Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year to All

Hope and foreboding. Not necessarily in equal measure, either. What every new year has that recommends it over the old one is the promise of uncertainty, We know what happened last year. There is always the possibility that we will learn from our mistakes, tighten our abdominals, stop smoking, exercise greater patience and dedicate our lives to the selfless pursuit of Man’s greater good. There is also the off chance that pigs will fly.”
Ted Koppel, Reporter, from his book "Off Camera, Private Thoughts Made Public"

The above is my favorite New Year's quote. I used it last year too. It's my New Year's tradition, similar to ol' Dick Clark's Time Square deal.

Here's to hoping you reach for all you strive for.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Hanukkah in Santa Monica

I mentioned Tom Lehrer's song "Hanukkah in Santa Monica" the other day; here's a little movie I made to complement the music.

Click me to watch; just give it a second or two to load.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas From the Misanthrope

To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.
E. B. White (1899 - 1985), writer

Thursday, December 22, 2005

More Rings Are Found Around Uranus

Add your own joke here:



Please don't try to include me.

Why is that so many Christian acquaintances of mine try so hard to convince me that Christmas is American, and not Christian? Why the need to show me every article talking about the American nature of Christmas, its universality, its appeal to people of all religions?

It's not that I don't like Christmas -- it's just that it's not my holiday. I don't care how many Americans celebrate it or how secular it is or that its major symbolic imagery at this stage in history couldn't be more divorced from religion; it's not a holiday for Jews.

Don't tell me you know Jews who celebrate Christmas because they enjoy the spirit of the season. Don't tell me about the kid you went to school with who was totally Jewish but had a Christmas tree because she liked the smell. I really don't want to hear it.

Christmas is, at heart, about the birth of Jesus, and Jesus is hailed by Christians as the son of God. Here's the bare truth: Jews don't believe that; it's antithetical to Judaism to believe in Jesus as anything other than a human being. And you can't expect us to be participants in a holiday which has as its raison d'etre a concept that is diametrically opposed to our beliefs. We don't even feel bad about it, so don't try to find ways to include us.

I wish my Christian friends a "Merry Christmas," and we send cards and presents as appropriate to our friends and family who celebrate it (intermarriage at work). And I have no problem with public celebrations such as the White House Christmas Tree and the like. I think we should keep the Christ in Christmas. But it's not my holiday, OK?

It's insulting to me that you can't just enjoy your holiday; you have to make me a part of it. It's a fairly close parallel to what Antiochus and the Greeks tried to do two thousand or so years ago in a little story we remember every year at Hanukkah. (OK, not a very close parallel -- but religious coercion is what we're talking about.)

Deck your halls, flock your tree, drink your egg nog, have a merry Christmas... just leave me out of it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling

It is a political error to practice deceit, if deceit is carried too far.
Frederick II (1712 - 1786), Prussian monarch

The Bush gang enjoys crying wolf whenever they want their way. We heard about aluminum tubes that could only possibly be used for nuclear weapons, mobile chemical labs that required us to attack a country, and both were out and out lies. Now there are terrorists among us that require eavesdropping on U.S. citizens. Here is why I don’t buy Bush’s arguments for secretly violating our rights. If the CIA and the FBI were not busy playing politics and if their budgets were properly maintained, 9/11 would not have happened. People were asleep at the wheel.

We had all the information to stop 9/11. We just did not fit all the pieces of the puzzle together. If we could have stopped them prior to the attack without moving toward fascism, then why could we not keep track of potential terrorists after 9/11 since the Bush gang has revamped and modified our security agencies?

The Bush gang are a dangerous lot and if the people don’t speak out, we are heading down a one-way road that will destroy everything good that this country was founded upon.

Sunrise, Tuesday Morning

He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity's sunrise.

William Blake (1757 - 1827), British poet, painter, and engraver

Here I am complaining about people yakking on their cell phones, shaving or eating while driving, so if I can’t beat them I’ll join them. The sunrise was so nice Tuesday morning that I had to take pictures of it.

However, don’t expect your photos to come out if you shoot through the windshield, it’s not going to happen. So, I opened the sunroof and pointed east and here are my pictures. Granted they are not in the category of Hoarded Ordinaries, but it’s a start.

These photos are of the Golden State (5) freeway heading east at
6:37 a.m. Dec. 20.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

'Tis the Season for Tom Lehrer

I'm feeling the holiday spirit, and so I'm pleased to share with you a little something: Tom Lehrer's "Hanukkah in Santa Monica." If you don't know Tom Lehrer, you should.

Hanukkah in Santa Monica

[And if you want to thank me, buy something.]

For the last time: I hate celery!

On NPR this morning (liberal media alert!) I was listening to yet another story about some school district trying to put intelligent design on the same footing as evolution.

Here's what I don't get: I understand the need for debate and discussion, but do we really need to do this over and over again, to the ridiculous extreme of getting the courts involved?

Steven Jay Gould (dead thinker extraordinaire) had a great idea, which he used many of his wonderfully-readable essays and books to promote: let religion have its domain, and science its domain.

In all matters of faith and morals, where the details can not be assessed in a critical, scientific fashion, let religion have control; this includes the existence of God, how to be a good person, and how many times you have to count those beads or blow those horns to get your specific deity to forgive you.

Anything that can be checked, verified, and confirmed or refuted by the scientific method should be left to science; this includes the size and flatness of the earth, the ordering of the solar system, and -- oh yeah! -- biology.

Evolution is a verifiable fact -- so that's science. Intelligent design is a great idea in many ways, but you can't prove whether God exists, so if you want to say that some cosmic clockmaker set the works in motion that's fine, but it's religion.

What happens when religion tries to butt into scientific affairs? They could claim that the Earth is at the center of the universe, and then be proven wrong. For example.

What happens when science butts into religion's territory? They could claim that there's no scientific basis for moral behavior other than when it's advantageous to your survival, so if it won't affect your survival there's no need to be moral. Yuck.

The state-run schools can not promote one religion's views over any other, and should not teach religious ideas in place or even next to scientific fact. So let's just stop the arguing and do the right thing: keep science in our schools, keep religion in our houses of worship, and stop wasting everyone's time talking about it over and over again.

God bless.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas Tips -- Make Sure There are No Twins

Do they allow tipping on the boat?
—Yes, sir.
Have you got two fives?
—Oh, yes, sir.

Then you won't need the ten cents I was going to give you.
Groucho Marx (1895 - 1977), comedian and film actor

This is the time of year when everything gets rather expensive. The gardeners and the house-cleaning person have to be paid extra, as if I don’t pay them enough already. They provide a service for which I pay them. I provide a service to my employer and I get no bonuses.

I am being somewhat facetious the gardner and house cleaner are a major convenience and they are nice people as well. Saturday morning is when the gardeners come and every other Saturday is when our cleaning person arrives.

The gardeners work in teams of two or three and I noticed last year that the team grows as Christmas approaches. This year, I decided I was going to give my favorite guy, the one who seems to work the hardest something extra. I also slip him between $5-10 from time to time. The gardeners arrived, but my favorite was dropped off by himself, so I thought this would be a good time to give him the extra money. I walked out the door and he waved to me as he normally does, but his English seems to be weaker than normal (my Spanish is non-existent). I ask where his buddy was and he tries to tell me about his brother going to Mexico next week. I explain that I will take care of his partner, but that he has received extra. He thanks me and goes to work.

His partner shows up and it’s my favorite gardener. He waves to me like he always does, his English is much better and its then that I realize they are twins! So, now I have to give the same amount to him. So this month I paid my gardeners more than twice the amount of the bill.

The cleaning lady is as sweet as they come and she arrived bearing gifts. Oh crap. I ran into the back room and threw more money in her card.

It’s better to give than receive, right?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I Feel Tortured By the Bush Gang

Under torture you are as if under the dominion of those grasses that produce visions. Everything you have heard told, everything that you have read returns to your mind, as if you were being transported, not toward heaven, but toward hell.
Umberto Eco, Italian writer and literary scholar

Anything They Say has excellent post on what a lot of double talk the ban on torture really is. I encourage you to read it if you believe that the Bush gang has backed down on anything. What is disappointing is that John McCain looked like a hero when really he is just a slimy politician too.

Robert Kennedy Jr. wrote an interesting historical piece on torture in the Los Angeles Times Saturday Opinion section, which set America apart from our enemies from the very beginning.

Enjoyable Animated Piece

Comedy is medicine.
Trevor Griffiths, British playwright

Here is another clever piece from JibJab, it’s a round-up of Bush’s year in 2-0-5. (click on the link above, not the picture to see the video)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Faux Mea Culpa

Sincerity is all that counts. It's a wide-spread modern heresy. Think again. Bolsheviks are sincere. Fascists are sincere. Lunatics are sincere. People who believe the earth is flat are sincere. They can't all be right.
Tom Driberg (1905 - 1976), British politician and journalist

What did he know and when did he know it?

If it is widely known now by the public that Bush used bad info, then he obviously knew a long time ago. If he is truly taking responsibility then it is time to clean house and get rid of a vice president a defense secretary that steamed roll over evidence and expert advice to push forward a failed plan, but he is not.

This is a clear case of a public relations stunt to raise his poll numbers so his gang can get odious legislation passed.

The white house gang knows that celebrities are forgiven for their trespasses of drugs, prostitutes and old girlfriends and boyfriends, so they are looking for their absolution. The American people will be foolish to approve anything more from this gang.

From Frank Rice’s Nov. 27th column in the New York Times
...There is more going on here than politics.

Much more: each day brings slam-dunk evidence that the doomsday threats marshaled by the administration to sell the war weren't, in Cheney-speak, just dishonest and reprehensible but also corrupt and shameless. The more the president and vice president tell us that their mistakes were merely innocent byproducts of the same bad intelligence seen by everyone else in the world, the more we learn that this was not so. The web of half-truths and falsehoods used to sell the war did not happen by accident; it was woven by design and then foisted on the public by a P.R. operation built expressly for that purpose in the White House. The real point of the Bush-Cheney verbal fisticuffs this month, like the earlier campaign to take down Joseph Wilson, is less to smite Democrats than to cover up wrongdoing in the executive branch between 9/11 and shock and awe.

The cover-up is failing, however. No matter how much the president and vice president raise their decibel levels, the truth keeps roaring out. A nearly 7,000-word investigation in last Sunday's Los Angeles Times found that Mr. Bush and his aides had ''issued increasingly dire warnings'' about Iraq's mobile biological weapons labs long after U.S. intelligence authorities were told by Germany's Federal Intelligence Service that the principal source for these warnings, an Iraqi defector in German custody code-named Curveball, ''never claimed to produce germ weapons and never saw anyone else do so.'' The five senior German intelligence officials who spoke to The Times said they were aghast that such long-discredited misinformation from a suspected fabricator turned up in Colin Powell's presentation to the United Nations and in the president's 2003 State of the Union address (where it shared billing with the equally bogus 16 words about Saddam's fictitious African uranium).

Be afraid, be very very afraid.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Tom Waits Kind of Morning –
A Misanthropic Rant

And the ambulance drivers don't give a shit, they just want to get off work.
Tom Waits, Singer, song writer

Misery is the River of the World. I wanted to make a Waits CD for the drive to work. I selected the songs and prepared to burn the disc, but soon discovered I was out of blank discs. I saved the list for another morning.

In the car I knew there was a Waits CD. The glove box doesn’t open because all the CDs are piled in and have jammed to keep it from opening. A few smacks and I got it to open. Shuffling through the CDs I don’t see Waits. I search the seat dividing console where there are several more CDs. No Tom Waits. Back to the glove box and slowly check again, I know there is one in here. Eureka!

I know have the soundtrack to a mentally crappie morning that has been building for a while now. The part of the family tree related to my grandparents on my mother’s side is in the December of its days. My great uncle passed away. I was not particularly close with him, but I have found memories of him when my mother and grandmother visited him or visa versa. My second cousins who I usually see at funerals anymore will be at the memorial on Sunday.

Everything Goes to Hell. As I drive east toward corporate Mecca the morons who I have to share the freeway with slowdown considerably to stare at the sun. Here is a news flash, auto manufacturers installed those mirrors above the steering wheel primarily as a means for blocking the sun from blinding you while heading east in the morning and west in the late afternoon. I realize this may come as a shock to the women applying makeup or plucking their eyebrows or the men shaving and brushing their teeth on the way to work.

God’s Away on Business. A co-worker told me he couldn’t do my job.
“You handle assholes so well. How do you do it?”
“It’s called paying the mortgage.”

Why do assholes always sharpen their knives on your mistakes?

Bathroom Sex -- Do Not Disturb

No one can be as calculatedly rude as the British, which amazes Americans, who do not understand studied insult and can only offer abuse as a substitute.
Paul Gallico (1897–1976), novelist

These days it seems that private behavior has become public behavior with a complete disregard for others. If you point this out to the offender(s) you will be the subject of their scorn. A perfect example of this is the story of the British couple heading toward Jamaica for vacation.

I’m certain they wanted a story to tell about joining the mile-high club. The intoxicated couple snuck off to the restroom and then forgot they were not in a soundproof booth; the flight attendants ordered the pair to stop coupling and return to their seats.

Instead of being embarrassed about the airline interruptus, the self-centered duo became even more obnoxious by yelling, spiting and swearing at the British Airways staff including the pilots, which left the pilots no choice but to make an unscheduled landing to have the pair arrested.

Now the amorous louts really have a story to tell -- getting arrested and facing a fine of nearly $60,000.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I Got Mail

This is the night mail crossing the border, Bringing the cheque and the postal order, Letters for the rich, letters for the poor, The shop at the corner and the girl next door.
W. H. Auden (1907 - 1973) poet

I received this last night, but I thought I would answer through a posting.

I saw your comment regarding "Tookie", that there is no need to be as barbaric as he was, well... if we were as barbaric as he was, WE WOULD KILL HIM AND THREE OF HIS FAMILY MEMBERS...WITH A SHOTGUN!!

I wonder if you would be so cavalier about this subject had it been your family that was murdered in cold blood via shotgun.

For such a "misanthropic" anthropoid, you are strangely compassionate and concerned about the human race that you supposedly loath so much. Do I detect a tinge of Humanitarian!!!

Don't be a hater!?!?!


Dear MPA,

Thanks for your note. You should have posted it. Yes, I am strangely compassionate, just don't lollygag on the freeway in front of me. I strongly believe that the state should not be in the business of killing its citizens. Frankly, I think killing Williams was an easy way out rather than making him spend the rest of his days confined in a jail cell. As I wrote in my post, his death will not help the victims in anyway.

Granted, if it were my family member or a close friend I would not be objective, but I would certainly try, I might not succeed.

Regarding my pseudonym, I picked it because I find my opinions are not commonly held, which makes me feel a bit like an outsider. I did not select the name for its dictionary meaning -- One who hates or mistrusts humankind -- but from the phrase by William Hazlitt that is under my profile.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Schwarzenegger Buckles to Lynch Mentality

There is one, and only one, thing in modern society more hideous than crime — namely, repressive justice.
Simone Weil (1909–43), French philosopher

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today rejected clemency for Stanley Tookie Williams, who was convicted of murder.

It would have taken someone with much more mental strength than Schwarzenegger to show mercy and compassion – something Williams did not do. Now, the state ends up performing its own lynching through lethal injection.

It seems to me that living in a cage is much more of a punishment than dying.

I’m disgusted that people can be happy or pleased with an execution. Once Williams is dead will the murdered victims return? Will the families who lost their loved ones stop grieving or missing them? Nothing will be resolved. We will have just lowered ourselves to a killer’s level.

From “” The drugs are administered, in this order:

Anesthetic - Sodium thiopental, which has the trademark name Pentothal, puts the inmate into a deep sleep. This drug is a barbiturate that induces general anesthesia when administered intravenously. It can reach effective clinical concentrations in the brain within 30 seconds, according to an Amnesty International report. For surgical operations, patients are given a dose of 100 to 150 milligrams over a period of 10 to 15 seconds. For executions, as many as 5 grams (5,000 mg) of Pentothal may be administered. This in itself is a lethal dose. It's believed by some that after this anesthetic is delivered, the inmate doesn't feel anything.

Saline solution flushes the intravenous line.

Paralyzing agent - Pancuronium bromide, also known as Pavulon, is a muscle relaxant that is given in a dose that stops breathing by paralyzing the diaphragm and lungs. Conventionally, this drug takes effect in one to three minutes after being injected. In many states, this drug is given in doses of up to 100 milligrams, a much higher dose than is used in surgical operations -- usually 40 to 100 micrograms per one kilogram of body weight. Other chemicals that can be used as a paralyzing agent include tubocurarine chloride and succinylcholine chloride.

Saline solution flushes the intravenous line.

Toxic agent (not used by all states) - Potassium chloride is given at a lethal dose in order to interrupt the electrical signaling essential to heart functions. This induces cardiac arrest.

Within a minute or two after the last drug is administered, a physician or medical technician declares the inmate dead. The amount of time between when the prisoner leaves the holding cell and when he or she is declared dead may be just 30 minutes. Death usually occurs anywhere from five to 18 minutes after the execution order is given. After the execution, the body is placed in a body bag and taken to medical examiner, who may perform an autopsy. It is then either claimed by the inmate's family or interred by the state.


There is more credit and satisfaction in being a first-rate truck driver than a tenth-rate executive.
B. C. Forbes (1880 - 1954), U.S. publisher

I need something to take my mind off all the bad news going around. I suspect these trucks are not real, but they do look rather interesting and if they were on the road, I might not hate 18-wheelers so much. I received the photos via e-mail from a second cousin. Hope you enjoy the photos.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

No Time for the Times -- Except on Sunday

He types his laboured column—weary drudge!
Senile fudge and solemn:
Spare, editor, to condemn
These dry leaves of his autumn.
Robertson Davies (1913–1995), Canadian novelist, journalist

I canceled my subscription to the Los Angeles Times and I miss my newspaper, but I also miss my baseball team (the Dodgers), but that is a story for another post. The times (and the newspaper) continue to change and not for the better.

The LATimes fired 85 reporters because revenue was down. My little protest of this fact was canceling my subscription that I had since high school. Yes, I realize this creates a catch-22. Well, I’m sure it didn’t help that the tax judge ruled against the newspaper's parent company the Tribune Co. to the tune of $1 billion, which is why it is eliminating sections, firing columnists, and cartoonists. It is a perfect example of why conglomerate media ownership is a bad idea.

Tribune Co.'s (owner of the L.A. Times) appeal of a U.S. Tax Court setback that could cost it around $1 billion in federal taxes and penalties for a 1998 divestiture. Tax pros generally don't believe that the media giant can erase that huge bill in appealing the decision to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but they are keeping track for possible clues on how far businesses can go in engineering deal structures to sidestep taxes on often-huge sell-off profits. (Mergers and Acquisitions Journal, December 1, 2005)

I still have my Sunday subscription to both the LATimes and the New York Times, but if I had my choice I would take the Washington Post, but they don’t have a national edition.

Newspapers have been a dying industry for some time. I was talking to a friend who is going through the USC MBA program, he has only the foggiest notion what is transpiring in the world, the nation or in his backyard, but he’ll be able to make a fortune soon. Current events or being connected means nothing in our capitalistic society. The only thing that matters is how you can get others to buy your goods.

My prediction for newspapers is that they will eventually disintegrate similar to Marty McFly’s picture of his parents in the movie “Back to the Future,” to a Sunday only production. There will be internet versions of the newspapers, but the tradition of reading the newspaper with breakfast will disappear, just like time for breakfast.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Richard Pryor Dead at 65

"It's been a struggle for me because I had a chance to be white and refused"
Richard Pryor (1940 -2005) comedian

According to CNN, Richard Pryor died of a heart attack at his home in the San Fernando Valley sometime late Friday or early Saturday, Flyn Pryor said. He had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

The comedian was regarded early in his career as one of the most foul-mouthed comics in the business, but he gained a wide following for his expletive-filled but universal and frequently personal insights into modern life and race relations.

His audacious style influenced an array of stand-up artists, including Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and Damon Wayans, as well as Robin Williams, David Letterman and others.

Former Sen. Eugene McCarthy Dead at 89

Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important.
Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005), Senator

Eugene McCarthy was a politician you won’t see much these days – someone with principles.

According to CNN, former Minnesota Sen. McCarthy, whose insurgent campaign toppled a sitting president in 1968 and forced the Democratic Party to take seriously his message against the Vietnam War, died Saturday. He was 89 and died in his sleep.

Eugene McCarthy challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson for the 1968 Democratic nomination during growing debate over the Vietnam War. The challenge led to Johnson's withdrawal from the race.

The former college professor, who ran for president five times in all, was in some ways an atypical politician, a man with a witty, erudite speaking style who wrote poetry in his spare time and was the author of several books.

Dyke is Politically Correct

This is a celebration of individual freedom, not of homosexuality. No government has the right to tell its citizens when or whom to love. The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody.
Rita Mae Brown, writer

It’s official dyke is now a politically correct term.

I suppose this has come through continual use. A women’s Motorcycle Contingent that wanted to trademark the phase Dykes on Bikes had been originally denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office because they felt dyke was a disparaging word for lesbians. However, a clothing manufacturer attempted to use the phase or something similar, which prompted the motorcycle group to seek a patent, which was eventually granted.

According to a Reuters article, The National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Brooke Oliver Law Group said the word "dyke" is no longer viewed as derogatory.

"Within the lesbian community that term has been reclaimed as a very positive term that denotes strength and pride and empowerment," said Shannon Minter, a lawyer for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Mercy and Clemency are Needed

We hand folks over to God’s mercy, and show none ourselves.
George Eliot (1819–80), English novelist

Stanley Tookie Williams is set to be executed Tuesday, if California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger does not provide a last-minute reprieve. Most of the blogs that I have seen (including B2 below) do not believe Tookie’s life should be spared.

I do and here is my reasoning. The hope of putting one into prison is to reform that person; however, we know that our prison system is not a place for reform. It’s more of a place to learn how to be even more brutal and uncaring. Tookie killed four people and he has refused to tell police what he knows about the crime that he contends he is innocent of, which is why he has not apologized. It’s obvious that he cannot be released upon the streets because he appears to still operate from a gang mentality, which is all he has known since being an adolescent. However, he has reformed to at least earn life in prison rather than being executed, which puts the state on the same level as a rival gang.

Tookie’s efforts in prison have resulted in writing a number of children’s books, preaching non-violence. While he has taken four lives that can never be returned and caused grief to innocent families, he has also saved numerous lives. Should that not count for something? Maybe, living the remaining days of his life in a cage?

Nookie for Tookie!

Click the image above to get the full-size, full-color poster -- print it out and make your voice heard! And what the hell, there are shirts, too.

We Long Bony Dorks

I once blogged about one of my favorite poems, Gwendolyn Brooks' "We Real Cool." Now someone has written a series of poems based on this idea: what if poets wrotes poems whose titles were anagrams of their own names? Here's the twist on Brooks:

We Long Bony Dorks
By Gwendolyn Brooks

The Mathletes.
Seven in the Computer Lab.

We long bony dorks. We
Real big on quarks. We

Quote Python lines. We
Know arcs and sines. We

Not good at sports. We
Black socks with shorts. We

Beat up at noon. We
Out-earn you soon.


Please visit and check out the E.E. Cummings, David Mamet, and William Blake. And, maybe my favorite, Samuel Beckett's "Bake Me Cutlets."

[Thanks, BoingBoing!]

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lennon Addendum

Imagine crystalled John's dream. It crystallized his idealism. It was something he really wanted to say to the world.
Yoko Ono-Lennon, John's wife

Q (from Simply Put) and I were having an offline conversation (corporate speak) about Lennon tunes, which brought to mind two items: one, my favorite post-Beatle Lennon songs, and, two, where I was when I heard the news about Lennon’s death. Check out the photo from Yoko that Q posted, very sad.

I read the news today, oh boy…
I was proofreading in the newsroom of our local newspaper when the photographer came in and asked why the radio was playing Lennon and Beatle songs. I replied with the shocking news, so I guess if he doesn’t remember my name he’ll know remember some guy in the newsroom told him the news. Where were you when you heard the news?

My favorite Lennon songs are:
Watching the Wheels
Nobody Told Me
Jealous Guy
Working Class Hero
Imagine (trivia: Phil Spector sang backup on this song)
Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out
Borrowed Time
Starting Over
How Do You Sleep (trivia: this is about Paul McCartney responding to McCartney's dig on "Too Many People")

What are your favorite Lennon songs?

Nothing will stop me, and whether I'm here or wherever I may be, I'll always have the same feelings [and] I'll say what I feel.
John Lennon

Isn't it a Pity

Isn't it a pity
Now, isn't it a shame
How we break each other's hearts
And cause each other pain
How we take each other's love
Without thinking anymore
Forgetting to give back
Isn't it a pity
"Isn't it a Pity" by George Harrison, (1943-2001) singer/song writer, Beatle

December is a bad month for former Beatles. John Lennon was killed 25 years ago today. George Harrison died four years ago December 1, 2001. Time just zooms by. I'll play a few of their songs in their honor.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Year Santa Almost Didn't Make It

Can someone out there please tell me why, every year, the television channels are filled with stories like "There Almost Wasn't a Christmas," "The Year Santa Almost Didn't Make It," and "The Christmas That Almost Wasn't"?

Why is there this fascination with Christmas almost being ruined and then saved at the last minute? This is the sort of neurosis I expect (and get) from my fellow Jews (Purim: all of the Jews are almost killed, but then they aren't; Hanukkah: all of the Jews are forced to give up Judaism but at the last-minute there's a miraculous military victory; Passover: all of the Jews have left slavery only to be trapped by the Red Sea, but then the waters are parted at the last minute and they get away; you get the picture, right?), but it just seems odd coming from the Christian side of the fence.


There comes a time... every bloger's life (or ex-blogger, as the case may be) when he goes crazy with greed. This, my friends, is that time. If you are offended by blatant commercial pitches that only seem at first glance to offer you content of any real value but are, instead, mere shams designed to bilk you of your hard-earned cash, then do not -- DO NOT -- read the two posts below this one. If you do, you have only yourself to blame.

Shin happens.

The creator of Shabot6000 (an extremely funny and irreverent Jewish-themed cartoon) is showing off his new Got milchig? shirt, purchased at the ever-irrepressible YidGear. (Don't miss the Shin Happens gear, still available in time for Hanukkah!)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Palestine awake!

I love cleaning out the garage and, conveniently enough, my wife loves piling stuff up in the garage. So I get to indulge my fancy, knowing that my wife will make sure I get the chance again... and again... and again.

The primary reason I love cleaning out the garage: organizing everything into those great storage tubs, labeling those tubs, and then stacking the tubs high into the rafters, hoping that my system of bungee cords and rope will keep everything in place. A second reason I enjoy this pasttime is that I frequently stumble upon something I'd forgotten I had -- case in point, a hardcover book from 1926 called Palestine Awake: The Rebirth of a Nation.

Author Sophie Irene Loeb was born in Russia in 1876 and died in New York in 1929. She was president of the Board of Child Welfare of New York, and in 1921 established the first child welfare building -- and she was also a proto-Zionist.

Her book, which includes 16 black and white plates, is just great to read (and look at -- the photo here is a"religious settler," as pictured in the book). As a page out of history, nothing beats books about pre-mandate Palestine.

Loeb interviewed (among other officials) Ragheb El Nashashibi, then the mayor of Jerusalem, on various Palestine-related matters; his answers are fascinating, and include gems such as:

"I can see no reasons why the Jews and Arabs cannot work together in this great country. There is room for all, and up to the present time there have been no serious quarrels."

But enjoy as it I do, I must part with it -- gotta make room, you know. If you're interested, check it out on eBay.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Good News and Bad News for New Orleans

From Yahoo: In an attempt to boost its stalled economy, the hurricane-ravaged city of New Orleans is starting the nation's first free wireless Internet network owned and run by a major city.

This is wonderful news, but it doesn't address a related problem: to make use of the Internet, even if it is free, you need a computer; my guess is that the differences between the "haves" and the "have-nots" will only be exacerbated by this. Because if you can afford a computer, do you need to have the city pay for your access? And if you can't afford a computer, does it matter if the Internet is available for free?

So I'm all for the Internet being free, but let's not forget to get those poor kids some books and food.


A Great Short Story

A person is not measured from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet, but from their shoulders to the sky.
John Rice, motivational speaker, businessman

Here is a story you may have overlooked. I like to read the obituaries because I’m interested in the cause of death and what they did to merited mentioned in the paper. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, when I go, the world will little note, nor remember me or what I say here. In any case, John Rice passed away early last week, he was in the record books as one of the world’s shortest twins. His diminutive stature alone is not what made him worthy of a near full-page story, it was his attitude.

Rice was a multimillionaire with an incredibly positive outlook. His quote is what leads this post. His mother conveyed to her small twins the philosophy that her boys were a couple of dimes in a bunch of nickels.

It was a sad story of an unexpected and untimely death, but it had me laughing out on Thanksgiving morning, which may have actually captured Rice's outlook on life.

One day, in the middle of watching a TV western, tiny Rice dashed outside to the bicycles that had languished on the porch for years because the twins — then in grade school — were too short to ride them.

He'd been engrossed in a shootout scene in which one of the characters got away by jumping off a balcony onto his trusty steed.

"A little lightbulb went off in John's head," Greg, his brother, recalled, and the next thing he knew was that his brother had taken one of the bikes and propped it next to the bumper of the family car.

He positioned the pedal high, then climbed up on the bumper and jumped, pushing down on the pedal as he aimed for the seat. After many falls, he managed to maintain enough momentum to pedal to the end of the driveway and turn wide to return to the top.

I highly encourage you to read the article. One of their business ventures was to purchase a plant nursery called Tree Feet Tall that specialized in dwarf citrus trees.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Fat Bottom Girls & Guys

Some people are born to fatness. Others have to get there.
Les Murray, Australian poet

The end is no longer near – the rear end that is. A story pointed out that fatter behinds are causing many drug injections to miss their mark. To solve this weighty problem longer needles are required.

The Reuters article, which quoted researchers from the Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin said that basically 23 out of 25 women missed receiving the proper dosage because of the fat tissue was too thick.

Apparently, obesity affects more than 300 million people worldwide and is based on a measure of height versus weight that produces a body mass index above 30. An estimated 65 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese.

Now is the time to panic.

As if we parents don't have enough to worry about already: a 15-year-old Quebec girl with a peanut allergy died after kissing her boyfriend, who had just eaten a peanut butter snack.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Balloon Injures Two at Macy's Parade

A giant balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade snagged a street light near Times Square and caused part of it to fall into the crowd, injuring two people, according to police and eyewitness accounts.

Silver lining: no one died, and the two injured people didn't have to sit through the rest of the parade.

Happy Thanksgiving

Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.
Samuel Pepys (1633 - 1703), English diarist and civil servant.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Painful Music

My heart sings, full of sadness—the shadows lengthen.
Jean Sibelius (1865 - 1957), Finnish composer

The American Music Awards were on last night and you can probably guess why I watched it – the Rolling Stones were on. I will never watch the AMA show again. They cut the Stones off in the middle of "It's Only Rock and Roll." However, in between I didn’t know many of the performers. I knew who Kenny Chesney was because he was splashed all over People magazine and other tabloid type magazines, but I’m afraid I have gotten too old to keep up with the music scene.

Even when I was younger, I apparently did not stay up to speed. I saw the movie “Walk the Line,” the Johnny Cash bio-pic, the other night and it was excellent. I was rather upset with myself for not paying attention to Johnny Cash all those years. I remember when “A Boy Named Sue,” was a hit, but I viewed Cash as country singer, yet he was more than just a country artist. So, to catch up, I purchased a few of his CDs. B2 pointed out an album of covers titled “American IV, The Man Comes Around," which is probably one of the most poignant CDs I have ever heard.

Cash sings the song “Hurt” (I linked the video and it's very much worth watching, again thanks to B2) written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and you can honestly believe you feel Cash’s pain. This CD conveys more loneliness and misery than Frank Sinatra’s “In the Wee Small Hours” CD. Cash's raspy voice brings angst and torment to such songs as “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” “Desperado,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and finally when he gets to “When We Meet Again,” if you’re not on the verge of tears you have no feelings.

When I’m in a pensive, sad mood this CD will be playing.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Teachers Gone Wild

I find it extraordinary that a straightforward if inelegant device for ensuring the survival of the species should involve human beings in such emotional turmoil. Does sex have to be taken so seriously?
P. D. James, British mystery writer

Yes, this is just wrong, primarily because it never happened to me. Seriously, I think that this kid will regret that he said anything.

However, there is certainly something wrong with the teacher on a couple of levels: She is/was a newlywed and she has a responsibility as an authority figure not to abuse that trust.

What the heck is happening to teachers, and we’re not talking male teachers? There seems to be a rash of women gone wild with young boys. Yeah, yeah, men having been doing it for years, it’s not equality, it’s just not right, if the person is not mature enough (forget the arbitrary statutory rape age).

In this particular case, the woman sounds a bit unbalanced:

A female teacher pleaded guilty Tuesday to having sex with a 14-year-old student, avoiding prison as part of a plea agreement.

Debra Lafave, 25, will serve three years of house arrest and seven years' probation. She pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery.

The former Greco Middle School reading teacher apologized during the hearing, saying "I accept full responsibility for my actions."

The boy told investigators the two had sex in a classroom at the Greco school, located in Temple Terrace near Tampa, in her Riverview town house and once in a vehicle while his 15-year-old cousin drove them around Marion County.

The boy told investigators Lafave told him her marriage was in trouble and that she was aroused by the fact that having sex with him was not allowed. He said he and Lafave, a newlywed at the time, got to know each other on their way back from a class trip to SeaWorld Orlando in May 2004.

How Much Do You Spend on Entertainment?

The American public does not want to be uplifted, ennobled—it wants to be amused.
Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1875 - 1935), novelist, social worker, and teacher

Over the last 10 years, outlays for entertainment outpaced overall expenditures.
Spending on health care and education, which almost doubled in that period, grew faster, according to an article in the New York Times.

I realize that I spend far too much on entertainment. I buy too many books and CDs, but I justify it by rationalizing that it is my only indulgence, when the Rolling Stones are not in town, or I’m not going to the jazz club with On the Mark. I have given up going to see the Los Angeles Dodgers; last year was the first year since the early ‘70s that I did not go to a game, which saved about $100 or so.

All this comes to mind because I read the article on what a life of bread and circus costs us. What is your monthly total?

Cell phone

The average American spends more on entertainment than on gasoline, household furnishings and clothing and nearly the same amount as spent on dining out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Among the affluent, the 20 percent of households with more than $77,000 a year in pretax income, more money is spent on entertainment - $4,516 a year - than on health care, utilities, clothing or food eaten at home.

Now granted, some of this is required expense. Just try to get by today without the internet or a cell phone. Also, who wants to listen to our politicians argue like school kids and demonstrate hypocrisy at a perfected level?

The opium of the masses today is a combination of entertainment and religion. Who can fault us with a government of thieves and liars who are only out to line their own pockets? (I didn't even get into the fact that the House members voted themselves a raise last week they now make $165,000.)

42 Years Ago Today

You never know what’s hit you. A gunshot is the perfect way.
John F. Kennedy (1917–63), U.S. president

It was 42 years ago today, that shouts rang out in Dallas shocking the country and the world.

I know many of you were not around, but I was either in the first or second grade and I was traumatized.

November 22, 1963 was a warm sunny day in Dallas. Forecasters had predicted cooler weather and so Jackie Kennedy ended up in a wool suit. She would wear that suit until the wee hours of the morning of the 23rd.

John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy President John F. Kennedy had come to Texas to do a bit of pre-election fence mending. Conservative Governor John Connally and the more liberal Senator Ralph Yarborough were at odds. Surely Kennedy charm could smooth this over.

The reception in Texas seemed promising as did the future. After a stop in Fort Worth, they took a short plane ride to Love Field in Dallas.

The motorcade was to follow a winding 11 mile route through downtown Dallas where President Kennedy was to speak at a luncheon with civic and business leaders at the Trade Mart. At 11:50 a.m.. the motorcade left the airport on its rendezvous with fate.

The big presidential limousine, a midnight blue 1961 Lincoln, had been flown in from Washington D.C. The plastic bubble top was removed and the bullet-proof side windows were rolled down because the weather was so favorable and this is how President Kennedy preferred to ride.

See more here

Monday, November 21, 2005

On Orange Juice for One

And once you told me I was mistaken
That I’d awaken with the sun
And ordered orange juice for one
It never entered my mind
You had what I lack, myself
Now I even have to scratch my back myself

It Never Entered My Mind, sung by Frank Sinatra, written by R. Rodgers/L. Hart

There is a part of the holidays that I love and a part that I dislike. Thanksgiving I thoroughly enjoy because it’s family and people getting together with no obligations except to eat and be marry. Christmas also has its pluses and minuses. I have an idea for Christmas to make it even more special – celebrate it once every other year. It would mean so much more to people and most likely people would be less inclined to leave their lights up year ‘round. Of course, I don’t put any up. Oh, I did once or twice and Daughter would climb the ladder and help.

I realize that there is no transition here, but there are a number of items that I really want to write about, but I’ve been asked not to say anything for the time being, which has rather stifled my writing altogether because I have been thinking what I would say if I could let it all out.

My plan will be to eek out various thoughts through my attempts at essays in the style of Michel De Montaigne, well, similar in that the titles will start with "On." De Montaigne was such a source of comfort for me during my first breakup with such essays as On Liars, On Sadness, On Solitude.

Friday, November 18, 2005

On The Mark -- He Crowed and He Crowed

So, now that Bob Woodward has joined the Valerie Plame leak fiasco, the game gets that much more interesting. Respected journalists and publications are going down in flames. Woodward knows about this for two years but doesn't bother to tell any of his superiors at the Post (not his source, but that he also was given this information)? He writes and talks and gives his opinion of the investigation over the past two years while all the time he's part of it? Wow. Ben Bradlee is quoted as saying he doesn't think anybody outside the beltway is interested in this story. He's wrong.

This story goes much deeper than what we know right now. If the real truth comes out it will only be because Fitzgerald was able to dig deep enough, and there isn't a decision to withhold the truth until later because of national security.

Now current and former administration personnel are coming out of the woodwork to say they weren't the ones to tell Woodward. One has to ask who the source was, though? One thinks back on the promotional tours for Woodward's last book and how he talked about who he interviewed for the book.

Yes. I do recall now how Woodward crowed about how he interviewed Pres. Bush one-on-one in the Oval Office.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Checkout -- Anything They Say

But who shall be master? The writer or the reader?
Denis Diderot (1713 - 1784), French encyclopedist and philosopher

If I wasn’t feeling so drained or just had a bit of energy, I would be writing posts like TheBhc. I love his stuff!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

On The Mark -- Listen first, speak last

In case you missed it, Peter Drucker passed away last week. As the Wall Street Journal said, Drucker was the Shakespeare of books on management. I'm not a former Drucker student, but I was a student of his books and articles, and once had the chance to work with him on getting the word out on a speech and book he wrote on the non-profit sector.

The most fascinating aspect about Drucker was that his management focus was on people, not buildings or machines. Many businesses ignore this principle today, often forgetting that it's their people who make the businesses successful (or unsuccessful). It's all about knowledge.

Drucker influenced my perspective on business in many ways, but especially with one particular book, and a rule. The book was "The New Realities," which absolutely floored me and gave me ammunition to sound very smart in client meetings for many years to come. The rule was, "Listen first, speak last." Let's just say it's always worked for me.

Drucker lived for nearly a century. His impact will last well into this century and probably the next.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Kazakhstan Hates Jews

Reuters reports that Kazakhstan's foreign ministry threatened legal action against Sacha Baron Cohen, who portrays a fake Kazakh reporter in his "Da Ali G Show." Cohen portrays Kazakhstan as a country populated by drunks who enjoy cow-punching as a sport.

The irony is that Kazakhstan is [quite possibly] a country populated by drunks who enjoy Jew-punching as a sport.

Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Yerzhan Ashykbayev spoke in the usual anti-Semitic code in a press briefing: "We do not rule out that Mr. Cohen is serving someone's political order designed to present Kazakhstan and its people in a derogatory way."

For those of you who don't know the code, the language "someone's political order" referring to a Jewish person or organization is a not-so-secret message to fellow believers that the Jews are at it again. Read between the lines, won't you?


See No God, Hear No God, Speak No God

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to review a ruling that the inscription "In God We Trust" on the front of a government building in North Carolina does not violate church-state separation.

Hey, Supremes -- if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Assassins' Gate

We prepare for war like ferocious giants, and for peace like retarded pygmies.
Lester Pearson (1897 - 1972), Canadian prime minister

The other night, On the Mark and I attended a talk/discussion sponsored by the Downtown Los Angeles Library with George Packer, who wrote “The Assassins’ Gate, America in Iraq.” I found the conversation as interesting as his book.

I cannot encourage you strongly enough to read “The Assassins’ Gate, America in Iraq” to get an understanding how America was hoodwinked into attacking Iraq using a disastrous foreign policy known as the Bush doctrine.

The neoconservatives in the Bush gang led by Vice President Dick Cheney, with strong support from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz were the main architects behind the war. Anyone who disagreed had to remain quiet or they were fired. General Eric K. Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, said that Iraq world require “ something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers.” Shinseki was fired and publicly contradicted by Paul Wolfowitz. Bush’s economic advisor Lawrence Lindsay candidly predicted that the war could cost as much as $200 billion, he was quickly reprimanded and eventually fired.

In a nutshell that does not do justice to the book, but shows my opinion, the motive behind going to war was a strong, although not factually supported, belief that the United States could bring democracy to the Middle East and change the political landscape to something more to the United States’ liking.

During the talk, Packer said that Bush was not necessarily a neoconservative ready to rush into Iraq, but 9/11 threw him into the neoconservative group. Once Bush was completely on board Cheney and Rumsfeld could easily push their agenda through.

As more books and analysis come out on Iraq documenting what went on behind the scenes, I believe it will show the flawed thinking behind our effort and prove that Iraq was/is one of this country’s biggest mistakes.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy

So you may know that I'm a registered Democrat -- and I have another bone to pick with my party. My voting guide (which I mostly ignored this time around) features three Democrat presidents proudly on the cover: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, and John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

The guy who got us involved in WW2, the guy who dropped the bomb, and a noted philanderer.

Of course, those three are better than anyone the Republicans could feature -- Hoover, Nixon, and Dubya?

"Wow! Brazil is Big"

The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read,
With loads of learned lumber in his head.

Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744), English poet

President Bush once again showed his geopolitical knowledge when attempting to bond with Brazil president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. This time he couldn’t see into the soul, but he was impressed by the size of Brazil.

According to the New York Times article, at one point, standing alongside Bush, during the recent trade talks, da Silva exhibited a map of his country, which is larger than the continental United States. "Wow! Brazil is big," Bush was quoted as saying from the Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.

After their appearance together, the two presidents and their wives headed off to da Silva's residence for an outdoor Brazilian-style barbecue that included several premium cuts of beef, as well as lamb, oxtail and cheese. Bush later pronounced the meal "unbelievably good."

Monday, November 07, 2005

It’s Only Rock & Roll, But I Love It!

Even when it was easy, music's patterning shaped the emotions... Music proclaimed an orderly universe, promised a better place.
Ellen Hunnicutt, writer

The Rolling Stones at the Hollywood Bowl. (photo from

The Rolling Stones are amazing. They performed with energy and enthusiasm for a bit longer than two hours Sunday night at the Hollywood Bowl. Mick Jagger said, “We have not been here [Hollywood Bowl] since 1966 and tickets were $4. A lot has changed since then, except our song list.” He was obviously joking, sort of. Two of the songs from the night were from that period, “Get Off My Cloud” and the closing number “Satisfaction.” In between the kings of rock and roll played "Jumping Jack Flash," "Dead Flowers," "You Got Me Rocking," "Wild Horses," "Slipping Away," "Sympathy for the Devil," "Midnight Rambler," "Honky Tonk Woman," "Brown Sugar" and several others. They also played "Oh No Not You Again," "Back of My Hand" and "Infamy" from the new "Bigger Bang" CD. My particular favorite is Oh No Not You Again. It's a rocker with a playful message about someone who keeps returning to make one's life hell.

The sound was every bit as good as I expected it to be. I have never heard the Stone's music with such clarity live before. Sympathy for the Devil’s arrangements were slightly altered with a bit of jazz under current, which made the brooding rocker much more upbeat song, which they accented with fireworks.

If you were there, you may have spotted me way in the back; I was my neighbor’s worse nightmare because I know all the words to all the Stones songs and I sound like a wounded animal singing. Worse still, she had to endure my dancing which makes Al Gore look as nimble as Michael Jackson.

Joss Stone opened the evening with a four-song set that opened with “Super Duper Love” and ended with “Right to Be Wrong.” It’s amazing to think she is either 21 or 22 years old with an incredible voice and a long career in front of her. She just has to look at the band she opened for; the Stones, who are all in their 60s, started around the same age as Joss Stone.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sunday Ramblings

"Do you pray for the senators, Dr. Hale?"
"No, I look at the senators and I pray for the country."
Edward Everett Hale (1822 - 1909), author and cleric

Patience. Going through the airport hassles of near strip searches, delays, crowded seats, lousy overpriced food, and baggage snafus I fall into a very patient mode because there is nothing I can do. It’s all beyond my control. Going through JFK, I had to take my shoes off, but I didn’t have to in Burbank. I argued with the TSA guy and tell him my shoes are not the issue, it’s my pen. He assures me it’s the shoes. I have no choice but to comply or go to the side and get prodded and probed. The TSA guy agrees to test my theory. I acknowledge he is correct. “Of course I’m right buddy that’s my job.”

Daughter. I was so proud. The first time I have ever gone to Washington, D.C. to see the sites, my first official tour was conducted by Daughter, who provided an excellent and informative tour of the capitol, including getting lost in various stairwells. I met the Congressman she is interning for and her office mates, who all appreciate her efforts. They recently prompted her from an intern to a staff position.

Daughter and I were in the Senate while Sen. Carl Levin (below), D-Mich. was speaking on the Senate floor regarding Phase II investigation of prewar intelligence. We did not see the below press conference, just a very empty Senate while Levin was reading his argument into the record. The photo of the capitol (above) was taken by yours truly.
(from the Washington Post) U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., holds a copy of a Senate Intelligence Committee report during a news conference with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Mich., left, and Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W.Va., right, on Capitol Hill, Friday, Nov. 4, 2005, to discuss carrying out an agreement on the Phase II investigation of prewar intelligence. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

We also went into the House of Representatives and watched a vote, on something relatively minor that I cannot recall now.

Sightseeing. I was awed by the Lincoln Memorial. Daughter and I walked a tremendous amount throughout the capitol and outside. My patriotism was somewhat tempered by the gang currently in the White House. As we wondered pass the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial. We missed the Vietnam Memorial because we didn’t know how close we were to it. But, I have to say that we are very much a war nation. All of our history seems to evolve around war. To complete our day, Daughter and I had dinner at Harry & Sam’s, which was outstanding.

Reading. Yesterday I was able to finish one book and start George Packer’s “The Assassins’ Gate, America in Iraq.” After reading the first 100 pages, I am changing my thoughts about the reasons for war. I used to think that it was absolutely about oil, but I would say now that oil is among the top reasons, but not the main reason. I could change again by the time I finish, but from my interpretation so far is that Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and a few others, pushed their flawed philosophy and were the main architects behind Iraq. They were able to sell their views because we have an incurious president who seems to only delegate rather than really understand the issues; the Republican hawks expertly manipulated him.

Rolling Stones. I very much have mixed feelings about this concert tonight, but I’m hopeful I will get excited for it. I really wish Daughter who has become my Rolling Stones buddy was here to enjoy it too.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

A Couple of Travel Pictures

Exploring is delightful to look forward to and back upon, but it is not comfortable at the time, unless it be of such an easy nature as not to deserve the name.
Samuel Butler (1835 - 1902) British writer, painter

It's always nice to return home. I have not travel for business for almost over a year and things have changed a bit with the airlines. Here are a few pictures from my travels in New York.

This is the view outside my room looking into the
lobby at the Embassy Suites in New York's Financial District.

If I turned around from looking at the lobby this was other side of the view.

I love having a camera. Tomorrow, I will post my pictures from Washington D.C.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Stop Congress from Cutting Cancer Research Funding

Funding cancer research is one of the most promising ways we can help save lives faster, but Congress is proposing a cut to cancer research funding that could be as much as $100 million. This proposal is unacceptable, yet it is being taken seriously by Congressional leadership. It must be stopped right now!

Click here to find out how you can help.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Worth Checking Out

"We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job. That's what I'm telling you."
President George W. Bush—Gulfport, Miss., Sept. 20, 2005.

Check out this site that I found through Preemptive Karma.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bush and the Judge

A judge is not supposed to know anything about the facts of life until they have been presented in evidence and explained to him at least three times.
Lord Chief Justice Parker (1900–1972), British judge

I found this over at Random Thoughts, which linked to Pillage Idiot, so because I think it's rather good I will link to it too. Enjoy! Also, check out BitchPh.D and what Anything They Say has to say about the Judge.

Leave Flying to the Birds

I feel about airplanes the way I feel about diets. It seems to me that they are wonderful things for other people to go on.
Jean Kerr, author, playwright

NEW YORK – Let me count the ways airlines are continuing their going out of business strategy:

  • Security. Having to undress before boarding a plane is absolutely asinine.
  • Seats. As an adult, I feel as though I am sitting at a 3rd grader’s school desk. I would have been more comfortable thrown into the back of someone’s trunk.
  • Food. Today was the first day that American Airlines eliminated pretzels. It now costs $3 for the crap they used to provide for free.
  • Luggage. If there is an airport that has a longer wait for baggage than JFK I have not encountered it yet.

Yes, I know that security is not the airlines responsibility, but they could try to make the passengers more comfortable after enduring near strip searches to get into the terminal. Next they will be checking body cavities.

Before traveling Tuesday, I have not flown anywhere in more than a year, and just in that time it seems the seats have gotten smaller (maybe, I have just gotten bigger) and every single seat is filled. I would take another flight, if I ever got stuck in a middle seat (and I wish the person sitting next me had the same philosophy).

Similar to my wait for luggage while baggage handlers were apparently on break.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Go Forth and Write

Achilles exists only through Homer. Take away the art of writing from this world, and you will probably take away its glory.
René Chateaubriand (1768 - 1848), writer

To all the NaNoWriMo contestants I wish you the best in your quest to write 50,000 words by Nov. 30.

For those of you who are not aware of November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), as they say, it’s a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

I have noticed a number of bloggers have mentioned their participation this year and if I was thinking I would have written them down, but you'll just have to take my word for it.

Good luck and write until your fingers are numb.

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than write for the public and have no self.
Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974), writer and journalist