Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins R.I.P

I had just descended 7 levels of the parking garage this afternoon and pulled out onto the street when I heard the news on the radio that Molly Ivins had just died. It threw me for a loop and I missed my turn and had to go several blocks out of my way to get back on course. What a shock. She was only 62.

What you need is sustained outrage...there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority.
--Molly Ivins

Next Up for Civil Unions: Hawaii?

Democratic legislators, who hold overwhelming majorities in both the state House and Senate, are supporting a proposed civil union bill as one of the party's top priorities for this year's legislative session. If it passes, Hawaii would become only the fifth state to recognize either civil unions or gay marriage.

"Committed couples, regardless of their sexual preference or orientation, should have the same rights. That's the bottom line — we should treat people equally," said Gary Hooser, the state senate majority leader. "There's broad support among Democratic party members."

Despite the failure to legalize gay marriage almost a decade ago, this is at least an encouraging sign for some progressive change. I'm not fan of slow progress but I will take any victory at this point. It seems this has a reasonable chance of being passed. Republican Governor Linda Lingle is waiting on legislative approval for taking a position. Hopefully the absence of immediate opposition is a good sign, aside from the predictable Catholic church position.
This year, the civil union bill hasn't yet generated a similar public outcry.

The Catholic church in Hawaii opposes the idea, said spokeswoman Kelly Rosati. A spokeswoman for the Mormon church in Utah said she was not aware of any institutional involvement in Hawaii's civil union debate.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Day #2

Is it only Tuesday?

I must say, things are not moving along as I had hoped. This is going to require a stretch on my part. The good news (if you want to define it as such) is that I have a 7/10 mile jog from my parking garage to my office. And then back again in the afternoon.

There is a free bus service that runs along the route but I have yet to see the bus while I'm walking and I arrive at my destination before seeing a bus. It's OK. Walking 1.5 miles a day never hurt anyone.

The orientation sessions seem to have stopped. Any loose ends at work seem to have become my responsilbility to solve. There has not be a tour of the building yet and I've taken it upon myself to tour at my leisure.

We had a staff meeting today. That was interesting. Here was the agenda:

Items to discuss:

1. Good news
2. Your metric-determine
3. Your "Rock"
4. Reoccuring issues
5. One phrase closing -- a word to represent how you feel at the moment

Needless to say, a common theme among those responding was something comparable to "overload." (Meetings such as this probably don't help, but what the fuck do I know?)

My one phrase closing word was "bi-coastal."

No one asked. I sure as hell didn't tell.

I just wish I had more time to blog. But... funny as it seems, I took this job because business was slow. Almost immediately, business picked up, at least from the perpective of potential leads, and now I'm feeling overwhelmed.

As if that's not enough, I left work early today to deal with tax crap. The 940 form, a 941, and personal property tax, and no money to pay for ANY of it.

But there's always hope for change. Meanwhile, I'm sure as hell getting my exercise.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Strange Day

I tend to forget just how strange the first day on a new job can be. Never mind the fact that when I awoke this morning I had to adhere to a strict agenda which involved driving from a rural home environment to downtown Austin. The drive normally takes about 20 minutes to cover the 12-13 miles. Not bad. I allowed myself 40 minutes just in case. I got here in about 30 with some pretty nasty traffic.

Someone forgot to mention to me that the parking garage is totally closed for construction work to add more levels. Many employees here choose to park at meters and feed the meter all day rather than park at the company-provided lots which in some cases might be far enough away from the office to require a bus ride.

Excuse me. If I'm going to drive downtown, the last thing I want to do is park and then ride a bus to my office.

I managed to do the above portion of this post while at work today. I had several orientations to go through. And more tomorrow. There's a part of me that says I'm too old for this shit. And another part of me says I have no choice and I must adapt. That's the part that's correct, for now at least.

I have a feeling I'm going to be getting some exercise, which is not a bad thing. I need it based on how my legs feel tonight after today's ordeal.

The worse thing about all this is getting home at night, too tired to make dinner, and knowing that it's already after 8:00; it'll be time to go to bed soon and then I get the pleasure of doing this all over again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. And the next day. That will be Friday. And I shall be rejoicing.

But, txrad is making burgers and tater tots tonight. I'm off the hook.

I Owe, I Owe, It's Off to Work I Go

I always hated those bumper stickers. Primarily because I was working at crappy jobs I despised back in the days when those stickers were more common. And I really didn't see much humor in joking about having to work to pay off a huge consumer credit card debt.

Today is my first day back in a real office after about seven years of working from home. Needless to say, posting will be light, or non-existent during the weekdays. We'll see how much energy I have in the evenings.

The good news is, this really doesn't require a huge change in my lifestyle other than a commute, and the inability now to do laundry or clean the kitchen at 2 pm. I got up this morning at 5:45, not much earlier than my usual 6:30-ish. And thankfully, no alarm clock involved. In my opinion, the absolute worst way to start a day is hearing a shrill clock.

As Benjamin Franklin said, "Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."

Good to know, because I could use a generous dose of all three.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

NJ Gives a $400 Million Helping Hand to the Needy: Casinos

This is obscene.
Seven years after New Jersey legalized gambling in 1977, state lawmakers created an agency called the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority to redirect some casino revenue to blighted areas in Atlantic City and across the state.

But the agency, contending that the gambling industry’s success is a critical component of the state’s economic health, has handed about $400 million back to the casinos themselves, a sum that accounts for more than 20 percent of the money it has committed since its inception.

Pardon me while I reach for some tissues to wipe the tears from my eyes. Pity the poor stuggling casinos.
The authority has subsidized construction of 13,000 hotel rooms in the city, 800 of them planned for a tower under construction at the Trump Taj Mahal. The agency spent $3.7 million for an IMAX theater to be built at the Tropicana Casino and Resort, where its grants also helped finance three floors of elegant stores, restaurants and a spa. An additional $26 million went to help build the House of Blues and to spruce up the facade at Showboat.

If you think that's the best part, just wait. I've got a better one:
The agency has also pitched in for “parking lot beautification” at Showboat and road signs for Resorts and the Taj Mahal.

Screw the poor; Showboat needs a new parking lot. I do hope to see some genuine outrage in the Garden State.
David Sciarra, who helped to write the legislation that created the reinvestment authority while working as a deputy public advocate, said that giving the money to the casinos “really goes against the very purpose of C.R.D.A.”

“It was not set up to finance industry-related projects because the industry clearly has the resources to do that on its own,” said Mr. Sciarra, who now runs a nonprofit group in Newark to help disadvantaged students. “This is a betrayal of the very promise that was made to the citizens: That the casinos would have a social responsibility to invest a small percentage of their revenue through the C.R.D.A. to help make sure residents, especially the poor, had better housing and neighborhoods.”


...despite the authority’s disbursements, Atlantic City continues to grapple with blocks of dilapidated buildings and seamy motels that draw drug dealers and prostitutes, all within the shadows of towering, brightly lighted casinos.

I must stop blogging now until my dizziness and nausea fades.

{yawn...} Mike Huckabee Hits the Trail to Iowa

The Baptist minister and supporter of creationism is in the 2008 race.

Get ready for a Battle of the Bigots.

"America loves an underdog. America loves people who have had to struggle and for whom every rung of the ladder has been sometimes three rungs up and two back down, Thank God for the one you've gained, and keep climbing," Huckabee said.

He planned to travel to Iowa, an early nominating state, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Is he talking about the struggle of gays & lesbians for equality? Umm, no. And with any luck, on this trip to Iowa perhaps he'll keep his fly trap shut instead of blathering such offensive nonsense as this:

Marriage has historically never meant anything other than a man and a woman. It has never meant two men, two women, a man and his pet, or a man and a whole herd of pets.

[Activists] want to change rules that have been in place for thousands of years.

I can hardly wait to watch Mike ("Who the heck turned off my Blackberry????”) Huckabee and Brownback pander to their base. It's like watching pigs in mud.


Alphonso D'Abruzzo (Alan Alda) is 71

Sam Phillips is 45

Sarah McLachlan is 39

Python Devours 11 Hounds

How could I not post about a python making a meal out of 11 guard dogs?
Villagers did not harm the snake, which was tied to a tree then handed to wildlife officials, the paper said on Friday.

How refreshing. Had this happened in the United States I'm quite confident the snake would have been butchered. Because we just don't like it when the animal kingdom does what comes naturally.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Margo Timmins is 46

I am not even sure how many times we've seen the Cowboy Junkies -- and we don't even catch them every time they're in town. Last time we saw them was at the intimate One World Theatre here in Austin.

Jonny Lang is 26

Keith Olbermann is 48

Friday, January 26, 2007

What is your gender?

txrad and I were just discussing the employment applications we filled out this week where one of the questions involved gender. What are you?

Whose fucking business is that and why does it matter?

Do you pay differently if I'm male rather than female?

Do you treat me differently if I'm male rather than female?

Why does long hair on a guy elicit stares?

It wouldn't on a woman. And what is a woman anyway?

And short hair on a woman doesn't even draw attention.

I guess men are expected to be.... men. And not cross any lines.

For what purpose? I need to know.

Friday Pussy Blog

Today's pussy fest comes courtesy of feline friend, Rebecca -- proprietor of a rather large Dallas cathouse.

"Gidget the Office Girl"

Ahhhh, they are such a happy family!

Donuts About to Get a Boost

Mmmm, donuts. Give me a hot cup o' joe with two of those tasty buggers and I can work all day. If you've been bummed out because your Krispy Kreme stock has been far below the price you paid, hang in there. Hope is on the horizon.

Go ahead, take one. You know you want it.
Come On, Feel the Buzz

Ted Nugent Denies Racism

What took him so long?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

(AP Photo/LM Otero, file)

"In total defiance to the vicious lies and hateful allegations of `racism' leveled at me by irresponsible, unprofessional and downright goofy media punks, I never said a word about immigration or language, specifically not the alleged slam against `illegal immigrants' or `non-English-speaking' anyone," the outspoken 58-year-old rocker wrote.

OK, maybe he doesn't hate anyone based on race, but he sure has a problem with people who don't speak English, at least if they're on our shores.

Nugent clarified:

"I will intensify my fight for a united America by demanding all Americans speak English," he wrote.

Oh, HE demands we all speak English. Well, that makes all the difference in the world. I wondered why we were all so divided in this country. I had no idea it boiled down to which language we're all comfortable speaking.

Ted, Sie sind ein Scheißekopf! Get over it. We live in a free country. People can speak whatever language they damn well please, and we sure as shit don't need your permission to do it.

Russell Simmons is a Smart Man

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one straddling the fence so far when it comes to favorites for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Obama certainly has an appealing magnetism -- and yet it's that same magnetism that causes me some alarm. Appeal and charm do not automatically earn my trust or vote.

Russell Simmons

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons says he has yet to make a choice. But he has an idea for the perfect Democratic candidate.

"If you could take Barack Obama's image, add Hillary Clinton's money and John Edwards' voice, that would be my candidate," says Simmons, an independent who has supported both Democrats and Republicans.

He's a rock star," Simmons said in a telephone interview. But he added, "I don't know what his opinions are." Simmons says that so far, the message he prefers is Edwards' --but he's also fond of Dennis Kucinich, the liberal Ohio congressman launching his second long-shot candidacy.

Personally, what I like about Kucinich is his avoidance of all this superficial star power. Unfortunately, politics always evolves into the shallow waters of a popularity contest rather than the candidates genuine interests and concerns for our nation.


Eartha Kitt is 79

Lucinda Williams is 54
We've had the pleasure of seeing her twice here in Austin, once in her pre-Grammy days at Antone's which was a delight.

Eddie Van Halen is 50
With a glimpse of Mr. Cabo Wabo at the end.

Ellen DeGeneres is 49
(The crotch is Jeff Corwin's.)

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Etta James is 69
Check out this clip from 1966. Was she the inspiration for Soo Catwoman?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gainfully Employed Again

It's official: at 8:30 Monday morning I report to a new job. It's temporary. It may last 3 months, 6 months, or it may turn into something permanent. But the important thing is that a regular pay check is going to be involved -- something I haven't had since November. We can eat; the cats can eat; and we'll all be happy.

Now the bad news: I won't be blogging during the weekdays. I'll have to work on a new schedule. I'll probably toss up an evening post and go heavier on the weekends. But without this job, there wouldn't be broadband access much longer anyway. No broadband = no blog.

So.... I'm happy. What about the rest of yous?

Milton County, Georgia: Racism in the Works?

This sounds to me like the people want to create their own lily-white oasis.
A potentially explosive dispute in the City Too Busy to Hate is taking shape over a proposal to break Fulton County in two and split off Atlanta's predominantly white, affluent suburbs to the north from some of the metropolitan area's poorest, black neighborhoods.

Legislation that would allow the suburbs to form their own county, to be called Milton County, was introduced by members of the Georgia Legislature's Republican majority earlier this month.

Supporters say it is a quest for more responsive government in a county with a population greater than that of six states. Opponents say the measure is racially motivated and will pit white against black, rich against poor.

"If it gets to the floor, there will be blood on the walls," warned state Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat and member of the Legislative Black Caucus who bitterly opposes the plan. Fort added: "As much as you would like to think it's not racial, it's difficult to draw any other conclusion."


The former Milton County is now mostly white and Republican and one of the most affluent areas in the nation. Atlanta and its southern suburbs are mostly black, are controlled by Democrats and have neighborhoods with some of the highest poverty rates in America. (Buckhead, a fashionable Atlanta neighborhood of clubs, restaurants and mansions, would remain in Fulton County.)

"The only way to fix Fulton County is to dismantle Fulton County," said state Rep. Jan Jones, the plan's chief sponsor. "It's too large, and certainly too dysfunctional, to truly be considered local government."

The "fix" is a return to 1950s segregation.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Barack Obama Dances Around Bullshit

Feel free to agree or disagree.

Hell, I'm still open minded!

I Feel Like a Yo-Yo

I may have a big announcement to make in the next day or two. This came out of nowhere and unexpected. My days of self-employment with my own ad agency may be about to end. I interviewed today with a large, well-respected advertising agency and it went quite well.

Life is all about ups and downs and for the past month or so it's just been delivering a bunch of downs. It's time for an up and I'm ready for one.

I hadn't even started looking for a job. Funny, huh? And it's amazing how quickly you can whip up a resume. Gee, I don't think I've done one of those in years.

The Decline of Public Property

I should have more things to worry about than this but it alarms me for some reason. I expect to wake up some morning and be hit with the realization that I'm supporting corporations with each breath I take.
The state of Illinois yesterday took the first steps in selling its state lottery system, hoping to attract as much as $10 billion from investors who, in return, would own a monopoly that could turn out to be the biggest jackpot yet.

The sale, which may occur as early as the spring, would not be the first privatization of public property — both Chicago and Indiana have recently earned billions of dollars by signing long-term leases with private companies to run toll roads. But the proposed lottery sale is almost certain be one of the largest privatizations of a state-run program, and it raises concerns that states, some of them critically short of cash, are selling valuable assets that could otherwise provide consistent streams of revenue.

Under the proposed sale, Illinois would receive a multibillion-dollar one-time payment, and the lottery’s new owners would receive all revenue and profit for 75 years.

Indiana is also considering selling its lottery, and bids are due later this month. That sale is expected to raise more than $1 billion upfront and annual payments of $200 million. Midway Airport in Chicago, toll roads in Pennsylvania and the New Jersey Turnpike are all potentially on the block.

Gee, what on earth could be driving this trend?
“These are very healthy businesses,” said Melissa Kearney, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Maryland. “It’s unclear exactly what is gained by selling a lottery, except for a huge pot of money that legislators can start spending right away.”

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bush Fans the Anti-Abortion Flames

The Shrublet weighs in:
President Bush marked the 34th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision Monday, telling thousands of abortion foes he shares their goal of seeing "the day when every child is welcomed in life and protected into law."

"Every" child? Come on. Let's say for instance, that Jenna was raped -- and just to spice up the argument, let's say she was raped by the ultimate boogeyman, a black dude. Or what if she was raped by Jeb? What if having the baby put her life at risk? Hey, it happens.

Does Bush expect us to believe he would oppose her having an abortion?

Outlawing abortion would not stop abortions and would create a dangerous environment in which women continued to seek illegal abortions. Oh, but I keep forgetting: we don't give a crap about women, just their unborn fetuses.

Abortion Mortality
The number of deaths from abortion has declined dramatically since Roe v. Wade.

Click for chart source

Bush with his "culture of life" is so full of bullshit I don't know how Laura sleeps in the same room with him.

Blog for Choice Day

Today is the 34th anniversary of Roe Vs. Wade and it is just mind-boggling to me that the decision continues to be a lightning rod for most conservatives, not to mention such a polarizing issue in our country. Shakes Sis hadn't even been conceived when the ruling was handed down -- that's even more astonishing.

We have fought to preserve this for years and without a doubt the fight will continue.

From Shakes:
So on we march, from one battle to the next, fighting for the right to choose, to make up our own minds about our bodies and our futures. And in each place, of each new face who believes s/he knows better what's best for us, I hope we ask: I trust women; why don't you?

Also check out Litbrit's 3 Reasons Why I Am Pro-Choice.

And from Pam:
At this stage in the game, even contraception is on the table as pharmacists in many areas of the country can refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control; hospitals have even failed to offer emergency contraception to rape victims.

I support choice. Abortion will never disappear, nor should it. It's often necessary to save the woman's life, and in some cases, it's a decision made because the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. And yes, often it's simply a woman's choice, for whatever reason, not to give birth. In a free society a woman must always have the freedom to make such a personal choice with her own body.

90 100+ More Casualties in Iraq

At some point I should quit posting about this and just put a daily casualty figure in the sidebar. There's only so much a person can say or write about the situation. I'm tired of it.

A bomb followed by a mortar attack struck a market in a predominantly Shiite town north of Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 12 people and wounding nearly 30, police said. The bomb exploded at 5 p.m. near the main market in Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad, and a mortar shell struck the same area about five minutes later, according to the information bureau for the volatile Diyala province. It said 12 civilians were killed and 29 were wounded.

At least 78 people were killed and more than 150 wounded earlier Monday after two nearly simultaneous bombs struck a predominantly Shiite commercial area in central Baghdad in the deadliest attack in two months, officials said.

The U.S. military reported the deaths of two Marines in a particularly bloody weekend for American forces in Iraq -- a total of 27 dead in just two days.

Bring the troops home!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Before I Cancel Netflix (Temporarily Perhaps)

I have 3 movies to watch. What should I watch first? You vote. I don't care.

Ray (I've had it since September 12)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (I've had it since September 1)

Bad Education (I've had it since March 25)

At $20 a month, this isn't very economical.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


David Lynch is 61.

Blue Velvet is still one of my favorite films for some of the most memorable scenes and some unforgettable dialogue. And I still miss the Twin Peaks series. That pinnacle has yet to be reached again on network TV. It was far ahead of its time.

You Won't See This on American TV

Another reason why it makes sense that my inner European might be Dutch is because I think this commercial is hilarious!

Sex Offenders and Mental Illness

This is why I believe sex offenders need to be studied more carefully. It's not a routine criminal situation in which you simply throw them in prison for life, or as some advocate, condemn them to death row. The sex offender registry is also fraught with problems. But when a 29-year-old man tries to enroll in school by pretending to be 12 with the aid of a 61-year-old man who supposedly also believes the man to be 12, there are clearly others issues involved than merely a sexual appetite for children.

AP photo

The Yavapai County sheriff's office also said Neil Havens Rodreick II conned two men he was living with and having sex with into believing he was a young boy. One of them, 61-year-old Lonnie Stiffler, called himself Rodreick's grandfather when he tried to enroll him at Mingus Springs Charter School as "Casey Price."

It would be interesting to see video of the man. I find it hard to believe he could pass himself off to anyone as being 12.
Stiffler and Robert James Snow, 43, "were very upset when the detectives told them they had been having a sexual relationship with a 29-year-old man and not a pre-teen boy," Quayle said.


Deputies who served a search warrant at a Chino Valley home Thursday found Stiffler, Snow, Rodreick and Brian J. Nellis, 34. Quayle said Nellis was apparently Rodreick's cell mate in an Oklahoma prison, where both served time for sex offenses.

They were "very upset" the guy wasn't 12? Jee-zus! Personally, I think they should have been greatly relieved but what the hell do I know.

It's rare for me to rendered almost speechless by a piece of news so strange and twisted. Bring on the mental health professionals and let's see if they can unravel this one. I'm sure there are varying degrees of illness contributing to a desire for pre-teen sex. And with proper counseling maybe some sex offenders can get it under control. In the case of this group of men, it's beyond extreme and I'm just guessing, but returning to a normal life in society seems completely off the table.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Pussy Blog

Better late than never. Here's Tiger with his winter coat. I've never seen a cat put on so much fur. I was hoping he would roll over on his back for a belly rub but I couldn't get him to stay in the position long enough for me to snap a pic. When he does that, his face almost disappears in the mounds of fur.

My Inner European

From over at Jack's nonexistent place.

Your Inner European is Dutch!

Open minded and tolerant.
You're up for just about anything.

Funny. True, but I could do without the clown face, thank you very much.

When I used to work in college bookstores there were always lots of students from Holland, and some of them worked in the bookstores as well. I began studying the language and reached a point where I could speak and write quite well -- not that it was necessary since they all spoke fluent English. I've always been a tad radical. I loved Holland too. For some reason they were surprised that I could correctly pronounce Scheveningen -- not sure why.

You Give Me Cat Scratch Fever

Ted, what the hell is that hanging off your ass?

The video clip is only being used (loosely) as humor and is not related to this story.
Using machine guns as props, Nugent, 58, appeared onstage as the final act of the inaugural ball wearing a cutoff T-shirt emblazoned with the Confederate flag and shouting offensive remarks about non-English speakers, according to people who were in attendance.

Perry's spokesman, Robert Black, downplayed the Tuesday-night incident.

"Ted Nugent is a good friend of the governor's. He asked him if he would play at the inaugural. He didn't put any stipulation of what he would play," Black said.

Who else might be a good friend of Governor Perry that we might need to know about? I know it's a longshot, but does he have any intellectual friends, or are they all just washed up, belligerent assholes?

I loved how Waveflux captioned the photo: "All that's missing is George Allen."

Fortunately, we do have a few sensible folks here in Texas.
Hundreds of people attended the ball, but most had left before Nugent's performance.

On 2nd thought, they only get the sensible points for missing Nugent, not for attending this pointless and wasteful event whose primary purpose is to blow more hot air into the already overinflated ego of a bonafide prick sporting a plasticized hairdo.

Corn Prices Putting Tortillas Out of Reach for Many Poor Mexicans. Why?

This story isn't at all surprising and there will be far greater repercussions to come.

Facing public outrage over the soaring price of tortillas, President Felipe Calderón abandoned his free-trade principles on Thursday and forced producers to sign an agreement fixing prices for corn products.

Skyrocketing prices for corn on the world market have pushed up the price of the humble tortilla, the mainstay of the Mexican diet, by nearly a third in the past three weeks, to 35 cents a pound in Mexico City and even higher in other parts of the country.

Half of the country’s 107 million people live on $4 a day or less, and many of them survive largely on tortillas and beans. The price increases have riled the public to such an extent that it has created a political storm that threatens to swamp Mr. Calderón’s fresh presidency.

I would certainly shed no tears over a brief Calderón presidency but this issue is about a far greater threat.

There is a continuing debate here about what caused the price of tortillas to shoot up so quickly. Some economists blame the increased demand for corn from ethanol plants in the United States, and it is true corn prices in the States last week reached their highest point in a decade, the United States Agriculture Department said. At the same time, the cost of white corn has risen about 13 percent here over the past year, Mexican government figures show.

But Mexican lawmakers and other officials have suggested that giant tortilla companies and corn flour distributors — among them Grupo Maseca S.A. and Maíz Industrializado S.A., often known as Minsa — have taken advantage of the situation, hoarding supplies to drive prices up even more.

Both situations are probably true. Although more farmers are planting corn this year, the corn is destined for an ever-growing number ethanol plants under construction.
Inspired by soaring demand for corn to feed the growing ethanol industry, farmers across the United States are planting corn this year instead of soybeans, wheat and cotton.

Even the man who farms our land in Arkansas is planning to grow corn this year for the first time ever. He has traditionally only grown cotton, soybeans, and some rice.

Depending on the reduced levels of cotton, soybeans, and wheat farming, it will be quite interesting to see how this all plays out on the global stage as all eyes turn to corn and ethanol production to satisfy our desire and need for alternative fuels and to reduce our dependency on imported fuels.

I've never believed this particular solution was going to be economically viable, particularly when placed in the context of its impact elsewhere. We may soon realize the trade off is not pleasant.
Some farmers are contemplating planting continuous years of corn, but that can lead to pest problems and increased costs for fertilizer and seed, said Bruce Erickson, a Purdue University agricultural economist. And those fields tend to produce less each year. Most farmers rotate their crops to maintain nutrients in the soil and stop insects and weeds.

"Most scientific research shows a 10 percent drop in yield when you plant corn on corn," Erickson said. In Louisiana, the number of acres devoted to corn likely will double and could triple, said David Bollich, a grain marketing specialist with the Louisiana Farm Bureau.

"Everybody wants to get into corn this year, some who have never planted it before," he said.


Corn prices are so high, though, that it will cost chicken and pork producers more to feed their animals, and that could end up increasing prices at grocery stores.

Construction of ethanol plants is by no means limited to the United States. Fifteen are slated for construction in the Philippines in sugar-producing regions.

Pandora's Box has been opened and the beast is emerging. You have been warned. It will take years for the companies who are investing heavily in ethanol plants to recoup their investment, farmers are desperate for crops which fetch top dollar, and someone is going to pay in the end.

However, if one unintended side effect of all this is a sharp reduction in the livestock industry due to increased costs of feed or grazing land converted to farming more corn, that just might be beneficial if society can adjust to a less meat-based diet.
Last month, the United Nations published a report on livestock and the environment with a stunning conclusion: "The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." It turns out that raising animals for food is a primary cause of land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and not least of all, global warming.

Hat tip to Litbrit for emailing me that link and this appropriate comment: "Food for thought; fuel for debate, though there really isn't much left to debate when it comes to what humans have done to the planet."

Another hard lesson looms right on the horizon.

Crossposted at B3

Somalia: "In this country, nobody cares if you live or die."

That quote is from this woman.

Halima, a resident of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, is the distraught mother of a 22-year-old militiaman hit in the brain by a bullet. Behind her, a wall in her home is ridden with bullet holes from neighborhood fighting. Photo credit: Michael Kamber for The New York Times.

This situation in Somalia is truly gut-wrenching.

A week ago, Yoonis Issay Alin was riding around in the back of a pickup, part of a squad of tough-looking guys with big trucks and big guns.

Now he is drooling on a metal cot, shot in the head over a parking spot.

All around him at Medina Hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, young men writhe in steamy beds, their arms and legs trapped in traction ropes, their gunshot wounds the latest proof of a society out of control. It is hard to imagine there is enough gauze in this broken-down country to keep up.


His skull is encased in a helmet of white medical tape. He has been drifting in and out of consciousness, and doctors say they have no way to gauge the amount of brain damage.

“There are no neurosurgeons here, no M.R.I.’s, no CAT scans, no psychiatrists,” said Sheikhdon Salad Elmi, director of Medina Hospital. “Can you imagine that? In a city where everyone needs therapy, not a single psychiatrist?”

Deplorable. This situation seems like it could be controlled with a minimal amount of effort compared to the bloodshed in Iraq for instance. The few who are doing anything don't seem to be doing enough.
Diplomats see international peacekeepers as the only way to stabilize Somalia once Ethiopian troops -- who helped the interim government oust rival Islamists over the New Year and are now propping up the administration -- return home.

But with Uganda the only country to pledge troops publicly, funding uncertain and African politicians clearly wary of a messy engagement in a nation in anarchy since 1991, many think it will be a long and difficult task to muster such a force.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Chunks of Ice Are Falling

For those of you lucky enough to have never experienced an ice storm, allow me to enlighten you. It's one thing for a light rain or drizzle to fall in freezing temperatures causing ice to form on roads, bridges, trees, or anything else. It does so very quietly. You might never know it's happening which is rather scary. And then with enough weight building up on surfaces, things can sag or break. It's particularly annoying when the thing that snaps happens to be a power line.

The real fun begins when the temperatures warm up enough to cause the ice to dislodge and fall. There are chunks falling all over the yard. It sounds like golf balls hitting the ground. It's almost funny. I will not be walking out in the yard until this is done. A severe head injury is not on my wish list.

Gee, I'm glad I'm not downtown walking beneath a 30-story building.

Iraqi Government Not Amused By UN Report

Aside from criticizing the 2006 casualty figure of 34,452 civilians killed as reported by the UN, the government is also upset at the mention of human rights violations affecting homosexuals. If this is the type of government we're spending our hundreds of billions of dollars to establish and attempting to secure, can I please get a refund for my contribution?
The report was superficial in dealing with several points," spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.


"The current environment of impunity and lawlessness invites a heightened level of insecurity for homosexuals in Iraq. Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile toward homosexuals frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them," the U.N. report read. "There has been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq."

Such a topic is widely frowned at in this predominantly Muslim country and gays usually keep their sexual orientation a secret.

"There was information in the report that we cannot accept here in Iraq. The report, for example, spoke about the phenomenon of homosexuality and giving them their rights," al-Dabbagh said. "Such statements are not suitable to the Iraqi society. This is rejected."

"They should respect the values and traditions here in Iraq," he said.

Just lovely.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why I Hate Banks...

...along with a wide assortment of other entities, such as the post office, and the UPS store where I rent a mailbox for business mail, and clients who can't pay in a timely manner.

Friday was the last day I checked the mail. I expected at least one check and there were none. Saturday afternoon we were in the area but I didn't bother to check because the bank was closed anyway until Tuesday.

Granted, we had unusual weather this week. It was cold. It was wet. And there was ice. But I went out anyway to check the mail yesterday because I desperately needed to get a check to the bank. The roads in our neighborhood were icy in spots but once I got a mile out to the highway it was fine. Lots of slush but I could comfortably drive at least 45 mph for the 3 mile trip to the mailbox.

Lo and behold, the UPS store was closed due to weather. I still had a check to deposit which had come to our house instead of the business mailbox so I journeyed on to the bank which is about 9 miles from our house. The trip from the UPS store to the bank in Austin was a breeze. Some slush here and there, and the roads were wet but not at all icy. I got to the bank and they were closed. Again, due to weather. I used the night deposit for my check and wondered to myself why no employees could make it to work when I obviously made it there with no problems. And I would guess they have many employees who live in town where the roads were in better condition than in the outlying areas.

What's funny odd is that the people who do the nightly check processing were obviously working because I had 11 checks bounce overnight. That probably pisses me off more than the UPS store being closed. I can't make a deposit to cover outstanding checks because the bank is closed, and yet they process checks overnight and ding me for $264 in NSF fees. Nice fuckers folks those banking people!

This afternoon I drove back to the UPS store only to find them still closed. There's a part of me that seriously wanted to smash their windows, go in and get my mail, and leave. But the last thing I need right now is to be arrested. Honestly, many people were out and about today. With the temperature hovering around 30, the roads were not going to be that bad, especially the high traffic areas. I'm wondering how many more NSF fees I'll be hit with tonight because the assholes can't be bothered to go mind the friggin' store.

By the time I actually get my hands on those checks -- hopefully tomorrow (the temps should be in the 40s so there are NO excuses this time)-- I'm afraid all they're going to cover are the NSF fees and I'll be right back at square one. Such is life.

Oh, I should mention that I also hate winter. That fine day yesterday was capped with a power outage at our house just as I was assembling ingredients for dinner. So we sat in candlelight drinking tequila & beer and playing cards.

What $1.2 Trillion Can Buy

That is the title of an article in today's New York Times by David Leonhardt and it's quite interesting.

I recently suggested that for a fraction of the Iraq war cost, America could eliminate the problem of homelessness considering the cost of the war represents over $500,000 for each homeless person in the country.

This was perhaps the most interesting fact from the article, just in case some of you forgot:
In the days before the war almost five years ago, the Pentagon estimated that it would cost about $50 billion. Democratic staff members in Congress largely agreed. Lawrence Lindsey, a White House economic adviser, was a bit more realistic, predicting that the cost could go as high as $200 billion, but President Bush fired him in part for saying so.


“This war has skewed our thinking about resources,” said Mr. Wallsten, a senior fellow at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, a conservative-leaning research group. “In the context of the war, $20 billion is nothing.”

So very true and what a shame.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

You Don't Really Care for Music, Do Ya?

Something about this song is bone-chillin' which seems appropriate given our weather. I heard the Jeff Buckley version on the radio while I was driving in the cold slush this afternoon so I wanted to share it. I still love k.d. lang's version too so you get a double whammy.

Sometimes at night while we're making dinner and drinking tequila, I'll start the music off with some I've posted on my blog and I'll probably play one of these tonight when I get started in the kitchen. That seems strange to play music from my own blog -- it's almost like... blogsterbation.

Snowing in Austin

Here's about 40 seconds of video taken just an hour or so ago. The first segment is our backyard. Only light snow and sleet were falling. Another 10 seconds at the end shows a few larger flakes falling in a shot from the kitchen window looking toward our street. It's noon, precip is still falling, and apparently more on the way.

I hate to say this, but your konagod isn't the brightest bulb in the pack. I'm wearing socks and sandals and I keep using my foot to break the ice in the cat's water bowl. I've done this 3 times and each time my foot gets soaked with ice cold water. I guess I should go change my socks (again).

Update: What a wasted trip. My business checking account is overdrawn and I had a check that needed depositing. So off I went about 3:30 this afternoon to the bank. The area where we live is at a higher elevation than central Austin. Our neighborhood roads were a bit dicey. It's a mile to a major U.S. highway. Once I got there the roads were slushy but fine. Streets in Austin were simply wet. Nevertheless, the city was virtually shut down. My bank was closed so I made a night deposit. (And they'd better not be processing checks tonight -- if I see that any checks bounce tonight someone is gonna get an ear full of my wrath tomorrow!)

Two of my regular liquor stores were also closed but on my way home I found one open. So there's tequila in the house for a cold wintry night. And it has begun to sleet again.

How Not to Execute

Perhaps the "Iraqi government" should reconsider the death penalty after Saddam Hussein's half brother was decapitated as a result of his hanging. While there is no humane method of killing someone, these people can't seem to accomplish a routine execution without botching it and subsequently creating more chaos.
Many of the people who had gathered considered the decapitation of Barzan Ibrahim to be a calculated insult, another act by the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to humiliate followers of the executed former president and all his fellow Sunni Arabs. A doctor inspected the remains to assess the government's explanation that the noose inadvertently took off the head after Ibrahim dropped through the trapdoor of the scaffold.


In many parts of Iraq, the executions set off new waves of anger and celebration along sectarian lines, though Maliki's government had gone to great pains to prevent the type of chaotic spectacle that accompanied Hussein's hanging two weeks ago, when Shiite witnesses in the execution chamber taunted Hussein.

Meanwhile, the UN is reporting that 34,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in 2006, a far higher number than previously reported. A slightly larger number were injured.

California Crops Suffer a Blow

Get ready to pay more for some of your produce. The arctic air which grips much of the nation has also taken a severe toll on California's citrus crops.
State officials said there was no clear way of knowing at this point how much damage had been done by the freeze, which has sent temperatures plunging into the teens and 20s from Eureka in the north to near the Mexican border for several nights.

Farmers in some sections of the Central Valley, the 400-mile-long agricultural engine, and farther south reported near complete losses of fields of oranges, lemons and other citrus.

The state’s food and agriculture secretary, A. G. Kawamura, said the damage appeared even more widespread than that from a freeze in December 1998 that cost growers $700 million.

Losses could total close to $1 billion. The Food and Agriculture Department estimates the value of citrus still on the trees as being close to that amount. Other crops are also at risk such as strawberries, avocados, lettuce and celery.

Good Morning Sunshine

I never thought I'd wake up in a happy mood when it's 25 degrees and has been drizzling all night. I'm happy because we still have electricity and the coffee has been brewed. All is well. I foolishly went out to see if the newspapers were here, knowing they wouldn't be due to icy roads. Even if the highways have been sanded, it is quite hilly in our neighborhood and remains to be seen whether I can get out to the highway later today. And it appears this isn't over yet.

It's finally getting light enough outside now that I can make out some trees against the sky and it does not appear to be very severe in our back yard. Nothing like this situation in Springfield, MO:

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AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

Time for a 2nd cup of coffee.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cooking with konagod & txrad

I started blanching collard greens around 4:30 for freezing. I held back enough fresh ones for a nice batch with tonight's meal: purple hull peas, mac & cheese, veggie patties, corn bread, and some chow chow shipped to me from my mom which was made by the guy who used to farm our land. He's in his 80s and makes the stuff every year. txrad prepared the peas; I did the rest.

Yum! THIS is comfort food for a cold wintry night.

The Iceman Cometh

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Not everyone is fortunate enough to be picking collard greens in the garden on January 15. I did just that a few minutes ago despite a wind chill in the teens. The leaves were starting to freeze from the ice.

Hopefully no additional rain will fall here today although the forecast calls for it. We have no firewood so if the power goes out, we're in for an unpleasant situation. It's currently 27 and we probably won't climb above the freezing mark again until mid-day on Wednesday.

txrad insisted I make sure to credit him with the growing of the garden produce.

Remember the Dream

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Meet the Grandparents

Imagine my surprise recently when I received a large green envelope from my mother containing these two photos. I will now share with you, dear faithful readers, some family history.

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These are my mother's parents from northeast Mississippi. This grandmother died before I was born although I believe my mother may have been pregnant with me at the time. My grandfather lived well into his 90s. I don't recall when he died. But I knew him well enough.

It is difficult for me to view these photos with any bitterness and certainly I harbor no hatred. After all, had they not conceived my mother, the konagod blog would not exist. However, it really sucks having to admit coming from a long lineage of racists which fortunately, was severed with me... but not until I was about 20.

Having known this grandmother only through photographs (and I suspect both of these photos were taken by my father in the late 1950s) it's impossible to know what she was really like. I must rely on stories told to me by my mother who is 83. I haven't even seen very many photos of this grandmother but of the ones I have seen, she usually had a scowl on her face and I assumed she was a mean and cranky woman. As a child I even remember being relieved that she was dead so I wouldn't have to be alone around her.

Actually, she just had that sense of humor: faux cranky. I'm told she was very sweet. In my maturity now, I can see similarities between her and my mother, and all my uncles.

We used to visit them at least twice a year when I was growing up. When I was a child it was fun. My grandfather had chickens and I loved going into the chicken yard. He had some other quirks.... like a major sweet tooth. He would hoard sugar, especially if he thought prices might go up. On one occasion I recall him showing off his pantry which was stacked floor to ceiling with 5 lb. bags of sugar. As if that wasn't enough, he had a metal cabinet against a wall next to the pantry. He flung open the doors, and that was also packed with bags of sugar on every shelf.

He would also drink water from a ladle he kept hanging on the wall. In the old days before they had indoor plumbing I'm sure he would dip the ladle into a bucket of water he'd pumped from outside. Old habits are hard to break. The old hand pump still worked when I was young. But then it served as a post for the gate into the chicken yard.

His house was quite old and the living room was always closed off. I used to sneak in there occasionally and it appeared to have never been used. It was furnished but always dark and it had a very musky odor.

My grandfather slept on a feather bed in what was probably a den. And by feather bed, I'm not referring to those down-filled comforters. This was a mattress stuffed with feathers and was very unshapely due to feathers all bunching up in sections of it. I seem to remember there only being one bedroom and apparently that's where his subsequent wives would sleep.

Visiting him in the summer months was always confusing because he refused to observe daylight savings time. My watch never matched his clocks. He wasn't gung-ho about government interference with God's time. (Neither am I, but I do love those long summer days.)

He would go to bed as soon as the sun would set. Sometimes we'd sit in the yard visiting, and when the sun sank below the horizon, off he'd go to bed. Sometimes we'd stay just for a little while longer visiting with his wife. I'd amuse myself by chasing fireflies.

Pop, as he was known, kept a small radio on a table next to his bed. He would awaken long before the crack of dawn and turn on the radio and listen to evangelists for hours. He couldn't hear well as he got older so the radio would be cranked to a painful level for those of us with good hearing.

He loved telling stories. Unfortunately, he would tell the same ones over and over. He was definitely what most people would call a racist. Thankfully he was never mean to black people as far as I know. There were no white robes hanging in his closet. But he had an aversion to black skin. One story he'd always tell was when a black man wanted to shake his hand. Pop reluctantly shook the man's hand but wasn't comfortable in doing so. He explained why: "their palms are whiter than the rest of their skin." I guess that was just too freaky for the old man.

By the time I was a teen-ager and becoming more aware of things, I began to feel less comfortable with these visits. I never recall a conversation coming up about homosexuals but I probably knew in my core if this man thought black people were untouchable because their palms were a lighter tone than the rest of their skin, he certainly wouldn't be proud to have a grandchild who liked to sleep over with a friend of the same sex who educated me on the pleasures of having my dick sucked.

It was also becoming more apparent to me that his immediately family were certainly no friends of Dorothy either. One of my uncles had several kids close to my age. One boy was perhaps a year older, and there were 3 girls all within several years of my age. On one of our visits to Mississippi, I took along a few records -- not just for my own entertainment, but I thought my cousins might like to hear some music. They never seemed very exposed to the ways of the world. I took out a 45 rpm and popped it on the turntable. I have no idea what it might have been but Norman Greenbaum's Spirit in the Sky is one possibility.

I was quickly informed by one of my older cousins that I should turn it off and hide those records before her dad heard it. He didn't allow that kind of music or any kind of dancing in the house.

This was one of those defining moments in life when I realized I did not fit in with this group of people.

The last 3 or 4 years of visiting there were agonizing for me. And at some point my grandfather got rid of the chickens. I was never so relieved when I turned 18 and went off to college. I never wanted to go back to see the Mississippi kin. I'm sure I did go one or two additional times with my parents, but I've certainly not been there since I was about 22. Not only did they all have recist tendencies, but even the cousins and now their children are all the same. Hardcore Republican Bush supporters too.

One troubling memory I have was a brave drive to visit my grandfather... alone, while in college. We never ever had much to say in a one-on-one situation anyway, and I'm not sure why I wanted to go alone. It's all a bit of a blur. I remember my grandfather being moved that I came to visit him for an hour or so.

What's even more strange is that I'm not convinced it ever happened. There's no reason why I would have gone alone. Maybe it was a dream. I'm not even sure. It feels like a real memory, and yet something about it seems so implausible. It haunts me.

But I do keep a photograph on the mantle above our fireplace of one pleasant memory: the chicken yard.

Part 2 in a series on Parents/Grandparents

Part 1: Father and Son

Deceptive Weather Forecasts

Do not be deceived into thinking we are having a pleasant day in Austin. That high of 69 was probably at 12:01 AM this morning. It was 57 when I got up at 6:30. Now, at 8:45 it's only 42 with lots of thunder, lightning and heavy rain.

But it gets worse. We are under a flash flood warning until 9:30 this morning. Then, perhaps late tomorrow, we may be getting the ice storm and power outages. Nice.

If I'm not blogging, you'll know why.

Friday, January 12, 2007

(reality) check is in the mail

txrad just said "i think i'm getting the blues."

konagod said: "well I sure hope so. You're gonna need that much or better to survive."

Friday Pussy Blog

This is what I have to hear all afternoon on a daily basis until I pop open a can of chicken -- and trust me, she toned it down quite a bit for the video. I should have had the camera ready yesterday while I was trying to take a nap. She came quietly into the bedroom and then let out a blood-curdling screech. It scared the crap out of me.

It's Raining Men

What is it with the Chinese infatuation with male babies?
China will have 30 million more men of marriageable age than women in less than 15 years as a gender imbalance resulting in part from the country's tough one-child policy becomes more pronounced, state media reported Friday. Traditional preferences for sons has led to the widespread - but illegal - practice of women aborting babies if an early term sonogram shows it is a girl.


"Discrimination against the female sex remains the primary cause of China's growing gender imbalance," Liu Bohong, vice director of the women studies institute under the All-China Women's Federation, was quoted as saying in a report from the State Population and Family Planning Commission.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Arts Meme

Tagged by my favorite redhead, Maurinsky.

Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies:

I don't know if I've ever given away a book. But there is one book I'd like a LOT of people to read including all politicians: Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do by Peter McWilliams.

Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music:

It goes without saying I can name several landmark pieces that altered my life. One was Black Sabbath's Paranoid LP. That pretty much moved me away from the pop of the same era. I still find the band's older work to be a shattering revelation -- I would love to have been with an early conservative record executive the first time he heard their first release.

Next up would probably be Roxanne by the Police. I still remember I was driving in the car in Albuquerque in 1978 the first time I heard it on the radio. The Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks also impacted me, but before I'd ever heard any of their music. Simply reading about their upcoming US tour and all the controvery made me realize some dramatic change was forthcoming. The idea of punk rock was thrilling. I never heard the LP until I bought it in London a year later, shipped it back to the US and then played it for the first time when I got home. I was sick with the flu when I gave it a spin and fully expected it to be a loud and talentless piece of shit. OK, it was loud. And they weren't the most talented musicians, but it nailed me to the wall nonetheless. I still have that one too.

I also agree with Maurinsky's answer with the Talking Heads' Psycho Killer. The band initially had a rather irritating effect on me. I liked it, but there was something I wasn't used to -- the artfulness of it. That took some repeated listenings for me to come around.

Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue:

Annie Hall, the Big Lebowski, and any of the Christopher Guest creations, particularly Spinal Tap.

Name a performer for whom you suspend all disbelief:

Christopher Guest -- he's just as close to flawless as you can get.

Name a work of art you'd like to live with:

Him. Although I'd probably do significant damage to it trying to get an arousal.

Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life:

I honestly can't think of a book, but the original Star Trek series most definitely penetrated my life and helped mold me into who I am.

Name a punch line that always makes you laugh:

"Yeah, I know; and such small portions."

Tagged: Minstrel Boy.

Help Wanted: Dream Analysis

Anxiety dreams are pretty common for everyone. When I was younger I would have dreams about being late for a critical college exam, being unable to get out of a parking garage for an appointment, or realizing I had skipped classes the entire semester and now it was too late to drop the class. I had those long after leaving college.

For the past few years I have been having these recurring dreams where I am in London. I had flown over for a short vacation and somehow just stayed for months. Most of the time it seemed I was unaware just how long I had been there. I would come to a sudden realization that I had been there 3 or 4 months, sometimes even longer. I would think perhaps it would be a good idea to go to Heathrow and try getting a flight home.

I would plan this every day and several days would pass for whatever reason. I could not get back to my flat to pack my stuff. Or I would be on the train to the airport and realize I had left everything in my flat and have to return to fetch the stuff which would delay me another day. Most of the time, in my dream, I wake up one morning in London and it hits me: I need to go to the airport but my hunch was always that the flights all depart in the morning and it's already too late for me to get to the airport, so I postpone for another day. The bottom line is I never make it to the airport in any of these dreams.

Last night the dream returned. This time I had a cellphone. I was trying to call Delta Airlines to find out what time the flights leave. One of the aspects of these dreams is that I never have a clue when the last departure leaves for the US so I just don't bother going to the airport for fear of getting there too late for the last flight. Somehow I managed to get to the airport for the first time. I was told that the only flight was departing at 5:30am. The twist was that the airport doesn't open until 5:30 so the only way to catch the flight is to get there in the evening before the airport shuts down and spend the night there.

I returned to my flat to ponder this a bit longer. I always hated having to sleep in airports. Besides, I always felt a sense of relief coupled with anxiety when I put off leaving for just one more day. It's rather strange -- almost a liberating feeling.

Anyway, I just checked Delta online. They fly out of Gatwick. The last departure is at 1:00 pm. I will be curious to see if I can utilize this information in my next dream -- assuming of course that I really want to come home. I am never sure.

The Bottle Has Been Drained

What a perfect metaphor for the Bushspeak and the failed war effort.

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I would have to check the transcript of the speech but I'm sure it was "Al Qaeda" that contributed to emptying the bottle. He used the term eight times in two paragraphs.

The New York Times delivered a rather blistering editorial which began thusly:

President Bush told Americans last night that failure in Iraq would be a disaster. The disaster is Mr. Bush’s war, and he has already failed. Last night was his chance to stop offering more fog and be honest with the nation, and he did not take it.

Not surprisingly, there are always going to be a few die-hard supporters of the Shrublet who feel he's always on the right path to success regardless of cost or consequences.

In other places, there was less reserved support for Bush and the reinforcement strategy. At an American Legion post near Fort Hood, Texas, Vietnam veteran George Payntar said he backed the president's plan.

"I think we need to stop the terrorism, stop it there," said Payntar, whose daughter has been stationed in Iraq since October. "If we pull out, they'll be here. I am afraid if we pull out now, we would lose the progress we made and the Iraqi people would suffer greatly."

How do people manage to keep their heads buried up their asses in the sand for so long? Most of what is going on in Iraq can't be attributed to terrorism unless you want to use the term in its loose sense: the war is terrifying so therefore it's terrorism. What "progress" have we made? Hasn't there already been great suffering by the Iraqi people? The dead Iraqis probably number in the hundreds of thousands and millions have fled the country for safer havens. The mind-boggling asinine stupidity of people is terrifying in and of itself.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Would the Real President Please Stand Up

This is bullshit. It's always nice to know Joe Lieberman is still the suckling pig to this idiot from the Texas bush country.

Some evil entity has assumed control of the Bush brain. Is it Rove? I sense puppet strings.

I deeply resent the fact that I wasted a good bottle of tequila on this stupid fuck.

Let the games begin.

Let's Drink to Bush

Now that Kelly has put forth some ground rules for tonight's drinking game, here are the ones I'll participate in, since we don't do jagermeister in this house!

If he has his American Flag pin on his lapel, drink 1/2 a beer.
OK, that's a guaranteed half a beer. But since I always drink several beers, I got that one covered.

Each time he says victory (the time for that has long since passed), drink a shot of tequila.
This could get dangerous. Hopefully he'll abstain but I would expect him to blurt it out at least 4 times. I'm prepared.

Each time he says Al Quada, take a shot of tequila.
THIS could get real dangerous, but the good news is, I only bought a 375ml bottle of tequila. I have a hunch that bottle will be emptied.

Each time he says "Surge" or "Escalation" drink a beer.
That should take care of my normal beer quota. There might even be a backlog developing at some pint point, but I'll catch up.

So, excellent game Kelly! Looks like a fun night ahead of us.
The dreaded speech begins at 9 pm eastern. I will already have a one-hour head start by then!

:::: postcard from maurinsky ::::

I just love fan mail! This Zappa card came in the mail today from maurinsky.

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I'll have to remember to repost this next year during Zappadan!

Here We Go (Again)

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More details of tonight's speech by Bush to sell his insanity to the American public are oozing out. I usually like to have a bottle of tequila standing by whenever the Shrublet makes a TV appearance but in all honesty, I don't see how I can even make an effort to watch this drivel tonight. This first paragraph alone makes me nauseated.

President Bush will tell a nation weary of war Wednesday night that he is sending 21,500 more Americans to Iraq, arguing it has been a mistake not to commit larger numbers of U.S and Iraqi troops to stabilize the increasingly violent, shattered country.

Yes, a mistake was made. A mistake was made when George H.W. Bush and Barbara copulated in the autumn of 1944 and a mistake was made when Barbara conceived. Another mistake was made when she didn't abort. But let's just stick to the mistakes of this administration. This war was a mistake. Sending more troops simply increases the odds that more will die for this mistake, but Bush, in his quest for glory is prepared to put all the chips on the table regardless of the long odds. The spilled blood is on his hands. Chips, in this case, being the lives of young men & women.
Bush, meanwhile, is putting the onus on the Iraqis to meet their responsibilities and take the lead in the fighting, but without the threat of specific consequences if they do not.

"The Iraqis have to step up," White House counselor Dan Bartlett said.

A lot of things have to happen.
I have spent more than a few nights in a Vegas casino throwing my last few dollars at a slot machine thinking, "I have to get lucky eventually." I didn't, and what I had to do was walk away, humbly, but knowing I'd learned my lesson.
After nearly four years of fighting, $400 billion and thousands of American and Iraqi lives lost, [ahem, make that tens of thousands, if not in the hundreds of thousands] approval of the president's handling of the war hit a record low of 27 percent in December, according to an AP-Ipsos poll.

Anybody want to bet it'll be below 23 percent within 2 months?

Just to put this in perspective, there are 744,000 homeless people in the United States. Had this $400 billion war in Iraq been spent on the homeless problem, that would amount to roughly $530,000 per person. Assuming that's at least ten times the amount needed to solve the homeless problem, you have to wonder what other great strides this nation could have made rather than allowing an insane halfwit obsessive tyrant to wreck us.


There are lots of notable birthdays this week!

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg is 46.

We saw her in a great documentary awhile back and thought she was an amazing talent -- one of those quirky off-the-wall (perhaps a tad nuts) talents. It's a shame there were no videos on YouTube.

Shawn Colvin is 49

Pat Benatar is 54
I don't have the stomach this morning for one of those tacky 80s music videos with big hair and hideous makeup.

Rod Stewart is 62

Max Roach was born on this day in 1925.

OOPS! I think Max is still alive actually. If so, he is 82.

Blog Awards

Just a reminder, the Koufax Awards are open for nominations and the
Bloggies are still open for noms until 10pm EST tonight.

I've been so involved with work issues for the past two weeks I really hadn't paid any attention to these until commenter jacq pointed out last night that I'd been nominated. As always, I appreciate the support.

I'll try to make a better effort to post more this week. It's rather difficult to have inspiration when you are chasing clients for money while barely keeping your head above rising waters.

The Poobah also called out for "less birthdays" in a comment last night. I realize it's annoying to be reminded on a daily basis that we're all getting old -- and honestly, I breathe a sigh of relief when there's a day in which I can't find a birthday I feel compelled to celebrate via a blog post. Unfortunately, today is not one of those days.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Joan Baez is 66

Jimmy Paige is 63
(but only 14 in this clip)

Dave Matthews is 40

Hell Awaits

We're just a day away from Shrublet's new Iraqi plan: the surge.

Up to 20,000 troops will be put on alert and be prepared to deploy under the president's plan, but the increase in forces on the ground will be gradual, said the official, who requested anonymity because the plans have not yet been announced.

That should sufficiently answer the questionn regarding whether this is a short-term or long-term plan. Seems to me, gradual going in = gradual going out.

Russ has a post up at Pam's about Iraqi oil reserves being opened for "exploitation by Western oil companies."

No big surprise. The full story is here in the Independent.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.

The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said.

Are we all feeling dirty yet?

Monday, January 08, 2007


Shirley Bassey is 70

David Bowie is 60

Elvis Presley would have been 72

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Rock n Roll Hoochie Coo

Which one of these fine looking blokes is now a remember of the U.S. House of Representatives?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

...John Hall [center], the band’s guitarist, wasn’t content to stick to the bouncy tunes and lyrics about sweet romance. He also used the stage to lecture audiences about the dangers of plutonium production.

“He would take the liberty of getting on the soapbox at a lot of concerts and go on a bit about nuclear power,” said Larry Hoppen, the bass guitarist for Orleans. “But you have to understand it in the context of the ’70s, with the Nixon thing and the nuke thing.


Mr. Hall was one of many political activists from that era. But when he was sworn in as a congressman on Thursday, he became the first bona fide rock ’n’ roll musician in the House of Representatives. (Sonny Bono did not play an instrument.) [oh, he played Cher, didn't he?]

The ratty T-shirts and the long hair are gone, and the bare-chested album covers have given way to dark suits, conservative ties and wingtip shoes.

Honestly, I can't decide which is worse, but I'm tempted to say the dark suits and conservative ties are more unappealing... even in his case.

Mr. Hall, a Democrat, defeated Sue W. Kelly, the Republican who had held the seat for six terms, to represent the 19th Congressional District of New York, which stretches from the Connecticut line, through the Hudson Valley, across the Catskills and to the Pennsylvania border.

I sincerely hope he'll have something to say about the upcoming Bush surge. And no, it's not going to be a surge in poll numbers for the Shrublet. We're talking about the new and improved strategy in Iraq. And the surge could also be a reference to additional spending as well.
As he prepares for a nationally televised address next week, officials said, Bush is considering three main options to bolster U.S. forces in Iraq: a relatively modest deployment of fewer than 4,000 additional troops, a middle-ground alternative involving about 9,000 and, the most aggressive idea, flowing 20,000 more troops into the country.

My goodness, even Trent Lott is sounding sane:
Even many Republicans appear unenthusiastic about troop increases. Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said Thursday night on MSNBC's "Hardball" that he might say no to the surge. "I want to know what it all is," Lott said of Bush's overall plan. "But here's my main point: We've got to change the status quo. At some point we've got to say to the Iraqis, 'Congratulations. Saddam is dead. We've given you an opportunity for peace and freedom. It's yours.'"

I hope Representative Hall read this disturbing news in the NY Times today.

I guess we aren't throwing enough billions away already. But hey, at least this would be spent here in the U.S. It's about time some billions were spent on New Orleans health care poverty homelessness -- let me keep going, I'm bound to get it right eventually -- let's see, what's of the utmost urgency and importance... NUCLEAR WARHEADS?

The Bush administration is expected to announce next week a major step forward in the building of the country’s first new nuclear warhead in nearly two decades. It will propose combining elements of competing designs from two weapons laboratories in an approach that some experts argue is untested and risky.


The effort, if approved by President Bush and financed by Congress, would require a huge refurbishment of the nation’s complex for nuclear design and manufacturing, with the overall bill estimated at more than $100 billion.

Someone please slap me out of this horrifying nightmare.


Sandra Bernhard is 52

Paul Revere of Paul Revere and the Raiders is 65