Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Cat Yoga Edition

When I walk in with the camera, the Tot likes to be silly and roll around while chirping at me.

And he'll give me that I'm-the-sweetest-cat-on-the-planet look.
He likes to show off all his pink bits.

Meanwhile, I was hoping to catch Sweet Pea sitting on the hot water heater in the garage which is usually where he sleeps on cold days. Instead I woke him up on a really filthy old office chair.

As for Sissy, she was in her usual spot on the bed and almost managed to get her little eyes opened.

Happy Friday! I can't begin to express my joy after the week I've had at work. So let's just leave it at that.

Breaking News

Going Nowhere Fast

This New York Times front-page piece today is depressing. We voted for Change in 2008 and we got it. The Change is called Stagnation. We do not appear to have the capacity to move ahead with anything resembling progressive legislation thanks to our regressive Congress. And furthermore, all the signs are pointing in an ominous direction about our future.

Try to imagine us as a nation electing more Democrats or Independents in 2010 who are truly progressive. In a sane world, that is what we would be doing. The realization that Obama can't push through any moderate agenda even with Democratic majorities should be signaling to us that we need to clean house in Congress. We voted for change and we're not getting it. We can see the problem. And we should vote for even more change in 2010 and 2012 and keep at it until change happens.

Sadly, politics and the American voter don't seem to think that way. You voted for change and you're disappointed that change isn't happening fast enough? Quick! Let's get some Republicans back in office! Because, you know, that's bound to help get things moving again.
Increasingly confident of their prospects after the Massachusetts Senate victory, Republicans are disinclined to give ground in policy debates and appear willing to stick with their near-unanimous opposition to major initiatives unless Democrats offer significant concessions.

“House Republicans will seize the opportunity in respectful terms, but candid and frank terms, and make it clear to the president that we have better solutions,” said Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the chairman of the House Republican Conference.

Umm. We have quite a bit of recent history with their "better solutions."

One of the clearest indicators of just how stagnated we have become is on the issue of gays and lesbians serving in the military. I am astonished that DADT is still such a hot-button issue in an era when we have so many more pressing concerns. DADT is so...1990s.
Officials said they were pressing ahead with one of the more controversial items Mr. Obama laid out Wednesday night: repealing the policy barring gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Senior Pentagon officials said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had been in close discussions with Mr. Obama on the issue and would present the Pentagon’s initial plans for carrying out the new policy at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

Changing the policy requires an act of Congress, and the officials signaled that Mr. Gates would go slowly, and that repeal of the ban was not imminent. And it could be a hard sell for the president, even among Democrats; Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on Thursday restated his opposition to repealing the ban.

Gays and lesbians are already serving in the military. Repealing DADT simply means these courageous men and women who are putting their lives on the line for our country will simply be allowed to be who they are, without hiding the fact for fear of being discharged.

Even this absurdly ridiculous homophobic piece of rubbish known as DADT faces an uphill battle for repeal. What does this say about the chances for far more complex pieces of legislation which are desperately needed?
Even some of Mr. Obama’s allies said that given united Republican opposition, the goal of more cooperation might be out of reach. “In order to dance, you need a dance partner and there ain’t no partner out there,” Senator Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent, noted.

A vote this week on a proposal to create a bipartisan commission to recommend ways to attack rising federal deficits was seen as illustrative of the Republican strategy to thwart Democrats. Though the idea attracted 53 votes — 36 Democrats, one independent and 16 Republicans — it failed because it did not cross the 60-vote threshold.

At least six Republicans who had previously supported the plan voted against it, as did others who have backed the idea in concept. Some of those who voted against the plan suggested they did so because they did not want to give Democrats political cover by joining with them in a deficit reduction effort.

Feeling optimistic yet?
“If the president reaches out to the Republican leadership in a genuine way, the spotlight shifts from his overreaching to whether we can meet him in the middle,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

Mr. Graham, with all due respect, there is no middle right now. You and your ilk have vaporized it with your collective knee-jerk accusations of "socialism" directed at anybody with a capacity to think and rationalize, even if they are, from my perspective, center-right.

I'm not sure there is anything I want or need badly enough to meet in Lindsey Graham's "middle," as if there was a chance in hell I'd be getting what I wanted or needed by doing so.

So, enjoy the stagnation while it lasts. It might ultimately be remembered in the coming decade as the best of times.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Biggest Chiffonade in the Fucking World!

Believe it or not, I rolled up 12 or 14 outrageously large collard leaves tonight and did a chiffonade! That is an 8" chef's knife for those of you who like to measure.

Soon to be outdone by txrad's fluorescent macaroni & cheese sauce.

The collards are not from our garden although we have some growing. These came from California and I can definitely taste the difference. In a blind raw taste test, I'd know which ones are from our soil. We think the California fields might not have had a sufficient freeze to impart the perfect collard flavor. And we are probably correct.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Problems in the Factory

We certainly knew the Obama Administration was going to bring us change. And here we are. Obama, in his first year, does what George W. Bush took seven years to do: admit that mistakes were made.
When Mr. Obama presents his first State of the Union address on Wednesday evening, aides said he would accept responsibility, though not necessarily blame, for failing to deliver swiftly on some of the changes he promised a year ago. But he will not, aides said, accede to criticism that his priorities are out of step with the nation’s.

President Bush didn't get a bounce from his admission that mistakes were made, "where there were mistakes," and things are a hell of a lot worse now than in January 2007. Both of those goddamned wars are still raging without end, millions more unemployed, millions have been through or are facing foreclosure, and the economy isn't showing signs of life for the tens of millions affected by it. In additon we've seen racism refueled and an uprising by Tea Baggers and the hardcore Republican base is angry and energized in contrast to 2007.

It's a shame this health reform legislation wasn't passed already by late summer 2009. Perhaps Obama could have done more, pushed harder, had more heart-to-heart conversations with the American people about the urgency and importance of the legislation. Perhaps he tried to be too bipartisan in a new world where the differences between the left and right are no longer similar to a reconciliation between opinions in Oregon and opinions in Missouri. These days the contrast is more like Iowa and Iran.

Obama clearly has made some mistakes. But it is equally accurate to say he's not 100% to blame. Our dysfunctional Congress gets their share. Congress is like a faulty automobile assembly line trying to pump out vehicles which are acceptable to the public by welding parts from a Hummer onto a Mustang and thinking we wouldn't notice all the ill-fitting parts, and providing us with absolutely no clue when we can get the lemon fixed.

If we truly want to move forward, it's not enough to have a president who can move his mouth and make inspiring words. We need a president who isn't afraid to crack a whip. More importantly, we need to repair the factory. We need to stop outsourcing to corporations and lobbyists. The factory needs new management. The workers need better training and some workplace diversity classes. They need to learn how to walk and chew gum at the same time. And the assembly line might need to be stripped down and replaced.

Nothing coming out of Barack Obama's mouth tonight is likely to change those facts.
“Democrats are really looking for that spark again,” said David Young, chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party. “We feel like we may be off track and we’re looking for the president to come out with bold initiatives and to lead.”

With a quarter of his first term behind him already, I suppose now is as good a time as any. Whether or not that will be enough to get us progressing remains to be seen.

I have my doubts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Weird Quirks, Anyone?

I love quirky people and people who do strange things fascinate me. I feel like I'm relatively normal when I read the paper or venture out into south Austin, but I also have some quirks.

A few months ago I had a voice mail from one of my television station ad sales reps. I have worked with her for years and her voice is one of those which is immediately memorable. I would love to meet her someday to put a face to the voice which, by the way, I'm not saying is pleasant. It reminded me of Jezebel, my old cat who died a few years ago, when she was ready to be fed. Definitely memorable.

Anyway, I saved her voice mail message because I suppose I had a hunch I would someday lose touch. Not long after that, in November 2009 I believe, I got one of those emails that her last day was effective immediately. Now, I can replay her message anytime I'm ready for a flashback.

I also like to hang my shirts in the closet grouped by color: reds, blues, greens, yellows, browns, and then blacks.

So, question of the day: What are your quirks? C'mon, everyone has at least one.

The Strange World of konagod

A couple of weeks ago I was reading my neighbor's Facebook page and saw an interesting comment from someone. I clicked to her profile. Because I was having a few drinks I immediately sent her a friend request even though I didn't know anything about her other than we were politically of like-mind.

Subsequently I learned that she went to school with my neighbor's daughters. This weekend my neighbor told me that she had lived behind us and moved early in this decade.

It was around 1998-2000 that a black polydactyl cat started hanging around our yard. I named her Big Thumbs. She eventually had three kittens which she deposited on our back patio. Two of them are still with us: Sweet Pea and Sissy.

Big Thumbs disappeared around the time that house became vacant. Last night I posed the question to my new Facebook friend and this morning I got a reply. Yes, Big Thumbs was her cat.

Mystery solved!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fried Avocados and Nature

We decided to try a couple of new things today. First, we went to Torchy's Taco in south Austin for a fried avocado taco which was truly sublimely delicious.
Fried Avocado Taco
Hand battered fresh avocadoes fried and served with vegetarian refried beans, lettuce, pico de gallo and cheese served on a corn tortilla with our poblano ranch sauce.

I will go back but it will require some strategic planning to avoid the crowds. It's well worth the effort though.

It's a small joint and we weren't sure any tables would open up by the time our food was ready so we ordered to go. We did get a table though. $3.50 seems steep for an order of chips and salsa, but both are made fresh on site, and the salsa was splendid. The taco was only $3.25 and coupled with the abundance of chips & salsa, it was ample for my lunch.

After that we went to the nearby Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center which offers free admittance in January, and for good reason since there are no flowers in bloom this time of year.

The organization, we learned, was started by Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes in 1982, to protect and preserve North America's natives plants. The gardens, which are quite extensive, feature native plants of Texas, particularly the Texas Hill Country.

Despite the fact that we've lived here over 12 years, and the center is less than seven miles from our house, this was our first visit! Even though I wasn't expecting to see much in January, it was a nice outing. Many of the plants we also have in our yard, but I was also hoping to walk away with some landscaping ideas and inspiration.

There was a nice water feature on the left as we approached the garden courtyard.

There were some cute and friendly turtles in the pond.

The courtyard itself has various garden areas staged to showcase certain categories and themes.

I was amused by the aptly-named Horse Crippler cactus. Ouch!

I liked the spiny hedgehog cactus.

The sotol was stunning.

This agave was quite nice.

There were a number of beautiful streams throughout the grounds.

I didn't know there was a little tower on the grounds. Sheldon had to look for it and I'm glad he did. The climb to the top was short and the views were spectacular.

Looking north toward downtown Austin. The skyline is barely visible.

I had to use my zoom to really get a shot of downtown, or part of it at least. Most of the buildings are obstructed by hills.

A view in another direction. A cold front is passing through today so it was a tad blustery at the top of the tower!

Two hours after leaving home we were back home, but it felt like a little relaxing vacation getaway.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Three-Minute Nostalgia Fucked-Up


And no, that was not Agnetha Faltskog on vocals.

In the absence of time to create a Virtual Outhouse on Fridays, I can always find a faster way to upstage another blog.

All fucked up?

Friday Pussy Blog: Political Pussy Edition

I came to the sad realization today that my cats are like people involved in partisan politics. And like our country, we're pretty evenly split.

Sweet Pea - Democrat & Liberal Pacifist

Tiger - Libertarian (in name only; basically a Republican with an Independent streak and a touch of vindictiveness) with self-interests always in mind. The less fortunate can't get anything unless he gets an equal sum because... well, that's fair and equal and balanced, right?

Sissy - Green Party/Socialist. Strongly believes in energy conservation and not adverse to using alternative energy sources like her Daddy's body heat.

Tater Tot - Republican Tea-Bagger and Tyrant.
Always knows he's right, always wants to be in control and a bit of a hawk in that he has no problems provoking others for his gain or simply his amusement. But in the end, a bit of a blowhard not unlike Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. Takes himself very seriously but is quite full of shit in reality.

Happy Friday!

Oh, let's not forget:

Joe Lieberman - Shape Shifter
Unscrupulous vermin.

RIP Air America

What a week. Thanks so much for giving us Rachel Maddow though!
Air America, the long-suffering progressive talk radio network, abruptly shut down on Thursday, bowing to what it called a “very difficult economic environment.”


Although it lacked a substantial audience, the network catapulted a number of progressive media personalities into stardom, most notably Rachel Maddow, who now anchors a prime-time program on the cable news channel MSNBC.

Al Franken, now a Democratic senator from Minnesota, hosted an Air America show from 2004 to 2007, before running for office.


Air America started to play rerun programming rather suddenly Thursday evening. The company said it would sign off completely next Monday night.

Who is up next to bite the big one? The Democratic Party?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

RIP Democracy! Nice Knowing You

This Supreme Court ruling today basically took our political process, tied a boulder around it, and tossed it into the high seas.
Sweeping aside a century-old understanding and overruling two important precedents, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.


The 5-to-4 decision was a doctrinal earthquake but also a political and practical one. Specialists in campaign finance law said they expected the decision, which also applies to labor unions and other organizations, to reshape the way elections are conducted.


Justice John Paul Stevens read a long dissent from the bench. He said the majority had committed a grave error in treating corporate speech the same as that of human beings. His decision was joined by the other three members of the court’s liberal wing.

Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, an author of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, called the ruling “a terrible mistake.”

And it's not the first time the Court has made one of those.

Not that we didn't need a shake-up in politics, but as this week has shown, we can't seem to go but one direction: the wrong one.
Today’s ruling upends the nation’s campaign finance laws, allowing corporations and labor unions to spend freely on behalf of political candidates. With less than 11 months before the fall elections, the floodgates for political contributions will open wide, adding another element of intrigue to the fight for control of Congress.

At first blush, Republican candidates would seem to benefit from this seismic change in how political campaigns are conducted in America. The political environment – an angry, frustrated electorate seeking change in Washington – was already favoring Republicans. Now corporations, labor unions and a host of other organizations can weigh in like never before.

The five assholes in robes have managed to do what I never imagined: make the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision seem petty and minor.

I am angry, saddened, stunned, and nauseated. How many days before we see the first blast of special-interest advertising? You can bet the film crews are already loading up equipment. Scripts are being written as I type.

The Republican Problem

It's very simply summed up by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“I’m not going to decide today what we’re going to do in the future..”

Brilliant. I guess today really isn't the first day of the rest of his life.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Massachusetts Revisited

I've spent the bulk of a day (when I wasn't working) dwelling on the Massachusetts election which resulted in Scott Brown being elected to the Senate to replace Ted Kennedy.

And I have a few bullet points I'd like to share:

Massachusetts, in its infinite wisdom, knows it is a liberal state.

They also know they are electing a Senator to finish out a TWO YEAR term.

They know they can discharge him after his term is up.

They know he can make a complete ass of himself in the interim, which I'm sure he will.

They also know that Obama isn't listening to the left-wing, and what better way to send a message than voting for Brown. Way more effective than emails and phone calls, and unsubscribing to Obama's emails.

Maybe they aren't so dumb after all. Not too smart when considering how the rest of the nation is going to interpret their decision. Not too smart when considering how the Deep South and the Tea Baggers from coast to coast are going to interpret it.

But, the message has been delivered. Post haste.

And frankly, I'm back to my old school no political party affiliation which I have relished since Reagan's 2nd term ended. I only voted for Obama because I liked the message. Now is the time for him to show up and grow up.

He needs to dismiss his staff and start anew. This won't happen but it needs to.

The only other word that comes to mind is Kucinich.

He was my first choice before I was for Edwards, Clinton, and Obama.

Meanwhile, I'll bide my time and wait for the Democrats to get their fucking shit together. Probably not going to happen. After all, I've been waiting for that since 1984.

Moving On

I seriously need to do some cleaning around here. Lots of books need to be donated, particularly the books on film production and screenplay writing.

Back when I was in my 20s and even into my mid-30s, I harbored notions of writing a screenplay and making a film. I certainly had a wealth of material and experiences to use. But it kept turning into one of those "I'll get around to it eventually" scenarios. And the books were always on the shelf as a constant nagging reminder.

At some point in life, I suppose we have all dismissed an ambition. I'm not sure why that happens. It's not age per se but I think age plays into it. I am certainly not too old; I simply lost my will over time. Getting into a long-term relationship and being happily involved in a career certainly played a big part. By the time I was 37 and making the move from Los Angeles to Austin, I believe I had already accepted the fact that it was never going to happen.

Twelve years after that, the books no longer taunt me or even intrigue me; they simply take up space and collect dust.

Question of the Day:

What lofty ambitions have you had in life which you have discharged?

Super Bowl Gets Focus on the Family Ad

I guess when times are tough, you drop your standards a bit.
Focus on the Family, a Christian family-help organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo., has purchased one 30-second ad that will run in the game, and anticipates no frowns from CBS, which is slated to broadcast Super Bowl XLIV from South Florida on Feb. 7.

The buy may come as a surprise to veteran Super Bowl watchers who recall headlines about sexy vegetables cropping up last year after NBC turned down an ad from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that showed women in lingerie placed in suggestive positions with pumpkins and asparagus. CBS earlier turned down a similar ad for its 2004 Super Bowl broadcast as well as one from that bashed President Bush. The network and its rivals have espoused a policy of not accepting ads that are inflammatory.

Focus on the Family is known for taking a pro-life stance and valuing marriage as an institution for opposite-sex couples.

CBS knows what Focus on the Family stands for and has approved the script, said Gary Schneeberger, a Focus on the Family spokesman. CBS understood "there are folks who ideologically disagree with Focus on the Family in some areas,"

The article goes on to mention that the script isn't "anti" anything. Of course not, because it probably would not have been approved, and the organization must really be feeling the need to get some message out there however benign it might be.
The organization's ad will feature college football star Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, sharing a personal story centered on the theme of "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life," according to a news release from Focus on the Family.

And we know what "family" and "life" they are celebrating.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Red Checker Board Tablecloth

Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews at a pub or what the fuckever. Discussing Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts.

I knew this was coming, I KNEW it. Txrad disagrees that this will send a signal to the rest of the nation that we the voters need to rebel against Obama. I don't see how it can be avoided at this point. 2010 is not going to be pretty. Pay attention.

Arkansas. Blanche Lincoln, watch out.

Arkansas. Vic Snyder, watch out.

Everyone, watch out.

In short, Massachusetts just slapped the deceased Ted Kennedy in the face. Who saw that coming?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Unfriending Family

I received a very interesting email from a friend today and she had this to share:
My sister and I have a difficult relationship. She has always looked for some level of approval from me that I cannot ever seem to produce. So, everything I say or do is suspect to being an insult or lack of regard for her. Last Monday, I sent her a bouquet of Spring flowers and a big mylar balloon for her birthday (she loves to get these type of things!). However, she didn't like the bouquet (it wasn't big enough and in her words "looked like a $5.99 bouquet from Krogers) and was insulted with only one balloon and a card that wasn't hand written. I had spent $60!! (I had sent the bouquet through 1-800-FLOWERS...usually a very reliable company).

So, I had another bouquet sent to her. But, too late. She had already unfriended me from Facebook.

She suggested this would be a good question of the day, and I agree:

Have you ever unfriended (or been unfriended) on Facebook by a family member? If you aren't on Facebook, you can just substitute an unfriending experience in the real world.

My brother used to tease me when I was a child. I finally decided I didn't want anything to do with him so I quit speaking to him. I was maybe 5 or 6. This went on for months, and then as I got older, he moved away. He would have been about 20 at that time. It got to a point, by the time I was in my teens, that it was very awkward to be around him because how do you not speak to a family member?

I was in my mid- to late-teens before I started making an effort, and it was only when I absolutely had to. It was just so difficult to start communicating with someone again after that long lapse dating back to childhood.

The internet and email have certainly facilitated communication again.. now that I'm 49! Strange.

Pertaining to Facebook, it's hard to know when someone unfriends you if it was intentional on their part or a Facebook glitch. I've seen both happen (unless the people who unfriended me weren't being honest about it). I don't have any family on Facebook anyway. As close as it gets are two guys who are cousins to my cousin. I've known them since we were children so they are like family in a way.

I noticed one of them disappeared from my friend list. He also happens to be the one who is rather hardcore into his Christianity. I guess my status updates got to be a bit too much for him. But if I make someone uncomfortable for whatever reason, or someone is ashamed and afraid some of their friends will see a status and be offended, then I don't care if they leave.

But if you are family, and I send you flowers, or even if you are just a friend, you'd better not complain that the bouquet wasn't large enough. It'll be the last thing you get from me!

Worth Noting

A right delayed is a right denied.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Wrong Kind of U-Turn

I've had this nagging political anxiety brewing inside me for several weeks and it's getting worse by the day. I can hardly believe a year ago I was in an ethereal state as I watched Barack Obama take the reins. It was a moment of awe as well as one of hope and the excitement to come as we turned our backs on eight years of W.

In my subconscious I already knew trouble was brewing. It was apparent in the vote count back in November 2008 in places like Arkansas which bucked the trend and went even more heavily Republican in many counties -- including counties which in normal circumstances might have been toss ups. But this was not a normal circumstance.

For months I watched in dismay as the ultra-right went apeshit with their hats adorned with tea bags, their worship of Sarah Palin, their overtly racist commentary, and their emails spewing hate and ignorance. Unfortunately, this has not passed; it has been a steady constant.

Obama has only been in office a year. Granted, I am not at all satisfied with the changes thus far, or lack thereof. But there is still time. Obama has 3 years left in his first term. However, time seems to be all he has. I am not full of hope and dreams as I was a year ago. The Health Care Reform process left me feeling withered. And just as I was thinking we might be on the verge of getting something enacted, imperfect as it is, here comes the first of what will probably be a number of monkey wrenches this year.
President Obama came to Massachusetts on Sunday in hopes of rescuing the flailing candidacy of Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate in an election on Tuesday that will determine whether the party preserves a 60-vote majority in the Senate needed to keep alive health care legislation and the rest of the president’s agenda.

“Understand what’s at stake here, Massachusetts,” Mr. Obama said, imploring those who supported him to take heed of the magnitude of the race to fill the seat of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. “It’s whether we’re going forwards or backwards.”

I could literally be sick to my stomach trying to absorb the enormity of Obama's statement. After 8 years of Bush, we get a one year breathing spell before possibly doing a big U-turn and heading in the general direction of Crawford, Texas. Even more utterly astounding is the fact that it could be at the hands of voters in Massachusetts of all places, and voting to fill the seat held by Edward M. Kennedy, of all people!

Now, if you aren't already emotionally shredded by those facts, there's more.
Democratic leaders in Congress and at the White House were bracing for what they said was a real possibility that Ms. Coakley could lose the race. The most alarming fact in polls and internal research, several party advisers said, was that Ms. Coakley was still falling behind Mr. Brown among voters who had a favorable view of the president.

I have a simple question for those voters who have a favorable view of Obama, and still plan to vote in a manner which could make him a lame-duck effective Wednesday morning. What are you thinking? (I'm trying to be nice here, but I'd prefer to be asking, "What the fuck's your problem?")

Coakley clearly isn't the best candidate the Democrats could have fielded. She has made a few blunders. She's not on her game as well as Scott Brown. But must we vote for the best messenger while completely disregarding the message? Are we so shallow that we put image over substance? That seems to be what is happening in Massachusetts.
While most national Republicans have publicly steered clear of the race to avoid interfering with Mr. Brown’s image as a pickup-driving fellow next door, the efforts behind the scenes intensified Sunday. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and Mr. Obama’s rival in the 2008 election, was among those who asked his supporters to make calls on Mr. Brown’s behalf.

The "pickup-driving fellow next door." Haven't we been down that road rather recently with disastrous results?

I have a hunch my political anxiety isn't going anywhere soon, and certainly not my disgust. Massachusetts, the "liberal" state who gave themselves Governor Mitt Romney, is on the verge of catastrophic mistake which will fuel additional negativity at a time when we need it the least. We'll know for sure in about 48 hours.

Regarding U-turns, they are fine if you use them to go back a few miles, say early 2009, to get on the road we should have been on all along, not a U-turn back to 2002.

Crossposted at B3

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Solar Eclipse

But only for the delight of Africa & Asia.

The path of the eclipse began in Africa — passing through Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya and Somalia before crossing the Indian Ocean, where it reached its peak, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration website.

Hopefully this gave Ugandans a big enough distraction that they forgot about trying to kill all the demonic gays.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Demon Child Edition

The Tot has been a bastard this week.

You can just look at these and know it!

And I do wish he'd stop racing through the bedroom at 5am.

Feeding time!

Oh yeah, lip-licking good chicken.

Happy Friday!

3 day weekend for some but not for me. :-(

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Watch List

My name could just as easily have been Al Green but it wouldn't take much effort for someone to figure out I'm not the Al Green. I shouldn't even need to make an attempt to sing "Take Me to the River" to prove it.

So, why does the TSA have such a fucking hard time figuring obvious things out, and applying logic?
The Transportation Security Administration, under scrutiny after last month’s bombing attempt, has on its Web site a “mythbuster” that tries to reassure the public.

Myth: The No-Fly list includes an 8-year-old boy.

Buster: No 8-year-old is on a T.S.A. watch list.

“Meet Mikey Hicks,” said Najlah Feanny Hicks, introducing her 8-year-old son, a New Jersey Cub Scout and frequent traveler who has seldom boarded a plane without a hassle because he shares the name of a suspicious person. “It’s not a myth.”

Michael Winston Hicks’s mother initially sensed trouble when he was a baby and she could not get a seat for him on their flight to Florida at an airport kiosk; airline officials explained that his name “was on the list,” she recalled.

The first time he was patted down, at Newark Liberty International Airport, Mikey was 2. He cried.

He was 2. Honestly, I just don't think I have it in me to continue with this absurdity. What can I say to top that? Who is training these people? Maybe they should just change his name to Winston Michael Hicks.
Mario Labbé, a frequent-flying Canadian record-company executive, started having problems at airports shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, with lengthy delays at checkpoints and mysterious questions about Japan. By 2005, he stopped flying to the United States from Canada, instead meeting American clients in France. Then a forced rerouting to Miami in 2008 led to six hours of questions.

“What’s the name of your mother? Your father? When were you last in Japan?” Mr. Labbé recalled being asked. “Always the same questions in different order. And sometimes, it’s quite aggressive, not funny at all.”

Fed up, in the summer of 2008, he changed his name to François Mario Labbé. The problem vanished.

Hmm. Easy enough. So what's the point of this stupid "watch list" anyway? Can they tie the names to an actual photograph, or a description of the person on the list? That might make it easier for the TSA screeners to tell the difference from a potential terrorist and a baby traveling with his or her mother or parents.

Even with some interesting connections, the absurdity didn't stop.
Mrs. Hicks, a photojournalist who herself got Secret Service clearance to travel aboard Air Force II with then-Vice President Al Gore, anticipated additional chaos following the attempted underwear bombing. Before leaving for the Bahamas on Jan. 2, she reached out to Congressman Pascrell’s office, which then enlisted a T.S.A. agent to meet the family at the airport. Even this did not prevent Mikey from an extra pat-down.

Is there no way out from this maddening chaos? I really hate to think that I may never fly again but unless they get this bullshit under control, it's going to need to be a dire emergency to get me within five miles of an airport.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Unfortunately, Stools Are Now Made in China

But wait until their bubble bursts. It could make the rest of our burst bubbles pale in comparison. And you know what they say about all things being interconnected.
New high points, it seems, are reached daily. China surged past the United States to become the world’s largest automobile market — in units, if not in dollars, figures released Monday show. It toppled Germany as the world’s biggest exporter of manufactured goods, according to year-end trade data. World Bank estimates suggest that China — the world’s fifth-largest economy just four years ago — will shortly overtake Japan to claim the number two spot.


Yet China confronts a number of questions about its recent surge, including whether its formula for growth is sustainable, and how it will manage its increasingly strained economic relations with the outside world. Those are likely to prove tricky issues for a leadership unaccustomed to making policy under an international spotlight.

The meltdown cometh. And it shall not be pleasant.

With property prices soaring in key cities, many investors and bankers worry that China has the next great real estate bubble waiting to be popped.

The Chinese government is worried, too. On Sunday, the nation's cabinet, citing "excessively rising house prices" in some cities, said it will monitor capital flows to "stop overseas speculative funds from jeopardizing China's property market." It also said that any Chinese family buying a second home must make a down payment of at least 40 percent.

For investors, many of the usual bubble warning signs are flashing. Fueled by low interest rates, prices in Shanghai and Beijing doubled in less than four years, then doubled again. Most Chinese home buyers expect that today's high prices will climb even higher tomorrow, so they are stretching to pay prices at the edge of their means or beyond. Brokers say it is common for buyers to falsely inflate income statements for bank loans.

Jesus H. Christ, don't they read the news?

One Comment

Well, that's one way to keep a comment thread from spiraling out of control!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Multitasking Toilet Edition

This is what happens when you allow a water bowl to go dry.

At least that bowl was clean!

On a cold afternoon when the temperature barely climbed above the freezing mark, the Tot needed a nap.

So did Sissy. Everybody wanted to tuck the feet under today!

Happy Friday!

Damn, I'm ready to call it a week!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Blog Note

Here is something you need to know about me: blogging isn't as much fun as it used to be. When Haloscan got phased out, I went into despair.

This is not a flippant statement. Its brevity does not subvert the enormity of its meaning.

It is also not a passive statement. I actively cared about the simplistic beauty of Haloscan, how it could easily be customized to shove my offensive konagod logo in your face on the rare occasions when you decide to comment. I know it should be about the blog, and about the people who pop in here for 30 seconds for a glimpse of my pussy and my occasional posts of absolute stunning brilliance. It should also be about the awesome work I do mentoring my enormous readership, whether it's someone who is so stupid they don't know how to put a YouTube video on their blog (oh wait, I think I had to seek clarification the first time I tried it... scratch that), or the hundreds of you who email me daily wanting to know about my inspiration for the Question of the Day. I communicate privately, in email threads that can last for several minutes, with dedicated konagod readers who have had a bit too much to drink, and have no lives of their own. Most want to share their cat photos with me, or just talk dirty. I have sometimes gone the extra mile and referred them to a restaurant I think they might like, or the best place to get a good deal on hooch. I have been known to drunk dial my readers. I have told some to go to hell. That, folks, is dedication!

My feelings about this blog and my multitude of readers are not an abstract concept to me. Purple hazy at times, but not abstract. They are concrete and personal and an occasional half-hearted practice. And with the loss of Haloscan, the other half of my heart has been ripped from my chest and spat upon by JS-Kit.

Here are some other things you need to know about me: I make minor mistakes about once a year. I feel shitty, really shitty, when I make a mistake that hurts any of my thousands of devoted readers.

I convey all of the above as preface to this: Because I kinda/sorta care about this blog as I do, it is singularly infuriating and hurtful that I am repeatedly accused of plagiarism, lack of faith, bad faith, insanity, snootiness, being a pothead, and making glaring mistakes. Or just do/say something with which someone disagrees. The overt accusations or veiled implications—deliberate or otherwise—of plagiarism, lack of faith, deliberate cruelty (only to humans, never to animals), hidden agendas, openly Gay Agendas, blogging while going commando, indifference, not decorating for Christmas or hunting for eggs on Easter, being a hippie, sleeping nekkid, having a preference for real estate shows over political commentary, farting loudly outdoors, storing my pins in a voodoo dolly, etc. are profoundly demoralizing after the loss of my beloved Haloscan.

And I am demoralized.

I am axiomatically assumed by hundreds tens of thousands of my readers to be acting in bad faith if I err (or even if I am perceived to have erred, but haven't, because honestly, that happens maybe once a year), even as I am simultaneously expected never to err at all. konagod was founded, managed and nurtured by a person an honest and down-to-earth asshole. And the continual proclamations that "I can't believe that konagod would allow this to happen, of all assholes!" every time I am perceived to have made a mistake (or the once a year genuine mistake), or plagiarized the work of others (I believe in sharing and borrowing though), necessarily implies that perfection is expected of me, as if konagod is a magical kingdom created of marijuana ash and not a virtual space made possible by the hard work of a drunken stoned asshole. This blog's charter (oh, you don't have a copy of it on your wall? Shame!) specifically provides room for me—and the tens of thousands of others who come here—to fail, as you inevitably will. If you won't support the provision of that room to fail, then you're not providing a chafe space for me to tell you what a failure you are, that you are merely human, and that mistakes and failure happen, even though you should be ashamed to not be as nearly perfect as I am.

I understand the impulse to react viscerally to something I plagiarized posted, especially if it's hurtful. I'm just not sure why so few actually do. And I also understand that no one thinks it should be a big deal if they comment before thinking, just this once. But you are not alone. And if only an infinitesimally small percentage of this readership reacts viscerally by making the accusation that I was deliberately hurtful, that still makes about 2 times every single year I am being told, on the blog and in my sacred inbox, that I have no faith, or that I am neglecting my blog.

It is eminently possible to bring to my attention a mistake, or register a disagreement, without engaging in ad hominem attacks, using silencing tactics (or worse, the thousands of you reading who chose to bring nothing to my attention because you just can't be bothered), jumping to unfounded conclusions about allegedly reprehensible motives, pulling triggers on guns with silencers, or in some other way accusing me of neglect and having no faith. Failing explicit evidence I have acted to the contrary, I expect to be afforded the benefit of the doubt that I move and act in this space with little faith, but never not no faith. I believe I have earned that after almost four years.

I am here in little faith, often intoxicated, and that is not an opinion and it is not up for debate. Those who fail to make accusations to the contrary are fundamentally undermining the chafe space for me. That is not to say that dissent is prohibited (when I actually get some, I'll decide whether to prohibit it or not; that's also in the blog charter) or that my perceived mistakes should not be noted or that I don't expect to be held accountable if I have erred. As I've said, I rarely err. There's a big difference between erring and doing something stupid in the absence of mindfulness.

It is only to say that you and I are expected to think extremely carefully about every post, every comment, every image, every link, every link on every link, and every advertisement on every link and every advertisement on every link that is linked to what you link to, every word we post (you have the time, seriously. What other blogs would you be reading? And surely the boss doesn't mind if you take that extra 45 minutes to mull shit over! If not, well, quit that fucking job because this shit is more important anyway), and I am asking that my readers who communicate with me hold themselves to the same flawless standard while knowing damn well you're going to be disappointed.

And, you know, that's really just a fancy way of asking people to spend a whole lot more time here so the Sitemeter looks even better, and be a lot more thoughtful and engaged so the comment threads will actually reflect the fact that thousands of you are addicted to this blog like heroin. Which I don't think is a totally unreasonable request given the hours I spend vomiting this shit up for you.

Moving forward, if and on the occasions that doesn't happen, threads will be closed, blog posts may be deleted, content might be changed to make you look like a complete idiot, shit may get blown up. In other words, you are dancing with anarchy, my friends. (Which, as an aside, is not an invitation to take the accusations of bad faith to my inbox, which is a sacred space for me to keep track of who commented where on Facebook.) Readers who are rightfully angry that legitimate debate is then quashed should direct their anger in the appropriate direction—at yourselves for disagreeing with me and believing you are right and I am wrong, when clearly it is you with the problem. Otherwise, you would not be disagreeing. This stuff takes a toll.

I am flatly not going to, I can't, continue to allow myself to be endlessly unberated as someone who doesn't care about this blog or the people in it anymore, or I'm going to flame out.

But I fear I have digressed and rambled and frankly, may have lost a segment of you already. Where was I? Oh, Let me provide you with some specifics:

On Christmas day when I did my first ever Friday canine post, Eric Wilde commented, "I'm a dog person myself, so I really appreciate this."

Jesus! After doing cat posts every Friday since May of 2006, he dumps that on me. And on Christmas for Christ's sake! How the hell is that supposed to make me feel? Like a kick in the groin! Talk about a hurtful and demoralizing moment.

It ruined my holidays which already had me screwed up in the head not knowing whether it was Thursday or Sunday for two weeks. I was also in the midst of installing software on a new PC and transferring backed up data over when I happened to log into my Haloscan account and was mortified at the notification that it was being phased out the first week of January.

And then, New Year's Day came and went. I awoke on Saturday to the horrifying realization that 2010 arrived on a Friday and had passed without me putting up a pussy post! A new year was only a day old and I had already spent my one mistake a year allotment! Honestly, in retrospect, I've gotten over it. I did get a pussy post up on Saturday even though my heart wasn't in it. And then when I accepted the reality that I had made a glaring mistake, I realized I made no mistakes at all in 2009, so that year owed me one. All in all, it worked out. But I'm mentally and physically exhausted from the pressure, the demands here and on Facebook and in my sacred inbox for a pussy blog NOW! And of course, the intense pressure of getting this Echo comment system in place and burying Haloscan in the cold, cold ground. kona wept.

I'm taking the rest of the week off. See you Monday. Maybe. Or maybe not. I may be here tomorrow. A quick pussy blog and then outta here. I don't know. We'll see. But please do not start leaving comments demanding this or that. Even though I could choose to simply ignore them, I can't. You all mean that much to me, even as you pressure me to insanity.

[Commenting Note: If you have the inclination to use this thread to provide examples of something I did once upon a time that makes you totally sure that I am going to burn in hell for this, you have seriously missed the point. And if this thread turns into a referendum on how much I suck, or how much I enjoy sucking, it will just be closed. If no one bothers to show up, it will just be closed. I may close it the instant I post this out of spite just to show you who is in charge of the buttons here. In other words, you fuckers better worship my ass off or you'll get no pussy tomorrow nor a mystery cream-filled donut.]

[h/t: Lovingly dedicated (I shit you not) to an incarnation of the blog having the dubious distinction of inspiring me to start this blog.]

Count Me As a Dismayed Safety Advocate

Honestly, people! Have we taken leave of our senses? It's bad enough that only 90+ percent of people think texting while driving is a bad idea. Do you really feel safe on the roads at 50, 60, or 75 MPH knowing that every tenth car you encounter has a driver who feels that texting while driving is a good idea?

Apparently, that activity doesn't provide ample entertainment and distraction, so next up to the plate is full-frontal internet access.
To the dismay of safety advocates already worried about driver distraction, automakers and high-tech companies have found a new place to put sophisticated Internet-connected computers: the front seat.

Technology giants like Intel and Google are turning their attention from the desktop to the dashboard, hoping to bring the power of the PC to the car. They see vast opportunity for profit in working with automakers to create the next generation of irresistible devices.

This week at the Consumer Electronics Show, the neon-drenched annual trade show here, these companies are demonstrating the breadth of their ambitions, like 10-inch screens above the gearshift showing high-definition videos, 3-D maps and Web pages.

I have no problem with internet access in cars. Hell, I'd love to have it just to listen to Austin radio while I'm in southeast Arkansas, or 93XRT Chicago, or the great jazz station in Long Beach. But it doesn't belong in front of the driver! Hell, why not just pop a 25-inch HD monitor on the dash! Sure beats having to look at the boring world around you.

Not once have I ever been driving and wished I could be reading Pam's House Blend or Crooks and Liars while cruising down the Interstate at 85 MPH. I've got other things on my mind like deer crossing the road. And cops needing to meet a revenue quota. And people reading web pages instead of driving! I know I'm stretching things a bit for humor.
They prevent drivers from watching video and using some other functions while the car is moving, but they can still pull up content as varied as restaurant reviews and the covers of music albums with the tap of a finger.

OK, not once have I ever been driving and wished I could read a restaurant review and catch a glance of Sticky Fingers.

In the list of bad ideas, this has got to be near the top. Fine if used responsibly. I remember when cars started getting outfitted with those head rests and some people surely thought they were meant to be used as a head rest, literally. How convenient! On a long 600 mile trip, I can put on the cruise control and catch a quick nap. What will they think of next?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Instant Karma

I don't mean to sound compassionless, but I couldn't help but feel validated after seeing so much "do your homework before you comment here" and "read up" on Advanced Feminism at this formerly-great blog for that past year or two, only to see it dissolve into mayhem as the Queen Cunt of Fuck Mountain made the same mistake the rest of us mortals are prone to doing.
Mary Daly, radical feminist theologian and philosopher, has died at age 81.


RIP Professor.

UPDATE: As Shaker IraeNicole first noted in comments, Daly's work was unfortunately marred by a streak of transphobia. Wikipedia summarizes its emergence in her work, including her assertion in Gyn/Ecology that transgender people are "Frankensteinian." While we want to honor her contributions to feminist thought, we also want to note the limitations of her brand of feminism, which deemed some women monstrous, a view that Shakesville endeavors quite fervently to counter. Cait and Shaker just_some_trans_guy also note she was challenged on her racism as well.

Read the comment thread or you just won't get it.

Another personal day off is surely in order, and I can't say I'd blame her.

Oh, and rest in peace, Mary Daly, despite your racist transphobic leanings for which I have zero tolerance. But she grew up in a different era than David Letterman who is obviously more evolved.

From Wikipedia:
Mary Daly (October 16, 1928 – January 3, 2010[1][2]) was an American radical feminist philosopher, academic, and theologian who taught at Boston College, a Jesuit-run institution, for 33 years. Daly consented to retire from Boston College in 1999, after violating university policy by refusing to allow male students in her Women's Studies classroom. She had, however, consented to teach male students separately.

Separate but equal. Reminds me of a Women in Witchcraft class I took in the 80s at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock in which the few men who signed up were deemed offensive (and most of them were) but I passed the course and learned a thing or two along the way, a memory and experience which I carry to this day.

David Letterman Is An Idiot

What the fuck indeed.

I come from the George Carlin school of comedy. He could make you feel uneasy about many things and it was often blunt, but it usually led to something enlightening. Not so with Letterman. This was so blatantly crass, I won't even put the video on my blog.

And that's saying something.

I'm proud to say I haven't watched Letterman in over 20 years. And counting.

And I have a personal message for the guy, if he's reading: Grow the fuck up.

3-D TV Excites Me Like a VHS Player

I don't always embrace new technology by bringing it into my home right away, but I do track new products and often find them exciting. I still haven't made the upgrade from my old outdated RAZR to an iPhone. As interesting as they are, I simply don't feel a need right now to use my phone for anything except phone calls, and even then I primarily have it for the convenience when out of the house, should the car break down or something like that.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise that I have not the least bit if interest in the development of 3-D televisions. Zilch. Nada. I can't be alone in my feelings.
A full-fledged 3-D television turf war is brewing in the United States, as manufacturers unveil sets capable of 3-D and cable programmers rush to create new channels for them.

Many people are skeptical that consumers will suddenly pull their LCD and plasma televisions off the wall. Beginning at around $2,000, the 3-D sets will, at first, cost more than even the current crop of high-end flat-screens, and buyers will need special glasses — techie goggles, really — to watch in 3-D.


Anticipating this coming wave, ESPN said Tuesday that it would show World Cup soccer matches and N.B.A. games in 3-D on a new network starting in June, and Discovery, Imax and Sony said they would jointly create a 3-D entertainment channel next year. The satellite service DirecTV is expected to announce its own 3-D channels at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where every major television manufacturer is planning to announce 3-D televisions and compatible Blu-ray DVD players on Wednesday.

I can see where this would have major appeal with sporting events but aside from that, I can imagine hearing a great big flopping sound. Then there's the issue with needing glasses for the enhanced 3-D experience. I already wear glasses. Am I expected to get excited about needing a second pair just to watch a friggin' TV show?
Manufacturers have developed two technologies for 3-D glasses in the home. In so-called polarized glasses, which can cost under a dollar, each lens blocks a set of images transmitted in certain types of light. “Active” glasses, which are better suited for LCD screens in particular, have battery-powered shutters that open and close rapidly, so each eye sees different views of each frame. These glasses can cost up to $100, but television makers are expected to package at least two pairs with each monitor.

Do people really want another battery-powered gadget sitting on the coffee table which is already cluttered with five or six remotes? If this idea gets your techie juices surging, be my guest. I definitely won't be standing in your way at Best Buy when you go to make your big purchase.

Would the beer commercials be in 3-D? If not, would you get a headache from watching them with the glasses on? That could get annoying having to remove them at each commercial break. Even worse, what if some commercials were in 3-D and others not? This could get nauseating.

But wait, there's more! Sooner or later, we'd have the first 3-D infomercial. Oh, joy. Sorry, I'm just a 2-D kind of guy.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Drive-Thru Diet

I can't not laugh at this.

Want to lose weight? Forget exercise, even the kind you get from parking your car and walking into Taco Bell. Instead, use the drive-thru. Reaching out to grab the bag must burn some calories!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Friday Pussy Blog: Cluttered Desk Edition

OK, two things: because I was zoomed in on the Tot, you can't really see how cluttered the desk is with 2 other PCs and another monitor on it, as well as a ton of wires. Secondly, there's not a time zone on the planet where it's still Friday, and very few where it's still Saturday, but I'm a day late. Holidays throw me off. What else can I say?

Friday, January 01, 2010

I Can See Spring From Here

Happy New Year!

I love it when January rolls around each year. Late in December it's kind of hard to be thinking about spring. And then January 1st arrives and I realize spring will come this year. Not that I'm complaining about the 70 degrees we had yesterday afternoon.

With this morning's chill, that seems like... a year ago.