Friday, August 31, 2007

Do Old Flames Still Burn Hot?

My God, these folks don’t know how to love—that’s why they love so easily.
D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930), author

I was reading the obituary for John Gardner, a prolific British thriller writer who wrote more novels about Bond — James Bond — than Ian Fleming did, died on Aug. 3 after collapsing near his home in Basingstoke, England, but it was not carried in the New York Times until August 29. He was 80.

But the last paragraph caught my eye:

Also surviving is Mr. Gardner’s fiancée, Patricia Mountford, an old flame who was moved to get in touch with him after many years when she discovered he had borrowed her surname for the heroine of his most recent books.

This brings me to the question, do you ever forget an old girlfriend or boyfriend and do you want to connect with them again to see how they are doing after all those years?

I know I do. However, I would prefer to learn about them without meeting them. Let them remember, if they do, as I was, not as I am. Granted, I think I am a better person today, but don’t want them to see how I have aged – whether it is well or not is irrelevant.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dear Mr. President

It is almost as if you were frantically constructing another world while the world that you live in dissolves beneath your feet, and that your survival depends on completing this construction at least one second before the old habitation collapses.
Tennessee Williams (1914–83), playwright

From The Times-Picayune on the anniversary of Katrina:

...Louisiana had three times more damaged homes and seven times more severely damaged homes than Mississippi. Universities in this state had three times as many students displaced and had four times the losses of Mississippi's campuses. Louisiana fisheries suffered almost 75 percent of the damage done by Katrina, and our hospitals lost 97 percent of the hospital beds closed by the storm.

Yet in every case, Mississippi ended up with a disproportionate share of aid. Housing grants, for instance: Mississippi got $5.5 billion in Community Development Block Grant money for its 61,000 damaged homes. Louisiana, with 204,000 damaged homes, got $10.4 billion. If the aid were given out proportionately, this state would have gotten twice that much.

We hope that President Bush and Congress remember that imbalance when they consider Louisiana's request for $4 billion to keep the Road Home Program in the black.

Our neighbors on the Gulf Coast were hit hard by Katrina, no doubt about it. And Mississippians needed the help of the federal government to rebuild and recover. No one who has suffered from devastation would argue otherwise.

All Louisiana wants is to be treated fairly. But that hasn't happened.

Some people point to the clout of Mississippi's congressional delegation as the reason. Others say that Louisiana's reputation for political chicanery has hurt us.

Frankly, neither should be an issue. The people of Louisiana are no less deserving of disaster aid because their representatives are newer to Congress or because some of the people we trusted to lead us turned out to be scoundrels.

As President Bush returns today to mark the second anniversary of Katrina, this is what Louisianians need him to remember:

We are Americans who have suffered a great tragedy. We have worked tirelessly for two years to revive this beloved place and reconstruct our lives. And we ought to get no less help from our government than any other victims of this disaster....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Godfather Played Hard

The most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear.
Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), singer

This is great. Once again, I borrowed from Jack

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Senator Gone Wild

“Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.”
H.G. Wells, (1866-1946) writer

You just can’t make this stuff up. A senator who votes against gay rights bills is then caught in the men's room by an undercover cop. The police would be better served fighting the gang problems, but the hypocrisy is what makes this matter news.

From the Washington Post:
Republican Senator from Idaho Larry E. Craig pleaded guilty earlier this month to misdemeanor disorderly-conduct charges stemming from his June arrest by an undercover police officer in a men's restroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, a court spokeswoman and the senator's office said yesterday.
Craig issued a statement confirming his arrest and guilty plea, which were reported in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. But the Idaho Republican maintained that he had not engaged in any "inappropriate conduct" and that the airport police misunderstood his behavior.

"At the time of this incident, I complained to the police that they were misconstruing my actions. I was not involved in any inappropriate conduct," Craig said. "I should have had the advice of counsel in resolving this matter. In hindsight, I should not have pled guilty. I was trying to handle this matter myself quickly and expeditiously."

Now in his third term, Craig, 62, has been a member of the Senate Republican leadership. He has been a prominent figure on gun rights and Western land issues.

Roll Call, citing a copy of a report by airport police, said officers had been conducting a sting operation inside the men's room because of complaints of sexual activity there. The police report gives this account of the arrest:

The undercover officer was monitoring the restroom on June 11. A few minutes after noon, Craig entered and sat in the stall next to him. Craig began tapping his right foot, touched his right foot to the left foot of the officer and brushed his hand beneath the partition between them. He was then arrested
(this is the stuff we read and joked about while in junior high school; it was in the book “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex, but were Afraid to Ask.”)

While he was being interviewed about the incident, Craig gave police a business card showing that he is a U.S. senator. "What do you think about that?" Craig asked the officer, according to the report obtained by Roll Call.

If you want to see how the Senator trolls for sex you can watch this video

What the officer should have said is that your hypocrisy and politics are disgusting.

Let’s not forget:
Mark Foley of Florida, who quit the House last year after exchanging sexually explicit e-mail messages with under-age male pages. Worse still, Republican leaders had known for a while of Foley’s predatory sexuality involving teenagers who work for the Congress. then there are Republicans like Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, whose phone number turned up on the list of the so-called D.C. Madam, or Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska and Representative Rick Renzi of Arizona, both caught up in F.B.I. corruption investigations.

Gov. Arnold and State Republicans Lack Compassion

Saving lives is not a top priority in the halls of power. Being compassionate and concerned about human life can cause a man to lose his job. It can cause a woman not to get the job to begin with.
Myriam Miedzian, author

I have been sitting on this article since Saturday. This is absolutely unbelievable. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tries to govern from the middle, but the Republicans only believe in their way or no way. As a result, they held up the state budget for two months until they made conditions worse for the homeless and the elderly.

In California, Arnold eliminated a $55 million program that has helped thousands of mentally ill homeless people break the costly cycle of hospitalization, jails and street life, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Among the cuts:

  • Tracking hospital efforts to eliminate infections, which kill more than 7,000 Californians a year

    • Budget for state parks cut by $30 million (let the gangs have them, what the hell)

    • Helping to persuade drug companies to keep discount drug programs alive for lower-income people, cut by $6 million

    • Protection for senior citizens, budget cut by $17.4 million
    This takes the cake, truly: A $45 million tax break for yacht owners stays in the budget. State Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman of Irvine, a yacht owner, pushed to ease the tax burden on owners of yachts, plans and RVS. This way rich Republicans can stay in the water and not see the homeless or care about state parks, let the seniors die naturally, they don’t need no stinkin’ drugs.
  • Monday, August 27, 2007

    "...So Help Me God"
    God Help Us

    “...Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
    Thomas Jefferson, (1743-1826) U.S. President

    Is President Bush snorting drugs and drinking again? It sure sounds like it in his defense of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

    He praised Gonzales as “a man of integrity, decency and principle” and complained of the “months of unfair treatment” that preceded the resignation.

    Unfair? Here is the man almost single handedly responsible for rendering obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners.

    “It’s sad,” Mr. Bush said, asserting that Mr. Gonzales’s name had been “dragged through the mud for political reasons.”

    Sad? It’s sad that he told an astonished Arlen Specter during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in January that habeas corpus rights are not guaranteed under the Constitution.

    It is more like criminal as when it was revealed that while he was White House counsel, he tried to press a hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft to approve illegal domestic spying.

    From Frank Rich at the New York Times:

    By my rough, conservative calculation -- feel free to add -- there have been corruption, incompetence, and contracting or cronyism scandals in these cabinet departments: Defense, Education, Justice, Interior, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development. I am not counting State, whose deputy secretary, a champion of abstinence-based international AIDS funding, resigned last month in a prostitution scandal, or the General Services Administration, now being investigated for possibly steering federal favors to Republican Congressional candidates in 2006. Or the Office of Management and Budget, whose chief procurement officer was sentenced to prison in the Abramoff fallout. I will, however, toss in a figure that reveals the sheer depth of the overall malfeasance: no fewer than four inspectors general, the official watchdogs charged with investigating improprieties in each department, are themselves under investigation simultaneously -- an all-time record.

    Wrongdoing of this magnitude does not happen by accident, but it is not necessarily instigated by a Watergate-style criminal conspiracy. When corruption is this pervasive, it can also be a byproduct of a governing philosophy. That's the case here. That Bush-Rove style of governance, the common denominator of all the administration scandals, is the Frankenstein creature that stalks the G.O.P. as it faces 2008. It has become the Republican brand and will remain so, even after this president goes, until courageous Republicans disown it and eradicate it.

    Bring back sex in the Oval Office, please

    Saturday, August 25, 2007

    Trying the Pope's Patience

    There is no sin except stupidity.
    Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), playwright

    Right-wing nut jobs make me crazy. This is dedicated to you, who don't understand the mess this administration has created. One moron left a comment under "Presidents Say the Darnest Things," and another doesn't believe in free speech (which is why I suppose they are okay with the government spying on its citizens), so he deleted my comment.

    Friday, August 24, 2007

    In Other Words

    Sometimes I think words are like girlfriends—can't find a good one to save your life when you're actually looking, but when you don't need any they're falling out of the goddamned trees!
    Jay McInerney, author, from "Brightness Falls"

    Thanks to Anything They Say (see link to your right).

    Thursday, August 23, 2007

    Grace Paley -- RIP

    “I’m not writing a history of famous people. I am interested in a history of everyday life.”
    Grace Paley (December 1922 -August 2007), writer

    See the article from the New York Times

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007


    The Cardinal is at his wit’s end—it is true that he had not far to go.
    Lord Byron (1788–1824), poet

    Thanks to Jack over at the Shack, and thanks to John where Jack found it.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Where’s Michael Moore Part II

    He had had much experience of physicians, and said, “the only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d druther not.”
    Mark Twain (1835–1910), author

    Here is the good news: Americans are living longer than ever. A baby born in the United States in 2004 can be expected to live an average of almost 78 years of age. This is my caveat: if they don’t have to drive Los Angeles freeways, deal with the TSA or expect any kind of customer service.

    Here is the bad news: 41 other countries surpass the U.S. in longevity. Countries whose residents out live those of us in America include Japan, most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands.

    Andorra, a tiny country landlocked in Western Europe, located in the eastern Pyrenees mountains and bordered by Spain and France. Once isolated, it is currently a prosperous country mainly because of tourism and its status as a tax haven. Of course being wealthy helps to live a healthy worry free life, just look at Brooke Astor who lived to 105.

    Among the reasons for the U.S’s surprisingly low ranking is that 47 million people lack health coverage, we have some of the fattest people, we have a high percentage of babies born who die before their first birthday, which puts America behind Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe.

    Sunday, August 12, 2007

    From the Heart Blogging

    Composition is, for the most part, an effort of slow diligence and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to more delightful amusements.
    Samuel Johnson (1709–84), author

    Writing personal thoughts rather than just snarky posts about news items is very difficult and more time consuming. I find that Jack over at Jack’s Shack does it quite well when he does it. Also Lorianne at Hoarded Ordinaries is excellent (that is not hyperbole) in all her writing, but I find the more personal posts about her previous marriage engrossing. I have a very hard time with such writing. I wrote about the “An Overlooked Casualty of Divorce,” but that is about as personal I can get. From time to time, I have some ideas but it’s rare that I will actually write about it. I can’t even keep a journal because I find it awkward to write my thoughts in that.

    As blogging fades as a craze and readers and bloggers fade away, I keep coming very close to hanging it up and saying that I have been there and done that. Unfortunately for my limited free time, I keep finding something to post about.

    I think writing is a good exercise and even if the only visitors are those looking for why Hopper Rolls Over in his Grave or a Bjork video, I try to think as Cormac McCarthy when he told Oprah, I don’t care if anyone reads my books. He means it too. The man lived in poverty for many years. I enjoy people coming by, but the few people who stop by it also means less self-imposed pressure and I can write for myself.

    In any case, this was a personal thought shared. Whether I keep blogging or not, I have no idea, it’s a day-to-day proposition, but I suspect I will, having hung up blogging regularly back in October of 2005, I have no desire to resume that pace. This casual pace of writing as I feel like it is not too bad.

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    Sorry Your Broadcast was Censored

    One of the least pleasant aspects of life in America these days is the militarization of city life. The infrastructure is there, there are controllable cameras everywhere, the helicopters are constantly overhead.
    William Gibson, science fiction author. Interview in i-D (London) Oct. 1993

    The below post was borrowed/stolen from theBhc at Anything They Say, hook, lines and link.

    If you want to really understand what Net Neutrality means and how it will disappear in the hands of telecom companies, look no further:

    In a prominent nod to one of the festival's lead sponsors, the logo for this year's Lollapalooza concerts in Chicago includes the tag line, "delivered by AT&T." But Sunday's headliner Pearl Jam complained that AT&T delivered less than the band's full performance during its Lollapalooza webcast. The powerhouse telco turned off the audio during the song "Daughter" while singer Eddie Vedder was railing against President George Bush. That bit of censorship -- which AT&T says was a mistake -- gave a bit of fuel to the forces arguing for "Net neutrality" regulations....

    AT&T spokeswoman Tiffany Nels said the company goofed. Its Blue Room website is open to Internet users of all ages, so it tries to block "excessive profanity" from the broadcasts. It hires contractors to monitor the performances, and the broadcasts are delayed slightly to enable monitors to bleep off-color material. But those monitors aren't supposed to edit songs, just the stage patter between them, Nels said. "It's not our policy" to censor performances, Nels said, "and we regret the error." She added, "There was no profanity. It was a mistake."

    What, exactly, did this "mistake" cause to be cut out of the broadcast?

    "George Bush, leave this world alone"
    "George Bush find yourself another home"

    What I expect Tiffany actually meant was that it was not their policy to publicly admit AT&T would censor songs.

    These are the corporate toads that want to control the internet but also want you to believe they won't do anything like they just did. Nothing about these people is to be trusted. Nothing.

    Thursday, August 09, 2007


    “If they'd lower the taxes and get rid of the smog and clean up the traffic mess, I really believe I'd settle here until the next earthquake”
    Groucho Marx (1895–1977), U.S. comic actor

    I hate earthquakes!!! The one this morning was 4.5, but it was enough to wake me up and hope that it would not build into a long damaging quake. This one just swung back and forth. I didn't hear anything fall. They scare me half to death.

    While the seismograph spikes my heart flat lines.

    Wednesday, August 08, 2007

    White-Haired Guy Gets Mad

    Read George Will's Newsweek column from this week's issue. Excerpt:

    Contrary to the Constitution's mandate that the president "shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed," the current president, much more than any other, has issued "signing statements"—essentially, line-item vetoes, which are unconstitutional—to tell the executive branch that some provisions of bills he signs into law need not be enforced for constitutional or policy reasons. As [Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe] writes, "If a president has the power to instruct the government not to enforce laws that he alone has declared to be unconstitutional, then he could free himself from the need to obey laws that restrict his own actions."

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    Who Would have Guessed?
    Keith Really did Inhale

    They shoulda called me Little Cocaine, I was sniffing so much of the stuff! My nose got big enough to back a diesel truck in, unload it, and drive it right out again.
    Little Richard, rock’n’roll musician

    I have to take a moment to gloat, no not about all my correct posts about Bush and Cheney, but the fact that I know my Rolling Stones. Keith Richards and Dad; Keith Richards admitted that he did indeed inhale his dad’s ashes, just not with cocaine.

    He admitted it because he is generating publicity for his memoirs. According to someplace on the internet where I found it, he said:

    “I pulled the lid off (my father’s urn) and out comes a bit of dad on the dining room table. I’m going, ‘I can’t use the brush and dustpan for this’.

    “What I found out is that ingesting your ancestors is a very respectable way of … y’know, he went down a treat.”

    The autobiographical book is due in the fall of 2010, I suspect that will be about the time the Stones retire as a touring band.

    Back to Work

    Policemen so cherish their status as keepers of the peace and protectors of the public that they have occasionally been known to beat to death those citizens or groups who question that status.
    David Mamet, playwright

    To welcome me back to work the LAPD set a speed trap that I fell right into. What better way end the rest and relaxation of a vacation, but to have a our over taxed police force set speed trips for the corporate folks going to work. Then in the afternoon, they wait outside the building writing jaywalking tickets. I love our men and women in blue. Gang problems be damned.


    My favorite new television is "Saving Grace" with Holly Hunter. It is just a smart fun show. "The Closer" that follows is less so for me, but wife loves it. Now I can get back to my book.

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    What would John Lennon Say?

    My role in society, or any artist or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.
    John Lennon (1940–80), rock musician

    The Wall Street Journal had a story the other day about the piano on which John Lennon composed "Imagine." George Michael and his longtime partner, Kenny Goss, a Dallas gallery owner purchased the instrument from a private collector at a Sotheby auction for $2.1 million in 2000.

    Now there are sending to places that need healing and hope.

    The piano was displayed on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., where 32 students were massacred by a lone gunman in April. People drove from as far away as Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day weekend to see it. Some wanted the chance to play "Imagine" or other songs on it. Others simply ran their fingers over the cigarette burns Mr. Lennon had left on it.

    The piano hasn't always been welcomed. Administrators at Columbine High School outside Denver, still suffering from publicity fatigue eight years after two students killed 13 people there in 1999, refused to allow the piano on the school campus. And officials at Ford's Theater in Washington, where President Lincoln was assassinated, ignored requests that they play host to it. When it showed up anyway one morning on the sidewalk in front of the theater, actors rushed out to see it.

    It has also been to the Memphis motel -- now a museum -- where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968 to a Texas prison on the eve of an execution. It showed up at a ceremony commemorating the lives lost during the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, then 12 hours later was unveiled in Waco, Texas, at a service for the 80 members of a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians who died in a 1993 blaze after a 51-day standoff with federal officials.

    Personally, I think it is a bit overdone. I think Lennon would tell Michael to get real, it is just a piano. It could have been any piano that he had ordered. If it helps people what the heck. Give Peace a Chance!

    Sunday, August 05, 2007

    The Shadow of the Wind

    Books are the bees which carry the quickening pollen from one to another mind.
    James Russell Lowell (1819–91), poet

    I interrupt the regularly scheduled post to share with you the most enjoyable book I have read in some time. Wife’s friend, and mine too, is in a book club and told me about a book that anyone who reads it loves it.

    The book, “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, is a bibliophile mystery that is so rich in story and characters that I am delighted that I read slowly and can savor every page of this almost 500-page novel. I am not a sophisticated literary reader. I read about 15 to 20 books a year, while B2 reads that in a month, On The Mark a few less than that, but nonetheless I love reading.

    I started this book knowing very little about it. I read a brief synopsis of it on Amazon before I ordered it in hard cover. I started “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy while waiting for the book to arrive and was thrilled that it was not any longer than its 241 pages because that was a dismal world I certainly hope none of us ever see.

    I opened the first page of "The Shadow of the Wind" and the first line hooked me: “I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time.” I have underlined a few lines that I will use in quotes before posts as I did in Friday’s “Credit Card Crooks.” Here are a few since blogging most likely will go back it irregular postings as vacation ends when the alarm goes off tomorrow at 5 a.m.:

    “In this world the only opinion that holds court is prejudice.”

    “…man is a social animal, characterized by cronyism, nepotism, corruption, and gossip.” (you know I will use this for a post on the corrupt Bush administration)

    “Army, Marriage, the Church, and Banking: the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

    “Darwin was a dreamer, I can assure you. No evolution of anything of the sort. For every one who can reason, I have to battle with nine orangutans.”

    “There are few reasons for telling the truth, but in lying the number is infinite.”

    The New York Times blurb on the back jacket, which I just now read, sums it up perfectly: “Gabriel Garcia Marquéz meets Umberto Eco meets Jorge Luis Borges for a sprawling magic show, exasperatingly tricky and mostly wonderful…Ruiz Zafón gives us a panoply of alluring and savage personages and stories. His novel eddies in currents of passion, revenge and mysteries whose layers peel away onion-like, yet persist in growing back…We are taken on a wild ride that executes is hairpin bends with breathtaking lurches.”

    Friday, August 03, 2007

    Another reason my wife can feel good

    Because she hasn't spent 10.5 years being pregnant.

    Credit Card Crooks

    …you want to learn how to rob a bank, or how to set one up, which is much the same thing…
    *A line from “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

    The above line finally got me out of my reading chair to once again point how insidious and predatory the banks and credit cards remind.

    From a New York Times editorial:
    …the credit card industry has stealthily adopted methods designed to maximize burdensome penalties and fees, while ratcheting up interest rates as high as 30 percent. Companies bombard unwary consumers with teaser packages that promise very low interest rates to start, while reserving for themselves the right to raise rates whenever they choose. The details are buried in deliberately arcane contracts that run 30 pages long and that even lawyers have trouble understanding.

    Still more
    … Under a provision known as “universal default,” a cardholder who pays a credit card company faithfully can still be hit with a high penalty interest rate for missing payments with another creditor. In another despicable tactic known as “double cycle billing,” a cardholder who pays $450 of a $500 balance is charged interest on the entire amount as opposed to the unpaid balance.

    State usury laws would once have precluded many of these practices, but those have been preempted by federal regulations that are increasingly designed to make banks and credit card companies happy — rather than protect consumers

    Our elected representatives are about to go on a month’s summer vacation at our expanse, so nothing will be done until September, and still while the Republicans have enough power to block anything to protect the consumer, nothing will be done, so be wary and limit your credit card use (this has been a public service announcement).

    *the book I'm currently reading

    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    Relief at Dodger Stadium

    Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.
    George F. Will, political columnist

    Barry Bonds versus the Dodgers is over. Tuesday through Thursday night I tuned into the Dodger game to see if Barry Bonds would hit his controversial, historical-tying home run at Dodger Stadium. I am pleased to write that he did not. The only good from Bonds hitting a home run at Dodger Stadium would have been Vin Scully making the call, if you happened to have cable. I suppose the justice in that is that Vin Scully was one of the announcers who made the call for Hank Aaron’s record-breaking home run. As Scully said during the game, the circus moves on to San Diego.

    Despite the steroid allegations surrounding him, I am not so sure that any of the modern day records should be compared to the early part of the last century since the dimensions of the ball parks have changed (Dodger Stadium used to be 410 to centerfield when I was a kid, today I believe it is 395). The pitcher mounds used to be higher and the strike zones have changed in ways that I don’t recall immediately. So comparisons are not really accurate, all of the records should have asterisks.

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    Bridge Disaster

    One of the extraordinary things about human events is that the unthinkable becomes thinkable.
    Salman Rushdie, author

    Our heart goes out to those involved in this disaster. Photos are from CNN, New York Times, and This will be unfolding throughout the day. This could just as easily happen in California to our freeways when the next big earthquake hits. We most likely not fall into the water, but flatten cars below, similar to what happened in Oakland in 1989.

    What All Irresponsible Pet Owners Deserve

    Extraordinary creature! So close a friend, and yet so remote.
    Thomas Mann (1875–1955), author

    I borrowed this cartoon from Diary of a Hope Fiend. It's a great cartoon.