Saturday, November 24, 2007

No Cats Blogging

There are and will be NO CATS on this blog. Atrocia will enforce this rule.

The Apple Cup

I don't pay much attention to college football...except the Apple cup. I have a degree from the University of Washington, but I also attended Washington State University. So the Apple cup matters.
Maybe it's shallow, but I care about who wins this game.
I went to my local brewery to watch the game. Wrong move. What I wanted was a a beer and a football game. What I got was a mentally ill woman and two drunks in search of a fight. I'm usually surrounded by smart people who discuss politics and literature and art. Not tonight.
So I'm watching the 100th apple cup at home.
Who were those people in my brewery?
(Go Huskies).
So, I'll ask the question: Is there a college football game that you care about?
(update: we lost. I'm over it.)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday Boobie

I'm being told by my radio that everybody is out shopping today, and that it's also "buy nothing day". I'm not going to be shopping, but I will be buying a beer later.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Bad Timing

My refrigerator died. When I needed it. Damn.
Any of you know how to repair a 'fridge?

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Friends, food, and football-what a great mix.
I'll be spending the day at a potluck with my friends, our annual gathering of "orphans" who aren't spending the day with family. It's an odd, multi-generational, funny group.
My own family is small and scattered, and we haven't spent Thanksgiving together in over a decade. It traces back to when my Father passed away (on the day before Thanksgiving). Dad was a traditionalist, and took great joy in family gatherings. After his passing, the bonds between the rest of the family loosened. My mother has created a whole new life for herself, and is now way too busy to host a holiday gathering. While I get along well enough with both my sisters, we have nothing in common and little desire to spend much time together. Both of my sisters are republican, fundamentalist Christians, yuppie parents who are caught up in the materialistic side of America that I have rejected. We lack any common basis for conversation, and yet love each other too much to argue. So we'll exchange phone calls and wish each other well. It works well enough for us.
I'll take this opportunity to express my gratitude for a multitude of good thing. I'm grateful for all my friends (and I'm truly blessed to have so many of them). I'm thankful for reasonably good health and happiness (the shrub administration hasn't taken that away). I give thanks that my family still shares love in spite of our divisions.
And thanks to you readers and commenter's. You've given me a lot of pleasure in this humble little blog, and I feel like I've gotten to know many of you even though we've never met. Thanks!
Update: in the words of Zymurgian: "Great Googly-Moogly, that was GOOD".


John Fitzgerald Kennedy
May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963

It's a coincidence of calender that today is a holiday and the anniversary of a tragedy. The assassination of President Kennedy is one of my earliest memories and an event that changed history. We lost a certain amount of national hope and idealism on that day.
Was Kennedy a great president? Hard to say. The Bay of Pigs and Vietnam are certainly black marks. The Apollo program was one of America's greatest achievements. The civil rights battle is still with us today.
But the national spirit lost something when we lost JFK: an inspiration:
We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom -- symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning -- signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same
revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe -- the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans -- born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge -- and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do -- for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom -- and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required -- not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge: to convert our good words into good deeds, in a new alliance for progress, to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support -- to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective, to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak, and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or
accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course -- both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind's final war.

So let us begin anew -- remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the
inspection and control of arms, and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed, in all corners of the earth, the command of Isaiah -- to "undo the heavy burdens, and [to] let the oppressed go free."

And, if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor -- not a new balance of power, but a new world of law -- where the strong are just, and the weak secure, and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in
the first one thousand days; nor in the life of this Administration; nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need -- not as a call to battle, though embattled we are -- but a call to bear the
burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation," a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.
John F. Kennedy was the last president who could truly inspire the nation. Every president since has met with a certain level of cynicism. In fact, every candidate since JFK has looked pale and weak in comparison.
Do any of the current candidates for president have the ability to motivate the nation to tackle grand problems like global warming? In my opinion, no. Barack Obama has a certain potential to be inspirational, but hasn't yet shown the ability to fire up the nation. It is a sad state of affairs for our nation that our presidents are no longer a source of inspiration, but rather a source of division and aggravation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Explaining Las Vegas

A couple of my good friends are going to Las Vegas for the holiday weekend (I was the minister for their wedding) and, as it's their first time, they asked my advice (hey, I'm only 98 miles away, and I've gone there for many a good concert). I'll share it with you all too. First rule of Vegas: don't expect to win. They didn't build all those huge casinos and light shows by losing money. But you can find some bargains. In the process of trying to hoover your wallet, Vegas offers a lot of promotions, especially on food. Take advantage of them. Last time I was there, the hotel I stayed in offered a huge discount on breakfast. Eating on the cheap, I was fueled for the day.
Most casinos will give you free drinks while you gamble. It's a fine plan, but one you can take advantage of. The simple plan: don't lose much, but drink all you can. Play slow, drink fast. I usually stick to blackjack, because I can play the odds to lose slowly, but you can pick your game. Start with a budget that you plan to spend. Do NOT spend more. Instead, make the money last long enough that you get the equivalent value in drinks. Realize that you are paying for the entertainment, but don't be a "sucker". Las Vegas was built on "suckers".

A Statement on Pakistan

I'm wondering if shrub and the cheney aren't jealous of Musharraf in Pakistan. Here's what shrub said:

President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly is somebody who believes in democracy."

Bush spoke nearly three weeks after Musharraf declared emergency rule, sacked members of the Supreme Court and began a roundup of journalists, lawyers and human rights activists. Musharraf's government yesterday released about 3,000 political prisoners, although 2,000 remain in custody, according to the Interior

The comments, delivered in an interview with ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, contrasted with previous administration statements -- including by Bush himself -- expressing grave concern over Musharraf's actions. In his first public comments on the crisis two weeks ago, Bush said his aides bluntly warned Musharraf that his emergency measures "would undermine democracy."

The paranoid side of me responds: Do you really belive that? Because that is very scary when I look at our upcoming election.
Arresting your Opponents, including Supreme Court Justices, Suspending the Constitution, and Declaring Marshall Law IS NOT
CROSSING THE LINE and are the actions of someone who believes in

Just let that sink in.

Food Safety

As you prepare for your Thanksgiving feast, remember this piece of news (via Ellroon of Rants From The Rookery ):

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 19 The U.S. government does not require food importers to submit the results of private lab tests if those results indicate food is contaminated.

One facility in San Francisco that tests about 150 imported food shipments each month finds at least 10 percent of the food contains things like mercury and salmonella, making it unfit for human consumption, USA Today reported Monday.

The newspaper says generally Anresco Labs tells no one about food that fails except for the importer who pays for the test.

Currently there is no regulation requiring labs to send all test results to the Food and Drug Administration though the FDA automatically rejects food that fails lab tests.

The danger is that an unscrupulous importer who gets bad results from one lab could hire another lab to test the food and pass it, the newspaper reports.

Anresco Chairman David Eisenberg says the FDA's failure to require labs to submit all test results forces them to protect importers more than the public.

I'll be shopping later today for my contribution to our Thanksgiving potluck. I haven't even decided what I'm cooking, but I'm only going to use local or domestic ingredients.

How Very Christian

Just in time for Christmas, the inexpensive plastic crucifix, made in Chinese sweatshops:

A labor rights group alleged Tuesday that crucifixes sold in religious gift shops in the U.S. are produced under "horrific" conditions in a Chinese factory with more than 15-hour work days and inadequate food.

"It's a throwback to the worst of the garment sweatshops 10, 20 years ago," said Charles Kernaghan, director of the National Labor Committee.

Kernaghan held a news conference in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral to call attention to conditions at a factory in Dongguan, a southern Chinese city near Hong Kong, where he said crosses sold at the historic church and elsewhere are made.

Spokespeople for St. Patrick's and another New York landmark, the Episcopal Trinity Church at Wall Street, said the churches had removed dozens of crucifixes from their shops while they investigate the claims.

"I don't think they have a clue where these crucifixes were made _ in horrific work
conditions," Kernaghan said.

Kernaghan said the factory's mostly young, female employees work from 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. seven days a week and are paid 26 cents an hour with no sick days or vacation. Workers live in filthy dormitories and are fed a watery "slop.",0,575076,print.story

I'm not a religious person, but I have a passing familiarity with the teachings of Jesus. I can't see how he would condone this form of worship.

A Little Speech

It's one of the little things that I hate about our shrub (as opposed to a whole slew of big things). The screening of audiences to only include supporters. Previous presidents have allowed dissenters into their audiences (remember how often Clinton was heckled?), with the only screening being for security purposes. Shrub maintains his bubble:

The problem, in this case, wasn’t with the president’s inoffensive message, but rather with his audience.

You might think that a presidential speech on Thanksgiving would be open to all comers. But no, even when President Bush is talking about something as uncontroversial and inclusive as the essential goodness of our country, he wants his audience prescreened for obsequiousness.

Bush traveled to the historic Berkeley Plantation in southeastern Virginia yesterday for an event carefully calibrated to emphasize his compassionate side. In his remarks, he encouraged “all Americans to show their thanks by giving back.”

But, as usual, he wasn’t talking to all Americans. At least not in person. Admission to the event was tightly controlled by White House and Republican party officials.

Tyler Whitley and Mark Bowes write in the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “President Bush found something to be thankful for yesterday — a friendly, invitation-only Virginia audience. . . . “‘We love you!’ one woman yelled as Bush prepared to deliver a 16-minute Thanksgiving message to a standing-room-only crowd of about 800 people standing at Berkeley under a tent facing the James River.

Yes, it appears Bush can’t even wish Americans a happy Thanksgiving without the comfort of his ever-present Bubble.

I realize that this is a minor issue compared to all of shrub's crimes, but I find his arrogance infuriating.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

An Apology

Sorry about the light posting lately. I owe you all a few good posts soon.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Townsend's Greatest Hits

Fran Townsend is resigning, not that it will change anything. Here's a few of her "better" quotes:

But before she goes, let’s take a moment to consider some of Townsend’s greatest hits. Because, let’s face it, she’s had a few doozies.

Last month, for example, Townsend defended the Bush administration’s “harsh interrogation techniques” during an interview on CNN. She assured Americans that the abuse of detainees stops “if someone becomes cooperative.” (In other words, “We stop torturing when we get what we want out of the suspect.”)

In July, Townsend appeared on NPR to talk about terrorist activities in Iraq. When the host asked if al Qaeda had any capabilities in Iraq before Bush launched his 2003 invasion, Townsend said, “I don’t know — I wasn’t at that briefing.”

Also in July, Townsend told a national television audience that Americans can’t bring shampoo or bottled water on airplanes, but lighters are fine.

Around the same time, Townsend couldn’t explain why the war in Iraq had become a boon for al Qaeda recruitment and fundraising.

And finally, last December, Townsend was on CNN when she delivered one of my favorite lines of all time. CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry noted that, despite Bush’s promises, Osama bin Laden remains a free man. Henry suggested that this should probably be considered a “failure” in the war on terror. Townsend responded, “I’m not sure — it’s a success that hasn’t occurred yet.”

So long, Fran. We hardly knew you.

Another fine example of the shrub adminstraion's incompetence. I don't expect her replacement will be any better.