Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Here's to 2009- are you laughing or crying?

So, now everyone is all up in arms about evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren giving the inaugural prayer next month- except Warren himself and Obama, I imagine:

Worries about Obama inauguration prayer

People, what is this crap about "cultural sensitivity" on the verge of going too far? The PC world entered the realm of Cultural Insensitivity ages ago. When you're all bent on getting your own agenda met, without considering the reason behind the proposed action or the words with which you disagree, existing, or considering why people believe or think other than you do, as though your way is the only right way, you're being a hypocrite.

I don't agree with Warren's stance on gay marriage. I have plenty of gay friends I think should be able to declare their intimate commitment the same way I am allowed with a man if I so desire. I've also read Warren's book The Purpose Driven Life, and found some of his points pretty lucid and reasonable: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less." "Real fellowship happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives." "Every time you understand and affirm someone's feelings, you build fellowship." (Fellowship being defined as "experiencing life together.")

Check it out: We all live on this planet together. What's the sense of pointing out another's hypocricy without looking at our own part in the conflict? Obama "defended his choice, saying he wanted the event to reflect diverse views..." No, serious, the view that we can only have certain opinions and beliefs is only one view! Really! But craploads of people have differing opinions on what those views should be. What?

The world is full of hypocricy. My counselor yesterday (yeah, it's true, I am not completely pulled together in all areas of life and need a little help now and then), suggested that my disappointment with the way people conduct themselves, some deep-seated grief over the nature of the world in which we live, leads to my general mistrust of humanity, and occasionally the people closely surrounding me. That's a pretty miserable feeling, but there it is. I have my own idea of how we should act toward each other, but I don't go around telling people they can't have their own ideas; I just rail about what I perceive as general human retardedness here in my blog- and spend a ridiculous amount of crying and wondering if I'm doing enough to make things out there any better- my definition of "better." Eh, face it; I'm a hypocrite, too.

Don't give me any of that "religion is evil" shite either. Sure, there are plenty of people out there who interpret the Bible, the Qur'an, whatever sacred text, to their own liking, even atheists (who have their own sacred texts, "sacred" being defined by Webster as not only having to do with religion in the deity sense, but also "devoted exclusively to one service or use," and "entitled to reverence and respect.") But what's wrong with invoking Jesus Christ at an inaugural ceremony? It's not the only thing that will happen there, right? If you don't like to hear those words, "Jesus," "Christ," then close your ears for that part. It's no more a sign that the country is destined to go straight to hell because religion has been shoved into a secular event than four years ago when it happened. Obama was elected, not someone representing the radical self-righteous conservative Christians who live here. Or are you afraid of Jesus Christ because you can't find it in your own human heart to meet people where they are at, like he did, historically, according to certain accounts?

Even if the man didn't exist in real life, and even if he did and was just another human being who was able to spread a radical way of being in the world, because the timing and socio-political conditions were ready and he was uber-dedicated to his own beliefs, can a person deny that it's pretty much a universal value to want to accept others and get along at some level? What did you say, Mr. Obama? You would like to "reflect diverse views" at your inauguration? Is your intention to try to bring people together? Huh. What's that, "culturally sensitive" folks? You want to "reflect diverse views," as long as you agree with them?

OK, enough ranting on that subject. Let's look at the other stories that appeared on my homepage for the last day of the year:

Billionaire Blowups of 2008
"More than 300 of the 1,125 billionaires we tallied on our annual list last March have since lost at least $1 billion; several dozen lost more than $5 billion. The 10 richest from our 2008 rankings dropped some $150 billion of wealth, dragged down by steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, estranged brothers Mukesh and Anil Ambani and property baron K.P. Singh, who together dropped $100 billion. America's 25 biggest billionaire losers of 2008 lost a combined $167 billion."

Don't ask these guys for money any time soon; they're practically flat broke, poor things:
Anil Ambani- $42 billion to $12 billion (This is what happens when family ties go to hell.)
Oleg Deripaska- $28 billion to <$10 billion (Once the world's richest man, he survived the gangster wars for this? How much is Putin worth now?) Anurag Dikshit (There's an unfortunate name; no wonder he's having trouble.)- $1.6 billion to $1 billion
Bjorgflur Gudmundsson- $1.1 billion to ZERO (Maybe he's the guy from Iceland who wrote Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion saying, "Please send money.")
Luis Portillo- $1.2 billion to $15 million. !Esto mercado finca apesta!

Hey, how come the top 10 blowups aren't American? Don't worry; my close warm personal friend Bill Gates is still the richest man in the US, and the Wal-Mart Walton family is going strong.

"The rich haven't gotten richer--or poorer--this year. The price of admission to this, the 27th edition of The Forbes 400, is $1.3 billion for the second year in a row. The assembled net worth of America's wealthiest rose by $30 billion--only 2%--to $1.57 trillion.

"Rising prices of oil and art paved the way for 31 new members and eight returnees, while volatile stock and housing markets forced 33 plutocrats from our rankings."

Whoa, FFM, did you see that? Art! This is it: your chance!

Hooray! Here's to next year, without all these crappy overused words:
green, carbon footprint, maverick, first dude, and MAIN STREET.
Banned words list offers no 'bailout' to offenders;_ylt=Ar8cwOMHR1jXvhUHFid4sD4azJV4
Bye-bye, 2008.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Asteroid Impact (HD)

Yow. This is the coolest thing I've seen all day (not that I have seen much different or cooler than any other day...)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Some Days Are Just So Fine!

It's almost 40 degrees, sunny and melting outside. I got a chance to teach Masters class at ELS for a couple hours this morning, something I enjoy because I can hold class seminar-style and not stick to a rigid curriculum (like most of real life, right?) Plus I got to see students I have missed and who are always happy to see me (or at least they act like they are.) Then, I came home just in time for Scutabaga to arrive via FedEx; in fact, via a FedEx employee who stopped on the steps to chat for a few minutes. Acer replaced the hard drive- finally!- and so far, all is in order. Some days are just really nice ones.

Now I will go to the museum to work, for which I am very grateful, instead of washing dishes and taking down the Christmas tumbleweed (something I've felt I had to wait for the FFM to leave the house before doing, since when I mentioned it the other day he gave me a load of crap for being in such a rush. But really, for some reason this year, I am ready to take it down and move on to 2009. I don't know why; 2008 has been a good year. Maybe because the break between Thanksgiving and Christmas was so short this year, and then the last few days before the actual date of Christmas, I was mired in illness- of the emotional state, not physical. And now it's just time to walk into the next year.

I'm not even going to howl about the shite going on once again between Israel and Palestine today.

Winter Morning
Ogden Nash
Winter is the king of showmen,

Turning tree stumps into snow men

And houses into birthday cakes

And spreading sugar over lakes.

Smooth and clean and frosty white,

The world looks good enough to bite.

That's the season to be young,

Catching snowflakes on your tongue.

Snow is snowy when it's snowing;

I'm sorry it's slushy when it's going

Saturday, December 27, 2008

China's Queen of Trash!

Fred Pearce, writing in the Yale Environment 360 online magazine, offers a greener interpretation of the fast-moving Chinese economy, countering the frequent gloom-and-doom assessments. What caught my eye in the article was how waste had become a much sought after commodity at the heart of the China boom.

China is so desperate for raw materials to keep its industrial revolution going that it finds uses for almost any waste it can get its hands on: plastic packaging, the metal in old computers and other electronic goods. Just as the country used to run its agriculture on “night soil” (a handy euphemism for human feces), now it runs its industry on as much trash as it can get its hands on.

He tells the story of China’s “Queen of Trash,” Cheung Yan.

Ten years ago, when China stopped logging its own natural forests to prevent a recurrence of big floods, she anticipated a paper shortage. She went to the U.S. and drove around in an old pick-up begging municipal garbage dumps to sell her their waste paper. She was so successful that today her company, Nine Dragons, ships more than 6 million ton of waste paper a year into China, which she recycles into boxes for electronics goods that will be taking the next container ship back to Europe and North America.

Nine Dragons has now become the world’s largest packaging company and the Queen of Trash is “reportedly mainland China’s richest person — and possibly the richest self-made woman on the planet.”

Talk about cash from trash. What this highlights is the intrinsic value embedded in the waste stream - a value mined out of necessity and shortages. “…The very problems that China is finding in obtaining raw materials for its manufacturing plants is already pushing it into taking a world lead in waste recycling,” he writes. So what value is wasting away in the industrialized world that one might see with a China perspective?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just Plain Sad

Fourth Army recruiter commits suicide: Alarming trend probed
By Associated Press
Monday, December 22, 2008 -
ENDERSON, Texas - Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Henderson, a strapping Iraq combat veteran, spent the last, miserable months of his life as an Army recruiter, cold-calling dozens of people a day from his strip-mall office and sitting in strangers’ living rooms, trying to sign up their sons and daughters for an unpopular war.

He put in 13-hour days, six days a week, often encountering abuse from young people or their parents. When he and other recruiters would gripe about the pressure to meet their quotas, their superiors would say that they ought to be grateful they were not in Iraq, according to his widow.

Less than a year into the job, Henderson - afflicted by flashbacks and sleeplessness after his tour of battle in Iraq - went into his backyard shed, slid the chain lock in place and hanged himself with a dog chain.

He became, at age 35, the fourth member of the Army’s Houston Recruiting Battalion to commit suicide in the past three years - something Henderson’s widow and others blame on the psychological scars of combat, combined with the pressure-cooker job of trying to sell the war.

“Over there in Iraq, you’re doing this high-intensive job you are recognized for. Then, you come back here, and one month you’re a hero, one month you’re a loser because you didn’t put anyone in,” said Staff Sgt. Amanda Henderson, herself an Iraq veteran and a former recruiter in the battalion.

The Army has 38 recruiting battalions in the United States. Patrick Henderson’s is the only one to report more than one suicide in the past six years.

The Army began an investigation after being prodded by Amanda Henderson and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

The all-volunteer military is under heavy pressure to sign up recruits and retain soldiers while it wages two wars.

Douglas Smith, a spokesman for the Army Recruiting Command, said, “I don’t have an answer to why these suicides in Houston Recruiting Battalion occurred, but perhaps the investigation that is under way may shed some light on that question.”

Monday, December 22, 2008

Crime and Civil Disobedience

Where'd the Bailout Money Go? $350 billion later, banks won't say how they're spending it.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Think you could borrow money from a bank without saying what you were going to do with it? Well, apparently when banks borrow from you they don't feel the same need to say how the money is spent.

After receiving billions in aid from U.S. taxpayers, the nation's largest banks say they can't track exactly how they're spending it. Some won't even talk about it.

"We're choosing not to disclose that," said Kevin Heine, spokesman for Bank of New York Mellon, which received about $3 billion.

Thomas Kelly, a spokesman for JPMorgan Chase, which received $25 billion in emergency bailout money, said that while some of the money was lent, some was not, and the bank has not given any accounting of exactly how the money is being used.

"We have not disclosed that to the public. We're declining to," Kelly said.

The Associated Press contacted 21 banks that received at least $1 billion in government money and asked four questions: How much has been spent? What was it spent on? How much is being held in savings, and what's the plan for the rest?

None of the banks provided specific answers.

"We're not providing dollar-in, dollar-out tracking," said Barry Koling, a spokesman for Atlanta, Ga.-based SunTrust Banks Inc., which got $3.5 billion in taxpayer dollars.

Some banks said they simply didn't know where the money was going.
Continue at:,0,2429990.story?page=1

I almost wish I'd made enough money to owe taxes this year so I could refuse to file.
IRS: Where is your check? You owe taxes.
Me: Oh, I choose not to tell you what I am doing with that money, but I will let you know I have decided not to send a check to you. If I hang onto it, I know where it will go when the time comes.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Larry the Cable Guy's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

There are 800 million things going on in the world that are making me anxious, and I can't even keep track because Scutabaga is taking his third- and this better be FINAL, Acer!- trip to Texas, so here: Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No, no, no!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

At Least They're Home?!

Today's abomination, if it can be corroborated:

Free men "apparently shackled and hooded" by our government for a 20 hour plane trip back to Bosnia, after being held at Guantanamo for 7 years. for what reason...? The men released have good reason to be happy to be home; we America, have every reason to be ashamed.

Last night on the TV news, the FFM and I heard Bush say about the Shoe Man in Iraq, that these kinds of things can happen in a free country. We pretty much looked at each other and said in unison, "I guess we don't live in a free country."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Got Some Iraqis on My Side

By now we've all heard the news that some Iraqi journalist threw his size 10 shoes at Bush this weekend and called him a dog. This was practically the only news reported, aside from the important stuff about sports stars cursing and speaking rudely, accusing officials of cheating and so on. (One of the contributers to this month's Vanit Fair said when asked what she is hoping for this holiday season: "That Obama will be about to begin his presidency." Huh? He is so ready! I personally hope that We the People quit making sports stars immortal.)

So, speaking of presidents and the shoes and all that, I love this Facebook-Getting-Back-in-Touch-with-People-from-Long-Ago-and-Far-Away thing. This morning I set my status as: is wishing she could throw a shoe at Bush, too, but even if she missed on purpose, it would get her locked up! Suddenly, friends all over the place were commenting:
--That guy had quite the arm.
--I'd throw a shoe at Bush, and there's no way I would miss. (Unless the secret service took the hit for him.) But I think more coffee first.
--You go girl!!!!
--I would throw a shoe too (but not one of the new Manolos :-)
--I would pitch in for bail if you did. Hopfully you would be wearing heels.
--I would like to see Toby Keith put a boot up his ass.
--and after you've walked though the barn..sacrificed for a good cause
--yeah sick Toby on him...

Peeps, I know these fine Americans carry the Republican, Democrat, and Independent party labels on their little voter registration cards; oh, yeah, it's so time for a change. Obama can't do it on his own; we all have to do our part.

And while we are at it, what's this bullshite: "Executive pay limits may prove toothless-
Loophole in bailout provision leaves enforcement in doubt"?! That's crap. Let's not let "may prove toothless" become "are toothless," huh?

" the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision, congressional aides said. The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which was the way the Treasury Department had said it planned to use the money.
"Now, however, the small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts. In a reversal, the Bush administration has not used auctions for any of the $335 billion committed so far from the rescue package, nor does it plan to use them in the future. Lawmakers and legal experts say the change has effectively repealed the only enforcement mechanism in the law dealing with lavish pay for top executives."

Thanks, Zoriah, for the photos:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Why is the Rum Gone? - Remix

Why indeed?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Cubes of Memory

Last night, having had a day fraught with a fundamental problem with humanity- obviously- I skipped the party, so bObrObb and The Queen brought the party to my door, with drunken singing by the whole crowd. I'm cured. Thanks.
Fatcap makes me happy:

The Cubes of Memory
Llanes (Asturias, Spain)
One of the most recognisable features of Llanes is ‘Los Cubos de Memoria.’ ('The cubes of memory') They were created by Basque artist Augustín Ibarrola on the large reinforced cubes that arrived in the 1930’s to act as a breakwater and the blocks protected the harbour from fierce winter storms. It has been described as one of the major works of public art and within it there are elements of the history of the town, the region and the artist himself. ‘The Cubes of Memory’ represents the seafaring tradition and the hunting of whales; it refers to nature with a riot of flowers, also symbolic of all the floral festivals of Llanes; there are examples of fruit on the cubes, apples and citrus fruits, which were the main agricultural and export products in the nineteenth century and makes links between man and his history and invite the observer to get to know the land here.

The FFM is sick, so we won't be going to Denver this weekend for the Art Museum and Science and Nature dino exhibit. Maybe it's a good time for me to sit around and get my shite together and stop being so disappointed with the world.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Today's Holiday Message

I spent the first half of my life taking on responsibility for other people's feelings and failings (of my own accord, I freely admit), and I resolve not to do so for the next half or more. I'm sick and tired of people preying on my good nature, so if you don't come my way bearing gifts, go the other direction. Read that as a firm "fuck off."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Don't Flush This Piece Down the Ejecto

The only news I've read tonight that did not give me an anxiety attack, pretty much:

Doctor's Advice: Leave the Toilet Seat Up
One of the longest-running spousal debates may now be settled in favor of men and for the sake of little boys.
Leave the toilet seat up, some British doctors now say. The reason: a rising trend for heavy wooden and ornamental toilet seats to fall down onto the penises of unsuspecting (and just potty-trained) toddlers.
Dr. Joe Philip and his colleagues of Leighton Hospital, Crewe, in England detail such penis-crush injuries in the December issue of the journal BJU International. The team reports on four boys between the ages of 2 and 4 who were admitted to hospitals with injuries serious enough to require an overnight stay.
The doctors say the injuries have implications for holiday travel and at-home toilet safety for parents with male toddlers.
"As Christmas approaches many families will be visiting relatives and friends and their recently toilet-trained toddlers will be keen to show how grown-up they are by going to the toilet on their own," Philip said. "It is important that parents check out the toilet seats in advance, not to mention the ones they have in their own homes, and accompany their children if necessary."
The team found that all four toddlers had been potty trained and were using the toilet on their own when the incidents occurred. Each had lifted the toilet seat, which fell back down and crushed his penis. Three of the toddlers showed a build-up of fluid in the foreskin, but they were still able to urinate. The fourth had so-called glandular tenderness.
Luckily, the doctors say, the toddlers showed no injuries to the urethra (the tube in the penis that carries urine out) and no bleeding. All four toddlers were able to leave the hospital the next day.
To keep toddlers safe during their journey in the bathroom, the doctors suggest the following tips:
Parents should consider using toilet seats that fall slowly and with reduced momentum, which would reduce the risk and degree of injury.
Heavier toilet seats could be banned in houses with male infants.
Households with male infants should consider leaving the toilet seat up after use, even though it contradicts the social norm of putting it down.
Parents could educate their toddlers to hold the toilet seat up with one hand while urinating. During such a feat, parents should keep an eye on toddlers until the toddler can do this by himself.
"As any parent knows, toilet training can be a difficult time with any toddler," Philip said. "We are concerned that the growing trend of heavy toilet seats poses a risk not only to their health, but to their confidence.";_ylt=AnkUBalzFDCklHe31g5Y3A8PLBIF

I mean really, we do want to keep the species alive and all full of self-confidence, right? Plus, I love the idea of teaching kids young to contradict social norms.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

About That Meaning and Legacy Stuff

Sunday the FFM brought up an important conversation about meaning... meaning or purpose in people's lives, people wanting to leave a legacy, and how or why we even would construct such a thing if in the long run it doesn't mean anything. It was a long discussion, and I won't recreate all that here because it was personal, too, but I know where I stand in all that stuff and will say for the million and fortieth time that if I didn't construct meaning on a daily basis, then I would have driven the car off the cliff and put an end to my own life long ago. That's just the way it is.

And this is how it is, too, along the lines of at least doing what we can to, if not only to not hurt others while we all have that brief burp of time together, then to actually make some attempt to ease suffering:
Secret Santas in 3 states spread cheer, $100 bills
By CHERYL WITTENAUER, Associated Press Writer Cheryl Wittenauer, Associated Press Writer – Fri Dec 5
ST. LOUIS – At a suburban Goodwill store on Friday, Theresa Settles selected a large, black comforter to warm her family until she can raise the money to turn the gas heat back on. A petite woman approached, her face obscured by dark sunglasses and a wrapped winter scarf, and handed Settles two $100 bills stamped with the words "secret Santa." "The only condition," she said, "is that you do something nice for someone. Pass it on."...

...The secret Santa was a protege of Kansas City's undercover gift giver, Larry Stewart, who died of cancer nearly two years ago. Stewart roamed city streets each December doling out $100 bills to anyone who looked like they might need a lift.

Before his death in January 2007, Stewart told a friend how much he would miss his 26 years of anonymous streetside giving, during which he gave away about $1.3 million. Stewart, from the city suburb of Lee's Summit, made millions in cable television and long-distance telephone service.
The friend promised Stewart he would be a secret Santa the next year. "He squeezed my hand and that was it," said the Kansas City Santa, who would say only that he was an area businessman and investor. "I honored a promise."

Two secret Santas, one from the Kansas City area and the other from the St. Louis area, descended on thrift stores, a health clinic, convenience store and small auto repair shop to dole out $20,000 in $100 bills, hugs and words of encouragement to unsuspecting souls in need.

In this economy, they weren't hard to find....

...For the secret Santas, it's not about keeping Stewart's memory alive as much as the meaning behind his legacy.

"It's not about the man, it's not about the money, it's about the message," the Kansas City Santa said. "Anyone can be a secret Santa with a kind word, gesture, a helping hand."

He said the money is given without judgment, but on the condition that the receiver pass along a kindness to someone else. Stewart began his holiday tradition at a restaurant in December 1979, after he had just been fired. He gave a waitress $20 and told her to keep the change and was struck by her gratitude....

...The secret Santas want to expand their operation to every state, but so far only nine givers operate in Charlotte, N.C., Phoenix, St. Louis and Kansas City. They plan to start giving in Detroit this holiday season.
On the Net:
Secret Santa World,
Well, crap; that's pretty nice, right? I mean, we can leave it at that for now.

In Vigilance and Virtue (Fall 2008 "Culture"), an essay considering the actions of Nazi leader Adolph Eichmann, who organized transport of Jews to concentration camps, Amy Gilbert says, "French philosopher Chantal Delsol, in her penetrating book Icarus Fallen, points to two opposed trends in our responses to evil: unexamined indignation and a priori absolution. The first is evident in popular responses to events such as the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the Rwanda genocide: we voice our outrage and disorientation in quick and sometimes indiscriminate blame, accompanied in the media by replaying images of the events over and over again. The repetition is necessary, for we quickly reach the limits of our ability to articularly express our moral intuitions and judgments. The second trend generally emerges in response to more everyday situations, though it sometimes follows blind indignation n our processing of horrific events. In this mode, we excuse wrongdoing by denying the responsibility of the perpetrators. We identify some deterministic factor- upbringing, genes, neurochemistry- as the real culprit behind the transgression. And so we transform vices into pathologies for which people cannot be answerable."

(I just want to say that latter part scares the crap out of me.)

"This a priori absolution has a flip side. Just as vices are not blameworthy, so virtues are not commendable. Those who bravely risk their lives to save others, for instance, are not entitled to feel ennobled by their deeds- their neurochemistry determined their actions. And the rest of us need not feel guilty for our (likely) lack of action in simmilar circumstances. The 'heroes' simply have better genes than we do...."

"...Currently in vogue in psychology, philosophy, and evolutionary biology and traceable through Hobbes back to the ancient hedonists, this individualism maintains that our sole motivation, consciously or unconsciously, and even our most selfless seeming acts, is our own pleasure or satisfaction. Interestingly, if this is an accurate picture of human motivation, then Eichmann correctly identified his own key failing: his ineptitude at achieving his goals of self-advancement" (within the Nazi regime.) (pp. 7-8)

I don't know about you all, and I don't mean to oversimplify a complex question, but no matter how short a time I am here on this planet, or this planet is here in this solar system, and so on, I'd rather be doing what I do than what Eichmann did, and not just for my own self-satisfaction. (And dang, I haven't been advancing in any particular direction lately.)

Court: No review of Obama's eligibility to serve
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court has turned down an emergency appeal from a New Jersey man who says President-elect Barack Obama is ineligible to be president because he was a British subject at birth. The court did not comment on its order Monday rejecting the call by Leo Donofrio of East Brunswick, N.J., to intervene in the presidential election.

Donofrio says that since Obama had dual nationality at birth — his mother was American and his Kenyan father at the time was a British subject — he cannot possibly be a "natural born citizen," one of the requirements the Constitution lists for eligibility to be president.

Donofrio also contends that two other candidates, Republican John McCain and Socialist Workers candidate Roger Calero, also are not natural-born citizens and thus ineligible to be president.
At least one other appeal over Obama's citizenship remains at the court. Philip J. Berg of Lafayette Hill, Pa., argues that Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii as Obama says and Hawaii officials have confirmed.

Does this guy really care about holding up constitutional law (he is an attorney), or is he just being a pain in the arse looking for a media ride on the Presidential train? I'd call it thinly veiled racism, but he's picked on Mccain and Calero, too. Maybe he's just a bitter hardcore Republican with a bone to pick. Classification: individualist evil.

Bank of America will no longer finance mountaintop removal coal mining
Bank of America will phase out financing for companies that practice mountaintop removal coal mining, a destructive and controversial method of coal extraction, according to a statement from the banking giant. The policy comes the day after the Environmental Protection Agency — at the behest of the Bush administration — approved a rule that will make it easier for coal companies to dump waste from mountaintop removal mining operations into streams and valleys.

"Bank of America is particularly concerned about surface mining conducted through mountain top removal in locations such as central Appalachia," the company said in a statement. "We therefore will phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal. While we acknowledge that surface mining is economically efficient and creates jobs, it can be conducted in a way that minimizes environmental impacts in certain geographies."

Bank of America is currently involved with eight of the U.S.'s top mountaintop removal coal-mining operators, according to the Rainforest Action Network, an environmental activist group that is campaigning against coal use.
"Bank of America's decision is a giant leap forward in the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining, which has devastated Appalachian communities and the mountains and streams they depend on," said Rebecca Tarbotton, director of Rainforest Action Network's Global Finance Campaign, which has pressured Bank of America since October 2007 to cease financing of mountaintop removal mining and coal-fired power plants. "We hope that Citi, JP Morgan Chase and other banks follow Bank of America's lead."
For the rest of the story, go to:
So, Bank of America was hassled to make the decision, but the outcome was positive, regardless of motivation. Classification: individualist good.

Eh, what are you going to do?

Monday, December 8, 2008

One Side of the Coin

I am working on the other side of the coin, but it takes far longer and cuts into dog feeding and kitchen viewing time, than simply saying, "ALL PAYDAY LENDING BASTARD PLACES SHOULD BE BURNED TO THE GROUND- after hours of course, so that no one is on the receiving end of bodily harm."

I just learned that in Wyoming, currently payday loan interest rates are as high as 780%. Peeps, those places give me the willies when I pass them; I know they are out to keep the person who works and lives from paycheck to paycheck working and living from paycheck to paycheck while someone else walks off with a lot of that person's hard-earned tiny wages, but 780%? Those bastards are so lucky that punching someone in the head with a jacknife is totally illegal- unlike extortionist interest rates on payday loans.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Viva Glasvegas, Baby!

It's snowing like crazy outside, a perfect day for wrapping my family's presents and getting them ready to mail, and for writing Christmas cards. I am responding to the RECESSION, to my impending job loss, by recycling last year's cards. (Be ready, peeps, and cross your fingers I don't send you back the one you sent me a year ago, right?)

So, this may have been my last Pleasure Purchase for quite a while: Glasvegas. Vanity Fair says: "Glasvegas may well be the best new band from Britain, and, on their self-titled debut, this Scottish foursome evokes Phil Spector's 'wall of sound,' Jesus and Mary Chain's feedback, Joe Strummer's vocals, and Velvet Underground's drumming (listen to 'Geraldine' on" I say, "Great purchase; glad that's where I placed my last article of faith in the bank that holds my credit card debt."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Not Well-Armed

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back and Featuring...

I just got back from the annual pilgrimage to Bozeman, MT, for Thanksgiving with my brother and sister-in-law. It was relaxed, as always, and I will miss the tradition, which has endured for the 6 years we all have lived in the Rocky Mountain west, when they move back east. I realized on the long drive home today, too, that this is the solo first road trip I've taken in a long time in which I was able to sit in the car and let my mind drift in a reflective way, rather than in the angst-ridden sense it has for a long time, dreading what would await me when I returned, or what had happened in my absence. I'm not going to go into the "why" of that here, but it was a pleasing feeling to suddenly realize that not only have the tears been sewn up, pretty much, but most of the stuffing has been reinserted.

Wednesday I found myself reminiscing about my best friend in elementary school, Andree, who has a new business website. I asked her before I left if she'd mind if I feature the site on my blog, as I like to do when friends are doing cool things that deserve notice. We met in second grade, I want to say, and were best friends up through sixth. Her family introduced me to Acadia National Park and to Chinese food. Andree lived downstreet, and I lived in the country on the bus route, and when junior high came along, our relationship gradually changed, but some of my fondest memories are of us two child philosophers hanging from the monkey bars during recess, talking about... well, kind of grown-up things, questions like who we are and why we are here, in an individual sense, but with an eye on a broader picture, too. And one of my favorite kid stories to tell is when one Sunday we were alone at her house, and we called people randomly from the phone book. We'd take turns ringing a little hand bell and asking whoever picked up the phone on the other end, "Why aren't you in church today?" Well, why the hell weren't we, I'm sure more than one irate grown-up wondered, and where were our parents?- as they hung up on us.

Anyway, here is Andree's new website, for her wedding photography enterprise. Check it out:

Then, today on the way home I was thinking again of the past, but more recently, about my time at The Pharmhouse. More specifically, I had pushed in a cassette (that's right, Verdi doesn't play CDs, or tell the temperature, or have cruise control) that I had made sometime in 1999, the year after I left Dave. In fact, I left at this time of year, in 1998, though I didn't physically leave, but slept on the couch and was glad he was on the road most of the time, until January, when Gabe and I got The Pharmhouse.

So, the music on this tape: Everclear, Stabbing Westward, Catherine Wheel, Eve 6, Ben Folds Five, The Foo Fighters, The Flys... contained a large proportion of bitterness, and I realized as I was driving and singing, after not having listened to this particular cassette in a long time, that I was listening from a different angle, maybe more removed than before. While at the time I made that tape, I was gliding on giddy wings of freedom to be myself, safe with my family of friends at The Pharmhouse, there was the same bitterness and anger puffing out around the edges, even if it was sometimes morose, as was the social mood of the day among others listening. When people associate the apathy and loss of direction apparent in the clothes, music, and actions, or inactions, to those of us who slacked off to that stuff, did they miss the latent bitterness and disappointment and anger that there didn't seem to be anything worth an aspiration at the time, unless one wanted to don a suit and play for The Man?

I was secure in my job at the time, actually, the best I've ever held in terms of challenge and satisfaction, and I was safe in my new home, one week watching foreign films on DVD with Gabe, the next eating steakbombs and partaking of grade B horror flicks with Michael. I'd pull on my boots and down coat and stand at the bonfire while groups of friends in the Valley picked and sang, or would crawl into shorts and out of my tent at outdoor festivals to sit on the grass and listen to the best live: Bela Fleck, Medeski Martin and Wood, Dr. Didj, Ozo Matli, Sound Tribe. Then alone in my palatial red-walled room, I'd listen to That Other Stuff, the stuff I put on the tape I listened to today.

One of my roommates during that time, and someone I haven't seen in years but whose friendship I still treasure, along with the purple Patagucci shirt she gave me that's raggedy at the sleeves now, is Nickie Sekera, previously mentioned as my Vice Presidential running mate, and also in conjunction with her hard work and commitment to US Campaign for Burma. Nickie sent me a coffee mug recently, that showed up by UPS on Election Day, no less. It's the one pictured here, and it came with a letter on aubergine paper. The story is, "I spotted this mug on my second visit to Japan. I liked the kitsch factor of a mug with our nation's capitol that was manufactured in an Asian country. The colors were 'off,' so to speak, and the White House- Aubergine. Tacky is cool. Do I have foresight? Did you unknowingly choose me for VP on inuition, that is based on me possessing this mug?" No; I chose you actually because I thought it a good idea for two smart, good looking blonde women who can get things done to be on a ticket together.

Of course, the problem currently is that only one of us is getting anything done these days, it seems, and that's not me. But I had plenty of time to think about that while driving, too.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Official Ninja Webpage:  REAL Ultimate Power!!!!

The Official Ninja Webpage: REAL Ultimate Power!!!!

Radical Zealots Use Conventional Weapons to Kill NY Worker

On November 28, Black Friday in the United States, a throng of extremist consumer-shoppers, using a weapon that has served in battle since time immemorial, their physical bodies, successfully killed a 34-year-old retail worker at a corporate giant Wal-Mart store in Long Island, New York, during a mad rush that also shattered the glass doors of the establishment.

Meanwhile, four other people, including a 28-year-old woman reported as pregnant, were treated for minor injuries following the assault.

While charges could be filed, according to police, using surveillance video and eyewitness accounts would be difficult in establishing direct involvement and culpability in this criminal act. If other stories of trampling deaths during impassioned rushes at religious pilgrimage are any indication of consequences, expect none, except for the collateral damage experienced by many who found themselves empty-handed of flat-screen TVs and other idols of worship for which they had arisen early and come out to fight.
(if for some odd reason you haven't seen this already)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Am I High? Or Taking the Wrong Drugs?

I don't get it. Help me, please.

Brand Name Drug Makers Could Be Liable for Injuries Caused by Generic Versions

Brand Name Drug Makers Possibly Liable for Generics
Nov 10, 2008 Parker Waichman Alonso LLP
A California appeals court ruling that took place this past Friday is likely to generate lawsuits against many in the pharmaceutical industry. The recent ruling put brand name drug makers on notice that they can be held liable not only for injury caused by their own brand name medications, but also for injuries caused by generic drug makers that are selling generic versions of their brand name products.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco, California, reinstated a lawsuit that was originally initiated by Elizabeth Conte. Conte had taken a generic version of Wyeth’s Reglan heartburn medication for nearly four years. She subsequently developed tardive dyskinesia, a condition which causes incurable and involuntary muscle movements. Although Conte only took generic versions of the medication, she accused Wyeth and three generic drugmakers of failing to warn of the risk of long-term use of the medication.

Conte’s doctor may have relied on product warnings distributed to physicians by Wyeth when he decided to prescribe the generic version, the court cited in a three-to-zero decision. Also, a Summary Judgment against the generic drugmakers—Teva Pharmaceuticals, Pliva, and Purepac Pharmaceuticals—was upheld. “As the foreseeable risk of physical harm runs to users of both name-brand and generic drugs,” Justice Peter Siggins wrote, “so too runs the duty of care and Wyeth has not persuaded us that consideration of other factors requires a different conclusion …. We believe California law supports Conte’s position that Wyeth owes a duty of care to those people it should reasonably foresee are likely to ingest metoclopramide in either the name-brand or generic versions when it is prescribed by their physicians in reliance on Wyeth’s representations.”

The case utilized a "negligent misrepresentation" theory which, if seen to fruition, could enable others to also work around the existing product liability precedant, thus enabling liability without attachment to time or "special relationship" or other concerns. Because there is no effective limitation on the scope of the theory, only "foreseeability," which essentially amounts to no limitation whatsoever, could take place. Some critics argue that this could enable a situation in which brand name manufacturers would be sued for a product for which they do not receive profits and from which generic sales could adversely affect their profits.

Apparently, a preemption argument was implemented that points to the ability for generic manufacturers' to utilize such an opton, thus placing more pressure on the product identification requirement. That requirement has long protected pioneer manufacturers from liability in these types of cases.

Given that misrepresentation is a false statement of fact made by one party to another party, in this case, the court agreed that the negligent misrepresentation is to be charged against the brand name manufacturer as well as the generic drug makers.

I mean, I get it, the legalese, the implications that are being bandied about here, but I'm having a problem- maybe a couple. Is this me? Am I hallucinating? Because I've set this matter aside for days, hoping I'd change my mind about coming to the defense of the Big Pharmaceuticals. But, I didn't. If the guys at Wyeth are guilty of "negligent misrepresentation," aren't the guys at the generic companies, too?

"Drug manufacturers have long had to provide safety warnings for their products. Now they might have to do the same for companies piggybacking on their success...
"'As the foreseeable risk of physical harm runs to users of both name-brand and generic drugs,' Justice Peter Siggins wrote, 'so too runs the duty of care.'"
(Name-Brand Drug Makers Ruled Liable for Injuries From Other Manufacturers' Generics)
To me, that looks like the generic drug manufacturers are also accountable. Maybe it's a good thing I blew off law school.

But the Really Big Question I have in this scenario is, well, where is our watchful, thorough and care-driven government regulatory agency the FDA in this scenario at all? And mention of that agency's culpability? You know, the guys who deem drugs safe or not before they even go to market? I swear I learned about that in at least one of my Public Administration courses. Who the hell steered me wrong?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Can't Do My Job

First, about a week ago, I told Princess Artster Jodie Moat Monster I would feature her website on my blog, so here it is: Check it out. Jodie does some really fun, colorful and creative stuff, including experimenting with the plaster jackets we discard in the dino prep station after we empty them of their fossil contents. Good stuff!

So, yesterday was an exercise in patience for me. It was less that I had a splitting headache yet still interacted with people, and more that I interacted with people who have excuses for lame behavior at the corporate and academic level. I did some screaming, frankly. Here are the results I have compiled, of events:

1- If you are a can-do person who likes results, efficiency, simple functioning of technology for which you shell out your hard-earned money, DO NOT PURCHASE ACER COMPUTER PRODUCTS. If you want the entire 5+-month lowdown on this situation, please ask me and I will be happy to share when I have cooled off a little. For now, just knowing that hearing "we can't" repeatedly from people who work for the business, when you have purchased a machine in good faith that your money is paying for function, not dysfunction, is not acceptable, especially if you personally and professionally are someone who "can."

2- People who work daily with computers and are paid to do so, in clerical tasks, do not necessarily do their jobs correctly. I know; hard to believe, especially if you tend to be someone who does your job, for the most part, correctly, and at least apologizes and remedies a situation when you screw up. Something like 2 years ago, I spilled a glass of water, and it ran into two books about Albania that I had taken out of the University of Wyoming Library. One was a $9.95 picture book. The other, I don't know the retail cost, but it doesn't matter so much. I was charged some crazy amount of money for rebinding one and replacing the other, as well as $15 EACH for a "billing charge." Grudgingly, I paid the rebinding and replacement fees, but I held off on the $30 billing charges, on principle. (And despite my repeated attempts to communicate with Library and Billing administrators, I received no reply so that I could discuss the matter.) Aren't the people who bill me paid a salary to bill me? Isn't that part of the Job Description? The Duties associated with that position? Why is an extra charge attached to a normal job function, when there is already a budget for the work? Eventually, I was banned from taking books and videos from the libraries, getting official transcripts of my academic career at the University if I needed them, and so on, so I sucked up and let The Man have his way.

Yesterday, however, when I went to check out a couple books, I was told I had overdue charges on two books. "And those books would be titled..?" I asked. "I don't know," the young man at the Circulation Desk told me. "It doesn't tell me that on the computer." "Well, I'm not interested in paying fees for some books that presumably are overdue when I don't even know what they are." (I could not recall, wracking my pain-filled head, any time recently that I had even borrowed books, much less returned them late.) Of course the boy was puzzled; he did not know what to do. I imagine people normally just pay the fee and get the hell out with their books. Smooth ploy, Cashier's Office! So, he looked a little deeper (give this kid a bonus!) and discovered the fee was $30 for damages. "I know what that is!" I said. "Something like 2 years ago, I spilled water on a couple books about Albania, and I paid the fee." So, a girl behind the desk got on the computer to the Cashier's Office (ostensibly) and returned a verdict a couple minutes later that I was free to take the Tolstoy and the bar tour book and go. Before I went, though, I asked the guy who checked out the books if this would continue to happen to me: that I would be arrested at the Circulation Desk for an unrepented crime which I have already rectified. He assured me that the situation was now taken care of. We shall see.

3- (No, I didn't forget I was in the middle of a list here.)
REALLY, people who work daily with computers and are paid to do so, in clerical tasks, do not necessarily do their jobs correctly. Something like what I described with the library situation occurred later in the day when I sat down to look over a credit card statement and found I had been billed late in October for a service I had canceled early in October. Guess what? When I called the company, lo and behold, the representative on the line discovered that despite my relaying to him a cancellation number I had received at the time, I was still on the rolls as a member! I await next month's credit card statement, in which a refund should have been applied, with great relish.

OK, so I know I've done some bitching here this morning, but hey, think about it. What sorts of encounters have you had lately, without even a puke-inducing headache to spur you to a frenzy, that are similar? The FFM called last night, and in an hour-long conversation, we spent probably half the time not only with me regurgitating what I have yiped about above, but with him doing the same about his own computer and printer situation. Peeps, you see what's going on here, right?

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's Not Over Yet

I got an e-mail the other day from Don Siegelman saying the 11th Circuit Court of Atlanta will hear his appeal on December 9. Remember him? Former Governor of Alabama that the Bush Administration sent to maximum security prison? Siegelman says, "The hearing will begin at 9:00 A.M. My case may not be the first case to be heard but we are confident it will be over before noon.

"As you know the 11th Circuit Court let me out of prison pending the outcome of my appeal, saying that there were 'substantial questions of law and fact likely to result in a reversal.'

"While we are hopeful, please say a special prayer that the 11th Circuit will rule favorably and that this horrible legal ordeal will finally come to an end.

"Thank you so much for helping to get us this far down the road to freedom: freedom from the Bush administration, freedom from war and racial prejudice and freedom from injustice.

"I am especially grateful for all you have done for my family and me over these past several months and grateful for your help in keeping Congress focused on digging for the truth."

It's not too late to go to to encourage your Congresspeople to hold Karl Rove accountable.

That said, we all know that over the last 8 years, the President and the Executive Office of our government have assumed extraordinary powers that place our system of checks and balances in danger. I won't go into detail here. On Saturday night the FFM and I were up late watching Book TV on C-Span 2 (Haha! Yes! I was not the lone geek in this!) Two authors spoke from the Miami Book Show, Naomi Klein, author of "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," and Jeremy Scahill, who wrote “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army." These two talked, among other subjects, of the need to hold current political leaders accountable for the crimes they have committed, before they are able to sneak out of paying for their actions (if they haven't already set forces in motion to make sure they are able to get away scot-free.)

Then, yesterday on a hike, a new friend questioned whether or not it is worthwhile to pursue these people, or whether we the American people should simply look ahead. I am not one to seek revenge, but the idea of allowing people in such power positions to set such dangerous precedents for some reason just really doesn't appeal much to me. Besides, crap, if we can bail out a bunch of richy-rich money guys who screwed up and made bad choices (which they knew they were making) with hundreds of billions of tax dollars, surely the next administration can forego a couple quail-and-lamb suckups, I mean suppers, for the leaders of 20 powerful and up-and-coming nations, to take care of the matter of putting the right people behind bars.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Still Spitting

First, if you go to, you will find everything in order there. I don't know why the other day I got the "unavailable" message, but that evening, despite aforementioned hesitation, I went on the site and shared my vision, and as Stephen Colbert might say, "I shared my vision, and so are you!" (Or maybe not)

Second, I just learned that my good friend Kathy had to put her dog Shadow to sleep on Veterans Day. Shadow was more than 15 years old and had lived a quality life until very recently. Kathy chose Tuesday because Shadow was a veteran dog. I didn't mention anything about honoring the veterans who have served this country on Tuesday, so I will do so belatedly. Veterans Day is traditionally set aside to recognize those who have served in a military capacity, and I for one am thankful that there are people who sign on to protect and defend us and abhor when those who wield political power put those men's and women's lives on the line for less than necessary reasons.

When I consider the term "veterans", I also think of other veterans, for example myself, a battle-scarred veteran educator who has gone into certain other trenches, and I believe those people, who have served the country's citizens and future, deserve recognition as well. It set me on edge to be working in the prep station at the museum the other day and to watch the young man in the General Biology class spit down from the balcony rail of the second floor onto the first floor where we were working, where people were milling around the exhibits... I'm wondering still, who raises a child to do such a thing? And don't forget who has to work with those kids, encourage, motivate, teach, coach, them for a good part of the day, with very little in the way of recourse anymore for addressing behavior like I saw.

It's like asking teachers to be Jesus, turn the other cheek, then watch the world burn down around because people have no respect.

OK, next and last subject for today: I just got the November BlogCatalog newsletter. Read this, and please check out the site and help spread the word:

Bloggers Unite For RefugeesOn
Monday November 10th, the BlogCatalog community came together like never before. According to BlogPulse, blog posts about refugees nearly doubled. According to Google search, more than 12,000 bloggers wrote about Bloggers Unite For Refugees. More than 2,500 included our program partner Refugees United (, which provides refugees with an anonymous forum to reconnect with missing family.

With the average contributing blogger reaching 200 readers, the plight of refugees may have reached as many 2.5 million readers, many of whom took action on Monday by writing letters to government officials and making donations to several worthwhile nonprofit organizations. The volume of posts also attracted the attention from Ode Magazine in California to the blog of Raju Nrisettiof, who writes for the The Wall Street Journal in India. This excludes the ongoing coverage of refugees by traditional media, which has been covering the estimated 100,000 refugees currently trapped in the Congo.

Today's pic is of Rocky Mountain National Park, as promised.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Alex The Talking Parrot and the Q of the Day

This guy was soooooo cool! The woman who worked with him before he died, Irene Pepperberg, just wrote a memoir titled "Alex and Me." Another book I'd like to add to my collection.

All that aside, here is the Question of the Day: Who raises a kid to go away to college and while on assignment for a General Bio class, walk to the top floor of a museum and spit down over the balcony rail to the floor below?

This is NOT a rhetorical question; really, it begs an answer. And if that is your kid, I'd like to warm your arse, too.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pain is filtered

"Pain is filtered in a poem so that it becomes finally, in the end, pleasure."-- Mark Strand

The Remains
by Mark Strand
I empty myself of the names of others. I empty my pockets.
I empty my shoes and leave them beside the road.
At night I turn back the clocks;
I open the family album and look at myself as a boy.

What good does it do? The hours have done their job.
I say my own name. I say goodbye.
The words follow each other downwind.
I love my wife but send her away.

My parents rise out of their thrones
into the milky rooms of clouds. How can I sing?
Time tells me what I am. I change and I am the same.
I empty myself of my life and my life remains.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's Called a Representative Democracy

OK, so I'm back, with about a million things to say, but I'll stick to one this morning, in the interest of time. However, I will whet your appetite quickly first. Coming soon: Aubergine House Take II- the Japanese depiction; Rocky Mountain National Park- pictures; and much more!

A friend of mine, a very smart but generally relatively quiet friend, sent the following message this morning:

"I don't usually get involved in things like this, but I am for once.
"There's a website which is asking everyone to make suggestions for the new government: don't know if they will actually pay attention, but they might, and I haven't seen a lot said about this; I happened on it in a blog, and I think it's worth telling people about. "

Immediately, I had mixed feelings. I'm glad we have a President-Elect who really, and I do believe this, believe it or not, cares what We the People want and need from our government. (Though every time he calls me the Middle Class, or America in general the Middle Class, I get a little closer to wanting to discuss the definition of "middle class" with him.) Our President should care.

However, here is the meat of this sticky situation, as I returned to my friend:

"That's a tough one... the idea of suggestions for the new government. I mean, aren't we supposed to elect people to go represent us, and aren't those people supposed to represent our suggestions? For the most part? Having been involved in government at several levels, I know it's sometimes hard; I've had to make decisions I was certain were for the best of everyone down the road at the expense of the immediate gratification of my block of constituents, but..."

And there it is, peeps. We live in a big country in many smaller but still big states, with bigger populations, and all of that larger than when the Founding Fathers wrote our Constitution, and the bottom line is, for the most part, at the federal level we are supposed to be electing ladies and gentlemen from our states of residence to go to Washington DC to talk about our common problems and needs and what works and what doesn't and how our Government can take care of those common areas of interest that we cannot undertake on our own, individually, or as smaller governmental entities, ie. at the state or local level.
Amongst all this is our President, the head of the Executive Branch of our Government, and that person, also being part of the process, should care and ask the people what their problems and suggested solutions are, but there are inherent difficulties in doing that via a website.

First, we are stepping out of 8 years of a Presidential administration that assumed far more authority than would normally be allowed under the system of checks and balances that were set forth for this country, sometimes subversively, sometimes covertly, sometimes with outright disregard for the law of the land. The President does not actually wield that much power- or is not supposed to. In setting up a website in which the people go directly to the President with their gripes or alternatives to the way things are running now, is inviting that level of authority to continue, at the risk of our representative democracy and carefully crafted system of three branches of government.

This is not to say that I think Obama intends to or would assume the dictatorial stance that our outgoing President has done, but this move encourages the people to continue to think of the President's role in their lives as more important than anyone else's in government. Which leads me to:

Second, and possibly most importantly, if the people continue to view their government as one in which the President is Boss, this lessens the role of the people they are supposed to be assembling in Washington to represent them. And those people will continue to be held less and less accountable in matters of government. People, Senator Stevens of Alaska being voted in for another term hot on the heels of seven felony charges for which he was found guilty? WHAT?! As the polls show over and over the contempt, or at least lack of favour for Congress by the American people, I can't help but wonder why those same people keep electing those they feel do not represent them and they don't trust, to office? And why Americans don't get more involved and consider running for office at some level as their own civic duty? And that brings me to my concluding thought:

Actually, maybe it's a complete wash anyway. When I think of this website the President-Elect's office has set up (which I checked out and is not yet available), I imagine countless Sarah Palin supporters and laypersons who would like to define for all of us when a human actually becomes a human giving their opinions on how government should work next, and I shudder. I think Mr. Obama has better things to do with his time, given the current state of our Country, than check the suggestion box every day at breakfast.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I don't know why

I feel like taking a break. Maybe it's because I am still coming down from the elections. Maybe it's because I am still recuperating from the time change. I really am not sure where the week went. Last night I fell asleep on the living room floor about 5:30 and woke up when the FFM got here, and we ate dinner and then went right back to sleep.

I will come back after the weekend. I am very excited to be going to Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time ever!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Woohoo, Granite State!

Obama Wins Dixville Notch, NH, The First Place To Vote

DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H. — Barack Obama came up a big winner in the presidential race in Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, N.H., where tradition of having the first Election Day ballots tallied lives on.

Democrat Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a count of 15 to 6 in Dixville Notch, where a loud whoop accompanied the announcement in Tuesday's first minutes. The town of Hart's Location reported 17 votes for Obama, 10 for McCain and two for write-in Ron Paul. Independent Ralph Nader was on both towns' ballots but got no votes.

"I'm not going to say I wasn't surprised," said Obama supporter Tanner Nelson Tillotson, whose name was drawn from a bowl to make him Dixville Notch's first voter.

With 115 residents between them, Dixville Notch and Hart's Location get every eligible voter to the polls beginning at midnight on Election Day. Between them, the towns have been enjoying their first-vote status since 1948.

Being first means something to residents of the Granite State, home of the nation's earliest presidential primary and the central focus _ however briefly _ of the vote-watching nation's attention every four years.

Town Clerk Rick Erwin said Dixville Notch is proud of its tradition, but added, "The most important thing is that we exemplify a 100 percent vote."

Dixville Notch resident Peter Johnson said the early bird electoral exercise "is fun." A former naval aviator, Johnson said he was voting for McCain, but added, "I think both candidates are excellent people."

Voting was carried out in a room in a local hotel festooned with political memorabilia from campaigns long past. Each voter gets an individual booth so there are no lines at the magic hour. The votes were quickly counted, announced and recorded on a posterboard that proclaims, "First in the Nation, Dixville Notch."

The tradition drew spectators, including Tim McKenna, who drove with his wife 16 miles from Cambridge, N.H., to witness the event.

"Living in New Hampshire, you hear so much about it in the news," said McKenna. "I think it's a very historic election this year."

Ed Butler, a Democratic state representative who runs the Notchland Inn in Hart's Location, said, "Being this small and being able to be first just makes it that much more special."

Although scores of states have voted early, the two villages are the first to officially announce the results on Election Day.

New Hampshire law requires polls to open at 11 a.m., but that doesn't stop towns from opening earlier. It also allows towns to close their polls once all registered and eligible voters have cast ballots.

Hart's Location started opening its polls early in 1948, the year Harry S. Truman beat Thomas Dewey, to accommodate railroad workers who had to get to work early. Hart's Location got out of the early voting business in 1964 after some residents grew weary of all the publicity, but brought it back in 1996.

Dixville Notch, nestled in a mountain pass 1,800 feet up and about halfway between the White Mountain National Forest and the Canadian border, followed suit in 1960, when John F. Kennedy beat Richard M. Nixon. Nixon, the Republican, swept all nine votes cast in Dixville that year, and before Tuesday, the town had gone for a Democrat only once since then. That was in 1968, when the tally was Democrat Hubert Humphrey eight, Nixon four.

Glenn Adams, The Huffington Post:

Seriously, now, into the shower and off to the voting booth.

Mmm, Donuts, Take II

In order that I might find time to vote today, I feel the need to boldly rip off today's entertainment directly from another source. Enjoy:

Why we vote on Tuesday... and other election fun facts

You've studied the issues and cast your ballot. Now all that's left to do is bide your time until the results start coming in for John McCain and Barack Obama. To help you in that effort, we introduce a list of election fun facts for your brain-candy pleasure.

Why do we vote on a Tuesday... in November?The short answer: We used to be a nation of farmers. The long answer: Congress chose November because the harvest was over and the weather wouldn't be bad enough to prevent people from traveling. As for Tuesday, people used to have to travel overnight to their polling location. (In 1845, horse was the preferred method of transport.) In an effort to avoid religious days of rest, Congress chose Tuesday, leaving Monday and Wednesday as travel days. Tuesday was voting (and horse-resting) day.
Our partners at CNN give us this fun video with more deets:

Presidential campaigns vs. potato chips
This one comes courtesy of George Will's column:
The Center for Responsive Politics calculates that, by Election Day, $2.4 billion will have been spent on presidential campaigns in the two-year election cycle that began in January 2007, and an additional $2.9 billion will have been spent on 435 House and 35 Senate contests. This $5.3 billion is a billion less than Americans will spend this year on potato chips.

No Yalies, Bushes or Clintons on the ticket
This is the first election since 1980 that a Bush or a Clinton hasn't been on the ticket.

And this one is courtesy NBC's First Read:
This will be the first time in 40 years that Yale will not have one of its former students on the ballot as president or vice president. Not since Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew battled Hubert H. Humphrey and Edmund Muskie in 1968 has Yale been shut out.

Election Day freebies
Did you know that a series of national vendors are giving stuff to voters? They are. Who knew that the "I Voted" sticker was worth more than the pride of knowing you cast your ballot?Starbucks is giving away a tall cup of brewed coffee on the house. (I guess that means my beloved chai latte is still on me.)
Between 5 and 8pm, Ben and Jerry's is celebrating democracy by giving away a free scoop of ice cream.
Krispy Kreme is giving away a star-shaped doughnut with "patriotic sprinkles" to anyone wearing an "I Voted" sticker.

God bless democracy, huh?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Library of the Lost

Especially for Boss T, from Robot Chicken, Season 3:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

If you are still undecided, it is not too late to write me in on Tuesday; look at how much fun Aubergine House would become!

For the FFM, as requested, tomorrow is the night to turn your clocks back. This is the longest span of time we have gone between springing ahead and falling back- ever-- since we started this business.

Halloween for me is more than a day to dress like a kook, wear my slinky black leather dress for the one day a year it's warranted, and drink cheap beer. It is also a day in which I light candles and remember important people in my life who are no longer here. I did not know Tony HIllerman personally, but boy will I miss his books. He had an insight into cultures that was easy, and a manner that was humble. In memoriam, today.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sarkozy voodoo dolls become bestsellers

Just in time for Halloween!

Sarkozy lost his lawsuit to get the doll off the market:

Hey, what about getting the economy rolling again?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Another Day at Work

Assassination Plot Dusrupted

"Two young men who are believers in 'white power' were arrested in what federal officials described as a plan to assassinate Senator Barack Obama and kill black children at a school."


Sarcastic comment: "Yeah, my skin color is better than yours."

Serious reply: "Well, they aren't the only ones."

Wrong answer. True; skinheads aren't the only people out there with screwed up priorities and malicious intentions, but that's not the point. There are fewer ways to damn oneself, in my book, than via chosen ignorance and passing the buck to absolve a guilty party of responsibility.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gil Bates is Dead

If you can't hack the language, just the last 5 seconds should do.

Banality of Evil

In line with my last couple posts, this morning I finished reading an article titled "Blueberries, Accordions, and Auschwitz" by Jennifer L. Geddes in the Fall 2008 issue of IASC publication Culture, in which the author discusses Hannah Arendt's reference to the "banality of evil" in her 1963 coverage of the trial of Adolph Eichmann for Nazi war crimes during WWII. Geddes pointed out that Arendt's words have been misunderstood and maligned over the years to suggest that "evil" deeds are banal, or trivial, commonplace, trite, when in fact the person committing such acts was to whom the descriptor was being applied.

Arendt found Eichmann himself a "fool," according to Geddes; "she stated in Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, a 'dilemma between the unspeakable horror of the deeds and the undeniable ludicrousness of the man who perpetrated them.'" (Geddes page 3)

Geddes asserts, far more prettily than I have in my past two posts, but perfectly getting across what I've wanted to say (and that's why she has the fellowship and I don't, right?), "Arendt came to the striking conclusion that thoughtlessness- that is the failure to think reflectively about the world around us, our actions, and their possible consequences- can be a moral failing of the highest order."

Enough said on that.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nights Without Melatonin

Among the many topics that entered my mind, some to stick around for quite a bit of thought, last night while I wasn't sleeping, were soil project ideas and who might be good connections for problems that maybe would allow playing around with landscape architecture; the sophisticated yet primal beauty of Elphaba's death throes in the book "Wicked," by Gregory McGuire; and, most importantly, that I ought to clarify my most recent blog entry before Something Happens.

I was really mad the other day. It's easy to see how people can get passionate enough about their own beliefs and need for responsibility over their own lives to wish or bring ill upon those who threaten those beliefs and that need. I mean, I was really mad. But, I am also a person who believes in some amount of karmic something out there and generally ascribes to the Golden Rule, so I want to clarify that I do not really hope that everyone who believes it is an important political and moral issue to address gay marriage in our federal government so that God will take care of our country loses his or her job and every penny he or she has. That was more a figurative way of reacting to the threat of someone else trying to drive my life with his (what I consider misconstrued and nonuniversal) values and my general disillusionment with a large portion of the American public and their willingness to succumb to vague political or religious rhetoric or doctrine without full consideration of what that means.

For example, I imagine, though I could actually be wrong about this, that many people who believe the President of the USA should push for a legal nationwide ban on gay marriage also believe that terrorism by Muslim extremists at our doorstep is an imminent danger and that we are a freedom-loving equal-opportunity democracy that should not be threatened by Those People. Yet, as my friend from Turkmenistan pointed out at lunch last weekend, in her Muslim nation there was enough of a holdover from Soviet government when Turkmenistan became independent of Soviet rule, that women there are still paid the same as men for doing the same job. Period. That doesn't necessarily happen here in this Land of Opportunity; there is still a wage gap in the US of A.

But crap; I've blown my self-imposed moratorium on talking politics until after November 4. Dang!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh, My God?

Before I get started, check out this sweet colorful street art from Apex in San Francisco, provided by the ever-reliable Fatcap at

I'm slow getting around to this today. Scutabaga, my laptop by Acer, with Windows Vista, has completely stopped working. I have owned it for four months and have returned it to the company for repairs twice. I have been informed in messages on the computer over the past couple days that there is a software and a hardware problem.

On to today's real problem, the one that makes me want to do more than scream, that makes me want to shake people by the collars and punch them in the head with my jacknife (and I consider myself pretty much a pacifist who doesn't like conflict, particularly): Listening to Morning Edition on NPR this morning, I heard a man say that he doesn't care if the country goes broke, that what is important to him in voting is the issue of gay marriage; that if this country pays attention to morals, then God will take care of us.

K, people, I am going to break it down for you here, the Ten Commandments, the moral imperatives purportedly handed to Moses by that God guy of whom this man spoke:

1. I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before me.
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.
3. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God.
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. You shall not murder. (The Roman Catholic Church, I have read, uses the word "kill", instead of "murder.")
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal. (Apparently some Jewish sources reference kidnapping here.)
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house; ou shall not covet your neighbor's wife.

See on this list where thou shalt not marry a person of the same gender? Me neither. I don't know where this man got his glasses. Perhaps the same place as those fancy ones Sarah Palin wears are sold.

See on this list where thou shalt not steal or covet thy neighbor's house? Me too. Apparently plenty of other people forgot those morals. I hope that man who spoke on the radio this morning, and everybody who holds the same morals he does, lose every single job and every single penny they have so that they will have something real to worry about instead of shoving their proposed Godly morals down my throat, which is really sore right now as it is, from screaming about thieves like Bill Gates, the fraudulent Big Brother of the software industry who holds us all under his command while he goes off on his self-righteous jihad against the ravaging diseases in Africa. Chicaner.
And I won't even get started on the separation of church and state thing. I have to go to work. Thank the Big Guy Upstairs I still have a job for now. Whew. And imagine Him taking care of a woman who thinks anyone should be able to marry anyone he or she loves enough to commit to at that sacred a level, regardless of gender!