Thursday, November 30, 2006
txrad had some doubts that we would plunge from the mid-70s to sub-freezing temps this morning. After all, there were various discpreancies in forecasts, depending on the source. Some were only calling for overnight lows in the mid-40s and decreasing throughout the day today. I said "trust me, move the plants inside."
When I went to bed last night it was still near 70 degrees. This morning it was 31.
Trust the konagod.
Incarceration rates for women are outpacing men -- many of them for non-violent drug offenses in our failed "War on Drugs."
A record 7 million people — or one in every 32 American adults — were behind bars, on probation or on parole by the end of last year, according to the Justice Department. Of those, 2.2 million were in prison or jail, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday.
Men still far outnumber women in prisons and jails, but the female population is growing faster. Over the past year, the female population in state or federal prison increased 2.6 percent while the number of male inmates rose 1.9 percent. By year's end, 7 percent of all inmates were women. The gender figures do not include inmates in local jails.
"Today's figures fail to capture incarceration's impact on the thousands of children left behind by mothers in prison," Marc Mauer, the executive director of the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based group supporting criminal justice reform, said in a statement. "Misguided policies that create harsher sentences for nonviolent drug offenses are disproportionately responsible for the increasing rates of women in prisons and jails."
From 1995 to 2003, inmates in federal prison for drug offenses have accounted for 49 percent of total prison population growth.
This is insane. The fact that 3.5 million Americans are either in prison, probation, or parole for non-violent actions should serve as a blaring wake-up call to America that we have a seriously unhealthy prison fetish -- at the expense of rehabilition which could help keep these families together for the sake of children involved.
I would be particulary interested in seeing a breakdown of how many inmates are serving time for nothing more than marijuana possession (thanks, Radical Russ!) -- a "crime" in the league of cigarette or alcohol possession, and definitely several notches below certain legal pharmaceutical possessions, with their plethora of unpleasant side effects , dispensed by doctors like peanut M&Ms. I could easily argue that marijuana is actually less harmful (and definitely more "natural") than any of the aforementioned substances, but why bother when others have done the work for me.
I started this blog with no specific purpose in mind. On November 23 I marked the 6-month blogging anniversary by saying--with tongue in cheek--that my primary intent in starting this blog was to do Friday cat blogging. All kidding aside, it has become a personal outlet for me to vent my frustrations, to offer my suggestions for making our nation and the world a better place, to foster compassion for others less fortunate, to inspire some rational debates, to educate myself more based on what I might learn from commenters with more experience with any given issue, and lastly, to simply entertain my readers. More importantly, I make no attempt to hide the fact that I am gay and have been in a relationship with my partner for more than 16 years. Furthermore, I focus a lot of my attention in this blog to minority issues and injustices of all sorts.
I have never had any specific rules and regulations on this blog regarding comments because, until now, it hasn't been necessary. One commenter who has frequented my blog from my earliest days has clearly disagreed with almost everything I've posted. My "troll alarm" sounded on several occasions but I let it slide. I have no problem with readers who disagree with what I say as long as they are willing to discuss it, offer up some of their own suggestions or alternatives, or simply tell me logically why they feel I'm wrong on any particular issue.
Lately, it has become increasingly obvious that I can expect no such dialogue from my dedicated visitor. His comments are consistently adversarial, malicious and clearly intended to provoke a hostile reaction in order to stoke some inner need to prove to himself that us lefties are scatterbrained illogical hypocritical bigots. One of the very few times he has posted a comment in agreement with me was when I posted a Woody Allen quote about being "a bigot, but a bigot for the left."
The shit hit the fan last night, in the post below this one, after the exposure of his identity and blog history. Here's one comment:
What have I done? Well. I thought that I was posting my opinions to an open blog that is published on the internet and free for all to view and comment. There was no disclaimer about any such restrictions. The owner of the site, Konagod, has not ever voiced his concern that I leave here. In fact he has been very free in allowing people to say whatever they want.
I admit that I do still receive the profanity and name calling here that I received at her blog, although not as vile here as there. You can verify this by reading some transcripts of the older commentary from there. All this for posting my opinion. I have never used profanity, called names, made threats or voiced specific hatred of individual people by name. All of which I have seen on most of the blogs in question.
Yes, Jeff does post his opinion. And again, and again, and again. In one recent thread, the banter went on repetitively for days with absolutely no productive outcome.
This is an open blog. And it is free for all to view and comment. There is no disclaimer about any such restrictions because I expect visitors to have the common sense and decency to contribute something--agreeable or not--besides provocative statements clearly intended to irritate rather than enlighten. Most importantly, I expect honesty and integrity. It's what I give, I have every right to expect no less in return.
I've only banned one other person from commenting on this blog -- a true whackjob in every sense of the word. The person took the photo which I have in my sidebar, posted it on his psychotic "blog" and asked his readers to pray for my salvation. And I got off easy compared to what he had posted about others.
This blog is not a business nor is it an advertiser supported magazine or newspaper; it's not comparable to a public park or library. It is an extension of me, my home, and my beliefs. I think of it as a commune...a safe place for people of similar beliefs to come and have a rational discussion about important issues. Dissent is inevitable from time to time. However, repetitive dissent for the sake of dramatic conflict is unproductive and unwelcomed here. Anyone with that intent may take their psychoses elsewhere. In fact, I insist.
(konagod:) Have you ever altered an opinion based on anything you have ever heard or read?
(Jeff:) Yes, if there is a compelling argument. I have yet to see that here.
Well, after 6 months or so, it's unlikely you'll ever see that here, and the time has come for you to move along. I wish you the best as you journey through life.
We now resume regular programming...
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The $1 note is not cost-effective to produce given it's lifespan relative to the larger notes. Furthermore, the US Treasury has issued $2 notes that have never been used in widespread circulation. Ditto for the $1 coins which should have replaced the $1 notes.
It is doubtful that very many people in the US have ever contemplated the challenges faced by the blind and vision-impaired when it comes to handling currency. Unfortunately, seeing eye dogs have not advanced that far. Things may soon change:
U.S. District Judge James Robertson on Tuesday ordered the Treasury Department to start working on the problem, leaving it up to government officials to determine the best solution. Possible changes include making bills of differing sizes or adding embossed dots or raised ink.
The government has 10 days to decide whether to appeal the ruling. The Treasury Department had no immediate comment.
The possibility of an appeal makes my blood boil. There is no logic in appealing.
Electronic devices are available to help blind people differentiate between bills, but many complain that they are slow, expensive and unreliable. Visually impaired shoppers frequently rely on store clerks to help them.
''It's just frankly unfair that blind people should have to rely on the good faith of people they have never met in knowing whether they've been given the correct change,'' said Jeffrey A. Lovitky, attorney for the blind plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
''Of the more than 180 countries that issue paper currency, only the United States prints bills that are identical in size and color in all their denominations,'' Robertson wrote. ''More than 100 of the other issuers vary their bills in size according to denomination, and every other issuer includes at least some features that help the visually impaired.''
In court documents, government attorneys said changing the way money feels would be expensive. Cost estimates ranged from $75 million in equipment upgrades and $9 million annual expenses for punching holes in bills to $178 million in one-time charges and $50 million annual expenses for printing bills of varying sizes.
Boo hoo. Pity the poor government. Why do we continue to mint pennies when the cost to stamp them out is more than they are worth?
The US mint produces about 7 billion pennies every year (roughly half of all coins made each year), at a cost of $100 million dollars. About one-third of this money is used to pay for the zinc that pennies are made out of, which is why the zinc industry is lobbying to keep the penny in production.
When I see wasteful spending it's usually not hard to find a lobbyist culprit just below the surface.
In addition to ceasing production of the penny, we need to stop printing one-dollar bills. We already have the dollar coins which are not being used, and will not be used, as long as $1 notes are still thrust on us.
Retailers wouldn't even need to redesign their tills. Elimination of the penny would make room for the dollar coins and elimination of the $1 note would allow the $2 note to replace it.
The dollar coins coupled with the $2 bill would be a wise first step for the government to take as we begin the process of making our currency more easily recognizable to all citizens.
Let's stop wasting money; call off the lawyers, forget the appeals, and move forward with a currency plan that makes sense... for once.
Crossposted at B3
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Clark said Iraq will be a focus of the 2008 campaign. He disagreed with suggestions by some members of Congress that more U.S. troops should be sent to help stabilize Iraq. Neither would he begin reducing U.S. forces in Iraq within the next six months, as others have suggested.
"It's not a matter of fiddling with troop levels," Clark said. "It's a matter of politics inside Iraq and diplomacy in the region.... You can lose what's going on militarily inside Iraq, but you can't win it militarily, either by putting more forces in or by pulling them out."
Meanwhile, at least 2,881 members of the American military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003.
The TV Land cable network has compiled a list of the top 100 greatest catchphrases in TV, from the serious Walter Cronkite's nightly signoff "And that's the way it is" to the silly: "We are two wild and crazy guys!"
Something fun to start the day. I realized how far my tv roots go back when I started scanning this list; it's rather frightening that I can include favorites from the Honeymooners as well as more recent phrases from Dave Chappelle. "WHHHAT?"
You got any favorites, on or off the list? Leave 'em in the comments. I need amusement today.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Her name is Gloria Castillo. She is a 22-year-old American citizen, born to an illegal immigrant from Honduras who came here while pregnant with Gloria. She works from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and earns $252 a week before taxes. She also works a second job cleaning toilets in a bar while her husband also works in order for them to have the means to care for their two children. And they're just barely getting by. It's a gut-wrenching story for those of you who can actually put yourself in her position.
The customers are rude tonight, drunk and bellicose. One guy doesn’t want to pay for his food, figuring it ought to be free. If he had wanted to rob the place, Ms. Castillo says with a tight smile, it would have been easy enough; the window doesn’t lock here like it does at the McDonald’s.
But consider the life inside that window on Loop 12 in West Dallas. There is a woman with children and no health insurance, undereducated, a foot soldier in the army of the working poor. The fry cook sneezes on the meat patties*. Cigarettes go half smoked. Cameras spy on the employees. Customers throw their fries and soft drinks sometimes because they think it’s funny.
(*Don't worry about a little snot on your food; if you are a frequent consumer of fast-food, you've probably had worse.)
Perhaps I'm the true "compassionate conservative" because I happen to care more about this woman's financial situation than anyone on the board of directors of Burger King.
...Burger King CEO George Brenneman abruptly announced his resignation recently, right after the company posted a net loss for its fiscal third quarter. Lucky for him, he signed an agreement with Burger King to ensure that he receives his base salary of $1.03 million for three years, and his annual bonus of $2.06 million for fiscal 2006. Thanks for the memories, indeed.
Nice. I sincerely hope Mr. Brenneman has enjoyed a tasty burger prepared by the same fry cook at this joint.
This isn't going to portray me as a very good capitalist, but I honestly feel the minimum wage in the U.S. should be $15 per hour. People struggling to feed families and working two or more shitty jobs deserve more. There should also be a "maximum wage" to offset the minimum. The idea of some prick in an expensive suit sitting in a glamorous office "working" (or in Brenneman's case, not working) and receiving over $1 million a year while the peon underlings are struggling to get one foot on the first rung of the economic ladder is unconscionable and repugnant.
Needless to say, with so many people like Gloria working two jobs and her husband working a different shift, proper nutrition is not going to be on the menu for her family.
She takes the boys to a McDonald’s for breakfast at 7:15 — the same place she used to work — before dropping them off at school at 7:45. A man named Carlos works the window there. They used to work there together.
Every morning, the boys’ order is the same: one sausage, egg and cheese biscuit; one bacon biscuit; two hash browns; and two orange juices. Ms. Castillo could take free food home from Burger King, but the boys like McDonald’s better.
She returns home, sleeps until 2 and collects the boys from school. She cooks them supper prepared from frozen packages, and sometimes they eat it in front of the television. It takes time and money to eat healthy, she says.
Damn right it does.
On Saturdays she attends community college, hoping that in a few years she will be a paralegal going to work in a downtown office tower, wearing a pantsuit. She is hoping for $20 an hour and a lunch break.
She looks at the crummy little house across the parking lot with peeling paint. “That would be good too, a little house. I don’t want much.”
I wish her luck in that endeavor. She'd be making $5 more than my suggested minimum wage. She'd have more time to spend with her husband and kids, and they might actually have a crack at the American Dream someday -- peeling paint and all.
photo credits: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
Related recommended links:
USA Today: How the USA's largest companies compensate their chief executives.
In 2005, the average CEO of a Standard & Poor's 500 company received $13.51 million in total compensation, according to an analysis by The Corporate Library. This represents a 16.14 percent increase in CEO pay over 2004.
CEO’s Free Ride to Perksville…
How to Fight Poverty: 8 Programs That Work.
Crossposted at B3
There is something terribly wrong with this juxtaposition of gleeful Americans with fistfuls of dollars storming the department store barricades and the slaughter by the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, including old people, children and babies. The war was started by the U.S., but most Americans feel absolutely no sense of personal responsibility for it.
With no obvious personal stake in the war in Iraq, most Americans are indifferent to its consequences. In an interview last week, Alex Racheotes, a 19-year-old history major at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, said: “I definitely don’t know anyone who would want to fight in Iraq. But beyond that, I get the feeling that most people at school don’t even think about the war. They’re more concerned with what grade they got on yesterday’s test.”
His thoughts were echoed by other students, including John Cafarelli, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, who was asked if he had any friends who would be willing to join the Army. “No, definitely not,” he said. “None of my friends even really care about what’s going on in Iraq.”
Something is terribly wrong here when students were far more involved in global affairs back in the late 60s and early 70s than they are in a day and age when the internet provides far more contact with world events and has, in many ways, made the world a much smaller place. I honestly fear for our future if it winds up in the hands of these students who are so detached from reality. And sadly, it will.
A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan.
Some residents who have complained have children serving in Iraq, said Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He said some residents have also believed it was a symbol of Satan. Three or four residents complained, he said.
Lisa Jensen said she wasn't thinking of the war when she hung the wreath. She said, "Peace is way bigger than not being at war. This is a spiritual thing."
Kearns ordered the committee to require Jensen to remove the wreath, but members refused after concluding that it was merely a seasonal symbol that didn't say anything. Kearns fired all five committee members.
Here's the offensive Satanic wreath:
Ho Ho Ho! Season's greetings.
I don't know about the rest of you but I've always received at least one holiday card each year that had the word "peace" on it. I can't help but wonder what kind of raging fit these people experience when opening holiday mail.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Jeffrey Carlson, shown in this AP photo, plays a character named Zarf, a "flamboyant rock start" on the ABC soap All My Children. The transgender angle will begin with Thursday's episode.
I'll be curious to hear about reactions to this. I wonder how long it'll take Focus on the Family or Agape Press to make some hay with it.
The show wasn't interested in doing something just to be sensational, she said. GLAAD and some transgenders were brought in as consultants in shaping the character, teaching the producers when it is appropriate to call a character "she" even before surgery, she said.
Damon Romine, a spokesman for GLAAD, said he hasn't seen the show yet but feels people involved were genuinely interested in telling the story with dignity. Emotions are so close to the surface in soap operas, and this story can serve a purpose by showing what transgenders go through, he said.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Sorry to break the news to you. This is not what Christmas is all about and it really has nothing to do with Christmas. It's about marketing, greed, and thought control. And it's successful.
photo: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/KAREN E. SEGRAVE
From the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Saturday:
At the Best Buy on Chenal Parkway in Little Rock, customers lined up as early as 12:30 p.m. Thursday for the 5 a.m. opening. As the time approached, about 800 people were lined up around the building and police were directing traffic.
I guess I'm in the minority here but I do not understand why anyone in their right mind (key phrase there) would line up at 12:30 pm on Thanksgiving day waiting on a Best Buy to open at 5 am the next morning. These people don't need PlayStations or HDTVs; they are in dire need of therapy.
I will confess: I am not immune to the lure of a bargain, but I am more sensible about it.
Best Buy was offering an 8-disc Spanish language course marked down from $39.99 to $4.97. I went after lunch. It wouldn't have surprised me if they'd been sold out and my life would not have been shattered. There were several on the shelf and now, for $5.00, perhaps I'll learn enough to communicate on some level with my brothers and sisters from south of the border.
It's not a sin and the last time I checked, it still wasn't illegal for me to voluntarily choose to speak Spanish. Most importantly, my motivation was driven by a desire for self-improvement and personal growth rather than greed.
Attention, Holiday Shoppers: We Have Fisticuffs in Aisle 2
That is the title of an article in today's New York Times which offers up more shopping mayhem for your reading pleasure.
Shortly after midnight yesterday, an estimated 15,000 shoppers pushed and shoved their way into the Fashion Place mall in Murray, Utah. Police soon joined them, responding to reports of nine skirmishes.
Once inside, shoppers ransacked stores, overturning piles of clothes as they looked for bargains. A retailer’s dream — too many customers! — quickly turned into a nightmare, forcing store clerks to shut their doors, and only let people in after others left. The mall even briefly closed its outside doors to avoid a fire hazard.
“It’s like a mosh pit,” said Lexie Dewegel, 19. “You get pushed everywhere.”
Merchants love this but they are equally responsible for the madness with their deceitful practices of heavily advertised "doorbusters" which are often sold out within seconds of opening the doors.
“Sold out, sold out, sold out,” announced the manager at a Staples on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan yesterday at 7 a.m. “When?” asked the incredulous customer. “An hour ago,” replied the manager — in other words, the minute the store opened.
In Lewis Center, Ohio, near Columbus, Cindy Milsap, 43, and her daughter, Ashley, 20, woke up before dawn to drive to the nearby Wal-Mart Supercenter, which advertised a 52-inch high-definition television for $474. “We don’t really need a new TV, Ms. Milsap said. “But at that price? C’mon.”
But the bargain eluded them. The “limited quantity” in the ad, she said, was three TVs — all sold by the time the pair arrived.
And people wonder why I prefer to be a hermit between now and the new year.
Crossposted at B3
Among the giants of Delta and Chicago blues, Robert Lockwood Jr. may have been the last of the greats, having outlived Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers and John Lee Hooker.
He learned at age 11 directly from the itinerant blues singer Robert Johnson, who had become romantically involved with Lockwood's widowed mother in Helena, Ark. By 15, Lockwood was playing juke joints and fish fries throughout Mississippi and Arkansas with Johnson.
Friday, November 24, 2006
This story is a little late...
An Ohio-based company is recalling 46,941 pounds of turkey and ham products that officials fear could cause listeriosis, a potentially fatal disease...
HoneyBaked Foods Inc. is voluntarily recalling the meat, which includes cooked, glazed and sliced ham and turkey, USDA said in a statement.
At this point, I'd be interested in knowing how they plan to recall it. On second thought....
Crossposted at B3
A friend of ours came over to the house today and brought us a plum cobbler which I shall begin devouring this evening. She reads this blog so I'm sure she'll get a kick out of this post. (It's Rebecca and she comments frequently.) I gave her and her daughter a taste of Minstrel Boy's "Killer Kranberry" sauce and she now has the recipe.
I was notified earlier this week that she'd be stopping by so I had plenty of time to get busy on the house. I got the kitchen extra clean on Wednesday and did some organizing; txrad ran the vacuum through the house. We did nothing yesterday which meant today was the big bathroom duty day. I left that one to txrad who was bitching about my sticky hairspray on the vanity and the mirror. I can't help it; I have an unruly mane and I need something to keep those curls from turning into a full-blown afro.
The coffee table in the living room was a mess as well. I'm not kidding -- there were newspapers in there from July, and enough magazines to blow out a tire on the dumpster. If you don't think Architectural Digest is heavy, try holding about 15 of them at once.
Now, I'm sure you're all wondering, what the hell am I doing with a subscription to Architectural Digest when I'm clearly so comfortable living in a dump? I like to fantasize, that's why. Actually, I'm not comfortable living in a dump but I've gotten used to it. It does start to have a negative psychological effect on me after so many months of filth and clutter.
I want to go stand in the bathroom and just stare at it. I feel like I'm in a hotel. It's nice. With any luck it'll stay that way for about 4 or 5 days. We'll go on another cleaning rampage round about March.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Got my Arlo fix today -- most of it, while on our way to Swad for our traditional holiday thali. It's 6:30 here and I'm still bloated.
Today also marks the 6-month anniversary of this blog. This blog also surpassed an important threshold of 10,000 visitors early on Monday. Thanks to all of your who either dropped in for 10 seconds or have hung around for most of the past 6 months.
I came very late to the blogosphere. Once I started visiting a few blogs on a regular basis, I decided it might be fun to start a blog, mainly because I have a curiosity about technology, and more importantly, I wanted to do a Friday cat blog! I knew two of my friends who love cats would visit, and therefore I'd be guaranteed 2 visits per week. Anything else would just be bonus material. I wasn't sure what else I'd have to say or if I'd keep it up.
I've had a grand time watching the little bloglet grow. I was filled with glee the first time I had 25+ visits in a day. I watched my Site Meter daily and realized if I kept posting on a regular basis, I'd perhaps surpass the first important number: 1,000. I've also been a tad obsessed with tweaking my Blogger template to make it more "me." Some folks like to tinker under the hood of their cars; I like to tinker with templates.
The "virtual" friends I've made during this time have been one very unexpected benefit of the experience as well as the one I actually cherish the most.
1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought? How did I get that bad-ass bloody scab on my nose? I look like I've been in a bar room brawl.
2. How much cash do you have on you? $70
3. What’s a word that rhymes with “DOOR?” Whore
4. Favorite planet? Saturn
5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your cell phone? No idea. Wrong number.
6. What is your favorite ring tone on your phone? I’m not into ring tones. Preferably one that is quiet. The vibrator is nice.
7. What shirt are you wearing? A Dickies long-sleeve and I’ve been wearing it off and on for about 5 or 6 days. And I don't even think I stink yet.
8. Do you “label” yourself? Sometimes -- usually just call myself a freak.
9. Name the brand of the shoes you’re currently wearing? Betula sandals. They're Birkenstock knockoffs.
10. Bright or Dark Room? Bright, with lots of sunlight.
11. What do you think about the person who took this survey before you? She’s an Angry Black Bitch with a fucking foul mouth, and I love her.
12. What does your watch look like? I haven’t worn a watch since about 1984.
13. What were you doing at midnight last night? Passed out drunk.
14. What did your last text message you received on your cell say? I don’t get text messages. There were some jokes of the day coming in after I activated the phone. Whoever had the number before me was paying something like $1 a day for that shit, and it started appearing on my phone bill.
15. Where is your nearest 7-11? I don’t have a clue and don't even care. I know where all the liquor stores are though. You need directions?
16. What's a word that you say a lot? Fuck.
17. Who told you he/she loved you last? Txrad.
18. Last furry thing you touched? Sissy, my polydactyl pussy.
19. How many drugs have you done in the last three days? Define drugs. I haven’t done any drugs per se, by my definition.
20. How many rolls of film do you need developed? Good Lord. How old are these meme questions? Digital, people… digital.
21. Favorite age you have been so far? 23, or 43 when I had money.
22. Your worst enemy? Jose Cuervo, but he's not allowed in this house.
23. What is your current desktop picture? Olympic curling stones.
24. What was the last thing you said to someone? Pam’s talking about the same soul food I wanna have tonight.
25. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly what would it be? Are we talking with a plane or without? Ahh, just gimme the money.
26. Do you like someone? These are some stupid-ass questions. Yes, a few.
27. The last song you listened to? Something by T. Rex right before the answer in question #13.
28. What time of day were you born? Dinner time, of course.
29. What’s your favorite number? 7
30. Where did you live in 1987? Little Rock.
31. Are you jealous of anyone? Just about everyone.
32. Is anyone jealous of you? Only a fool would be.
33. Where were you when 9/11 happened? Sitting right where I am now.
34. What do you do when vending machines steal your money? I used to bang the shit out of them. I don’t use vending machines anymore.
35. Do you consider yourself kind? It’s a façade I like to present.
36. If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be? Probably on my arm near my shoulder.
37. If you could be fluent in any other language, what would it be? Spanish. Or the language of whatever country I end up moving to if things don't improve in the USA.
38. Would you move for the person you loved? Yes.
39. Are you touchy feely? Only with txrad. And when shopping for clothes.
40. What’s your life motto? Party like it’s 1999. Or, Live Free or Die Trying.
41. Name three things that you have on you at all times? I assume we aren’t talking about clothes; when I go out, I usually have my wallet, my cell phone, and a grocery list. I have 3 earrings and 3 neckchains at all times too.
42. What’s your favourite town/city? Santa Fe.
43. What was the last thing you paid for with cash? A Veggie Delite at Subway.
44. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it? At least a year ago.
45. Can you change the oil on a car? Hell no. I do know how to check the oil though.
46. Your first love: what is the last thing you heard about him/her? It’s a blur and I think it was only lust anyway.
47. How far back do you know about your ancestry? Somerset in England.
48. The last time you dressed fancy, what did you wear and why did you dress fancy? It probably would have been the in early 80s when I met the Clintons at a governor’s ball. I think I even wore a hat.
49. Does anything hurt on your body right now? My head, and just slightly.
50. Have you been burned by love? Nope, just by lust, and a few careless incidents with a lighter or a match.
Tag yourself if you so desire.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Out-of-wedlock births in the United States have climbed to an all-time high, accounting for nearly four in 10 babies born last year, government health officials said Tuesday.
While out-of-wedlock births have long been associated with teen mothers, the teen birth rate actually dropped last year to the lowest level on record. Instead, births among unwed mothers rose most dramatically among women in their 20s.
Experts said the overall rise reflects the burgeoning number of people who are putting off marriage or living together without getting married. They said it also reflects the fact that having a child out of wedlock is more acceptable nowadays and not necessarily the source of shame it once was.
konagod has no opinion on the matter. I'm sure the fundies will.
A passenger raised concerns about the imams — three of whom said their normal evening prayers in the airport terminal before boarding the Phoenix-bound plane, according to one — through a note passed to a flight attendant, according to Andrea Rader, a spokeswoman for US Airways.
The six were returning from a conference in Minneapolis of the North American Imams Federation, said Omar Shahin of Phoenix, president of the group.
"They took us off the plane, humiliated us in a very disrespectful way," Shahin said after the incident.
Shahin said Tuesday that three members of the group prayed in the terminal before the six boarded the plane. They entered individually, except for one member who is blind and needed to be guided, Shahin said. Once on the plane, the six did not sit together, he said.
The ignorance level of some people is just astounding.
When Shahin went back to the airport Tuesday morning, a ticketing agent told him his payment for Monday's flight had been refunded and the airline wouldn't sell more tickets to him or the other imams. An airline spokesman in Arizona said he wasn't aware of the ticketing decision and could not comment.
I suppose the easy solution for this would be for Muslims -- and anyone else who doesn't adhere to the comforting familiarity of Christianity -- to abandon their faith and start praying and dressing like "normal" folks when attemting to fly. Cut your hair, shave your beards, get yourself some golf attire at Stein-Mart, and pray to Jesus. You'll get to your destination with no problems. Just consider it as another airline tax.
photo credit: AP/Jim Mone
Altman was one of my favorite directors. I always looked forward to his work even if some of them were not up to his usual standards of excellence. For me, there was always something to like. The Player is certainly near the top of my list.
Monday, November 20, 2006
As we edge closer to the Thanksgiving festivities, which inevitably for the vast majority of Americans, will involve unhealthy excess consumption with nary a thought about the origins of their feast, give it a thought and some thanks.
Please read this piece by Anna Hanks which was published in the Austin American-Statesman today.
I don't want laying hens spending their entire lives in cages smaller than this newspaper page, or hogs having their curly tails cut just so their tails won't get infected when bitten by other cranky, overcrowded hogs. I don't want cattle standing in their own waste at feedlots.
Why let animals suffer just so corporations can make more money? It's wrong. My position is supported by Michael Pollan in his fantastic book "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals."
While we'll spend Thanksgiving celebrating gluttony, if you'll be eating meat, please consider meat that had a chance to live a good life before being dispatched to your dinner table. A good start is looking for chow from local farmers market participants.
I've never done the "Tofurkey" routine at Thanksgiving. Giving up meat meant giving up some traditions that obviously didn't mean that much to me to begin with.
We usually will go out for a vegetarian thali at an Indian restaurant during the holidays. This year I'm planning to do more cooking over this long holiday weekend -- maybe a spread of soul food with sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, some collard greens, perhaps some creamed corn or mac & cheese, jalapeno corn bread, and a vegetarian "meat" patty. And some of Minstrel Boy's Killer Kranberry sauce.
Life can't get much better than that.
Hundreds of Austinites from different faiths and cultures came together Sunday as part of the 22nd annual Austin Area Interreligious Ministries' Thanksgiving service.
More than 90 churches, synagogues, temples and mosques participated...
photo: Chitose Suzuki/Associated Press
Opponents of same-sex marriage rallied Sunday in Boston. About 8,000 same-sex couples have married in Massachusetts since gay marriage was legalized. The sky didn't fall. The wrath of God wasn't inflicted upon the people. Straight couples continue to marry and divorce, as before. Life goes on. And Romney just can't take it.
Mr. Romney, a Republican, said he would file a request this week for a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court to direct the secretary of state to place the question on the ballot if lawmakers do not vote on the issue on Jan. 2, the final day of the session.
The governor, an opponent of same-sex marriage who decided not to seek re-election as he considers running for president, made his announcement to the cheers of same-sex-marriage opponents at a rally on the Statehouse steps. Supporters of same-sex marriage staged a protest across the street.
This whackjob is a pro when it comes to twisting reason in an attempt to motivate his base of fundamentalist hypocritical bigots.
“A decision not to vote is a decision to usurp the Constitution, to abandon democracy and substitute a form of what this nation’s founders called tyranny, that is, the imposition of the will of those in power, on the people,” Mr. Romney said. “The issue now before us is not whether same-sex couples should marry. The issue before us today is whether 109 legislators will follow the Constitution.”
This frothing-at-the-mouth hatemonger needs to be slammed down hard. It was bizarre enough that he was governor of Massachusetts -- a man who is ultra-conservative even by Utah standards. He clearly is not mentally fit for his presidential ambitions.
“One of the tenets of the Constitution is that you do not put the rights of a minority up for a popularity contest,” said Mark Solomon, campaign director of Mass Equality, a group that supports same-sex marriage. “It is one of the very principles this country was founded upon.”
The Global Orgasm for Peace was conceived by Donna Sheehan, 76, and Paul Reffell, 55, whose immodest goal is for everyone in the world to have an orgasm Dec. 22 while focusing on world peace.
"The orgasm gives out an incredible feeling of peace during it and after it," Reffell said Sunday. "Your mind is like a blank. It's like a meditative state. And mass meditations have been shown to make a change."
The couple are no strangers to sex and social activism. Sheehan, no relation to anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, brought together nearly 50 women in 2002 who stripped naked and spelled out the word "Peace."
I don't celebrate the holidays but I do observe the winter solstice. However, I don't recall every celebrating it in this manner. Never one to shy away from a good meditative state, consider me on board for this peace movement.
Crossposted at B3
Sunday, November 19, 2006
However slim the chances of success in Iraq are, they may have just slipped down a few more notches after Henry Kissinger suggested a military victory in Iraq is impossible.
"If you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible," he told the British Broadcasting Corp.
Kissinger also said the U.S. must have a dialogue with Iraq's neighbor's, including Iran.
Oh, but wait. How foolish of me to forget. Diplomacy isn't in the Bush lingo. We don't negotiate with terrorists. To hell with a dialogue; what's Plan B?
Meanwhile, it'll be very interesting to see how far Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) will get with his proposed bill to reinstate the draft early next year.
"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," Rangel said.
So true. I have my doubts this will fly, but simply having it discussed will perhaps cause a few million parents to have cold sweats who otherwise are oblivious to the realities in Iraq.
Before now, the Christian right was not a political force in this mostly secular, liberal country. But it is coalescing with new clout and credibility, similar to the evangelical Christian movement in the United States in the 1980s, though not nearly on the same scale.
Today, half a dozen organizations like the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada work full time in Ottawa, four of which opened offices in the past year, all seeking to reverse the law allowing gay marriage.
I'd like to say I told you so. What do you expect when you elect a conservative evangelical Christian Prime Minister?
“With the legalization of gay marriage, faith has been violated and we’ve been forced to respond,” said Charles McVety, a leader of several evangelical Christian organizations that oppose gay marriage and president of the Canada Christian College in Toronto.
[McVety] asked the Rev. Jerry Falwell and other American evangelical leaders for advice on building a religious movement in Canada and traveled Ontario and Quebec in a red-and-white “Defend Marriage” bus.
It's such a familiar refrain. My advice: Get off the bus; it's going nowhere. You folks might consider directing your Christian anger in a more positive direction..something crucial.... like Darfur.
photo credit - Jean Levac/The Ottawa Citizen
Last night we watched part of Taxi Driver and I had no idea her birthday was today.
Calvin Klein is 64. Sorry Calvin, you don't get a photo posted. But I'll gladly promote your wares. Lordy, somebody please hose that boy down.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
A Midwest hotel chain with several properties in Illinois has pulled CNN and CNN Headline News from its guest rooms and lobbies in response to the cable network's broadcast of an insurgent video showing Iraqi snipers shooting at U.S. troops.
God forbid someone might have to face the realities in Iraq. This quote from James Thompson, president of the Iowa-based Stoney Creek Hospitality Corp., makes no sense whatsoever:
"It was shocking and repulsive," he said. "Their actions supported terrorism."
Yes, it is shocking and repulsive, but that is what's going on over there.
Guests seem to be supporting the decision by a 3-1 margin, including this nitwit:
Dennis Cunningham, a retired factory worker from northern Missouri staying at the hotel for several weeks while his wife undergoes brain surgery, said he supported Thompson's decision.
"I agree with him. I think it was inappropriate," Cunningham said. "We don't need to see things like that over here."
Carry on with your life of denial. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Friday, November 17, 2006
The Senate gave overwhelming approval late Thursday to President Bush’s deal for nuclear cooperation with India, a vote expressing that a goal of nurturing India as an ally outweighed concerns over the risks of spreading nuclear skills and bomb-making materials.
To me, this seems ill-timed when we're having unresolved nuclear proliferation issues with both Iran and North Korea.
Opponents of the measure also warned that the deal would allow India to build more bombs with its limited stockpile of radioactive material, and could spur a regional nuclear arms race with Pakistan and China.
See a list of the votes here.
Granted, this was not an expensive bottle of wine. About a week ago our wine purveyer was running a 20% off deal for purchases of 12 bottles or more. I decided to select a variety of different wines in varying price ranges -- all under $20, but many under $10. I splurged and bought 18 bottles. The most recent two bottles we drank were from Italy -- both under $10. The best one actually came in around $8.00 with the discount. I don't mind the floral essences as long as they are balanced or exceeded by lots of berries.
I'm not being intentionally anti-France here. And I'm not being a snob. I just like wines from Italy, followed by California and Australia.
My big winner thus far? A Montepulciano D'abruzzo by Farnese. Price: $8.09 with discount. How can you beat that?
Thursday, November 16, 2006
The town council of Pahrump, which lies in the Mojave Desert west of Las Vegas, voted 3-2 on Tuesday to make flying any foreign flag above the U.S. flag or alone an offense punishable by a $50 fine and 30 hours' community service.
Blow me. We'll see how long it takes for this asinine restriction to be thrown out by courts.
Oh, needless to say it was accompanied by the equally ridiculous "English only" regulation, another meaningless piece of racist bullcrap, similar to the one passed recently in the Dallas suburb of Farmers Branch.
People who live in towns with an "English only" restriction should start driving on the English side of the road as well.
Bloody buggery bollocks! What a cock up! Don't mind me, I'm just taking the piss out of the wankers.
This makes me wonder if it's not Pelosi we should be monitoring very closely.
Murtha, 74, was a problematic candidate because of his penchant for trading votes for pork projects and his ties to the Abscam bribery sting in 1980, the only lawmaker involved who wasn't charged.
This is exactly the kind of thing we need to avoid leading up to 2008. Also, this is interesting:
Democrats also selected James Clyburn of South Carolina as majority whip, their No. 3 post. Clyburn, who is black, would become the highest-ever ranking member of his race in Congress.
For those who put stock in such things, Clyburn doesn't have a very impressive score on the HRC Scorecard, but none of them have perfect scores of 100. Clyburn scored a 50 in the 109th Congress. Hoyer is at 88.
Also some notable birthdays today:
Blues-great W.C. Clark is 67. (The audience is noisy as hell in this clip but it was one of the few I saw where embedding was allowed.)
Diana Krall is 42.
Lastly, "Radical Russ," frequently contributor at Pam’s House Blend was one of two finalists in the competition for The Search for the Next Great Progressive Radio Star this morning. (Visit TalkProgress.org)
It was a close contest: By a vote of 3-2, Russ won!
Congratulations Radical Russ!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Click the graphic above to go there. Nominations will take place until November 24 and it's simple. But please, please, do not nominate me for Best Conservative Blog. I'm just not worthy.
Best Psycho Blog wait.. that's not a category.
Aww, just pick some. In the Ecosystem group, I fall under "Best of the Rest of the Blogs (8751+)" My current standing as I type this is 11,172 which has me as a Slimy Mollusc. Ewwww. (sniff, sniff -- it's humiliating!) I would nominate myself but I hate being categorized. Just surprise me.
Leave a comment in the associated nomination post with the blog name and URL:
P.S. A suggestion for a category next year: Best Queer Hippie Vegetarian Blog.
Fox will slaughter the competition the final week of the November ratings sweeps when it airs a two-hour interview in which O.J. Simpson details how he would have murdered his wife, Nicole, and Ronald Goldman more than 10 years ago.
Had he done it.
Which he didn't.
Just ask him.
"If I Did It" is also the title of the former pro football player's new book that, Fox said yesterday, hits bookstores Nov. 30 -- just in time for the holiday gift-buying season, ho, ho, ho.
This is one of the most unbelievably disturbing and shameless promotions I've seen in awhile. FYI, the murderer of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman is still at large.
File under "Speechless."
Crossposted at Big Brass Blog
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Avoid overuse of rhetorical questions. Know what I mean?
Avoid clichés like the plague.
That's all you're getting from me. Go read it.
From the Mail & Guardian online:
During debate on the measure, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said same-sex unions or same-sex marriages should be afforded similar space as heterosexual marriages "in the sunshine of democracy".The minister said that the question before MPs was not "whether same-sex marriages or civil unions were right or not; it was whether South Africa was going to suppress same-sex partners or not".
And there is some familiar rhetoric oozing out.
African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe described the passage of the Bill as "the saddest" day of the democratic Parliament in 12 years. He said while some forces are trying to convince people that homosexuality was okay, God considers it "an abomination".Voting in favour of same-sex marriage was a rejection of God's laws, and those who did so would face divine wrath, Meshoe warned MPs. He said the Bill, by inference, "calls sexual perversion a legitimate alternative lifestyle that should be openly accepted".
Council members in this Dallas suburb unanimously approved tough new anti-immigration measures Monday evening that are intended to keep illegal immigrants away from the city.
In a series of 6-0 votes, the council members approved making English the official language, fining landlords who deal with illegal immigrants and allowing local authorities to screen suspects in police custody to see whether they are in the country illegally.
Ahh yes, we must slip in an English-only vote before huevos rancheros appear on too many restaurant menus.
Since 1970, Farmers Branch has changed from a small, predominantly white community with a declining population to a city of almost 28,000 people, about 37 percent of them Hispanic.
How dreadful. The next thing you know they'll be wantin' to marry some of them whites.
And here's a link to a related editorial in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today concerning a similar brouhaha in Rogers, Arkansas which is just a stone's throw from the Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville. Got a crime problem? Just blame all the illegal aliens.
Update: Pam has a related post up regarding the “immigration problem.”
One of his favorite preaching places was just outside London, on a great open tract known as Moorfields. He had no designated time for his services, but whenever he began to preach, thousands came to hear -- whether it was 6 a.m. or 8 p.m. Not all were fans, as evidenced by his oft-repeated testimony, "I was honored with having stones, dirt, rotten eggs and pieces of dead cats thrown at me." In the morning some 20,000 listened to him, and in the evening some 35,000 gathered! Whitefield was only 25 years old. Crowds up to 80,000 at one time gathered there to hear him preach for an hour and a half.
Pieces of dead cats? That was a rowdy bunch back then!
SOURCE: HARTFORD INSTITUTE FOR RELIGIOUS RESEARCH, LEADERSHIP NETWORK; SCOTT WALLACE - STAFF
Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, who favors mandatory cuts in emissions linked to global warming, will become chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, replacing Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, who has called the scientific consensus on human-induced global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on mankind.”
Chew on this, Inhofe: Greenhouse emissions are up...WAY up from levels seen in the 1990s:
Research carried out for Unesco found on Friday that the rate of increase in emissions from burning fossil fuels between 2000 and 2005 was four times that between 1990 and 2000.
What is required before we begin to take this problem seriously? Six years of the Bush Administration has essentially blinded Americans to many unpleasantries which are screaming for attention. By the time our national hangover wears off in 2008 we're going to reflect back on these years and mourn the wasted opportunities, not to mention the squandering of a half-trillion dollars on a fool's endeavor.
The notion that an emerging middle-class in both India and China will have no detrimental effect on the environment is absurd.
The new congress will have more environmental sanity potential but will it be enough?
Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters said:
"We want to be on offense, and many of these candidates come here having pledged to support new clean energy policies,"
Keep an eye on these two:
One is Senator-elect Jon Tester from Montana. He's a Democrat, an organic farmer, and a big supporter of alternative energy. Another is Democrat Jerry McNerney, a wind power entrepreneur from California.
McNerney defeated Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), who drove environmentalists crazy as head of the House Resources Committee. For years, Pombo tried to weaken the Endangered Species Act.
Nearly two million children a year die for want of clean water and proper sanitation while the world's poor often pay more for their water than people in Britain or the US, according to a major new report.
That's more than 5,000 children per day dying unnecessarily. Where have our priorities gone?
Monday, November 13, 2006
And Whoopi Goldberg is 57 today.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
...I believed that when she promised to stay with him "till death do us part," she really meant it this time, unlike with that guy she married in Las Vegas.
If Republicans really want to protect the institution of marriage, and were not simply trying to ban gay marriage to use it as a wedge issue in the campaign, then they should prove their dedication to this cause by introducing the Defense of Britney's Marriage Act as the first order of business in the lame-duck session of Congress...
Don't hold your breath.
What we are more likely to be reading about as gay marriage gains momentum is the issue of gay divorce in states that do not officially recognize the marriage. Check out this story from the New York Times today.
Now that it’s clear, more or less, where gays can get hitched, what about getting un-hitched?
If, say, two women have “civil-unioned” in Vermont and then move to Wisconsin, can they legally untangle themselves in the place they now call home? Can a couple married in Massachusetts be put asunder in Ohio? The questions are new, so answers are in short supply, and court rulings have been mixed. In one dispute involving the collapse of a Vermont civil union, courts in Vermont and Virginia are on a collision course that could end in the Supreme Court.
Frederick Hertz, a lawyer in Oakland, Calif., who specializes in same-sex family law, said it could take five years to resolve some of the issues.
It's not hard to envision some on the anti-gay right supporting gay divorce while steadfastly opposing gay marriage. These days nothing would surprise me.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: The Midland
"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.
|The Inland North|
|What American accent do you have?|
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Here's txrad's. He didn't like what it had to say because he did most certainly notice the accents in Fargo!
|What American accent do you have? |
Your Result: North Central
"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.
|The Inland North|
|What American accent do you have?|
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