Saturday, March 31, 2007

Capitalism: the economic model with a sense of humor

"The head of a California company hired by the U.S. government to help build a fence along the Southwest border to curb the flow of illegal aliens into the United States has been sentenced on charges of hiring illegals for the job."

more info here.

Friday, March 30, 2007

nothing to see...


Summary of Bush Policy Goals, from day 1:

Domestic: rig the election system for the 40 years
Foreign: grab the oil

It was all going so nicely for them until November 2006. That will be the watershed event, when the history of these days is written (depending on who gets to make the final edits).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

uh oh...

Read it and weep, sinners.

At least FSM devotees are exempt (for now).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Ain't it odd?

I get a lot of Annual Meeting notices for various companies in which we hold stock. I've managed to reduce the stacks of glossy paper reports (does anyone read these?) somewhat, but still have a load of proxy forms to be filled out, especially this time of year.

I complete all those that can be done online, but there is an unmistakable pattern in these proxy votes, that cuts across all corporations, regardless of how 'enlightened' they may advertise themselves as.

Invariably, there are some issues to be voted on that originated with the Board, and others that are labeled as having come from 'Shareholder'. I have yet to see a single Shareholder issue, where the Board did not recommend a 'no' vote, even on such issues as 'Global Warming'.

There are only two possible conclusions:

1) all issues of shareholder concern are misguided and contrary to the interests of the corporation.
2) the arrogance of Boards of Directors is limitless, and any idea not originating with their support staff is simply seen as a threat to their power, which cannot be tolerated.

I always vote 'yes' on every shareholder issue where the Board recommends 'no', and I always 'withhold' my vote for every proposed Board member. Just trying to do my part.

I wonder if Diebold is involved in tabulating the ballots?

Monday, March 26, 2007

"Some people say..."

One of the best segments in Robert Greenwald's film "OutFoxed" demonstrated the insidious use of the phrase "Some people say..." to simply keep pounding on the Talking Point du jour, which, through repitition, aquires more legitimacy than it deserves.

Last night, I tuned in to the Katie Couric segment on '60 Minutes', where she interviewed the Edwardses, and her absurd 'questions' were peppered with the 'some people say' device, as in 'Some people say that your first obligation is to your family, and not your political ambitions.' WTF?

I say it's long overdue for Our Side to start using that phrase wherever possible, as its use, now, exposes the Right Wing lies which that tactic originally served. Maybe thru overuse, we can get it eliminated. For starters, how about these:

Regarding the White House stonewalling on Rove's under-oath testimony: "Some people say that refusing to testify under oath means you are obviously hiding criminal activities."

Regarding the refusal of Senate Republicans to permit a simple majority vote on a binding resolution on continuing the Iraq war: "Some people say the Senate rules require a straight up-or-down vote."

Regarding the suitability of Alberto Gonzales to continue as AG: "Some people say that manipulating the Department of Justice to serve political ends is the very definition of ultimate government corruption."

Finally: "Some people say that the Bush administration is simply the most incompetent gang of criminals to ever hold power in our Republic, and that their names will be cursed for generations to come."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

it's great to be home, where everything is safe and secure


Saturday morning, in a familiar place. Last night was the first real full-night's sleep in many days.

I appreciated being in different surroundings, and especially remember Wednesday morning, outside the meeting room before everyone else had arrived, as I sat in a rocking-chair, in the bright early-morning sun, looking at the grounds of the Preserve and listening to the birds.

It's great to live in a world where one can travel freely and securely, with only the minor inconveniences of flight delays. This is in contrast to the lives of the unfortunate Iraquis who initially looked forward to our arrival, as heralding a new, wonderful era for their unfortunate country. Oops.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

travelin' man

Last day of this trip. In my anonymous motel room in Kissimmee. It is sunrise.

This is the 3rd and final day of these meetings, which have been pretty darn interesting. The crowd got in-depth looks at 5 different weed management products, each having a slightly different focus and environment, and two of which I am intimately involved with. This morning is the wrap-up session, before everyone heads for the airport.

Last night, after the day's business, we all headed to this surreal spot, for beers and dinner. It seemed a LONG drive from the Preserve, but the scene was incredible, with locals and tourists chowin' and drinkin', and the musician in the corner providing an endless series of eclectic tunes (both country and western) on guitar, fiddle, banjo, and kazoo, with his electronic gear providing various accents and backgrounds.

I saw 'Louisanna Crab cakes' on the menu, and, as a former Marylander, I always have to try the crab cakes from various locales, to see if they can ever approach the sublime pleasure of an (enormous, 50 cent) crab-cake from Roland Park Eddie's, in 1971. This one didn't even come close (it was crisp on the outside, but strangely mushy on the inside, with no discernable crab lumps), although the accompanying hush-puppy was pretty darn good.

I'll be home in a mere 20 hours. Thanks to Joe and Shirley and Steve and Diana, for providing hospitality and humanity. Without you guys, I'd be just another business-man-in-a-Hawaiian-shirt.

Monday, March 19, 2007

ha ha, I got here first!

Well, Joe and Shirley went to bed, but since my body is still on West Coast time, I get to stay up blogging, from their guest bedroom near Tampa.

We watched a movie that I had brought from Portland, after someone linked to a YouTube clip of the first few minutes. It sure went on for a long time. The more I think about it, the more there was to it. Reading the Roger Ebert reviews at the IMDB site helped bring some elements into focus, but I will say no more.

I haven't had a real night's sleep for two days now, but I think I'm ready now. Heading for a nature preserve south of Kissimmee tomorrow, for three days of hopefully interesting meetings.

But today, we just had fun (once I recovered from the flight delay etc.) We had coffee and wonderful sandwiches at a Cuban place where they are regulars, and a fine afternoon drinking and laughing by their pool.

If this wasn't nice, I don't know what is. Thanks again, guys.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dick Cheney: Old Dog - Old Tricks

Jeez. I guess they were counting on the Pardon process to get everyone off the hook, AGAIN.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

common sense?

When Karen and I got home last night, after a very nice evening eating tapas and drinking wine with good friends downtown, we were surprised to find Ben there, waiting for us.

Since he's been living away from home for almost two years now, it's always a surprise to see him here. This morning (Saturday) is his last Drivers Ed class, and, naturally, he had not completed the 'project' that the teacher mentioned (as a requirement for passing) as being due at the last class.

Yes, it's bullshit, of course, but it's a requirement, and he needs to pass the class in order to get the Insurance Certificate. At any rate, he had interviewed a couple of drivers who were Short-time and Mid-time drivers, and he wanted to interview me, as a Long-time driver. Fair enough, and I sat down and answered the questions (which were pretty good), while he typed away.

At that point, I was ready to go to bed (Karen had long since retired). Ben was going to stay up on the computer, reformatting and printing his material. Before I left, I considered for a moment saying "turn off all the lights when you go to bed", but felt that, heck, a 20 year-old would surely not have to be told this.

Of course, I'm the first one up this morning, and the first thing I did was turn off all the lights that had been blazing away all night. I am not a child of the Depression, although my parents were. Maybe that's the difference.

Why does the unnecessary waste of electricity bother me? Is it ultimately connected to this, or is it just a habit of mine, or is it a symptom of the up-and-coming generation, who, I fear, has not yet grasped the inter-connectivity of our lives?

I don't know, but, looking back, I feel like I've spent my life turning out lights in long-empty rooms.

Should be a busy day today, as we prepare for tonight's birthday party for Dylan (to be 19). We are expecting 20 guests - family, family friends, and Dylan's friends. Ben and his girl-friend will also be here.

Tomorrow afternoon is a big anti-war rally in Portland, then, at 4, we have a cast-party from the Purim show Karen and I were in a couple of weeks ago, then, at 6, we are to go to another birthday party (for Karen's cousin), and then, around 9 pm tomorrow night, I head to the airport for the red-eye to Tampa.

Now, however, it's time for a 2nd cup of coffee, before I clean the bathroom (with the lights on).

Meanwhile, here's a great cartoon:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

RIP: Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642)

A sentence from his WikiPedia entry says it all: "He sought to consolidate royal power and crush domestic factions."

Now who does that remind me of? Oh, yes.

'Rovian' will be an adjective, long after Karl's mortal remains have crumbled to dust (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

ever wonder how Harriet Miers got her start...

...on the road to Supreme Court nominee? Greg Palast has the tale.

At least these folks are consistent.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

ah, the GOP talking points are making the rounds

Listening to the Ed Schulz radio show this afternoon, there was yet another republican troll, parroting the whine 'but Clinton brought in a bunch of US attorneys, too, and you are not talking about THAT'.


Too bad Ed couldn't think fast enough to give the proper response: that all of Clinton's appointees went thru the normal congressional approval process, whereas Bush's new guys were simply installed without any congressional oversight, thanks to that insidious Patriot Act provision that someone on Arlen Specter's staff inserted, in the dead of night.

Scoundrels. How unfair it is for them to take advantaged of our brain-dead fellow citizens - haven't they been victimized enough?

in addition to the wrong-headedness of promoting corn-based ethanol...

More on ethanol.

Here's another example of wrong-headedness.

Best metaphor in the article: buying carbon-emission credits is the same as the Medieval practice of buying indulgences for an easy remission of Sin. Nothing is really accomplished, except that the agency controlling the market pockets fees with every transaction.



Monday, March 12, 2007

best horror story I've ever read

Just finished reading 'Twilight in the Desert'. It's a blood-chilling, spine-tingling mystery, full of genuine horror, with enough science to make it entirely convincing.

If you liked 'The Ring III', you'll savor every page of this tale of statistical delusion, frightening use of common sea-water (no spoilers here), and a global reluctance to believe our own eyes.

Coming soon to a transportation and food-production system near you!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

the US Treasury: watching out for your money!

Last December, I wrote out a check to the US Treasury, to cover a quarterly SE tax-payment. Unfortunately, due to inattention on my part, my bank informed me a couple of weeks later that it had bounced. My accountant said to immediately send in another check, with a cover letter explaining the oversight and asking that no penalty be assessed.

In early February, I got an official notice from IRS, informing me of the check bounce, and assessing me a $50 charge. The letter said that, if I believed the penalty should be waived, I should describe why. I wrote back, pointing out that I had sent a replacement check when notified by the bank (which happened back in January, one day before the IRS had received the check for initial processing).

I felt that this indicated my good intentions, and suggested that they examine my sterling record of timely tax payments, over the past 35 years.

Yesterday, of course, I received formal notice that my application for dismissal of the penalty was denied.

I will send them the $50, of course, but I'm wondering if I should point out that a better use of their time and resources would be spent trying to track down the 12 billion in cash that the Bushies withdrew from the Treasury and shipped to Iraq for 'expenses'.

Probably best not to bring it up. They are probably already wondering about the hundreds of billions that they used to oversee, that have gone to Bush and Cheney's domestic buddies. After all, I wouldn't want to rub it in.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

just saw "Pan's Labyrinth"

Karen's cousin, Steve, raved about it, and I was curious, given all the Oscar nominations, so I went this afternoon.

I must say that, squeamish as I tend to be, I had to avert my eyes in a few places (you who've seen it know exactly which ones). I must be too grounded in Reality (hah!) to appreciate the fantasy stuff. The Bad Guy was really bad - a classic villain that you love to hate, and there will be no spoilers here.

Would I recommend it? I suppose that, if you must see it, it's probably better to do so in a theater, rather than waiting for the DVD. On the other hand, one's time, in the long run, would be better spent reading up on the Spanish Civil War because, folks, it can happen here, and 30 more years of Generalissimo Bush would be the next logical step for this government. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, March 09, 2007


That word, if you don't know it, has been incredibly important to your life.

It's the largest oilfield in Saudi Arabia, indeed, in the world. It's been pumped at an astonishing rate since the 1950's, and they have to pump in 12 million barrels of sea-water every day, in order to continue to keep enough pressure underground. What they pump out, these days, is 30% water.

It's been said, for many years, that when Ghawar dies, the Industrial world will feel it. Today, it was announced, that Ghawar is Dead. Read it and weep, folks, and now you know why the Bush cabal is pinning its hopes on Iraq and Iran. Maybe this war would have been easier to take if, from the start, they all admitted that it's all about oil.

I am currently reading 'Twilight in the Deset', cited in this article. It is enlightening and frightening.

37 million

votes cast for American Idol.

what's wrong with this picture - let me count the ways.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


another inconvenient truth.

the times, they will be a-changing...

no substitute for clean genes

Today is my mother-in-law's 96th birthday. She can't see or hear very well, and her memory has gotten poor (she called me last week because she couldn't remember what city and state we live in), but is still mobile, involved, and frequently quite funny. Karen is flying down to Pasadena on Saturday and will be there for a few days, helping out with taxes and miscellany.

As readers here will know, my own Mom just turned 93 last week. Her mother made it to her upper 80's. Unfortunately, the men in my family tend to give out a bit earlier. So it goes.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Couldn't be funnier

Yes, let's just not mention the 4 Guilty verdicts...


Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. How about this for a Democratic ticket in '08 (forget about the current stars): Eliot Spitzer and Patrick Fitzgerald.

The primary benefits of this team are two:

1) both are prosecutors with impeccable track-records.
2) campaign button: Spitz and Fitz.

Just sayin'.

Meanwhile, anyone taking bets on how long before Cheney resigns for health reasons? I'm willing to bet we have VP Condoleeza Rice by the 4th of July.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I just don't know what to believe

Seems to me that the articles here and here sort of contradict each other. Either the Saudis and the Iranians are cooperating to reduce sectarian violence, or they are each egging on their separate partisans to encourage sectarian violence.

Or both. We are looking at cultures with a couple of thousand years experience in both diplomacy and war.

I am now reading Seymour Hersh's new piece in the New Yorker, trying to comprehend the subtle interplay of forces and interests. Also, I am looking out the window, to try to see if my dog has wandered out of our yard.

It may get up to 60 degrees today, but I won't be seeing much of it. Today is the day that the Purim holiday play we've been working on since January is performed. Two rehearsals a week all this time, leading to today's 10:15 final walk-thru and performances at 1 and 7 pm. Should be fun.

Where is that darn dog? Will Haman succeed in killing the Jews? Will the Sunni's and Shiites agree to disagree? Is the Media obsession about daily Presidential polling a sign that everyone considers the Bush presidency to be OVER, or are they simply continuing their unrelenting campaign to replace news that matters with news that diverts.

Friday, March 02, 2007

FLASH - Allah is NOT God!

A classic Jack Chick cartoon - if you're not familiar with these, pick any and settle back for a scary ride!