Archives

Brass Knuckle Blogs



Useful Links









Add to Technorati Favorites

[Valid RSS]

NucleusCMS
Nucleus CMS v3.24



template by i-marco's choice

Dynamic Drive

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional
Valid CSS


31 January 2008

My Friend

by: blackdog

From my friend, Julia, she has fought the good fight for years against multiple cancers and for the longest time, seemed to be holding out against it. But judge for yourself, she has a power that I am not aware of and is placing her options ahead of herself as she faces the future.

She is one of the most interesting and fantastic persons I have ever known. A baseball fanatic, she actually played with a team for awhile that almost never caught on that she was a girl. She can hustle like any man, but she is most definitely a woman.

I've had the distinct pleasure of having known her for 46 years, with a long interruption but then a most interesting reunion where she had her family and lots of stories to tell.

All of you here would be instantly infatuated with her, she has that unique type of sparkling personality, along with lots of smarts. Plus, she's just damn good company.

Here it is:


Brad Darling,

no don't bother calling just email since you are always on line away and I love getting real emails and not junk email so this is cool. Things are going good right now we have decided to continue with remodeling the den and bathroom. We are now home owners paid off the house the other day so I feel so safe right now and comfortable about leaving Rick. I have told Allison and the family but I am now running on empty. There is no more chemo out there for me. Now they have put me on some old stuff that I have already tried but it made me sick and I don't want that but there is something that was used for breast cancer that seems to be good for colon cancer so we are giving that a try but out side of that so far so good. I have just told myself and the doctors that just don't have time to be sick, I don't want to be sick and I can't be bothered with being sick so I'm just not going to be sick. I am not spending my last months sick in bed what a waste of time. But I have been on the pills for going on 4 weeks now and have taken my second hit of IV chemo yesterday and feel fine so not bad. But I just want to be able for my friends and family to know that my time may or may not be up its a day to day thing. I have already sat down with Clay, our son, and explained everything and he will be working on a change of duty station when I need him, I would like him here more with Dad than me. I have my funeral arranged, cremated, and buried at Holy Souls and figured out that where I will be place is in the back yard of the church just like Elvis and Fido lol. I want to find out if I am cremated with my clothes on?? If someone has to undress me I want one more shock factor, I'm getting a tattoo that says "Rick's Cafe American" if there is enough room down there if not I'll just have "Rick's Place" just one more thing to freak people out. There will be a reception after the Catholic Mass and stuff, at the reception drinking, eating and dancing but none of it can start until Allison is in the room because the first song to play is Emerson Lake and Palmer "Welcome back my friends to a show that never ends" so appropriate for us. Wanted to have bobble head dolls of me instead of pictures but that looks like it will way to expensive a little disappointed on that. The strangest thing for me and you will understand better than anyone that this will be the very first thing I have ever done by myself, I wasn't even born by myself, isn't that a kicker. Now enough of me. How are you? What kind of surgery did you have? How are you doing" How does baseball season look for you? Went to Wal-Mart and pickup up all the junk food for Super Bowl that I only get once a year because it is junk and we just don't eat like that but once a year isn't bad. Hard to do it without Clay, I miss him so much. He was home for the New Year and I got to spend a whole week with him all to myself. He is so big, so handsome, so mature; can you tell I'm a little proud of him. He is now a Petty Officer Third Class and the first step in the chain of command. I'm not sure if I like his title, one, my son is not third class nor is he "petty" that has got to change. We went to Mass and of course he wore his uniform, all with his new rank, ribbons and what not and he does it for me and he looked so fantastic and everyone at church looked and ooooh and awwwwed and happy to see him again.. Marsha came down from Boston for our birthday weekend and we called it "JAM Fest" for Julia and Marsha's birthday. There is a new French restaurant in Little Rock the well members of the family gathered for dinner it was fun. Rick and I now get senior citizens discount at IHOP aren't we cool, and shopping a Kroger's on Tuesdays. Well, look at me, have turned the conversation back to all about ME. Write me more and get a word in about you. Planning a trip to New York in April to visit my friends up there. I think I have written enough for now. I'll talk to you soon. Where is this blog page that you go to that Allison has told me about I'll go meet you there. You take care and I 'll pray for a job for you soon.Take care.

Love
Julia


Don't think that I might have lost a pound in fluid from tears, I did. With all my heart and spirit I wish you the best, dear friend.

UPDATE

From Julia:

Cool, I'm there now. Don't cry no tears, tears don't get you anywhere but running mascara and nose not a pretty site. Sure you can post stuff, I want to be talked about after I'm gone, that way I'm not really gone. Strange custom in Rick's family once you die you are never mentioned again. He was over 40 when he found out his mother had two sisters who died at an early age Ward indeed. Good, bad, indifferent I don't care just talk about me.


I can assure you dear friend it will be good.

Following Up

by: Debra

In order for me to vote, I have to believe. I live in California, a state that recalled its governor so it could put the Terminator in his place with even less of the populace voting for him than voted to keep Gray Davis. Our economy is worse off than before the recall and is headed into the dump at a faster rate than before and most of the safety nets have been eliminated by the Governator. Did I vote for Arnold? No. Did I vote to keep Gray Davis? Yes. Did my vote count? No, neither time. When I think that my vote will be worth something, I'll vote. Until then, forget it.

Earlier this week I was reading an RSS feed from JurassicPork's blog. His parenthetical statement wasn't included and so when I read about the death of the mother of the writer, I assumed that it was JP's and jumped over to comment and express my condolences. He ripped me a new one both on the blog and in a private email. I should have known it wasn't his writing, there wasn't enough anger but he certainly made up for it in the comments. Even when a few people tried to support me it didn't stop him. I don't need that in my life. I'll read what he writes but I will never comment there again. I can go to Freeper sites for that kind of treatment.

I have enough problems with my life as it is and living in a constant state of anger and being attacked by people in anger is just not my idea of a good time. My asthma has been out of control all week, grief, anger and a cold I can't seem to kick do that to me. Every day I have the frustration of dealing with my mom who is slowly dying. She coughs and chokes and lights up another cigarette. She sits out in the cold and wind, staring at nothing. I have to redo everything she does because our versions of clean are so different and I can remember when it was the other way around. I have two brothers who offer nothing but excuses. No money, no help, they barely visit her. She's dying of a broken heart and I can't help her.

To cap it all off, yesterday I received a letter and I have to tell my boss that he is going to San Quentin for a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 90. This is going to destroy his business, completely total whatever is left of my finances and put several other people (with families) out of work. Today I have to tell him and it isn't going to be easy. Needless to say, my patience with petty bullshit like the election is nil. The only difference between the candidates is who is pulling the strings and that really isn't a choice for me.

I will continue to voice my opinion about some things but the election most likely won't be one of them. It isn't an election, it's a popularity contest and ideas and ethics just get in the way so they dispensed with those and reduced it to a gender, religious or race issue. I'm sorry if anyone is disappointed in me, trust me you aren't the first and probably won't be the last.

Debsweb
30 January 2008

Asking For Vision (Day 3, In The Kiva)

by: Minstrel Boy

Kivas are found all over the southwest. Most of us use them. Imagine a circular structure that is three quarters underground. Entrances vary. Most involve a small door, that must be entered in carefully, a small landing with a ladder to complete the descent. The top sides are often a combination of adobe brick and woven fronds which can be added or taken away depending on the amount of ventilation needed. Being mostly underground there is a natural cooling that is very welcome in the summer. There is a firepit at the center of the floor, which is packed dirt, or, if you're dealing with civilized Indians like the Pueblo and Hopi, tiled beautifully. Kivas are used for gatherings in council, for ceremony, or for teenaged lovers to sneak a little alone time when they aren't being used for other things.

It's dark when we enter our kiva. It's also pretty cold. The first order of business is to stoke up a fire. Pine knots are soon blazing away, kerosene lamps are lit and soon the space and the light are both warm.

There are nearly fifteen of us gathered to seek vision on a name for our new girl. There really isn't a particular or regimented way that this is done. After all, we're Apache, and we just don't take to shit like that well. Autonomy is big stuff for us. Silas and a couple other elders sit close to the fire and begin to sing softly to themselves. I busy myself making sure that they are comfortably seated and have water or tea in easy reach. There is a big bowl of toasted pine nuts and other foods. A couple of pipes are produced and passed around. One smells like wild tobacco, one doesn't, I smoke from the tobacco pipe.

Silas has his medicine pouch with him and he begins to rummage around inside it, bringing out bits of cactus and dried herbs and mushrooms. People come up to him and he thinks for a bit, then gives them what he thinks might be the best for them. I refrain. It's a personal choice that I made when I got sober. There have been some times when, in ceremony, because it was integral to the task at hand, I have taken peyote and other "teacher" plants. It's not something that I seek out. I mostly figure that since I spent so many years using them for recreation and just for the hell of it, that I can show a better form of respect by refraining. This is one of those times. I will seek my vision through sitting quietly and going within my own heart and thoughts. If it comes, it comes; if it doesn't, so be it.

I wish I could tell you that this is a constant and true connection that Native Americans have with spirit or "other" worlds. Like there was this switch that we flipped and "poof" we were all tuned up and singing the music of the spheres. It's not like that. The best we can do is to try and be tuned in enough to notice when something is obvious, and not try too hard to force issues when nothing is occuring.

We settle into our individual thoughts and silences. We wait. Time sort of springs out of joint in places like this. I'm not sure about the time frames. I figure that after a few hours of sitting in silence some of the folks got bored and figured that they should seek their vision back at the party which is still going strong. A couple of people come up to Silas and talk quietly to him. I'm not sure if they have had a vision for a name or what. To one of them he says something dismissive and clearly displeased. That's how it tends to go with these things. Even though I am getting no pictures, no inspiration, and no sense of what might be the right name I know when someone else is in vision. We all know what is true and what might be something that sounds nice and gets everybody back to the party.

Two of the elder women come in and take places near the fire. Another person leaves the kiva. That is just too much for Silas. He speaks, softly, but with great authority that from this moment the kiva is shut. Nobody in, nobody out. We will either get our vision from the people we have in the circle or we will say that there was no vision which came to us. I ask him if he would like me to sit up by the door and he motions for me to come sit by him instead.

I don't have any idea how long it took. We went in just after nightfall, it is night again when we finally leave without anyone having any real vision for a name. It's like that. Sometimes nothing comes. If we tried faking it everybody would know so we just don't bother. It's not a failure, there's no disgrace, we'll just have to try again some other time.

We go back to the party and I tell my sister that we weren't able to find any vision for the naming. She doesn't reproach us in the slightest but tells Silas and I that we should watch our new girl to see if we are able to see the same thing that my sister has seen.

We do. We watch. We are eating and making the rounds of clan relatives and invited guests from the other clans but mostly we are watching my little niece as she plays and interacts with her new family. Then, at about the same time we see. Everywhere that she goes there are Raven Soldiers and their families drawn to her. It's not all that unusual, the Ravens are one of the smaller warrior societies, there aren't a lot of us, usually someone becomes a Raven after being tested and proven serving in another society. Every time we see this girl, there is a Raven close by. My sister saw it, but wanted to see if Silas and I would see it too. I lean in and whisper in Silas' ear Kilkii Dani'oshonni Ga'age (keelkee dahnee oh show nee gah ah geh) Girl Loved By The Ravens? Silas beams his thousand watt smile of glee and says "Ya'aa set kilkii." (yes, that's our girl)

We go around to other folks and say what we think the name should be to them. Instantly people sense the rightness of it. We call people's attention and bring her forward in front of the people gathered. We introduce her formally to our clan, the other clans and tell people that we will be dancing all night in celebration.

While we were in the Kiva another cousin of mine arrived. He is one of my very favorite people in the world. His name is Tsa Ka'alim and he makes a very good living traveling the Indian Casino circuit as a Hoop Dancer. I haven't seen him for over a year and we are doing some catching up when little Kilkii Dani'oshonni Ga'age comes to us and is introduced to Tsa Ka'alim. Her eyes are huge as she says "Grandmother told me that you are a Hoop Dancer. Will you be dancing tonight?" He tells her that he would be honored to dance for her. Just before he leaves he tells her that she won't be a real Apache until my other cousin, the brilliant attorney, and I do the Eagle dance for her.

That bastard.

harp and sword

John Edwards Withdraws

by: Foiled Goil

John Edwards' remarks today in New Orleans:
"I began my presidential campaign here to remind the country that we, as citizens and as a government, have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters. We must do better, if we want to live up to the great promise of this country that we all love so much."
"We will be strong, we will be unified, and with our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November and we'll create hope and opportunity for this country."


John Edwards: Thank you.
"Do not turn away from these great struggles before us. Do not give up on the causes that we have fought for. Do not walk away from what's possible, because it's time for all of us, all of us together, to make the two Americas one.

"Thank you. God bless you, and let's go to work. Thank you all very much."



·

Well I'm Done

by: Debra

Edwards has dropped out, there are no viable candidates and once again living in the state of California has been worse than nothing. What is the point in living in such a populous state if my choices are restricted to the two worst candidates before I even get to the polls. My vote never means anything and I'm done voting. Period. I don't care about who gets elected, I don't care about the stupid propositions, what I do care about is getting the hell out of this country. Land of the free, home of the brave. My ass.

I don't care if a woman wins, I certainly don't care if some half black wannabe wins, I don't care if an old geezer wins, (we've been through that before), I don't care if martial law is declared. I wash my hands of this country, I will not defend it's reputation, as poor as it is, I won't even defend its so called right to exist.

If I see something about to happen, I will turn my back and let the chips, or body parts, fall where they may. I am sorry that in my youth I thought this country was worth defending. It isn't.

You guys are going to get what you deserve. Slavery. They won't call it that, it will probably go by the name that this county was built on. Indentured servitude.

I will probably continue blogging but it won't have anything to do with the elections or the stupid people who pontificate or the corporately paid jackasses that are presented to us as electable candidates. My absentee ballot is being shredded as soon as I get to the office and I will never register to vote again. They can do what they want with the voter ID law, they can, and will, have all the retroactive immunity for all the political criminals they want. Oh yeah, and that Iraq thing, you can expect it to be a way of life for one country after another until we run out of either guns or people. Or the people who really own this country puts a stop to us.

Thanks John, you've let the bad guys run the asylum.

Debsweb


· ·
29 January 2008

The State of my Union

by: blackdog

I'll worry about Florida tomorrow. Tonight I'll not have to trip over oranges in the yard as I go out to collect the woof and go to bed.

Amazing how all the adds in supermarkets in Ventura, always plugged Florida oranges.

Here I have to watch out for folk with guns who don't take nicely to ones in their underwear collecting their doggies.

Kinda like plugging American cars in Japan. But most Japanese don't carry guns, as opposed to us. But I do carry a nine-iron, so you have been warned.

Good luck, and good night.

Wraith, tell me the story of the booger under the bed again. But please don't use that heavy breathing, it gives woof the creeps.

I have a strange compelling thought that I must get into bed and then look underneath, knowing that I might see what I don't want to.

Maybe a shrub. Hopefully not a burning bush, or well, maybe so.

But a Darth Cheney would be more than I could take. Then I would scream.

Wasn't Halloween a few months ago?

POTUS SOTU – STFU

by: Foiled Goil

Does anybody even listen to him anymore?

Bush made another attempt to try to redefine and put a positive spin on his legacy, but nothing can put a glow on his rampant incompetence, the crooked cronyism in his administration, his utterly failed policies, or his being the worst U. S. President, ever. One didn't even need to bother watching his speech because it was just more of the same, and now is just his lame duck quackery. Here's a brief recap of last evening's SOTU:

Strut, "yada yada yada," shrug, "blah blah blah," smirk.

Legacy? Yeah, George, we got yer legacy… right here.

Read it, and weep.


·
28 January 2008

State of the Union

by: blackdog

Can't wait for the shrub to stutter and flub over it's last screach to the Congress and USA. At least I hope it's the last screach it gives. Could you imagine four more years of this clueless moron?

Ah, the legacy. What a task for the spinners and total bullshitters who spout all that for this misadministration. Yeah, just a few years from now we will all come to the conclusion that the shrub was correct and foresightful in it's vision of the world. I will pull my head out of the sand for this one, and so far, no rethug has successfully violated me. I do after all, have a nine-iron and can use it.

Jeebus, but it's been a curious week, the economy is so damned solid and strong. It requires no screwing around with gubermint because of it's inherent strength. I am so profoundly confident that dims will get it all right in the next year.

Should be an interesting show, if only to see the absolute worst idiot to ever sit in the Executive Office utter such nonsense. But then I'm not overly impressed with the Congress either.

If I sounds like I have an opinion, well duh.
27 January 2008

Bill Gates and "Creative Capitalism"

by: Dark Wraith

Last week, Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he said, "We have to find a way to make the aspects of capitalism that serve the wealthier people serve poorer people as well." He used the term "creative capitalism" to describe lashing together what he called, "...two great focuses of human nature: self-interest and caring for others."

Let the world take heed: Bill Gates is calling for "creative capitalism."

Perhaps this is that very same creative capitalism—flush as it is with all that is good, American, and entrepreneurial—that this very same Bill Gates in his younger years used knowingly, willfully, conspiratorially, and with malicious intent to violate decades-old antitrust law, thereby destroying well-established, legitimate, law-abiding companies and, hence, forever and radically altering the landscape of the emerging Information Age in every last corner of its vast complexity.

This, as a side note, would be the same Bill Gates who committed his law-breaking under the watchful eye of the Clinton Administration, whose Internet-inventin' boy-genius, Saint Al Gore, didn't seem at the time the slightest bit motivated to wander over to the Justice Department to share his extraordinary knowledge of all-things-online with federal prosecutors who could have moved rapidly to get injunctions against Microsoft while building a case that would have stopped Mr. Gates and that might even have gotten him and his little "creative capitalist" crew some attitude adjustment time behind bars. (Surely, it could not possibly have been the case that the DLC-driven "centrists" of the Clinton Administration, pining for Cold War-era domestic economic policies, were dragging their feet just so new oligopolists could establish themselves for another neo-Keynesian round of industrial policy.)

Bill Gates, a man whose staggering influence and wealth are the fruit of a poison and poisonous tree of law-breaking, now sits like some kind of Ancient Greybeard Guru, speaking to the rapt audiences of his sycophantic movers and shakers in the IT world, who line up like swaying sheep the same way many Leftist bloggers bleat to the intonations of their well-financed, A-lister shills. It's all like being in some ridiculously out-sized, Fundamentalist megachurch, except that the praise-singing choirs aren't as good out here in cyberspace.

Pundits, industry leaders, and even a fair number of people who should know better are going to let Mr. Gates get by with invoking the hurl-bait of "creative capitalism," but that changes nothing: he is the very essence of the most vile (and necessary) aspect of capitalism, its categorical imperative that success cannot be founded upon doing what is right and ethical, but instead must always be the result of taking calculated risks for expected returns from doing that which is profitable.

To that extent, capitalism disgusts me, even though I am a capitalist; beyond that extent, however, it is Bill Gates's kind who disgust me, and on that score, I can take more than small pride in noting that, if nothing else in this life, I am not Bill Gates's kind.

That having been said, the question for anyone of essential decency is more pointed: what does it say of this age that men like Bill Gates and, no less, George W. Bush will never go to prison, while we as a nation that pretends to any legitimacy prosecute, terrorize, watch, Taser, beat, and incarcerate our commoners by the countless millions?

From my perspective, this new world is nothing but the same old world it has always been. In a perverse way, that's comforting to me. There for a while, I thought things were going to get really confusing here in the 21st Century.


The Dark Wraith has spoken.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · ·

On A Lighter Note

by: Debra

I made the weekly trek to Costco, mom was out of both beer and cigarettes, plus we needed eggs and Kleenex. On the way in I noticed some of those little kids with the roller skating shoes that the Dark Wraith loves so much and was tempted to try and roll over one of them but there were too many witnesses.

One of the things that has made shopping tolerable is my iPod. They call me Happy Feet at Cosentino's because I am always rocking out to something. So, I'm dodging the lookieloos and the grazers and get mom's Becks first. They have it stacked so high that it's ergonomically incorrect to try and get the beer down. Fortunately for me there was a case that I could reach without feeling like I wasn't playing Jenga. I put the case safely in the cart and rolled over to check out the brandy and cognac prices. I cook with both of them and wanted to see what kind of deal I could get. I turned around and my cart was gone. Nowhere to be found. Somebody else must have decided that it was too dangerous to take Becks from the stack. Grrr!

I go get another cart and this time have to take the case from the top of the stack. Fortunately, I didn't hurt either my back or my neck. I tried out the Habanero Chicken Burgers (not spicy to me but mom wouldn't like them), grabbed the spinach and mushrooms for dinner (Salisbury Steak, mashed potatoes and creamed without flour spinach), got the eggs, half and half, Kleenex and organic tomatoes, made a beeline for the cigarettes and then looked at the lines. They were all seven to eight people deep but one on the far end had a guy who was pre-scanning. I worked my way over there and about two minutes later he starts scanning my stuff. He gets to the beer and says "may I see your ID please?" I pulled off one of my earphones and said "what?" He repeated his request and since he wasn't kidding, I whipped out the drivers license, the one that says I was born in 1956 and cheerfully, and I mean very cheerfully, waved it in front of his face. I'm fifty one and I got carded. I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Now I'm going to get my AARP card so I can enjoy that experience, in reverse, for several more years to come.

Debsweb


· ·

Sunday Morning Mutterings

by: Debra

No wonder there is a war on drugs, the crew without a clue doesn't want to share. The idea that businesses are going to spend $50 billion on new equipment is probably correct, the problem is that since their factories are no longer in the United States, that is another $50 billion that won't trickle down to the US consumer. Same old, same old. Bushit.
Moreover, even if you do somehow manage to increase spending, that doesn't mean you'll put Americans to work. More likely, you'll put Asians to work producing goods for the U.S. market
Big Brother and some other not so trustworthy people are watching you. More and more. The privacy of your own home is rapidly becoming a fiction, as technology continues to provide myriad ways for you to be tracked. Hopefully once the sensors realize I'm broke, they'll stop sending targeted data. Sheesh, I might as well believe in Santa Claus if I think that's likely to happen. What's more likely is that you will be prevented from entering stores and restaurants you technically can't afford.

Those wacky Brits. The responses to "Don't treat the old and unhealthy" are quite interesting. And informative. They just don't seem to have as many judgmental people in England as we have in the States. On the whole, most responders are aghast at the notion that those who have paid into the system the longest, that would be the elderly, should not receive medical care. There was the Soylent Green comment from one, how did my brother get to England?, but the majority feel that the doctors are overpaid and underworked, that the government has mismanaged funds and that there are way too many paper and pencil pushers in the system. And one or two who believe that if they privatized the system that costs would go down and care would go up. The American model shows that isn't the case.

Once again, the elections are going to suck. Obama wins in South Carolina. What is it with these inbred states? Edwards gets short shrift from the media and the unwitting (in more ways than one) populace follows the corporate bouncing ball. While the Republicans worry about voter id cards, we all should be thinking that there should be a minimum IQ requirement. Nobody under 115 should be allowed to vote. Or run. Of course that would leave out the current prez, which would definitely have been a good thing. And Caroline, don't make me puke. Obama is nothing like your father, he engenders not one whit of hope in me. Your father served his country with honor, both in the military and as President. This guy just talks. A lot. With nothing to offer except empty rhetoric. Gaak! Even the Chronicle has drunk the kool-aid.

When you're lost, you should always go back to the beginning. While it may have worked for Inigo Montoya, it's probably too late for the US. Inconceivable!

Debsweb


· · ·
26 January 2008

SC Primary: Obama

by: Foiled Goil

CNN Election Center

At 9:03 PM, with 93% of precincts reporting:

Obama – 271,015

Clinton – 129,459

Edwards – 86,525

Kucinich – 512


· ·

Man, I ought to get a Job

by: blackdog

Assuming that I could get over the blackball that has been placed on me. I may be flopping patties soon, but that is better than nothing. Would you like flies with that?

But what has really got me riled up is the complete and total lack of methodical thought about numerous issues today. All I see anymore is kneejerk emotional reaction to events that really do require some measure of methodical and cautious thought.

Take the run to the sea of the lemmings in congress to enact an economic stimulus package. How it is best aimed at proles who don't exist in this economy anyway, and $bucks will not cure the problem with the homeless or impoverished. They need jobs, damnit. Then look at the shrub who constantly howls about how great this economic engine is, but never forget that this pos is a liar and has been outed recently with 935 documented examples of it's lies.

I am not a scientist, don't have the education or training but I am not completely stupid. There is a method that Western Civilization created, maybe not first, but the record show's them to be first, as having developed a way to examine phenomena and apply rational thought and said method to the problem.

One of the most beautiful programs I ever watched on PBS (commie bastard) was "The Assent of Man". It was great, I have also read the book, not a great challenge. But it speaks of the road we have all traveled, with the introduction of the scientific method as one of the most brilliant achievements of the human race.

Western Civilization is not the epitome of the world, but it did develop the scientific method before any other culture. And it remains the best tool we have for the examination of observed events that we have.

It is a great tool, use it with abandon, and with peer review, there will be limits as to what we can see through it, but for now, use it.

Otherwise I have to go out into the backyard and meditate on the storm cellar.

Wish I had a lab job again, and if you don't agree, I can bite you faster than you can bite me.

Trampled Underfoot

by: Debra

For goodness sake, when is this country going to grow up? Once again, the ugly streak of puritanism raises its head. The FCC in all its wisdom has decided to fine ABC $1.43 million for showing the naked side and backside of a woman getting into the shower in a 2003 episode of NYPD Blue. Ooh, ooh, the people in the Mountain time zone who don't believe in Daylight Savings Time saw the episode at 9:00 instead of 10:00 pm. Since parents don't seem to control their kids bedtimes and viewing habits, the government must do it for them.
Indeed, FCC commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate suggested in a prepared statement released with the proposed fine that the commission would have assessed a higher fine, if possible. "Our action today should serve as a reminder to all broadcasters that Congress and American families continue to be concerned about protecting children from harmful material and that the FCC will enforce the laws of the land vigilantly," Ms. Tate said.
I am so tired of this crap. There is nothing wrong with the human body, dressed or undressed but we keep trying to make it dirty and disgraceful. And why is it that it's always referred to as Janet Jackson baring her breast when it was Justin Timberlake singing about having her naked by the end of the song and it was his hand that did the removing? That has always bugged me. His career didn't suffer but hers did.

Of course the technicians are never dorks. We all know to power down and restart before we call. Whenever I have to call tech support I always get someone who doesn't understand and has me repeat all of the things I've already done before they tell me that they can't help me and they finally kick me upstairs. Now that I have my iMac and don't use Comcast, that particular irritation never occurs anymore.

I'm an isolationist, I admit it. I believe that America should take care of America first and worry about the rest of the world after we have solved the problems at home. I do not believe in withholding medical care, food or jobs from those who are already here and contributing to our society, in whatever menial capacity that may be. That some states would enact such draconian laws in an effort to stem the flow of illegal immigration is stupid and shortsighted. And for a supposedly Christian nation, it's not very Christ like. Why do we hate people who are different from us? Do you think that if aliens (the space kind) came to this world that they would see a difference between us? No, they would think we were all equally barbaric.

It's nice to know that some people are still willing to help others out. Most people (especially those in Oklahoma) would have kept the camera and not made the effort that these people did to return it to its rightful owner. Finder's keepers, losers weepers is how most people act nowadays.

And I end where I started, with more puritanical hypocrisy.
So the game world has been ablaze with indignation since the Fox News program “The Live Desk With Martha MacCallum” said on Monday that Mass Effect, one of the most critically praised games of 2007, contains frontal nudity and explicit depictions of sexual activity. The assertions of virtual lasciviousness first appeared earlier this month among conservative bloggers incensed by brief YouTube clips excerpted from the 30- to 40-hour game.

Mass Effect, a science fiction game, includes a complicated romantic subplot that is no more risqué in its plot or graphic in its depiction than evening network television.
And 24 isn't one of the most violent television shows ever aired. Like the old MPAA joke goes: kiss a nipple and it's X rated, cut it off and it becomes an R. We are one messed up and repressed society.

Debsweb


· · ·

Smell the Politics Brewing

by: Konagod

Put on your favorite kinky leather garment and get those whips out. It's going to be a fun night. The polls are open in South Carolina.
Polls showed Obama favored to win the state in large part due to his strong support among black voters, who are expected to comprise more than 50 percent of the electorate.

Damn the vote! Let's see how many super-delegates Clinton can rack up.
A CBS News survey of Democratic superdelegates revealed that 184 of them are supporting or leaning toward the New York senator and former first lady. By a more than two-to-one margin, she tops Barack Obama, who is supported by 71.5 superdelegates.

Ahhh, the sweet smell of victory. "Securing America's future" indeed.






Crossposted from konagod


(Don't mind me; I'm just here to collect more "bad karma" votes.)


25 January 2008

It Ain't Saturday Yet, Blackdog

by: Konagod

Does Your Vote Count?

Don't be so sure. Let's not forget the "Super Delegates" as Keith Olbermann so rightly pointed out tonight.
It’s called the Democratic Party, but one aspect of the party’s nominating process is at odds with grass-roots democracy.

Voters don’t choose the 842 unpledged “super-delegates” who comprise nearly 40 percent of the number of delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination

[...]

The Republicans do not have a similar super-delegate system.

These super-delegates don’t have superhuman powers, but unlike rank-and-file Democrats, they do automatically get to cast a vote at the convention to decide who the party’s nominee will be.

Although dubbed “unpledged” in Democratic Party lingo, the super-delegates are free to come out before their state’s primary and pledge to support one of the presidential contenders.

So much for any hope I ever had for a Kucinich nomination, as if I ever really had such a hope. It would have been nipped in the bud in short order.
Sen. George McGovern, the leading anti-Vietnam war liberal, won the 1972 nomination. McGovern turned out to be a disaster as a presidential candidate, winning only one state and the District of Columbia.

So without reverting to the days of party bosses like Buckley, the Democrats decided to guarantee that elected officials would have a bigger voice in the nomination.


And for those of you keeping score, despite the fact that Obama and Clinton are virtually tied, when you factor in the whims of the super-delegates, Clinton is far ahead.

And you thought your vote might make a difference. As if.

It's like the electoral college. Only worse. Your vote doesn't really count. Case closed. THEY will pick for you.

You may now resume your normal everyday lives.

Thank Gawd for Saturday

by: blackdog

Being that I am a reclusive sort of thang, avoiding direct contact with most and doing my best to lay low and not make a scene in a small town where everything I do is most likely better known by my neighbors than I know, well, Saturday is special.

Used to be that it was the day to get up early and watch really good cartoons. Not anymore. And that is sad. Warner Bros had the best, and I always got up to see the Bugs Bunny Show.

But thankfully NPR has a pretty good slate on Saturdays. Starting with Bob & Ray, Click and Clack the tappet brothers. Followed by Whad' ya Know? Then a half hour of a local show about an Arkie goil talking about feuoood. Funny how you can make that a two syllable word. But now we're in the stretch, Say's You! at 1:00 pm cdt, then one of the best, possibly the most incredibly funny and enjoyable radio programs out there is Wait, wait...don't tell me!

By now it's 3:00 pm and the crown jewel is coming at 5:00. Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion.

It's Saturday, the band is playing, honey could we ask for more?

And then, if your feet haven't started to shuffle a bit, comes Thistle and Shamrock. And that would usually raise a dead man. Or woman.

Amazing how mellow and relaxed one can get in their middle age, whatever that is. Thirty years ago I would not have approved, but somehow I feel that I am a little more intelligent than then. At least I sure hope so.

Ah, Saturday, I look forward to you so.

Cold, with Sleet Thrown In.

by: blackdog

Listening to the news on NPR, OK, I get it, I am a pinko commie, enough already. But a very small part of my mind, close to the part that keeps my autonomic functions going raised a question.

How much money that we really don't have has been thrown down the rathole in Iraq? And really, if you will, what was or is the point? If we are to just take by might of force the second largest reserves of petroleum known of then why not just say so and do it? What else do you do with a military that is so damned large compared to the rest of the world, not in number of troops, but most definitely in number of everything else, during what was supposed to be a "peace dividend" after the demise of the Soviet Union, our most wonderful nemesis.

Well, you continue stupid foreign policy around the planet with no observable tact and use all that military might with abandon. Against whomever or whatever you will. Be sure to get the media "embedded" as you go, shock and awe makes for good ratings as long as it is not in your backyard.

" We fight them there so we don't have to fight them here". Rings a little hollow to me. We took a stinging right hook to the head on 9/11, but even as bad and terrible as that was, we did not dissolve or disappear. In my limited opinion, the correct response was Afghanistan, and allow the police agencies around the world to get into the action. This was not and never was a "war" on anything. It was a criminal act and should have been treated as such. But Afghanistan needed more than a police action, seeing that it was so screwed up after it had been used as a playground by the USSR and the USA in their neverending proxie wars.

But I'm way off the point I wanted to make, the money. Every few years the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and others looking into infrastructure issues come up, each with a price tag of what is required to repair the system now. And every time, that requirement is overlooked. Those repairs won't just go away because we won't look at them or pretend to hide, they just get larger and larger.

Instead of printing all that money for the aforementioned rathole in Iraq, could you imagine how the state of our economy would be if we had shoved 1/2 a trillion dollars into upgrading our infrastructure?

Shitfire and save the matches.

I leave the rest to you, dear readers.

Does ANY Of This Sound Familiar?

by: Foiled Goil

Forgotten Voices from a Lost War

By Tom Engelhardt
On January 30-31, 1968, the Tet holiday, the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front (NLF, known to Americans as "the Vietcong") struck at five of the country's six largest cities, 34 provincial capitals, 64 district capitals, and numerous military bases. NLF sappers even briefly captured part of the heavily fortified American embassy compound in the center of the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon.

Vietnamese government troops allied to the Americans were badly bloodied and American casualties were high. Fighting continued in parts of Saigon for three weeks and in Hue, the old imperial capital, for almost a month until, as with Fallujah in Iraq in November 2004, most of its buildings were destroyed. To retake major urban areas, air power was called in. In perhaps the most infamous phrase of the Vietnam War, an anonymous U.S. major said of the retaking of Ben Tre, "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it."

In a wave of TV images of unexpected carnage, all this broke over the American people, who had been assured that "progress" was being made, that, as American commander General William Westmoreland put it, "We have reached an important point when the end begins to come into view." (Sound familiar?)

The Tet Offensive was a home-front televisual disaster and proved a breaking point in terms of pubic support for the war effort (despite massive losses on the other side). A shocked Walter Cronkite, the avuncular anchorman of CBS News and an American icon, declared the war "mired in stalemate." President Lyndon Johnson, who was watching that broadcast, promptly turned to an aide and said, "It's all over." And yet the war, already visibly hopeless, would continue through another seven years of carnage as American ground troops were drawn down, while air power was relentlessly ratcheted up. (Again, does any of this sound familiar?)

Now, 40 years later, we are nearing Tet 2008 (February 7th), embroiled in another faraway war in another faraway land where Americans are dying and another people, another society is suffering grievous wounds, once again on an almost unimaginable scale. Once again, an administration is assuring Americans that "progress" is being made, that a corner is being turned. Once again, the planes are being brought in. And once again, the voices we seldom hear are those of the civilians who are suffering. Barely noted in our world while the war is ongoing, they will promptly be forgotten -- if the Vietnam experience is any measure -- when it's over (as someday it must be), while Americans focus on the "lessons" to be learned from an "American tragedy."
In the name of peace
They waged the wars
Ain't they got no shame


~ Nikki Giovanni



· ·

What Were They Thinking?

by: Debra

Oh yeah, that $600 dollar rebate is really going to help the economy. Not. What kind of idiot do you have to be to believe that $600 is going to help people who have lost their homes, their children are living with friends who still have a home and the parents are living in separate shelters? That would be Bush and his enablers, the Dumocrats. If he made a sharp left turn, most of them would break their neck since it's so far up his ass.

The only person this so called economic stimulus package is going to help is big business. As if the oil companies need any help. Welcome to corporate America where business profits are more important than the people. What do you want to bet that they take their business incentives and spend them outside the country? And why does anybody consider getting a check in May to be quick? Four months from now the checks will arrive at homes that are empty or checking accounts that have been closed because of a lack of funds. Or maybe they've been deported. Yes, we seem to send native born Americans to countries they've never seen.

Every once in a while you run into a story that makes you deeply ashamed to belong to a country that abuses children. Why they took these kids to an orphanage and didn't tell the guards in charge that they hadn't done anything wrong, isn't just wrong, it's criminal. Strip searched, forced to shower in front of security staff and put under surveillance for over 24 hours because their mother was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. Their mom had to leave the hospital in her pajamas to get them out. And now the mother is being investigated for being ill. Way to go New York.

Have uniform, will use power badly. Whatever you do, don't get in the way of a cop and his dinner order.

The only bright spot to this story, is that it didn't take place in America. Suing the parents of a boy you ran over and killed so you can repair your luxury vehicle is the height of arrogance and inconsideration. I wonder how long before someone tries that here.

I'm not surprised. Not surprised at all. Anybody who thinks that Bush and his cronies are going to pay for their crimes, is not in touch with reality. Heck, they can't even be investigated.

Debsweb


· ·
24 January 2008

Bad Vibes

by: blackdog

I just learned that the Senate Judiciary surveillance bill has been killed, by a vote of 60-36. I wonder who two of the four missing were. For that matter, who were the other two? I'm better than the White House excuse for a press secretary, I can add and sometimes, subtract.

Seems one of the defecting, or should I say defecating democrats was my own Senator from Arkieville, Mark Pryor. I say Arkieville so as to not get them heathens in Kansas too whipped up.

I had the pleasure, I thought at the time, to meet him just after his election in which I voted for him, at a conference I was working in as a host in Hot Springs. Little did I know that I had voted for a dim without a whim.

So I just sent him a message to his site explaining politely, I have no desire to see Cuba tonight, that he could kiss this blackdog's ass goodbye.

I am sick of democrats that simply won't step up to the plate that was handed to them. They received a mandate a few years ago, but the rethugs are still in defacto control.

I go out back to again stick my head in the sand, with the almost certain knowledge that even with the offer of a tub of goo lube next to me, a rethug won't use it.

Warning to all rethugs who would like to violate me, my nine-iron is ready.

Asking For Vision (Day 2, Rez Drums)

by: Minstrel Boy

We were up and rolling in very good time. The drive up to the rez was gorgeous. We rolled up to my cousin's place, got the RV parked and leveled and hooked up, the horses stabled and the trailer's living quarters hooked up by the barn in short order.

My cousin and his long term partner were their usual charming selves. My new niece was absolutely entranced while being her natural entrancing self. We got Larry and his family settled in and introduced to the clan folks who were all there getting ready for the afternoon and evening's festivities.

When we gather for things like this the main focus is food. Lots. Of. Food. There were BBQ pits going with pig and game, the inside ovens (my cousin is as big a foodie as me and he has a kitchen that would make Gordon Ramsey hush up his rude ass mouth) were just beginning to turn out the loaves of corn and other breads. Cousin tells me that he is expecting Angel Cakes, I allow that this is not unreasonable and that I brought along some wonderful beans of Tahitian Vanilla to throw into them as an extra, added bit of subliminity (if that's not a word, it should be, and will be on this blog).

Larry's twins get involved with helping me make them and we have a great time, taking turns whipping up the egg whites by hand. I still have no scientific explanation, I even allow that my feeling might be completely psychological, but I still maintain that an angel food cake, or a soufflée whipped by hand is texturally superior to something whipped by a machine. (backgroung music to this paragraph should be Bruce Springsteen singing John Henry) I've said it enough times to make it something true by the Lewis Carrol or even to make it my own under AA traditions. When we have our cakes cooling on bottles on the counter we go outside to meet the folks just arriving and to wander around the various cooking stations, stealing the odd bite here and there. Lingering over the outside vat of oil where golden brown, light and puffy discs of fry bread are the subject of great debate and family honor. (first rule of fry bread: Grandma's is the best. Ever. It must, and will always be even better than Mom's)

We have picked up my new niece and wander over to a small fire where Silas is holding forth over a flat, shiny stone. He has a big bowl of blue corn slurry that he spreads over the heated rock for a few seconds and peels off a wafer thin translucent sheet of piki bread. He beams and fusses over the girls. They are totally entranced by his little ritual of making them. He always holds the bowl in both hands and gives it four swirls in each direction, then four stirs in each direction with a wooden spoon. Then he scoops up a perfectly measured handful and swipes it over the stone, sets down the bowl and wipes his hands on a cloth. He holds his hands over the cooking smear of piki and at just the right moment lifts off a beautiful, fragile little sheet which is stacked in wobbly towers all around him. He carefully hands a sheet of piki to each of the girls and we watch their faces as they take their first bites. As soon as piki hits your mouth it disintegrates, and just as instantly your mouth is filled with the delicate pure taste of blue corn meal, ground very fine by hand. Then, even before you can swallow your saliva has begun to turn the starches in the corn to sugars which leaves a slightly sweet, slightly salty aftertaste. It's magical stuff. All the time this is going on, he is telling the girls a story about Spider Woman's son Cornstalk, who taught the people how to grow the different types of corn, and how to use all the other plants. The little girls are mesmerized. The only way I can get them to leave is to ask them if they want to come feed the horses with me.

When we come back into the house I am totally jazzed to see that some of my old friends have brought over their instruments. Kirby has his electric piano set up, Rich has brought his bass, my 16 year old nephew brought two guitars and has been kind enough to set up two of mine. Joy, of joys, there are two drumsets. I know the double bass set up very well. It's my young friend Vincent. He's still very young, only 29, but, at my urging and through my contacts he was able to spend three years on the road with Ike Turner. Ike turned him from a very talented, very gifted young drummer into a professional powerhouse. I see Vince and note with pride that he is dressed for tonight's show like he was playing the Palace. Sharp. I tell him that I will be certain to change before we go on.

The rest of the evening is spent introducing our new family and clan addition around, gorging on what ever delectable food strikes our fancy, then, when there's a break in the sound from the band my mother, as is a mother's right, demands that I take a set.

I strap on my Variax, stomp a few settings onto the board and tell young Vincent "Give me the Bar-B-Que beat." Vince grins and lays down bump bump CHICK! bump bump CHICK! and we launch into Cadillac Ranch. Dancing and celebratory movements ensue out on the floor. The little girls are in a tight group of other little girls pogoing in and around the adults with gleeful abandon.

I go through a few requests from family who tell me that I don't show up on the rez nearly enough, and when I don't show I don't play enough. They're family, I can't dispute how they feel. I tell them they are right and I will try to do better. Then I grin at my nephew and Vince and tell him "Give me some Indin drums." The people know what's coming. From the singing of Keith Secola. . .

INDN Karz Forty Nine

I've been driving in my Indian Car
Hear the pound of the wheel drumming in my brain

My dash is dusty, my plates are expired
Please Mr. Officer, let me explain

(everybody shouts this chorus)

I got to make another Pow Wow tonight
I'll be singer 49, down by the riverside
Looking for a sugar, riding in my Indian Car

My car is dented, the radiator steams
One headlight don't work, but the radio screams

I got a sticker says "I Brake For Pow-Wows"
I stuck it on my bumper
It's what holds my car together

I got to make another Pow Wow tonight
I'll be singer 49, down by the riverside
Looking for a sugar, riding in my Indian Car

We're on a circuit of an Indian dream
We don't get old, we just get younger
When we're flying down the highway
Riding in my Indian Car
Riding in my Indian Car
Riding in my Indian Car
Riding in my Indian Car


I wander off to grab a smoke and some quiet time when Silas tells me that it's time to go into the kiva.


harp and sword
23 January 2008

"Flow"

by: Foiled Goil

Festival film takes on water profiteers

Agence France-Presse
PARK CITY, Utah (AFP) - Documentary film "Flow," premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this week, condemns water profiteering, calling for a UN resolution to make access to clean drinking water a human right.

The film by French-born director Irena Salina blasts Paris-based Suez and Vivendi Environment for commercializing water systems around the world, as well as Nestle, the world's largest bottled water seller, for draining watersheds.

Even the World Bank gets knocked in the film for funding massive water diversion projects that have displaced 80 million people, instead of smaller, cheaper and more eco-friendly community projects to bring fresh drinking water to the poor.

"It's a very dangerous trend, at a time when clean drinking water is becoming scarce, even in the United States, the richest country in the world," said Salina in an interview with AFP.

"We can't let companies continue to pollute our water. We need strong regulations to stop that, and also to stop them from draining our watersheds for profit," she said.

Along with a collective of activists, she is calling for a binding international treaty to protect the human right to water, as well as tougher local laws to prevent contamination of watersheds and water profiteering.
"It should not be possible to be running out of water," Maude Barlow, a Canadian activist and author of a book on the water crisis, "Blue Covenant," told AFP.

"But by mining groundwater and watersheds at the current rate, and contaminating water, we're actually losing water from the closed hydrologic cycle, and soon we'll be facing a water crisis."
"Water is the lifeblood of the planet and if you pollute it, it's like putting poison in your own veins," said Barlow.
"This notion that there is unlimited water to go around is wrong," she said, warning that water shortages were a potential cause of conflict.

"We're running out of clean drinking water as the population grows and demand grows exponentially. Suddenly there will be conflicts over water between countries, between rich and poor, between rural and urban areas."

Barlow got involved in the cause when water was included as a trade-able commodity in the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

She has since pressed governments to enact strict laws to restrict agri-business and commercial uses of water. Drinking water currently accounts for only 10 percent of its use, the film notes.

Barlow warns that the bottled water trend, worth some 100 billion dollars in sales annually, and the creation of water cartels that own water delivery systems will lead to greater water shortages for the poor.

"Suddenly, water has become very big business," she said.
"We want it understood that nobody has the right to appropriate water for profit while people are being denied access to clean drinking water," Barlow said.

"Getting a UN covenant passed won't solve the problem, but it will shed light on it."
"We never know the worth of water till the well is dry."
~ Thomas Fuller, 1732



· · ·

Hump Day Musings

by: Debra

Let the good times roll is a song by B.B.King (You'd better go out and spend some cash, how apt), not the way to run personal, business or national finances. Moderation? Who are these people trying to kid? People have been saying for years that the housing bubble couldn't be maintained and were blown off as being worryworts or Debbie Downers.

Good grief, I hope not. I was glad when he left, his character sucked and was one of the main reasons I stopped watching.

Who didn't see this one coming? They lied to start a war with a country that had done nothing to us. But will it be enough for impeachment? I doubt it, because lying about sex is more detrimental to the country than telling lies so our troops could die. Or so the people on the right believe. But what can you expect from a nation founded by religious fanatics and criminals.

Cannon fodder. 29% of Army recruits don't have high school diplomas and the poor are overrepresented in the Army, but the powers that be are still trying to maintain the fiction that unqualified soldiers aren't sent into combat. No wonder they're using video games for training.

I'm really sorry about Heath Ledger, what a shame. The only movie I ever saw of his was A Knight's Tale but I was, and still am, really looking forward to his role as the Joker in the new Bat flick. My heart goes out to his family and friends. Rest in peace, you will be missed. I guess this settles the issue about whether or not to prepare young people's obits. I thought Amy Winehouse would be a good candidate, especially after her crack video.

Lewis Black cracks me up. He's funny, to the point and not afraid to share his opinion. Thank goodness. Because if it wasn't for the comedians, nobody would ever hear the truth.

Debsweb


· ·
22 January 2008

It's Stupid's Economy

by: Foiled Goil

A humorous look at the Bush recession

Top Ten Reasons Bush is NOT Responsible for the Recession

by neuroscott

10 — "Since when has George ever been responsible for anything."
-- Barbara Bush

9 — "There’s still 11 months time for wealthy benefactors to bail out U.S. economy, just like they’ve always done when Jr. screwed up in business."
-– Anonymous Administration Official

8 — "Dick told me for sure that "Deficits don’t matter.""
-- G.W.B

7 — "As consumers spend the economy will mend."
-- New Cliché/Slogan/Policy the brain trust in the Bush Administration has come up with to deal with the financial crisis.

6 — "The Fed Chairman assures me that they have enough green ink and krinkly paper to continue printing dough as long as needed. And may I add, they’re doing a heck of a job over there at the Treasury."
-- George W. Bush

5 — Bush ordered super-duper secret program to buy Lotto tickets just in case the economy went south. Critics will be eating crow when the Commander-in-chief hits the jackpot.

4 — "War, recession, and natural disasters. I’m sure glad my last job as the part-owner of the Texas Rangers prepared me to be a great leader."
-- George "Dubya" Bush

3 — "Wealthy foreigners have no choice but to keep lending us money or we won’t be able to afford their products. We really have them over a barrel, Big Time."
-- Top administration figure speaking from a secure location (well stocked with ammo and canned goods) who would only identify himself as D.C.

2 — "The Book of Revelation predicts the mother of all financial meltdowns just before the end of times. This recession is part of God’s plan."
-– Mike Huckabee (presidential candidate).

1 — Sure, it’s easy to blame Bush for mishandling Katrina, the disaster in Iraq, failing to capture bin Laden, and the what is shaping up as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, but you got admit the guy is a barrel of laughs.



·

Baby Jeebus be Praised

by: blackdog

Wal-Mart just announced that their efforts to provide health insurance had progressed to within 7.36 % of all their "associates". That is down from last year when it was 9 point something percent.

The largest retailer on the planet, and they can't or won't provide a decent package of benefits for their "associates". You add up all the stinking wealth of the remnants of the Walton hoard up in NW Arkieville and you are challenging the greatest personal worth in the world.

I'm always so impressed by the practices of a potential employer where I might end up. Necessity, not want.

With the markets tanking, will the Chinese pull the yuan from the dollar? After all it is at some all time lows. What would Wal-Mart stock on its shelves if that relationship went down them tubes? Personally I avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. But with no money to spend, it's an easy choice.

The universe is only about 4000 years old, the Hertzsprung-Russel diagram was developed by guys on acid, and if I could spell it would conclusively prove the existence of gawd. The fossils in the Grand Canyon prove the Great Flood, since the dinosaurs were heavier and sank faster, while the christers floated rather well and sought their end nearer the surface. Must have been full of frankincense and muir.

Pass me that hooka, you bogartin' sack 'o stuff. I need another toke.


Little did he know that he was smoking a bowl of batshit, and that later in the night he would feel the pull of the moon. He would forever regret the results of his behavior that night, as it would haunt him for the rest of his life.

Waking he reached under the bed for his electric lantern, and a dark, clammy hand grabbed his. He screamed, but the hand did not release him, it only held more tightly.

He knew better than to reach under his bed after dark, but the temptation to get the lantern was overwhelming. Everyone should know that the djinn stay under the bed at night. This one as it gripped his hand, crept out from under the bed and stood, to reveal itself fully in the dim light from the mickey mouse nitelight in the outlet in the corner of the room.

It slowly stood, still gripping his hand fiercely, and was illuminated from the feeble light. It was horrible, it was terrible. he thought he would go mad from the vision of such a visage from the olden times. He thought to close his eyes, but it was too late, the image would always be burned into his mind. So he kept his eyes open, and looked upon what had issued from under the bed.

It said in not so commanding tones, "I put food on yer family! I clear brush! The Constitution is a fucking piece of paper! Nukular strikes comes first!"

There was much more, but being as he was so overwhelmed by the less than commanding tones of a decider, that had crept out from under his bed, he was not in a state to easily react.

A decider, much less than a wraith but more than a parakeet. With a grip on your wrist, no less.

He finially found his thoughts and realized that to rid himself of this ogre he had to concentrate, what was the word he had learned? In what part of his mind did it reside? He had only seconds before the decider took him to the RNC where he would forever burn in eternal fire with the likes of Limbaugh and where shrubbery would provide the flames. He would be consumed, and to no good end.

But in a flash of inspiration he remembered!

"Shit on you, republicans".

Suddenly the night became less threatening, and all became well and good.


Wish I could keep that shit up for a few more days, I just might write a crappy book!

Supremely Irritated

by: Debra

A few posts back I said that as a woman I was discriminated against more for being female than for being black. Some did not agree. So I have two instances to support my point of view. The first one comes courtesy of The Guardian. 72% of Americans are ready to elect a black president while less than 66% are ready to elect a woman. Go figure.

Meanwhile, back in my nightmare of a world... My living circumstances are not the most elegant. I live in a nice home but it is in a trailer park. Yes, we have those in California. Since I can't leave mom alone for an eight hour workday without her having difficulties, I currently do private computer and paperwork for a contractor. I'm also the assistant assistant manager of the park. For that title they give me a discount of $200 on my rent.

The assistant manager (Jose) has been having difficulties with several people in the park and a discrimination claim was lodged against him along with several letters of complaint. On Sunday he told me that the owner had decided to reverse our positions. Yesterday I called the owner to confirm and was told that it was just temporary until the brouhaha had quieted down and that my job is to evict the people who had filed the discrimination claim with as little fuss as possible since I had demonstrated the ability to get difficult people to compromise. I am to assume the title and the duties but there will be no monetary compensation. Everything is to stay the same. He gets three months off at full pay and my workload triples for no extra pay. How nice.

Did I mention that Jose is the only man that works for the owner in any type of administration position? I like Jose and he pays me very well for the work I do for his business, but he has been so busy that he hasn't done any of the duties of an assistant manager, I do them. He has no affinity for paperwork and has a tendency to let his temper get the best of him when people don't do what he wants, ergo; the complaint. The best part of all is that Jose is happy not to have these responsibilities right now and he took off for a few days to see his family in Mexico.

Nobody asked me if this arrangement is acceptable. It isn't. What I find interesting is that everyone assumes that I'm going to go along with the deal. I'm not. When someone pays me a certain amount for a job, that is all the work they are entitled to. I am way too old to be giving away my work for free. I'm irritated enough to tell them to keep their lousy $200 and find some other schmuck to do the dirty work. The guy who sweeps up the garbage is compensated more than I am and that just isn't right.

Debsweb
21 January 2008

Monday Morning Observations

by: Debra

Obama needs to man up and STFU. If he becomes the nominee, I'm not voting. Period. I don't see the difference between him and most of the Republicans, except for he isn't as crazy and that isn't reason enough to vote for him. There is something about him that just doesn't ring true for me. The truth of the matter is that he's jealous.

Honestly, this election is worse than grade school. Edwards can't speak at a church because the other candidates weren't asked? How many times have Clinton and Obama spoken at churches and Edwards was ignored? The hypocrisy and childishness is mind boggling.

If he really wanted to honor the memory of Martin Luther King, he and Cheney would resign and let people who care about the US and not the corporations who donated the most to their campaign run the country. But we all know that isn't going to happen.

Wow! How progressive of them.

No anxiety and I certainly don't suffer from guilt. It's hard to believe that in this day and age Americans are still so sexually repressed. I can't believe that we still believe that sex is for selling cars and making babies and not a normal bodily function.

Debsweb


· ·

MLK Birthday

by: Foiled Goil



"A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: 'This is not just.' The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: 'This way of settling differences is not just.' A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.



20 January 2008

U.S. MSM - MIA On Sibel Edmonds Case

by: Foiled Goil

UK Sunday Times Scoops US Media Again, Confirms FBI Cover-Up of Documents in Sibel Edmonds Nuke Secrets Case

Existence of FBI Case Number, Described in Anonymous Letter Obtained by The BRAD BLOG, Corroborated by Paper

Letter Describes Senior State Dept. Official Marc Grossman as Tipping off Turkish Embassy to Valerie Plame Wilson's 'Brewster Jennings' Counter-Proliferation Operation...


By Brad Friedman

London's Sunday Times has just published a follow-up to their explosive front-pager from two weeks ago which described allegations by former FBI translator turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds.

Though there has been worldwide coverage of the recent blockbuster in the Rupert Murdoch-owned British paper, the U.S. media have remained entirely mum, a point which has drawn great consternation from both Edmonds and the 70's-era "Pentagon Papers" Daniel Ellsberg, whom The BRAD BLOG has spoken to this evening, following the release of tonight's extraordinary new Times piece.

The paper now reports that they are able to corroborate an apparent FBI cover-up of documents detailing an investigation of the theft and sale of nuclear secrets to agents working for Turkey and Israel, who in turn shared the secrets with Pakistan, who in turn may have shared those secrets with Iran, North Korea, Libya, and possibly even al-Qaeda.

As The BRAD BLOG reported along with the Times two weeks ago, the operation also includes allegations that high-ranking U.S. officials --- such as Marc Grossman, a former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, who served as the #3 official in the State Department under Colin Powell and Richard Armitage from 2001 to 2005 --- were involved in the sale of those secrets and may have accepted pay-offs from agents in the black market network in the bargain.
The Times' article refers to an FBI case number (203A-WF-210023) referenced in an anonymous letter sent to The Liberty Coalition, a DC-based transpartisan civil and human rights watchdog organization. A subsequent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, asking for information referring to that case number, resulted in a denial from the FBI that such a case exists.

The letter describes, among other things, allegations that Grossman had warned officials at the Turkish embassy in DC of the existence of a CIA counter-proliferation operation using a "CIA cover company" by the name of "Brewster Jennings." That company was a front used by covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, who was later outed by White House officials in the now-infamous CIA Leak case.
We have yet to publish the letter in full, however, as we have been unable to independently corroborate a number of allegations made in the letter.

The Times, however, reports that they've "obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file" referred to in the anonymous letter.

We've also just spoken to Edmonds, who has been under an unprecedented 5-year-long gag order by the U.S. Department of Justice. The DoJ has threatened Edmonds with prosecution under the so-called "State Secrets Privilege." The threat of prison has kept her from speaking publicly about details related to the case, which she claims to have heard while translating wiretaps for the FBI in 2001 and 2002. She has spent many years encouraging members of Congress to hold hearings and a public investigation into the case. Despite public support from senators such as Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and a promise for investigations from members of Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-CA) office, who have been briefed on the details, no such investigation has been carried out to date.

Edmonds denied being the source for the anonymous letter, telling The BRAD BLOG "absolutely not," when we asked her directly if she was its author...
Read the entire article here.

Related post: Sibel Speaks Out.


· ·

Mostly I'm Just Lucky

by: blackdog

When I was a pup entering elementary school, I had the pleasure in the 1st grade of meeting the only other pair of fraternal twins in our school besides myself and my sister. Their dad had been the AG for Arkieville and they were quite a pair, everybody in school paid attention.

Neither of them were large, in fact they were both petite, but they were both tough as nails, and evidently they both still are.

Sometimes I just have to stop and realize just how fortunate I am to have such wonderful friends over such a long time.

Here is an e-mail from Julie:

Allison sent me your email. Glad to hear you are doing better, surgery sucks. we will have to get together and compare scars. I make up stories about how I got the scars, like knife fights and such. Yes the new chemo stuff is going OK and they tell me that I should be sick by now if I was going to be sick so far so good. I plan to go to New York at the end of March with a girl friend to visit friends up there. We have to plan for baseball this spring and I'll check the schedule for opening day. Marsha is here for our birthday so we are going to watch the football game today and have JAM fest. (Julia and Marsha birthday festival) she will be going back to Boston on Monday. I will have to plan a party so you can come and see my Paris pictures, but with Allison and Tom's work schedule its hard to work out, man I hate adult life. My son, Clay was home for a week it was wonderful, I had him stabled to my side the whole time and he so totally understood his mommy. I am really proud of him, he is now Petty Officer 3rd Class but I'm not sure I like that, one, my son is not PETTY and 3rd class, I don't think so!!!

Need to run now, Marsha will be here is a few minutes and my little sister, Virginia is also on her way. I'll write or call you soon. Take care.

Love
Julia


She is one damn tough lady, a sports freak who really knows her stuff. I haven't seen Marsha in about forever, but it would be nice.

You folk would simply love Julia, I still call her Julie, she is such a fine example of humanity.

Damnit, now I need a towel again.

Allison is another that goes back that far, she is another incredible lady friend from way back. Athletic, extremely so, with a very artistic bent. She had two brothers, one is still around and they were all great people.

Political Nihilism My Way

by: Dark Wraith

On a recent thread at The Dark Wraith Forums, long-time commenter trog69 quoted political pundit Maureen Dowd, who wrote the following:

"Like the president, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch came with tin cups to Middle Eastern, Asian and American investors last week, for a combined total of nearly $19.1 billion, after the subprime mortgage debacle blew up their books.

"Citigroup, which raised $7.5 billion from Abu Dhabi in November, raised another $12.5 billion, including from Singapore, Kuwait and Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal. Merrill Lynch gave $6.6 billion in preferred stock to Kuwait, South Korea, a Japanese bank and others."


In reaction to Dowd's note on current beggar-banking practices by American financial institutions, trog69 astutely noted, "It occurred to me that while we complain about the neo-conservative scum driving [President Bush], the ones behind other candidates might deserve more scrutiny."

Yes, but who among the punditry has the intelligence to actually understand the background, the issues, the problems, and the possible "solutions" (such as they are)? In my professional role as an economist, I find little to gain from jumping into the current thunderstorm of opinion journalism about the economy: I'll end up being all wet like everyone else; I'll be swimming upstream no matter which way I try to tread water; and, with my luck, I'll attract lightning from the Right and from the Left.

Even the candidates have little if any grasp of what lies ahead. They are laboring under the generally appropriate assumption that they can talk in general terms and that, once in office, they'll figure out what to do by hiring "experts" to handle all the little-people kind of work. As a consultant, I dealt all the time with "big picture" people who wanted nothing other than to strut their command positions while shoveling off onto irrelevant "techies," "bean-counters," and assorted other slobs the gruelingly hard work of actually making things function properly.

The Bush Administration's variation on that fairly typical work ethic of the rich and powerful was somewhat innovative. Little exists in the way of evidence that the "big-picture" neo-con thinkers and movers cared even about getting relatively competent hired help: the emphasis was on loyalty and ideological compatibility, which are flamingly disastrous qualities for working the engine room of the ship of state.

With respect to the leading Democratic candidates, let me not mince words.

John Edwards is too detached and uneducated about finance and investments to understand the basics of his own business relationships, and he'll have no clue as to whether or not the people under him are truly capable of handling the financial and economic affairs of state. I do not want a vapid fool stepping into every pit he comes across on the perilous road ahead, and that's exactly what we'll get with a President John Edwards.

Barack Obama—and, here, I speak from some personal information and experience—is all about style, and he specifically relies upon his "people" to keep real, point-specific problems from ever vexing him. His people are masterful at doing just that, which indicates to me that their expertise lies in form, not in substance. I do not want a style-over-substance showman in the White House, and I certainly don't want another round of Administration officials who twist people and the media around, obfuscate, and play games instead of hitting hard questions and problems head-on. My own interactions with Sen. Obama's staff have left me with a sour taste in my professional mouth that tells me this product will be no more beneficial to the health of this nation than it was to my journalistic palate.

Hillary Clinton is infused of an entirely neo-Keynesian mentality when it comes to guidance in formulating economic relations among the federal government, industry, and the citizenry. This neo-Keynesian approach to prescriptive forward-looking policy used to work quite well, although it was never particularly beneficial (nor was it intended to be) for workers; but neo-Keynesianism is wholly inadequate in practical terms for the problems of real people—real citizens—in this era. Neo-Keynesianism had its last run of success in the 1990s; but even then, it was marginally failing, although the criticality of its prescriptive flaws would be felt only in the longer run. Unfortunately, Sen. Clinton has no capacity to reach beyond what she knows as a politician facing economic problems, and that means she will try to apply old solutions that just aren't going to work in the 21st Century. I do not want a President locked into the politics of moving on, lashed to the cart of politics-as-usual, believing that supposedly tried-and-true technocratic methodology of the past is entirely relevant to complex problems of the future.

More to the point, the politics of just moving on will ultimately be a disaster in precisely the same way that it was for the Democrats in 1993. Bill Clinton's greatest failure as a President was that he and the emergent, so-called "centrist" Democrats in Congress somehow thought that letting by-gones be by-gones with respect to more than a decade of Reagan/Bush criminality and malfeasance was in the best interest of the country; but as the Republican Revolution—culminating as it did in two terms for George W. Bush—proved, the politics of appeasement was catastrophic not only for the Democratic Party, but also for the country and for many people who had tried to hand the Democrats mountains of evidence they could have used to utterly destroy the Republicans and their leadership. Bill Clinton's second greatest failure—and this is where Saint Al Gore gets his share of the blame—was thinking that "industrial policy," which for decades had been the love-child of the centrist neo-Keynesians, could keep on chugging along, continuing to erode the purchasing power of workers while allowing yet another round of near-monopolies—this time in the emerging telecommunications and computer software and hardware sectors—to arise to control the business landscape. Unlike during previous eras, however, there was no "countervailing power" (to appropriate economist John Kenneth Galbraith's terminology) on the labor side, even though that force had never been anything more than a union-driven showpiece for the working classes to think they had a power they never really did.

It's not as if President Eisenhower hadn't warned us about the military-industrial complex. It remains to be seen how long it will take informed citizens to determine that, like the marriage of government to military contractors, a union of that same government to high-technology companies and the healthcare industry will prove no more beneficial to the vast majority of people. (On the bright side, at least this marriage will ensure that, while people will still suffer economic hardships and their own mortality, at least they will die computer-literate and relatively pain-free.)

In summary, I have no use for any of the leading Democratic candidates. Paradoxically, though, I have more use for them than I do for any of the Republican candidates.

That leaves me with few options when I vote in November. I look forward to that problem because, as an economist with a healthy appreciation for free market capitalism, it's not a problem at all. Far too many people go to the store and buy Brand X knowing full well that it's simply awful; but they buy it anyway because they're convinced that it's better than Brand Y. Somehow, in that buying decision process they might even manage to get excited about going home with Brand X. The alternative—an alternative that a free market offers but no one contemplates as practical—is simply to walk out of the store empty-handed. If prospective buyers did that, the manufacturers of Brand X and/or Brand Y would eventually figure out that business survival depends upon offering either a better product or a better lie. Either way, consumers would be happier.

The reality, of course, is that consumers would prefer to walk out of the store with something—anything—rather than starve for a while until they were given better choices. To some extent, that's understandable: people don't like going shopping and returning home with nothing: surely, something is always better than nothing; and if this means that the rest of the consumers, those who would be willing to wait for a genuine deal, never get what they want, that's just too bad.

As much as free markets are capable of punishing the weak, the inefficient, and the low-quality, they are equally capable of delivering to the market merely enough to keep a flow of customers coming back, asking plaintively, "May I please have something in my hands when I leave the store on November 4, 2008?" Even if it's absolutely terrible, it's better than nothing, isn't it?

For my part, I plan to leave the store without asking for another slap in the face. If I want an insult to my intelligence, I'll read what the pundits are writing today about why the economy is headed to Hell in a foreign-made handbasket.

But that's just me.


The Dark Wraith certainly invites no one on his personal quest for self-actualized political nihilism.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · · · ·

Asking For Vision (Day 1)

by: Minstrel Boy

We got out of California with a four car/van/RV wagon train. My sixteen year old niece was working her learner's permit on my RV, with me in the navigation seat. I told her the only difference between the bus and the car is that the bus is bigger. Other than that, driving doesn't change much. Especially when the road is pretty much a four lane interstate for the next 300 miles. I told her that when we reached the Papago rez I would take over because I can slide into the fueling bays easier, knowing where the intake nozzles are and stuff. She asked about the road music and I told her that the only rule in my bus about music is "No Complaint Rock." She looked puzzled and I said "You know, those I'm so young and full of pain jerks, like Stain'd. I told her that my iPod has a very eclectic mix and if you put it on random there's hardly ever more than four minutes of dreck to wade through. Luckily the very first track is Bessie Smith proving out her billing as "Empress of the Blues."

We rolled under the Desajunes Solos sign still in a group in good time. Waiting for us, with dinner prepared were Medskool Girl, The Boy, the Sgt. Major and his family, and the Pool Girls with their gorgeous daughter, Harper Jooni.

It's 28 December, my sister the nurse's birthday, and we finish up exchanging some christmas gifts along with the birthday hoopalah. We are about to start up a cutthroat family game of "Pictionary" when the phone rings. It's my cousin, the brilliant attorney calling from the rez. He tells me that all is ready for our naming and adoption celebration with one new wrinkle. He tells me that Silas, the haattaallii is there and that he wants to speak with me. Silas gets on the phone and says "Did you bring me truffles?" I tell him that I am not naive enough to expect him to love me for just being me and he laughs. He says "I look forward to my truffles every year. I like you fine, but your truffles are better. They're less trouble and don't whine so much."

He then tells me that he's also expecting the Sgt. Major and his family. I tell him that this is very short notice and I don't know if they will be able to attend. Silas just tells me to tell them about the invitation. I do, they accept without hesitation. That's how Silas works, you'd think I would have figured it out by now.

I tell Larry and his wife that they can take over the RV and that I can bunk in the horse trailer with ease. I ask The Son if the horses are ready for traveling and he gives me the "Jesus Dude, don't you think I know anything?" look and I tell him thank you. My new niece wants to go out and see the legendary horses. She is fascinated, it's the first time that she's been close enough to horses to touch them and learn their names. The Sgt. Major's twins are with her, telling her about each horse and showing her how to give them the treats they expect. I kick the lights in the round pen on and ask if anyone wants to take a short ride. Bareback pads are produced and we all are soon riding around the training pen in the crisp winter night air.

The Pool Girls and the beautiful girl say their goodbyes and Larry and I work out our coodination for the morning's trip up to the rez. I tell him that if his girls would like to make the trip in the bus we will be having a marathon "Old Maid" session happening, along with a continuous loop of movies on the TV. He smiles and says that he and his wife have a lot to talk about and would appreciate some alone time on the drive. I tell him we'll be serving country breakfast right about dawn and that they are always welcome to join in.

There has been a lot of excitement and new faces running at my little niece. She's wound tighter than a banjo string already, throw in the Dr. Pepper the Son sneaked past my sister's watchful eyes and bedtime looks to be a long way off. Medskool Girl keeps rolling her eyes over to the corner of the living room and I finally ask her "What's up with the faces darlin'?" She goes over to the corner and picks up my lap harp and says "I think it's getting close to bedtime, would you play for me a little while?" I tell her that she is very wise along with being brilliant and beautiful. She smiles and tells me that she had to grow up smart being around such a clueless old man.

PJ's are donned and quilts are snuggled. I strike a chord and begin to play

Báidín Fheidhlimidh d'imigh go Gabhla,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh 's Feidhlimidh ann
Báidín Fheidhlimidh d'imigh go Gabhla,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh 's Feidhlimidh ann

Chorus (curfa in gaelic)

Báidín bídeach, Báidín beosach,
Báidín bóidheach, Báidín Fheidhlimidh,
Báidín díreach, Báidín deontach,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh 's Feidhlimidh ann


Báidín Fheidhlimidh d'imigh go Toraigh,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh 's Feidhlimidh ann
Báidín Fheidhlimidh d'imigh go Toraigh,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh 's Feidhlimidh ann

Curfa

Báidín Fheidhlimidh briseadh id'Toraigh í,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh 's Feidhlimidh ann
Báidín Fheidhlimidh briseadh id'Toraigh í,
Báidín Fheidhlimidh 's Feidhlimidh ann

Curfa

(rough translation)

Feidhlim's little boat went to Gola,
Feidhlim's little boat and Feidhlim in it,
Feidhlim's little boat went to Gola,
Feidhlim's little boat and Feidhlim in it

Chorus:

A trim little boat, a lively little boat,
A silly little boat, Feidhlim's little boat,
A straight little boat, a brave little boat,
Feidhlim's little boat, and Feidhlim in it.

Feidhlim's little boat went to Tory,
Feidhlim's little boat and Feidhlim in it,
Feidhlim's little boat went to Tory,
Feidhlim's little boat and Feidhlim in it.

Feidhlim's little boat crashed on Tory,
Feidhlim's little boat and Feidhlim in it,
Feidhlim's little boat crashed on Tory,
Feidhlim's little boat and Feidhlim in it


harp and sword
19 January 2008

For Father Tyme

by: blackdog

Who I count as a friend and mentor. There are many things that we could argue about, but the bonds that connect us are more powerful than the forces that would dissect us. This is a comment I made to Father over at Blondesense.blogspot.com/ on a post made by Blondesense liz. It attracted so much attention that I pulled it the first time. Please be gentle in any responses you have, if any. We've been through enough already and are getting ready to go through more.

Who else would publish a pic of a dog and his scope?

About the huckster and it's idiot opinion of the SC confederate flag.

From Father Tyme:

Coming from a person both of whose parents came from south of the Mason-Dixon line, does any of this make any sense?


From blackdog:

Yes it does Father. The nation was made one again after one of the most tragic excesses of waste in the history of humanity.

There may be reasons that some States may use to succeed, and that is their right under our Constitution, but the right to expand slavery west evidently was the line in the sand that prompted the war.

Hell, I like Yankees, even though being born as well south of the Mason-Dixon line I love the title bestowed on us from Colonial days.

First I am myself, second I am an American. Most of us are multi-faceted and are difficult to name with a single word. We are like Ents in the Trilogy, to describe ourselves in the hasty way of men and hobbits is not really possible.

We are all more than that.

As a member of the great experiment in self rule called the United States of America I demand to be included, and also demand that all other citizens be included. While I'm at it, we have one of the best documents ever produced by out ape-like race called The Constitution. Use it and obey it. Modify it as required, but only through a judiciary that is transparent and not in any way connected to political bullshit of any kind.

I'll be one of the first to stand with my brothers and sisters in any part of this great nation for the ideals that were espoused by some of the greatest thinkers of the last millennium.

The Civil War was only a test, could we really mean what we had said. Apparently many thought that non-whites were not human, a particularly stupid point of view. But what bothers me most is that they used their view of religion to justify their position.

That to me means that organized religion in any way, shape or form is an attempt to subjugate others, and the definition of others changes with the wind.

Government can play a similar game, but at least it is one thing that we have that is uniquely ours. We ought to concentrate on that and leave the religious experiences to those who have an ability for it.

I'm not saying that I do not have spiritual beliefs, but they are mine and shared rarely, if at all. There has to be something more than us in this vast cosmos, and we are on the way to discover what that might be, if we can only escape the nightmares of our history.

I said earlier that I was an American, actually I am a human being, a resident of the planet Earth.

I think I ran out of gas.

The Other Looming Oil Shortage and Consequences

by: Konagod

It happens to be cooking oil and if this continues we can chalk up another in a long line of crises which are underway.

more...

Our Disturbing Economic Future

by: Konagod

More warning signs in the news today, and I do apologize if some here think I am off on a doom-and-gloom tirade. However, I tend to prick up my ears when so many of the stories in the news seem interconnected. In the end, all things are, but these are particularly worth noting because the long-range implications seem dire.

more...

Bush Stimulates Looming Inflation, Recession

by: Foiled Goil

Bush lays out plan to spur growth, avoid recession

McClatchy Washington Bureau

President Bush outlined the broad details of a roughly $150 billion economic-growth package Friday, seeking Congress' help to provide a jolt intended to stimulate consumer spending and spur the creation of as many as 500,000 jobs.

Bush said any stimulus plan should be big enough to make a difference in the world's largest economy, and proposed that the cost amount to about 1 percent of the U.S. economy. He called for tax rebates for consumers and tax credits and cuts for businesses to entice them to spend more money and hire more workers.
The Bush administration is thought to favor rebates that involve temporarily eliminating taxes on the first $8,000 of individual income and $16,000 of family income. The liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues that 40 percent of tax filers, those with incomes of $25,000 to $41,000, could be bypassed or receive only partial relief under this approach

"We'd like to include the poor, people who don't pay income taxes. We'll insist on it," said a Democratic aide, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to disclose details.
After plunging Thursday, Wall Street was unmoved Friday by the president's growth plan. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell another 59.91 points to 12,099.30. The S&P 500 closed down 8.06 points to 1325.19 and the NASDAQ was off 6.88 points to close at 2340.02.
Deep problems plague U.S. economy, stimulus plans notwithstanding

McClatchy Washington Bureau
The economic growth package being prepared by President Bush and Congress may help ease the sting of an economic downturn or soften the blow of a recession, but it won't fix the deeper structural problems that are menacing the economy.

That's because the U.S. economy has rarely faced such a combination of challenges all at the same time.

First, the economy is mired in what arguably is the worst housing slump since the Great Depression.
New housing starts in 2007 fell 24.8 percent to their lowest level since 1980; building permits fell 25.2 percent. Median home prices in hard-hit California fell more than 15 percent last year, and no one's quite sure where the bottom is there or in the other troubled states such as Florida and Nevada.

Related problems in housing finance have spilled over, infecting the broader credit markets and roiling Wall Street. Because investment banks packaged mortgages into special bonds sold to investors, they're taking it on the chin now that the housing market is sinking.

Mammoth investment banks Citigroup and Merrill Lynch this month respectively announced fourth-quarter losses of $10 billion and $9.8 billion, respectively, and write-downs of $18.1 billion and $11.5 billion for bad bets made on mortgage-related bonds.

Now, the other shoe may be dropping.

Fears are mounting that insurance companies, which issued policies to protect Wall Street firms from losses on those mortgage bonds, don't have enough money to pay up. The foundation on which housing finance rests is becoming ever more unstable.

If that weren't enough, oil prices flirted with all-time highs this month, and inflation, which erodes the earning power of an American paycheck, remains a hair away from being problematic.
Consumption drives roughly two-thirds of the U.S. economy, so the jobs question is important. People with jobs spend money. People without them, or afraid that they'll lose theirs, don't.
Only greater certainty about the job market will revive consumer confidence.
Reuters Markets Headlines:

Recession fears to weigh on earnings reports

Wall St. drops as Bush rescue plan disappoints

Oil rises after plan fails to ease economic worries

World stocks slip again despite stimulus plan


· ·
18 January 2008

What is this creature?

by: blackdog

From Think Progress, http://thinkprogress.org/, this artlcle from Matt about a conservative icon, pardon me, a NEO-conservative icon, Norman Podhoretz, now what gives this idiot any right to spout anything about anything at all? Just because you are old, stupid and filthy rich, does this give you the right to dictate policy?

Well shit, I guess it does.

From Matt at TP:

In the June 2007 issue of Commentary, neoconservative icon Norman Podhoretz laid out “The Case for Bombing Iran,” in which he argued that “the only prudent–indeed, the only responsible–course” is to “strike” Iran “as soon as it is logistically possible.” Though the recent NIE has slowed down hawkish belligerence towards Iran a bit, Podhoretz is still arguing that President Bush should take “military action” against Iran “soon.”

In a new article for Commentary, titled “Stopping Iran: Why the Case for Military Action Still Stands,” he argues that Bush should commence with a “bombing campaign”:

Iran can still be stopped from getting the bomb and even more millions of lives can be saved–but only provided that we summon up the courage to see what is staring us in the face and then act on what we see.


Well I be stumped. Iran with the bomb, what a spookey scenario. I wonder who else might have one or two, surly not France or Britain, not Russia or the USA, not China, India or Pakistan, not Israel or North Korea, hopefully not Taiwan, South Africa, Brazil or several others.

The real trick with having a nuklular bomb is do you have the ability to deliver it where you want? Not that many nations at this time have ICBM capability, but the list of ones that do is growing. USA, Russia, Britain, France, China, maybe India. So far that seems to be it. And I'm not so sure about India, it could be they only have middlin' range missiles. Iran has some missiles, but no bomb. Hell, I have some missiles (legal) but no non-conventional bomb (legal too).

But the whole point of this is to point out that the big four from the old, cold days most certainly do have WMDs and the capability to deliver them at any time, anywhere on the entire planet.

And how I hate the anachronism WMD, like it's something new. Can anyone please just say the fucking bomb? Most of us might know what you are speaking of.

The shrub spouts drivel and bullshit in a most unpleasing way at every opportunity against nations that have GDPs less than our "defense" budget. What a brave patriot. We have more aircraft on a single carrier than most nations. And they never, ever have nuklular capabilities, Oh no!

It has been my experience that most of the really big nasty guys I have known were mostly peaceful, they had no desire to prove that they were really big and nasty. But certain idiots with shrunken testicles who continue to get elected to POTUS status seem to not really understand the concept of the big, nasty guy.

Here is a message from a guy with a pair of BigBrassBalls to you pissants, none of you are here at this site.

Kiss my fucking ass. You constantly demand some sort of conformity to your standard of what you believe is the standard for the rest in the nation, but for yourself you will never practice what you screach. Shut the fuck up and look at what you have achieved over the last half century. Mostly nothing, but you can be proud in the realization that through military misadventures that you have killed over 3 million others, possibly much more. And for what? So the USA can be #1? At what?

We laugh and point fingers at the former USSR at how they fell apart due to the bad breath of Ronald Ray-Gun demanding the Berlin Wall come down . Then made fun of the Muir space station and how old and decrepit it was until we noticed that the Space Shuttle was about the same age, and don't bother with which system has killed more cosmonauts or astronauts, gawddamnit.

We love to laugh about Chernobyl, but it was not, repeat, not funny. I read a very stupid article just a few days ago that referred to the melt-down there. Sorry you stupid dimshit, graphite reactors do not melt, they burn. Three mile island? WTF was that? And I still have mixed ideas on nuclear power, but then at least I can pronounce the damned term.

If you cannot pronounce nuclear, you should be shot. The only way I would support a death penalty at all. This should be a basic test of any dimwit running for pResnit, can you pronounce n-u-c-l-e-a-r. There is a root, maybe from the Greek about what it might mean.

Oh shit, I just heard the shrub on NPR, sounding like it always does, like an idiot. My IQ, never stellar has now sunken at least more than the stock market.

Now where was I? Oh yeah. If all you can worry about this election cycle is who worships gawd better or your prolife/death shit issues, then I have some news for you, get the fuck out of the way. The real world is right over there and it will eat your ass. But then you are the sort that will be eaten regardless of your interpretation of gawd or whatever. I only wish your demise wouldn't cause me so much trouble.

There, my blood pressure is dropping, the green cast on my hide is dropping and I feel, strangely, like a blackdog again.

I may go out to the backyard and take care of business, but not the financial type.

Obama on the Lesson of the Reagan Revolution

by: Dark Wraith

Obama and ReaganIn an hour-long interview conducted on Monday with the Reno Gazette-Journal, Barack Obama had this to say about the era of President Reagan:

"I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt... with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown, but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think... he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was [that] we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."


On Thursday, John Edwards—in part, mindful of the power hand of unions in Democratic politics in Nevada—took strong exception, addressing economic and environmental policies of the Reagan Administration:

"I would never use Ronald Reagan as an example of change. You think about what Ronald Reagan did, to America, the American people, to the middle class, to working people. He was openly—openly—intolerant of unions and the right to organize. He openly fought against the union and the organized labor movement in this country. He openly did extraordinary damage to the middle class and working people, created a tax structure that favored the very wealthiest Americans and caused the middle class and working people to struggle every single day. The destruction of the environment: you know, eliminating regulation of companies that were polluting and doing extraordinary damage to the environment."


Hillary Clinton, constructing broader themes about Obama's statement, had this to say:

"My leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last 10 to 15 years. That’s not how I remember the last 10 to 15 years."


The mainstream media is representing as controversial Barack Obama's claim that the election of Ronald Reagan twice as President was an expression of desire by the American electorate for change. Whether or not voters see it that way is another matter: certainly, to this day Ronald Reagan stirs deep feelings in those who were alive during the Reagan years. Many progressives, liberals, and Leftists still harbor powerful resentment, even bitterness, for Reagan-era policies they consider anathema to their interests, will, and vision of the country, while many conservatives and Right-wingers see those same Reagan-era policies as entirely correct, proper, and beneficial to the nation.


Ultimately, it is not the voters of 1980 and 1984 who will assess the worth of candidates in the 2008 campaign for the White House, nor will it be a now-deceased President of that time who could win the coming election; it remains to be seen, however, if that same now-deceased President can cause the uncautious candidate mentioning his name to lose the coming election.

On Monday, January 14, 2008, Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama said, "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt... with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown, but there was not much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think... he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was [that] we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."

What is your overall opinion of the characterization of the Reagan era made by Sen. Obama?

On Monday, January 14, 2008, Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama said, "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt... with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown, but there was not much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think... he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was [that] we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing."

What is your overall opinion of the characterization of the Reagan era made by Sen. Obama?

OptionVotes%
In general, I agree.942.9
In general, I disagree.1047.6
I neither agree nor disagree.29.5
Total votes: 21



Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · · ·
17 January 2008

Just Can't Get Away From It

by: Debra

My internet access wasn't working for most of the day, otherwise this would have been published earlier.

I've recently taken some flak over my position on fibromyalgia and depression. From being told that I don't understand what depression is like to not being compassionate to those who are suffering. I do and I am. For some reason it really bothers me when people think I don't care.

Then along comes the Wall Street Journal reprinting data from the New England Journal of Medicine. Someone has been futzing with the efficacy numbers. Gee, now why would someone want to do that? As an acupuncturist who whose profession is constantly being questioned by the "evidence based medicine" proponents, my question is this: Is it about the money that can be made or is it about the patient's health?

For example, Pfizer submitted five trials on its drug Zoloft to the FDA, the study says. The drug seemed to work better than the placebo in two of them. In three other trials, the placebo did just as well at reducing indications of depression. Only the two favorable trials were published, researchers found, and Pfizer discusses only the positive results in Zoloft's literature for doctors.

One way of turning the study results upside down is to ignore a negative finding for the "primary outcome" -- the main question the study was designed to answer -- and highlight a positive secondary outcome. In nine of the negative studies that were published, the authors simply omitted any mention of the primary outcome, the researchers said.

The resulting publication bias threatens to skew the medical professional's understanding of how effective a drug is for a particular condition, the researchers say. This is particularly significant as the growing movement toward "evidence-based medicine" depends on analysis of published studies to make treatment decisions...

"There is a view that these drugs are effective all the time," he said. "I would say they only work 40% to 50% of the time," based on his reviews of the research at the FDA, "and they would say, 'What are you talking about? I have never seen a negative study.'" Dr. Turner, said he knew from his time with the agency that there were negative studies that hadn't been published.


Methinks it's about the money. The geek in me wonders why if antidepressants are to balance brain chemistry, shouldn't there be tests that determine what the levels of serotonin are before playing chemical ping pong with people's brains? It would be good for the patient and the truly suffering would be able to get the right antidepressant the first time, not just being prescribed whichever was the focus of the last pharmaceutical representative's visit.

Debsweb



·

Woof Economics and Ect.

by: blackdog

The stock market continues to tank, the shrub has arrived back in the states, and Bernacke gives his shout to the congress.

I feel so much better.

TAX CUTS!!! That will really save us.

Seems like I remember something called arithmetic. Addition and subtraction. Real simple stuff if you use your fingers, assuming you have about twenty zillion of them.

In the only defense I can come up with the huckster, he did pay for the repair of the fleaways in arkieville, with bonds that may not ever be paid, but then I don't support the hukster anyway, he don't believe in a solar centered system.

Now that the chief gurus of the financial world have come to a consensus about how they can wave their magic wand and prevent a recession, that they may have been instrumental in starting in the first place, let's stay away from their salaries and benefits fer gawd's sake, I feel so secure.

It used to seem to me that when you were out of dough you needed more. But now I see that when you are out of dough you just give your property to the higher ups in the hope that they, in their eternal benevolence will "trickle down" on you, and you will be blessed by the lard.

Something pretty wonderful in this message here, all you have to do is be submissive and accept the golden shower, you will soon be blessed to the point that your neighbors will be jealous.

Personally I walk another path, the one that gives you chiggars. At least chiggars will never raise their interest rate and infect you further. They also are not religious in any way I am aware of and don't require your presence in any church. Not that I've had many chiggars lately, I haven't. But they are an annoyance.

307 points down today, must be nice to be an investor.

Bush ME Tour

by: Foiled Goil

Bush departs Mideast with few apparent gains, experts say

McClatchy Washington Bureau
President Bush wraps up a weeklong tour of the Middle East Wednesday, leaving many Mideast political observers mystified as to the purpose of the visit and doubtful that the president made inroads on his twin campaigns for Arab-Israeli peace and isolation for Iran.

Bush is heading back to Washington mostly empty-handed, said several analysts and politicians throughout the region. Arab critics deemed Bush's peace efforts unrealistic, his anti-Iran tirades dangerous, his praise of authoritarian governments disappointing and his defense of civil liberties ironic.

"There is no credibility to his words after what the region saw during his presidency," said Mohamed Fayek, the Cairo, Egypt-based director of the nonprofit Arab Organization for Human Rights. He cited the war in Iraq, the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal. "American policy threw the region off-balance and destabilized it. The visit caused deep disappointment. I don't see any results."
"Skepticism on all sides is enormous," said Nicholas Pelham, a Jerusalem-based senior analyst with the International Crisis Group.
In another potential setback, Bush received a noncommittal response from the Saudi government to his request for increased oil production to reduce world oil prices. Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi insisted production would increase only "when the market justifies it," according to news reports from Riyadh.
Meanwhile, Bush didn't back down on his warnings to Iran, which he has lambasted at nearly every stop on his eight-day journey. He reiterated in Saudi Arabia that a military option wasn't out of the question, though he emphasized that he'd like to find a diplomatic solution to Iran's defiant pursuit of a nuclear program and alleged funding of militants in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

However, many gulf countries appear to be moving closer to Iran over Washington's objections. Iran's firebrand president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appeared at an important gulf summit recently, and Iranian investors play vital roles in the economies of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq.

"I guess the visit was just about making sure the gulf doesn't slip away toward Iran," said Ghanim al Najjar, the director of the Center for Strategic and Future Studies at Kuwait University. "All these issues will just stay on the surface because there is no environment to support action against Iran. Everything will stay on the level of rhetoric rather than reality."



· ·

Report on the Cause of Death for Ike Turner

by: Minstrel Boy

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's office said yesterday that Ike Turner's cause of death was an accidental overdose of cocaine.

Damn Ike, you ended a good long run with a fumble at the goal line.

On a happier note, my sincere congratulations and love go out to Missouri Mule of Blondesense, and my collegue at Big Brass Blog, today as she celebrates twenty nine years of sobriety.

I've seen, over my years in AA, that there are some folks who manage to rack up a whole bunch of years, while at the same time neglecting to rack up those one day at a times. My dear Ms. Mule, you've racked it all up. Your fellow trudgers salute you.

I like to gently tease some of the newer folks when they collect their "milestone" chips. I will give them my congratulations and ask "Do you know what comes right after you get six months (or 3 or 9 or...)? They usually will say "No" or simply give me a puzzled look. To which I respond, "Six months, and one day."

Tomorrow, when Ms. Mule gets twentynine years, and one day, I imagine that it will be much the same as today.

Still, congratulations and expressions of love and respect are well in order. Strike up the band, cut the cake, and celebrate, because a victory for one is a victory for all.

el rancho limpia y seca

The Ununited States: Divided We Shall Fall

by: Konagod

After reading the New York Times this morning I'm starting to seriously wonder if the US isn't destined to deal with a cultural divide for decades to come. And the situation seems to be deteriorating during what is perhaps the most important presidential election year in decades.

We have squabbled over race and gender, over pulling out vs. staying in (a reference to Iraq; nothing sexual here), and religion as a political issue and tool has reached new heights.

If we continue on our current trend of playing musical chairs with the primaries and the outcome being a different winner in each one, reflecting the vastly differing perceptions of what's most important with the electorate in each state, then we are in for one long bumpy ride to November and beyond.



more...
16 January 2008

From Meteor Blades at DailyKOS

by: blackdog

http://www.dailykos.com/

Fortuitously, I have obtained a copy of what Huckabee has in mind. Sorry, no link, and I can’t tell you how I acquired this document other than to say it came from a well-placed someone. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

BILL of SMITES

Preamble

Faithful and patriotic Americans, having come to realize that our country is going to hell in a hand-basket, and expressing a desire to curtail the degeneracy and wickedness creeping across the land, recognize that salvation requires the prompt ratification of the following Commandments derived from Holy Scripture; that they be inserted before Article I of the Constitution; and upon ratification shall in every case supersede all Articles or Amendments with which they may conflict; and that, moreover and furthermore, every reference in said Constitution to the "United States of America" shall be replaced by the "Dominion of America."

Commandment I

Congress shall strike down the free exercise of any religion that has not been approved by the most sanctified committee on Fidelity, Uprightness, Behaving And Reeducation; and at all times prohibit the free speech of atheists, pagans and other blasphemers who deny the Divinity of Our Redeemer; or who say bad words publicly or when eavesdropped on in their homes.

Commandment II

No Senator or Representative shall approve legislation, attend hearings or committee meetings or otherwise appear in the hallowed halls of Congress, not even the lobby, when she is in the midst of her monthlies, for this be unclean; nor shall she return until after the passage of seven days from the onset of this disgusting condition as determined by the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Representatives or such other delegate as shall be chosen by the most sanctified committee on Fidelity, Uprightness, Behaving And Reeducation; nor shall any member whose belly be swollen by pregnancy remind us of the act that caused this condition by appearing publicly in any official capacity whatsoever; nor when she has borne the child shall she nurse it within 500 feet of a federal building.

Commandment III

Any state, county, municipality, town, village or settlement which grants licenses for the legal coupling of abomination, whether this be two men together or two women, shall be considered in rebellion against the Dominion of America and occupied forthwith by soldiers, be they military or mercenary; and deprived without delay of all federal budgetary earmarks; and be subject to year-round scolding until such time as it shall publicly recant; and be made to suffer additional repercussions to be determined by the most sanctified committee on Fidelity, Uprightness, Behaving And Reeducation.

Commandment IV

The teaching of Darwinism, Big Bang physics, geologic time scales, and any other such ludicrous theories shall not be tolerated no matter what scientists say, even the Christian ones.

Commandment V

No book, film, tape recording, video, DVD, CD, visual or audio download, hologram, or any other digital package in whatever technological format invented prior to the Rapture which fails to obtain a Godly rating from the most sanctified committee on Fidelity, Uprightness, Behaving And Reeducation shall be manufactured, shipped, sold, traded, gifted, viewed or listened to excepting only by members of the most sanctified committee on Fidelity, Uprightness, Behaving And Reeducation.

Commandment VI

Tax deductions of no kind shall be afforded to people who refuse to say their prayers every day.

Commandment VII

Any woman who does the nasty with a man not her husband shall be delivered to a public place where she shall be put to death by the throwing of rocks or other suitable objects; and the same thing shall be done to a man who does the nasty with a man, or a woman with a woman, or anybody with a dog or a sheep; and the same for a man who does the nasty with another man’s wife, unless the wife is married to the man’s uncle, or to his brother; but any man who forces an unmarried woman without a boyfriend to do the nasty with him must pay her father for damages and marry her and not divorce her forever.

Commandment VIII

No court or classroom or legislature or fire station or restaurant or hotel or health spa or hospital or tavern or movie theater or real estate office or car dealership or tourist dive shall be licensed unless it has prominently posted a copy of the Ten Commandments as given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, nor shall such copy be smaller than 3 feet by 5 feet.

Commandment IX

People who show up to vote marked by tattoos or strange haircuts, or who have trimmed their beards into roundness, or have shaved their heads, or who wear clothes of mixed textiles shall be disfranchised; and shall lose their eligibility to apply for government-backed student loans; nor shall they be allowed mortgage-interest deductions; and they shall forfeit their Social Security.

Commandment X

People who says bad things about God, as determined by the most sanctified committee on Fidelity, Uprightness, Behaving And Reeducation shall be taken to a public place where their mouths will be scrubbed with soap and faithful patriots shall throw rocks and other suitable objects at them until they die.

Commandment XI

No woman who conceives a child shall under any circumstances for any reason, including the prospect of certain death, remove the child or have it removed by any means whatsoever; and any woman who claims that she miscarried shall be physically inspected, have her habits evaluated, and be tested by means of polygraph under the supervision of the most sanctified committee on Fidelity, Uprightness, Behaving And Reeducation, which, if it deems appropriate, shall deliver her up for punishment as set forth in Commandment VII.

Commandment XII

The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution are hereby repealed. Slavery is okay. The Bible says so.

Lightening Up

by: Debra

Just for Newbie

by: blackdog

Thomas Crapper: Myth & Reality

The debate over who Thomas Crapper was - or even if there was a Thomas Crapper at all - continues. His contributions to the plumbing industry are even more suspect. But with this article we intend to replace myth with fact, for we have found a cadre of Thomas Crapper scholars who have made it their life's work to prove that Crapper is more than just a slang term brought home by the World War I doughboys.

For this article we interviewed Dr. Andy Gibbons, historian of the International Thomas Crapper Society, and Ken Grabowski, a researcher and author who is writing a book on Crapper’s life.

Myth: Thomas Crapper as a person never existed.

Fact: Though we do not know his actual date of birth, we can now say the man Thomas Crapper probably was born in September 1836, since he was baptized the 28th of that month. Crapper did have a successful career in the plumbing industry in England from 1861 to 1904.

The date of Crapper’s death has also been a source of confusion for many years. For example, Chase's Annual Events, the authoritative book for listing special days and dates, has listed January 17 as Thomas Crapper Day and January 17, 1910 as the date of his death.

After all his research, Gibbons was certain that Chase's was 10 days off. The actual date of Thomas Crapper's death was January 27, 1910. The error probably resulted from an honest typo in "Flushed With Pride," by Wallace Reyburn, says Gibbons, "but I waged a 10-year battle with Chase's to get them to change the date." He finally won his battle this year after supplying them with a photo of Thomas Crapper's tombstone, notes from a living descendent, and a copy of the man's official death certificate.

Myth: Thomas Crapper invented the toilet.

Fact: No one in the know about Thomas Crapper would ever make this statement. In his research, Grabowski has created a detailed history of Crapper's business life. The man holds nine patents, four for improvements to drains, three for water closets, one for manhole covers and the last for pipe joints. Every patent application for plumbing related products filed by Crapper made it through the process, and actual patents were granted.

The most famous product attributed to Thomas Crapper wasn't invented by him at all. The "Silent Valveless Water Waste Preventer" (No. 814) was a symphonic discharge system that allowed a toilet to flush effectively when the cistern was only half full. British Patent 4990 for 1898 was issued to a Mr. Albert Giblin for this product.

There are a couple of theories on how Thomas Crapper came to be associated with this device. First, is that Giblin worked for Crapper as an employee and authorized his use of the product. The second, and more likely scenario, says Grabowski, is that Crapper bought the patent rights from Giblin and marketed the device himself.

Myth: Thomas Crapper never was a plumber.

Fact. Oh yes he was. He operated two of the three Crapper plumbing shops in his lifetime, but left the business three years before the final and most famous facility on Kings Road in London. When Crapper retired from active business in 1904, he sold his shop to two partners who, with help from others, operated the company under the Crapper name until its closing in 1966.

Several of London's current plumbing companies trace their trade roots to Thomas Crapper. One, Mr. Geoffrey Pidgeon of Original Bathrooms (Richmond upon Thames, Surrey, Great Britain), continues the trade of his great uncle and grandfather, both of whom apprenticed under Thomas Crapper.

Thomas Crapper did serve as the royal sanitary engineer for many members England's royalty, but contrary to popular myth, he was never knighted, and thus isn't entitled to use the term "Sir" before his name.

Myth: The word "crap" is derived from Thomas Crapper's name.

Fact. The origin of crap is still being debated. Possible sources include the Dutch Krappe; Low German krape meaning a vile and inedible fish; Middle English crappy, and Thomas Crapper. Where crap is derived from Crapper, it is by a process know as, pardon the pun, a back formation.

The World War I doughboys passing through England brought together Crapper's name and the toilet. They saw the words T. Crapper-Chelsea printed on the tanks and coined the slang "crapper" meaning toilet.
The legend of Thomas Crapper takes its flavor from the real man's life. While Crapper may not be the inventor of the product he is most often associated with, his contribution to England's plumbing history is significant. And the man's legend, well, it lives on despite all proof to contrary

from : Plumbing and Mechanical, June 1993



From a great site about the world wide pile of shit: http://www.scitrav.com/wwater/waterlnk.htm

Must add this link too: http://www.theplumber.com/H_index.html

They after all wrote this article. Trust it to plumbers to get it right, unless they be in a watergate.

Pop A Pill

by: Debra

As I knew it would be when I wrote it, my opinion on fibromyalgia sufferers and their new drug, wasn't received very well. Americans have become so used to popping a pill for whatever ails them, that when you tell them that it won't work, personal attacks will surely follow.

It isn't that I have a lack of compassion, it's just that in the long run I don't see a successful outcome. What I do see is a lot of people making money off of other people's suffering. Instead of lifestyle and behavioral changes, pop a pill. Instead of putting yourself in another person's shoes, pop a pill. Instead of living your life, pop a pill.

Two years ago I was suffering through a bout of depression and was considering taking an antidepressant. Life didn't look like it was going to get better (and it hasn't) so I thought maybe if I just don't let it bother me so much, maybe it will go away. I wallowed in that for a few weeks and then one morning I turned on the computer and there was this story about a tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

I spent most of the morning looking at maps, calculating distances and reading every piece of news on the disaster. Tsunamis have always been one of my biggest fears so I knew how devastating it was likely to be. With each hour the news got worse.

I called a former friend but she said she didn't feel like getting up yet (it was after 1pm by then) and that she didn't think it was that big a deal. Hey, it was only 283,000 people, no biggie. I remember looking at the phone and thinking, wow!

What I couldn't remember, was what I was depressed about. It just wasn't that important. No matter how much my life sucks (and it does), it doesn't suck as bad as the majority of the people in the world. At least not yet and hopefully it never will. Not all depression is this easy to ignore.

The drug companies won't miss me because they have so many other willing customers. Never mind that the side effects are sometimes as bad as the original problem (Alli, I'd rather be fat than poop my pants) or that it could be fatal (Vioxx), cause heart defects (Fen-phen) or birth defects (Thalidomide, yes it's back and it's being used for leprosy).

PZ Myers likes to bag on woowoo medicine (chiropractic, acupuncture, etc, sometimes I agree with him, sometimes I don't but I read him every day) but so called traditional medicine has its own problems. Like any other profession you have good diagnosticians and bad ones. Doctors, plumbers, electricians, acupuncturists, mechanics or computer technicians, if you can't diagnose the problem correctly, it can't be fixed. By way of example, how many episodes has House tried out more than one diagnosis before he gets it right? Always makes you glad you weren't the patient, doesn't it?

People are more than charts and statistics and western medicine likes to disregard that. Chinese medicine, properly practiced, is supposed to take the whole person into account. This includes their living arrangements, eating, sleeping and sexual habits, as well as their perception of themselves. So when I see people buying into the Lyrica propaganda, my BS meter goes off.

FMS in Chinese Medicine is usually considered to be a wind damp problem and most have some heat involvement. Wind is used to describe the migrating pain and damp (like a swamp) for the headaches, dizziness, numbness and tingling. What makes it so difficult to treat is the heat. If you clear heat too fast, the dampness becomes more predominant and exacerbates their pain symptoms and if you drain the damp too fast, the heat flares higher and sleep becomes nonexistent which makes their emotions even more unstable.

The side effects from Lyrica mimic some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia and that can't possibly be good. The weight gain will definitely exacerbate the symptoms that are related to dampness, so those FMS sufferers will not see the improvement they hope and may feel that their situation is worse than before.

Regulating the sleep cycle and not by using pills, increasing exposure to sunlight and changing certain habits are likely to have a more beneficial effect than popping a pill, but that requires active participation and let's face it, popping a pill is much easier.

And if that one doesn't work, there are bound to be others. Excuse me while I go put on my flak jacket.

Debsweb


· ·

That Lonesome Valley

by: Minstrel Boy

You got to walk that lonesome valley
You got to walk it by yourself
Ain't nobody else can walk it for you
You got to walk it by yourself.


Watching this election cycle become all about "change" has really begun to work my nerves. They are already frayed folks. I've been mostly without income since the writer's strike. I've been working on improving my health issues. Me, the dentist, and the blue bottle are becoming fast friends. My surgeon is whetting his scalpels while we talk now. I'm doing all the things I said I'm going to do.

A quick update though. My friend Sgt. Major Larry, with his family will be coming up to the rez with me soon. Once there he will be given an Apache name and brought into the Butterfly Soldiers. It won't make him an Apache, but we all hope that he will find some spiritual protection by going through these ancient ceremonies. He's a good man. He is my friend. That is something I don't say or give lightly. It's even tougher for me in person.

I tend to make better connections online somehow. When I'm online and begin to be washed around by my moods and general surly outlook I can be a real bastard to be around, online, I can simply step back and away. Throw in some dental procedures and it gets downright ugly face to face. There was a question of the day at Shakesville where they asked us to describe ourselves in one word, or as few as possible. Like a fool, I asked my kids. Two out of three said, without hesitation, "Moody." Luckily I kept asking and my wonderful son, featured prominently in my amended will, thought for a bit and said "Cool." That's my boy.

But back to change. It started with Obama. He talked about being a unifying force to bring the country together. That's nothing new. I remember Richard Nixon, who I met personally on more than one occaision, talking about "a young woman holding a sign that said Bring us together." Yeah, right on that one, Mr. President.

Now, Hillary is big stuff and all about change. Okie-Dokie. Edwards is for populist change. Hell, even Romney wants to change things. Mike Huckabee wants to change the constitution so that we can have our very own American Southern Baptist Taliban forming commitees for the "Supression of Vice and Promotion of Virtue" or some shit like that.

Here's what I know about change. I've been dropping hints and stuff all over in various comment threads, but I wanted to make a whole post. Both to clarify and expand some of the things that I've said, but also to blast myself out of the funk I've been in since I heard about Larry's upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. That's the way I do change.

Almost fifteen years ago I changed my life. I changed by first stopping the wildly out of control and dysfunctional drinking and drugging that I had been doing, but I soon found, that while my life was dramatically better when I was sober, it wasn't enough. I needed more than simply not getting stoned. Too much of my world was exactly the same. Just being straight and dry made me feel like I was a very sick puppy without a lick of medicine anywhere in sight.

I went to work. I got me a sponsor in AA who had been sober for a long time. Jesse Joe Vasquez became my sponsor when he had over forty years of successful and happy sobriety. I didn't have forty days under my belt at the time. He told me that it was going to be some tough sledding, but that it was the only way to make this trip.

It was the single best thing I've ever done. Taking the twelve steps changed me. It changed me deep inside. I quit focusing on the changes the world and society needed to make, and got busy changing myself. I went deep inside, I wrote about it and talked with people. Then I went deeper. Then I went deeper still. I'm still making this journey today.

Thing is, just like the book promised, before I was halfway through I noticed that my life was becoming better. It was better, because I was better. When I'm in a meeting talking about this process I will sometimes use this example:

Before my 3rdX looted my art collection I had this very cool painting. It was a French Impressionist who did it. It was small, only about 8" by 10", a still-life of flowers in a vase. The thing that was so cool about it was that when you stood fifteen to twenty feet away from it the thing looked like a photograph. It was a perfect rendering of the subject. As you drew closer to the canvas though it changed, right before your eyes. The sharp lines began to waver and move, the focus began to blur. Upon close inspection you could see the drips, and blobs. You could see where he attacked the canvas with his palette knife and smeared with his fingers. If you moved side to side while going closer the ridges and changes in the surface would throw subtle shadows which would make it come alive. It was only in sobriety, after that painting was long gone that I realized its fascination. What I saw depended completely upon where I was standing and how I was looking at it.


Get it? I didn't change the world. I changed me. I was able to begin and live a different life because I changed. I made painful, often difficult changes. My life is better because of that.

You'll just have to forgive my skeptical look when I hear about how these great folks are going to "change Washington." That's not how it happened for me. It isn't something that I've seen in my lifetime. Like all politics is local, to me, all change is personal. Like the song says, you can't pay somebody to make your changes. You can't elect them to change things for you either. . .

You got to walk that lonesome valley
You got to walk it by yourself
Ain't nobody else can walk it for you
You got to walk it by yourself.


When I hear them talk about change, my inner voice is saying:

"You best get stepping then motherfucker."

el rancho harpo

MI Primary Results

by: Foiled Goil

CNN updated 12:01AM:

Democratic — Precincts reporting: 96%

Clinton 310,146

Uncommitted 224,258

Kucinich 20,991

Dodd 3,674

Gravel 2,282
Republican — Precincts reporting: 96%

Romney 331,499

McCain 252,219

Huckabee 136,911

Paul 53,325

Thompson 31,437

Giuliani 24,170

Uncommitted 17,560

Hunter 2,774
• Michigan lost all 156 of its Democratic delegates for allocating delegates outside of the Democratic National Committee-approved timeframe.

• Michigan lost 30 of its 60 Republican delegates for allocating delegates outside of the Republican National Committee-approved timeframe.



·
15 January 2008

Ho-Hum

by: Konagod

Not that it matters but Romney won Michigan.

{yawn}

And now... the Democrats debate (without Kucinich).

Democracy reigns supreme.

14 January 2008

And The Moon Is Made Of Cheese

by: Debra

I know I'm going to get into trouble and offend people with this post but fibromyalgia or FMS as it's now called, happens to be a pet peeve of mine. When women in Africa, the Amazon or some other poor nation start to suffer from this disease, maybe I'll believe in it.

While there are people who legitimately suffer from widespread chronic pain, fortunately they are few (not as few as there could be) and far between. Unfortunately, they are rarely treated for the amount of pain that they actually suffer and live under the threat of having themselves or their doctor arrested on some type of drug charge.

While they don't get the treatment they need, there are a whole group of people who complain about pain who get way too much attention. And now they get to have a drug for this "condition".
“What’s going to happen with fibromyalgia is going to be the exact thing that happened to depression with Prozac,” Dr. Clauw said. “These are legitimate problems that need treatments.”
Only by people who refuse to deal in reality or those who like to profit from their difficulties. Take a pill, it's easier than dealing with the fact that your life sucks, it isn't working out the you want it to and your family only does what you want because they feel sorry for you or they just want you to quit whining.

My first experience with "FMS" was in the late eighties when mom was having some kind of procedure on base (back when they still treated dependents) and her nurse (an officer) was telling us that she was being discharged from the military because she couldn't perform her duties due to these pains that the doctors couldn't figure out. I remember watching and listening and my impression then was, how convenient.

When I was in practice I treated many "sufferers" and I hated it. At the same time I was treating them for their migrating pain (wind), their depression and sluggishness (damp), I was also treating them for their mental state (shen), which was disturbed. There is a saying in Chinese Medicine that states "when in pain, treat the heart" and it applies very well to fibromyalgia patients.

These women are almost always the first born girl and have some type of family problems where they were ignored unless they were ill. The majority of my patients had had mononucleosis or some type of flu like disease between 14 and 18 and it was the only time that they got consideration within their family. Since they are fequently of above average intelligence (have you ever noticed how well they research their disease?), they quickly learned how to manipulate people into feeling sorry for their problems.

The world is supposed to revolve around them and if you make any progress with them, they stop taking the herbs, they stop showing up for their appointments until they are in pain again and they absolutely refuse to change their sleeping habits. They always have some excuse for not being able to follow through or to complete a course of treatment. Then they go find another practitioner so they can start the process all over again and maintain their belief that nothing helps them. Wouldn't want to lose that control over their loved ones.

I know I sound judgmental and I am. As a former massage therapist I can tell you that everyone, and I mean everyone, has trigger points. Very few people have correct posture, get regular exercise, stretch and eat right. The ones that do, don't complain about body aches. Heaven forbid that these sufferers actively participate in their own course of treatment, it's much easier to come up with a convenient excuse and now they get to take a pill. Two years from now a pill won't be enough, they'll be demanding some type of surgery.

I wonder how many of the women who survived the tsunami sit around poking themselves and complaining about mysterious pains.

Debsweb


· ·

What's Up With The Poor Reception

by: Konagod

Growing up in southeast Arkansas I had a particular affection for the transmission tower of the ABC affiliate KATV in Little Rock. At 2,000 feet it was the 2nd tallest TV tower in the world when I was growing up, and it guaranteed us clear reception even though we lived 85 miles from it. So I'm a little sad to learn the tower collapsed while maintenance was being done on it.
The once 2nd tallest structure in the world now lays in piles of steel. Remarkably, no one was seriously injured, but crews working to strengthen the tower had been just minutes away from climbing it to replace cable.



Crossposted from konagod
13 January 2008

Tomorrow and Tomorrow

by: Dark Wraith

In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers, and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honor and highest responsibility anyone could have.

— Lee Iacocca


Whatever.

Twenty-seven years, maybe two dozen institutions, literally thousands and thousands of students: that's my claim to a worthwhile life.

All manner of place: great lecture halls at enormous, public universities; abandoned shopping malls, where fly-by-night schools shared space with homeless men sleeping in the corridors; prison; beautiful corporate facilities; for-profit little schools in urban ghettos; private colleges with perfect students and back-stabbing, if quite friendly, faculty; big and small community colleges; even a private little K-12 school. I've run hundred-mile circuits in a single day, teaching in different cities just so I could make ends meet.

I've taught more subjects than I can sometimes recall: math, from arithmetic to differential equations and everything in between, including developmental math, remedial algebra, probability theory and statistics, the calculus, and drafting math; managerial finance; real estate finance; economics; financial accounting; marketing; paralegal; business law; transcription and proofreading; learning study skills; English grammar and composition; computer software skills; keyboarding; court reporting; psychology; sociology; and Western civilization. I've been a director of education and a dean (at the same time, and at the same time I was teaching at the school).

I've had stunningly bright students, thunderously stupid ones, and countless thousands in between. My students have ranged in age from five years to almost eighty: "normal kids" and whole classes of the "learning disabled," which once included in a single classroom a quadriplegic, a couple of epileptics, several TMJs, a handful of dysgraphics and dyslectics, and some who, in a later era, might have been diagnosed as autistic. I've had my chops busted for nailing star athletes for cheating; I've had my throat slit by administrators who didn't like my style; I've had parents, spouses, and friends ruin students' hopes of achieving academic dreams; and I've seen people I wouldn't have bet a dime on succeeding walk up to get their diplomas.

Students have broken down, sobbing in my arms, and former students have given me firm handshakes years after I last saw them.

I've seen students on their way to nowhere, and I've marveled at kids on their way to the stars.

I've bemoaned hot-headed boys and crazy girls more interested in their soap-opera lives than in their homework. Oh, yes, and I've run across the occasional, albeit rare, post-adolescent female looking for a rather less-than-academic relationship with a male authority figure, and I've had occasion to encounter a few young gentlemen rather too timid to say much other than to discreetly let me know they were gay.

On streets near campus, I slept in my car through a brutally cold Winter in the Midwest and crashed in the cockroach-infested basements of rooming houses, all because the pay for non-tenured college teachers comes with a choice of food, soap, and clean clothes or a comfortable place to live. I've bummed money from caring friends; I've worked side jobs; and for more than twenty years, until my body and veins were too weary to do it anymore, I sold my blood plasma twice a week.

I've watched academia flop from one pop fad to another, and I've seen excellence in teaching beyond what I could ever hope to attain, myself.

In my life, I've been many things; but always—always—I've been a teacher.


For all I know, this will be my last semester at the college that has kept me for the past few years. I have no guarantees. If the truth were to be told, I'm going to start wearing out my welcome pretty soon if I don't move on voluntarily. That's how it's always been.

In the morning, as is my unfailing way, into the classroom I'll stride, the swaggering, angry professor, the harsh, loud, in-your-face, bad nightmare who wouldn't mind flunking everyone on the roster. Unfortunately, at least some of the students will know the whole thing is a scripted act. Reputation precedes a teacher no matter how loudly he tries to shout it down.

Nevertheless, I'll be out there in the spotlight one more time, voice raising to a yell, then nearly vanishing into a whisper, long hair flying, arms waving, fingers pointing, eyes staring right at students, then straight through them into the vast depth of material I know and that I am inviting them to know, too.

I might have to move on, soon, I think. I'm getting old, and that should bother me, but it doesn't really. There's always a gig somewhere. It might not pay much, it might be a long ways away, and I might not even make it there. All of that is okay, though: every day of my professional life, I've been turning the page, anyway. That's just how it is when you cannot live your life anywhere but in the spotlight. It's the best place imaginable for those of us who want to hide from the wasteland of our own failure to be anything other than the object of high, rhetorical praise.

Again, though, whatever.

I am a teacher. That's what matters to me. More to the point, that's what matters to the future.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · · ·

What kind of Idiot is this??

by: blackdog

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush accused Iran on Sunday of threatening security around the world by backing militants and urged his Gulf Arab allies to confront "this danger before it is too late."

Iran said it rejected such efforts to isolate Iran among its Gulf neighbors, adding that "such policies of fooling the people in the region" had already fallen flat.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi, the third stop of his tour of Arab allies, Bush said Shi'ite Muslim Iran was the world's number one sponsor of terrorism and accused it of undermining peace by supporting the Hezbollah guerrilla group in Lebanon, Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and Shi'ite militants in Iraq.

"Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. So the United States is strengthening our longstanding security commitments with our friends in the Gulf and rallying friends around the world to confront this danger before it is too late.

"Iran is today the world's leading state sponsor of terrop. It sends hundreds of millions of dollars to extremists around the world while its own people face repression and economic hardship at home," he said in his keynote speech.


What kind of damn fool idiot is this? Maybe he ought to be forced by the SS to look under it's bed at night to see the boogerman that most likely is there. It might have "the economy, stupid" painted all over it, but is there a connection to throwing bushels of dollars into the rathole of the middle east, where I could give a rat's ass what happens. I am more concerned with what occurs here.

As we are a nation at war with crime, poverty, drugs and terrer, to name a few, I now go to watch an NFL playoff game for my contribution to the war effort.

Iran as a threat to world peace. Well I be damned, and I am. Wonder just how they will pull this one off.

I Need You!

by: blackdog

The Minstrel, I refuse to call him boy, has been on a trek of proportions that would make most of us shrink into a hole. He seems to be in a state that requires the rest of us to call him out, and I wish he would answer. As dazho diihil go'ashee would ask, please come back to us. We need you.

With all respect.
12 January 2008

HAD ENOUGH?

by: blackdog

From: http://www.lydiacornell.com/blog.html

By Lee Iacocca with Catherine Whitney

Had Enough?

Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."

Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?

I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have.

My friends tell me to calm down. They say, "Lee, you're eighty-two years old. Leave the rage to the young people." I'd love to—as soon as I can pry them away from their iPods for five seconds and get them to pay attention. I'm going to speak up because it's my patriotic duty. I think people will listen to me. They say I have a reputation as a straight shooter. So I'll tell you how I see it, and it's not pretty, but at least it's real. I'm hoping to strike a nerve in those young folks who say they don't vote because they don't trust politicians to represent their interests. Hey, America, wake up. These guys work for us.

Who Are These Guys, Anyway?

Why are we in this mess? How did we end up with this crowd in Washington? Well, we voted for them—or at least some of us did. But I'll tell you what we didn't do. We didn't agree to suspend the Constitution. We didn't agree to stop asking questions or demanding answers. Some of us are sick and tired of people who call free speech treason. Where I come from that's a dictatorship, not a democracy.

And don't tell me it's all the fault of right-wing Republicans or liberal Democrats. That's an intellectually lazy argument, and it's part of the reason we're in this stew. We're not just a nation of factions. We're a people. We share common principles and ideals. And we rise and fall together.

Where are the voices of leaders who can inspire us to action and make us stand taller? What happened to the strong and resolute party of Lincoln? What happened to the courageous, populist party of FDR and Truman? There was a time in this country when the voices of great leaders lifted us up and made us want to do better. Where have all the leaders gone?

The Test of a Leader

I've never been Commander in Chief, but I've been a CEO. I understand a few things about leadership at the top. I've figured out nine points—not ten (I don't want people accusing me of thinking I'm Moses). I call them the "Nine Cs of Leadership." They're not fancy or complicated. Just clear, obvious qualities that every true leader should have. We should look at how the current administration stacks up. Like it or not, this crew is going to be around until January 2009. Maybe we can learn something before we go to the polls in 2008. Then let's be sure we use the leadership test to screen the candidates who say they want to run the country. It's up to us to choose wisely.

P.S. Just had a good, long conversation with the Dark One himself and I can totally tell you that he is not one to be crossed with. On the surface he is smooth and cool, but underneath there is a terrible nature that none should enter into unarmed, if at all.

The secrets that I now have startle me into a state of chaos, I may enter a state of madness soon. I attempt to hold on, but I feel that my power is fading, the call of the Wraith. Calling, calling.

The mysteries, they hold fascination for all.

Hormuz: Echoes of Tonkin

by: Foiled Goil

Iran showdown has echoes of faked Tonkin attack

By Nick Juliano, Raw Story
A dramatic showdown at sea. Crossed communication signals. Apparently-hostile craft nearby. Sketchy intelligence leading to ratcheted up rhetoric.

The similarities between this week's confrontation between US warships and Iranian speedboats and events off the coast of North Vietnam 44 years ago were too hard for many experts to miss, leading to the question: Is the Strait of Hormuz 2008's Gulf of Tonkin?

On Aug. 2nd and 4th, 1964, the USS Maddox and the USS Turner Joy, patrolling off the North Vietnamese coast, intercepted signals indicating they were under attack. Within days, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which paved the way to the escalation of the Vietnam War. However, as some intelligence agents suspected at the time, the Aug. 2nd attack took place after the USS Maddox fired first, according to a National Security Agency report released in 1995.

This week another NSA report surfaced, confirming suspicions that the Aug. 4th attack never happened.

The researcher who uncovered the most recent NSA assessment tells RAW STORY that the Strait of Hormuz confrontation, and the immediate saber-rattling from the Bush administration and its allies, demonstrates the extent to which officials must be wary about politicizing shaky intelligence in times of war.

"The parallels (between Tonkin and Hormuz) speak for themselves, but what they say is that even the most basic factual assumptions can be made erroneously [or] can prove to be false," Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, told Raw Story. "Therefore extreme caution is always appropriate before drawing conclusions ... that might leave to violent conflict. That's almost so obvious that I feel embarrassed saying it, but there is a history of mistaken interpretations of these kinds of encounters that ought to teach us humility."

Humility and caution, of course, don't seem to be the most popular buzz words in the Bush White House.
Aftergood said the information should have been more fully vetted before the White House began warning Iran of "serious consequences" of future showdowns.

"What you hear talking is the child on the schoolyard, not the sober national leader," he said. "And I don't think that serves anyone's interest."
"The credibility at least of the administration has taken a hit by the way this episode played out," Aftergood said, but the near-confrontation could provide an opportunity for Bush to learn from his mistakes.



· · · · ·
11 January 2008

Take Two And Call Me In The Morning

by: Foiled Goil

What Is He Capable Of?
The Presidential Psychology at the End of Days


By John P Briggs, M.D. and JP Briggs II, Ph.D.
The central, secret conflict that consumes George W. Bush and motivates much of his action can be summed up in a few words: the desperate need to avoid, contain and disguise disabling fears about his competence and adequacy in a context where he expects to feel superior. Out of this core conflict have arisen his good and evil worldview, his lack of empathy, even cruelty, his competitiveness, his bullying, his inability to make a rational decision (despite styling himself "the decider"), his tendency for deception and self-deception, his proclivity for unconsciously sabotaging the success of his own projects.
Bush clings to a bad decision and can't change it because he had no rational basis for making it, or any decision, in the first place. Sticking with his decisions stubbornly - what he calls "leadership" - is all he really feels he has to offer as the nation's chief executive.

Absorbed in keeping up his psychic deflector shields, Bush seems shockingly unempathetic, even sadistically cruel about the pain of others. He is callous about torture; he takes pride in executions. His empathy for Katrina victims was clearly forced. He's a man who can put on a jacket of compassion or outrage when he needs to, but then takes it off and can't remember where he left it when a new need for empathy arrives. He's too busy expending that energy on his own situation.
Because he unconsciously expects to be seen by the world as a failure, Bush feels a strange comfort and familiarity in failing and then in denying that he is failing. He can never learn from mistakes. Worse, his psychodynamics ensure that his efforts to avoid his failures inevitably produce more failures.

Bush's administration has become famous for the hubris of believing it would create its own reality; that fantasy inflated an expanding bubble of self-deception that left the White House increasingly out of touch with reality in every political dimension, except for intimidation. The cause of this is clear: To an unprecedented scale, a president's entire administration has been focused on the service of his psychological defense system.
Just go read the entire article.


·
10 January 2008

The Strait of Hormuz Incident

by: Dark Wraith

UPDATE 12 January 2008 at 5:05 p.m. EST: Quoting from the original article that follows:

A likely explanation? The radio operator on the USS Hopper, the ship in the video, is having a tense conversation on Channel 16 with what he thinks is someone on one of the Iranian patrol boats, but what he's really having is a discussion with some joker on shore or on a proximate ship who was listening in on the whole incident.


Now, hot off the presses at none other than the Navy Times, it now appears that the Filipino Monkey struck:

The threatening radio transmission heard at the end of a video showing harassing maneuvers by Iranian patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz may have come from a locally famous heckler known among ship drivers as the "Filipino Monkey."


To clarify the matter succinctly, the President of the United States of America got suckered into making a threat of "serious consequences" against another nation because of a prank by a person widely known as the "Filipino Monkey." In the terminology of Internet chat, President Bush got PWN'd by the Filipino Monkey.

◊     ◊     ◊


Iranian patrol boat wake riding behind American Navy vesselIn the aftermath of the Pentagon's claim earlier this week that small Iranian naval boats swarmed and threatened U.S. vessels in the Strait of Hormuz, President Bush has issued a renewed warning to Iran of "...serious consequences if they [Iran] attack our ships." The graphic at left, taken from video footage released by the Pentagon, shows one of the five Iranian patrol boats "wake riding" behind a U.S. Navy ship while a second Iranian patrol boat farther back is about to cut through the wake of the trailing American ship.

Regarding the hostile encounter, ABC News is reporting tonight that the Pentagon is now admitting the voice on a video clip released late Monday—the audio and video components of the four-and-a-half minute presentation were put together subsequent to the incident—might not have come from anyone on one the Iranian interceptor boats but instead from someone on shore or even possibly from a radio operator on another ship somewhere in the general area. Below is the multi-media, four minute, twenty second video/audio mix of the allegedly hostile encounter in the Strait of Hormuz between three America naval vessels and a group of Iranian Revolutionary Guard watercraft. Although the Pentagon has said that the entire episode lasted about 20 minutes, this video it has provided shows a total of only about four-and-a-half minutes of the action. The video and the audio components of several parts of the encounter were captured separately and synched later for public presentation. The video ends before the audio, and it is during the black screen part near the end of the clip that you can hear the voice of what the U.S. military originally claimed was an Iranian on one of the speed boats broadcasting a provocative threat to the Americans. Listen carefully to the voice; and also pay close attention not only to what you hear, but also to what you do not hear.



First, it is not quite clear what the alleged Iranian says after "I am coming to you," but the radio operator on the USS Hopper repeats the last part of the communication as, "You will explode after a few minutes."

Moreover, The New York Times is quoting an individual claiming to be a former U.S. Navy officer who notes that Channel 16, the frequency on which this apparent threat occurred, is used like "bad CB radio" in the Gulf area, with many people hurling insults and racial epithets at one another, chattering incessantly, and even broadcasting American '70s soft rock music in the middle of the night:

[O]ver in the Gulf, Ch. 16 is like a bad CB radio. Everybody and their brother is on it; chattering away; hurling racial slurs, usually involving Filipinos (lots of Filipinos work in the area); curses involving your mother; 1970’s music broadcast in the wee hours (nothing odder than hearing The Carpenters 50 miles off the coast of Iran at 4 a.m.)

On Ch. 16, esp. in that section of the Gulf, slurs/threats/chatter/etc. is commonplace. So my first thought was that the "explode" comment might not have even come from one of the Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore facility.


Commenters at a number of sites have also pointed out several problems with that the heavily accented voice making the threats. First, the accent is not Farsi, the most common language in Iran. In fact, listening carefully to the tape, not only is the accent decidedly unlike that of a speaker of a Persian tongue, it also has a distinctive British character (listen to the way the speaker pronounces the "l" when he seems to say "blow"). Second, there is absolutely no background interference that would indicate that the transmission was from an open boat running at flag speed through choppy water, which is the condition the video clearly shows the Iranians were operating during the encounter.

A likely explanation? The radio operator on the USS Hopper, the ship in the video, is having a tense conversation on Channel 16 with what he thinks is someone on one of the Iranian patrol boats, but what he's really having is a discussion with some joker on shore or on a proximate ship who was listening in on the whole incident. In the meantime, a radio operator on one of the other two U.S. vessels is having the real conversation with the Iranians in the boats, and that discussion was switched to Channel 11 precisely because of all the chatter on Channel 16. Below is the YouTube version of the video Iran has just released of the encounter that supports an interpretation like this of what was going on.



Another explanation, albeit far darker, of what is heard on the American version is that the audio component comprises two separate conversations, one happening on Channel 11—that's the part where the U.S. radio operator is declaring that the American naval vessels are in international waters—and a completely separate component coming through on Channel 16. In the American version, we never hear the Iranian side of the Channel 11 interaction.

The Iranian video obviously presents a considerably different perspective on the character of the encounter, which appears to have been, at least during the five-minute clip the Iranians provided, very professional. (The audio and video in this Iranian clip, by the way, appear not to have been synthetically put together later in a studio, unlike the American version.) Of particular note is the clearly Farsi accent of the Iranian radio man and the fact that the chatter on Channel 16 prompted him to request that his counterpart on the U.S. vessel switch to Channel 11, which the American radio operator did. Also of note is that this Iranian radio man appears to be speaking as the representative of the entire contingent of patrol boats: note his hand gesture giving what looks like a command to another patrol boat to back off. This Iranian radio man is obviously not the person whose voice is heard on the American video.

The Iranian video makes the incident look strikingly more like a routine encounter as it was characterized by Tehran. That is to say, the Iranians came out in their small speedboats, swirled around in their characteristic "dispersed swarming" maneuvers, bothered the Americans as Iranians do in their usual game of bully-on-the-block in the Strait, and got their usual response from the Americans: "We are operating in international waters," which is the diplomatic way of saying, "We're coming through, so you and your stupid little toy boats can kiss our backsides."

How did this encounter, which now appears to have been nothing out of the ordinary, turn into an "incident" that would prompt a dire warning from the President of the United States? As it turns out, behind the "anonymous Pentagon sources" the mainstream media were ominously citing when the story first broke was a gentleman named Bryan Whitman, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Office of Strategic Influence. For readers unfamiliar with Mr. Whitman, he was none other than the architect of the propaganda push originally put forth about the "rescue" of Private Jessica Lynch, a story that turned out to be so at odds with what actually happened that Ms. Lynch, herself, repudiated the Pentagon version in testimony before Congress.

That's right: The latest, hot-off-the-presses story of a nearly deadly naval battle between the United States and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Strait of Hormuz came straight out of the office of a disgraced Pentagon propagandist, a man already caught at least once before using a military incident and associated video to pump lies to an ever-receptive, ever-gullible U.S. mainstream media and its Right-wing warhawks in the Blogosphere. True to form, the American media instantly swallowed the story, complete as it was with ominous implications for an ugly new war, and repeated it as gospel truth to the ever-receptive, ever-gullible U.S. audience.

And if that weren't bad enough, the President of the United States, who is on a trip to the Middle East, has begun his visit with "serious consequences" saber-rattling based upon propaganda from which even his own military is now backing away.

Fortunately, not only is Mr. Bush apparently blissfully unaware of what an ass he looks like to the rest of the world, but the rest of the world can take great comfort in the certain knowledge that United States foreign policy is being led by an American President who is, if nothing else, as consistent at being a fool as any new world order could ever possibly need.


The Dark Wraith hopes that every U.S. citizen takes pride in the unwavering dedication of our President to being hailed by all the world as the Undaunted Ass of Empire.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · · · · ·

Rainy Thursday Thoughts

by: Debra

This is such a tragic story and it will never have a happy ending. Online bullying by a mob mentality is not a good thing. When I first started blogging, I left a comment on what I thought was a pretty reasonable conservative site. Within in minutes, I was called everything but human, realized that since the commenters had devolved into name calling and I never went back. Unfortunately, 13 year olds don't have the maturity to realize that when someone resorts to personal attacks, it means that they can't refute the original argument and that they aren't nice people. A 47 year old woman should be ashamed to have participated in, much less instigated, online bullying. Other than the death penalty, no penalty is too harsh for the adult who lead the pack.

John Kerry is a wimp, always has been and always will be. Now he's decided to back Obama. If the 2004 elections had been Edwards/Kerry instead of the other way around, this country wouldn't be in the mess that it is. His opinion means less than nothing to me and it shouldn't mean anything to anyone else. What a backstabbing tool. Not presidential at all, unless you are following in the footsteps of the Bush administration.

Blackwater. Hated the song and definitely not fond of the company. One of the things you are forced to endure in basic training is the tear gas room. It's supposedly to help you appreciate your gas mask but I think the drill instructors really enjoy watching the recruits suffer. There was this blond woman in our unit who was almost an albino. When we went through the exercise, she was incapacitated and if it hadn't started raining and washed off the tear gas, she would have had to go the hospital. She couldn't see, could hardly breathe and mucous was everywhere. That Blackwater could gas our troops at a checkpoint in the middle of a war zone is criminal behavior, not an accident. Methinks that there is more to this story.

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm a John Edwards fan. That being said, if I'm forced to choose between Obama and Hillary, gender will definitely top race for me. For many years I've said that people discriminate more against women than they do against blacks and women know this. This isn't a shocker, it's just the way the United States operates.

I have a cold and my voice is very husky, cracks and disappears every once in a while. That, combined with a little bit of rain, is making me want to disappear under the covers and check my eyelids for holes. I really hate being sick.

Debsweb


· ·
09 January 2008

Sibel Speaks Out

by: Foiled Goil



Sibel Edmonds


Sibel Edmonds, Turkey and the Bomb

A Real 9/11 Cover-Up?


By Dave Lindorff, Counterpunch.org

If a new article just published Saturday in the Times of London based upon information provided by US government whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, a 37-year-old former Turkish language translator for the FBI, we have not only solid evidence of prior knowledge of 9-11 by high up US government officials, but evidence of treasonous activity by many of those same officials involving efforts to provide US nuclear secrets to America's enemies, even including Al Qaeda.

The story also casts a chilling light on the so-called "accidental" flight of six nuclear-armed cruise missiles aboard an errant B-52 that flew last Aug. 30 from Minot AFB in North Dakota to Barksdale AFB in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The Sunday Times reports that Edmonds, whose whistleblowing efforts have been studiously ignored by what passes for the news media in American news media, approached the Rupert Murdoch-owned British paper a month ago after reading a report there that an Al-Qaeda leader had been training some of the 9-11 hijackers at a base in Turkey, a US NATO alley, under the noses of the Turkish military.
Edmonds claims in the Times that even as she was providing evidence of moles within the US State Department, the Pentagon, and the nuclear weapons establishment, who were providing nuclear secrets for cash, through Turkey, to Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, agencies within the Bush administration were actively working to block investigation and to shield those who were committing the acts of treason.
If Edmonds' story is correct, and Al-Qaeda, with the aid of Turkish government agents and Pakistani intelligence, with the help of US government officials, has been attempting to obtain nuclear materials and nuclear information from the U.S., it casts an even darker shadow over the mysterious and still unexplained incident last August 30, when a B-52 Stratofortress, based at the Minot strategic air base in Minot, ND, against all rules and regulations of 40 years' standing, loaded and flew off with six unrecorded and unaccounted for nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.
An Air Force investigation into that incident, ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, claimed improbably that the whole thing had been an "accident," but many veterans of the US Air Force and Navy with experience in handling nuclear weapons say that such an explanation is impossible, and argue that there had to have been a chain or orders from above the level of the base commander for such a flight to have occurred.

Incredibly, almost five months after that bizarre incident (which included several as yet unexplained deaths of B-52 pilots and base personnel occurring in the weeks shortly before and after the flight), in which six 150-kiloton warheads went missing for 36 hours, there has been no Congressional investigation and no FBI investigation into what happened.

Yet in view of Edmonds' story to the London Times, alleging that there has been an ongoing, active effort for some years by both Al Qaeda and by agents of two US allies, Turkey and Pakistan, to get US nuclear weapons secrets and even weapons, and that there are treasonous moles at work within the American government and nuclear bureaucracy aiding and abetting those efforts, surely at a minimum, a major public inquiry is called for.

Meanwhile, there is enough in just this one London Times story to keep an army of investigative reporters busy for years. So why, one has to ask, is this story appearing in a highly respected British newspaper, but not anywhere in the corporate US media?
There's much more coverage at Brad Blog.


· ·

Wednesday Morning Wonderings

by: Debra

Under the guise of bipartisan gun legislation, Bush has managed to add another level of spying on citizens to his already really long list. It has nothing to do with preventing another shooting and everything to do with making a list and checking it twice.
Much of the money, to be spent over five years, would be used to increase state feeds to a national system used to run background checks on gun purchases.
What kind of word is unchurched? And yes, they do get on my last nerve. Hypocrisy doesn't begin to cover the behavior of today's so called Christian. I attended Sunday School and church for most of my youth and the intolerance and demagoguery that spews forth now, the constant whining about perceived persecutions and the false premise that this is a Christian country, may have their basis in the Old Testament but not in the New Testament. Supposedly Christ died for our sins and wanted us to love our brother like ourself. Not that you see much of that nowadays.

Good grief! The crew without a clue can't even bury the soldiers correctly. What kind of sick world is this where a parent has to bury the same kid twice?

Ah, but Mr. Craig, you tried to end it. My parents would have made me eat soap if I tried to blame my misbehaviors on someone by saying they started it. Or I would have heard something like this. "If all your friends jump off a bridge, are you going to jump too? Someone needs to grow up and take their punishment like a man. Even one with a wide stance.

Support those troops! And when they get home, don't let them know about any veteran's benefits they might be entitled to, just let them wander around homeless with mental scars that won't heal.

Debsweb


· ·
08 January 2008

Clinton Beats Obama, Tromps Edwards; McCain Whips Romney, Trounces Huckabee

by: Dark Wraith

New Hampshire held its Presidential primaries today, and the polls have now closed.

FINAL UPDATE 12:20 a.m. EST, 9 January 2008: Aside from Clinton's narrow victory over Obama and McCain's drubbing of Romney, the biggest story from New Hampshire is that, as of 11:30 p.m., with all but a small remaining number of both Democratic and Republican precincts reporting, voters casting ballots in the Democratic primary are outnumbering those voting on the Republican side by a margin of five to four. If this trend holds for the rest of the vote count, that would be significant because 44 percent of New Hampshire voters are registered as Independents, with 30 percent calling themselves Republicans and only 26 percent saying they're Democrats. With such a distribution, it is reasonable to assume that far more Independents voted for a Democrat, pointing to what might be a serious problem for the GOP in the general election.

With 95 percent of Democratic precincts reporting, Hillary Clinton has beaten Barack Obama. John Edwards will finishing a disappointing, distant third.

Democratic Primary (22 Primary Delegates, 5 Superdelegates)

Candidate
Votes
Percent
Delegates
Biden
614
0%
0
Clinton*
109,567
39%
9
Dodd
192
0%
0
Edwards
47,338
17%
4
Gravel
396
0%
0
Kucinich
3,817
1%
0
Obama
101,916
37%
9
Richardson
12,845
5%
0


On the Republican side, with 95 percent of the precincts reporting, John McCain will ride to victory over Mitt Romney, with Iowa caucuses winner Mike Huckabee finishing only marginally better than second-string rivals Giuliani and Paul.

Republican Primary (12 Primary Delegates)

Candidate
Votes
Percent
Delegates
Giuliani
19,858
9%
0
Huckabee
25,797
11%
1
Hunter
1,177
0%
0
McCain*
86,078
37%
7
Paul
17,652
8%
0
Romney
73,298
32%
4
Thompson
2,780
1%
0


More New Hampshire primary results later here on the Dark Wraith Publishing Ad Hoc News Network.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · · · · ·

Myth America

by: Debra

Let's start with the fiction that Americans are pro-life. They aren't. Pro-birth, certainly. But once you're born all bets are off. From a third world infant mortality rate to trying to use the death penalty against juveniles and the mentally impaired, to showing up last on the list for preventable deaths among nations that have health care, quality of life issues are reserved for the haves and the have mores. The have nots can work until they die and they should be grateful that their betters let them contribute.

Our economy is robust and healthy. That's a good one.

That Fox News is fair and balanced. As long as you stick with the party line of neoconservatism, otherwise you will be disappeared.

That the crew without a clue care for the world and its denizens more than they care for money and profit.

That Bush and Israel aren't trying to start World War III. Again. The only thing that Bush has read carefully was My Pet Goat and we all know how well that turned out.

That global warming doesn't exist and that all our weather patterns are normal.

That freedom of speech still exists in this country and that business owners can determine appropriate behavior on their own property.

That drugs are designed to help you prevent the natural consequences of aging and that the side effects are worth it since walking, weight training and a good diet aren't enough. Or even more helpful, eliminating the drinking of sodas in childhood. For all kinds of reasons.

The usual place.


· · ·

NH First Vote Results

by: Foiled Goil

Early voting tradition continues in 2 N.H. towns

Boston.com
Residents of two tiny towns stayed up late to give Barack Obama and John McCain early victories in the New Hampshire presidential primary.

Voters in two small New Hampshire villages, Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, cast the initial ballots just after midnight Tuesday.

In Hart's Location, Democrat Obama received nine votes, Hillary Rodham Clinton received three and John Edwards received one. On the Republican side, McCain received six, Mike Huckabee received five, Ron Paul received four and Mitt Romney one.

In Dixville Notch, on the Republican side, McCain received four votes, Mitt Romney two and Rudy Giuliani one. On the Democratic side, Obama received seven votes, John Edwards two votes and Bill Richardson one vote.

Long-shot GOP hopeful Rep. Duncan Hunter attended the vote in Dixville Notch, where results were announced before 12:06 a.m.
State law allows towns with fewer than 100 people to open at midnight and to close as soon as all registered voters have cast ballots.

------

While most New Hampshire residents have to wait until around daybreak to vote, those in the two far northern towns have been going to the polls at midnight for decades.



· · ·
07 January 2008

Candidate Graphics: Huckabee File

by: Dark Wraith

Mike Huckabee, 1973 Mike Huckabee, 2007


The pictures above are of Mike Huckabee. At left is his 1973 Hope High School Yearbook photo, appropriated from an online gallery at the Chicago Tribune. In passing it along to fellow bloggers earlier today, I noted for the record that I am not sure if what’s on his head in that shot is hair, a hat, or some kind of clay formation. At right is a recent picture of Mr. Huckabee. Although his hair—what remains of it—seems to have overcome the dark sponge that was eating it, the Republican candidate has clearly forgotten an important lesson of his youth: when your teeth are ugly, keep your lips together when you smile.


The Dark Wraith will be offering more candidate graphics in the days and weeks ahead.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · · ·

Hillary's Teary Moment

by: Konagod

I was wondering how these politicians have the stamina to campaign as hard as they did in Iowa, and awaiting results from the caucuses had to be exhausting in and of itself, and yet they plowed on to New Hampshire immediately with barely 4 days in which to cram in more campaigning.

There has been much in the press lately about the strain, and how it frequently results in slips of the tongue or worse: tears.

God forbid any politician show emotion or stress because that can be a death knell for anyone seeking the White House. Our leaders must be masculine at all times and show consistent manly strength.

So with that in mind, the faux pas is probably more subject to ridicule if the candidate happens to be a woman.

In perhaps her most public display of emotion in the presidential campaign, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s eyes welled with tears, and her voice cracked dramatically, as she talked about holding up under the rigors of the race and her belief that she is the best candidate for the Democratic nomination.
If it was not an Ed Muskie moment – Mrs. Clinton did not cry (or look like she was crying) – she was certainly on the verge of it after a woman asked her, at a roundtable discussion at a coffee shop here, how she managed to get out of bed and solider on each day.

We'll see if the media latch on to this and spin it wildly out of control. Without a doubt, the 12%-14% polled who said they would never vote for a woman in a presidential race will seize this as rationale for why Hillary Clinton is unfit for the stress and responsibilities of the job. In fact, it proves she's human, which has also been questioned by some.

"What's wrong with your eyes?"

The Terminator: Why do you cry?
John Connor: You mean people?
The Terminator: Yes.
John Connor: I don't know. We just cry. You know, when it hurts.
The Terminator: Pain causes it?
John Connor: No, it's when there's nothing wrong with you, but you cry anyway. You get it?
The Terminator: No.


I do have to give Hillary credit for having the best quote I read in today's paper:
Mrs. Clinton ribbed Mr. Bush for saying he had looked into the soul of President Vladimir V. Putin. “I could have told him Putin was a K.G.B. agent,” she said. “He has no soul.”

Fucking brilliant!


Crossposted from konagod


Why Should They Be President?

by: Debra

Like most of America I'm more than a little tired of nonstop election news, but what I really dislike about it the most is that the press continually does everything in their power to marginalize John Edwards. They are dismissive of everything about his candidacy and are determined to make this race into Hillary or Obama only, even if he is consistently in the top three. This is not democratic and it certainly isn't fair.

I'm tired of reading about the two anointed ones and not about the one who actually believed in what he was doing so that when he ran the last time, he, unlike Joe Lieberman, didn't run a concurrent fall back campaign for Senator. The amount of attention that Obama and Clinton have paid to their present terms of office has been nil. And it shows.

In the last year while they have been running for higher office they have neglected the duties they were elected for. Meanwhile, Bush has continued to run rampant over the Constitution. The Patriot Act was made more dreadful, a war that the majority of Americans want ended was funded numerous times, an Attorney General continually lied to Congress by pretending that he had an advanced form of political Alzheimer's and got away with it, the CIA revealed how they had been compromised by politics and America's financial situation continued to deteriorate. Why would I want to vote for them?

While I almost always vote Democratic, that isn't an excuse to continue. My vote won't be missed because the candidates have moved on to the MTV generation with its short attention span and no knowledge of history. So far there have been ten presidents in my lifetime, all of them promised change. And they did. They changed their circumstances, not mine.

I'm disappointed in America. Ten years ago a blue dress, a cigar and a blowjob were used to try and take down a President that was improving the lives of the citizens he was sworn to lead and some sections of the country were up in arms bout the immorality of it and determined that he needed to be impeached. Now we have a President who has done his best to eliminate everything but the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights, believes that the Constitution is just a piece of paper and that because he is The Decider, he is always right. Even if not one of his grand visions has worked out properly.

The press has rammed Bush down our throat since 1999. They belittled, tried to humiliate and worst of all, portrayed the other candidates as being out of touch with America when it was the other way around. Now they are at it again. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will not be able to change how Washington operates because they have sold their souls and their principles to get there and they both like power for power's sake. Voting "present" or voting something out of committee so you can vote against it on the floor isn't leadership, it's pandering to the people you think can make you President. The people and their wishes aren't as important as the candidate's desire to have one ring to rule them all.

Meanwhile, the candidate that has been tirelessly out campaigning on his own time is reduced to a haircut. His plans are better, his words are better, his attitude is better, he's adamant about bringing our tired troops home and the press keeps finding new ways to portray him as an effeminate wimp or worse. Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot. What's up with that?

Debsweb


·
06 January 2008

What If The Beatles Were Irish?

by: Debra

We need a little comic relief and this is worth a few chuckles.


The Dublin answer was priceless.


2008 Primary Calendar

by: Foiled Goil

January

03 — Iowa

05 — Wyoming (Republican primary)

08 — New Hampshire

15 — Michigan

19 — South Carolina (Republican primary), Nevada

26 — South Carolina (Democratic primary)

29 — Florida
February

01 — Maine (Republican primary)

05 — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho (Democratic primary), Illinois, Kansas (Democratic caucus), Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico (Democratic primary), New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah

09 — Kansas (Republican caucus), Louisiana

10 — Maine (Democratic primary)

12 — District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia

19 — Hawaii (Democratic primary), Washington, Wisconsin
March

04 — Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont

09 — Wyoming (Democratic primary)

11 — Mississippi
April

22 — Pennsylvania
May

06 — Indiana, North Carolina

13 — Nebraska, West Virginia

20 — Kentucky, Oregon

27 — Idaho (Republican primary)
June

03 — Montana, New Mexico (Republican primary), South Dakota
August

Aug. 25-28 — Democratic National Convention
Denver, CO
September

Sept. 1-4 — Republican National Convention
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
More info: National Association of Secretaries of State


· ·
05 January 2008

Passenger jets get anti-missile devices

by: Jersey Cynic

WASHINGTON — Tens of thousands of airline passengers will soon be flying on jets outfitted with anti-missile systems as part of a new government test aimed at thwarting terrorists armed with shoulder-fired projectiles.


Jets will fly with the jammer device mounted on the belly of the plane, between the wheels. The device works with sensors, also mounted on the plane, that detect a heat-seeking missile and shoot a laser at it to send the missile veering harmlessly off course.

Officials emphasize that no missiles will be test-fired at the planes,

The purpose of the tests is to determine how well the laser-jamming technology works on routine flights, how the devices affect fuel consumption and how much maintenance they require, according to Keirstead.

$29 million on the tests????

and the kicker:

Although there has not been an attempt to take down a jet on U.S. soil with a shoulder-fired missile, Homeland Security has warned about the possibility because the portable, lightweight weapons can be bought on the black market for as little as a few hundred dollars.

Well then, ......

maybe they're thinking it's a good precaution??

yeah - that must be it
Veteran American newsman Pierre Salinger said today he has a government document saying that Navy gunners accidentally shot down TWA Flight 800 while conducting missile tests, killing all 230 people aboard.


wait, wait....

let's look at BAE Systems - the developer of this anti-missile device. "It's the ultimate consumer use of the equipment" they say.

(FOX News is at the top of google today with the most stories on this contract awarded to BAE Systems)

I wonder if BAE Systems has been in the news (that we never hear or read about) recently.....



BAE, Europe's biggest arms company, claims there is 'no evidence' that it has engaged in massive corruption to sell arms overseas.

Anti-corruption campaigners today won permission to bring a High Court challenge over the decision to end investigations into alleged corruption by BAE Systems in arms deals with Saudi Arabia.


and LOTS and LOTS more here at The Guardian's BAE FILES
BAE, Europe's biggest arms company, claims there is 'no evidence' that it has engaged in massive corruption to sell arms overseas.

David Leigh and Rob Evans have published the evidence and documents gathered round the world in support of those allegations. Readers can judge for themselves.



you decide.....

crossposted at Blondesense
04 January 2008

Avoidance Activities

by: Debra

While I wait for the sneak preview of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Yahoo!, I'm wasting time playing the Find 815 game. I haven't watched Lost for the last two seasons but I found all the clues so far and have to wait another two hours for the story to continue.

Anything besides listen to people pontificate about the latest from the Idiots Out Wandering Aimlessly and their stupid caucus that determines who the rest of the country gets a chance to vote for. Honestly, could they have picked any two worse candidates? Huckabee is a political bible thumper who doesn't believe in evolution and Obama believes in anything that is attached to the almighty dollar. Change. Riiight. And my check is in the mail, the police are here to help me and this will only hurt a little bit.

I was sitting at a stop light in downtown San Jose and the wind blew a huge tree over into the street. It missed my car by inches, it was so close I could smell the tree sap. Trees and branches are everywhere. Mother Nature is magnificent, isn't she?

Debsweb


· ·

Magic Show

by: Foiled Goil

From Bev Harris @ Black Box Voting

Last night:
Posted on Thursday, January 3, 2008 - 8:30 pm:

I literally laughed out loud at the magic show the Republicans are putting on.

"We will be very transparent and report in live time on our Web site."

"Well not the details, precincts will come after the totals are announced." (think about this folks: You can't GET the totals without the precinct results. They're doing it out of order)

And then:

"Oh gee the web site isn't posting any results after all."

And then:

"Hello we are the networks and with 40% in we are projecting [note subtle misuse of language]

"Huckabee won Iowa"

[Correct language would say "we are projecting that Huckabee will win Iowa -- and not a single iota of results had been PUBLICLY released.]

Next we see the only live coverage, done by CSPAN, in which McCain thumps everyone.
Still, at this time, not a thing has thus far been reported in "real time."

Then a nearly filled in map appears, but without telling us the percentage of precincts reporting and with no precinct data.

It's not up to the citizens to prove fraud. What we need is a system where the votes are counted in public (they were not, in Carroll County), and where we can check the precinct results against the reported precinct results.

What we got was a magic show.
This morning:

Eh? Iowa Republicans STILL missing 65 precincts in results
It isn't even a skillful magic show.

The Republican caucuses usually take only half as long as the Democratic caucuses, due to simpler procedures. Yet the Republicans are lagging behind the Democrats now by over TEN HOURS in having all their results in. Results delays are a red flag.

Alert CSPAN watchers caught TV screen shots of Giuliani vote totals going down* by a couple thousand votes midstream in, I believe it was, Linn County. That needs a confirm; screen shot images were posted on various blogs, but if anyone recorded the coverage and can corroborate those screen shots, please let us know.

As many of us know, vote totals that go DOWN during the middle of the count can be an error, but also can signal an election theft tactic whereby votes from a candidate finishing very low in the pack are skimmed off and given to a favored candidate higher in the pack. If corroborated, the vote total shift will be another red flag.

And with the Republican race, I wouldn't look first at fraud in the number one position. I'd look for it in the area of repositioning candidates in the second through sixth spot.

- The delay in results is a red flag.
- The vote totals going down during the count is a red flag.
- The failure to release county results in live time, as promised in a Republican Party press release on Jan. 2, is a red flag.
- The failure to release precinct totals at all is a corrupt procedure. Note that the day before the caucuses, after much pressure, the Republicans did (belatedly) promise to release the precinct results on election night. They didn't.
I'm not saying they are wrong, I am saying the breakdown in checks and balances was stunning enough to call it not a magic show, but a bad magic show.
*Screen shot jpgs, votes for Giuliani, taken from CNN:

40% of precincts reporting - 4901

65% of precincts reporting - 2708


· · ·

Obama on Fire

by: Dark Wraith

Fresh from his solid trouncing of Democratic opponents in the Iowa caucuses, Barack Obama seems to be a blazing phenomenon of desire for change within at least significant parts of the electorate. At the suggestion and behest of Minstrel Boy of Harp and Sword, a graphic is herewith offered to the auld-timey ghouls whose brethren of previous generations silenced the voice of change.

Barack Obama


Opinions, vows, or other declarations made in the graphic above do not in any way reflect an endorsement by Dark Wraith Publishing or its proprietor of a candidate or ways of showing support. In other words, for God's sake, don't blame me for this graphic: it was Minstrel Boy's idea; I just happen to be good at graphical artwork. For my own part, I am personally opposed to incendiary imagery and words.

The graphic depicted above is currently available on black T-shirts at The Dark Wraith Forums e-Store sponsored by CafePress. They are obscenely over-priced there, and the rendering onto fabric of the graphic may not reflect the high quality for which Dark Wraith Publishing is known; however, unless and until a production run can be afforded through a quality silkscreening service, the T-shirts at CafePress will have to do.


The Dark Wraith should probably lie low for the rest of the day now that this graphic has been posted.

Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · ·
03 January 2008

Huckabee Slaps the Snot out of Romney, Obama Creams Edwards and Clinton

by: Dark Wraith

UPDATE 4: What seemed like a tight race in early precinct returns from Iowa caucuses became more of a rout for Democrat Barack Obama, who paddled his two top opponents, taking 38 percent of the vote with 100 percent of the precincts reporting. As strong as Obama's showing was, John Edwards has bragging rights, too, making second place with 30 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton's disappointing third-place finish at 29 percent. Two contenders, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, called it quits after their drubbings tonight, but Bill Richardson, who got only single-digit support, still finished fourth and vowed to press on with his campaign.

With 95 percent of Iowa Republican precincts reporting, Mike Huckbee is flogging the used food out of Mitt Romney, leading 34 percent to 25 percent. The rest of the Republicans are eating the dust from the dust that Romney ate, with Fred Thompson, John McCain, and Ron Paul respectively taking 13, 13, and 10 percent. Rudolph Giuliani took a dirt nap with a mere four percent.

More news later here on the Dark Wraith Publishing Ad Hoc News Network.


· · ·

Belated Christmas for a Blackdog

by: blackdog

A few days after christmas I went to the store to get some groceries and on the way into the house where the Woof was holding fort I was carrying two bags in my left hand with a "throw" gift from my niece and nephew-in-law under my right arm.

It is larger than a towell, smaller than a blanket, an extremely soft green fabric that was rolled up, held together by a velcro strap. No sooner than I walked into the house, the Woof, who is always attentive when I get back from anywhere, proceeded to take the throw in his mouth and carried it to the couch where he poked and sniffed it with intense curiosity.

I quickly put up the groceries and went to see the Woof. He was still poking around on the throw, so I took it and undid the velcro strap and unfolded it for him. He laid down on the couch, I covered him with it and I am not kidding, within just a few minutes he was sawing logs, dreamy eyes and all.

So for at least one creature on this world, Christmas had some merit. I have told this to my niece.

The Name

by: Minstrel Boy

I am still decompressing a bit. Our ceremony and party went on a lot longer than I expected. I will, however, bow to the two people who sent emails saying "What's the girl's medicine name?"

Kilkii Dani'oshonni Ga'age

(keelkee dahnee oh show nee gah ah geh)



Girl Loved By The Ravens

I like it.

harp and sword

Follow the Dancing Dollar

by: Konagod

Here's another enlightened one (h/t Jami for this linky) who knows what the hell is going on, and that we are on the brink of a stinky pile of steaming financial doo-doo if someone doesn't occupy the White House, and soon, who will start taking corrective action. And what an action recommended by the Mattress Police. Whooo hooo! I'm not giving away the story; you have to go read it, but here's a teaser:

Federal, state and local governments confiscate millions of tons of precious marijuana every year which they burn in vast quantities without even having the decency to put on a Pink Floyd record first.


Naturally, corrective action isn't going to be popular with the vast majority who have been paying more attention to the NFL than to the economy or world affairs. Affairs... it sounds so glamorous, doesn't it? Let's stick with disasters of colossal proportions.

And pity the next President of the United States who actually has to begin tackling all these problems. Trust me, he or she isn't going to be very popular after the first term, unless they do what Bush has done: ignore the problems, create new ones for the sake of distraction, and keep hoping Microsoft, Apple and Sony continue pumping out shit for us to buy, (and hopefully we can afford -- God-willing and a suppressed yuan) perpetuating a fantasy world of electronic delights to lure us deeper into blind oblivion and ignorance of reality.

(I tried listening to the Journey clip while reading that blog post, thinking it would put me in the right frame of mind. Nah, had to shut it off. Too distracting. Made me a tad irritable, in fact.)


Crossposted from konagod


02 January 2008

I'm Back

by: Minstrel Boy

I need a day or two to decompress and come back into life out among the bellaangaana, but never fear.

Here's my new niece's favorite song that I played for her. When she's around she wants it every other song, and at least two runthroughs each time.

Dubarry

Dubarry done gone again (3X)
He bound for Canaan's land

Took Dubarry to the jailhouse door
(he gone again he gone again)
In at three he out at four
He bound for Canaan's land
Dubarry he a travelin' man
(he gone again he gone again)
Carry a ticket in his right hand
He bound for Canann's land

Dubarry done gone again. . .

Dubarry he don't leave no track
(he gone again he gone again)
Bloodhound come mopin' back
He bound for Canaan's land
Dubarry he don't never fret
(he gone again he gone again)
Sight of him make the warden sweat
He bound for Canaan's land

Dubarry, Dubarry, Dubarry
He bound for Canaan's land
Dubarry, Dubarry, Dubarry
He bound for Canaan's land


Leadbelly

harp and sword

2008 Mystery Already, or was it 2007?

by: blackdog

Last week while pretty much minding my own business I went to purchase some items At the grocer. On the way back, something felt really strange so I pulled over and noticed that my front right tire was almost flat. Shit.

So now I gingerely drive the few blocks in this metropolis where I live to the only tire store I am aware of for a fix. Get there and the tire is almost totally flat. I could never trust it again at fleaway speeds. The old feller that runs the shop airs it up and brings me in the bay. Takes the tire off and does all the stuff to attempt to locate the leak.

Not to be found. I asked him for a replacement, but he didn't have one, would order it and by Monday (1st?) or most likely Wednesday (3rd?) it would be here and I could again drive with a certain amount of abandon.

Well, today is the 3rd and I called and found out that they meant next Monday or Wednesday. The only tire store in the excuse of a town, damn it.

So I didn't say squat, but tomorrow I'll go next door (another town) and get a new tire. Since being aired up this one hasen't lost a single psi. Go figure.

Anyone messing with mah tires better look out, I have no pistoles but I do have a nine-iron.

Woof and I watch like hawks for transgressors.

32

by: Konagod

Jared Diamond's op-ed piece in the NY Times today is a fascinating look at global consumption and how emerging nations such as China and India might impact resources in the years and decades to come.
The estimated one billion people who live in developed countries have a relative per capita consumption rate of 32. Most of the world’s other 5.5 billion people constitute the developing world, with relative per capita consumption rates below 32, mostly down toward 1.

The population especially of the developing world is growing, and some people remain fixated on this. They note that populations of countries like Kenya are growing rapidly, and they say that’s a big problem. Yes, it is a problem for Kenya’s more than 30 million people, but it’s not a burden on the whole world, because Kenyans consume so little. (Their relative per capita rate is 1.) A real problem for the world is that each of us 300 million Americans consumes as much as 32 Kenyans. With 10 times the population, the United States consumes 320 times more resources than Kenya does.

Mr. Diamond goes on after this and suggests the vast differences in consumption lead to terrorism, or the support of terrorists which will threaten our shores again.
There will be more terrorist attacks against us and Europe, and perhaps against Japan and Australia, as long as that factorial difference of 32 in consumption rates persists.

I'm not necessarily buying into this theory. I'm no terrorism expert (nor an economics expert), but politics seems to the primary breeder of terrorists, along with who sides with whom, where we decide to put military bases, where we decide to invade and occupy, etc. etc. His theory sounds a little Bushsimple to me. I know we all recall this absurdity from Bush's address to the nation in 2001:
Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.



Furthermore, many of these nations would be a hell of a lot better off if their corrupt officials would limit their greed and spread the wealth.

Aside from that difference of opinion (and maybe a couple of others), I still like his what-if scenarios which nicely illustrate what a precariously fine line we are walking.
Among the developing countries that are seeking to increase per capita consumption rates at home, China stands out. It has the world’s fastest growing economy, and there are 1.3 billion Chinese, four times the United States population. The world is already running out of resources, and it will do so even sooner if China achieves American-level consumption rates. Already, China is competing with us for oil and metals on world markets.

Per capita consumption rates in China are still about 11 times below ours, but let’s suppose they rise to our level. Let’s also make things easy by imagining that nothing else happens to increase world consumption — that is, no other country increases its consumption, all national populations (including China’s) remain unchanged and immigration ceases. China’s catching up alone would roughly double world consumption rates. Oil consumption would increase by 106 percent, for instance, and world metal consumption by 94 percent.

If India as well as China were to catch up, world consumption rates would triple. If the whole developing world were suddenly to catch up, world rates would increase elevenfold. It would be as if the world population ballooned to 72 billion people (retaining present consumption rates).

I hate to say "thank God the whole developing world isn't going to catch up" but it did cross my mind. Actually, it would be catastrophic, long before the rest of the world did catch up, so it's a rather moot point, but interesting.

Without a doubt, the United States is probably the one country with the most lifestyle adjustment needed. And that's not going to be easy with so many spoiled egos involved. The change will likely come about by necessity rather than choice, which means later rather than sooner. I suspect it won't be a pleasant transition for many who aren't paying attention.

Read the article and feel free to weigh in with opinions.


Another link is here if the first one doesn't work.

Crossposted from konagod.
01 January 2008

New Year? Just Like The Old Year

by: Debra

One of the drawbacks to public transportation is that you usually have no control over who sits next to you. I've sat next to people who were desperately in need of a bath...the week before. People have drank, thrown up or wanked off (it was eight in the morning!) on the bus. They have wailed, cried, argued or talked to people who weren't there. It can get annoying which is why I wear headphones and listen to music. If I had been on the bus with this woman, I would have asked her to shut up. Not be quiet, but shut up. The bus driver is an unsung hero for asking her to leave the bus, not a discriminator. Some of these "religious" fanatics would harangue a monk who had observed a vow of silence for twenty years just to prove how religious they are.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. We need a national primary followed thirty days later by the national election. Enough is enough and we were past that eight months ago. I seriously doubt that less people would vote and more people might be informed. At least it would give all the citizens a chance to vote on all the candidates, not just those with money leftover. The system is broken and it needs to be fixed. As this poll points out, all Americans should have an equal say.

Don't make me laugh. Who really believes this? You know darn well that there was a signing statement attached. Honestly, the crap that they think we'll believe.

It really doesn't matter what George Orwell would think now, the truth of the matter is that he wrote a book many years ago that is accurately reflecting the current deteriorating state of privacy in America. One doesn't actually have to live through tyranny to recognize it or write about it in all its forms. Interesting how the Bible isn't held to the same scrutiny. You just have to take it on faith.

While Ron Paul has some ideas I agree with, most of them I don't. He is well known enough that he should be allowed to participate in the debates because he does raise points that need to be discussed out in the open. But this is Fox, what the heck was I thinking?

Debsweb


· · ·

Is It Any Wonder

by: Debra

That I have trust issues? It isn't that I expect people to disappoint, it's just that they do it so doggone regularly. I tend to be a solitary sort of person and have been that way ever since I can remember. I'm not lonely, I just prefer to be alone because it's less hassle. That being said, when I received an invitation from a member of the opposite sex to spend New Year's Eve with him, I was pleasantly excited. To spend time with an adult that was going to cook me dinner (instead of the other way around and promises of a hot tub, wink, wink) instead of me doing the work, was enticing. To say the least. Plus, he knows the situation with my mother.

I've heard from unsolicited sources that aren't related to me, that I'm not ugly and have a sexy voice, I have very little idea of what this guy does for a living. He's not a murderer, rapist or any other type of criminal so it isn't important. Neither is the type of car he drives or how luxurious his home is. I enjoy talking with him and while he is three years younger than me, that isn't important once you are on the plus side of forty. And we both are.

We exchanged phone numbers after he asked me for my availability, asked what I didn't like to eat, should he pick me up and that he would call me over the weekend. That was last Thursday. As you've probably guessed, I got stood up. Not word one have I heard. Not being a bunny boiler, I didn't call him until after five this evening (New Year's Eve, nothing important) since I know how sensitive guys can be about perceived pressure and I'm not particularly interested in appearing desperate. I got the ever popular voice mail where I left a cheerful message checking in and have received no response.

I didn't plan anything special for mom and I for this evening because I was under the impression I had a date. Mom, despite her problems, was excited about having some time to herself. She reheated some chicken I had cooked this morning and made some mac and cheese to with it. Meanwhile I blew money that I don't have and really can't afford, playing poker. So much for lucky at cards (holy crap! what's the point of having a good starting hand if the flop is going to be as far away in number and color as the deck will allow? Time after time, hand after hand. The biggest pot of the night would have been won by me, but I don't play 8-3 offsuit), unlucky in love. I'm unlucky at both.

Really unlucky.

I'd lick my wounds except that salt really irritates them. It's hard not to take this shit personally.

Not crossposted anywhere because I don't want my family to know.


·

The End of Time

by: Dark Wraith

The following original work of fiction is drawn from Norse myth and children's stories.

In the land of the North, the world tree Yggdrasill spread its branches across all the land of Midgard. Yggdrasill was attended by three muses, whose names were Urth, Verthandi, and Skuld: in their order, the Past, the Present, and the Future. Theirs was the task of taking water from the spring of life to the mighty ash tree that it be nourished so its branches could spread ever farther as the world grew from the voyages of those who went a-viking.

The one-eyed god Odhinn could see the muses from his giant chair in Asgarth. Each morning, his eye would cast with satisfaction upon their merriment as he prepared his two ravens, whose names were Huggin and Munin, Thought and Memory, for their day's duties. The blackbirds were set to wing with the daily work of traveling the courses of Yggdrasill's branches to all the world that they could return at day's end with stories for their master. Odhinn, upon sending his birds on their way, would go to his sitting chair, and there he would doze.

Huggin and Munin always traveled far, but they faithfully returned well before the sun had finished its arc across the high canopy of the Heavens so they might have time to sit with the muses they loved so much. Urth, Verthandi, and Skuld would hold a large bowl of clear, cool water high in the air. When the ravens had slaked their thirst, the muses would sit down. Munin would land between Urth and Verthandi, the Past and the Present, and Huggin would alight between Verthandi and Skuld, the Present and the Future. As Munin told of his travels, Urth and Verthandi would hold hands and laugh as Memory passed stories from the Past to the Present; as Huggin told of his travels, Verthandi and Skuld would hold hands and laugh as Thought passed stories from the Present to the Future. At dusk, the ravens would depart their dear muses and go to the great hall Glathsehim at Asgarth to awaken Odhinn and retell the tales that made Memory and Thought so sweet to the warrior god.

One day, as Huggin and Munin were flying high across Midgard, Loki, the god of mischief and evil, spotted Munin and found in the fleeting instant glee in the woe that would vex Odhinn's heart if his Memory were gone. Loki threw a spear into the air and slew Munin. Seeing the death of his companion, Huggin wheeled around from the other side of the world and came upon the place in the sky where he had seen Munin pierced through the heart. Loki, spying the second bird, found glee in the woe that would vex Odhinn's heart if his Thought were gone, too. Loki threw a second spear into the air and slew Huggin.

When, by late afternoon, Huggin and Munin had not arrived from their day's adventures, the muses began to worry.

"I shall go to find Munin," Urth said to herself.

"I shall go to find Huggin," Skuld said to herself.

Verthandi stayed behind to care for Yggdrasill, but she could not carry water to the tree by herself, so she sat and waited for the Past and the Present to return to her side.

That evening, in the forest where once giants had ruled but no longer tread, Urth found the body of Munin, and she fell to her knees, weeping inconsolably. She could not even see that beside her was Skuld, who was weeping over the body of Huggin.

Loki saw that his moments of pleasure had caused great pain, and the crying of the muses made him sad. He considered what kindness he could offer that would end the wailing of Urth and Skuld. He decided that he should kill them, and so he did. When they stopped crying, he was not sad anymore.

The days passed for Verthandi, and she grew weak with hopelessness: her friends were gone, Yggdrasill had withered and died, and Odhinn could not be awakened. She finally arose and stepped out into the world, which confused her because she had never been there without her Past and Future to guide her.

Verthandi wandered aimlessly across the shattered earth of Midgard, which had become a tortuous wasteland of the dead branches of Yggdrasill. So heartsick was she that she noticed not that she was being followed by the great wolf Skoll, who was hungry; but he could not make his way through the awful thicket that was everywhere, so he lept high into the air and walked across the sky. When he came to the sun, he stopped, and there, he opened his great jaw and let Sol, which he had hunted all the days of his life, sink into it. When the sun was in his throat, Skoll began to close his mouth.

Heimdallr, the god of dawn and light, watched as the rainbow bridge Bifrost he guarded from Midgard to Asgarth started to vanish in the dying sunlight. Standing before Glathsehim in Asgarth, he put a horn to his golden teeth and sounded the clarion call that the transformation of apocalypse, Ragnarok, was nigh; but the Aesir, the race of gods who could hear the sound of the trumpet, did not, for they could hear nothing over their own voices asking why the world was so strange this night, which was arriving far too early for their liking.

When Skoll had finished his meal of the sun, Midgard fell into the deep shadow of colorless, frightful night; and from the Earth then arose an impenetrably dense, white fog that enshrouded the whole of the world. Verthandi, being unable to see even her arms outstretched before her, sat down amid the dead limbs of Yggdrasill. She felt upon her pale cheek a single snowflake, and then another and another until, before she could blink, the falling snow had made the whole of Midgard even more unseeable than the white fog had.

Verthandi took the snow falling around her and first turned to her left, where beside her she made a snow sculpture of her lost muse, Urth, the Past. She then took more snow into her hands and turned to her right, where beside her she made a snow sculpture of her lost muse, Skuld, the Future. She looked upon her creations and spoke to them: "You are not real; yet, you are all I have, now." They said nothing to her, and she knew that they agreed, and they would never again leave her.

This falling snow, soft and unrelenting, covered all the trees, then all the land of Midgard. It continued to fall, covering the harbors, then the seas, and finally the mountains. By the time it had ceased, the whole world was a plain of snow stretching from the darkness without end before to the darkness without end beyond, and no sound could be heard from the Worlds below to the Heavens above.

Now under a blanket of snow deeper than the deepest ocean, Verthandi lay back in the belly of Ymir, the slain frost giant from whom the world had first been made, and there she pulled to her sides the soulless bodies of the Past and the Future she had made from the bitter snow. They were not warm; yet, they were all she had as she exhaled from her chest the last breath within her. In that place, she closed her eyes in the blackness of her tomb, where she went to sleep forever, alone, never again to see Huggin or Munin who were Thought and Memory, never again to hear the laughter of the Past and the Future who had once lived beside her.

The end of time had come.


Crossposted from The Dark Wraith Forums


· · · ·