Tuesday, December 25, 2007
However, it is now revealed that Ron is yet another Republican Presidential candidate who simply feels that the Theory of Evolution is just a theory, and that the Science has holes.
Um, that's Dr. Ron Paul, the annointed oracle of common sense.
Um, that makes 6 of the 11 Republican candidates (including Alan Keyes, who, after all, was included in the recent debate) rejecting the notion that Evolution provides a mechanism for explaining that things can change over 4.5 billion years. Of course, there's still some debate about that last item, too.
Heading for the airport in an hour, for 6 days in LA with Karen's family. The boys are coming, too. In fact, this was the first morning in a long time, when there were 4 humans waking up in this house (if only we could get them to wake up).
Monday, December 24, 2007
He is clearly connecting with many young idealists, and his statements about creeping fascism and government abuses are timely and correct.
Still, there's something disturbing about the 'reduce government', libertarian strain, that I just can't accept. If he bolts the Republican party and runs as an Independent, I think he will be very successful.
Here's what worries me - the Supreme Court has gone past the tipping-point into very bad territory, and the next nominee, from the next president, will either restore some balance, or seal the doom of the American Experiment. To me, this is the chief reason why a Republican must NOT be permitted to win the White House next year.
I am endlessly frustrated by reporting about the presidential race. Even NPR is totally deficient in discussing any substantive issue - I expect this to be gone from all other media reporting. Either the Media emphatically doesn't want any real debates about issues, or they are simply too lazy to report on anything other than popularity polling. I just don't get it.
Merry Christmas, all you Christians out there. To all of us humans living in the northern hemisphere, we are over the solstice hump, and the Sun will NOT be going away, once again. We can breathe a sigh of relief and, now, all we have to worry about is Greenland melting.
Off to LA tomorrow morning - as our little family does its share to contribute to the unsustainable lives our ingenious-but-flawed species has invented. Never have so many been so comfortable - never have society's slaves been so invisible.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
"the fire raged mainly in the office of Mr. Cheney’s political director, Amy Whitelaw".
Nothing to see here - move along...
Let's take a closer look at the Reuters story. The document was purchased 'by the founder of a private equity firm'. Sounds reasonably innocent.
How much effort would it have been to mention the name of that 'private equity firm'? A very short trip to Google reveals:
who is that masked man?
I am reminded of how Hitler was determined to preserve relics of Judaism, for his planned museum to a 'vanished race'.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Not too much work pending today, so I will steal some time and get back to the pile of films that I now have checked out from the library.
Last week, at a used book sale, I chanced upon the autobiography of Josef von Sternberg, a director I was first exposed to in college. I didn't know that much about him personally, so the book was a revelation. First of all, I always thought he was one of the classic early German directors, and was astonished to hear that he grew up in New York, and was a Jew originally named 'Jo Sternberg' (a capricious distributor added the 'von' to give the impression of nobility and he liked it).
The other day, I watched one of his early silents: The Last Command', for which the star, Emil Jannings, apparently won the very first Best Actor award, in 1928. It was astonishing in its vision, composition, lighting and editing, with multi-layered characters and quirky title cards that were written by Herman Mankiewicz (who, of course, went on to write little films like 'Citizen Kane').
Waiting for pickup at the library is The Docks of New York, and already on the pile upstairs is The Blue Angel (which I saw, once, decades ago) and The Scarlet Empress (the film which I studied back in college).
This is what I do, when I get interested in a particular director: view as many of the films as possible, in sequence, if possible. The last director that captured my attentions in this manner is Werner Herzog, and in my VCR at this moment (only a tape was available) is a curiously-repellent film called 'Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen' (or, in English, 'Even Dwarfs Started Small'). I think I'll be done with Herzog after this one - it is truly bizarre.
Played piano for two musical programs tomorrow, so it was a busy day. On Thursday, I have the first rehearsal for another music program, to be given on December 23rd. The 22nd, 23rd, and 24th will be busy with several events and dinners with friends, and then, on Christmas morning, we (all 4 of us) fly to LA for a few days, returning to Portland on the 31st (so the boys can be with their friends on New Years Eve).
As a said earlier, not a whole lot of pending work for me, before we leave, so it's a great time to watch films and read, listening to the furnace burn oil to keep us warm, while the Washington DC circus goes on and on and on...
OK, I really do need to do a little programming today, so time for coffee!
Monday, December 10, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
One word comes to mind: Plame.
It's (almost) laughable.
Meanwhile, GREAT news for Catholics (building a bridge to the 11th Century!).
first of all, Keith Olbermann's rousing special comment last night.
second, and even more heartwarming, is the story that the California initiative to modify its electoral college winner-take-all practice (as done in virtually all states), will apparently NOT make it to the ballot.
This was a bald-faced GOP attempt to steal 2008 (their claims of 'it brings fairness into the system' might be respectable if they also advocated making this change in Texas, which routinely awards all its electoral votes to Republicans).
This was truly a sleazy, cynical political nastiness, with signature-gatherers fraudulently inducing passers-by to first sign a petition asking for more money for 'Childrens Cancer Research' (as if they really cared), and then slyly asking if the person would also sign this additional sheet for 'something about election reform'. Bastards.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
As he announced his plan to ease the mortgage crisis for consumers, President Bush accidentally gave out the wrong phone number for the new “Hope Now Hotline” set up by his administration.
Anyone who dialed 1-800-995-HOPE did not reach the mortgage hotline but instead contacted the Freedom Christian Academy — a Texas-based group that provides Christian education home schooling material.
Maybe he was actually intending to advocate a faith-based solution to the mortgage defaults...
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Kim Jong-Il Kicks Iran out of Axis of Evil
Nukeless Nation ‘Not Evil Enough,’ Says Korean Madman
One day after a National Intelligence Estimate revealed that Iran halted its nuclear arms program in 2003, North Korean president Kim Jong-Il ejected Iran from the Axis of Evil, calling them “not evil enough.”
A visibly furious Kim called a press conference in Pyongyang today to excoriate the Iranians as “evildoer wannabes” and “pussies.”
“I can’t tell you how many times Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looked me in the eye, told me he was developing nuclear weapons, and cackled like a madman,” Kim said. “That man does not deserve to cackle.”
Kim added that when Iran was admitted into the Axis of Evil in 2002, “they knew the rules: no nukes, no membership.”
The National Intelligence Estimate, Kim said, showed that Iran was not holding up their end of the bargain: “They said they were enriching uranium and all the while they were going all Libya on my ass.”
In the first step towards formally removing Iran from the evil organization, the North Korean strongman said he was “un-inviting” Mr. Ahmadinejad from the Axis of Evil’s winter golf outing in Scottsdale, Arizona. In a terse statement from Mr. Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president said he would agree not to attend the outing but wanted his deposit back.
As for who would take Iran’s place in the Axis of Evil, Kim said there was no shortage of candidates: “Right now we’re looking at Venezuela, Syria, and Rupert Murdoch.”
And now, for Hannukah, there's this:
First Mitt Romney - he was the fresh, energetic, handsome guy who would rescue the GOP - now revealed as a pandering glamour-boy with no scruples.
Next Rudy - he was the strong-on-leadership-9/11 candidate, now revealed as thoroughly corrupt and mean, to boot.
Next Fred Thompson - he was the 'charismatic' plain-speaking, just-us-folks Everyman, now revealed as dense and mostly disinterested.
So who comes riding into the lead? Huckabee, currently vaulting into the front-runner slot, a God-fearing speaks-his-mind Man of God, who has God on his side, and benefits from the advice of God, and did I mention God? Now, not only are the vultures pouncing on the unpleasant facts of his actual record, but today, it is revealed that Huck was asked yesterday to comment about the uproar over the Iran NIE, and that topic was news to Mikey.
One by one, they are all exposed as hopeless hacks, no better than the shameful W they are hoping to succeed (so to speak).
Who's left? John McCain, who, I'm beginning to feel, may actually come out on top, since nobody cares enough to attack him (for now).
And now a word about political dynasties.
Yes, it's bizarre how some families have made political office the family business, but it's always been that way, and, I think, goes back to our species' acceptance of hereditary tribal chiefs. It was thus a hundred-thousand years ago, it was thus in every human society.
This tendency has frequently brought us leaders-with-familiar-names who rose to the demands of the times and performed great service (think Franklin Roosevelt). On the other hand, we have the obvious W, finally fulfilling the promise that was unfulfilled by his less-than-brilliant ancestor, Franklin Pierce (did you know that Barbara Bush was a Pierce?).
Would Bush be where he is today if his last name wasn't Bush? Probably not.
Would Hillary be where she is today if her last name wasn't Clinton? Maybe yes, maybe no.
Would Gordon Smith be where he is today if his last name wasn't Smith (yes, the same Joseph Smith who founded Mormonism)? Maybe not, but the fact that the other side of his family is the (mostly Democratic) Udalls, there's the family business again.
Let's all admit that we love our dynasties, and we cede to them the prerogative to rule over us. I'm not sure whether that's simple laziness, mass hypnosis, or that inbred instinct to recognize the familiar and reject anyone whose last name has more than two syllables and/or an uncomfortable number of consonants, sort of like 'Kucinich'.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Move to Shore Up Evangelical Base
In a bold move that could dramatically alter the playing field of the 2008 G.O.P. presidential race, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee today named Jesus Christ as his vice-presidential running mate.
Governor Huckabee has made an increasing number of comments about his relationship with Jesus in recent debates, but few Republican insiders expected him to announce that he was anointing Christ as his vice-presidential pick.
“This could be huge for Huckabee,” said Stenson Partridge, a veteran G.O.P. consultant. “Among Republican voters, Jesus Christ is even more popular than Ronald Reagan.”
The Reverend Pat Robertson, a supporter of former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, said he was “blindsided” by the news of Huckabee’s decision: “I talked to Jesus last night and He didn’t mention anything about it.”
At a raucous Huckabee rally in Davenport, Iowa today, supporters of the former Arkansas governor could be seen holding signs reading “HUCKABEE/CHRIST ’08.”
It is “highly unorthodox” for a presidential candidate to select a vice presidential running mate who is a prominent figure in the Holy Bible, says Davis Logsdon, dean of the School of Divinity at the University of Minnesota.
But according to Mr. Logsdon, if the Huckabee-Christ ticket makes it all the way to the White House, it could be historic in more ways than one: “If Huckabee is elected and then something happens to him while in office, we would be looking at our first Jewish president.”
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Wonderful film, heartbreaking. Amazing photography and performances by all the actors. Sean Penn is turning into quite the craftsman. Plenty to think about.
While in the theater, my cell phone vibrated. On the way to the car, I checked my message - it was from Joe and Shirley, sitting on Poipu Beach, drinking a mai tai at Brenneke's, my unchanging standard of Heaven on Earth. A bit different from a dark and stormy night in Portland. Enjoy, guys!
Friday, November 30, 2007
I wouldn't mind so much if the logical follow-up occurred (after each old-White-guy had had his say), with the moderator then holding up a Koran and asking 'what do you say to the millions of folks who believe that THIS book is also the Word of God'?
Oh, Lord (so to speak), how I yearn for the day when a presidential candidate is not afraid to say "I respect people of faith, and the strength they derrive from the Bible's message, but, frankly, I suspect that much of organized religion is a major con job, and that believers are SUCKERS."
Yeah, in my dreams.
What passes for political debate in the MSM is utterly pathetic. How can the Professionals in that business look at themselves in the mirror? Why can't everyone perform their work with total integrity and committment to honest quality, like programmers?
By the way, have you rented 'Jesus Camp' yet? You should.
Currently re-reading (3rd time): 'Live From Golgotha,' Gore Vidal's HILARIOUS send-up of religion, advertising, and time-travel sci-fi.
Next book on the pile: 'The Assault on Reason', by Al Gore. I suspect that it will further fuel my indignation (ya think?).
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I was going to offer a few encouraging words, to project faith in the Human Spirit to overcome challenges.
History, however, suggests that we are, indeed, screwed. Sorry.
But cheer up, holiday spending appears to be on track.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking. As we are deluged with Christmas advertising, which propagates the illusion of endless First World prosperity, let's read together the first sentence:
Unless the international community agrees to cut carbon emissions by half over the next generation, climate change is likely to cause large-scale human and economic setbacks and irreversible ecological catastrophes, a U.N. report said on Tuesday.
But hey, Obama said something critical about Hillary.
Monday, November 26, 2007
We've had these kittens for just under 2 months, and it has been a real kick watching them born and develop into minitature cats, full of energy and playfulness.
We hope that Edie, the mom, will not be too upset. She seemed OK last night, with only half a brood around. It was really sad to see them go, but our furniture was on the verge of immanent destruction.
Now we are back to one middle-aged dog and two adult cats. First the boys grew up and moved out, and now this. Life is just one loss after another.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
A couple of the guests reported, the next day, that it was the best Thanksgiving dinner they had ever had.
There are still a few leftovers, and we are just beginning to deal with the turkey stock. All in all, worth the efforts, and we even emerged with a much-cleaner house than it was before.
Yesterday was a magnificent pre-Winter day - sunny but cool. We spent many hours raking and cleaning up the yards and beds. Our compost-pile is loaded with leaves and clippings, and ready for the long snooze until next Spring.
Life here, in the waning days of the Age of Petroleum and Abundance, is pretty good. I will miss this.
Next up: Hannukah and Ben's 21st Birthday!
Monday, November 19, 2007
We'll be able to tell our grandchildren (in a creaky voice), "why I remember when there was such a word as 'petro-dollar'", and they'll look at us with puzzlement.
Oops, I read this 5 minutes after reading the above.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Today, I reconfigured my DSL Router to hit their IP addresses for DNS and, by George, it really does noticeably improve Web browsing. Incredible.
The stuffing will be corn-bread based, with sausage, tequila-soaked raisins, etc. There will be green beans, the usual cakes and pies, a mountain of mashed potatoes, dry-cured turkey of course, and a couple of cranberry relishes, including the old stand-by: the famous NPR relish, that I've made every year since about 1979.
Karen is genuinely into the ritual of Thanksgiving dinner, and it pleases her to get underway with all the preparations. I am ready for a nap, but I still have to polish more wood, give the dog a bath, and do the grocery shopping this afternoon.
In 30 years, how unbelievable it will seem, that people devoted this much time (and had the opportunity and choices) to plan a meal like this, not to mention simply driving to the store and loading up on all the goodies you can think of.
Unfortunately, I see global catastrophe and human misery in our future - I have no confidence that the powers-that-be will rise to the challenge of managing and minimizing the Transition that is surely coming our way.
Of course, I could be wrong. Wouldn't that be great?
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
1. Do you feel voters in Oregon's 1st District support making all of the Bush tax cuts permanent?
2. Do you support the House Democrats' "slow-bleed" strategy to "choke-off" funding for our troops in Iraq, leading to their withdrawal and a perception of American defeat?
3. Should Republicans continue fighting for full implementation of a ballistic missle defense system?
4. Do voters in Oregon's 1st District agree with the Nancy Pelosi Democrat Magority's decision to impose massive tax hikes on the American people?
5. Do you think that House Republicans should continue to push for pro-growth ploicies that create jobs and oppose tax increases that would add a burden to working families and set back our economy?
6. Do you support Congressional Republicans' efforts to decrease domestic government spending in order to reduce the national deficit?
7. Do you support the Democrats' efforts to give federal government bureaucrats complete control of your health care costs and choices?
8. Should Republicans in Congress make expansion of Veterans' benefits a priority?
9. Do you support maintaining anti-terrorism laws that give law enforcement and intelligence agencies the far-reaching powers to track, detain and prosecute terrorists and their accomplices?
10. Should Republicans in the House of Representatives make securing our nation's borders and enforcing our nation's immigration laws, including combating the hiring of illegal workers and ending the "catch and release" policy a top priority?
11. Do you think House Republicans should continue fighting for comprehensive education reform to ensure that every child in America receives a first-rate education?
12. Do you agree that winning back a Republican Mahority in the House of Representatives is essential to stopping the Nancy Pelosi Democrats from raising our taxes, destroying our economy and endangering our homeland?
Who says there are no jobs available for Psych majors?
Friday, November 09, 2007
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Just finished it a couple of days ago, and its effect is still reverberating.
Considering how much time I've been spending the past few months, actively contacting government people to advocate emissions controls, CO2 caps, etc, the arguments advanced by these guys makes all that effort seem misdirected.
The basic argument, to over-simplify, is that Global Climate change is coming and it can't be stopped by current legislative efforts. Rather than visualize humanity retreating to a simpler life and scaled-back economy, the best action would be to accept the inevitability and harness traditional human cleverness (sic) to think and innovate our way into dealing with the changes and ADAPT.
I guess that's easy to say, from someone who lives 400 feet above sea-level. If I were a Floridian or a Pakistani, or a New Yorker, the vision of a 30-foot rise in sea-level might be more difficult to adapt to.
In Holland, they are building floating cities. Think about it.
Now, about the kittens: they are almost a month old, beginning to eat kitty kibble and using the litter-box. They will be ready to find new homes in a couple of weeks. They are truly adorable, and I WILL post some photos soon.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Had a couple of highlights, which I hope to write about at some point. Today, we spent time cleaning the house (our standards are a bit higher than teen-agers), doing laundry (load #3 going now), food shopping, and communing with the animals, who seem pleased to have us back.
Quick shout-out to Joe and Shirley, who met us at the Tampa airport for a too-quick drink and a few laughs, before we resumed our 20-hour travel day, arriving home around 10:30 pm PDT. Here's Joe's post about the visit, complete with photo of the 4 of us.
Just to tantalize you, here is a page describing the cave we visited in Belize. It was truly astonishing.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Dawn in Portland. I let the dog out, then walked outside in my bathrobe. To the east, I see the outline of Mt. Hood, surrounded by a glow of very early-morning light. To the west, I see the extremely full Moon. It's very quiet.
Karen is still in bed, and will sleep late. I woke up around 4, and turned on my little bedside radio, listening to NPR and Air America while dozing in and out, until 7. I am mostly packed, of course - still a couple of very minor decisions to make.
Plane doesn't leave for six hours, and my work projects are under control - must resist urge to tinker this morning.
I know Karen will go into a last-minute frenzy of house-cleaning, which, considering that a teenager, with many priorities other than house-cleaning, will be in charge for the next week, seems on the verge of pointless.
I know I've been derelict in not posting a photo of the kittens upstairs. Here's one:
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I am part of the problem
Beautiful, peaceful Fall day in Portland, where the living is good and easy. It's all so unreal.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
In the past, on cruises, I spend hours researching shore activities, to maximize the experiences to be had in each port. This time, there's been little of that. Karen's brother did arrange for one cave tour in Belize (where he had gone some years ago), but, other than that, we have no plans.
On my iPaq, I have two PG Wodehouse novellas, a bunch of O. Henry short stories, and a dozen political/cultural essays by George Orwell, plus a bunch of music. There will be Internet access on the boat (overpriced, as always), which is a mixed blessing.
My mother in Wisconsin is clearly declining - her (even older) brother and his wife are flying there from Phoenix next week, for what they all surely realize is their last visit together. In Portland, Edie, our siamese cat who gave birth to 4 kittens three weeks ago, was ill yesterday, and I am just now waiting for a call-back from the local vet, about what to do.
Meanwhile, we've had three days of spectacular weather, which is greatly disappointing. It's always better to escape to a warm, sunny place, if you're not leaving a warm, sunny place that's your home!
So, my duffle-bag is out again, piles of clothes are being assembled and rethought, and I pulled our 20 year-old snorkels and fins out of the cellar closet. Two client visits today, to turn over recently-completed stuff, and a computer-guy meeting tonight at our synagogue. Busy day - wonder how I'm going to fit a visit to the vet in there?
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
She has the cash, she has the zeitgeist, she has the name recognition.
Obama as a VP makes sense - a Democratic ticket that couldn't be better designed to bring out the worst in the die-hard rednecks, many of whom are still blind as to who has been picking their pockets since 1980.
It's going to be ugly.
Hard to believe that we are still over a year away from the next election, if it is permitted to happen. Easier to believe that a GOP that sees itself doomed to ignominious defeat will pull some stunt out of their voluminous bag of magic tricks (standard election fraud, The Fear, and martial law, in some combination, ought to work fine).
And, if Hillary does make it to Innauguration Day, what kind of a world will she be tasked to manage? Yikes.
Seems to me her best strategy is to say to the other Democratic candidates, "give it up, acknowledge that I'm going to be in the top slot, and I'll put you in the Cabinet position of your choice, announcing that slate after the last Primary."
I surfed thru the TV channels last night, before heading off to read my current book, and was struck by the profoundly-sad heights of human triviality that the networks present. 'Beauty and the Geek,' while it does offer many opportunities for cleavage-comparisons, seemed to say that those women are little more than great hair, great skin, and did I mention cleavage?
Gore will emerge as a the first global leader in history, who is not holding political power. There have been UN General Secretaries that approached this status, but Gore will redefine the category.
Hillary may do OK. We could do much worse. On Cheney's dying day, he will still be convinced that everything he did was right and necessary.
Bush will fade into permanent disgrace - the National butt of jokes, reduced to celebrity golf tournaments and sports commentary. He will find this wonderful.
Have you sensed that I have not had any coffee this morning? Must address this.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Meanwhile, read some of the comments ('Anonymous', of course) from the compassionate conservatives. Sickening.
I listen to Randi every day, and was somewhat surprised when a guest hosted yesterday's show. Now it becomes clear.
By the way, no money or jewelry was taken from her. Too soon to know what/why this happened, but I can't help wondering if the assailant was wearing a brown shirt.
UPDATE: there are now conflicting stories about the incident - might NOT have been a mugging. Hold off on further speculation until we know more.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Um, that would be 1 month after the 2000 Coup d'etat.
Doesn't this qualify for a collective 'WTF' moment? Hello?
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Free Speech is Free Speech, no matter where it comes from. The antidote to Bad Speech (which Rush certainly is) is NOT to censor it, but to publicly criticize it.
I know this goes against the George Lakoff approach, which says that ridicule is ineffective with Those People, but I still maintain that making it clear that Rush is an unacceptable boob is more effective, in the long run, than purging him from the airwaves (which makes him a martyr).
Just finished reading a wonderful biography of George Orwell, and then read 'Animal Farm', for the first time in 40 years (just takes a couple of hours). Great writing - relentless in its portrayal of the arrogance of power and privilege.
Time to make coffee and get to work. John Dean is on Air America in one hour.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
We landed around 11 pm and were home before midnight. The dog and cats were happy to see us - the house was in pretty good shape - just a pizza box, a slightly-disheveled guest-room bed, and other assorted debris to let us know that teenagers were here.
Mom was to spend Saturday night in the hospital and should be released this morning. She was obviously improving by the time we said our goodbyes, Saturday afternoon.
Although we did have about an hour in the Minneapolis airport, I didn't go seeking the Larry Craig bathroom. I guess the novelty has worn off. I did use the facilities there, but did not accidentally touch the foot of the guy in the next stall.
One moment from this trip stands out. We went for a very brief walk outside Mom's facility. Next door to it is a children's DayCare, and there were a bunch of very energetic little kids, running around the play structure, jumping around, and squealing.
With us watching from across the fence, I flashed on the end of '2001 - A Space Odyssey', where we cycle through a human life, young to old, with the constantly shifting perspective. That's Life, I guess, except for the part about being reborn as a cosmic baby - the jury's still out on that.
Cleaning the house, going thru the mail, talking to the still-pregnant-and-enormous cat, doing laundry, preparing a shopping list - all the domestic chores for today. It's somewhat reassuring.
Scanned my calendar for October - lots of events coming up in the next few weeks, culminating in our next trip - a flight to south Florida for a week-long Caribbean cruise. Still, I put my duffle-bag in the attic - don't need to think about repacking it again for a little while.
Wondering when, and under what circumstances, I will be seeing my Mom again.
Friday, September 28, 2007
At lunch time, Karen and I took off for Cedarburg, a nearby town famous for its antique stores and restored brick buildings. It was charming. We had a little lunch, then browsed around for a couple of hours. Karen bought some antique salt-and-pepper thingies and a glass plate. I bought a CD of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie tunes ($3). Each to his/her own.
We got back to Mom's around 2:30, and she was looking awful - breathing with difficulty and hands shaking. We phoned my sister-in-law, and decided to take her to the Emergency room. We spent the next 5 hours there, while they did some tests, administered some medications, and analyzed the x-rays and tests. She was visibly better by early evening, but they decided to keep her there overnight, for observation.
My brother said that Mom has been in just about every different examining room at the Emergency dept. of this local hospital, over the past three years. Sucks to get old.
We finally got back to my brother's house around 8, ate some dinner, then tried to relax. Karen is watching a DVD - some Jerry Bruckheimer action/sci-fi film, with Denzel Washington. Allen went to sleep. I retreated to the bedroom, to read blogs and get ready for bed myself.
We head to the Milwaukee airport late tomorrow afternoon, and should be landing in Portland just before midnight, tomorrow night. All in all, it's been a nice visit - Karen and I went bike-riding yesterday, returning to my brother's house 10 minutes before the lightning and hail storm hit. The countryside around here is pretty, in a gently-rolling-but-mostly-flat sort of way.
Tired now. Long day.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
In other words, you have to think about both what they are saying and what they are leaving out, in order to fully appreciate the delusions being perpetrated. For example...
Last night, they did a brief piece on the alarming shrinkage of the Arctic ice-cap. A nice animated graphic showed its shocking reduction, over the past couple of years. They then immediately morphed into a series of quick cuts, showing naval vessels from several countries, all making their presence known to each other to bolster each country's claims on the newly-accessible seabed.
Then, the piece teasingly asked, 'and why is everyone so interested in the newly-accessible seabed?', and ended with the confident statement that it's the new oil fields that are certainly there, just waiting to provide a cash bonanza for the lucky country who establishes the right claims.
And there the story ended, moving quickly on to OJ.
And that's where I screamed at my TV, because the ABC copy-editors incredibly missed the opportunity (or was it intentional - you decide) to nicely close the circle on the entire piece. Here's the sentence they omitted:
"Isn't it ironic that the easing of the global hunger for new sources of oil (i.e. the 'good news' in this story) is directly responsible for the ice-cap disappearing (the 'bad news' in the story)."
In other words, burning oil has opened up the Arctic, to enable us to find more oil to burn.
Again and again, I return to the wise words of Kurt Vonnegut, who, when asked what he would say to the People of the Future, said: 'Forgive us - we were drunk on petroleum.'
Monday, September 17, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I know it's just part of the process, but I can't help wondering if W looks at how things are run 'over there', and yearns for that much power for himself.
Meanwhile, Rosh Hashonna begins at sundown tonight. I am playing music with three other friends at a congregational dinner, before services, so I have to schlep my electric piano and amp downtown this morning for setup and the sound-check.
Happy New Year. To tell you the truth, this seems a lot more reasonable as the seasons change here in September, than in the middle of winter, but I guess you have to look at it from the perspective of northern European pagans, for whom the days after the winter solstice were reassuring, convincing them that the sun was NOT going to totally disappear ("whew - dodged that bullet AGAIN!").
Meanwhile, Kucinich will be on Ed Schultz's radio show for all 3 hours today. Should be great exposure.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I had been training all that summer, while waiting for my job with Enron to be terminated. It did end, at the end of August.
I got up, and, in the chilly dawn, got myself dressed, packed up and fed. The prior day was a hard ride, up and over a high ridge, along a long, dusty gravel road, up and over another divide, and down into the flat high desert. Today's ride was only 35 miles, to Diamond. Easy.
By the time I was in the saddle, it was a bright, quiet morning, on a largely-flat two-lane blacktop, through fragrant sagebrush. After a few miles, I came up to one of the many rest-stops. Curiously, there were people clustered around one of the support vans, instead of waiting in long lines at the port-a-potty or quick-carbs stations. People were talking.
I joined the conversation. "Has something happened?" This was about 9 am. "The World Trade Center has been destroyed." "No shit?" "Yep". "Wow".
I continued down the road with everyone else. It was very strange.
Pulled into Diamond around 11 or so. Pitched my tent, grabbed some lunch, then headed over to the staging area where they had arranged buses, to take the early-birds up to the top of Steens Mountain. As I waited in line with others, I had my little shortwave radio with me, but news was spotty and reception poor.
We filled one bus and headed out. Still a beautiful, warm day as we motored down to Frenchglen, then began the gradual ascent of Steens. At the windy top, the view was impressive along the steep east face, down a couple thousand feet to the gleaming desert below. We hiked along the crest, then along the Kiger gorge. There were some rumors of what was going on in the rest of the world - some of them quite wild ("I heard that San Francisco was also about to be attacked").
After an amazing afternoon up there, we got back on the bus and were driven back to Diamond. There was the normal beer garden, and dinner lines. At the regular evening gathering, Jonathan Nichols of the Oregonian gave us what news he had, and mentioned that some folks were leaving the Tour, to try to get to their East Coast homes. He said that the directors considered cancelling the remainder of the ride, but that notion was quickly dismissed.
Someone produced a trumpet and played taps, which echoed in the desert twilight. Soon, I went to bed. The next day would bring more bike-riding and more scenery, followed by three more, taking us back, via Burns, to Prarie City and the bus-ride back to Portland.
We got into Portland late Saturday night. I was tanned and very tired, having ridden about 500 miles that week. I slept a lot over the next couple of days.
It wasn't until the middle of the next week that I finally saw the video of the planes hitting the Trade Center. I had totally missed the media frenzy/nightmare. I think that was a very good thing.
Cycle Oregon is going on right now. This is the first one since 2001, where Sept. 11 has once again fallen on a Tuesday. I know they are talking about it right now, as they finish their coffee, break camp, and mount their bikes.
I am so sorry what has happened to my country in these six years. A very few people have made a lot of money from this tragedy, and surely goodness and mercy have eluded the world, while Frat-Boy smirks and his buddies send their invoices to our depleted Treasury.
We could have been so much better than this. We could have pursued justice, rather than blind revenge. We could have embraced hope, rather than fear.
Nah - no profits in hope. One Nation, Under Intimidation.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
The author described the crumbling skyscrapers and the huge fires that would sweep thru an unattended, unwatered Central Park. What he left out of that scenario is the likelihood that Manhattan will be under several meters of water, by the end of this century.
I pity my unborn grandchildren. They will shake their heads in disbelief, how we could have been so blind, so utterly consumed by our own consumption and diversions. They will never understand how, each night as we watched what was supposed to be the nightly news, we were told to be alarmed about restless leg syndrome.
We are a society full of Neros, fiddling around while Greenland melts.
Friday, September 07, 2007
So, a wacko group up in Battle Ground, WA (makes perfect sense if you've ever been there) is urging Americans to 'boycott the Minneapolis airport'.
Umm, aren't boycotts supposed to target things or places which you can choose NOT to frequent? Anyone who is flying ANYWHERE on Northwest Airlines (which I frequently do) ALWAYS changes planes in Minneapolis (which I have done many times, and will again in 2 weeks).
I guess the folks in Battle Ground envision people saying, "You know that cross-country drive I'm doing next month? I staying clear of that airport in Minneapolis. THAT'll show them.'
For what it's worth, I've used the facilities in airports many times, and never did my feet touch the guy in the next stall. Guess my stance is not very wide.
I started college in 1969, having already, as a 17 year old, concluded that the Vietnam War had to end.
October 15th, 1969: I attended the first nationwide Moratorium in downtown Baltimore - my first mass anti-war rally. Big crowd, very exciting. Corretta Scott King spoke to us.
November 15th, 1969: I attended the GIANT Moratorium in DC (250,000, dubbed the 'largest anti-war protest in U.S. history' - the one shown in 'Forrest Gump'). It produced a stunning sense of solidarity, and a good time was had by all.
These two events made a big impact on me, and I think of them every time I attend yet another Stop-The-War event (there have been so many wars; so many events).
Now, it's this generation's turn to have that experience, with nationwide rallys planned for September 15th. Hope to see y'all there.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
It's an attempt to mobilize groups of neighbors into teams, to take specific actions aimed at influencing legislators on mostly Environmental and Energy issues. There was a nice planning meeting here at the house tonight, where I met the other local Team Leaders (I am one now).
The immediate target it to get Gordon Smith to sign on to one of the progressive pending CO2 emission reduction bills. Wouldn't it be nice if this group really developed a reputation as dedicated and persistent?
If nothing else, maybe we can all get adjoining cells at the Re-education Camp.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Date: Tue, 04 Sep 2007 07:46:57 AM PDT
From: "Internal Revenue Service U.S.A."
Subject: September 2007 Tax Refund
After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $109.30.
Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 3 days in order to process it. A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline.
To access the form for your tax refund, please click here : http://sls-gc2p17.dca2.superb.net/irs/
Regards, Internal Revenue Service
© Copyright 2007, Internal Revenue Service U.S.A.
I love the 'allow us 3 days in order to process it'. If they really wanted to make it sound like an official IRS letter, they'd say something more realistic, like '3 months'.
Friday, August 31, 2007
I got there before 4 pm and, when the lawn was opened for seating at 5, I was about 30th in line. It was like the Oklahoma Land Rush, but I snagged a superb spot astonishingly close to the stage.
I relaxed, read the new New Yorker, and listened to Randi Rhodes on the radio, and, eventually, Karen and our other friends showed up.
It was a gorgeous night and the musicianship was mind-blowing. Took a while to get thru the traffic and get home, but here we are, in time to see the weekend forecast on the 10:00 news.
Heading for Tumalo State Park tomorrow morning, for 3 days of fun in the sun, floatin' down the Deschutes and sharing laughs and too much wine with our camping buddies (6 families).
Next week, I'll be starting a new project for the City of Portland, but, for the next couple of days, I'm not going to think about it.
Last night, saw Stevie Wonder, in a powerhouse performance before a huge, loving crowd.
Tonight, it's back to the zoo to see Rodriego and Gabriella, for the 2nd time this year.
Tomorrow, it's off to the Bend area for the big Labor Day camping trip.
Not only that, but I am getting gorgeous red, ripe tomatoes from my tiny garden.
Life is good - the only darkside is that Karen and I are going to Wisconsin at the end of September, and we will be changing planes in Minnesota. What if I have to pee? Yikes!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
‘Domestic Surveillance Begins at Home,’ Former A.G. Says
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned today, effective immediately, telling reporters that he wanted to spend more time eavesdropping on his family.
Mr. Gonzales, a champion of domestic surveillance and warrantless wiretaps while in office, said he was “totally stoked” about turning his prying eyes on his own family. “Domestic surveillance begins at home,” Mr. Gonzales said at a White House press conference. “That means nobody in my family is above suspicion, not even the little ones,” an apparent reference to Mr. Gonzales’ children.
Standing by Mr. Gonzales’ side, President George W. Bush praised his former Attorney General, singling out his “courage” for ramping up his domestic spying program on his own family. “If every head of every household was as willing to eavesdrop on his own family as my man Alberto is, we wouldn’t need a Homeland Security Department,” Mr. Bush chuckled.
Mr. Gonzales was noncommittal when a reporter asked him a question about the role that waterboarding and other forms of torture might play in his interrogation of family members. “Nothing is off the table,” he said.
Asked about his tenure as Attorney General, Mr. Gonzales was candid about his stormy time in office: “Frankly, I can’t believe it took this long for them to shitcan me.”
Worked great, but I had to use a 3rd party tool, to provide ADO services to .NET, since that was something Microsoft had neglected to include within the Pocket PC 2003 OS.
The other day, I tried to load the app on my (Windows Mobile 5) device, and it failed. A little detective work revealed that Microsoft had dropped all support for ADO in WM5. So, my clients are restricted to using PPC 2003 devices (fortunately, they bought 3), until such time that I can rewrite the data-access components of the system, to use a SQL Server Personal data-store.
Let me remind you that the reason that I had to buy Visual Studio .NET was that the original development platform for Pocket PC development (Microsoft's 'Embedded Visual Basic'), was obsoleted. EVB was free. VS ain't.
I see a pattern developing. 'Bait and switch' comes to mind.
Meanwhile, bye-bye, Fredo.
Friday, August 24, 2007
"And here I think we get back to the root of the matter: We are bigger than Iraq.
By that I do not mean we, as America, are bigger or better than Iraq as a country. I mean that that sum of our national existence is not bound up in what happens there. The country will go on. Whatever happens, we'll recover from it. And whatever might happen, there are things that matter much more to this country's future -- like whether we have a functioning military any more, whether our economy is wrecked, whether this country tears itself apart over this catastrophe. But we'll go on and look back at this and judge what happened.
Not so for the president. For him, this is it. He's not bigger than this. His entire legacy as president is bound up in Iraq. Which is another way of saying that his legacy is pretty clearly an irrecoverable shambles. That is why, as the folly of the enterprise becomes more clear, he must continually puff it up into more and more melodramatic and world-historical dimensions. A century long ideological struggle and the like. For the president a one in a thousand shot at some better outcome is well worth it, no matter what the cost. Because at least that's a one in a thousand shot at not ending his presidency with the crushing verdict history now has in store. It's also worth just letting things keep on going as they are forever because, like Micawber, something better might turn up. Going double or nothing by expanding the war into Iran might be worth it too for the same reason. For him, how can it get worse?
And when you boil all this down what it comes down to is that the president now has very different interests than the country he purports to lead."
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Two were unsolicited ads from companies with whom I had done previous business, two were obscure mail-delivery notices (for addresses similar but not equal to mine), and the other five were fraudulent scams (two identical copies of the same 'Dear Customer: your Bank of America account has been blocked').
Won't someone send me some meaningful email?
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Several days ago, it started a slight bend to the south, and is now heading straight for Belize City. At the end of October, we are planning to take a trip to that area, with stops at both Belize City and Costa Maya, Mexico. Rather than the normal tourist activities, I am now thinking that we should sign up for a Habitat project, since that area is apparently going to be devastated tomorrow.
Oh well, at least our precious off-shore oil wells are not in direct danger. Whew!!!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
The first, however, was what I want to talk about. It was at a local church, attended by over 100 folks, mostly with Impeachment on their minds. Other topics, came up, too, but many spoke on Impeachment, urging Wu to add his voice to the rising tide. He astonished the crowd by stating his position, which was he is yet to be convinced that actual crimes had been committed. The crowd groaned in frustration. But that's not what I want to talk about.
Toward the end, a gray-haired lady stood up, and made an eloquent speech. She said that History would judge us poorly if we do NOT take a stand NOW, and not simply let Bush/Cheney run out the clock. It is our duty to say 'NO' to what they have done to our country - our duty to our own history and to what this country is supposed to mean, to the rest of the world.
And the crowd went wild.
This morning, on NPR, they talked about Fred Thompson's appearance at an Iowa fair. He told them, "I'm Pro-Life, Pro-2nd-Ammendment, and I'm sick of people who are putting down the United States."
And the crowd went wild.
Living in Portland: priceless.
Along similar lines, Bill Moyers had a segment last night on Katrina and what it means, both as a symbol of governmental incompetence and as a reflection of our denial about climate change. Both guests were amazing, but one of them made a great analogy. Both guests were amazing - worth watching if you missed it.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Dennis is gaining both attention and respect. His appearance with Stephanopolous this past weeked was pretty electric (despite the stupid questions). I never thought this day would come, and, considering how much the Media was getting bored with the Obama/Hillary battle, this could be good for some new punditry.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I think it's the collective unconscious at work - everyone (especially the GOP) wants to be rid of Bush as soon as possible, and, short of Impeachment, this is the safest way to hurry along the irrelevance which we all wish for him.
Change of topic.
Currently reading: The Yiddish Policeman's Union, by Karen's not-too-distant relative Michael Chabon (on her father's side). It's screamingly funny (more laughs-per-page than most of Woody Allen's recent New Yorker pieces in toto), but I doubt that non-Jews will find it so.
There are many concessions to non-Jews in the text (the first time kugel is referenced, it is as 'noodle pudding', a phrase Jews would never use in place of kugel). Ditto for 'skullcap'.
Other references would go over the head of anyone who didn't grow up with a Jewish education. For example, one of the detectives is named 'Karpas', which produced a big laugh in me. 'Karpas' is the Hebrew word for the 'eat a green vegetable' step in the Passover Seder. See what I mean?
It's sort of like James Joyce, without the intentional layers-upon-layers obscurity, but with an equally devilish sense of humor. This is a book to savor, and a heck of a great story, too. I am about a third through, but, unlike Harry Potter, I am in no hurry to rush thru to get to the end.
Saturday morning in Portland - cool but sunny. Perfectly delightful weather for household chores - a time to contemplate the luxury of living in this place, at this time. Far different from the BBC story I listened to, at 3 am, about falling water levels in Lake Victoria, Africa, as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania deal with a deadly combination of climate change, invasives, the unintended consequences of human engineering, and the timeless devastation caused by human greed.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Sunday, August 05, 2007
So, what do I do in the final 48 hours before having to get back to all that? Last night, Karen and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie and, a half-hour, I finished reading the final HP book (which I started in earnest Friday morning, on the shores of Lake Crescent).
It was a slog, but I did it. Unfortunately, I am no wiser nor a better person for it. Enough magic for now!
Saturday, August 04, 2007
"India's Meteorological Department said unusual monsoon patterns this year have led to heavier than normal rains."
Funny (not) how much of the weather news these days contains the adjective 'unusual'.
Tick, tick, tick...
Yes, it's really like that.
Thursday afternoon, we hiked along the old railroad bed, to the Devils Punchbowl (just on the other side of the point you see above, on the right):
...where the water is a couple hundred feet deep, to go swimming and take silly photos jumping off the bridge. It was a glorious afternoon, and, as I splashed around in the astonishingly-clear water, I glanced over to the road on the opposite side of the lake.
I drove on that road in 1976, on my first cross-country trip. Last night, I pulled out my journal from that trip and read the narrative of that day. Now, over 30 years later, I find I have come back to this place many times, sometimes after long absences. Odd how these things work out.
Today is the 25th anniversary of my father's death. He was 75 when he died. I was 31. Time flies.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Will write more later, since we just got home an hour ago and there's lots to clean up and put away. The animals were happy to see us, and the house is reasonably clean.
Our friend Dave took a bunch of photos - I took hardly any. Not doubt he will share the most embarassing quite soon.
Up to about page 250 in the new Harry Potter book. I didn't want to do it, but circumstances led me to it.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
At any rate, it is not going to be our great deal, and, considering that the seller's real estate agent is also his girl-friend, he's not going to get 'taken' by a couple of slick (not) Portlanders.
Did 5 loads of laundry, and the two house guests are, even as I type, in the air bound for points south. Spent today organizing our camping box and repacking for a slightly-different kind of week, among mountains and lakes, instead of the ocean (although there will be some oceanic experiences - more later).
FLASH!! Just got a call from our realtor in Manzanita. The deal is not yet dead! Karen is willing to up her bid to $275. We will get some faxes with three degrees of compromise, to sign and fax back to our rep - she will deal with the seller while we are out of town, over the next few days.
Here's the funky old 1920's house (which the seller was going to just bulldoze, but is currently occupied by a very nice single English lady and her young son):
and here is the view from the back, looking out over the Nehalem river, the bucolic valley, and surrounding ridges:
The funky house needs either a major rennovation or a tear-down. Karen imagines a duplex, with a large deck overlooking the amazing view, with one unit permanently rented by a local, and the other available for us, our friends, or other occasional renters.
In order to make that vision happen, just imagine the sheer number of car trips between Portland and Nehalem, that this would entail! Yikes.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Tonight we are cleaning the house and our clothes, and starting to think about the next phase of Summer Vacation '07. Tomorrow, our two guests (Karen's 96 year-old Mom and her long-time-friend-who-has-MS-and visits-us-each-summer) fly back to California, and, Sunday morning, Karen, Dylan and I head out for a few days up on the Olympic Penninsula, with a house-sitter staying here to watch the house, animals, and vegetation.
Expect to have very limited internet access next week, but it was fun in Manzanita, walking up and down the streets with my WiFi enabled Pocket PC, finding the open hot spots to check mail and news headlines. It never fails.
Lots of laundry still to go tonight, then we are all going out for a last dinner (Thai). Happy Summer, everyone.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
The crew is here today, and they claim they will finish before they quit for the day. They have a lot of stone pavers to lay, and the sky is darkening. One hour into the project, last Friday, they tore up the electrical line which, we emphasized, is the one thing they must NOT do. It took until late yesterday to get that fixed, so that things could resume.
Also, work has been very busy. Just when I had thought I had put all projects to bed for two weeks, I got hit with a last-minute request from a client, that necessitated connecting their Access database with a MySQL database over the internet, and applying its data (customers and orders) to the Access tables. Naturally, the MySQL database was still under construction, as its developer was frantically applying last-minute changes, prior to going live TOMORROW!
Unfortunately, several design issues which affect my stuff were still in flux, up until 30 minutes ago. Yesterday, we were both working against his database at the same time, which was horrifying. He agreed to freeze his design at this point. I may have to do some work on this next week, at the beach, but I hope not too much.
My piece doesn't have to be ready until mid-August, so I have a little breathing space. Still, it was a shock to have this come up this week, just when I thought I could relax.
We leave for a week in Manzanita tomorrow morning. Then, we're back in Portland for a day or so, to take the guests to the airport, then we leave for a week at Log Cabin resort, where we last stayed about 10 years ago, when the boys were little.
Still much to do in the next 24 hours, but vacation is near.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Down in the computer dungeon, where it's plenty cool, but no work to do - waiting for clients to make some decisions and test out stuff I delivered last week.
Reading lots of blogs, but, more important, am absorbed in Gore Vidal's novel 'Julian', which I've read a couple of times over the years. It's about the 4th century Roman emperor, who was the last best hope of preventing Christianity from taking over. Every page has depth of both imagination and historical insight.
Before waking up this morning, I had a vivid dream that took place at my father's office, on West Water Street, in Elmira, New York. He had driven me downtown and, staying in the car, asked me to run in and get something for him. I walked thru that familiar door and into that familiar space, where I had seen him countless times.
The business was dissolved long ago. The building that housed his office was torn down after the devastating 1972 flood, and the site is now a park by the now-placid river. My father died in August 1982.
Today would have been his 95th birthday. Odd.
Our summer plans are coming together. This Friday, Karen's friend Barbra, who has been dealing with MS for several years, arrives from Napa. Karen's 96 year-old Mom arrives from Pasadena next Tuesday night. We all go to Manzanita for a week at the end of next week.
Then, we are home for a day (to take the out-of-towners to the airport), then we drive up to the Olympic penninsula for another week.
But today and tomorrow, it's going to be hot, and all I can think about is the billions of dollars we are flushing away in Iraq, and how the Roman Empire became so totally rotten.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
The 2nd point that the film makes, is that life in the US appears to be intentionally structured to keep people fearful of getting in political trouble, because it might mean losing their job and their health insurance.
Independence Day is tomorrow. It's beyond time for a Declaration (we don't even need a new one - the original is still just fine).
I am disgusted.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Seems to me that commuting Scooter's prison sentence is the same as saying "I'll do this for you, and you keep you damn mouth shut, OK?"
This morning, I checked the web sites of all three Portland TV stations to read how the event was. Surprise! Not a single word, from all three, including KGW (i.e. 'Northwest NewsChannel 8').
You'd think that an appearance by a Democratic Party presidential candidate would merit mentioning. It might even be important enough to take the place of the news video at the top of today's list: Employee inflating a tire injured when it exploded.
If I was paranoid, I might tend to believe there was a conspiracy to keep news about Dennis from the public. Ya think?
– Declaration of Independence, 1776
Saturday, June 30, 2007
We all sat there muttering to ourselves, until someone had the courage to shout 'Bring them home now." The theater erupted in applause and cheers, and I turned to my friends and said "I love this town."
And then the movie began - Sicko.
We emerged from it depressed and enraged. You will, too. See it.
Canada is looking better all the time.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Meanwhile, 5 more GIs dead in Iraq and the Bushie Supreme Court turns its back on its own precedents.
These, among others, are serious issues here in the human dimension.
And yet, my attention is drawn to the last three words in this headline.
Tick, tick, tick.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I do understand the political calculus behind that decision, and a convincing argument can be made that, the longer the festering Bushies remain in power,the more rats will leave that sinking ship, the more outrageous abuses come tolight, and the more damage is inflicted on the already-crippled NeoCon/GOP regime.
With this, Democratic electoral prospects for 2008 are improved (given enough turnout to clearly overwhelm the finely-tuned election fraud techniques, that the Rovians have mastered, since the Coup of 2000).
The only downside that I can see, is that we face another 18 months of needless military deaths (a small price to pay for Power), blatant Defensei ndustry corruption (ho hum, nothing new there), and the continued transference of the nation's remaining wealth into the pockets of the already-hideously wealthy.
I say, if we are going to be saddled with the Cheney/Bush Administration until January 2009, let's make some lemonade out of those lemons!
My remedy is simply to continue to go about our daily business. Let the Mainstream News Media continue to direct our attention to Missing and/or RichWhite Women, let the Stock Market continue to reflect the Good News of International Corporatism and Globalization, and, above all, let it stand that the Vice Presidency is a 'special' Constitutional position, with unlimited power to dictate (and enforce) national policies that were previously unthinkable.
We can let Clinton, Obama, and Edwards duke it out for the top slot. Heck, maybe we can even let Kucinich's voice be heard, for a change - what does it matter? The position of 'President' is, now, such a pre-9/11 concept.
Consider this: Al Gore for Vice President!
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
This has got to go down in history as the most-perfect expression of Self Actualization in modern times:
You are appointed to head the Find-a-Vice-President committee, by a know-nothing, frat-boy, scared-shitless figurehead, and you nominate yourself. Then, you take over all the controls, and let the figurehead President do all the ceremonial fluff jobs (that the VP traditionally handled).
I heard this morning that the Secret Service's code-name for Cheney was 'Back Seat'. Quite amusing - those guys sure have a finely-tuned sense of irony.
Bush was all-too-happy to let Dick run everything (more time to exercise and cut brush!) and, now that Cheney is a runaway train, it's too late to rein him in. He is The State, and the rest of us better shut up, and that includes you, too, George.
The perfect symbol of this: when Bush was called to testify before the 9-11 Committee, and The Administration (hmmm - who could that be?) insisted that Bush and Cheney appear together, not under oath.
The Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy editorial cartoons were spot on.
Only now is it emerging that Back Seat considers himself as the Supreme Overlord, accountable to nobody and with limitless power, and, coincidentally, with a stock portfolio that, come 2009, will be in great shape.
It's hard to know if this is a case where the Bush Crime Family was outfoxed by the quiet guy from Wyoming, or if they are instead quite contented, in that Back Seat delivered the goods (think 'The Carlisle Group') far more effectively than W ever could have done.
Too soon to tell.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
"Must sell today - $5 each"
...followed by a list of 10-15 generally stupid and/or insipid 'popular' movies.
To me, this is a tribute to the Genius of American Marketing, which, somehow, convinced the dumbasses of Our Fine Country that it's reasonable to continually shell out good money to own a completely disposable film - one which is difficult to justify paying $8.50 to see in an actual theater.
I suppose that people feel that, by buying these DVDs, they are 'building a video library' that they will proudly display in their drawing room, to convince guests and potential paramours with their urbane sophistication. How else to explain this list, actually found in a craigslist ad today:
Scary Movie 4
Wedding Crashers unrated
War of The Worlds (New one)
Family Guy Movie
Fun with dick and Jane
Stuck on You
Yours mine and ours
King Kong ( New one)
The 40 year old virgin (New in plastic)
Die another day 007
NAtional Lampoons Black ball
Willy wonka and the chocolate factory
Malibus most wanted
The waterboy (Adam Sandler)
South Park Movie
Which leads me to mention the two most-recent DVDs I purchased for my video library. I bought them at my local Safeway, which had a 2-for-$10 special sale: 'Gettysburg' and 'Dr. Strangelove'.
I am an obsessive Civil War student. This goes back to the following experiences of my youth:
1) collecting the Civil War trading cards that are still fondly remembered
2) learning that my home town was the host to the prison camp that was called 'the Andersonville of the North'
3) discovering the weathered, stone block, along the curb in front of the Water Street house where my grandmother used to live, on which was carved something like 'boundary of the Elmira Prison camp - 1864'
4) and the Big Experience - visiting Gettysburg with my family, around 1958. I remember driving the battleground tour route, stopping at the key landmarks. I VIVIDLY remember the museum and the famous 'Electric Map' (with the narration using a phrase which was forever burned into my brain: "blood dripped in the Devil's Den".
But I digress.
I have read many books on Gettysburg, including the famous eye-witness account by Frank Haskell, and I was thrilled to see the film, produced by Ted Turner almost 15 years ago. For a measly $5, I could have a film that obsessed the writer/director for 15 years, that was partially filmed on the actual battlefield (apparently, they had to very carefully position actors and props to hide the innumerable monuments, statues, and markers), that involved thousands of volunteer re-enactors and equally-obsessive attention to detail, whose remarkable performance by Jeff Daniels completely erased all the bad karma from 'Dumb and Dumber', and, finally, whose eloquent and thoughtful script firmly established that Longstreet was right.
A couple of years ago, a chilly, snowy January, the Nature Conservancy sent me to Harrisburg, PA, to do some training on the Invasive Weed database I developed for them. I used that opportunity to use Baltimore as my base-of-operations (visiting friends there, from long ago), and I drove to Harrisburg via Gettysburg. I had an entire afternoon to drive around and had the place mostly to myself.
There were 3-6 inches of snow on the ground, but I spent a considerable time on Little Round Top
and at The Angle.
It was the first time I had been back there since my visit as an 8 year-old.
But I digress.
We look at Gettysburg knowing about World War I, and the profound futility of an infantry charging an entrenched line, that is well-supplied with (compared with the Napoleanic Wars) effective artillery and (relatively) easier-to-reload, accurate rifles. We today understand that Lee was blinded by his brilliance and successes of the preceeding campaigns (remember that his astonishing victory at Chancellorsville was only 2 months before). We understand (kinda) how 15,000 men could be convinced to obey the order to march a mile uphill, entirely exposed, in 90 degree heat, against Hancock's seasoned veterans, for glory and honor.
The 'Gettysburg' film was over 4 hours. I watched the first half (leading up to the 20th Maine's defense of Little Round Top - words cannot express this) at one sitting, and began the 2nd half. I paused it just as Longstreet gave his sad, silent nod to George Pickett, to prepare for the Charge.
It was appropriate to pause at that point, when it must have seemed within grasp that the Confederate army just might be on the verge of the final, decisive action, that would end (and win) the War, already in its 3rd bloody year.
I waited two days to watch the (now inevitable) finale. When it was over, Lee's gamble had been lost. Nobility and self-sacrifice were not enough to overcome, as Longstreet said, 'the mathematics'. The war would continue for two more years, and, if Gettysburg was a harbinger of the mass slaughter of World War I, even more horrifying battles were to come the following year, at Spottsylvania and (shudder)
But I digress.
Haven't watched the 'Dr. Strangelove' DVD yet. I've seen it many times. I'm waiting for the right moment, to savor it's many pleasures. Reading the Internet Movie Database page for that film, though, I did come across this delicious trivia tid-bit: Stanley Kubrick never told Slim Pickens that this was a comedy. Think about it.
I guess I can't end this post without shamelessly listing my own 'video library', in no particular order. These are films that I can watch over and over:
Lawrence of Arabia
Stop Making Sense
Buster Keaton silents (a bunch - all VHS)
Rocky and Bullwinkle - Season 1 (3 DVD set)
The Great Escape
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
and, of course:
And now a couple that I picked up various places, that you can have for $2 apiece:
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (worth watching twice, but that's all)
Lifeboat (Hitchcock's ham-handed WWII propaganda - Karen won this in a contest - worth watching once)
Melinda and Melinda (hey, it was only $5)
Must sell today (or let me know and I'll give it to you the next time I see you).
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Of course, the recording was all about those damn liberals, especially Hillary and Obama, who want to destroy all the wonderful things that Our Great Leader, Ronald Reagan, stood for. You can imagine.
After a very brief delay, the lady came back on the line, and asked if I agreed that 'the country is on the wrong track, and we need to return to the ideals of St. Ronnie'.
I said, 'I certainly agree that the country is on the wrong track', but before she could launch into the "now I've got him" pitch, I added '...but not because of the reasons the Senator mentioned.'
'You see,' I continued, 'I believe the only President who has done more damage to America than George W Bush was Ronald Reagan.'
There was a short pause, and then the line went dead.
Wonder how they got my name and number. Obviously, they didn't go thru Homeland Security.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
It echoes much of what I have come to feel about Israel, a land that was presented to my childhood eyes as a Shining Beacon of Hope, Righteousness and Optimism.
That vision was dashed after a visit from an old friend (probably 10 years ago or more), who has lived in Jerusalem for many years, in an Orthodox community. This person, born and raised on Long Island, who I've known since I was 18, sat in my kitchen and calmly asserted that 'all the Arabs are dogs, and should be killed.'
Something went wrong.