Thursday, December 31, 2009

Charitable New Year

OK, peeps, it was a rough year, and that's why even though the top 10 philanthropists in 2009- including Bill and Melinda Gates- gave two-thirds less this year (in toto) than in 2008. Poor babies.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nation Digest: Obama creates National Declassification Center

Good news. Really good news, for a representative democracy. This should up our transparency score internationally. At least, it's a start.

Pretty disappointed to learn, though, that it was environmental crimes being hidden, rather than aliens, in Area 51. Although by now...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Obama creates center for declassification

President Obama used an executive order Tuesday to create the National Declassification Center, which will oversee efforts to make once-secret government documents public.

The order comes as part of Obama's promise to push government to lean toward disclosure as it tackles the need to keep certain information from the public.

In a post on the White House blog, William H. Leary, senior director of records and access management at the National Security Council, writes that the effort is aimed at shifting the burden of defending secrecy to the government.

"While the Government must be able to prevent the public disclosure of information that would compromise the national security, a democratic government accountable to the people must be as transparent as possible and must not withhold information for self-serving reasons or simply to avoid embarrassment," he wrote.

As a candidate, Obama promised to run the most open and transparent administration ever. He has released White House visitor log data for the first time, though only months after the visits. But his decision not to release some information about detainee torture and his acceptance of closed-door negotiations on the health-care bill in Congress have brought criticism from good-government groups.

In the executive order, Obama instructs the government not to keep secrets forever, eliminates the ability of intelligence officials to veto declassification decisions, and requires agencies to conduct reviews of their classification procedures.

--- Michael D. Shear

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gilded Age Take Two

"Taxpayers have put up an estimated $17.5 trillion toward guarantees, loans, and bailouts since 2008, and what have they to show for it? They've seen their net worth drop by an estimated $14 trillion. The nation's jobless rate hit 10.2 percent in October- it's half again higher for people between the ages of 20 adn 24...

"Banking interests have been the beneficiaries of that $17.5 trillion in guarantees, loans and bailouts, and what have they to show for it? At top-tier firms such as Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase, the aid has meant record profits- which means record bonuses. Those two outfits, along with Morgan-Stanley, all of which received funds from the Troubled Assets Relief Program, will reportedly dole out an unprecedented $29.7 billion in bonuses for 2009, almost half of that by Goldman Sachs alone, meaning it will enrich its 31,700 employees by an average of $415,000 each." Editor's Letter, Vanity Fair, January 2010.

Anybody out there thinking, "I'd take a tenth of that $415,000 and put it to really good use?" Yeah, I am.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Durable Goods

For the FFM because we talk about this quite a bit:

You probably already heard on NPR this morning that "durable goods" are those that are bigger purchases expected to last 3 years or more. Three years? Computers don't count as "durable goods."

And that's all I am going to write, not because I am lazy, but because I'm making your pear pie.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Down on Texas Again

Does this freak anyone else out?

"Texas, it seems, is the big winner. It added more people from home and abroad than any other state this year — 231,539. That is more than Florida, Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado, combined."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ductape on your mouth

Today I will share with you a recent article my friend Marc just sent, about his work with the Wyoming Kids Alliance, currently doing a documentary with grant funds from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, on juvenile justice in Wyoming.

I asked Marc if he ever feels like he's going to always be banging his head against the wall in this state? Seriously, I do.

Simpson participates, Skoric rejects group

By Kristen Inbody

Not everyone in Park County has been as willing as former senator Al Simpson to participate in a documentary project on juvenile justice reform in Wyoming.

Filmmaker Marc Homer said Bryan Skoric - whom he termed a “somewhat recalcitrant county attorney” - declined participation in the film.

Homer acknowledged he and the Park County attorney have a different perspective on the issue.

“It’s interesting to understand the 360-degree view and someone I don’t agree with may have valid points I can learn from, and to learn what a county attorney might face in your town,” Homer said.

Skoric said it was Homer who denied his interview offer, or at least his terms.

“I told him I would happily sit for an interview at any time of his choosing, but I wanted a statement on Casey Foundation letterhead that my interview would play unedited in its entirely,” Skoric said.

Homer’s project doesn’t even meet the definition of a documentary, Skoric said.

“I don’t believe he’s doing a documentary; it’s an authoritative instructive statement of evidence, and he’s incapable of doing that,” Skoric said. “He’s capable of producing a one-sided story capable of promoting his organization.”

The Casey Foundation, based in Maryland, is “one-sided” and advocates compliance with the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act.

The law attempts to keep juveniles out of jail by requiring that law enforcement officials detain them away from adult offenders, incarcerate them for no more than six hours and keep status offenders (those committing crimes such as drinking or smoking underage) out of jail completely.

“Wyoming decided long ago we’re not going to come into compliance,” Skoric said. The foundation wants to “go along with what our Legislature said we don’t want, which is a one-sized fits all approach.”

Wyoming is capable of taking care of the children of the state without the $600,000 compliance would bring from the federal government, Skoric said.

“Their programs don’t work,” he said.

Wyoming prosecutors and sheriffs join him in disputing Homer’s claims about the state of juvenile justice, he said.

“It’s a liberal movement out there to change how Wyoming does business,” Skoric said. “Once the Legislature decides they want to do something different, we’ll follow that.”

The documentary is not about helping children but about helping Homer himself, Skoric said.

“Mr. Homer survives off grant money and grant funded positions,” he said.

“If he wants to talk about children and facts, I’ll happily sit down,” he said.

But taking snippets from an interview wouldn’t work for him, Skoric said.

Skoric said he researched the project, citing a newspaper story and video showing the filmmaker’s bias.

“They’ve already formulated their opinions on Wyoming systems, and I don’t see how that can be a documentary.”

A documentary is based on fact, but Homer has “already made up his mind. He’s gearing it toward what the Casey Foundation wants,” Skoric said.

In April, the Park County commissioners rejected a $63,000 grant on Skoric’s advice. Skoric said at the time the county couldn’t take money for actions it wasn’t willing to take, as outlined in the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Act.

Skoric instead solicited more money from the city and county to pay for the two juvenile probation officers handling cases from municipal and circuit courts.

Homer said the grant “wasn’t a heavy-handed move,” but “was offering the opportunity to coalesce around this issue and work in a productive way to help resolve some of the problems.

“It’s disappointing he decided to turn down the money,” Homer added, saying Park County people can determine the direction of the county at the ballot box.

“I hope if there are future initiatives the leadership in Cody would work toward resolving some of the problems we have with juvenile justice,” he said. “To turn a blind eye and say there’s no problem is a mistake.”

Monday, December 21, 2009

from the Cody Enterprise,

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dear Barclays Bank,

I'm pleased to have this opportunity at last to write you, since I have the flu and am otherwise incapacitated.

I have been wanting to find time to do this for quite a while. In fact, since this summer, when I sent you two checks in the same envelope in payment on my credit card account, and only one was applied to my balance, resulting in a fee for not having paid the minimum owed, and subsequently, an exhorbitant raise in my interest rate.

You see, I had in fact paid well over the minimum amount due, via the two checks. Yet when I called to have the matter cleared, I was told BY A PERSON on the phone, that the computer cannot read more than one check from an envelope. Amazing. A machine can't do a humans job.

Well, I did a human's task in asking the person who had written me the check that was lost by the computer, to write me a new check in the same amount. This, of course, resulted in that person having to consider whether or not to make a "stop payment" on his account, which might result in a fee by his bank BECAUSE A COMPUTER AT BARCLAYS WAS GIVEN THE TASK OF ACCEPTING AND CREDITING PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNTS, BUT THAT COMPUTER WAS NOT CAPABLE, APPARENTLY, OF BEING ABLE TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN ONE AND TWO CHECKS IN AN ENVELOPE.

This is fine; I perhaps must accept the FFM's admonition that I am the only person in the world who still signs checks that are written over to me to other parties in payment I owe them, and that I should be prepared when such things happen as happened between me and Barclays Bank.

Here is the part I am still having difficulty swallowing: When I spoke to A PERSON on the phone at Barclays and was told the computer is not able to carry out a human type task of being able to tell that there are two checks, and not just one, in an envelope, that same PERSON told me that she, THE PERSON, COULD NOT CARRY OUT A HUMAN FUNCTION OF RECTIFYING THE ILL CAUSED BY THE COMPUTER AND SETTING MY INTEREST RATE BACK TO A REASONABLE RATE. Do you know why? Because it is AN ELECTRONIC SYSTEM, AND ONLY COMPUTERS CAN DO THAT TASK, AND THE COMPUTER IS NOT ABLE TO UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM IT CAUSED AND TO RECTIFY THE SITUATION BY ADJUSTING THE INTEREST RATE. Yes, that is what your employee told me- the HUMAN employee.


I would like you to know, Barclays, two additional pertinent points to this case:

1) I have not had the same problem with other banks or companies. THEIR COMPUTERS CAN COUNT MORE THAN ONE CHECK IN AN ENVELOPE AND APPLY PAYMENT ACCORDINGLY.

2) I am not the only person who has had problems with Barclays computer and human personnel. I know people who have had store accounts: ie. LLBean and now refuse to use them because BARCLAYS PERSONNEL, COMPUTER OR HUMAN, CANNOT, OR WILL NOT, UNDERTAKE RESPONSIBLE ACCOUNTING. No, I am not even talking about cheating people to the point of running a bank into the ground so the public is obliged to bail its stinking remains out. I am talking about, for example, a friend who kept receiving notices he had not paid the minimum due, and receiving attendant fees for the discretion, when in fact, he had NOT paid the minimum due, but had paid MORE. And this happened for more than one month consecutively, until he finally got sick of yelling at the human employees at Barclay's and cut up his card and mailed it back.

This is not the only instance I can deliver, beyond my own situation, of Barclays Bank doing bad business, but I feel like I am going to throw up- whether because of the flu or the sour taste Barclays Bank give me- so I will wind it up for now, except to say,

I hope Santa pees in all your stockings, too, this Christmas, just as soon as he is done with B.Gates and before he pees in the stockings of the little jerkoffs who commit day-to-day rude acts.

Most sincerely,
Lisa Cox

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hate (Be warned: filthy language)

OK, people, so here is how it started: This morning I was catching up on e-mail, cleaning out my inbox and so on, and I realized that my ex-husband had not yet responded to an e-mail I sent like a week ago about this time share condo we have had for a long time and no longer use and continue to pay maintenance fees on anyway and keep talking about selling and I have listed on a website and continue to update and since he still has the same name he gets the annual bill yet is consistently late telling me what I owe for the year and when it is due and then offers to pay the late fee and I let him because I ask him to let me know how much and when and am confident it's his own goddam fault if he can't be responsible enough to let me know on time... so, anyway, I send him another e-mail saying, basically, "Look, I know you say you are busy, but it will take you just a few minutes to read and respond to my recent e-mail to which I attached a letter I wrote, even though I too have been busy, attempting to take care of this getting the condo out of our lives thing for good- if you really want to get rid of it, as you claim you do." You know, it would not bother me nearly as much if he were a responsible adult, but let's be honest here: He is NOT. Yet he spent years bitching about how irresponsible my mother was. The guy has, all his life, been allowed to act irresponsibly, and someone has picked up the tab, whether his parents or his latest wife's parents, I imagine, financially, or me keeping up the house and paying the bills and so on and so forth, and apparently other things I wasn't even aware of, because when I left him, someone close to us said, "I wondered when you were going to stop babysitting him." Well, in the condo deal, it seems I am still babysitting him. Jerbus cripes.

So, that's how my day started, but I got it off my chest, and I will shut up to you all about it now and will never bring it up again- unless to let you know that he has become responsible in the time share arena.

Then, I went to buy groceries. I pulled into the parking lot, and this young couple from Texas pulled in off the street, as I was driving straight, and proceeded to cut me off with a quick left-turn. OK, fine, douchebags. You're from Texas; you're assholes. (Sorry, all my friends from and in Texas, but really, I know or know of more people from and in Texas who are jerks than there are all of you.)

I did my grocery shopping and wheeled the cart out toward my car to find that some lazy shite had left his or her cart right up next to my driver's side door. And the cart corral was exactly across the parking lane. What the hell? People are too friggin' tired after their long slog through the store and then packing their chips and soda into the car to walk their lard asses across the lane to park the empty cart they used? So they have to leave it up against my driver's side door, to boot?

I seriously am beginning to wonder why I ever have thought or would think that I love people. People are selfish, greedy, rude, irresponsible dipshits for the most part. The FFM has encouraged me to hate. I'm considering taking his advice.

Merry Christmas, assholes of this country. I hope Santa pisses in your stockings as soon as he's done with B.Gates- and all over your giant flat screen TVs, too, until they develop hopeless short circuits.

Ho ho f-ing ho.

Friday, December 18, 2009

global warming, climate change, whatever

OK, peeps, so this morning I got my weekly dose of Economist Energy Alerts, and of course this Copenhagen thing and climate change is all over the place. Honestly, I don't get what the big deal is. Are people really as greedy and myopic and slave to capitalism and industrialism that this has to be a political fist fight? Yeah, of course. And we all know it.

The girl who spoke up in front of the conference in Brazil for 5 minutes, reprimanding the people with the power for wrecking her future? Too bad they listened for 5 minutes and 5 minutes only. You think they didn't? And in the photos, they all looked so serious, and sad. Probably they were, for a few seconds, at least.

OK, I will take on a somber air fitting of the occasion: they still look serious and worried and pinched as all hell. Check it out:
That's the "official site" where you can see the disarray and some pretty fine photos of all sorts of people looking, well, not like things are going their way.

Anyway, so I thought I would add to the very grave nature of these talks, with today's photo, courtesy of my Dad, by way of my cousin Sue. Take this seriously, people. These snowmen are totally bummed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This is not OK!

A Read-Aloud in the Senate — Or Not

No, Bernie, no!

Look, people, what the hell are we doing here? Paying a bunch of people to argue about something that doesn't exist and never will exist because those people won't stand up and say, "Quit playing games, jerks. I'm not playing games. No more business as usual."

I am sad and sick about this. And I was just telling a friend this morning that I can't stand to talk about this issue. Well, I finally said something. Don't get me wrong; I'm a freedom-loving libertarian who would like to be able to choose my healthcare option. But I'd at least like us all to have a choice.

Let the bastards stall the debate until we say, "We don't want you to stall the debate any more, you assholes, and even though the pharmaceuticals and other 'health' lobbyists really pay your tab, you answer to the people who elected you and whom you serve..."

What the hell is the sense, if we are just going to get what we have had, and we all know it's not good enough? KICK YOUR GODDAM CAREER POLITICIANS OUT OF OFFICE AND TAKE BACK THIS COUNTRY. Am I the only one who wants that?

...And Uneducated

This one bears no further words. (Just so the FFM knows I am not being lazy.)
Thanks to Charles

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quick Question

OK, peeps, answer me this, that I will put out there before heading into my final final for the semester:

Why is it that Apple computers, Macs, whatever they were and are now, are no longer the choice for educational institutions? I mean, I wonder, because as a battle-scarred veteran educator, I learned and taught on Apples/Macs. But now I am sitting here in the library at school printing out a paper and thinking, I am working on a B.GatesBSMachine. Why?

Sure, those cat-tastically named (as the FFM discovered in recently researching options beyond the B.GatesBSMachine) are expensive, when the price list is set next to the other crap brand (or Dog, as the Fabo Fwamer so appropriately noted.) But, as the Fabo Fwamer also aptly mentioned, one does get what one pays for.

Did our educational leadership sell out to B.Gates like they did to the Business-Exec-Cum-University-Prez jerks?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Long Story

OK, I am done with the most challenging final exam I have taken- maybe ever- and am home and have already shoveled that sweet, sweet, dry, fluffy snow so people can slip up if they want but won't be able to sue me, and even though the UPS guy came through in the snow and dropped a big box with a present for the FFM on the porch this morning, and even though I have to work on my economics paper before the FFM gets here and needs the computer so he can read my blog, I am going to take a little time to write a non-lazy longish story. But don't think it won't be filled with bitter cynicism.

So, here is the deal, I decided as I enjoyed a leisurely walk in the -3degrees, blowing snow, this morning on the way to the dreaded exam: When it snows like this, people are even stupider drivers than when it doesn't snow. They still speed on major streets near campus, often through red lights, and swerve around corners when they still have a red light, or have a green light but the little white walking man is on the WALK sign, meaning pedestrians have the right of way, and so on.

And I ask myself, Why are these people out? Why don't they walk where they want to go, or just stay home? Will the economy crash because a few people stayed home from work today? Will their place of employment fold? OK, things like nursing homes, hospitals and the like, I can see. People need to be cared for. But there are people on their shifts, right? Who maybe would like to get home and have a cup of coffee with a dash of Bailey's in it and then putter off to bed, or to watch daytime TV... But they would stay if need be, right? I mean, after all, they shouldn't be driving home any more than someone should be driving to work. Right?

Let's face it: We (including corporate queen bees and their multitude of drones) allowed a bunch of greedy, irresponsible financiers to fall down on the job and then agreed to pick up the pieces for them, so in comparison, is it wrong to suggest that if a whole bunch of us regular peeps who work for a living took a day off, responsibly, to stay home and safe, off the roads- for ourselves and others' sake- the world would not come to a crashing end?

Or, if we did decide to go out to work, or gawd forbid, WalMart, would we really be messing with the hands of time and fate to be a few minutes late because we drove safely? Or crap, what if we left early? (Although I can commiserate with those who really don't like that idea at all- even though I did leave early today for my slog in the snow, knowing it would not be polite- but also wouldn't kill anyone or cause any economy, or in this case educational institution, to collapse- to be late for a final exam.)

Jerbus Cripes. I probably could have skipped the test and claimed that walking to school in traffic was simply too hazardous.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Ever-Vigilant VEEP Nickie

posted the following on Facebook this morning:

Surveillance Shocker: Sprint Received 8 MILLION Law Enforcement Requests for GPS Location Data in the Past Year

The FFM has come to the conclusion that I am now running a lazy blog, and wants to know where my book-long stories are. I find this difficult to fathom, as he is around almost all the time, while I am sweating over lost files and paper deadlines and soil chem finals and the like.

And I thought my ex-husband was lacking observation skills. (He was.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bill Gates is a farce.

It's been an insane week, with about 3 days and 20 hours of work on major papers disappearing, the associated migraine from hell, and... well, that's enough. Let's just say I'll be glad when a week from now I'm cruising the aquarium in downtown Denver and relaxing.

But, since I inadvertently arrived here when I meant to hit the link for the university library (both sites offering comparable amounts of knowledge and wisdom, of course), I'll just put this out there, not that you haven't heard it before:

Bill Gates is a farce. He ought to be ashamed of hiding behind a mask of philanthropy while entrapping those of us who willingly or by forced marched into the modern era of computer technology. Shame on you, Bill Gates. I hope Santa pisses in your stocking this year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Do These People Represent You?

Members of House worth $1 billion

Analysis of financial disclosure forms finds 125 millionaires.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are worth at least $1 billion.

An analysis of financial disclosure forms by Roll Call, a sister publication of, found 125 lawmakers were worth more than $1 million.

Overall, the representatives, nonvoting delegates and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico were worth at least $1.13 billion with a minimum debt of $125.69 million. (Numbers are not exact because Members only report a range of their net worth.)

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is the richest House lawmaker, with a minimum net worth of at least $164.65 million, while Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) is at the bottom, with negative $2.13 million.

The 10 richest Members were worth a total of $557.06 million — more than half of the House's combined worth.

They include Issa and Reps. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Harry Teague (D-N.M.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

To see an interactive chart of House Members' net worth, click here .

-- Ryan Teague Beckwith,

Monday, November 30, 2009

Even the Swiss Are Rude.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, and just plain mean.

Vatican and Muslims condemn Swiss minaret ban vote

Religious leaders across the world have criticised Switzerland's referendum vote to ban the building of minarets.

The Vatican joined Muslim figureheads from Indonesia and Egypt, as well as Switzerland, in denouncing the vote as a blow to religious freedom.

France's FM Bernard Kouchner expressed shock at the ban which, he said, showed "intolerance" and should be reversed.

More than 57.5% of voters and 22 out of 26 cantons - or provinces - voted in favour of the ban on Sunday.

The proposal had been put forward by the Swiss People's Party, (SVP), the largest party in parliament, which said minarets were a sign of Islamisation.

More at the BBC:

The best is French FM Koucher's intolerance of intolerance:
"I am a bit shocked by this decision," Mr Kouchner told France's RTL radio on Monday. "It is an expression of intolerance and I detest intolerance."
(Yeah, that's the country where the headscarf caused controversy when the gubmint decided to ban that "religious symbol" in schools.)

I get it, though. People are afraid of other cultures impinging on their own cultural traditions and rights, and that kind of behavior so outmoded, don't you think? I mean, when is the last time a white western country invaded some other nation to impose their own values and ways of living, including religion?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What a maudlin baby!

Jerbus, I'm sitting here all teary-eyed. Aaaandrea is married now, and Gilbert wore this cool little tie, and I realized how long it's been since I've seen them and how sweet that time was back in Burlington, as short as it was, and how much I love all my peeps back there and am so happy for Andrea and how nice it is when people run into each other and decide they like and care enough about each other enough to make the big commitment. And stick to it. Jesse said on the plane that neither Sarah nor Andrea has a hurtful bone in her body. Good for you, Andrea. Congrats and happy trails.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In Case I Haven't Been Clear in the Past

Bill Gates, you are a fraud. I hope you have a crappy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Doling for Dollars

New York City

Doling Out Doses of H1N1 Vaccine

The New York City department of health has come under fire for distributing rations of the still scarce H1N1 vaccine to corporate health centers--including those of Wall Street firms--despite shortages faced by hospitals and pediatricians. Officials defended the decision, arguing that they are simply increasing the types of locations where the shot is available.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

H1N1 tally

• Requested

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center


Citigroup Inc.


Goldman Sachs Group Inc.


Columbia University



Sunday, November 22, 2009


Thursday, November 19, 2009


What the herk, people? I'm a mess again. Bawling like a baby one minute, laughing the next. The worst thing of it all is that I can't just go to profs, who are expecting me to get work done well on time, and say, "I'm having a real challenge with depression and am having a lot of trouble focusing; can I have a little more time, please?" It's not like having the flu.

Really, what is that all about anyway? On the one hand, how many people in this country take antidepressants or anti-anxiety pills or sleeping pills and the pharmaceutical companies make millions, but at the same time, we aren't supposed to admit we are depressed because somehow that's like having an unmentionable disease and we'll be considered weak. What gives?

So, this morning I had to just chill and do normal people stuff, after an hour of trying to work my way through a chem problem that should have been pretty straightforward. You know, do the dishes, scoop the litter box, sweep the floor... Just to remember I'm a human being not a math machine. Shite, I could always find something to pay the bills if I get canned from this program for being too dumb.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009



Rockies manager Jim Tracy on Wednesday won the National League Manager of the Year Award, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced. Under Tracy last season, the Rockies were 74-42 and earned the National League Wild Card slot in the playoffs. Tracy is the second Rockies manager to win the award. Don Baylor earned the honor in 1995. Tracy got 29 of a possible 32 first-place votes. Additionally, just moments after Tracy was named NL Manager of the Year, the Rockies announced they signed him to a three-year extension through 2012.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Classic Maine

Thanks to Joe Merrill for the pic.

Speaking of such things, I got back from Maine last night. Coolest thing that happened yesterday: I got on the plane in Manchvegas, and there was former housemate Jesse, whom I had not seen in about 7 years. We enjoyed lunch and a beer and catching up on the flight to De Troit. Very nice.

While I was there, Mom went into the "Everything is bad here; the economy sucks," mode, and I was like, "Yeah, just like everywhere." Seriously, the small towns there look to be in no worse shape, as far as "closed" and "for rent or lease" signs in empty store fronts, than here in Wyoming. Peeps, this country is a mess. We are slaves to the dollar bill, y'all. We all know that, right?

I mean, I had to have Dad ship me a box of stuff UPS because it would have cost me 20 bucks to check a bag on the plane. Jesse and I were talking about how cool it would be to fly Southwest because they have free flight for your bags, except that the fact that free bag check is an anomaly in this country now is sick. That an airlines advertises that as a bonus is a gross misrepresentation of reality.

The FFM says why don't I give up like he did? Beats the hell out of me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Things I Have to Relearn Regularly

Family is a sweet deal for a couple hours at a time, every few years.

The people who say "thank you" to those who serve our country in a military role, are not those who have the capacity to make sure the same government that hires and sends them on ridiculous missions takes care of them when they get home.

I apologize for being brutally honest here, all my fine socialist compadres, but there are very few well-paid and benefitted members of that same government who truly care about the people they presumably represent- or at least have the balls to actually pursue the agenda they purport to embrace.

(I still respect you; we just all have our Achilles heels.)

Even young teenagers who play sports don't like to walk.
This is a pic of my nephie, who is one of those little punks.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Or The Man Who Sort of Rhymes

I've been a little distracted, but mostly good, despite the FFM's harping on me amidst his naps, this weekend, working on the Soil Chem. It's hard like Mexico, and time consuming! (He doesn't hear me when I say it aloud to him, so maybe this way it will sink in.)

Thanks for the break, Ebony. This is a riot.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Whoo! Whooo!

We haven't had a little poetry here in a long time, even though the FFM did send a sweet-sweet Mark Strand poem out last week. You know I love that guy.

Here is yesterday's gem. Maybe the FFM should start his own blog. Well, then I'd probably be ripping off his stuff.

Speaking of poetry, remember to check out what my bro is up to with all that on Clouds for Pillows.

A Pair of Barn Owls, Hunting

by David Wagoner

Now slowly, smoothly flying over the field
Beside the orchard into the after-light
Of the cold evening, the ash gold owls come sailing
Close to the branches, gliding across the arbor
Where the bare grapevines ripen only shadows
In the dead of winter, and at the end of a garden
Suddenly flare their wings, hover,
And swerve, claws first, down to the grass together.
"A Pair of Barn Owls, Hunting" by David Wagoner, from Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems. © University of Illinois Press, 1999.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What the FFM Brought for Breakfast Today

Can Prosecutors Be Sued By People They Framed?
by Nina Totenberg

Do prosecutors have total immunity from lawsuits for anything they do, including framing someone for murder? That is the question the justices of the Supreme Court face Wednesday.

On one side of the case being argued are Iowa prosecutors who contend "there is no freestanding right not to be framed." They are backed by the Obama administration, 28 states and every major prosecutors organization in the country.

On the other side are two black men — Terry Harrington and Curtis McGhee — men who served 25 years in prison before evidence long hidden in police files resulted in them being freed.

Framing is OK! Prosecutors are immune! Even if they know you are not guilty! Cops are immune, too! Don't you feel super safe? I know I do.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kill 'em

De mi hermano. Gracias.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The latest from Don Siegelman

"After the Department of Justice investigated itself and found itself "Not Guilty", Chairman John Conyers and Members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee told Attorney General Holder, in a letter of September 25, 2009, that the Department of Justice had done an inadequate job of reviewing government prosecutors misconduct in the Siegelman case.

Chairman Conyers and the Committee urged Eric Holder "…to ensure that fresh eyes, with no connection to the underlying case and no investment in any particular outcome, lead and conduct this crucial review!"

But to add insult to injury, President Obama has not replaced the Rove/Bush U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting me. Remember, her office indicted me during my reelection campaign, while her husband was my opponent's campaign manager!

Here's what one California observer had to say: "I called Eric Holder's office this morning. I went through the spiel about firing this particular, unethical, Bush DOJ holdover and replace her with someone who has honor and respects the concept of justice. I'm so sick of the tyranny of the minority in this country. How do we get President Obama to throw the scoundrels under the bus and stand up for righteousness?"

We are continuing to make progress, but we need your personal help! Please let the President know how you feel about getting rid of the Rove/Bush U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama and replacing her with an honest and ethical one! This very important, not only to me, but to everyone in our country who sees the absolute necessity of having honest prosecutors!

Please let the President know that you want the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, Leura Canary, immediately replaced and investigated for her actions in my case [phone: (202)456-1414; fax:(202)456-2416]. A phone call or hand written note would be greatly appreciated. It would also help a great deal if you sent it to your member of Congress and your two U.S. Senators.

If you want to contact the White House quickly and easily and let the President know how you feel about getting rid of the Rove/Bush prosecutors go to to send your message."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monty Python - Finland

Ah, a blast from the past. Why they don't sing about the cryaqualfs in the southern part of that fabulous land, is beyond me.

The Fix

My Dad sent this.
Why not?

The Fix

There recently was an article in the St. Petersburg Fl. Times. The Business Section asked readers for ideas on: "How Would You Fix the Economy?"
I think this guy nailed it!

Dear Mr. President,

Please find below my suggestion for fixing America 's economy. Instead of giving billions of dollars to companies that will squander the money on lavish parties and unearned bonuses, use the following plan. You can call it the "Patriotic Retirement Plan":

There are about 40 million people over 50 in the work force. Pay them $1 million apiece severance for early retirement with the following stipulations:

1) They MUST retire. Forty million job openings - Unemployment fixed.

2) They MUST buy a new American CAR. Forty million cars ordered – Auto Industry fixed.

3) They MUST either buy a house or pay off their mortgage – Housing Crisis fixed.

It can't get any easier than that!!

P.S. If more money is needed, have all members in Congress pay their taxes...

Mr. President, while you're at it, make Congress retire on Social Security and Medicare. I'll bet both programs would be fixed pronto!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Money Business

Sunday, October 25, 2009

For Which I am Thankful

Last night while unpacking more stuff in the basement, I ran across some writing I had done about... 3 years ago? It was good. Really. But I wouldn't ever take it anywhere. Story of my life.

How easy it is to complain. A couple weeks ago, or last weekend...? we went to Nu2U and I bought a bunch of clothes, including a brand new pair of Gramicci pants, tags still attached. And I yiped because I thought the cashier overcharged me on some item, when I saw the total. The FFM chastised me for not being thankful for the fact I had just paid about a quarter of what I would have paid for those pants retail (or what someone would have paid) and got more than just the pants. He was right, of course.

Depression is weird. Complacency is weird. They creep up, really, when a person isn't aware, and then suddenly- bang! There you are, depressed and complacent. The two go hand-in-hand for me. Stagnant life. Meds just kill the ability to feel it as quickly or acutely as one might otherwise. To some of us, that's the danger. Is this really me? Or some automaton, a walking zombie under
the spell of lifelessness?

So, I have been keenly aware of opportunities to be grateful very recently. For example, every morning when I wake up and can play fishing with the cat without worrying that our footsteps will bother someone downstairs.

And today I decided rather than bitch about Bill Gates and Microsoft (because already I have harped multiple times about how he uses his philanthropic gestures as a smokescreen for the ultimate power and control he exerts over those of us who are tied to computers), to put the word out abouta company that I haven't felt have screwed with me lately. I have used Priceline for travel arrangements for several years, and though I have tried other companies, I still like Priceline best. You can name your own price if you have the leisure to do so, and come up with some pretty sweet deals. I have secured rooms in 4-star hotels in downtown Denver for 60 bucks a night, for instance. And for the first time, this weekend I placed an order and got the wrong itinerary. Anticipating a row, because that's what one expects from company representatives anymore, since no one seems to really want to accommodate the price-paying customer these days, and because depression will creep in and make one pessimistic and bitter, I called Priceline. And I had a pleasant conversation with the man on the other end of the line, in which he immediately cancelled the wrong plans and refunded my money. I did have to go online to rebook, but that took all of 10 minutes. And I saved a little bit of cash the second time around.

I like PRICELINE.COM. Hells, just opening up and looking at the pic of a puffy William Shatner pointing out the way to the best deal? That alone makes it worth the trip.

So, there it is, a gratis ad for a company I appreciate. I'm easy like Sunday morning.

Monday, October 19, 2009


It's that time of year, people, when I get really maudlin. You know, wistful and thinking about where I have been in life and where I might be going- or not- and then wondering sort of what it matters anyway and am I pleased enough where I am right now that if someone hit me in the face with an axe tomorrow, I would be OK with croaking?

I guess I am not alone. I went to see the Judge yesterday, and he was reclining in his recliner thinking pretty much the same- although with 50 more years than I behind him. And the FFM told me later on that Ebony had been "ruminating," to use the Judge's word, over similar, on the realization that she has been in LA now for two years.

So, she went to church to sing. I love to go to church to sing, too, and don't do it often enough probably, so bless you, girl, for getting up on a Sunday and doing it.

Instead, I went to the senior center here in town and helped serve brunch from 10:30-12:30. That's like my church, I told the FFM. And it is. I felt about 7K times better when I got there and started doing the community service thing. Yeah, I mean that I do that because I enjoy it, and I had been missing that element of civic life and feeling pretty selfish.

I read an article last week about the Student Senate here at UWYo voting against making community service a requirement. Yay! Jerbus, life is not necessarily a prison. Just get out and try helping other people on a regular basis because you want to. You may be pleasantly surprised. And for those of you who believe in karma, hell, it can only do you good.

p.s. I might have scammed the photo here. I think I am supposed to pay for it, but hey, it's no larger here than it is on the search site, so thanks, whoever.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What the Duck?!

Now to the BBC:

Allies push Israel for Gaza probe

Smoke billows from the Gaza Strip following Israeli air strikes, as seen from the southern town of Rafah on December 27, 2008
Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed in the 22-day conflict last winter

Israel has come under pressure from its allies to investigate UN allegations of possible war crimes by its army during its Gaza offensive last winter.

Britain's UN envoy urged Israel to hold "full, credible and impartial" investigations, echoing similar calls from his US and French counterparts.

A report by a UN mission led by Richard Goldstone accused both Israel and Palestinian militants of war crimes.

The UN Human Rights Council is set to discuss the report again later today.

The findings were originally presented by Mr Goldstone, a veteran South African judge and war crimes prosecutor, to the Council two weeks ago, but it decided to defer its response until March.

However it reconsidered because of anger among Palestinians that allegations in the report were being ignored.

Israel has rejected the Goldstone report as biased and favouring terrorism.

Western reaction

"We note that the Israeli Defence Force has already conducted and is continuing to conduct a number of investigations," said John Sawers, the British Ambassador to the UN.

Goldstone at the UN in Geneva, September 2009

"However, concerns remain... We urge the Israeli government to carry out full, credible and impartial investigations into the allegations," he added.

French Ambassador Gerard Araud urged both sides to initiate "independent inquiries in line with international standards."

The deputy US Ambassador, Alejandro Wolff, expressed serious concerns about the report - citing an "unbalanced focus on Israel" - but he repeated the US view that Israel should look into it.

"We take the allegations in the report seriously," he said. "Israel has the institutions and the ability to carry out serious investigations of these allegations and we encourage it to do so."

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged "credible" investigations by both sides into the conduct of the Gaza conflict "without delay".

Report's findings

The Goldstone report accuses Israel of using disproportionate force and deliberately harming civilians during the 22-day conflict which began on 27 December 2008.

Palestinian Hamas militants are accused of indiscriminate rocket fire at Israeli civilians.

The report urges the Security Council to refer allegations to the International Criminal Court if either side fails to investigate and prosecute suspects.

Israel has rejected the evidence, saying it has already investigated its troops' conduct, clearing most of the subjects of wrongdoing. Hamas has also denied committing war crimes.

"For those of us who seek to resume the peace process in the Middle East, debating the Goldstone in the Security Council is but a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing," said Israel's envoy to the UN, Gabriela Shalev.

"If Israel is asked to take further risks for peace, the international community must recognise our right to self-defence," she added.

Israeli military action destroyed thousands of homes, hundreds of factories and 80 official buildings in Gaza.

Palestinians and human rights groups say more than 1,400 people were killed in the violence between 27 December 2008 and 16 January 2009, more than half of them civilians.

Israel puts the number of deaths at 1,166 - fewer than 300 of them civilians. Three Israeli civilians and 10 Israeli soldiers were also killed.

How come these guys get to investigate themselves, yet they still expect us to support them? Maybe it's just time to acknowledge that Israel will never grow up and give them a good spanking. (Sorry, all my Jewish friends, but really, I'd love if someone could and would counter my claim; I'd shut up.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pay for School

New laws could bring choices for loans, aid

Daily Northwestern, Northwestern U.

October 13, 2009

Aaron Beswick, a SESP senior graduating this winter, barely has time to celebrate his graduation before he has to worry about repaying $32,000 in student loans.

But new federal government initiatives plan to ease burdens like Beswick’s with direct loans in which students borrow money straight from the government rather than bank lenders. The Income Based Repayment Plan allows for monthly payments based on a family’s individual income. Students eligible for this plan include those whose loan debt is high in relation to family income and size, and who participate in the Federal Family Education Loan or the Direct Loan, according to the Federal Student Aid Web site.

For students like Beswick, who plans to be a social worker, the program can provide benefits with its 10-year public service loan forgiveness. In this area of Income Based Repayment, a student who works in public service for 10 years may have his or her loan canceled if all monthly payments are made.

“It sounds like a wonderful and beautiful option,” Beswick said. “The one thing that makes it sound scary is not missing a payment. I’m not sure that the work I want to do is well-paying.”

Brian Drabik, associate director of Northwestern’s undergraduate financial aid office, wrote in an e-mail that students should only apply for the Income Based Repayment Plan when encountering problems with payment because paying loans faster doesn’t acquire as much interest.

The federal government is in the process of passing direct-lending legislation, which may remove private banks from federal lending programs. The House of Representatives has passed this legislation, and universities including NU are waiting for the Senate decision.


And when will the cost of a postsecondary education become reasonable- or at least rise only with the annual COL in this country...?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rep. Alan Grayson: Republicans Probably Wish There Were a Nobel Prize for Fear

Thursday, October 8, 2009

In the meantime...

OK, one of these days soon I will have time to get on here and yap about the Republican Treason Incidents, but for today, I will leave you with this fabulous picture taken by friend Sandi who was up in the Range yesterday afternoon and into the evening.

Oh, yeah, it's snowing here in town today, too.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Mi hermano

is writing and blogging again:

white rocks cliff

leftover raindrops

falling from boughs

of hemlock and beech

the roar of the stream

the water cycle —

a few of its faces

a massive white pine

older than old

rises straight as an arrow

how many travelers

have marveled at the sight

of this ancient one?

after climbing over wet rocks

i came to a flat spot

where i drank from

the bottle in my pack

and watched mist drift by

—a few faces forgotten before

at the junction

with the long trail

that stretches border-to-border

i met a group of four

weary-looking travelers

they seemed surprised to see me

walking through

a gate of birches

i saw too many scratches

on their smooth paper skin

why feel the need

to leave oneself behind?

i stopped to eat

my apple along the way

when i am hungry

i eat

when i am tired

i sleep

climbing steady for a while

looking at shelf fungus

the woods opening up

i thought i heard voices

on two occasions

perhaps it was the trees

near the top

pushing through red spruce

i stopped to write

leaning my staff against a tree

i crushed a moth

which fell to the ground

picking it gently up

to say i was sorry

i was happy to see

its wings flutter

as it flew a short distance

— now the cold will get it

a shrine of smooth stones

stacked atop each other

and in the branches of trees

as though spirits were here

i chose not to add

mine to a pile

at the summit

of white rocks cliff

ragged clouds above

valley below touched with fire

of changing leaves

nothing but cold wind between

and on the way down

hiking quickly along

cold, hungry, and tired

i kept forgetting

to embrace the forest

that was embracing me

30 september 2009

wallingford, vt

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cool geography!

Check this out and see how you do:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Who's going to get the blame for these, do you suppose?

Witness: Census worker's hanging body naked, bound

BIG CREEK, Ky. – One of the witnesses who found a part-time census worker's body hanging in a Kentucky cemetery says the man was naked and his hands and feet were bound with duct tape.

Jerry Weaver of Fairfield, Ohio, told The Associated Press on Friday that he was among a group of relatives who discovered the body of Bill Sparkman on Sept. 12.

Sparkman was a substitute teacher who worked part-time for the census. Law enforcement officials have released very few details on his death, only saying he died from asphyxiation.

Weaver says the man also was gagged and had duct tape over his eyes and neck. He says something that looked like an identification tag was taped to the side of his neck.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Chicago Teen Beaten To Death Outside School

Sep 27, 2009 3:00 pm US/Central
Video shot by a witness Thursday shows the beating of a 16-year-old Chicago student who died from his injuries, and a family member says the youths who are responsible are likely to be arrested soon, CBS station WBBM-TV reports.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Quit bitching, please.

You know, peeps, this morning I got an e-mail bitch from someone who had read an ad I had placed on a list, thinking, as had the person who passed it on to me, that it was legit, and then had forwarded the ad. She found that the ad was in fact a hoax (of which I am still not certain, because someone else e-mailed me about the ad saying not that it was a hoax, but that the problem being advertised had been solved quite a while ago.)

Regardless, the person who bitched at me, did so because she had been humiliated to have forwarded this ad to her coworkers and then learned it was bad information. First of all, if my coworkers ever harass me to the point of humiliation for making a fairly minor mistake- in the larger scheme of things- then I will probably quit my job because it will be clear that those coworkers are not folks with whom I cannot have a collegial relationship.

But, I apologized to this offended writer and offered to apologize myself to her coworkers for her passing on bad information. Really!

Then, I was just sitting here at the dining table in the Lodge of the Log Cabin Motel in Pinedale, Wyoming, where we are staying for the weekend and which I recommend highly, and a woman came to the front desk. The office is separated from the main lodge by a door, which is open because it is an absolutely gorgeous, clear, slightly breezy, balmy autumn evening. The woman came in with a thundering and only slightly veiled aggressive, "HELLO?" No one answered. The manager has been outside watering the mixed flowers hanging in pots from cabin rafters- nice.

Finally, I get up and go to the door and say, "She should be right around here. She has been out watering the flowers." Well, the woman disappeared out the door and came back soon enough, bellowing, "Have you seen her back here yet? How can a person get any help?!"

"I haven't seen her yet, no, but I know she is on the grounds."

"I just walked all around the grounds and didn't find her! I guess my cabin is the only one that doesn't need watering!"

I said, "I don't work here, so I can't help you. But I can give you a piece of paper if you want to leave her a note on the desk there." (I am trying to do homework. Now I have been distracted. But I don't mind offering some little token of assistance to someone who is obviously all worked up about something. Really!)

"He's already going out to get one. That won't help!"

You know what? Screw you. I have thought this a couple times today. And I felt sympathy for the young woman going about her business working here, for not having been in the office at the exact moment this woman wanted- something. Excuse me: needed help.

Honestly, peeps, there are some ways you can really piss off a pretty good-natured and accommodating person, and the first is to act like you are better or more deserving than that person, and even more so, by expecting that person, who is accommodating you, to go above and beyond the normal call of duty simply because you know you can rely on her to take care of you. Those people need some care, too, and all the more, for the shite they take on from insensitive, self-centered folks with exorbitant "needs."

Yes, I am bitching.

OK, now I am hearing the owner saying the people cannot stay here. The woman is going berzerk, and they have to leave. Good. Boot her ass out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dear Mr. Netanyahu,

I heard you just a few minutes ago on the BBC saying that you are concerned about Iran's wish to "eliminate Israel and overthrow world order."

First, though I don't disagree that Amadinijhad is a flake and a liar to deny the holocaust, I am not sure where you've had your head lately, but Israel's existence does not equate with there being "world order," nor its demise, were that the case, with some sort of chaos. It just means other people would be able to live where they used to live.

Second, "world order" is a misnomer in the first place, as it refers to absolutely nothing that exists in this particular world.

Whoa, does this dude's expression (dick cheney) look like any one else's expression you've seen lately?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

God Bless America

Or Yahweh or Allah or whoever. We are in the fortunate position, once again... as reported on NPR, "the ball is in America's court-" not Israel's, not Palestine's- to try to get those politicians over there to behave like adults and stop fighting. Peace in the Middle East.

Good luck, America. It's all on your shoulders. No one else should be held accountable for the years and years and years and years and years and years these people have been duking it out with each other.

Hooray. We can do it this time- right?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Latest MEGA VOTE

While I find politics infinitely fascinating, as you know, I'm most perplexed that the people we send to Washington, and pay a lot of money, even though they don't need it, waste their time on:
1) Acting like spoiled adolescents and
2) Acting like morally superior older siblings.

Jerbus Cripes, people, I'll say it again: This country is a mess. It's absolutely no wonder the FFM has to constantly bemoan the attitudes of grown up kids any more.

House vote on Rep. Joe Wilson

On Agreeing to the Resolution
House Roll Call No. 699
111th Congress, 1st Session

Passed: 240-179
(see complete tally)

The House voted 240 to 179, with 5 voting present, to formally disapprove of the conduct of Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., who shouted during a speech to Congress by President Barack Obama.

Vote Map: House Roll Call No. 699
Votes For : 240
Votes Against : 179
Voted "Present" : 5
Not Voting : 10

By the way, I am with my girl Cynthia on this one- though for very different reasons, I'm sure.

Rep. Cynthia Lummis voted NO