Thursday, January 31, 2008

two hardboiled eggs

Last night, I found myself wandering around my local Fred Meyer while Karen was doing some banking. We really didn't have anything major on the shopping list (but, of course, while there, picked up a few things).

In the deli/produce section, I amused myself (!) by reading the labels on various processed foods, marveling at the distance they had traveled and the plastic packaging in which they traveled, when my eyes landed on what I propose to be the most successful product-that-should-not-exist.

It was a bunch of plastic containers, each securely cradling two hard-boiled eggs, for 99 cents, from Minnesota. Having now reached the final 3rd of the "Omnivore's Dilemma", I cannot look at something like this without mentally tabulating all the petroleum that went into it.

In the following summary, the letter P stands for 'petroleum'.

First of all, there is P to grow the corn that fed the chickens who laid the eggs, not to mention the P expended in transporting the corn to the chickens. The eggs are transported to the processing-plant (more P), where they are cooked (P) and packaged (P, unless the electricity came from coal) into the plastic containers (that were made elsewhere out of P and transported to the packaging plant using P). Finally, the packaged eggs were distributed around the country (P) to my local store, where they can be sold for 99 cents (with everyone along the entire supply-line making enough of a profit to justify the effort).

How can this be? Simple. As Michael Pollan makes clear, society is hiding the costs of cheap food, which explains how you can get a delicious (?) spicy-chicken burrito at your local Taco Bell for $1.29.

I can't look at food now, without thinking about all that went into bringing it before me. I especially can't look at beef, but that's another part of the story.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Friday night Letterman Top Ten

In case you missed it:

Top Ten Rejected Titles For The George W. Bush Movie

Top Ten

"Jackass 3"

"The Lyin' King"

"The Departed As Of January 20th, 2009"

"Stop Or My Vice President Will Shoot"

"Dial M For Moron"

"Das Boob"

"When Sally Met Cheney's Daughter"

"White Men Can't Govern"

"The Nightmare Before Hillary"

"Raging Bull****"

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dennis is out

Just saw his announcement. Maybe it's for the best, at this point.

On Air America the other evening, Rachel Maddow proposed her ideal Democratic ticket: Obama/Webb. I like it. Webb brings military and anti-Iraq credibility, and can assure the southern, White males that that uppity blank man will be closely watched.

I am truly disgusted at Bill Clinton's recent antics, trashing Obama. If they feel this is necessary, they do not deserve our vote. I say, no more Clintons and no more Bushes. A pox on both houses.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm shocked...shocked...

Nobody could ever have predicted that they would lie about Iraq.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

movie reviews

Within the past 48 hours, I have seen "Charlie Wilson's War" and "There Will Be Blood".

"Charlie" was pretty straightforward, with the always-professional Tom Hanks delivering yet another great performance. Philip Seymour Hoffman, though, steals the show. Julia Roberts was OK, but odd. Nicely shot - effective sequences - sobering lesson. Curiously, there was no mention of Osama bin Laden, who, I believe, was part of the covert army that the CIA funded, to frustrate the Russians. Seems like an opportunity lost. Recommended.

"Blood" was the first film in MANY years, where I considered walking out, well into the 2nd hour. It's got many spectacular scenes, with splendid cinematography and editing. However, I kept being aware of the mechanics: oooh, an amazing dolly shot; wow, what odd lightling; hey, incredible use of sound; etc. The problem, for me, was that the protagonist was so unrelentingly unlikeable - so evil, so selfish, so greedy, so unprincipled. We get the message in the first half-hour, and, after a while, I felt I had seen enough.

Is "Blood" the 'masterpiece' that the hype promises? Is the ending brilliant or stupid? What really happened to 'Paul'? I don't know, and, frankly, my dear, I don't give a hoot.

If you are a film-lover, you will probably end up seeing "Blood". My only suggestion: be sure to fully empty your bladder before it starts - it's a long journey to get to the bowling alley.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

an evening with the gov

Our friend, Sandy, is the head of the Campaign for Equal Justice, and Karen made a nice donation last year. So, we got invited to the annual 'Thank You, big Donors' reception, at the Governor's residence in Salem.

There was an armed guard outside the gates with a clipboard, to screen out the riff-raff. Amazingly enough, we passed. We walked in, and tiptoed around the corner, heading for the goodies, when we ran right into the Governor, who turned to greet us.

We actually spent several minutes chatting about Karen's work, my work, upstate New York (he had been to the Adirondacks), and Enron - he was charming, relaxed (drinking a beer), and seemed pleased to have opened the mansion to such a distinguished crowd (everyone other than us, that is).

I had my camera in my pocket, just in case, and Karen had the nerve to ask if a photo would be OK. He went to put down the beer - we said, "it's OK" and he said "my staff would never forgive me." Here 'tis:

Everyone was gathered around the hors d'oervres table, and the living room was empty. Karen asked the Gov if he would like me to play the piano, and he smiled and led me into the living room, to an amazing Steinway. I sat down to play, Karen brought me a glass of wine, and the crowd moved into the room. I played for about an hour, and it was great fun. Plus, I didn't have to make conversation with a bunch of seriously-connected bigwigs!

As we were getting ready to leave, a distinguished gent came up to me, and asked "haven't we met before?" and introduced himself. I gently replied that he was most likely mistaken.

We don't go to these types of functions very often.

Monday, January 14, 2008

one year left for Bush

and we all seem ready to just let it happen, so that we can be cleanly rid of him.

After all, what can happen in just 1 year? Here's a list, to refresh your memory.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

It's the [Stupid] Economy

Just heard a report on NPR about the Writers Strike, and how it's leading to the cancellation of the Golden Globe awards ceremony is affecting the Hollywood economy.

The subsidiary businesses, that exist because of shows like the Golden Globes, are suffering. These include limo drivers, waiters in expensive restaurants, caterers, fashion writers, tuxedo rentals, etc. etc. etc. The inevitable conclusion is this:

There are many niche businesses in our economy, that have come into existence due to their support of other businesses, providing a livelihood for countless individuals and families, leading to the inescapable conclusion that these dependencies demand that the originating institution or belief MUST be perpetuated, no matter how ultimately silly or worthless.

Other examples come to mind - notably every business related to cars. This was especially evident driving along any LA freeway, last week. We can't lessen the dependency on private cars without devastating all these family businesses.

Another major example: military bases, that have become the primary employer (and, hence, economic engine) for towns across America. We can't trim back the military without
devastating these towns.

Heck, look at the entire Military/Industrial/Educational complex.

We have evolved a system on interlinking dependencies, and the Awards Shows (i.e. federal subsidies) simply must go on and on, or people will lose their jobs.

I guess it would be Evil Socialism to stop the spending on Bombs and devote a portion of the savings to providing a safety-net for those individuals (not corporations) who no longer have a reason to go to work.

Ultimately, we are all caterers, serving the Economic Monster that is kept lubricated (literally) by petroleum. And, one of these days, the Oil awards show is going to be cancelled.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Everybody seems to love politicians who get emotional these days - so why not?

"President Bush had tears in his eyes during an hour-long tour of Israel's Holocaust memorial Friday and told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the U.S. should have bombed Auschwitz to halt the killing, the memorial's chairman said."

Appalling on so many levels.

I [heart] Dennis

Kucinich has filed to have the NH ballots hand-counted. I love it.

This will be a VERY interesting project, as long as the 'chain-of-custody' for the ballots is firmly established as being sound.

Why is this a good idea? For one thing, we have yet another instance of "gosh, the polling was wrong again. These things happen." We have heard this before.

But wait, there's more. As posted on the Brad Blog this morning:

Analysts at the Election Defense Alliance (EDA) have confirmed that based on the official results on the New Hampshire Secretary of state web site, there is a remarkable relationship between Obama and Clinton votes, when you look at votes tabulated by op-scan v. votes tabulated by hand:

Clinton Optical scan 91,717 52.95%

Obama Optical scan 81,495 47.05%

Clinton Hand-counted 20,889 47.05%
Obama Hand-counted 23,509 52.95%

The percentages appear to be swapped. That seems highly unusual, to say the least.

'Highly unusual', indeed.

[UPDATE: the contrarian view]

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

ever hear of 'the Jerusalem syndrome'?

if not, read this, then read this. For a guy whose already a naricissist psychopath, this is not a good sign.

on a serious note


always wrong

As the only person to lose money in Real Estate in the 1990's (it's a long story), and, as someone who has consistenly backed presidential candidates who either didn't get the nomination or lost, let me comment on New Hampshire.

I think the pre-vote polls were correct (Obama ahead in a blow-out), but I really believe that the final 24 hour commotion over HRC's 'emotional' moment changed everything.

I think she came off as very sympathetic and was perceived as speaking honestly. That, coupled with the natural tendency for NH voters to look at the Media and say "you can't tell ME what I'm going to do", overruled the Obama polling from two days before.

Also, even though Edwards is my current guy, I think he made a major mistake in the way he reacted to that story. He came off as mean and macho, sorry to say.

Some people are suggesting that the voting was rigged. This I cannot believe.

So, the Media got exactly what it wanted:

* a surprise - fodder for 'The Situation Room'
* a slowdown in Obama momentum
* a major slap in the face for Romney
* a minor smack-down of Huck
* an opportunity to insist that Edwards (who is eager to take on Big Media) is irrelevant

Why, oh why, do the Democrats snipe at each other, when the points that need to be made again and again is that the Republicans, since the Age of St. Ronnie, have ruined this country financially, that the W Administration is filled with criminals and incompetents, and that a Democrat MUST be elected in 2008, to prevent the Supreme Court from turning into the Star Chamber?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Obama's legislative record in Illinois

good stuff

FOX News - the Ministry of Truth


Meanwhile, it's finally a real primary. I fear that Edwards has been steamrolled by Obama-ecstasy, and Clinton a victim of 'been there - done that' syndrome. Short of a surprising tally for Richardson or Kuchinich (seems unlikely), the Barak bandwagon has left the station.

What worries me is what I fantasized about yesterday. This is too much like Bobby Kennedy in 1968, where new political enthusiasts are inflamed by hope - the environment where a crackpot with a gun determines that the parade must be cancelled.

When the public pendulum swings into euphoria, it never takes long for the tragedy to appear. Pakistan comes to mind. Hope I'm wrong, but the patterns of history and human behavior are well-established, and 'tis the season for martyrs.

Monday, January 07, 2008

another dot to connect

hmmmm - I've been seeing Sybil Edmonds' name popping up in various places the past few days, but this is the best explanation of why this story may be significant.

what does it all mean?

IMHO, it means that 'the public' is

1) revolting against 'the Media' having annointed Hillary as 'the inevitable one', months ago
2) accepting Obama as a New Face who is NEITHER a Bush nor a Clinton

Plus, it means that 'the Media' is

1) as always, making sure that any voice that discusses Class Warfare and Corporate Greed (Edwards, Kucinich) is silenced
2) lazy


Obama is killed by a 'lone gunman' white supremicist.

Public outrage ensues.

Bush declares martial law, and McCain agrees that cancelling the elections is a 'wise move in these troubled times'.

James Baker III heads the commission on the assassination of Obama - says "we'll never know what really happened".

Bush is declared Supreme Leader.

30 years go by. Fox News is on all channels.

Supreme Leader dies at the age of 94, and the Reconciliation Commission (headed by James Baker VI) advises everyone to forget about the Re-Education Camps, which is easy, since, by now, most of them are under water and there are other things to worry about.

It could just be my imagination...

Happy Monday

Saturday, January 05, 2008

both Karen and I sent John Edwards some cash today

As disappointing as it was, that Dennis was excluded from the ABC debate (I just sent them an angry comment about that), I have to say that Edwards was great, as are all the Democratic candidates.

We watched both debates, and there was a lot of muttering during the Republican segment. It was (not really) amusing how the name 'George W Bush' was strangely absent then - all the Republicans say they want to be agents of 'change', but nobody wants to identify who we so desperately want change from.

I really hope Edwards does well. They are all good, but I missed Dennis there, to make things even more interesting.

Huckabee/Obama '08

I am amused this morning, seeing all the hype about these two, when it's absolutely clear to me (not that I've ever been wrong before) that, next November, the choice will be Clinton vs. McCain.

The Media machine and Power Establishment settled on these candidates months ago, and it's almost time for us frivolous potential 'voters' (how quaint) to get in line.

The final straw here is ABC's edict that Dennis be excluded from the upcoming New Hampshire debate. The fantasy that the public airwaves are lent to media companies as a courtesy, as long as they operate in the 'public interest' (how quaint), died long ago.

Last night on Bill Moyers' show, both Ron Paul and Dennis received a solid 20 minutes each, and it was so damn refreshing. I think Ron is absolutely correct in his catalog of what's wrong - it's just his remedies that I find unsettling.

Dennis seemed tired - it was not a great appearance, despite his making some very good points, as always. I think he is realizing that his endorsement of Obama in Iowa, due to its unique convoluted caucus procedures, is perceived by most as a bad, inauthentic move.

I am confused by the media meme that Edwards' 2nd place finish in Iowa means he is finished. We like Edwards - heck, you gotta love a candidate who is willing to bring up what, ultimately, is the central question of our times, the successful Class Warfare that the Rich are currently winning.

Finally, I bring up the following with great hesitancy. This morning, I had a premonition of Michelle Obama wearing a black mourning veil. Sorry, but there it was. The national joy in such an admitted triumph has so often, in many times and places, been transformed into shock by the events of three seconds. I fear.

Last night, while Karen was at her dance class, I had the house to myself for a couple of hours. I turned on the light at the piano, and had a wonderful hour playing old tunes, loud and fast and loose. This makes me happy. You?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Silly me

I thought it was the TERRORISTS that we should be most afraid of.

Apparently not (view the trailer).

Iowa numbers

Lots of analysis going on this morning. You can't take away from Obama the stunning margin of victory. However, one of my favorite blogs, Hoffmania, put up this interesting little table:

Total Voter Turnout (approximate) 356,000

Percentage of total vote
24.5% Obama
20.5% Edwards
19.8% Clinton
11.4% Huckabee (R)

Think about it, looking at the totality of votes cast last night, in both parties. The Democrat who came in 3rd (being treated in the mainstream press today as a 'major defeat') still managed to pull in almost twice as many votes as the Republican winner.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

the Bhutto assassination - another angle

This from Capitol Hill Blue, not exactly a non-partisan source. Still, one wonders...

back home - happy new year!

8 am on Jan 1. A cold morning in Portland.

We returned from LA yesterday afternoon. Had a pretty good time, visiting family and doing sight-seeing.

In the course of three hours, we wandered among the celebrity graves at the Hollywood Forever cemetery (seeing Rudolph Valentino, Peter Lorre, CB DeMille, John Huston, Marion Davies, Tyrone Power, Mel Blanc, many others, and the main goals: Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone) and then, a short time later, browsing the VAST music/film offerings at Amoeba music, where, oddly, I happened to encounter films that related to many of the stars we had just visited. It was spooky.

Then, in the next hour, we had a fabulously relaxing round of drinks and snacks at the 'Cat and Fiddle' pub's wonderfully calming courtyard. Ah, Hollywood.

Did many other things, too - will write more if I feel like it. Now, I need to go thru a stack of mail, feed the dog, make some coffee, and be happy that 2007 is History.