilet training going…?” [Pulling that off with a Straight Face was rather tough going!!!] They winced and ignored the topic, as their son cruised around in his Pampers. Nuff Said.


Karen on 10.11.05 @ 12:11 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Hold the Chicken and The Mayo...

On the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, there is a ceremony called Tashlich. Jews traditionally go to the ocean or a stream or river to pray and throw bread crumbs into the water. Symbolically, the fish devour their sins. Occasionally, people ask what kind of bread crumbs should be thrown.

Here are suggestions for breads which may be most appropriate for specific sins and misbehaviors:

For ordinary sins -- White Bread

For erotic sins -- French Bread

For particularly dark sins -- Pumpernickel

For complex sins -- Multi-Grain

For twisted sins -- Pretzels

For tasteless sins -- Rice Cakes

For sins of indecision -- Waffles

For sins committed in haste -- Matzoh

For sins of chutzpah -- Fresh Bread

For substance abuse -- Stoned Wheat

For use of heavy drugs -- Poppy Seed

For petty larceny -- Stollen

For committing auto theft -- Caraway

For timidity/cowardice -- Milk Toast

For ill-temperedness -- Sourdough

For silliness, eccentricity -- Nut Bread

For not giving full value -- Shortbread

For jingoism, chauvinism -- Yankee Doodles

For excessive irony -- Rye Bread

For unnecessary chances -- Hero Bread

For telling bad jokes/puns -- Corn Bread

For war-mongering -- Kaiser Rolls

For dressing immodestly -- Tarts

For causing injury to others -- Tortes

For lechery and promiscuity -- Hot Buns

For promiscuity with gentiles -- Hot Cross Buns

For racist attitudes -- Crackers

For sophisticated racism -- Ritz Crackers

For being holier than thou -- Bagels

For abrasiveness -- Grits

For dropping in without notice -- Popovers

For over-eating -- Stuffing

For impetuosity -- Quick Bread

For indecent photography -- Cheesecake

For raising your voice too often -- Challah

For pride and egotism -- Puff Pastry

For sycophancy, ass-kissing -- Brownies

For being overly smothering -- Angel Food Cake

For laziness -- Any long loaf

For trashing the environment – Dumplings

Courtesy of Max Speak.


Karen on 10.11.05 @ 11:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Over at The Flypaper Theory....

autoegocrat makes an excellent argument for the proposition that there is nothing wrong with the Memphis, TN, Commercial Appeal that a severe shortage of newsprint wouldn't fix.

[Well, at least a newsprint shortage would have fixed it in the good old days, pre-World Wide Web. In this day of the Internets, I'm not sure that'd be enough. A newsprint shortage and hard disk crash, perhaps?]

Len on 10.10.05 @ 12:51 PM CST [link] [ | ]

'Who are you?'
'We are philosophers.'
'Though we may not be!'
'Yes we ARE!'

Over at Amherst, they've set up a new webpage: AskPhilosophers. A number of academic philosophers are the "panel". You ask them questions; at least one of them provides the answer. Right now, it looks to be better than Marilyn Vos Savant (not that anything could be worse than Marilyn), but not as entertaining as The Straight Dope. On the other hand, I have to admit that the introductory paragraph is promising:

What is AskPhilosophers? This site puts the talents and knowledge of philosophers at the service of the general public. Send in a question that you think might be related to philosophy and we will do our best to respond to it. To date, there have been 104 questions posted and 107 responses.
Promising, because I find it almost as amusing as the old economics joke:
Ask five different economists a question, and you'll get five different answers. Six, if one got his Ph.D. at Harvard.
Credit: Brian Leiter.

Len on 10.10.05 @ 12:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A bicycle ride into the past....

Go over to Stan Schwarz's blog and check out his post about this week's bike ride:

Today’s ride was a tourist trip to see a piece of Americana. We rode down to Downey to see the last surviving original McDonald’s restaurant. It is the oldest operating McDonald’s, and it was part of the original chain started by the McDonald brothers before they met Ray Kroc and history was made.


The McDonald’s is at the corner of Lakewood and Firestone, at 10207 Lakewood Blvd. The sign out front proclaims, “sold over 500 million". Heh.

We had a look around the little museum there. We saw the “Order your EXTRA French Fries now!” ad. I guess that was the beginning of “Super Size Me“. We also saw an early picture of Ronald McDonald as portrayed by Willard Scott, who later became famous on The Today Show.
Reason enough for me to make a trip to Southern California, before they close it.

Len on 10.10.05 @ 11:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Aarman Fire Update...

As an addendum to Brock's post about the fire that destroyed the Aardman warehouse, I got this e-mail update:

"On the day that Aardman celebrate a chart-topping opening weekend in the US with Wallace & Gromit 'The Curse of the Were-rabbit', news of a fire at our storage unit in Bristol has been devastating.

The facility used to store sets, awards, and historical artefacts, is not a part of the Aardman studio, and we are glad to report that no Aardman staff have been affected. However, we have lost a number of irreplaceable storyboards, awards, props and pieces of film memorabilia from our 30 year history.

None of the material from the new Wallace & Gromit film 'The Curse of the Wererabbit' was in storage at the time, but we have lost many original sets from Chicken Run, Creature Comforts, and the three Wallace & Gromit short films, that were used for reference and toured around the world for exhibition.

This will not in any way affect existing or future Aardman productions as 100% of sets and props are purpose built for each production.

Wallace & Gromit 'The Curse of the Were-rabbit'.

Boo and Whooey for the fire. Sorry Aardman for the loss.


Karen on 10.10.05 @ 11:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

He's one of us.....

William Shatner blogs!

Credit: Beatnik Pad's list of musicians who blog [I wouldn't count Shatner as a "musician" myself, but Beatnik Pad lets him make the cut by virtue of the albums he's released] via Tom at Pretty War.

Len on 10.10.05 @ 11:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

History Obscura...

“But perhaps the most egregious example occurred on Nov. 1, 2001, when President Bush signed Executive Order 13233, under which a former president's private papers can be released only with the approval of both that former president (or his heirs) and the current one.

Before that executive order, the National Archives had controlled the release of documents under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which stipulated that all papers, except those pertaining to national security, had to be made available 12 years after a president left office.

Now, however, Mr. Bush can prevent the public from knowing not only what he did in office, but what Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan did in the name of democracy. (Although Mr. Reagan's term ended more than 12 years before the executive order, the Bush administration had filed paperwork in early 2001 to stop the clock, and thus his papers fall under it.)

Unless one of these efforts [to overturn this Executive Order] succeeds, George W. Bush and his father can see to it that their administrations pass into history without examination. Their rationales for waging wars in the Middle East will go unchallenged. There will be no chance to weigh the arguments that led the administration to condone torture by our armed forces. The problems of federal agencies entrusted with public welfare during times of national disaster - 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina - will be unaddressed. Details on no-bid contracts awarded to politically connected corporations like Halliburton will escape scrutiny, as will the president's role in Environmental Protection Agency's policies on water and air polluters..."

-- Bush’s Veil Over History by Kitty Kelley.

Karen on 10.10.05 @ 10:59 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Wallace and Gromit props and sets destroyed

Sets and props from Aardman Animations movies and shorts, including Chicken Run and the Wallace and Gromit films, are believed destroyed in a Bristol warehouse fire.

Company Spokesman Arthur Sheriff said: "It couldn't have come on a worse day - we were supposed to be celebrating, but instead our history has disappeared in a couple of hours.

"Everything has gone, from as far back as Morph and all the way through to Chicken Run, including all the Wallace and Gromit films, Creature Comforts, it's all there. Everyone is devastated."

Brock on 10.10.05 @ 08:54 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Actually, for the record I endorse this research over the plan to send people to Mars; it's cheaper and probably will produce more science (of course, the plan to send people to Mars isn't about science, which can be done more inexpensively, more safely, and more efficiently with unmanned probes, but about commercial exploitation and national self-esteem).

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to pop a water balloon in space? Now you can find out. Includes video files (MPEG and QuickTime formats).

Of course, they might have done this aboard the International Space Station, I suppose, instead of aboard a DC-9 flying a "Vomit Comet"-like parabolic trajectory; after all, what else is the ISS doing for us right now?

[While "researching" this one, I think I stumbled across what might be the best Internet domain name I've seen in several years: "iflyvomitcomet.com", which was apparently assigned to a Purdue-based research project which looks pretty interesting. Alas, the domain name has since been retired, it appears; entering http://www.iflyvomitcomet.com/ into my browser brings up a "domain not found" error. If I had the money to burn, I'd buy the domain and point it to the Purdue website; we shouldn't let such a gem of a domain name be lost forever....]

Len on 10.10.05 @ 08:26 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "Too True to be Funny" department:

From today's Ironic Times:

Democrats Cautious, Waiting For Bush to Make a Mistake
Party leaders agree: "Sooner or later he's bound to slip up."

Len on 10.10.05 @ 08:09 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From our pals at Landover Baptist Church

God's Holy Hijinks Quiz

Sure, He’s infallible, omnipotent, inerrant, and all that stuff. But He’s also a big old cut-up, wannabe athlete and temperamental hothead. A marvelous Maker of merriment, mischief and mayhem! Convince your friends that if they embrace the God of the Holy Bible, they get Howie Mandel, Howie Long and Russell Crowe, all wrapped into one. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of God's Holy Hijinks!
For the record, I got 8 of 10 correct. Not bad for an unsaved heathen.

Len on 10.10.05 @ 07:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

It was almost exactly two years ago, on Oct. 16, 2003, that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sent his aides a searching memo (soon after leaked to USA Today), in which he noted:

Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?
The shocking thing is not so much that it took two years, following 9/11, for Rumsfeld to formulate the right question; it's that two more years have passed, and the administration is only now seeking an answer. Military analyst William Arkin reports in his Washington Post blog, Early Warning, that just last month the Defense Department issued a solicitation for outside contractors to devise "a system of metrics to accurately assess US progress in the War on Terrorism, identify critical issues hindering progress, and develop and track action plans to resolve the issues identified."
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 10.10.05 @ 06:10 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Ya gotta hand it to Guinness....

They're not afraid of losing their batshit-crazy Creationist customers. Their ad, noitulovE is brilliant (QuickTime required).

Read about it here.

The current debate about evolution that is raging in some quarters may finally be laid to rest by noitulovE, the new Guinness spot. Put simply, the Guinness theory is that man's ascent from the slime has been leading him inevitably towards the enjoyment of a pint of their estimable product.

Len on 10.09.05 @ 07:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A show I'd watch, if they bring it to TV....


And from Tom Tomorrow:

Len on 10.09.05 @ 06:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The last man standing wins.....

Occasionally, in baseball, you can even take that literally (sorta).

Congratulations to the Houston Astros, who just beat the Atlanta Braves 7-6 in 18 innings. No doubt the Braves and the 'stros thought that we National League fans were disappointed by the Cardinals sweeping the Padres last night, so they decided to give us two full games for the price of one, to make up for the Cards-Padres game that went AWOL today. And congrats to Chris Burke, whose walk-off homer clinched it for the Astros.

From the Much Weirdness department: Roger "the Rocket" Clemens notched the win, pitching in relief. Not a sight I ever thought I'd see in my lifetime.

And from the You Could Look It Up department: at 18 innings, this is the longest postseason game in the history of MLB (or so the ESPN analysts tell us; I've not had a chance to check the records myself). [UPDATE: And in case you were wondering, the game lasted 5 hours and 50 minutes according to the box score.] And this is the first time in postseason play that two grand slams were hit in one postseason game.

Len on 10.09.05 @ 06:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Good news!

The Pesky Fly has taken on some co-bloggers, thus ameliorating the threat of there being not much new content at The Flypaper Theory while Pesky takes to the road on a project that appears to be near and dear to his heart.

Better news! The return of autoegocrat who hasn't resurrected the late, and sorely missed River City Mud Bugle, but who has become one of Pesky's partners in crime at The Flypaper Theory.

Len on 10.09.05 @ 11:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The *Sleeper* Radical...

George Bush, the Manchurian candidate:

'Mr Bush is now close to destroying the Reagan revolution'

“IT should have been the crowning moment of his administration, the opportunity to exercise one of his most important privileges as President by picking two new judges to serve on the Supreme Court, thereby stamping his mark on American society for the next few decades, as only a few presidents have done before him.

Instead, President Bush’s astonishingly short-sighted decision last week to nominate a close colleague with no judicial track record for the Supreme Court, following an earlier uninspired choice, risks condemning his administration to being remembered as the most debilitating since the sorry rule of Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s.

There is no pleasure in recording this.

This newspaper is second to none in its pro-American sentiments; in the early Bush years it devoted much ink to defending the President against the often malevolent and ignorant attacks of a congenitally anti-American European media. But we know a lost cause when we see one: the longer President Bush occupies the White House the more it becomes clear that his big-government domestic policies, his preference for Republican and business cronies over talented administrators, his lack of a clear intellectual compass and his superficial and often wrong-headed grasp of international affairs – all have done more to destroy the legacy of Ronald Reagan, a President who halted then reversed America’s post-Vietnam decline, than any left-liberal Democrat or European America-hater could ever have dreamed of.

As one astute American conservative commentator has already observed, President Bush has morphed into the Manchurian Candidate, behaving as if placed among Americans by their enemies to do them damage…”

--The Business On-Line (Op-Ed).

Karen on 10.09.05 @ 09:46 AM CST [link] [ | ]

If only Gus had an MVP vote....

Tom at Pretty War STL shows us who Gus's Pretzels vote is for in the NL MVP balloting.

Len on 10.09.05 @ 09:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Few Quotables…

...From Frank Rich (NY Times)

”The pervasive mood on the right was articulated by Cathie Adams, president of the Texas branch of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. She told The Washington Post: "President Bush is asking us to have faith in things unseen. We only have that kind of faith in God."

Beware of leaders who drink their own Kool-Aid. The most distressing aspect of Mr. Bush's press conference last week was less his lies and half-truths than the abundant evidence that he is as out of touch as Custer was on the way to Little Bighorn. The president seemed genuinely shocked that anyone could doubt his claim that his friend is the best-qualified candidate for the highest court. Mr. Bush also seemed unaware that it was Republicans who were leading the attack on Ms. Miers. "The decision as to whether or not there will be a fight is up to the Democrats," he said, confusing his antagonists this time much as he has Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

Click on the “more” button to read this piece in full.

Karen on 10.09.05 @ 08:09 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Exchanging One Beast for Another Beast...

Here is an excellent article coving all of the various tax policy and economic issues with the Permanent-Tax-Cut / Starve-the-Beast proponents proposals --

Talking Points: Tilting the Tax System in Favor of the Rich: by Teresa Tritch (NY Times editorial board member who writes about economic issues and tax policy).

It is rather long and in multiple parts, so it’s below the fold for your further reading. [I tried to inlcude the links as well, since it may not be available on-line for some folks.]

Karen on 10.09.05 @ 07:46 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

And congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals....

who last night completed a sweep of the San Diego Padres, 7-4 in PETCO Park, to advance to the National League Championship Series. They can now count on a well deserved 3 day rest before facing the winner of the Houston-Atlanta series.

Len on 10.09.05 @ 07:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The truth is this: clutch is a myth. You can't will hits, because baseball is so much harder than that. Baseball doesn't know that you're in the ninth inning, or in Boston, or in October. It just knows baseball. The acts of playing the game aren't different enough in the situations we choose to mark with a yellow highlighter than it is in the ones on the pages we choose to skip. Clutch is a story that gets told because it's fun to create heroes, more fun than it is to acknowledge the randomness of events in our game.
--Joe Sheehan [Baseball Prospectus]

Len on 10.09.05 @ 07:15 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Not that I'm condoning or encouraging sports gambling....

but if the ex-Cub factor wasn't enough to make you consider putting down some money on the White Sox, Joe Sheehan points out that the scheduling of the remaining ALDS games don't exactly do much to diminish the White Sox's chances of winning at least Game 1 of the ALCS (Baseball Prospectus premium content; BP subscription required):

Today's game in New York has been rained out, postponed until Sunday evening. This might allow the Yankees to bring Mike Mussina back for the elimination game, but I understand that Mussina never left California, which complicates matters. If he doesn't pitch, the Yankees lose the biggest benefit of the rainout, and in fact, yield a lot of ground to the Angels, who get a critical day of rest for a bullpen they worked hard last night.

The real problem, however, is the start time for the postponed game. The game is currently scheduled for 7:55 ET Sunday night. Mind you, this is Game Four, and if the Yankees win, there's a Game Five in Anaheim on Monday night (and Game One of the ALCS in Chicago on Tuesday night).

Yankee playoff games run well past three hours, they have for most of this run. Some of that is their style of play, some of that is the increased commercial inventory that needs to be shown. The earliest a game would reasonably end is 11 p.m., and it's possible the game wouldn’t end until close to midnight. Even rushing through showering and post-game media, I can't see either of these teams taking off for the West Coast until 2 a.m. at the absolute earliest, and 3 a.m. at the latest. That puts them on the ground in Los Angeles of Anaheim at, what, 5-6 a.m. local time? They'd get to the hotel and into a bed at maybe 7 a.m. Even if you skip BP on Monday, you're looking at being at the park at 3:30 local time for a 5:15 or so first pitch.

Mind you, that's with fairly conservative estimates. If tomorrow's game runs long, if I'm too conservative on how long it takes from final pitch to takeoff, if there are weather or other delays, you're looking at two teams playing a decisive game as little as seven or eight hours after landing back in California, and 20 hours and three times zones removed from the last pitch on Sunday.

There's no way in hell this game should be an 8 p.m. start. The only reason it is is that Fox needs a prime-time game for that slot, and I guess they don't want to change the start time of the Braves/Astros game (which, it should be noted, would face similar challenges, albeit with a much shorter flight involved). You shouldn't run a championship this way, and if the sequence of events above occurs, you're going to be watching too very tired teams playing the biggest game of their season on Monday night.

All because Fox needs a game in prime time.

It gets better, though. After Monday's contest, the winner of that game would have to immediately fly to Chicago for Game One of the AL Championship Series. Let's see...figure a game that ends around 8:30 p.m. in Anaheim, mix in a longer post-game because it's a clincher, so no one gets off the ground until midnight at the earliest. That puts you in Chicago at 6 a.m., in a hotel at 7:30, and needing to be at the park at 5:00 for a 7:15 start.

Which might not be so bad if you hadn't just done all of that the day before.

Let's just say I like the White Sox in the first game under these circumstances, unless they decide to open with Ken Kravec or something.
It makes one want to ask, does the postseason exist to determine a champion of Major League Baseball, or to maximize Fox's profits?

Len on 10.08.05 @ 04:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Had to see Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit last night. It was FAB as only Nick Park’s creative genius can be.

W&G (22k image)

But we got a big laughed about the Stinking Bishop Cheese and the story on NPR:

"Wallace & Gromit is bringing unwanted attention to a cheese maker in England. Wallace is a well-known lover of cheese; the latest film mentions a rare cheese called Stinking Bishop, made by Charles Martell on a farm in Gloucestershire, England. He says the notoriety is already creating too much demand on his small business."

Apparently A Grand Day Out also put on the menu a little known cheese that threatened to swamp the makers capacity.

“Any one for some Cheeeeeeeese?”

Karen on 10.08.05 @ 03:07 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

All things dull and ugly, all creatures short and squat;
All things rude and nasty, the Lord God made the lot.
Each little snake that poisons, each little wasp that stings;
He made their brutish venom, He made their horrid wings.
All things sick and cancerous, all evil great and small,
All things foul and dangerous, the Lord God made them all.
Each nasty little hornet, each beastly little squid.
Who made the spiky urchin? Who made the shark? He did.
All things scabbed and ulcerous, all pox both great and small,
Putrid, foul and gangrenous, The Lord God made them all. Amen.

--Monty Python's The Meaning of Life

Len on 10.08.05 @ 10:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Powerful Earthquake Hits Asia...

The Chicago Tribune is also reporting a huge earthquake hit Pakistan and India this morning:

"A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake reduced villages to rubble in Pakistan and India on Saturday, killing hundreds of people. Pakistan's army described the damage as widespread and said it included villages buried in quake-induced landslides.

Pakistan's Geo television quoted Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, the Pakistani army's chief spokesman, as saying 1,000 people were feared dead. Pakistani army officials who flew over quake-hit areas reported seeing hundreds of flattened homes in villages north of the capital Islamabad.

"The damage and casualties could be massive and it is a national tragedy," Sultan told The Associated Press. "The is the worst earthquake in recent times."

The U.S. Geological Survey said on its Web site the quake hit at 8:50 a.m. local time and had a magnitude of 7.6. It was centered about 60 miles northeast of Islamabad in the forested mountains of Pakistani Kashmir..."

Karen on 10.08.05 @ 07:29 AM CST [link] [ | ]

White Sox WIN

Being from Chicago usually means being a Cubs fan OR a White Sox fan, but not BOTH.

However, in my being not-of-the-normal-stripe type of Chicagoan, I like BOTH teams and can root equally for their successes and wins.

SWEEP SUCCESS: Sox make quick work of the defending champs.



"White Sox Nation?

Well, give it time. After all, when you let 88 years pass between winning a postseason series, your national profile is going to need an upgrade.

The 2005 White Sox are working on it, and the way they swept the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox out of the American League Division Series at increasingly quiet Fenway Park on Friday said a lot about who they are.

Paul Konerko, the heart of the order and in many ways the ball team, broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run homer in the sixth inning.

Then Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, the ageless Cuban emigre, high-wired his way through a bases-loaded, no-outs predicament in the bottom of the inning. The White Sox held on for a tense 5-3 victory, a 3-0 sweep of the best-of-five series and their first taste of postseason success since the 1917 World Series win over the New York Giants.

"We're not trying to change or undo anything that happened in the past," Konerko said as happy teammates staged an "Animal House" re-enactment in their cramped clubhouse, oblivious to many years of star-crossed history. "We're trying to be the 2005 White Sox and let's see what happens."

So far, so good. They have won 102 games this year...

And here's Hoping for a few more WINS in American League Championship Series.

GO White Sox!!!


Karen on 10.08.05 @ 07:24 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Not your same old ‘Dog eat Dog story’

I was reading an Op-Ed piece in the Boston Globe and couldn't help but notice the "20 most e-mailed articles" listed this one: "Python bursts after trying to eat gator", as it's top story.

So - here it is (Bleh!!) And the picture is below the fold, but don't say I didn't warn you about it being YUK:

“A 13-foot Burmese python recently burst after it apparently tried to swallow a live, six-foot alligator whole, authorities said.

The incident has heightened biologists' fears that the nonnative snakes could threaten a host of other animal species in the Everglades.

"It means nothing in the Everglades is safe from pythons, a top-down predator," said Frank Mazzotti, a University of Florida wildlife professor.

Over the years, many pythons have been abandoned in the Everglades by pet owners.

The gory evidence of the latest gator-python encounter -- the fourth documented in the past three years -- was discovered and photographed last week by a helicopter pilot and wildlife researcher.

The snake was found with the gator's hindquarters protruding from its midsection. Mazzotti said the alligator may have clawed at the python's stomach as the snake tried to digest it.

It is unknown how many pythons are competing with the thousands of alligators in the Everglades, but at least 150 have been captured in the past two years, said Joe Wasilewski, a wildlife biologist and crocodile tracker…”

Courtesy of the Boston Globe.

Karen on 10.08.05 @ 07:09 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Oh crap.

Baseball tonight. Game 3 of the ALDS. In New York. And you know what that means.

Come the seventh inning, it'll be Ronan Tynan singing "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch.

I've gotten so sick to death of hearing that man sing that song at the seventh inning stretch of every Yankees postseason game since Christ was playing tee-ball.

Find someone else. Please....

UPDATE: Well... If Dr. Tynan sang "GBA" at the seventh inning stretch, then ESPN didn't stay with that, but cut to commercials and updates from SportsCenter.

Thanks, ESPN!

Len on 10.07.05 @ 07:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And when do we get the robotic bears to catch them?

On the heels of this sighting of "feral robotic dogs", we can add robotic fish to the taxonomy of the robotic animal kingdom.

Len on 10.07.05 @ 06:14 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I hate to tell Karen that she blew it....

when she named a few of this year's Ig Nobel Laureates.

How did she manage not to inform us of this year's Ig Nobel Literature Laureate, a group of authors whose stirring literature is familiar to each and every one of us with an email account:

LITERATURE: The Internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for creating and then using e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters -- General Sani Abacha, Mrs. Mariam Sanni Abacha, Barrister Jon A Mbeki Esq., and others -- each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled and which they would like to share with the kind person who assists them.

Len on 10.07.05 @ 01:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

The Natural Order Has Been Restored, 'God's in his heaven, and all's right with the world.'

Friday Bird Blogging is back.

Len on 10.07.05 @ 11:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Say it ain't so... say it ain't so.....

For lunch, I went to try out a new sandwich shop which just opened up not far from my office.

While waiting for my sandwich, I noticed that the sound system (wasn't Muzak™, more likely a stereo) was playing "O Holy Night".

While I've been accused of being a "hard core" atheist, I don't mind the holiday season and its religious excesses, as long as they're not being crammed down my throat (unfortunately, that's the usual state of affairs in a town that has more churches than gas stations). But I do sincerely believe that Christmas music and decorations before f*cking Halloween is A Crime Against Nature, and should be punishable. Preferably by slow torture.

I'm too afraid to ask if the Christmas merchandise (or at least the candies or decorations) are out in the stores already. I don't know what would happen if the answer is affirmative, though the thought of sedatives and restraints comes immediately to mind.

Len on 10.07.05 @ 11:41 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Engrish Week in Review...

Today’s Engrish Funnies:

If only it were that easy…

Who wants to say “Been there… done that.”…???

Thank Goodness this is NOT a Franchise in my neighborhood.

Karen on 10.07.05 @ 10:39 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Funnie GEM for Today...


. . . although that would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do. But it is a fact. (Via Kos.)


Hahahahahahahaha!!!! Too Funnie!!!


Karen on 10.07.05 @ 10:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

The 2005 Winners Are....

A few highlights from last night: The 2005 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

CHEMISTRY: Edward Cussler of the University of Minnesota and Brian Gettelfinger of the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin, for conducting a careful experiment to settle the longstanding scientific question: can people swim faster in syrup or in water?
REFERENCE: "Will Humans Swim Faster or Slower in Syrup?" American Institute of Chemical Engineers Journal, Brian Gettelfinger and E. L. Cussler, vol. 50, no. 11, October 2004, pp. 2646-7.
WHO ATTENDED THE IG NOBEL CEREMONY: Brian Gettelfinger and Edward Cussler

PHYSICS: John Mainstone and the late Thomas Parnell of the University of Queensland, Australia, for patiently conducting an experiment that began in the year 1927 -- in which a glob of congealed black tar has been slowly, slowly dripping through a funnel, at a rate of approximately one drop every nine years.
REFERENCE: "The Pitch Drop Experiment," R. Edgeworth, B.J. Dalton and T. Parnell, European Journal of Physics, 1984, pp. 198-200.

ECONOMICS: Gauri Nanda of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for inventing an alarm clock that runs away and hides, repeatedly, thus ensuring that people DO get out of bed, and thus theoretically adding many productive hours to the workday.

Click on the link above to read more information on these 2005 Winners.


Karen on 10.07.05 @ 09:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Rut roh
--Scoobert S. "Scooby" Doo

This bit of depressing news from Billy-Ball:

As for the curse of the ex-Cubs in this postseason, the White Sox are Cub-free, while the Angels have one ex-Cub, Josh Paul. The Astros have one ex-Cub, Jose Vizcaino. The Braves have two, Kyle Farnsworth and Todd Hollandsworth. The Padres have three ex-Cubs: Manny Alexander, Damian Jackson and Eric Young. The Cardinals have three: Ray King, Julian Tavarez and Mark Grudzielanek. And the Yankees have five: Tony Womack, Matt Lawton, Tanyon Sturtze, Mark Bellhorn and Tom Gordon.
In case you're not an obsessive baseball nerd, here's the straight dope on "the ex-Cub factor":
The Ex-Cub Factor was originally coined by writer and Cub fan Ron Berler, who wrote an article in 1981 stating that since the Yankees of that season had five ex-Cubs on their roster, they were doomed to lose the World Series if they got there. Chicago newspaper legend Mike Royko picked up on the factor early on, and was a tireless champion of it, especially after Berler's 1981 prediction turned out to be right, as the Yanks lost to the Dodgers in six games.

Up until 2001, the curse of the ex-Cub had been almost complete. Since the Cubs last won the NL pennant in 1945, only once had a team with three or more ex-Cubs won the World Series. That was the 1960 Pirates, and Berler even managed to explain that anomaly away in his article.

In 2001, though, the Arizona Diamondbacks won the championship with a healthy contingent of ex-Cubs: Mark Grace, Luis Gonzalez, Mike Morgan, and Miguel Batista. It would appear that the curse has been broken, and Mark Grace even said as much during a post-game interview. In response, all I can say is it's pretty interesting that the World Series to which that one had most been compared is the 1960 Series, won by the Pirates. In both cases, the National League team beat the New York Yankees in the bottom of the 9th inning of the 7th game of the Series. Plus, almost as soon as Grace said that, the Diamondbacks became bad. Really bad. Coincidience? Or SOMETHING MORE???
If you're a really obsessive baseball nerd, you can look up the ex-Cub factor throughout history.

If history is any indication, you should be betting on the White Sox. Heavily. And the Chicago Police should probably cancel all vacations during World Series week.

Philosophical question of the day: How will one determine the ex-Cub factor of the Cubs when they eventually make the World Series (as they have to sometime, by the law of averages)?

Len on 10.07.05 @ 09:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Quotables...

Apropos of Len’s post: Who Would Jesus Torture - the Washington Post has this quote for today:

“Let's be clear: Mr. Bush is proposing to use the first veto of his presidency on a defense bill needed to fund military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan so that he can preserve the prerogative to subject detainees to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

In effect, he threatens to declare to the world his administration's moral bankruptcy.”

Karen on 10.07.05 @ 09:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Because inquiring minds want to know....

This week, in "The Straight Dope", Cecil Adams, the world's smartest human being, tackles the crucial question: How much of all Internet traffic is pornography?

[The Short Answer: not nearly as much as you think...]

Len on 10.07.05 @ 07:43 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

A: Until he gets caught.
Q: How long does a United States Congressman serve?
--"Carnac the Magnificent" [Johnny Carson]

Len on 10.07.05 @ 05:30 AM CST [link] [ | ]

If I told people that God told me to do something....

the men in the white coats would come take me away.

So why does Dubya get a free pass on that?

George Bush has claimed he was on a mission from God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a senior Palestinian politician in an interview to be broadcast by the BBC later this month.

Mr Bush revealed the extent of his religious fervour when he met a Palestinian delegation during the Israeli-Palestinian summit at the Egpytian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, four months after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

One of the delegates, Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, said: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did."

Mr Bush went on: "And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East'. And, by God, I'm gonna do it."

Len on 10.06.05 @ 08:22 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Exercise your right to free speech, because it may be gone soon.

A couple minor tidbits from The Land of the Free, and the Home of a Cowardly President.

In North Carolina, a high school student and his civics/economics teacher were questioned by the Secret Service:

Selina Jarvis is the chair of the social studies department at Currituck County High School in North Carolina, and she is not used to having the Secret Service question her or one of her students.

But that’s what happened on September 20.

Jarvis had assigned her senior civics and economics class “to take photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights,” she says. One student “had taken a photo of George Bush out of a magazine and tacked the picture to a wall with a red thumb tack through his head. Then he made a thumb’s down sign with his own hand next to the President’s picture, and he had a photo taken of that, and he pasted it on a poster.”

According to Jarvis, the student, who remains anonymous, was just doing his assignment, illustrating the right to dissent.

But over at the Kitty Hawk Wal-Mart, where the student took his film to be developed, this right is evidently suspect.

An employee in that Wal-Mart photo department called the Kitty Hawk police on the student. And the Kitty Hawk police turned the matter over to the Secret Service.

On Tuesday, September 20, the Secret Service came to Currituck High.“At 1:35, the student came to me and told me that the Secret Service had taken his poster,” Jarvis says. “I didn’t believe him at first. But they had come into my room when I wasn’t there and had taken his poster, which was in a stack with all the others.”
That the Secret Service has to investigate credible threats to the life of the President is a given. But this is definitely ridiculous:
“Halfway through my afternoon class, the assistant principal got me out of class and took me to the office conference room,” [Jarvis] says. “Two men from the Secret Service were there. They asked me what I knew about the student. I told them he was a great kid, that he was in the homecoming court, and that he’d never been in any trouble.”

Then they got down to his poster.

“They asked me, didn’t I think that it was suspicious,” she recalls. “I said no, it was a Bill of Rights project!”

At the end of the meeting, they told her the incident “would be interpreted by the U.S. attorney, who would decide whether the student could be indicted,” she says.
Meanwhile a Portland, OR, woman was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight in Reno for wearing a t-shirt featuring pictures of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, and the caption "Meet the Fuckers" (a take-off on the recent movie, Meet the Fockers).

I suppose she should be grateful that she was merely kicked off the flight, rather than given over to TSA and subjected to a stip search or something like that....

Len on 10.06.05 @ 08:12 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I Really Hate to Scoop Len on Baseball News...


"This October four players were inducted into the National Women's Baseball Hall of Fame. The national selection committee voted by October 5 to approve:

*Joanne Winter, pitcher, Racine Belles, 1943-1950;

*Laura Brenneman, infielder, Virginia Flames, 2004-current,

*Virginia Boxers, 2002-2003, Team USA 2002-2005;

*Diane Sweeney, fielder, manager, BarnCats, Montgomery County, Md., 1992-current;

*Cindy Fereno, utility player, Virginia Flames, 1992-2005.

The NWB Hall of Fame, established in 1998, has recognized 21 current and former women baseball players (see Web site). Candidates must participate in at least three years of regulation baseball (hardball) in women's leagues with significant achievements.

According to the organization's executive director, Richard Jaffeson, "The 2005 selections are outstanding each with unique attributes."

WINTER, among the first players under contract in AAGPBL, became a star pitcher for the Racine Belles. She won the 14 inning League Championship Game, September 16, 1946, 1-0 shutout (Racine Belles v. Rockford Peaches), many claim was the best game ever played in the league. She was the only pitcher to record the most wins per season both underhand (33) and overhand (25). Winter successfully transitioned from underhand 1943 through 1947 to overhand pitching inaugurated in the 1948 season.

BRENNEMAN, an outstanding fielder, she consistently attains her league's highest batting average. For the fourth consecutive year, she played on Team USA with equally impressive statistics hitting in the .600 range. She is energetic on the field, and encourages teammates to peak performance. Laura received national MVP awards from the NWB Hall of Fame in 2002 and 2004.

SWEENEY has guided the BarnCats since its formation in the early 1990s, an exceptional team in the Eastern Women's Baseball Conference. Dr. Sweeney, a radiologist, serves as manager and mentor to players with supportive advice and by example with surefire fielding and consistent hitting.

FERENO is an energetic mainstay of her team the Flames since its inception in 1992. She played exceptionally well in every position including pitcher and catcher. A great place hitter and smart base runner, Fereno always contributes to her team's offense. She played baseball for 20 years, and announced retirement after a successful league championship series October 1.

Courtesy of US News Wire.

Karen on 10.06.05 @ 05:30 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Tonight - Ig Nobel Awards Ceremony...

The 2005 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony at Sanders Theater, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

(Info about how to pahk your cah near Hahvud Yahd)

"The 15th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. Ten new Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded in categories ranging from Physics, Medicine and Chemistry to Literature and Peace. The new winners traveled to the ceremony, at their own expense, from several continents. The Prizes were handed to them by a group of genuine, genuinely bemused Nobel Laureates, all before a standing-room only audience of 1200 people. Full details and action pictures will appear in the Nov/Dec 2005 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research."

* WHEN: Thursday, October 6, 2005, 7:30 pm.
* WHAT: The 15th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony
* WHERE: Sanders Theatre, Harvard University
* TICKETS: Harvard Box Office, (+1) 617-496-2222
* LIVE Webcast: The webcast begins at 7:15 pm.

A related event:
The Ig Informal Lectures

* WHEN: Saturday, October 8, 2005, 1:00 pm.
* WHAT: The Ig Informal Lectures
* WHERE: MIT building 10, room 250

I'll be checking their webpages for the Winners for 2005.


Karen on 10.06.05 @ 05:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Space Station in the Morning Sky

While I was back in 6th grade today, [it was Parent Partner's Day at the Geneva Middle School] I learned in science class that --

On October 7th, Friday, we ought to be able to see the Space Station obiting at aproximately 6:25 am for about five minutes in the Western sky.

It will be visible about 10 degrees above the horizon moving to the north and angling up to about 75 degrees up in the sky. It will be a very White Object - whiter than a star - so if you get a chance to look for it in your area, this will be the longest amount of time to see it orbiting.

More info at this link.

[And I hope I got 100% on my spelling test too. :-) ]

Karen on 10.06.05 @ 05:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

And from Left Blogistan's poet laureate:

Two recent entries on the Miers nomination and the impending l'affaire Plame indictments (or so we hope; audio link here, btw) and the succession of Roy Blunt (R-Philip Morris) to Tom DeLay's job.

Len on 10.06.05 @ 12:57 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Apology should be Due to Bill Maher

Read the following piece and see if you agree that Bill Maher (HBO’s Real Time) deserves an Apology – tho’ I doubt the Right Wing Bloggers are ever UP for admitting they were wrong and issuing such a mea culpa on this point.

Click on the “more” button to read further.

Karen on 10.06.05 @ 12:56 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Who would Jesus Torture?

Via Lurch at Main and Central I was informed of the 9 senators who voted against Senator McCain's amendment to the DoD appropriations bill:

Allard (R-CO)
Bond (R-MO)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Stevens (R-AK)

The McCain amendment addresses abuse of detainees in Iraq and elsewhere. As the WaPo summarized it:

The Senate defied the White House yesterday and voted to set new limits on interrogating detainees in Iraq and elsewhere, underscoring Congress's growing concerns about reports of abuse of suspected terrorists and others in military custody.


Senate GOP leaders had managed to fend off the detainee language this summer, saying Congress should not constrain the executive branch's options. But last night, 89 senators sided with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a former prisoner of war in Vietnam who led the fight for the interrogation restrictions. McCain said military officers have implored Congress for guidelines, adding that he mourns "what we lose when by official policy or by official negligence we allow, confuse or encourage our soldiers to forget . . . that which is our greatest strength: that we are different and better than our enemies."
And via Steve at No More Mr. Nice Blog we learn something interesting about the 9 senators that didn't vote for the McCain amendment:
Hmm, let's see:

Allard -- 100% ratings from the Christian Coalition in 2004 and 2003.

Bond -- 100% ratings from the Christian Coalition in 2004 and 2003.

Coburn -- right-wing religious zealot elected to the Senate in 2004 with endorsements from James Dobson and Gary Bauer; has been a Family Research Council board member.

Cochran -- 100% ratings from the Christian Coalition in 2004 and 2003.

Cornyn -- 100% ratings from the Christian Coalition in 2004 and 2003.

Inhofe -- 100% ratings from the Christian Coalition in 2004 and 2003.

Roberts -- 100% ratings from the Christian Coalition in 2004 and 2003.

Sessions -- 100% ratings from the Christian Coalition in 2004 and 2003.

Stevens -- 83% ratings from the Christian Coalition in 2004 and 2003.
Of course, that "highly moral, born-again Christian" Mr. Bush is threatening to veto the entire appropriations bill if it contains the restrictions against detainee abuse. And we already know that Bush believes that "God speaks through [him]" (sourced to the Lancaster, PA New Era by Wikiquote as well), we can only assume that Bush believes that God approves of detainee abuse as well.

Makes me kinda glad I'm not going to Heaven, if those guys are going to be there.

Len on 10.06.05 @ 11:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

From the Unclear on the Concept Department:

According to the Dr. Science newsletter:

It's National Depression Screening Day in Wellesley Hills, MA
My question being (and you're probably ahead of me on this), if it's Depression Screening Day in (and presumptively only in) Wellesley Hills, MA, where do they get off calling it "National"? To the best of my knowledge, it's not "National" Depression Screening Day in Memphis....

Len on 10.06.05 @ 10:55 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

From the Billy-Ball newsletter:

As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Before yesterday's game, Hoffman was summoned to the door of the visiting clubhouse by Ed Montague, the home-plate umpire for Game 1 and crew chief of the NLDS.

"I knew that couldn't be good," said Hoffman. "I'm thinking, what did I do wrong before the game even started? Did he think I was loading up or something?"

Hoffman said Montague wanted to see Hoffman's driver's license, and before Hoffman could go to his locker to get his ID, Montague handed the closer his wallet. Apparently, it had fallen out of Hoffman's pocket on his earlier ride to the stadium.

"I got into my cab this morning and the first thing I saw was a wallet on the back seat," said Montague. "I opened it and saw a hundred dollar bill and some ones and a California license. I'm from (Northern) California, too, and then I saw the name Trevor Hoffman. It's a good picture of him. Strange, huh? I mean, what are the odds?"

Hoffman, sheepish about the whole incident, said he had no clue he'd lost his wallet when it was presented to him. But he was terribly appreciative and started to write a thank-you note, thinking he'd follow custom and reward Montague with enough money for a very, very nice dinner.

"Then I started thinking about it," said Hoffman. "I'm not so sure that would look so good, me sending over an envelope with money to the plate ump before Game 1 of the division series."

Len on 10.06.05 @ 10:40 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Although it's obviously too soon to situate the Bush administration in history, it's possible, as I've suggested before, that it may be leading us into a period where politics is defined according to the old spoils system rather than the technocratic assumptions ushered in by the Progressive Era. This administration has, after all, disdained independent nonpartisan expertise—for example, in belittling the arguments of environmental science and in endorsing the teaching of religious accounts of human origins. It has politicized agencies once prized as nonpolitical, such as the CIA and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It has been unabashed about nepotism and cronyism. In the legal arena, the banishment of the ABA from the judicial selection process represents only the most obvious way that this White House has placed partisan loyalty over disinterested professional authority.

Cumulatively, all of this may well herald cronyism's return to the Supreme Court appointment process. Especially if Harriet Miers is confirmed.
--David Greenberg

Len on 10.06.05 @ 07:17 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A View from The Plate...

Here is an *interesting * take on the John Roberts and Harriet Miers nominations and the need to find out their views on Constitutional interpretation from Robert Schwartz - who is both a lawyer and executive director of the Juvenile Law Center and was a former umpire.

Click on the "more" button to read this NY Times Op-Ed piece.

Karen on 10.06.05 @ 07:02 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

My favorite commentary on the Miers nomination:

Billmon, of course.

Len on 10.05.05 @ 12:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Today's Quotable GEM

But [Harriet Miers] nomination was nonetheless an affront to the amour-propre of conservative intellectuals everywhere. "For all we know, she will be so conservative that she'll make Clarence Thomas look like Kanye West," wrote commentator John Podhoretz. "It's still an unserious nomination, which is what those of us who are objecting to it are objecting to."

But the conservative intellectuals have misread their president and misread their country. Four and a half years into the presidency of George W. Bush, how could they still entertain the idea that the president takes merit, much less intellectual seriousness, seriously? The one in-house White House intellectual, John DiIulio, ran screaming from the premises after a few months on the job. Bush has long since banished all those, such as Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, who accurately predicted the price of taking over Iraq. Yet Donald Rumsfeld -- with Bush, the author of the Iraqi disaster -- remains, as do scores of lesser lights whose sole virtue has been a dogged loyalty to Bush and his blunders. Loyalty and familiarity count for more with this president than brilliance (or even competence) and conviction.

-- Harold Meyerson (WaPo).

Karen on 10.05.05 @ 11:52 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Science on the March...

New Information that could help prevent SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome):

From the NY Times:

"...Two scientific teams have identified Chinese horseshoe bats as the likely reservoir for the virus. Although the case is not ironclad, the knowledge that large numbers of bats harbor the virus should help officials prevent and control future outbreaks in humans.
The findings make it important for Chinese health authorities to minimize contacts between bats and humans or farmed civets. They also need to monitor the live markets to eliminate infected animals. Meanwhile, the researchers will be conducting more studies that may shed light on how likely it is that the virus will re-emerge from animal hosts to strike down more people."

Karen on 10.05.05 @ 07:50 AM CST [link] [ | ]

A Values Test...

The first *Test* of some competing "conservative values" for Justice Roberts in this case:

The Right to Die [Op-Ed from the NY Times] makes this point:

"The John Roberts Court will hear its first high-profile arguments today, when the justices take up a case involving doctor-assisted suicide. Oregon law allows terminally ill people to take lethal drugs to end their lives. But the Bush administration has tried to override this law by threatening to prosecute doctors involved in such cases. The Supreme Court should make it clear that Oregon can allow doctor-assisted suicide.

Oregonians voted in favor of the Death With Dignity Act in 1994, and three years later they voted against repeal. The Oregon law allows terminally ill people who are likely to die within six months to receive drugs to end their lives. When John Ashcroft, a longtime opponent of assisted suicide, became attorney general in 2001, he issued an edict that doctors who prescribe drugs that are used to commit suicide can be prosecuted under the federal Controlled Substances Act. The state of Oregon and a group of terminally ill patients challenged this Ashcroft directive and won.

This case nominally involves two hot-button issues: the right of terminally ill people to end their lives, and the allocation of power between the federal government and states. But the Court of Appeals was right to resolve it more simply, through a careful interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act. Mr. Ashcroft claimed that the law gave him the power to overrule Oregon's assisted suicide policy. But when Congress passed the act, it clearly intended to prohibit ordinary drug abuse, not to set out a federal policy on assisted suicide.

Opponents of assisted suicide have never been able to persuade Congress to outlaw assisted suicide directly. In the absence of a Congressional law, Mr. Ashcroft had no authority to interfere with the decision of Oregon's voters.

In his zeal to stop assisted suicide, Mr. Ashcroft, a self-described legal conservative, turned his back on two principles that are sacred to legal conservativism. First, he refused to strictly, or even accurately, construe a Congressional statute. Instead, he inserted meaning in it that did not belong there, giving himself power that he should not have had. Second, he ignored conservative dogma about deference to the states, especially on matters like regulating medical practice, a core state concern.

The impact of today's case will be felt beyond Oregon. The Bush administration's position has discouraged other states from enacting assisted suicide laws. But the Supreme Court should make clear that Oregon, and all states, have the right to allow terminally ill people to end their lives with a maximum of dignity and a minimum of pain."

Karen on 10.05.05 @ 07:38 AM CST [link] [ | ]

My new favorite website?

Celebrity Punch-out: George W. Bush (Flash required.)

Beat up Dumbya, and not get jumped by the secret service.

And if beating up Bush isn't your thing, the homepage features a number of other celebrities you can box for fun and games.

Len on 10.05.05 @ 06:58 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Trekkie Universe...

Hmmm...I score as "not naturally" a creature of the Star Trek Universe:

Android or Hologram

You scored 60 % Aggressivness, 66 % Technology, and 80 % Social Enlightenment!

Homeworld: n/a

Hmmm, interesting. You have a high level of technological development, you're aggressive and yet you're still extremely socially progressive. How is this possible? It's not! At least not naturally, anyway (and not in the Star Trek universe). This suggests that you are either an android or a hologram, meaning you're are capable of just about anything. You can be aggressive, but also peaceful. By your very nature, you have a high level technology yet many androids or holograms seek to enhance their humanity. You defy categorisation and have superceded mere organic life to become a totally different breed of lifeform...










Take the The Which Star Trek Species R U Test:
"Okay, let's introduce a little scenario. There's a starship, innocently travelling through the Delta quadrant, minding it's own business. Suddenly, you pop out of nowhere. Apparently, Q is up to his old tricks again and has decided to make you manifest in this dimension. He's made you the captain of the ship, but you and your crew have no idea where you came from or what species you are. That's where I come in.... Answer these questions and reveal your true identity!"

So - go ahead and find out what Star Trek Species YOU are.


Karen on 10.05.05 @ 06:44 AM CST [link] [ | ]

No surprises: more silly blog-quizzes....

Today's theme, geekish enthusiasms. (UPDATE: The first is especially appropriate today, since XM's historical trivia clip (verified by reference to the IMDB) informs us that today is the 36th anniversary of the UK premiere of Monty Python's Flying Circus.)

Of course, all geeks are supposed to be able to recite entire Monty Python skits from memory. If I'm not there, I'm certainly not far from it:

One of the Pythons
28 of 32!

You've seen them all--the movies and the TV show. You probably would
have gotten the questions I edited as well, but the test was getting
lengthy. You've either got an excellent taste in comedy or you're VERY
bored and are a good guesser. Thanks for taking my test (and if you've
scored this high, maybe you should be giving me tips on how to make it
better, heh).

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on pythonesque
Link: The Monty Python Test written by 403Forbidden on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

But I'm a bit less passionate about Star Trek:

Trekkie Appreciator
Survey Says... You scored 66 %

You like Star Trek and have obviously watched more than a couple of
episodes or movies, but you don't live or breathe the world (read: you
probably don't go to your local McDonalds in your Klingon gear - not
that there's anything wrong with that...). Excellent! You've managed to
tread the fine line between sci-fi buff and Star Trek nerd (otherwise
known as the difference between enjoying Star Trek for its
entertainment value and running around with a batleth quoting Klingon
battle poetry).

Like this test? Then don't forget to rate it!!

Want more? How about some shameless self-promotion? I've also written other tests - check them out! You know you want to...

The Which Star Trek Species R U Test

The Do *YOU* Remember The 90's Test

The Capitals of the World Test

The Australian Trivia Test

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 38% on Trekkies
Link: The Trekkie Test written by MadameBoffin on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

God, insomnia's a bitch sometimes.

Len on 10.05.05 @ 05:31 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Tony La Russa is one of those guys – like Marv Levy, Wilt Chamberlain, and Peyton Manning – who is more renowned for his postseason failures than his postseason triumphs. Winner of 2,214 games in the bigs, La Russa has proven himself an expert at guiding teams over the long haul. But his playoff appearances have, far more often than not, left something to be desired.

That’s actually true of each of the teams left in the NL playoffs. Over the last ten years, the four remaining franchises – the Cards, Braves, Astros, and Pads – have been in the postseason 21 times. None of those 21 teams went all the way. Think of this year’s NL playoffs, then, like an all-decade loser’s bracket.
--Brian Gunn

Len on 10.05.05 @ 05:27 AM CST [link] [ | ]

NLDS: One down, two more to go.

Alas, I was called away from my desk with the Cards leading the San Diego Padres 8-1 in the top of the 7th inning thanks to Reggie Sanders's grand slam. Fortunately, when I returned to my desk it was in time to catch the tail end of the broadcast, which informed me that the Cards managed to beat Jake Peavey in the first game, with a final score of 8-5. This is very good, since the analyses I've read have suggested that Peavey, the Padres ace, would have the advantage of pitching two games on full rest for both of them, making him very difficult to beat, and the analysts I've read that picked the Cards to take their NLDS series expect the Padres to win the games Peavey pitches. So that we were able to tag the Padres staff ace for a loss is (I hope) a harbinger of Good Things To Come....

Game 2 Thursday, 3:00 PM Central Time.

Len on 10.04.05 @ 04:14 PM CST [link] [ | ]

A Vaguely familiar test...

Courtesy of Dr. Abby is this English (not *Engrish*) test of: What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

15% Upper Midwestern

15% Yankee

5% Midwestern

0% Dixie

What Kind of American English Do You Speak?

So - no "Dixie Southern" accent here. Just an average American accent.


Karen on 10.04.05 @ 03:18 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Good Foods Just keep getting a Bad Rap...

10 Foods you should NEVER eat.

Hmmm…Tiramisu ought to be somewhere on this list.

Yummy as it IS - it should be made with Marscarpone cheese – which contains a whopping 60% of Butterfat (but has a taste like no other creamy cheese) and loads of raw eggs (yolks and whites).

A heart stopping, artery clogging Dessert to Die For.


Courtesy of Digg.com.

Karen on 10.04.05 @ 02:17 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Kool Science...

As a follow up to this earlier post about the PA trial over Intelligent Design - I was finally able to save the first day’s testimony of Dr. Kenneth R. Miller (professor of Biology at Brown University) into a format to reconfigure and cut and paste the arguments and KOOL scientific information he provided.

The first day’s transcripts of that proceeding (available online at the National Center For Science Education webpage at this link.

In a nutshell, this opening *broad-side* into the illogical and falsified arguments of the I.D. proponents.

It illustrates, via current and previous scientific work, how Darwin's basic theory of Evolutions and descent from common ancestry are supported by the genetic sciences. Additionally, how contemporary evolutionary theory provides the conceptual framework in which these puzzles can be addressed and points towards a way to solve them. Also that every single scientific society in the United States that has taken a position on this issue has taken a position against intelligent design and in favor of evolution.

The issue being that there is no controversy within science over the core propositions of evolutionary theory, Intelligent design, on the other hand – and many of the specific factors cited by Michael Behe in various publications and books (like his "Darwin's Black Box" and "Of Pandas and People" which are NOT peer reviewed scientific papers or publications) claiming to describe “irreducibly complex systems” have been falsified - Proved False – by scientific studies that either preceded his claims (and which he could have been aware of) or have since been shown to be incorrect.

Mr. Miller, testifying for the plaintiff’s against the I.D. proponents, covers the blood cell clotting cascade, the bacterium flagellum, and cites new scientific studies that bolster and confirm evolutionary theory of common descent.

The heading of the topic matters and text emphasis is mine. Also these segments are not in the same order as the transcript testimony and have been slightly edited to remove extraneous comments, but otherwise they are a fair rendition of the testimony provided.

To read the click on the “more” button to see further of the Direct Exam by Mr. Witold J. Walczak of Dr. Miller. [These are long pieces... but are well explained as to the theory and the KOOL science.]

Karen on 10.04.05 @ 01:49 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

Of course, it had to happen....

Given the precedent of "The Tourist Guy" (the hoax photo of the guy on the observation deck of the World Trade Center tower as the plane approaches on 9/11), you had to figure that some demented genius with a copy of Photoshop and too much time on his/her hands would take an iconic photo of one of the post-Katrina NOLA looters and develop "The Looter Guy".

And once that happened, you knew it was inevitable that The Looter Guy and The Tourist Guy would come together:

As for "The Looter Guy" website, go there at your own risk. Some of the photos are in very questionable taste (at least, which probably what makes it so much fun....).

Len on 10.04.05 @ 11:14 AM CST [link] [ | ]

New York State of Mind…

This is a pictorial piece of our New York City -Day In Manhattan. We had several hundred people in our group, but had a “Free” day to sight-see as we wished from our Hotel (the Marriott Marquis in Times Square) - so we joined our friends Pat and Colleen who are also Delta dealers from the Maritimes in Canada.

I’m following the basic outline of our day that included a walk through Times Square to the Empire State Building; Views from the Top of the Empire State Building Observatory; a subway trek to China Town, then walking to the Financial District to view Ground Zero; going to Battery Park overlooking the Hudson for a Beer/refreshment break; missing our Water Taxi back to the Hotel for our Reception and performance of “Phantom of the Opera” at the Majestic Theater; and Times Square at night from our room view.

Click on the “more” button to see these pictures.


Karen on 10.04.05 @ 09:44 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Why Blogtopia should rally behind the Miers appointment to SCOTUS....

She's a blogger!

[Brilliant... fscking brilliant....]

Thanks to Lurch for the pointer.

Len on 10.04.05 @ 07:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day (Supreme Court Twofer Editon):

Commentators on the right as well as the left—anyone, really, who thinks a Supreme Court justice should possess a record of world-class distinction—are groaning over Harriet Miers' nomination. She may turn out to have a great legal mind. She may be a thoughtful, incisive Supreme Court justice. But there's no reason to think so now. The problem isn't that Miers hasn't been a federal judge or a Supreme Court lawyer. It's that she isn't those things and she also doesn't bring with her the breadth of experience that the other justices lack. Can anyone really imagine that she'd be the nominee if she weren't a woman and the president's friend and loyal adviser? Cronyism and affirmative action: It's a nasty mix.
--Emily Bazelon

Loyalty is one of Bush's better traits, but today's announcement smacked more of sentimentality. He wanted to promote from within and reward a longtime supporter and loyal employee. He agreed with his wife Laura that he couldn't pick yet another white guy.

Those were both good instincts. Unfortunately, so far as we know, Joe Allbaugh didn't have any college roommates who were women. So, Bush picked Miers '67, who overlapped with Laura '68 at SMU. Even if she turns out to be qualified, the Miers nomination starts out looking like another inside deal from an administration that has made far too many.

The right wing has only itself to blame for Bush's choice. For the last six months, they have waged a bitter war against Bush's first White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, on the grounds that Gonzales was "Spanish for Souter."

Gonzales may have been a hack with suspect conservative credentials, but at least he would have been an inspiring and historic hack. Now the right is stuck with Miers, who may not even be "SMU for Gonzales."
--Bruce Reed

Len on 10.04.05 @ 05:16 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Poetic Licence...Give my regards to Poe...

Ah, another Driftglass Masterpiece: Quoth the Hammer [Nevermore...]

So, click on the link and Enjoy.


Karen on 10.03.05 @ 01:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day, baseball analogy division:

As to who will replace Lou [Pinella, recently sacked Tampa Bay manager], it seems to me that if Harriet Miers who from 1995 until 2000, served as chair of the Texas Lottery Commission, is nominated as Supreme Court Justice, then the Devil Rays Head Groundskeeper, Dan Moeller would be an ideal replacement for Pinella.
--Bill Chuck [Billy-Ball, his own self]

Len on 10.03.05 @ 01:31 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hot damn!!!! There's another "Steve, Don't Eat It!" posted....

This Week: Steve eats silkworm pupas (or is that "Steve eats silkworm pupae?" Any entomologists out there?)

Len on 10.03.05 @ 12:39 PM CST [link] [ | ]

I.D. Trials and Tribulations...

While I was gone I did get to a bit of reading and found the transcripts for the first day of testimony from the I.D. trial taking place in Dover, Penn at the National Center for Science Education webage.

Aside from setting the opening salvos in the case over the logical and technical fallacies of the I.D. claims and assertions, there were several interesting pieces of the latest scientific findings that boster and support evolutionary theory and falsify the claims by the I.D. proponents.

To read these PDF files (sorry can’t cut-and-paste any of the testimony from that format) - click on the Dover Trial Page Link and see Day 1 - am & pm testimony. Because it is a bench trial, I found it is easier to follow and read as a verbal narrative than most court testimony.

Karen on 10.03.05 @ 12:33 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

Just like a doomed relationship between a wife beater and a woman knocked senseless too many times, the Kurds are discovering that they are in a bad marriage with an abusive spouse. According to various press reports Kurdish leaders, including President Talabani, have complained to Shia Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari that the coalition's Shia parties, known as the United Alliance, are welching on promises to start work on resettling Kurds in the northern city of Kirkuk and to fairly distribute government positions between the coalition parties.

Gee whiz. The Shias promised to share and now they, by virtue of their status as the majority population in Iraq, are laying claim to their self-perceived right to rule the country as they please. It seems that the Kurds have fallen victim to the same fantasy based approach to policy and politics in Iraq that afflicts the Bush Administration.
--Larry C. Johnson

Go read the whole thing, though, it's well worthwhile (and reasonably short).

Len on 10.03.05 @ 12:22 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Jack Balkin weighs in on the Harriet Miers nomination....

and I get the feeling we're fucked....

...Miers is a long time friend of the President's whom he trusts on a personal level. This gives him information about her beliefs and values that most other people are not likely to have. It also allows Bush to have a far greater degree of comfort in making a lifetime appointment, because he will have a somewhat better ability to guess how Miers will likely respond not only to the key issues of the moment but to unknowable problems in the future.When in doubt, this President has turned to trusted aides and associates, and promoted them. The Miers nomination is yet another example. The advantage of this strategy is predictability (for the President, as opposed to the public as a whole); the disadvantage is the danger of cronyism.


President Bush is often said to avoid the sorts of decisions his father made, but in this respect George Bush is taking a page from his father's playbook. Hoping to avoid the confirmation battle over Robert Bork, President George H.W. Bush chose David Souter, about whom little was known when he was first nominated. (Unlike Souter, Miers is a stealth candidate about whom the President has lots of information unavailable to the public.) Choosing a stealth candidate is a sign that the President wants to avoid a fight, either because he is in a relatively weak political position, because he fears that his supporters disagree among themselves, or because he would rather expend his energies and influence elsewhere. All three of these seem to be the case right now.
And from Josh Marshall, we get this:
In the White House that hero worshipped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: She once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met. [quoting David Frum via Matt Yglesias --LRC]
Just what I like, a judge with a skeptical frame of mind towards the claims of the Executive. Actually, what's really scary is that this is what Frum (who Yglesias describes as a "certified rightwinger") says about the Miers nomination (putting the quote above in context):
I believe I was the first to float the name of Harriet Miers, White House counsel, as a possible Supreme Court. Today her name is all over the news. I have to confess that at the time, I was mostly joking. Harriet Miers is a capable lawyer, a hard worker, and a kind and generous person. She would be an reasonable choice for a generalist attorney, which is indeed how George W. Bush first met her. She would make an excellent trial judge: She is a careful and fair-minded listener. But US Supreme Court?

In the White House that hero worshipped the president, Miers was distinguished by the intensity of her zeal: She once told me that the president was the most brilliant man she had ever met. She served Bush well, but she is not the person to lead the court in new directions - or to stand up under the criticism that a conservative justice must expect.
But then again, what do you expect from a miserable failure? Frum again:
The harsh truth is, at this 5 year mark in the administration's life, that its domestic achievements are very few. The most important, the tax cut, will likely prove temporary, undermined by the administration's overspending. The education bill, the faith-based initiative, and the rest do not amount to much. Social Security reform will not happen; work on tax reform has not even begun; the immigration proposals are disasters that will never become law.

Civil justice reform should be credited to Congress, not the White House. After that, what is there other than the Patriot Act and of course judicial nominations? But even on judicial nominations, thus far the president has only
preserved the old balance on the court. If he is actually to advance his principles, he will need a real conservative leader: a Luttig, for example, a Michael McConnell - or perhaps Senator Mitch McConnell if the president is concerned about confirmability.
Yep.... Give ol' Dumbya a chance to nominate a solid, conservative justice, and he goes for the probably incompetent crony.

But what should we expect by now?

Len on 10.03.05 @ 12:08 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Alas, too true to be funny....

From today's Ironic Times:

Too Soon to Estimate Cost of Cleanup
But most experts acknowledge at least $100 billion needed to repair damage to U.S. caused by Bush Administration.

Len on 10.03.05 @ 08:23 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Mohonk Mountain House Tour

One of the FUN things I did on my trip was to visit the Mohonk Mountain House (in Up-State New York) built around the late 1870’s by the Smiley family on a spectacular piece of property of more than 26,000 acres. The Historic National Landmark Resort is a Victorian Castle with 251 rooms of period furnishing and parlors and fireplaces and rocking chairs to sit and enjoy the views.

The Mohonk Moutain House is built along the cliffs of Lake Mohonk and offers many recreational activities during the summer and winter. There is tennis, boating, beach and swimming, horseback riding, ice skating, yoga, aerobics, cross-country skiing, spa and fitness center, hiking, shopping, and all sorts of relaxing spots with rocking chairs of the beautiful views.

[Found the brochure with the following details: The Mohonk Mountain House has 251 guest rooms, five guest cottages, 138 working fireplaces, 238 balconies, six parlors, 125 gazebos, a greenhouse, picnic areas, a museum, stables, skating rink, and gardens along the 60-foot deep Lake Mohonk.]

We had a “Kitchen tour” (for those folks who have never seen a large professional set-up which can serve up to 800 meals at a sitting). I took a moderate hike to the top of one of the cliffs called Skytop that has a lookout tower and reservoir and a fabulous view of the lake and resort. I also had time to do some viewing of the gardens.

Click on the “more” button to see the pictures.


Karen on 10.03.05 @ 08:18 AM CST [more..] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

If it is all right with David Ortiz, whose blessing we in Boston now seek in all things, it will be incumbent upon every unaffiliated baseball fan in America this holiday season to send a fruitcake to Eric Wedge and his glorious Cleveland Indians. This is not simply because the Indians have been the best story in the game for nearly three months now, what with their marvelously irrepressible rookies and the sudden emergence of C.C. Sabathia as the walking ghost of Bob Lemon. The Indians have done more than simply scare the daylights out of the Chicago White Sox. They also have helped to rescue the rest of baseball from revolving exclusively once again around the overly dramatic pole stars of the Yankees and the Red Sox.

As baseball rounds into a final weekend that may be spectacularly chaotic enough to make everyone forget briefly the embarrassing presence of the San Diego Padres in this year's playoffs, it is the Indians that pried open at least the possibility that either Boston or New York will miss the postseason entirely. The presence of a third team in the playoff hunt means that the master narrative of the climactic series at Fenway Park will at the very least have to acknowledge that baseball does occur west of Buffalo. In turn, this will spare us a revival of all the Athens-Sparta nonsense that was laid to rest during last year's American League Championship Series. On second thought, probably not.
--Charles P. Pierce

Len on 10.03.05 @ 06:19 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Serenity micro-review

It's a nice, solid, gritty sci-fi action flick. I enjoyed it, but wasn't blown away.

Go see it, if that's your kinda movie.

If not, I wouldn't bother.

Brock on 10.02.05 @ 07:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

100 wins, 62 losses, .617 PCT...

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals, who completed a three game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds this afternoon (7-5 was the final score), to finish with the best record in Major League Baseball this season, and to rack up the Cardinals second consecutive 100 or more victory season. This was the first time the Cardinals had put together consecutive 100 victory seasons since 1944, when the Cards put together a string of three (1942, '43 and '44).

Len on 10.02.05 @ 04:53 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Funny... I never ran into this kind of guy as an undergrad....

and I was a philosophy major in college: Guy In Philosophy Class Needs To Shut The Fuck Up

HANOVER, NH—According to students enrolled in professor Michael Rosenthal's Philosophy 101 course at Dartmouth College, that guy, Darrin Floen, the one who sits at the back of the class and acts like he's Aristotle, seriously needs to shut the fuck up.

His fellow students describe Floen's frequent comments as eager, interested, and incredibly annoying.

"He thinks he knows about philosophy," freshman Duane Herring said. "But I hate his voice, and I hate the way he only half raises his hand, like he's so laid back. We're discussing ethics in a couple weeks, but I don't know if I can wait that long before deciding if it's morally wrong to pound his face in."

"Today he was going on and on about how Plato's cave shadows themselves represent the ideal foundation of Western philosophical thought," said freshman Julia Wald moments after class let out Monday. "I have no idea what Plato's ideal reality is, but I bet it doesn't include know-it-all little shits."
(And no, I wasn't Washington University's version of that guy....)

Actually, it was in law school (no surprise, if you think about it) where, in my experience, you found annoying little shits like that. Hence the popularity of "Law School Bingo". The rules (which the linked to blogpost only hint at): draw a 5x5 matrix on a piece of paper. Fill in each of the squares of the matrix with the names of the students in your class who talk most in class (in most American law schools, these are the "know-it-all little shits" who pontificate at length, thinking that somehow points given by their professors for participation in class are going to mean the difference between success and failure at making Law Review on grades, to the extent that's still the accepted practice; a number of law student blogs that I've followed in the last few years suggest that it's becoming more and more rare, with some combination of grades and a writing competition being the deciding factor).

According to most rulesets I've read for this game, the center square of the matrix is a "free spot" (just like in your average church bingo game), though in some schools rumor has it that the name of the most obnoxious student who is practically guaranteed to talk up in every class is put in the center square. In any event, as students volunteer to answer questions and are called on to speak, place a coin or other marker over that student's name in your game matrix. When a student is called on so that you cover 5 spaces in a row (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), say "BINGO!!!" in a sotto voce voice (the better to keep you from being identified by the professor, but loud enough that the rest of your class can hear).

Done correctly, the first time someone gets "Bingo" the class should dissolve into helpless laughter. One of the fondest memories of "middle of the class" students in most U.S. law schools....

Thanks to Serrabee for the pointer to The Onion.

Len on 10.02.05 @ 01:36 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Gem o'the Day:

From Jo Fish in yesterday's Democratic Veteran:

The Osprey has a sort of interesting history, its genesis can be traced back to former Navy Secretary John Lehmann, he of the 600-ship Navy fame, who went to the Paris Airshow and saw the prototype.
But Lehman was smitten. "It was very easy to fly," he says, "far more stable than a traditional helicopter, and simpler and safer than a Harrier. I was convinced it was what we needed." Lehman pushed the plane through the Navy's acquisition process.
Let me tell you something about Lehmann, no disrespect to my NFO buddies out there, but Lehmann was a reserve A-6 BN.
["Bombardier/Navigator", for you non-military types; i.e., NOT a pilot. --LRC] His discussion of how well something flies and handles gets all the weight of a boy scout talking about menopause as far as I'm concerned.

Len on 10.02.05 @ 12:46 PM CST [link] [ | ]

'There's No Place Like Home...'

"...There's no place like home..."

Back from the "Big Apple" and hope to soon have some FAB pictures of the day trip to the Mohonk resort (Up State NY); the views from the Empire State Building; China Town and our Ground Zero visit.

I also had bought the NY Times and - dang - but the copy I got didn't even have the Op-Ed Pages I'd paid for in the Sunday edition.


So, had to go on-line and read any them via my subscription. Here's a good one from Frank Rich.

"Terri Schiavo is not brain-dead; she talks and she laughs, and she expresses happiness and discomfort. Terri Schiavo is not on life support."
- Tom DeLay, March 20, 2005

IF you believed Tom DeLay then, you no doubt believe now that the deposed House majority leader is only on "temporary" leave from his powerful perch in Washington and that he'll soon bounce back, laughing all the way, from a partisan witch hunt that unjustly requires his brief discomfort in a Texas courtroom.

Those who still live in the reality-based community, however, may sense they're watching the beginning of the end of something big. It's not just Mr. DeLay, a k a the Hammer, who is on life support, but a Washington establishment whose infatuation with power and money has contaminated nearly every limb of government and turned off a public that by two to one finds the country on the wrong track.

But don't take my word for it. And don't listen to the canned talking points of the Democrats, who are still so busy trying to explain why they were for the war in Iraq before they were against it that it's hard to trust their logic on anything else. Listen instead to Andrew Ferguson, of the conservative Rupert Murdoch magazine, The Weekly Standard. As far back as last December in a cover article on the sleazy lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Mr. Ferguson was already declaring "the end of the Republican Revolution."

-- Frank Rich (NY Times) In the Beginning, There Was Abramoff.

To read the rest of this piece, click on the "more" button.

Karen on 10.02.05 @ 12:24 PM CST [more..] [ | ]

And here's how Rethugnicans "thank" our veterans....

Dismantling VA

As a veteran, I'm appalled:

The Senator's aide chuckled rather loudly and said, "What VA? By the time this administration is done there won't be a VA." Our conversation had begun with a discussion of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA's) healthcare budget, and quickly came down to a single, simple point. VA is being dismantled.

Three reasons why the administration would want to dismantle VA immediately come to mind:

VA is a large-scale, publicly funded healthcare system that works: VA works so well it has been used as a model to push the case for nationalized healthcare; something that strikes fear in the heart of every Republican.


VA is ripe for privatization: And that spells profits for private corporations.


VA is part of BIG government: And that's something this administration abhors. GOP strategist Grover Norquist says he wants the government shrunk down so he can “drown it in the bathtub.” The problem with this is that smaller government means fewer services as well as the much-touted lower taxes. And the jobs that are spared are outsourced and cost more to maintain because private corporations have to build in a profit margin.


It's time for veterans to realize that the current administration has failed them. Smaller government and lower taxes are wonderful phrases and paint a glowing picture. But the reality is much different than the painted picture. VA's chronic under-funding has led to hiring freezes, layoffs and the closing of healthcare facilities. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of veterans are forced to go without healthcare.

Those in Congress who realize this are shouted down and voted down along party lines. Smaller government and lower taxes are obviously more important than veterans' lives. I pray for a change and urge my elected representatives to work for a change.
I don't look forward to a dismantled VA that puts veterans out on the street instead of in a hospital room. But if the administration is successful, maybe we can chat about it while we share Grover's bathtub.
Yep. Time to outsource Bush and his bozos, and bring in the Canadians. They have proved they can do it much better....

Props to Lurch at Main and Central for the pointer.

Len on 10.02.05 @ 12:15 PM CST [link] [ | ]

An excellent idea.....

though the short lived meme that "the blue states" should secede from the Union and join with Canada, leaving the red states ("Jesusland") to flounder for themselves, was a predecessor to this....

Over at Why Now?, Bryan suggests that perhaps we give the Rethugnicans what they want, and outsource the U.S. Government--to Canada:

California has been having a busy wildfire season and needed some help. Who you gonna call? Canada .

The CBC reports: Quebec sends waterbombers to help fight California wildfires.


The Canadians have been helping a very long time. Many may have missed the story of the Canadian embassy getting 6 Americans out of Teheran during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in 1980.

They do these things and yet the Canadian budget is running a surplus and they are paying down their national debt.

They think that a single-payer national health system is a good thing and they manage to provide health care to everyone. This system as well as their educated work force convinced Toyota to build its newest North American auto plant in Canada, rather than in the United States despite major tax giveaways offered by several states.

General Dynamics has also moved several manufacturing plants to Canada, including one of the plants that build the US Army's Stryker armored vehicle.

Obviously the Canadian government delivers a better product than the US government, so we should fire the current mismanagement team and outsource our government to Canada.
Works for me.

Len on 10.02.05 @ 12:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

From the "So how'd I do?" Department: The All-Busch Stadium Team

Back in August or so, the St. Louis Cardinals, as an adjunct to the "Millions of Memories" last-year-of-Busch-Stadium-II promotion, announced a fan vote for the "All-Busch Stadium" team (strictly speaking, the "All-Busch Stadium II team", since the late, great Sportsman's Park, home of the St. Louis Browns for all of that team's stay in St. Louis and home of the Cardinals for the largest part of the franchise's history, was known as "Busch Stadium" during the period from when Gussie Busch bought the stadium from St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck in 1953 until the Cardinals moved into Busch Stadium II in May of 1966 (Gussie actually wanted to re-name Sportsman's Park "Budweiser Stadium", but pressure from the Commissioner of Baseball and the National League put the kibosh on that plan. Gussie then ostensibly named the ballpark after himself/his family, but a year or two later Anheuser Busch came out with "Busch Bavarian Beer", a brand name which was inevitably shortened to "Busch" in actual practice; so in a sense Gussie prevailed in his quest to name his ballpark after one of his beers, albeit not his flagship brand).

Anyway, the results of the fan vote for the All-Busch team were announced yesterday before the Cards-Reds game. Back in August I published a post giving my personal favorites for my All-Busch team, and now I thought it'd be fun to compare my choices to the announced team and see how closely my thought processes (or what passes for thought processes in my brain) mirror those of the bulk of Cardinals fans (the choices that the other fans got wrong :-) are emphasized):

Manager: Fan Choice--Whitey Herzog            My Choice--Herzog

Utilityman: Fan Choice--Jose Oquendo My Choice--Oquendo

Catcher: Fan Choice--Ted Simmons My Choice--Tim McCarver
Actually, I can't argue too much with the selection of Ted. My selection of McCarver was a sentimental choice, based on his association with the team during my earliest infancy as a Cardinals fan. Simmons, a long-time fan favorite from the late '60s to the late '70s, is well deserving of the nod the fans gave him.

First Base: Fan Choice--Albert Pujols         My Choice--Pujols
A definite Hall of Famer as long as he stays healthy (as Brian Gunn noted in a post at Redbird Nation, players of Pujols's caliber simply don't become head cases and fart their careers away, so I'm not worried about that happening). I can't imagine a more deserving choice (possibly McGwire; I'd suspect that the steroid use allegations, combined with the fact that Big Mac was a Cardinal during the tail end of his career (but what a tail end it was!) hurt him there). A commenter in the Cardinals blogosphere (and damn my failing memory for not remembering who he is) noted that, if Prince Albert maintains the pace that he's set this early in his career, he's very highly likely to dethrone Stan "The Man" Musial as The Greatest Cardinal of All Time. And if Albert the Great shows the kind of community involvement and fan engagement that has marked Musial's career (and post-retirement life), he'll be a worthy successor to "The Man".

Second Base: Fan Choice--Tommy Herr           My Choice--Julian Javier
Javier was another sentimental pick of mine for the same reason as McCarver, pretty much, and it was a hard choice between Javier and Herr in my mind. Herr is, of course, the Cards' All-Star regular second baseman from 1979 to 1988, a period which included the great "Whiteyball" teams of the '80s.

Shortstop: Fan Choice--Ozzie Smith            My Choice--Smith
If the fans had chosen anyone but The Wizard of Oz, they'd have had to take it up with me. :-) Arguably the greatest defensive shortstop of all time, and listed 7th greatest shortstop of all time by Bill James in his New Historical Baseball Abstract, he's easily the greatest shortstop ever seen in the history of Busch II.

Third Base: Fan Choice--Scott Rolen           My Choice--Mike "Moonman" Shannon
Moonman was a sentimental choice of mine a la McCarver and Javier. I've got no complaint about Rolen's selection, especially in light of all he's done for us lately. A possible Cooperstown enshrinee, though his Hall of Fame metrics through last season aren't looking like he's a mortal lock for the Hall. I've gotta wonder, though, how much of the Rolen vote was a sympathy vote given his season ending injury and surgery this year.

Left Field: Fan Choice--Lou Brock             My Choice--Brock

Center Field: Fan Choice--Jim Edmonds My Choice--Willie McGee
Some Cards fans consider Jedmonds a worthy enshrinee at Cooperstown as well. His Hall of Fame metrics, while stronger than Rolen's (they'd better be; Jedmonds has been playing longer) aren't in the "mortal lock" territory yet, and Jedmonds is no spring chicken and he isn't getting any younger. But given the "what's he done for us lately?" factor, I can't argue with this choice (much), either. I'm suprised that Willie McGee didn't make it, considering how wildly popular he is among The Lou's baseball afficionados, but you have to have a successful dark horse finish in the money every once in a while....

Right Field: Fan Choice--Roger Maris          My Choice--Maris

Starting Pitcher: Fan Choice--Bob Gibson My Choice--Gibby

Relief Pitcher: Fan Choice--Bruce Sutter My Choice--Sutter

Len on 10.02.05 @ 11:42 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

Captain Leo Winwood and I had a relationship that was long and bloody, like the Crusades, only without the chivalry.
--Carl Kolchak [TV series, "Kolchak: The Night Stalker"]

Len on 10.02.05 @ 10:21 AM CST [link] [ | ]

Congratulations are in order.....

to St. Louis Cardinals All-Star First Baseman Albert Pujols.

Prince Albert hit a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning of yesterdays game against the Cincinnati Reds. The shot was Albert's 40th homer of this year, and the 200th of his career. In reaching this plateau, he is (according to my sources) the third-youngest player to hit the 200 career home run benchmark, and is the only Cardinals player in the 114 year history of the franchise to hit 40 or more home runs in three consecutive seasons (2003-05).

Len on 10.01.05 @ 08:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

About Bill Bennett's 'values'....

via Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, we get this pointer to a post at TPM Cafe by Reed Hundt:

When I was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (1993-97), I asked Bill Bennett to visit my office so that I could ask him for help in seeking legislation that would pay for internet access in all classrooms and libraries in the country. Eventually Senators Olympia Snowe and Jay Rockefeller, with the White House leadership of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, put that provision in the Telecommunications Law of 1996, and today nearly 90% of all classrooms and libraries do have such access. The schools covered were public and private. So far the federal funding (actually collected from everyone as part of the phone bill) has been matched more or less equally with school district funding to total about $20 billion over the last seven years. More than 90% of all teachers praise the impact of such technology on their work. At any rate, since Mr. Bennett had been Secretary of Education I asked him to support the bill in the crucial stage when we needed Republican allies. He told me he would not help, because he did not want public schools to obtain new funding, new capability, new tools for success. He wanted them, he said, to fail so that they could be replaced with vouchers,charter schools, religious schools, and other forms of private education. [emphasis supplied --LRC]

Len on 10.01.05 @ 08:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Temporary dip, or symptom of deeper damage?

Only time will tell, but it's clear that its getting much tougher to recruit the troops that it needs:

WASHINGTON - The Army is closing the books on one of the leanest recruiting years since it became an all-volunteer service three decades ago, missing its enlistment target by the largest margin since 1979 and raising questions about its plans for growth.

Many in Congress believe the Army needs to get bigger — perhaps by 50,000 soldiers over its current 1 million — in order to meet its many overseas commitments, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army already is on a path to add 30,000 soldiers, but even that will be hard to achieve if recruiters cannot persuade more to join the service.

Officials insist the slump is not a crisis.

Michael O'Hanlon, a defense analyst at the Brookings Institution think tank, said the recruiting shortfall this year does not matter greatly — for now.

"The bad news is that any shortfall shows how hard it would be to increase the Army's size by 50,000 or more as many of us think appropriate," O'Hanlon said. "We appear to have waited too long to try."
Over at Main and Central, Jo Fish adds a few insights from his time as a recruiter in the Navy:
Well here we are on the last day of the fiscal year. Back when I had a short stint as a recruiter, it was always amusing to watch (ahem) another service which shall remain unidentified, literally bring in warm bodies to the AFEES station (AFEES, the Armed Forces Entrance and Examining Stations are now called MEPS, Military Entrance Processing Stations, I believe) to get a physical, an ASVAB and an interview, so they could be counted on the 30th of September as "recruits". If they didn't pop positive on the urinalysis for drugs or diabetes, they would find themselves shipped off to basic training within 18 to 24 hours. At that point if they were booted out, and given a free bus ride home, it didn't matter to the recruiter or that services recruiting command, they were counted as "accessions" and the "goal" was met. Needless to say, on the 28th, 29th, and 30th of September it got pretty busy around the AFEES, I always tried to get my officer candidates through their physicals before mid-September, I knew what was coming. It was not a pretty picture. It was all about making numbers.


Which brings up that question, with the lowered real accessions i.e. those who actually make it through Basic Training (and I notice that they Army is not releasing that number, thank you very much), and the growing demands for soldiers in Iraq, as well as other global committments, is anyone else wondering how long until those dreaded words "Mandatory National Service" rear their ugly head? Because unlike the budget, where the administration chooses to keep handing out IOU's in exchange for services rendered, they can't just fabricate warm bodies to fill the ranks of the military.

Len on 10.01.05 @ 07:55 PM CST [link] [ | ]

As a fan of the second tier super heroes....

I have to confess complete awe and admiration for this post from Dave's Long Box, concerning a second tier DC hero called "Power Girl".

And Power Girl's power? Well, it should be fairly obvious:

Well, before we get accused of blatant pandering to the lowest common denominator (but when have I let that stop me before?), let Dave put things in context:
I love Power Girl, and I don't know why. Well, actually, I do know why, but it's for completely juvenille reasons.

Power Girl is at once the most generic and most sexualized super heroine in mainstream comics. I believe that they key to whatever popularity Power Girl has is her generic, blank-slate quality – she is a tabula rasa that comic book fans and creators alike can project their conscious and unconscious desires on to.

That, and she is built like a brick outhouse.

Power Girl’s bosom is her most prominent feature, and prominent is the word. If she were real, and she showed up to rescue you, you would be going, “Daaamn!” Eye contact with her would be impossible –such is the er, power of Power Girl’s Magical Cleavage.


Power Girl rivals Lady Death, Lara Croft, and
Battlechasers’ Red Monika in terms of cup-size, but there’s a key difference: The other characters I mentioned were designed with large breasts at their inception, whereas Power Girl has evolved over the years into her current statuesque mode through a sort of tribal tradition among creators. It's been said that when artist Wally Wood was inking over Ric Estrada's pencils on All-Star Comics, he kept making Power Girl's breasts bigger and bigger - just to see if his editors would cry "foul." Now it is an accepted and consistent convention in DC Comics – Power Girl must be drawn with giant breasts.

That is about the only thing that’s consistent about Power Girl.
For a detailed explanation of the Power Girl mystique, follow the link above.

Hat tip: BSTommy

Len on 10.01.05 @ 07:05 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Fond rememberances....

Over at Get Up, Baby! Dan interrupts a post on the current travails of Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter in order to talk about a Cardinals luminary of the past:

Was I the only one unaware that Slats Marion was still alive? That's cool; it's like when I found out that a band I had just gotten into was about to play a big reunion show, except in that case it was sold out thirty minutes after ticket sales opened. I don't know what parallel one can draw between that and an old ballplayer, and quite honestly it disturbed me to consider for more than a few seconds. But what kind of bad luck is it to be a slick-fielding, average hitting shortstop for a team that, thirty years later, would feature another luminary; you know who I'm talking about, of course: Garry Templeton.

Or maybe it's Royce Clayton. Anyway, I think Slats (88 this December) gets a bum rap; on a lot of other teams, an eight-time all star and one-time MVP would be a beloved icon. On the Cardinals, he's... the other brilliant defensive shortstop. Curse you, Tripp Cromer! (To commemorate Marty Marion being alive, by the way, expect some sort of profile on him soon.)
For those of you who aren't obsessive Cardinals fans, I won't spoil the joke of which shortstop caused everyone to forget who Marty Marion was, other than to provide a not-so-subtle link to somewhere you can satisfy your curiosity if you can't figure it out on your own.

Anyway, Dan's mentioning Marion caught my eye because, in My Real Life™ I'm conducting a replay of the 1944 MLB season in Out of the Park Baseball 6.5, managing the St. Louis Cardinals (of course), and Marion's my starting shortstop. As usual, he's providing exemplary defense, but he's not even hitting for league average, keeping himself barely over the strict Mendoza line (i.e., a .215 average; Slats is, in my replay, right now hitting at a .217 clip). At least the season's still young (only 11 games into a 154 game season), and Marty has a good chance to redeem himself before the season's over.

Len on 10.01.05 @ 05:41 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Muppets on Stamps

Now appear on U.S. Postage Stamps: Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Sam the Eagle, Miss Piggy, Waldorf and Statler, the Swedish Chef, Animal, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, Rowlf the Dog, and Gonzo and Camilla.

Oh, and some guy named "Jim Henson," whoever that is.

I think a poll is called for:

(UPDATE: Poll removed because embedded tables render poorly in Greymatter. But feel free to note your favorite Muppet in the comments. Mine's the Swedish Chef. Bork! Bork! Bork!)

Brock on 10.01.05 @ 04:49 PM CST [link] [ | ]

As long as we seem to be on an "errors" kick today....

You gotta love it when Hotmail (a subsidiary of Microsoft Corporation, for those of you who don't keep close track of such things) calls a spade a spade:

I wonder what Steve "Dance Monkey Boy, Dance" Ballmer thought when he learned of this.... [That link is to an MPEG video; my computer uses QuickTime to open it; yours may behave differently.]

Speaking of jobs for people who can't do math; I've always been amused by the end of that video, where Ballmer yells, "I have only four words for you: I love this company YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!" Um, Steve, I think that was five words.....

And then there was this, which was apparently caught on an British e-commerce Website:

Hmmmm. I think I'll wait 'til the sale's over.

Both of the screen caps come courtesy of BBloopers, a wholly owned subsidiary of BBSpot.com.

Len on 10.01.05 @ 04:29 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Yet Another Two-Dimensional Politics Quiz

Since Len posted his results below, here are mine:

You are a

Social Liberal
(80% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(60% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

The one thing that makes this quiz more interesting than the others in this vein is that at the end, they ask who you voted for in the last election, and generate a red and blue scatter plot to show how Bush and Kerry voters scored on the test.

Brock on 10.01.05 @ 04:24 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Here's a data point in support....

of the hypothesis that people major in journalism because they can't do math very well: New Car Aimed at Drivers With Parking Woes

TOKYO - For drivers who find backing out of tight parking spots a hassle, Nissan has an answer: An egg-shaped car whose body pivots 360 degrees so that its rear end becomes the front.
Um, it's been a while since I've studied geometry, but if the body pivots 360 degrees, shouldn't the rear end become..... the rear end again?

But for those of you that are wondering what this amazing car must look like, wonder no longer:

Somehow, I don't see it taking the U.S. by storm anytime soon.

Len on 10.01.05 @ 04:10 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Thought for the Day:

The main task of this posting [undersecretary of state for public diplomacy] is to improve America's image in the Muslim world. Let us stipulate for a moment that Hughes is ideally suited for the job—that she can figure out how to spin sheiks, imams, and "the Arab street" as agilely as she spun the White House press corps in her days as Bush's communications director.

Even if that were so, why would anybody assume that she is the one to do the face-to-face spinning? Wouldn't it be better to find someone who—oh, I don't know—speaks the language, knows the culture, lived there for a while, was maybe born there?

Put the shoe on the other foot. Let's say some Muslim leader wanted to improve Americans' image of Islam. It's doubtful that he would send as his emissary a woman in a black chador who had spent no time in the United States, possessed no knowledge of our history or movies or pop music, and spoke no English beyond a heavily accented "Good morning." Yet this would be the clueless counterpart to Karen Hughes, with her lame attempts at bonding ("I'm a working mom") and her tin-eared assurances that President Bush is a man of God (you can almost hear the Muslim women thinking, "Yes, we know, that's why he's relaunched the Crusades").
--Fred Kaplan

Len on 10.01.05 @ 04:02 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Hypocrisy thy name is Malkin

Prof. Eric Muller notes the hypocrisy of a right-wing blogger who doesn't allow comments on her blog encouraging her readers to harass a Democratic politician who does allow comments his blog.

Brock on 10.01.05 @ 03:56 PM CST [link] [ | ]

Liars' brains are different

According to a University of Southern California study, the brains of pathological liars have up to 26% more white matter than those of non-liars.

One has to wonder what an examination of politicians' brains would show -- particularly those currently in charge of the executive branch.

Brock on 10.01.05 @ 03:48 PM CST [link] [ | ]

October 2005

Archives of Blogger site
Archives: May '04-Feb '05
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