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Thursday, January 31

For no reason other than interesting!

Strange Maps


Help! My face has fallen and won't get up.

Human Rights Watch's annual "World Report" --Despots Masquerading as Democrats

Report Says Democracies Enable Despots By WILLIAM C. MANN Associated Press Writer

This AP report is surfacing all over and will be probably be the one that makes it in most of tomorrow's newspapers.

Too bad -- fluff as usual.

Here's a little more of what this report says from The Interpress Service
RIGHTS: West Gives False "Democracies" A Pass By Jim Lobe

and the Guardian Unlimited
Human rights group condemns western hypocrisy by Peter Walker

WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (IPS) - Western governments, eager to pursue their political or economic interests, too often reward self-proclaimed and flawed "democracies" that clearly abuse the political and civil rights of their citizens, according to the latest edition of Human Rights Watch's annual "World Report" released here Thursday.

The mere holding of elections does not make a state democratic, according to the report. Yet both the United States and the European Union (EU) have used such exercises to justify aid and closer ties to friendly or potentially useful governments, according to the report.

"It seems Washington and European governments will accept even the most dubious election so long as the 'victor' is a strategic or commercial ally," said HRW director Kenneth Roth, author of the report's introduction.

In doing so, they undermine the causes of both democracy and human rights, according to the 569-report.

"(I)f dictators can get away with calling themselves 'democrats,' they will have acquired a powerful tool for deflecting pressure to uphold human rights," Roth wrote. "It is time to stop selling democracy on the cheap and to start substituting a broader and more meaningful vision of the concept that incorporates all human rights."

One of the most dramatic examples in 2007 was U.S. President George W. Bush's endorsement of Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf as "somebody who believes in democracy" and his government as having put the country "on the road to democracy", even after the former army chief declared "emergency rule", fired the supreme court, and arrested thousands of opposition activists.

"(I)f, unlike human rights law, 'the road to democracy' permits locking up political opponents, dismissing independent judges, and silencing the independent press, it is easy to see why tyrants the world over are tempted to believe that they, too, might be eligible," according to Roth.

Both articles above give a "bit" more to the findings than the AP story.

Bombs Away

Who Cares?

According to this piece by Tom Engelhardt, the US dropped 45,000 kilograms or so of explosives in a small area south of Baghdad, Arab Jabour, a small Sunni farming community. This barely made the news. The Germans reportedly dropped 45,000 kilograms of explosives on on Guernica on April 27, 1937. It was seen as a tragedy. Engelhardt investigates US air power today and how it's reported. What would once have been deemed barbaric hardly merits a sentence in the news.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

My pissy mood continues because we don't have much of a choice come super Tuesday. A couple of states and the media decided for the vast vast vast majority of Americans who we get to vote for. So fuck it.

Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property ("PRO IP") Act of 2007 -- Speaks VOLUMES to our current "Intellectual State"

PRO IP Bill Slammed By Bloggers

This is a great summary byDavid Utter:

Though the report on the House Judiciary Committee website noted how the PRO IP Act helps labor unions and industry groups, there isn't any mention of how this legislation benefits anyone who isn't dumping campaign contributions on the bipartisan supporters of the bill.

"This legislation is an important and necessary step in the fight to maintain our competitive edge in a global marketplace," Chairman John Conyers said in the statement.

With all due respect, Chairman Conyers, and distinguished members of the Committee, it is not. Adding layers to US laws and bureaucracy matters not one whit to the counterfeiters who ply their trade in China, Russia, and a host of other countries.

It doesn't benefit the rights of any American with regards to fair use of intellectual property. The Act certainly does a hell of a job criminalizing alleged copyright and trademark infringement. Jeremy Toeman commented best on this, on his heavily linked open letter to House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

Instead of protecting the wants and needs of the many by forcing big media firms to evolve and adapt to the new technologies, the laws sprung up to protect these companies and allow them to live in the older world. PRO IP is yet another example of such laws.
It is bad enough that we have so few major media companies. It is bad enough that they can exert financial pressure to dominate the movie theaters and the airwaves. It is bad enough that they control the enormous quantities of media we as Americans consume....individual creativity combined with the distribution power of the Internet is finally allowing people to slowly retake control of the media they consume.

Historically it is this effort, individual creativity, that our government has helped protect and thrive. Not the demands of the rich and famous. It is in fact ironic that the major media companies of today were built on the shoulders of enabling laws, not crippling laws

Read Jeremy Toeman's entire letter and please copy and send this to your congress critter per Mr. Toeman
(you know, just in case sanity doesn't prevail with our elected "American Intellectual Mouth Pieces" we call our Congress)

Here's CHAIRMAN Conyers on the subject
"This legislation is an important and necessary step in the fight to maintain our competitive edge in a global marketplace," Chairman Conyers said. "By providing additional resources for enforcement of intellectual property, we ensure that innovation and creativity will continue to prosper in our society."

Jeremy Toeman really makes the point here:

Historically, Congress never used to side with major media companies. Throughout the 20th century, our leaders addressed new issues based on the wants and needs of the American people. Lawsuits have emerged over virtually every technology innovation as it pertained to media and content, from vinyl through compact disk. In virtually every case, Congress always put the pressure on the traditional companies to learn how to grow and change based on new technologies. That is, however, until the emergence of the broadband Internet and the MP3 music compression format.

For some reason, still not clear to me, these two technologies together caused the government to effectively switch teams. Instead of protecting the wants and needs of the many by forcing big media firms to evolve and adapt to the new technologies, the laws sprung up to protect these companies and allow them to live in the older world. PRO IP is yet another example of such laws.

(and just because I can't keep my 500lb. Hi-Fi; the $$spent on Vinyl through the years, then the 8-tracks, then the cassetts, then the CDs, now the ipod-tune library -- I HAVE NO PROBLEMO "sharing" a tune that I've bought 10 times already!!!-- gotta wonder how much of that money I spent went to the artist - and I gotta wonder what Apple's gonna do with their $15 billion cash hoard)

Here are some links to a few sites that have been covering this "Act" since December:

House Committee hears the Cons of the PRO-IP Act:

The House today held a hearing on the new PRO-IP Act that beefs up intellectual property enforcement. Rick Cotton, a top NBC lawyer and representative for the Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy (CACP), called counterfeiting and piracy "a global pandemic" and "a dagger into the heart of America's future economic security." What the US needs, he said, is a "declaration of war." But not even the Department of Justice is convinced that PRO-IP, in its current form, is that sort of declaration.

Here's how Congress Proposes to Enhance IP Enforcement and Penalties:

the bill would establish an "Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Representative" in the White House. This office would coordinate IP enforcement activities through a number of government and international agencies. This office would also be charged with developing a "Joint Strategic Plan" to identify, disrupt, and/or eliminate persons and businesses involved in trafficking of counterfeit and pirated goods and sharing information among relevant agencies. The plan would also work with other countries to strengthen IP enforcement and reduce the number of countries that fail to enforce anti-counterfeit and piracy laws.

The bill would also create an Intellectual Property Enforcement Division within the Justice Department and would appoint IP attach├ęs to work with foreign governments on anti-piracy efforts.

The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property (PRO IP... groan) Act of 2007
has the backing of many of the most powerful politicians on the House Judiciary Committee, including John Conyers (D-MI), Lamar Smith (R-TX), and "Hollywood" Howard Berman (D-CA).

Gigi Sohn, president of Public Knowledge, said in a statement, "seizing expensive manufacturing equipment used for large-scale infringement from a commercial pirate may be appropriate. Seizing a family's general-purpose computer in a download case, as this bill would allow, is not appropriate."

Yesterday from ars technica:

Copy a CD, owe $1.5 million under "gluttonous" PRO-IP Act
By Nate Anderson

Both Patry and Sohn attended a Copyright Office roundtable on statutory damages a few days ago, and Public Knowledge's staff attorney Sherwin Siy has posted a fascinating writeup of the closed-door session: Roundtable on Copyright Damages: "What are we doing here?"

William Patry is Google's top copyright lawyer (and the man who wrote a seven-volume treatise on the subject of copyright law), called the bill the most "outrageously gluttonous IP bill ever introduced in the US."

AND FINALLY we hear from Attorney Patry (his own blog - nothing to do with google -- I even had to dig in a few pages to get an "update" on the PRO-IP happenings) -- I'll keep click click clicking away on your link Mr. Patry -- maybe you'll move up to page one on the google search by the end of the day!!

(Skip the first paragraph and the title of his post if you're sick of Reagan already)

The purpose of the amendment is not to clarify Congress's intent because Congress's intent is already clear; the purpose of the amendment is not to correct the courts, because the courts have done a pretty good job in interpreting the statute; the purpose of the amendment is not to provide needed flexibility in the award of damages because the current law already has tremendous flexibility; rather the purpose of the amendment is to hand a windfall to those who have too much already and who will never be satisfied with more.

Wednesday, January 30

Florida Fallout

Yes, I'll use the term Fallout, as if the Florida primary were a nuclear weapon whose glowing and hot to the touch debris and by-products rain down on any hapless target downwind from the site of the explosion.

As to the type of weapon, Florida was a neutron bomb, or enhanced radiation weapon. An ERW doesn't cause much physical damage; it just kills people.

But since we're talking elections, the Florida ERW killed campaigns.

The first victim of the radiation was (as you might expect) the oldest and weakest. Rudy Giuliani put all his chips on Florida with the idea of ignoring or bypassing the little contests and reaping a big crop of delegates. However, waiting for Godot in this fashion enabled a lot of people to finally sit back and critically examine the sordid past, fetid Mayoral administration, and strange shenanigans of the Rudy.

With perhaps predictable results. Poor Rudy.

He never won a single contest, in some cases actually losing to Ron Paul.

And today it's widely expected that Giuliani, corneas opaque, skin laced with suppurating lesions and losing what little hair he still has, will shamble up to a microphone and give up what many thought last year was a free ride straight into the White HOuse.

The second victim of the fine rain of fallout, descending as it does like fog, on little cat feet, was John Edwards. Edwards was the former Democratic #2 nominee back in 2004; he'd been in the fight before all the way to the end, which would give him some experience. He was a populist, having a deep empathy for the working poor and those who never saw any benefit from Bush's tax cuts and the rest of his imbecilic economic policies.

But I think that his message was blocked; first by Clinton's greater street cred, bigger reputation and campaign machinery; and by Obama's ability to reach out and touch a chord with people that made them want to join with him to make this country a better place.

As a result he never did better than second, if I recall aright. Even at the debates it was hard for him to get a word in over the two top candidates.

Sad, John.

And now it's being reported that Edwards, his once-mocked hair falling out haphazardly in scattered patches and pus dripping from his still-smiling lips, will go to New Orleans and give up his campaign. But being younger than Rudy, Edwards will revive himself and rally his strength by participating in Habitat for Humanity, helping to rebuild a neighborhood in New Orleans.

Who's next?

Ron Paul's a doctor, so his campaign might cling to life, buttressed by infusions of exotic and powerful drugs;

Alan Keyes - well, he's a walking corpse; he hasn't realized yet that the fallout has killed his chances.

What do you think?

Today's Readings

(and add your own in the comments)

How about this from Greg Palast's One Bush Left Behind?
Here’s your question, class:

In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20.

Here’s your second question. The President also demanded that Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years. The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids, roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut per millionaire? That’s right, Richie, $287,000 apiece.

Mr. Bush said, “In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams. And a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.”

So how much educational dreaming will $20 buy?
The Palast investigative team went to urban America to see what they could score for $20. Indeed they found something. A "rock" of cocaine which would fill a kid's dream for about 15 minutes.

Paul Craig Roberts in "Your Papers, Please!" The End of American Liberty
Bush can do whatever he wants, because Congress has taken its only remaining power--impeachment--off the table.

The Democratic Party leadership thinks that the only problem is Bush, who will be gone in one year. Besides, the Israel Lobby doesn't want Israel's champion impeached, and neither do the corporate owners of the US media.

The Democrats are not adverse to inheriting the powers in Bush's precedents. The Democrats, of course, will use the elevated powers for good rather than for evil.

Instead of having a bad dictator, we'll have a good one.
Not so sure that any dictator is good.

This piece at the Onion, We Must All Do Our Part To Preserve This Climate Of Fear
reminds us
Fear has always made America strong. Were we ever more determined than during the Yellow Scare? When every Christian gentleman lived in mortal terror of his daughter being doped up on opium and raped by pagan, mustachioed Chinamen? What about the Red Scare, when citizens from all walks of life showed their pride by turning in their friends and associates to rabid anticommunists? Has America ever been more resolute?

Not so very long ago, we winced every time we saw someone with facial hair or a backpack. Average people were terrified of opening their mail for fear of getting a face full of anthrax. Those were perhaps our country's greatest days. Yet that once-phobic spirit that defined our times is drastically changing.
Naomi Klein explains Why the Right Loves a Disaster
More than a decade ago, economist Dani Rodrik, then at Columbia University, studied the circumstances in which governments adopted free-trade policies. His findings were striking: “No significant case of trade reform in a developing country in the 1980s took place outside the context of a serious economic crisis.” The 1990s proved him right in dramatic fashion. In Russia, an economic meltdown set the stage for fire-sale privatizations. Next, the Asian crisis in 1997-98 cracked open the “Asian tigers” to a frenzy of foreign takeovers, a process the New York Times dubbed “the world’s biggest going-out-of-business sale.”

To be sure, desperate countries will generally do what it takes to get a bailout. An atmosphere of panic also frees the hands of politicians to quickly push through radical changes that would otherwise be too unpopular, such as privatization of essential services, weakening of worker protections and free-trade deals. In a crisis, debate and democratic process can be handily dismissed as unaffordable luxuries.
Oh and it doesn't matter to the ideologues whether or not disaster capitalism actually fixes the crisis.

Tuesday, January 29

An open thread on the Republicans:

Romney is the champion flip-flopper.

Huckabee wants an inquisition society.

McCain pretends moderation.

The media doesn’t like McCain.

The media thinks McCain/Huckabee will be the ticket.

The media thinks McCain/Huckabee will beat Hillary or Obama.

On MSNBC, Timmy is looking for a Kleenex when he talks about McCain.

All of a sudden, it’s in vogue for the Republicans to be “moderate.”

All of a sudden the Republicans want fiscal responsibility.


The Evolution of Mathematics:

(Subtitle): Oh God! Not another "remember when" post!

1. Teaching Math In 1950s:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

2. Teaching Math In 1960s:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

3. Teaching Math In 1970s:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

4. Teaching Math In 1980s:
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5. Teaching Math In 1990s:
A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying, it's ok.)

Florida Primary Day - Verbum Sap. Time

Here are a few eminently quotable quotes from that fount of ancient wisdom (har har), Lazarus Long (with a nod to his creator, the noted SF author Robert A. Heinlein):

Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win.

If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for...but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.

And my personal favorite:

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of---but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.

Odd Science Corner

From Yahoo! News comes this amazing article about one of the ugliest creatures on our planet (in my opinion).

"As vulnerable as naked mole rats seem, researchers now find the hairless, bucktoothed rodents are invulnerable to the pain of acid and the sting of chili peppers.
A better understanding of pain resistance in these sausage-like creatures could lead to new drugs for people with chronic pain, scientists added.
Naked mole rats live in cramped, oxygen-starved burrows some six feet underground in central East Africa. Unusually, they are cold-blooded — which, as far as anyone knows, is unique among mammals.


Scientists knew the mole rats were quite sensitive to touch — perhaps to help replace their almost useless eyes. After probing their skin, Park and his colleagues unexpectedly discovered the rodents lacked the chemical Substance P, which causes the feeling of burning pain in mammals."

Neat stuff, eh?

Monday, January 28

The Masquerade... the masquerade

When ever some unappetizing political event takes place, Blondesense Liz asks me to write a report on it. I guess I have a better stomach to deal with it. Well, scotch on the rocks really helps.

I watched the State of The Union (the last one) of the "incompetent in chief". It was, as always, predictable. I read this guy. Whenever there is a major political or national decision to make, he will take the opposite action of what the people of this country demand or desire. It's so easy, to figure it out.

All members of the Congress sat at opposite sides of the isle. Occasionally, the pod-people (the body snatchers) sitting on the right side would robotically jump up from their seats, with open mouths and point their index fingers to the other side of the isle, shrieking their usual sounds at the non-pod-people, while the pod-father in chief sitting behind the speaker, never blinking, with his lips white like a morgue patient, approving of the cut-tax-fest, "fuck the poor" calls of the speaker.

Well, Mr Bush, this is all about your legacy, the legacy of the pod-people taking over this earth.
You should go into the sunset with your platitudes, incompetency, class warfare, enriching your friends, leader of the world.

History will judge you properly and I will sleep better that there was no new "axis of evil" in your speech. I will hold my breath while you expire and be forgotten.

Other than that there is nothing to report. If you missed it, you missed nothing.

Days of Future Past

This appeared on my screen last night. It’s from my great-great granddaughter. It was delivered by HoloTyme, a service she started in 2076. After researching (quaint notion, this reading thing, she says) through some remaining historical works on the early days of the Internets, (most literature was destroyed in the Religious Wars of the early 21st Century) she found Peter’s post on something called “Blondesense” about the good old days of the mid 20th Century. Finding such barbarism hard to believe, she thought I might find it interesting what the kids of today (late 21st Century) heard from their grandparents remembered about the beginnings of the 21st Century so she Tymed© this piece to me from 2092. She wasn’t sure how much was true.

Remember when: 2008

How many of you remember back at the turn of the century? Remember when:

There were still occasional blue skies and clouds were white.

There were birds everywhere.

Rivers used to have living things called fish in them.

There were hundreds of species of animals that lived in the wilds instead of zoos

You could jog (an archaic form of exercise by running along roads or in parks) for long periods of time without having to take an Oxygen pill.

They had drinking fountains in parks.

You ONLY needed SPF 150 to block the Sun’s UV Rays.

There were large containers of water that people cooled off in and lounged around while getting what they called a “tan” from the sun. (Why?)

Some people spent time in the outdoors; days at a time - and survived!

You could see stars at night from almost anywhere when you were outside.

Antarctica was frozen over all year.

There were Icebergs in the oceans.

You could live in Miami and New Orleans and other coastal cities before they were flooded.

People owned their own homes and other property.

Most of America wore heavy coats from November to March.

People watched 2 dimensional videos on things called Flat Screen TVs.

You listened to music through small speakers that went in or over your ears.

Movies were on 12 cm discs that only held 4 hours of video.

You could walk for miles in our remaining forest without seeing a logger or oil derrick.

You could travel from state to state without permission.

People read printed words on paper pages in objects called “books.”

It took hours to fly across the country.

Roads had things called “potholes” in them.

People used things called “Cell Phones” to communicate.

Electricity was provided by overhead wires on poles attached to your house.

Almost everyone had a lawn and there were small machines called Lawn Mowers for cutting its grass.

You went to a building called a school to learn things.

An education only cost a hundred thousand dollars.

Computers were external devices.

People worked as much as 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. (Must have been slave labor!)

They were paid “money” (some kind of paper) to work for others.

You could buy a decent vehicle for less than 30,000 pieces of that "money"(?)

Vehicles used fossil fuels and polluted the air.

They actually used fossil fuel for cooking and heating.

Most food came from the flesh of animals.

There were things called hospitals and doctors.

George W. Bush really did live and was a president of the U.S.

She said there was more but it was pretty hard to believe…and pretty sad.

HoloTyme Inc. rules prohibit her from telling me anything about the future but she did say the period from 2009 to 2048 would be very interesting, but thanks for everything we tried to do anyway!

(Thanx FLS)

Better than fiction.

The UK Sunday Times performs investigative journalism, Tip-off thwarted nuclear spy ring probe, the kind that you will never see in the US media (because they are all in on it or asleep at the wheel or scared or all of the above) and reports that Sibel Edmonds,(the Farsi translator hired by the FBI after 9/11, then fired and stifled,) knew that senior State Department official, Marc Grossman outed Valerie Plame's cover, Brewster Jennings, to Turkish agents working with Israelis by planting moles in "military and academic institutions to acquire nuclear secrets." The State Department vehemently denies this. Natch.

See these related stories in the Times
For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets
FBI denies file exposing nuclear secrets theft

I'm thinking that this makes for one whopper of a spy novel and gigantic conspiracy theory, the likes of which we haven't seen since the Cold War. Not only that, if this story broke in the US, I think it could bring down the government, its agencies, the administration, the judiciary and the House (that is of course, if the same government in question wasn't doing the investigating.)

Now check out this story from the Guardian yesterday: A Criminal Idea
27/01/08 "The Guardian" -- -- Five former Nato generals, including the former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashvili, have written a "radical manifesto" which states that "the West must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the 'imminent' spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction."

In other words, the generals argue that "the west" - meaning the nuclear powers including the United States, France and Britain - should prepare to use nuclear weapons, not to deter a nuclear attack, not to retaliate following such an attack, and not even to pre-empt an imminent nuclear attack. Rather, they should use them to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a non-nuclear state. And not only that, they should use them to prevent the acquisition of biological or chemical weapons by such a state.
It's a world gone mad. Completely mad.

Sunday, January 27

What's it take to get people to vote?

It must take a long time for many Americans to understand the basic goings on in life. Most of us knew in 2000 that George Bush would be bad for America. We knew he already was a liar, conniver, deceitful thing that should have been flushed with the condom his daddy should have used.

Incidents over the next 3 years added to the remarkably epidemic apathy of more and more Americans. Our cost of living sky rocketed while our standard of living plummeted. We were told that shortages and price increases were to be expected because of terrorism or rather what terrorism MIGHT do in the future.

In 2004 people everywhere were upset with the direction this country was headed. But not that upset because we were told happy bedtime stories again by our ethnic grandfather. He would always finish with, “And they lived happily after ever… and you will too as long as you listen to me and do what I say because no matter how bad you think it is, it could always be worse. That’s why you must sacrifice. But remember, I’m always here to protect you from things that might happen.” Then we’d shut off the TV and stop listening to those crazy left wingers and turn off the light and go to sleep secure in the knowledge that Grandpa W was protecting us from the Boogeyman; or his Boogeyman.

So we gave old Grandpa a vote of confidence and let him tuck us in for 4 more years – by staying home election day. I guess it was easier to stay home and watch TV than go out and vote. No sense in changing things when they’re going so well or rather when things aren’t really affecting most of us; so the TV says. And things are getting better with the war, the economy is doing real well, jobs are up; why change; why vote for someone else; why vote at all?

But deep down inside we knew he wasn’t telling everything to us yet we thought that if things were really bad the newspapers and people on TV News surely would let us know the truth.

By 2006, many more of us became aware that things weren’t as swell as Bush said they were. Sure there would be some changes in Congress and those new people would help out by correcting things we didn’t know about or care about. Still, no reason to get out and vote. Lots of others will vote in the right people; someone else will take care of it; just sit on the couch and watch TV. Hey, American Idol is on!

Its 2008: When did things get so bad? Why are prices so high? How come my town is losing jobs and what’s with the rising LOCAL taxes? Just how long has this been going on and why hasn’t anyone told us about this? I heard that Miss Julie died because she couldn't afford health care. What's up with that? Maybe we better get out there and vote these guys out of office. We need change and we need it now.

Who’s running against the jerk responsible for this? I guess it’s time we all voted. Probably should have voted last time!

Anybody know what (this guy) stands for?

Yay for progress!

I don't have much to comment on the SC primary yesterday. Just read all the headlines and some of the stories over at to get the full picture of what the corporate media wants you to think about it. I think I am really disappointed with the Clintons for playing the race card, however, it could be that the media is playing the race card in their name for I cannot trust what I read. Personally, I was happy to see young people and minority people engaged in the political process. This is indeed progress. I hope it serves as inspiration for the rest of the states even though most of the rest of us won't meet any candidates.

I'm also really happy that Rudy is tanking in Florida. For a while there, I was concerned that Americans were lapping up his nonsensical spew. Oh god, you didn't want NY's former mayor to be your president. Talk about a police state. He would have made bush look compassionate.

I've been thinking about these Tuesday primaries coming up and it disturbs me that they take place on days when most people have to work or go to school. If the country and the states really cared about a government by and for the people, wouldn't election days be state holidays? Think about it. Don't accept it. Write some letters. Kick some ass.

Saturday, January 26

What's it like to live in Geezerville?

"Hey Dad," one of my kids asked the other day, " What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?"
"We didn't have fast food when I was growing up," I informed him. "All the food was slow."
"C'mon, seriously. Where did you eat?"
"It was a place called at home," I explained. "Grandma cooked every day and when Grandpa got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn't like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it."
By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn't tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table. But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it:

Some parents NEVER owned their own house, wore Levis, set foot on a golf course, traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears Roebuck. Or maybe it was Sears AND Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.
My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer. I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed, (slow). We didn't have a television in our house until I was 11, but my grandparents had one before that. It was, of course, black and white, but they bought a piece of colored plastic to cover the screen. The top third was blue, like the sky, and the bottom third was green, like grass. The middle third was red. It was perfect for programs that had scenes of fire trucks riding across someone's lawn on a sunny day. Some people had a lens taped to the front of the TV to make the picture look larger.
I was 13 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called "pizza pie." When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It's still the best pizza I ever had.
We didn't have a car until I was 15. Before that, the only car in our family was my grandfather's Ford. He called it a "machine."
I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn't know weren't already using the line.
Pizzas were not delivered to our home. But milk was.
All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers. I delivered a newspaper, six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which I got to keep 2 cents. I had to get up at 4 AM every morning. On Saturday, I had to collect the 42 cents from my customers. My favorite customers were the ones who gave me 50 cents and told me to keep the change. My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.
Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. Touching someone else's tongue with yours was called French kissing and they didn't do that in movies. I don't know what they did in French movies. French movies were dirty and we weren't allowed to see them.

If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren. Just don't blame me if they bust a gut laughing.

Growing up isn't what it used to be, is it?

More memories from a friend:
My Dad is cleaning out my grandmother's house (she died in December) and he brought me an old Royal Crown Cola bottle. In the bottle top was a stopper with a bunch of holes in it. I knew immediately what it was, but my daughter had no idea. She thought they had tried to make it a salt shaker or something. I knew it as the bottle that sat on the end of the ironing board to "sprinkle" clothes with because we didn't have steam irons. Man, I am old.

How many do you remember?
Head lights dimmer switches on the floor.
Ignition switches on the dashboard.
Heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall.
Real ice boxes.
Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards.
Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner.
Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.

Older Than Dirt Quiz: Count all the ones that you remember not the ones you were told about. Ratings at the bottom.

1. Blackjack chewing gum
2. Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water
3. Candy cigarettes
4. Soda pop machines that dispensed glass bottles
5. Coffee shops or diners with tableside juke boxes
6. Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers
7. Party lines
8. Newsreels before the movie
9. P.F. Flyers
10. Butch wax
11. Telephone numbers with a word prefix (YOrk 4931)
12. Peashooters
13. Howdy Doody
14. 45 RPM records
15. S&H Green Stamps
16. Hi-fi's
17. Metal ice trays with lever
18. Mimeograph paper
19. Blue flashbulbs
20. Packards
21. Roller skate keys
22. Cork popguns
23. Drive-ins
24. Studebakers
25. Wash tub wringers

If you remembered 0-5 = You're still young
If you remembered 6-10 = You are getting older
If you remembered 11-15 = Don't tell your age,
If you remembered 16-25 = You're older than dirt!

I might be older than dirt but those memories are the best part of my life.

Senility Prayer: "God grant me...
The senility to forget the people I never liked
The good fortune to run into the ones that I do
And the eyesight to tell the difference."

Creative Capitalism - Bill Gates - Speech delivered at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2008

St Gates
Well, thank you for that kind introduction and for the privilege of speaking to this forum.

Continue reading at Candide's Notebooks

(I haven't read much of it yet. I'm still trying to plow through the Gandhi headlines. Indigo posted
this piece that Pierre posted on his website):

“Gandhi vs. Terrorism,” by Mark Juergensmeyer

(A MUST READ and very timely considering the post below)

Friday, January 25

Arun Gandhi - President and co-founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence......

(actually the post should read: PAST President)....
resigned from the peace institute he co-founded after condemnation of his comments that Israel and the Jews are the biggest players in a culture of violence that "is eventually going to destroy humanity."

Here is the full commentary from earlier this month that got him in hot water.


here's the story I picked to tell us about the backlash(from Indian Muslim News and Information - Arun Gandhi's resignation from non-violence institute accepted)

I best throw in WaPo's headline too (Gandhi's Grandson Quits Nonviolence Center)

JerseyCynic Comment to Arun Gandhi: I couldn't have said it better myself.

Danken sie Gott fur heimatsicherheitleiter!!!*

Barcelona plot fuels U.S. security concerns

*Thank God for our Homeland Security Chief

At Davos, Mothra versus Godzilla

by Terence Corcoran, Financial Post:
It must be tough being a leader, but surely the power players who populate the Davos event, an annual monument to self-aggrandizing business leaders, can do better than this report yesterday from Reuters: "Business leaders appeal for crisis leadership." Isn't that great: Just as the going gets rough, with markets falling and economic prospects looking grim, business leaders head for the exits and call on others to clean up the mess.

The Agenda:
Rich, Powerful Gather in Davos, Switzerland for World Economic Forum

CNN news on Davos:
Bill Gates calls for 'creative capitalism'

Here's the chinaview report "we don't know - we have to wait to see"

The Brits see no problems - business is holding up

take your pick of news stories - 6,500 to choose from and rising -
World Economic Forum - Davos

Here's some "funny" ha, ha, commentary from 2 delusional CEO's about their trip to "The Forum"
The Secret of Davos


The Working Night Cap

Here's what George Soros says:
The worst market crisis in 60 years


anybody want to move to Italy with me?

John Gibson: Lowering the level of public discourse in America

I read in the paper this morning that John Gibson HAD to apologize for his nasty comments about Heath Ledger that he made on his radio show which you can see here at Think Progress. His comments sparked outrage and he apologized on his Fox News TV show.

I don't get why the heck he had to pick on poor Keith Ledger. The young man had family and friends who loved him and don't deserve to have their loved one dragged through the mud. How rude to kick him on public airwaves with jokes about a character he played in the movies and ridicule a whole group of people who don't hurt civilization at large (homosexuals, depressed people, etc). I watched Brokeback Mountain two times and I saw something which I know must have freaked a lot of men out because it revealed something that they didn't want me to know about. It sure must have unnerved old John Gibson. Tough titties. Now I know.

And yes, I believe in the first amendment. But you know, this is the kind of spew one would expect from a shock jock and not from someone who anchors a news show on television. It only proves that television news guys have no integrity anymore and that they will stoop to any depth to get a laugh out of a frat boy. How can you trust hearing the news from the likes of this clown? Could you imagine Walter Cronkite spewing such garbage? Newspeople with integrity ought to speak out against Gibson because he is making the industry a laughing stock.

Furthermore, just because someone enjoys politics and economics to the right of center doesn't mean that they are hateful towards women, homosexuals, Mexicans, and whatever group the neocon's place the blame for everything on du jour. You most certainly don't have to be a pig to be a capitalist.

I can't believe I am going to defend conservatives, but they are not all like John Gibson nor do they even know who he is. In fact I think Gibson is pandering to redneck wannabees. Traditional conservatives ought to wake up and take their label back. The world would be a better place without allowing such jerks represent your position.

If I were a conservative I wouldn't tolerate what passes for talk radio and news in my political and economic world view. I'd take on on the neocons for dragging conservatives down into the depths of crudeness and incivility. I grew up with conservatives and I never witnessed or heard such prejudice. Ever. Sure, they were mostly oblivious people and never said what they what they were actually thinking (if they were actually thinking about anything other than their portfolio and golf handicap), but they weren't deliberately mean nor would they condone such comments by the likes of those neocon shills on Fox News or "conservative" talk radio... or any shock jocks.

Bank On California

California governor wants more Californians to open bank accounts
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on Thursday that California will be the first state in the United States to launch an effort to help working Californians without bank accounts open starter accounts.
ok. nice I guess, if you have a buck left after paying your bills.
"Through 'Bank on California' we will help working families save money by accessing basic financial services others may take for granted -- putting them in the financial mainstream," said Schwarzenegger. "This simple, innovative idea won't cost taxpayers a dime, helps working families get ahead and grows our economy at the same time."
uh huh. Seems the working people aren't growing our economy enough.
Americans each year spend 8 billion U.S. dollars for basic financial services through alternative financial institutions such as check cashing outlets, payday lenders and pawnshops, according to a new Brookings Institution report.

This translates into 40,000 dollars over the course of a career for the average full-time worker. In addition, families without bank accounts may not have a safe place to keep their money and can become a magnet for crime.

Oh!! I get it now. Get the poor people to save the banks. Silly me.

I like how this story is in the Chinese news.

Friday Sex Post

English Russia blog: A visit to a condom factory somewhere in eastern Europe or Russia or Poland or somewhere depending on which commenter is correct. Condom manufacturing is not too sterile and the blogger wonders what must happen in condom factories in Asia "they might do even more not-so-sterile things with this gentle products…" Read the comments too.

Thursday, January 24

Here we go again with Obama's religion

According to Horses Mouth Blog at TPM,, the winger news site had a breaking headline yesterday, OBAMA: I am not a Muslim. When you think about it, this IS going to be news for a lot of people. The AP story Democrat Barack Obama Steps Up Effort To Correct Misconception That He's A Muslim reports that emails are circulating around SC that Obama is a Muslim terrorist and this story is circulating around the Internets. If he becomes the nominee, can you just imagine what he will be up against?

What is happening is that Obama has to go on record explaining just how Christian he is, which seems oddly quaint . There was flap a while back when Faux News made a big deal about how his first name rhymes with Osama, what his middle name is and that he went to a Muslim school for a while when he was a boy, but it was laid to rest after a broohaha.

Fareed Zakaria, editor Newsweek International was on Real Time with Bill Maher January 18th and they were talking about politics and Pakistan when Zakaria mentioned that maybe an Obama presidency would be good for foreign policy. He said it would be hard for a Pakistani jihadi to wage jihad against a man named Barrak Hussein Obama. Bill Maher said that he'd see the name Hussein and go "Hey!" (thumbs up)

Zakaria told Maher that some Pakistani businessmen remarked that they loved the fact that someone with the middle name, Hussein, can run for president in America and Zakaria told them that's because no one in America knows that's his middle name. The laughter ensued.

This should be interesting to watch.

RIAA Declares Using Brain to Remember Songs is Criminal Copyright Infringement

NOTE: "This is a satire report on the RIAA. That means it's written as fictional humor. It does not yet represent the actual position of the RIAA, although from the way things are going, the association may soon adopt it. Permission is granted to make copies of this story, redistribute it, post it and e-mail it (please provide proper credit and URL) as long as you do not actually remember it because copying to your brain is now strictly prohibited. Any attempts to circumvent the memory-based copyright restrictions on this article will result in your brain imploding, causing such an extreme loss of cognitive function that your only hope for any future career will be running for public office."


On the heels of the RIAA's recent decision to criminalize consumers who rip songs from albums they've purchased to their computers (or iPods), the association has now gone one step further and declared that "remembering songs" using your brain is criminal copyright infringement. "The brain is a recording device," explained RIAA president Cary Sherman. "The act of listening is an unauthorized act of copying music to that recording device, and the act of recalling or remembering a song is unauthorized playback."

The RIAA also said it would...(continue)

Mike Adams YOU ROCK MAN!!

Wednesday, January 23

Study: False statements preceded war

From : "Study: False statements preceded war"
The study is at the Center for Public Integrity.
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

The center said the study was based on a database created with public statements over the two years beginning on Sept. 11, 2001, and information from more than 25 government reports, books, articles, speeches and interviews.

"The cumulative effect of these false statements — amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts — was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.

"Some journalists — indeed, even some entire news organizations — have since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq," it said.

Well you already knew that he was lying and evil piece of excrement, but like me, you probably lost count of all the lies. It wasn't like anyone was paying me to spend time keeping meticulous records although I started back in 2002. So many people I knew and loved believed the lies. I wanted to be wrong actually. I don't like being the harbinger of doom and gloom at all. I was mad that I could see through the lies like most of you were. You start to think you're crazy after a while and doubt yourself when the media was lying too. If you're lucky you managed to help a few people see the light and could feel less alone. The corporate media never questioned the lies. The corporate media just changed the reasons for the invasion and occupation of Iraq as the administration instructed them to do.


There's a sucker born every minute

This is an excerpt of an excerpt printed at from Sarah Posner's new book, God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters. There is a lot more at the link. Quite shocking too.

Like Bush's 2000 campaign slogan, Compassionate Conservatism, Word of Faith preachers often give lip service to their church's community service projects yet worship at the altar of hyperindividualism and unregulated capitalism. Many of these televangelists spend millions of dollars of church funds on luxury jets, take huge salaries out of church coffers to build themselves mansions, and treat themselves to other luxuries like clothes, vacations, and high-end dinners. They use the free advertising of their churches and television shows to sell countless books, tapes, and DVDs of their sermons, raking in millions that go into for-profit church-related enterprises that line their own pockets. All of this activity is rationalized as obeying Jesus' command to spread the Gospel throughout the world. Yet it is all possible precisely because there is virtually no oversight of the preachers' activities. Tax-exempt churches do not file tax returns and are under no obligation to divulge their finances to donors or the public. Where profit-driven church meets the cornerstone of conservative economic ideology, televangelists have been enriching themselves in an unregulated marketplace trading on God, the cult of personality, and American dreams of riches and success.

Although some observers of the 2006 election have pronounced the conservative Christian movement dead, Parsley's preaching in the service reveals exactly why the Word of Faith movement will play a big role in keeping it alive through the 2008 elections and beyond. While Parsley's audience is under his spell, the mayhem is suddenly suspended when Parsley yells, "Stop! I just heard the Holy Ghost." The audience falls silent, hoping for a direct line from God. Instead, Parsley delivers a political speech.

While I was optimistically hoping that "christian" "conservatives" were losing ground, it appears that their leaders are still being hosted in the White House. These hucksters are capable of transforming tens or hundreds of thousands of suckers (probably mostly oppressed and undereducated) Americans into supporting their lavish lifestyles as well as supporting the GOP. This is what is so dangerous about evangelicals today. If they want to make charlatans rich, that is nothing new, but now more and more brainwashed masses are doing the bidding of the fascist, cruel-corporatist pigs.

It's time to call for a repeal of the tax exempt status of churches in the United States. The best way to deal with them is to hit them where they hurt. Watch how fast the honest ministries stand up and begin to rip out the weeds.

China Calls for Stepped-Up Propaganda

By Christopher Bodeen, AP Writer

BEIJING — Chinese President Hu Jintao has told officials to breathe new life into propaganda efforts, putting renewed emphasis on a key pillar of Communist rule ahead of this summer's Beijing Olympic Games.

Hu's remarks at a major party gathering reflected the government's traditional focus on controlling information and guiding public opinion, yet also indicated concern that those efforts were losing their edge in the face of the Internet and other independent sources of information and entertainment.

Officials should "perform well the task of outward propaganda, further exhibit and raise up the nation's good image," Hu said.

Reports on his remarks Tuesday to party leaders and propaganda officials dominated the front page of the party's flagship People's Daily and other official newspapers Wednesday.

The reports did not indicate any direct mention of the Olympics by Hu. However, they said he called for boosting China's "cultural soft power," a reference to influence in culture, sports and other spheres outside traditional military might and hard-nosed diplomacy.

China has only lately embraced the concept of "soft power," although propaganda has been a central tenet of Communist rule even before the party seized control in a 1949 revolution.

Directing those efforts is the Propaganda Department, which sits under the direct control of the party's powerful Central Committee. The body outranks all government ministries and the Cabinet's State Council Information Office, which is chiefly responsible for propaganda directed at foreign audiences.

As the voice of party rule, the department is headed by a party hard-liner and exercises broad control over print media, film, television and the Internet.

In an apparent attempt to appear more progressive, the department's English name was changed a decade ago to the Publicity Department, although its name in Chinese remains unchanged.

The department has wide-ranging powers to punish outlets, writers, filmmakers and journalists that defy its guidelines, both written and implied, although the process of censorship is highly opaque.

Organizers of the Beijing Olympics inaugurated a media center early on and hired international public relations firm Hill & Knowlton to advise on publicity and media relations for the Games, which get under way in August.

Those efforts are especially important given human rights groups' attempts to use the games to publicize their criticisms of Chinese policies on everything from religious freedoms to the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region.

In the reports on his remarks, Hu also emphasized the importance of propaganda in maintaining stability in a society increasingly riven by disparities between rich and poor, ethnic divisions, and challenges to the party's once unquestioned authority.

Officials, he said, must "advance the building of the body of socialist core value and further boost unity and harmony between all ethnic groups."

Tuesday, January 22

and in other news

Blondesense reader, Dirruk, our European correspondent, who lives in the Netherlands and writes awesome limericks, sent along this story for your amusement. Well I was amused. This guy is cute AND a hero.

Hero pilot likes crew girls licking chocolate off his naked body
Twice-married Capt Burkhill was hailed a hero by the Prime Minister for averting disaster when flight BA038 lost power on its descent. The captain oversaw proceedings as his co-pilot John Coward landed the jet on grass. Later Capt Burkhill said: "We are trained to deal with emergency situations."

The Heathrow hero is awesomely cute too. Oh my. Check out the pictures at the story which go along with the following:

Stewardesses attended to his every need—which bizarrely even meant putting liqourice up his bottom—as they hovered over his landing stripes.

But when the girls smothered him in chocolate and licked it all off, Peter—then a 28-year-old First Officer—was left feeling rather joysticky...and needed to ditch in a bubble bath with the beauties.

Our snaps were taken when the 44-year-old British Airways captain worked for Caledonian Airways. Ex-air steward Gary May—who was at the party on a US stopover said: "It was a total sex-fest. Birds were always all over him.

"He was so good looking they called him Perfect Peter.

"After licking the chocolate off and soaping him down they also played an airline game with him, putting liquorice up his bottom."

They then laid strings of it on his buttocks and ate them.
You have GOT to love the Brits.

Saudi Arabia to move out of the 12th Century?

Saudi Arabia to lift ban on women drivers

Don't hold your breath.
Government officials have confirmed the landmark decision and plan to issue a decree by the end of the year.
If the ban on women driving is lifted, it could be years before the full impact is seen. Practical hurdles stopping women obtaining licences and insurance must be overcome.
Critics believe allowing women to drive would be the first step towards a gradual erosion of the kingdom's modesty laws. A woman would have to remove the traditional abaya robe to get a clear view behind the wheel.

But seriously, I think the trouble with Saudi men is Saudi men. Obviously they cannot even fathom the idea of self control.

Cookie Wars. Hydrox lost.

This story was on the front page of the WJS on Saturday.
The Hydrox Cookie Is Dead, and Fans Won't Get Over It

I was surprised to not be reading about the impending doom of my nest egg over breakfast but rather reading about the doom of the Hydrox cookie. There is an internet campaign to bring it back, but Kelloggs won't hear of it. There is an online forum to discuss the cookie at WSJ too.

I think I preferred Hydrox over Oreos, but mom bought whatever was on sale and so did I when my son was younger and I had to buy cookies. I can have neither in the house today as it would be like having booze in the cupboard if I were an alcoholic. The bag of cookies would be calling me in the night, "Oh Lizzy... yoohoo. I'm crunchy and delicious and I love you so much and I know that you love me. Eat me. Eat me."

A simple fix for what ails us?

While I am trying not to freak out over the economy today, I am reading about other things

David Sirota's piece, "Digging In the Right Place" discusses how we shouldn't really expect the feds to come up with health care solutions but rather look to state legislatures and he gives 2 examples: Washington and Wisconsin. Three paragraphs that really stuck out and drove his points (which you will read in the short article) home:
Think about it: The White House can only be won by raising truckloads of cash from moneyed interests looking to preserve the status quo. Likewise, the U.S. Senate's filibuster rules allow 41 lawmakers, representing just 11 percent of the population, to stop anything. These are institutions designed to prevent change, not embrace it.
You absolutely cannot argue with that. In fact you already knew that and that's why you probably read this blog. And this which sums up the PTB nicely when faced with a logical money saving plan that would even benefit them:
The Royalist Right is distraught about the plan. When an initial draft passed the Wisconsin Senate last year, the Wall Street Journal's editorial board attacked it on the grounds that it "reduces out-of-pocket copayments" and "increases the number of mandated medical services covered" for patients. Wow. Sounds just awful.

The paper then criticized it as a tax increase and labeled it "government-run" -- as if patients are better served by paying even bigger premium increases to corporate CEOs whose paychecks grow with each coverage denial.
Know what the sad thing is? I know "wannabees" who would agree with the WSJ's editorial board just so that they could be perceived as "have mores."

One day I will have to do a write up on my experiences here on Long Island with the Republicans and Conservatives I know from where I lived before I got married (have mores) vs where I live now (wannabees) and that it's mostly the wannabees who delight in sticking it to the hard working class (of which they happen to belong. not you, PB)

Levite be Gone: Releasing the Samaritan Within. By Jason Miller

[30] In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. [31] A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. [32] So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. [33] But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. [34] He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. [35] The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

[36] “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

[37] The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

—Luke 10:25-37

Nice summation of the times we live in Mr. Miller. Great commentary and a gentle (not) reminder for the PTB.

(I had to look up a few words before I started reading):

LEVITE:As being wholly consecrated to the service of the Lord, they had no territorial possessions. Jehovah was their inheritance and for their support it was ordained that they should receive from the other tribes the tithes of the produce of the land. (In particular, theLevite Tithe)

Also, be sure to check out the comments that follow -- "shadowdancer" in particular:

Perhaps your a Nation of mostly Religious Political Pharisees? I use the word, Mostly, meaning, not all.
Way back when before all the Tribes were rounded up and put on their Reservations a man of European Heritage visited some Tribes and said, They live like the Bible says to live and they don’t even have the book.

Monday, January 21

South Carolina Democratic Debate

Tonight I watched in disbelief a REAL DEBATE. I mean, talking to each other, sparks flying, accusing, defending and re-accusing each other, attacking even the people who were not on the podium. (Bill Clinton)
There was an annoying audience who applauded even when Obama sneezed.
It was a serious, substantive debate - one - you never see on the republican tax-cut-fest or fear-mongering monologue.
As most of the "fist-fight" went on between Hillary and Obama, I think Edwards was a clear winner (for what it's worth)
Obama was debating for South Carolina delegates, while Hillary had her eyes on the national picture.
A few times Hillary and Edwards ganged up on Obama, when their policies agreed, and not for "kiss ass" reason.
It was most interesting watching all three candidates, taking their gloves off.
Here are my impressions (feel free to disagree with me):

Obama, often stumbling on words, pausing and sometimes stuttering, looked green, inexperienced, almost boyish. I actually noticed being angry at times. Very idealistic, talking a great deal about future, unity, ideas, projecting great accomplishments for the country and the people, without ever stating how he's going to do it.

Edwards, talks a great populist deal; thoughtful, emotional when it comes to people's suffering, having a great plan, bordering Utopia, of turning this country upside down. I am sorry, but his populist message does not ring true to me. Doable ? Perhaps, but it will require an armed uprising, shedding blood on the streets to radically change this country as he sees it.

Clinton, spoke eloquently, itemized and detailed, how she's going to make change happen. And she spoke with passion, as she believes. She came across as a doer, someone who will "walk the walk".

As for me, all I expect that the next president help swing the pendulum back to center, where it belongs. Hillary will do just that.

But that is just my opinion.

Wait a minute...

From the Huffington Post:

"You know, this has become a habit," he said. "And one of the things that I think we're going to have to do is to directly confront Bill Clinton when he's not making statements that are factually accurate." - Obama

Obama did praise Republicans, but he criticized them in the same comment: "I think it's fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last 10, 15 years, in the sense that they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, you've heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they're being debated among the presidential candidates and it's all tax cuts. Well, you know, we've done that, we tried it. That's not really going to solve our energy problems, for example. So, some of it's the times."

Is it just me or is anyone else somewhat put off by a “Democrat” invoking Ronnie for whatever reason without criticism then making a statement that the Republicans were the party of ideas?

But what really makes me question this guy’s thoughts and possibly his real intentions is that he questions Clinton’s behavior. Wait! Nothing to do with Clinton’s past. Now he thinks we ought to directly confront the defacto leader of the Democratic Party…when HE (Clinton) isn’t making factual statements!

Can anyone tell me when BHO EVER publicly confronted George W. Bush…or for that matter, ANY Republican; or when he ever OFFERED to confront any Republican about their lies? There must be SOME meaningful confrontation he attempted.


SUBPRIME NATION by Patrick J. Buchanan

Since it began to give credit ratings to nations in 1917, Moody’s has rated the United States triple-A. U.S. Treasury bonds have been seen as the most secure investment on earth. When crises erupt, nervous money seeks out the world’s great safe harbor, the United States. That reputation is now in peril.

Meanwhile, Washington drifts mindlessly toward the maelstrom. With the dollar sinking, oil surging to $100 a barrel, the Dow having its worst January in memory, foreclosures mounting, credit card debt going rotten, and consumers and businesses unable or unwilling to borrow, we appear headed into recession

To stave off recession, the Fed appears anxious to slash interest rates another half-point, if not more. That will further weaken the dollar and raise the costs of the imports to which we have become addicted. While all this is bad news for the Republicans, it is worse news for the republic. As we save nothing, we must borrow both to pay for the imported oil and foreign manufactures upon which we have become dependent.

We are thus in the position of having to borrow from Europe to defend Europe, of having to borrow from China and Japan to defend Chinese and Japanese access to Gulf oil, and of having to borrow from Arab emirs, sultans and monarchs to make Iraq safe for democracy.

We borrow from the nations we defend so that we may continue to defend them. To question this is an unpardonable heresy called “isolationism.”

We sat still as Japan protected her markets and dumped high quality goods into ours and China undervalued its currency to suck jobs, technology and factories out of the United States. Now, China and Japan have $2 trillion in cash reserves. The Arabs have an equal amount of petrodollars. Both are headed here to spend their depreciating dollars snapping up U.S. assets – banks, ports, highways, defense contractors.

America, to pay her bills, has begun to sell herself to the world.

Continue reading

RIP Suzanne Pleshette

Suzanne Pleshette was one celebrity that I admired and I have nothing but fond memories of her. She was way too young to die.

I first saw her in The Birds and the love affair grew stronger when she played Emily in the Bob Newhart Show which I watched on Saturday nights during my teen years (when I was babysitting). I'll never forget her reprisal of Emily on the series finale of Newhart. I made a point of watching anything that appeared in.

I shared my birthday with the savvy New York City lady. I'll miss that.

Sunday, January 20

Sunday Roundup

Well, it's Sunday, traditionally a day of rest. So let's stop a moment for a breather and see what's been going on, shall we?

Looks like John McCain won in South Carolina, while Hillary got the booby prize in Nevada (by winning the caucus, but getting one fewer delegates than Obama), and Romney won the GOP side in Nevada. Fred Thompson came on the telly after posting a poor third in South Carolina and made a pointless 30-second speech about sacrifice. Oh, and a nobody named Duncan Hunter dropped out of the GOP race.


The Dear Leader and both Houses of Congress agree that something has to be done to nip the recession in the bud, so Dear Leader proposed a $145 billion package that would give a lot of people checks. He did the same thing in 2001, and after 9/11 told us all to shop. The problem is that the flaws in the economy apparently run deeper than just handing out money to us.

For example, where's that money coming from, and how will the government pay for it? And does the Upper One Percent really give two shits about us proles?


A man named Milton Wolff died last Monday in Berkeley, California at the age of 92. The name didn't mean anything to me until I read the rest of his obituary. Wolff was born in 1915 and, at age 21 and an active Communist, he went off to Spain. By age 22 he was the ninth (and last) American commander of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a unit made of American expatriates who had gone off to fight for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. While there he met the novelist Ernest Hemingway, and Wolff later said that Hemingway served him his first Scotch.

About 40 members of the Lincoln Brigade are still alive. They were idealists, fighting for a cause they thought was right. Unfortunately, they lost when, after their withdrawal in late 1939, Madrid fell to General Franco and the Fascists.


The war in Iraq drags on, with no end in sight. The insurgents are elusive and the weapons seem to be getting a bit more powerful. Meanwhile, more American troops die while our elected representatives - our employees - sit on their hands.


Governor-Reverend Michael "Elect Me Ayatollah!" Huckabee continues to frighten the shit out of the GOP mainstream and, truth be told, out of a lot of clear-thinking people like myself. His stated positions are such that he really should be an Iranian mullah, and only reinforces my belief that no ordained minister, of whatever religion, should ever be allowed to run for public office.

Take a look at what Huckabee espouses: Quarantining gays in camps, outlawing gay marriage, outlawing abortion, amending the US Constitution to reflect "God's Law" (and nevermind that his interpretation of that might differ from others' views), and so on. He is in favor of allowing the old treasonous Confederate battle flag to stay prominently posted on state flags, and by his coded language on states' rights is making sure that Southern whites can still feel comfortable in Jim Crow racism.

What does a McCain win actually mean to the GOP?

According to this morning's Wash Post, the GOP was afraid of a McCain win just as they were in 2000. He is a liberal. Did you know that? Who would have thought?

GOP attack dogs Limbaugh and Delay worked feverishly to derail McCain and Huckabee from being nominated. They lost. Maybe some people just don't trust their "opinions" after 8 years of hell.

Limbaugh led the way with a verbal blitz, not just against McCain but against his closest rival in South Carolina, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

"I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it," Limbaugh fumed on his radio show Tuesday. It was a line of argument that he kept up all week long.

DeLay resurfaced on Fox News Friday to excoriate McCain for working with "the most liberal Democrats in the Senate," for passing an overhaul of campaign finance laws that "completely neutered the Republican Party," and single-handedly thwarted oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

"McCain has done more to hurt the Republican Party than any elected official I know of," said DeLay, the former House majority leader, who was personally damaged by McCain's Senate probe of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a probe that implicated numerous DeLay associates.
The whole story is actually quite funny.

A related story at the Boston Globe shows how Lush's opinion influences listeners (but not S. Carolinians, obviously.) Lush was pushing for Mitt Romney.

Welcome to the Third Race at the HONEYMOON IS OVER DOWNS

They're at the gate....

and they're off!(direct quick/real/whatever player link)

An oldie but goodie that still cracks me up every time I hear it!

Microsoft seeks patent for office 'spy' software

TOM??? have GOT to be kidding me. This is a spoof - right? I know I'm up early again but...this can't be real.(Tom left the link to the story below following my comment and link in Liz's REALITY CHECK post below)

Woof! Woof, Woof, Woof, WOOOOOOOOOF!!
Microsoft is developing Big Brother-style software capable of remotely monitoring a worker’s productivity, physical wellbeing and competence.

The Times has seen a patent application filed by the company for a computer system that links workers to their computers via wireless sensors that measure their metabolism. The system would allow managers to monitor employees’ performance by measuring their heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression and blood pressure

Well, let me tell you.....

if this is true, it appears that I have quit my job just in time!
I began having mouse issues a few weeks ago when I started working at the cube with the touch pad thing instead of a mouse. I wonder how Management would have responded to my frustrations that day -- it wasn't pretty.

THEN, the other day, they decided to hook into that instant messenger IM screen thing to "communicate" more efficiently with each other. Saves a lot of time instead of poking your head up over your cube to make human contact to ask your co-worker a question (where's happy hour tonight?). They didn't like my idea of assigning different "bung" tones to each cube. I was leading a pretty good version of Mr. Sandman just to pick things up one morning...bung, bung, bung, bung, bung, bung, bung, bung, bung, bung, bung, bung,

if we had one more person, we could have done it!!

Oh boy I got out just in time. I know there are millions of benefits to technology and I probably should have conformed a long time ago because it's pretty hard finding an office with a typewriter these days. I was so frustrated one day trying to "snail mail" and item. I can't believe how long it took me to produce a label for an envelope compared to rolling it into my old IBM Selectric. This office didn't even have stationary. I had to start my own roladex. Nobody knew what a tickler file was. I was happy to learn word processing years ago though. We could have stopped there with the technology as far as I'm concerned.

Oh well, it's time for a career change. The office just ain't what it used to be.

Here's a few good computer technology reads from timesonline:
White bread for young minds, says university professor

Google is “white bread for the mind”, and the internet is producing a generation of students who survive on a diet of unreliable information, a professor of media studies will claim this week.

Doris Lessing, the digital divide, and cat videos
As digital technology – and fears about its effects – increasingly define us, it’s hard to separate the virtues from the vices.

I think I'll just fine tune my Guitar skills in the meantime!
Watch Conan annoy his writing staff while they’re playing Rock Band, then sings The Beastie Boys’ “Sabatoge”, as Edith Bunker.
(the kids pooled their money last year and got Guitar Hero - it's quite addicting)