Thursday, June 30, 2005

Rice -- Now, In Color!

Researchers in Taiwan have developed new, colored rice to entire its teens back to a more traditional diet. In place of cheesburgers and pizza, the government will encourage Taiwanese kids to scarf down pink, green, yellow and purple rich, each color with its own nutritional boost.

I don't know how things are in Taiwan, but my kids are not happy with any food that has too much of any color -- if it's not white or beige, my kids won't eat it. Unless, maybe, if I told them it was special *princess* rice, in special princess colors... that might work.

The Misanthrope – On Vacation

Life is mostly froth and bubble.
Two things stand like stone:
Dodging duty at the double,
Leaving work alone.

Daughter. I cannot begin to describe the pleasure I get from seeing Daughter get up, and go to work while I stay home, and read the papers. I told her that if she could start paying the bills that it would extend my life expectancy and she wouldn’t be left orphaned as early. She was not swayed.

Retirement. If this is what retirement is like I would be in heaven. My biggest concern was whether the trash man was going to empty the cans, more accurately the large plastic tubs, because I was afraid that I had made the trash containers too heavy.

Speaking of retiring, I told wife that if we stay in good health and nothing dramatically changes we should be able to retire for about six months by the time we are 70.

Weather. Wife is in the Bronx visiting her parents. Rain has been falling all week and she said the humidity was or seemed to be in the 90s. Yuck. My evening engagement with On The Mark was canceled because he was diverted, rerouted and inconvenienced trying to get from the East Coast back home because of the thunderstorms. Another friend canceled the night before because of, well let’s just say miscommunication, which thus far has been the only sour note of my time off.

Sore. I think I am in reasonable shape, I am 6-1, 209 and I go to the gym at least three times a week, but legs and arms are aching after digging around the yard on Monday. The soreness meant that I had to postpone any further work, sorry Wife, but the soreness was hurting my ping-pong game. I lost the first match 3-2, which was ended because of heat and a strong summer breeze. I am off to redeem myself in an hour or so.

Bail Bonds By Any Other Name...

This is, hands down, the best name for a Bail Bonds agency ever -- "Aid & Abet Bail Bonds"!

Only the Poor and Those in Ill Health will Suffer

Four specters haunt the Poor—Old Age, Accident, Sickness and Unemployment.
David Lloyd George (1863–1945), Welsh Liberal politician, prime minister

Medicaid is overpaying for drugs according to three inspector general reports. Who profits from this bureaucratic snafu? Big drug and pharmacy companies, we the people certainly do not. What will George W. Bush do? My guess, he will find a way to ensure drug manufacturers don’t suffer.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the Medicaid health insurance program for low-income and disabled people is overpaying for prescription drugs by hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars a year.

Medicaid is a federal-state partnership that has become the nation’s largest health insurer, providing coverage for an estimated 53 million Americans. It’s beneficiaries include people with AIDS, children in low-income working families and Alzheimer’s patients in nursing homes. Of course, the budget passed by Congress calls for slowing the growth of Medicaid by $10 billion over five years.

Only the poor gets hurt here. If you have over extended yourself financially, because when the health of a loved one is at stake nothing matters, your previous escape -- bankruptcy has been taken away.

Our leader says the sacrifice is worth it.

House Pay Raise

When you overpay small people you frighten them. They know that their merits or activities entitle them to no such sums as they are receiving. As a result their boss soars out of economic into magic significance. He becomes a source of blessings rather than wages. Criticism is sacrilege, doubt is heresy.
Ben Hecht (1893–1964), journalist

In case you missed it. The House of Representatives have voted to increase their salaries by $3,100 to $165,200 a year. Technically this was not a raise it was only a cost of living adjustment.

The vote was 263-152 to go forward with the increase.

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) said, “Now is not the time for members of Congress to be voting themselves a pay raise. We need to be willing to make sacrifices.”

Remember the sacrifice is worth it – when it’s someone else who has to sacrifice.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Disneyland Photography

I love my little digital camera. It's so small, I can take it anywhere, and I do. And I shoot everything. Here are some shots I took at the Happiest Place on Earth. I'll host a bunch here, but bandwidth demands that I put the rest on Flickr (each photo links to the larger Flickr image, and there are a whole bunch more here).


California Adventure



Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Primetime Lies

“If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”
George W. Bush, U.S. President

President Bush has decided that his gang’s mission is to force democracy on the world. Tonight during primetime, the president will provide detailed specifics for a strategy for success. Based on previous messages from Bush and his gang, I believe anything specific will be a lie. They don’t believe the people should be informed.

According to the New York Times, Scott McClellan, Bush’s spokesman, said "You will hear the president talk about the stakes in Iraq. The stakes are high. We are being tested."

The administration often denies paying heed to opinion polls, and McClellan struggled a bit to explain why Bush needed to make a prime-time speech now.

"It's a very significant speech by the commander in chief at a critical moment in the war on terror," he said, adding that Bush, who laid out goals for Iraq in a speech at the Army War College last year, would revisit those markers and underscore progress in his speech tonight at the home base of the 82nd Airborne Division.

What Bush should really say in his speech tonight was that it was a mistake to go into Iraq because there was no connection between 9/11 and the U.S. invasion. We hoodwinked the country and the world into believing us. In the process, we have brought nothing but shame and hatred upon us.

Child-Rearing and the Gentler Sex in 1919

At a local used book store I stumbled upon Your Baby, by E. B. Lowry, M.D. Published in 1919 by Forbes and Company, this book bills itself as "A Guide for Young Mothers." I find it hard to even introduce this book. It speaks for itself, if any book ever has, and anything I could say to introduce it would fall far short of the impact of the author's own words. Excerpts follow, and the book is now available for purchase on eBay.


"It is strange that in our great system of public eduation no provision is made to train girls for their great work in life. There is no reason why the proper care of babies should not be a required study [for girls] in school. It certainly would be of much more practical and economic benefit in later life than many of the subjects that are now required."

"During the period of development there are great changes taking place in the girl's system... The school duties should be lessened and the girl allowed to rest on the days when Nature requires an extra amount of energy. The girl at this age should not attempt as much work as a boy does. Her time at this period might be better occupied in learning the rudiments of housekeeping and homemaking."

"It is more necessary that a woman be prepared for [homemaking and the bearing and rearing of children], her life work, than that she be prepared for a temporary position in an office or school, a position which she seldom keeps for more than a few years, after which she takes up her real life work."

"The proper method of feeding babies is more important for many girls to know than many of the things now taught in our public schools... Correlated with the instruction in cooking, sewing and the general care of the home should come the care of those very important members of the home -- the babies -- and each girl should be taught the care of her own health so that she might be properly prepared for motherhood."

"A normal woman, who has not become imbued with false ideas and fears, desires children."


"The expectant mother should give her child all possibly advantages of a good mental impression, and, during its prenatal life, the mother should think nothing but loving and wholesome thoughts."

"The mother should be careful not to take any violent exercise during the prenatal period... Ordinary housework is excellent exercise and does not have any bad effect upon the expectant mother."

"Just because a woman had had several children does not make her competent to advise others, for she may have given her own children such improper care that several of them died or were sickly."


"Thinking people have come to the conclusion that it is necessary to give some thought to the conditions surrounding the birth of children."

"Too many families have a habit of allowing members of the family to play with the baby during the evening, tossing it and otherwise exciting it." [Tossing it? Did people do that? --B2]

"The less a baby is handled, the better for its health."

"A well baby should not usurp the entire time of its mother. It should be able to amuse itself the greater part of the time."

"The baby should not be held except when being fed or bathed. The remainder of the time it should lie quietly in bed and require little attention."

Chávez Ravine – A CD Regarding the Land Dodger Stadium Sits On

If property had simply pleasures, we could stand it; but its duties make it unbearable. In the interest of the rich we must get rid of it.
Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), playwright

Chávez Ravine is the home of Dodger Stadium. Prior to Walter O’Malley leaving Brooklyn and Ebbets Field, Chávez Ravine was home primarily to poor Mexican and Mexican American residents. The area was designated for a federal housing project, which as always had liberals and conservatives fighting, and as usual, the conservatives resorted to name calling, accusing those not supporting them as being communists. It seems that providing O’Malley with a sweet deal to bring the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles, served as some sort of compromise.

Chávez Ravine is a new CD by Ry Cooder. This release came to my attention through an outstanding story written by Lynell George. George is one of the best features writers at the Los Angeles Times. She is very descriptive, accurate and I have found her tastes run along a similar line as mine.

Her article in the May 1, 2005 issue of the Times was a 3,800-word piece on Ry Cooder’s latest. I like Cooder because he used to play on a number of Rolling Stones songs that was until Mick Jagger and Keith Richard ended up subconsciously borrowing the main notes for Honky Tonk Woman and not giving any credit to Cooder. Heck, Jagger didn’t even give his own band member Mick Taylor credit for coming up with the bridge on the song, which that and other incidents made Taylor leave the band. Cooder moved on from the Stones, and many know him best for the critically acclaimed Cuban project, "Buena Vista Social Club."

As George wrote, Cooder spent almost two-years in this ambitious musical assemblage, steeped in collaboration with seminal artists from L.A.'s Latin music scene. The tracks are recorded, the liner notes written (by journalist Ruben Martinez). The record, he hopes, will be a 360-degree exploration of a neighborhood -- in texture and mood. Its palette -- a melange of styles: corrido, jazz and pop, conjunto and some shades of R&B -- is as diverse and hard to pinpoint as Los Angeles itself.

I love the Chávez Ravine CD because of my once love affair with the Dodgers. As I drive around the stadium everyday to and from work, I view the area entirely differently today knowing a bit more about its history. I had known about a deal worked out with the city, but I didn't realize homes were torn down and bulldozed like an African village. It is a real shame that the federal housing project was not built there. The hilltop is destined for homes someday again. The speculation is the new Dodgers' owner will build condominiums where the stadium sits today, and move the stadium near Staples Center.

Monday, June 27, 2005

A Prediction for Supreme Court Nominee

Men, forever tempted to lift the veil of the future—with the aid of computers or horoscopes or the intestines of sacrificial animals—have a worse record to show in these “sciences” than in almost any scientific endeavor.
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), philosopher

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist did not issue his retirement notice today as expected. However, when he does I predict that George Bush will nominate Judge J. Michale Luttig, 51 an appellate judge in Virginia.

My reasoning is that Bush will strive to find the most right wing and the most objectionable nominee that anyone left of Attila the Hun will find an odious choice.

According the Los Angeles Times, most of Luttig's professional life has been spent working in Republican administrations or for conservative judges. His first job after law school was in the Reagan White House. He later was a clerk to Scalia on the District of Columbia appellate court and to then-Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. Luttig was a 37-year-old lawyer in President George H.W. Bush's administration when he was named to the federal court in Richmond. He delayed donning the black robe in the summer of 1991 to help the White House win confirmation for Thomas.

Just a prediction, I am not listing his judgments such as ruling that the Endangered Species Act was unconstitutional.

Live 8 and U2 Changing the World

Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. … I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends … and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.
John Lennon (1940–80), rock musician

Rock & Roll has changed the world just not the way it was envisioned. The young people of the 1960s did not enter politics and rearranged the world or the United States specifically. Even the more revolutionary realized that you have to appeal to an apathetic middle ground that is often satisfied with the status quo. Change has to come subtly similar to how one would steer a boat not ski a slalom course.

The Live 8 concerts that will broadcast on July 2, when dozens of major pop acts grace stages across the world from Tokyo to Toronto to London to Philadelphia and beyond, play live to raise awareness of Africa’s problems of poverty and disease.

The timing is to coincide with the Group of Eight world leaders meeting in Scotland on July 6-8. I heard portions of Bono’s interview on Meet the Press on Sunday and was most impressed that he understands the political process well enough to use his fame to the same way a lobbyist uses special interest money to make a difference. Bono who for several years now has been meeting with one political leader after another has succeeded in eliminating the debilitating debt of Africa to industrial countries.

You can see the effects ever so slowly from politicans who always seek attention and want to attach themselves to the latest cause, if it is not controversial. According to the New York Times, the day after his nomination as head of the World Bank was announced, one of the first people Paul Wolfowitz called was Bono ... twice. Months later, rich nations announced a deal to wipe out over $40 billion of impoverished nations' debts which aid groups and lobbyists believe was partly thanks to Bono and fellow Irish rocker Bob Geldof, who is organizing Live 8.

“We have a unique power in this ridiculous thing called celebrity, and our job isn't finished when we write songs that grow out of concerns,'' Bono said.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Misanthrope – Sunday’s Lighter Side

Total physical and mental inertia are highly agreeable, much more so than we allow ourselves to imagine. A beach not only permits such inertia but enforces it, thus neatly eliminating all problems of guilt. It is now the only place in our overly active world that does.
John Kenneth Galbraith, economist

Vacation. Those five days I had planned to take to stretch out a long weekend was extended to 16 days. I started adding a day here and a day there and decided there was no sense in interrupting a vacation with a day of work here and a day of work there. Now until July 10 I can relax, read, clean up around the house, catch a few movies, barbeque, and watch baseball games. Unfortunately, the days will fly by and when I return to the office I will have forgotten I even had time off.

Reading. I am reading the latest book by Bruce Wagner, "The Chrysanthemum Palace," which the New York Times’ book critic Michiko Kakutani writes:

As readers of Bruce Wagner's earlier novels well know, his Hollywood is an American Babylon, a stinking, sin-riddled cesspool, an unholy magnet for narcissists, egomaniacs, exhibitionists, climbers, stalkers, sycophants, control freaks, fame addicts, celebrity codependents, spiritual hucksters and a mad bevy of predators eager to exploit others' dreams, neuroses and vulnerabilities. The perfect backdrop, in short, for Mr. Wagner's caustic satire and sad-funny-scabrous meditations on vanity, mortality and loss.

So far it’s enjoyable and we’ll see once I finish how well I like this book. Next up will be Umberto Eco‘s illustrated novel “The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.”

Stuff Happens. Daughter and I saw David Hare’s play “Stuff Happens,” which as Hare says in the Author’s Note “Stuff Happens is a history play, which happens to center on very recent history. The events within it have been authenticated from multiple sources, both private and public.”

It was an outstanding production all the way around. It was three hours, but the time flew by. Hare wrote the play in such a way that the major milestones leading to war are both entertaining and interesting. The sad part is that so much of the play is crafted verbatim from the lies out of the mouths of the Bush gang, which frighteningly demonstrates what mad men are running this country currently. The play highlights the preconceived notions they had to attack Iraq. The terrorist attacks just made it easy for them to execute their war.

The following three quotes will only serve to further highlight the liars in the White House:

  • “The reason I keep insisting there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaeda is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda.”
    President George W. Bush, June 17, 2004
  • “There clearly was a relationship. It’s been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming.”
    Vice President Dick Cheney, June 17, 2004
  • “I have not suggested there’s a connection between Iraq and 9/11.”
    Vice President Cheney in the vice presidential debate, Oct. 5, 2004

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Hamsters have no cause for complaints.

Apparently, "the ideal hamster environment" is the cold vacuum of space.

Finally, Tony Hawk can get a hamster.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Gearing Up:
Eminently Wrong

Be scared. Be very scared. On Thursday, June 23rd, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Kelo vs. New London that grotesquely distorts the definition of eminent domain and leaves no one's home safe from government confiscation at below market rates.

In the past, eminent domain, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, has required government to give "just compensation" in exchange for land that government deems necessary for the public good. Originally, this was intended to include land needed for roads and military facilities. Over the years, it came to include railroads, then urban renewal projects and freeways.

The liberal wing of the Court, in the 5-4 decision, now says that the 'taking' process may be used to hand over property to developers who promise to build projects that may provide employment and yield sales tax revenues.

And those who will be doing the taking aren't going to be feds presumably experienced with the ins and outs of eminent domain, but elected city officials nationwide. They've been salivating for this decision for years. I just don't trust them to wisely apply an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in her dissenting opinion, put it bluntly. "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."

Those who live, eat and breathe the motto, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" seem to have nothing to say on blatant government usurpation not for public use but private gain. The civil libertarians' hypocrisy would be funny if not for the incredible danger to individuals' rights.

So much for those money-grubbing, rich and heartless conservative Republicans. Supreme Court conservatives opposed this bastardization of a governmental last resort. Now there will be many more resorts built on land taken at bargain rates. And no one's domain will be safe from government.

If you want to know more about the dangers of eminent domain abuse, Google "eminent domain" or just visit the Castle Coalition at or the Reason Public Policy Institute's page on eminent domain

A Culture of Life

I can't tell you who should properly be credited with this insight, but it wasn't me.

The right-wing nutsos who got us into this war are all-fired up about saving the lives of fetuses and folks in a persistent vegetative state and, for that matter, embryos. They don't, however, seem to care so much about sending people to war to lose their lives in violent and tragic circumstances.

We are subjecting human beings to life-threatening conditions, knowing that a certain percentage of them are going to die. This is something those right-wingers would never let happen to an embryo, because it's too precious.

Guerilla Gorilla:
Seize This!

It's Friday at the Mishap, and I want to introduce you all to an associate of mine who will be posting now and again -- Guerilla Gorilla.

Guerilla Gorilla can be a little terse and unpolished at times, but I think he has some interesting insight into the world around us (especially given his status as a gorilla). He asked me to post for him, as his gorilla brain enables him to type and work in Photoshop, but he is still unable to master the concept of a blog.

And though Guerilla Gorilla could care less, I have found his source for you loyal readers.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Who's the sick one?

From Mystery Achievement:
A would-be female suicide bomber who planned to blow up at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba on Monday, the same hospital where she received treatment for burns this past year, was caught at the Erez crossing wearing explosives stitched to her underwear.


I read that her specific target was the doctor who helped her recover from her earlier burns. It's this kind of crazy thinking that leads me to wonder if there will ever be peace in the Middle East. The Misanthrope mentioned to me that perhaps she was seeking revenge against the doctor for preventing her death as a martyr. If that were the case, and to all people who find themselves in similar situations, here's my suggestion: the best revenge would be to just kill yourself, leaving the doctor to rue the day he or she wasted time trying to fix you up. Yes, I know -- less people die. But you'll get over it, crazy terrorist psycho. At least you'll be dead.

Oasis: The Next Spinal Tap?

Interviewer: Ricky Gervais [of "The Office"] told me there's a story that Liam thinks Spinal Tap are a real band. Is that true?

Noel Gallagher [of Oasis]: Yeah, he thought they were real people. We went to see them play in Carnegie Hall. Before they played, they came on as three folk singers from the film A Mighty Wind. We were laughing and he said: "This is shit." We said: "No, those three are in Spinal Tap. You do know they are American actors?" "They're not even a real band?" "They're not even English! One of them is married to Jamie Lee Curtis." "I'm not fuckin' 'avin that," he says, and walks off right up the middle of Carnegie Hall. He's never watched Spinal Tap since. He'd seen the film and loved it and thought they were a real band.

[Here's the story in London's Guardian. Thanks, Stereogum!]

Nazis Are Bad

Nazis are really bad, and everyone knows it. Which is why Senator Dick Durbin is taking flak for comparing the goings-on at Guantanamo to Nazi atrocities. But Stephanie Miller (talk show host extraordinaire) has pointed out that the Republicans making so much out of his comments have still never apologized for similar comments, including comparing Democrats to Nazis during the last presidential campaign. Check it out.

Turd Blossom Sets Smoke Screen

To vice, innocence must always seem only a superior kind of chicanery.
Ouida (1839–1908), novelist

When I saw the report about the vile, fascist comments from Turd Blossom, my initial reaction was to point out the utter nonsense of his remarks (Turd Blossom is President Bush’s pet name, aptly so, for Karl Rove), but this is a magnificent smoke screen to further divide the political parties in order to rally their majority in Congress to get the votes for:

  • John Bolton as the ambassador to the UN,
  • The Supreme Court Nominee, and
  • Finally for Social Security.

TB’s comments should be roundly exposed for what they are a decoy for more insidious plans. From the New York Times, here is the nonsense from Turd Blossom:

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.

Yellow Ribbons

From Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted:
After three months, all the yellow ribbons that people had tied to their car antennas were faded to almost white. Flags of surrender.

The Death Gap

Young people just don’t respect their elders. And once those elders have passed beyond the shadowy veil of death, once their bodies rest eternally encased in cold, hard earth or behind the walls of a well lighted mausoleum, what kid with anything better to do willingly seeks out the gravestone, the plaque, the marker in order to pay respects?

And so, in my continuing efforts to bring peace and understanding to every corner of this world we call home, I present my solution to this problem, what I call the “death gap.”

While many old people die in very boring, mundane ways, there is nonetheless a huge populace within many cemeteries whose deaths were more violent, more dramatic, more interesting. It is those deaths that we should immortalize with more than a simple headstone – those graves should be marked with a life-size statue representing how they died.

Now that's an exciting headstone!

The result will be a new kind of cemetery, one which welcomes not just mourners but visitors of all stripes. They will come to mourn the dead, certainly, but also to witness the spectacle of death itself, preserved in marble or granite or alabaster, serving as a reminder and warning to those still breathing the breath of life.

If you want to increase the foot traffic, you've just got to give them something to ogle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

On The Mark -- Enter Here

I've been wondering about this for a long time, and nobody yet has had an answer.

Who started, and why did so many young ladies copy, the tattoo on the lower back just above the ass? I've seen it on zillions of girls. I don't have anything against tattoos, and I've seen some pretty nice ones in strategically located areas of the body.

But this tattoo seems like a big joke that has been played on these young ladies. In fact, it seems that they've been branded and I don't understand why the feminists haven't gone ballistic about this. Saturday Night Live did a funny skit a few months ago that showed how these tattoos transformed over the years as the ladies got older and their body shapes changed.

I asked my niece if she knew what the "boys" call these tattoos. She didn't know. I told her "enter here." She was appalled, but hey, wake up. That's what it's all about.

Am I wrong?

Decemberists Take On America

Check out the new video for the Decemberists' "Sixteen Military Wives." It's set in a private school in the midst of a "Model U.N." program, and addresses the current state of the world and America's place therein. And it's a little lefty.

What’s in Your Car?

The car has become the carapace, the protective and aggressive shell, of urban and suburban man.
Marshall McLuhan (1911 - 1980), sociologist

A friend told me her car was a mess and listed the items inside. I agree the car sounds like a mess. My car is usually very clean except for ATM receipts crinkled up and thrown on the floor in disgust with the pitiful totals revealed. I have a bottle of water and CD cases on the front seat. In the back seat is my fisherman’s hat from the rainy season that I have not taken out. If my car is too dirty On The Mark is Johnny on the spot to tell me it needs to be washed. I won’t mention that if he turned in all the Diet Coke cans from inside his car he’d have enough cash for a tropical vacation.

Here is the list from my friend’s car and part of her note:

My car was a disaster. I mean seriously a disaster! It looks like I was living in my car!!!

I had the following items in there:
1. Slippers
2. Baseball cap and mitt
3. Blow Dryer-2 hairbrushes
4. Empty garment bag
5. Pajamas
6. Tennis Shoes
7. Tank Tops
8. Exercise Mat
9. Empty water bottles

Similar to that rip off credit card company that is always advertising, What’s in your car?

Thank you, elevator news agency.

Do I really need the elevator telling me this? Here's what I think: too much of anything is bad for you, and most things in moderation are fine. And anyone who listens to medical advice from an elevator gets exactly what they deserve.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

On The Mark -- I Kept My Promise (hmmmmm)

Well, this Schiavo affair just won't go away. I've lambasted Jeb Bush for his stupid moves recently. But now Michael Schiavo, the husband of the deceased Terri Schiavo, has done something that raises my eyebrows because it seems very inappropriate to me. I don't agree with what Jeb's doing, but maybe there's more to Michael than we know.

Michael buried Terri's ashes in a cemetery, and on the grave marker he put the following inscription: "I Kept My Promise." If you ask me, that's not a comment to Terri, it's all about him. Terri's parents are very upset, and you can't blame them. Who would want to visit her grave and see that inscription, except Michael, of course? Is anybody advising this guy?

No wonder people like reality television so much. There's so much stupidity out there, how can it be anything other than entertaining, and sad?

They Just Cannot Help It

"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first—verdict afterwards."
Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898)

How much more asinine can House Republican John Hostettler be? I wonder how loud Republicans will agree that his comments are wrong or if there will be any apologies or regrets issued?

There is no reason to comment further. From the Washington Post:

Business on the floor of the House was halted for 45 minutes yesterday after Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.) accused Democrats of "denigrating and demonizing Christians," prompting a furious protest from across the aisle.

The House was debating a Democratic amendment to the annual defense appropriations bill that would have required the Air Force Academy to develop a plan for preventing "coercive and abusive religious proselytizing."

Hostettler, speaking against the amendment, asserted that "the long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives" and "continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats."

"Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians," he said.


Hostettler later agreed to strike those words from the record, but Republicans were not backing down.

"Hostettler may have said it unartfully," Majority Leader Tom DeLay' said Tuesday. But "Democrats are constantly attacking people of faith." DeLay, R-Texas, also decided to get in a couple of licks at Durbin, calling his remarks about Guantanamo Bay a "premeditated and monstrous attack against America's military

Who's the cavity creep now?

The toothpaste manufacturers of the world are scamming us. Here's what I have figured out: morning breath is caused by toothpaste.

When you brush your teeth right before bed with toothpaste, you wake up the next morning with the pasty, sticky, stale taste in your mouth.

When you don't brush your teeth before bed (let's pretend you're too tired or something, OK?), you don't wake up with that taste in your mouth.

Toothpaste has sugar in it -- that's why it tastes good.

Eating/drinking/ingesting sugar before you go to bed keeps your saliva flowing, and leaves a residue in your mouth... like when you've had a soda to drink, and an hour later you realize you have some weird filmy substance covering your tongue and you have to brush your teeth to get rid of the taste.

When you wake up with morning breath, you are more likely to use more toothpaste when you brush your teeth that morning.

When you use more toothpaste, you need to buy it more frequently. When you buy it more frequently, the toothpaste company makes more money.

Monday, June 20, 2005

On The Mark -- Like Spoiled Little Kids

One often hears the question, asked by politicians, as well as people on the street: why hasn't Al Qaeda attacked again in the United States? It's a legitimate question that seems to have baffled even our terrorism experts.

Jeb Bush's move on Friday regarding Terri Schiavo (see earlier post here) made it all clear to me. Bin Laden may be despicable and a cold-blooded killer of innocent people. But he appears to be pretty smart, too. He understood long before any or all of us the Bush clan personality. See, Bid Laden knew that once Bush went into Iraq he wouldn't leave until he got his way. The Bush's always have to get their way, even when it's a lost cause. Like spoiled little kids.

So what better strategy than to frustrate the hell out of Bush in Iraq. "You know how many millions of insurgents I can keep funneling into Iraq?" Osama must be thinking. It's certainly worked against us before (I don't even have to mention that war analogy, do I?) Why attack in the U.S. again when all it will do is build support for Bush? To attack in the U.S. in a major way would create a major patriotic reaction, whereas to keep slugging it out in Iraq, compounded by all the mistakes our administration keeps making, only wears down the U.S. willpower and patience (and finances).

The only chance of Bin Laden attacking in the U.S. again is if all is lost for Al Qaeda in Iraq, which doesn't appear to be happening any time soon (McCain said yesterday at least two years, and that's optimistic).

I think it's safe to do away with the traffic light warning system.

Republicans Out to Obscure Issues, Again

"Go fuck yourself"
Vice President Dick Cheney, on the Senate floor, 2004

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) called the U.S. treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay comparable to the inhumane tactics used by Nazi, Soviet and Cambodian concentration camps. Hyperbole is lost on Republicans when it is used against them. Durbin said he regretted his comments, which as On The Mark pointed out here, is not the same as apologizing for the content of what he said.

However, there are major issues with the way the U.S. is handling prisoners these days. If the U.S. government suspects one of plotting against it, one can be held indefinitely without legal counsel, which on that level seems comparable to the above mentioned concentration camps.

The point here is to get the Guantanamo Bay issue out of the newspapers and not attempt to solve the problem at hand -- typical of the Republicans.

More Favoritism for Halliburton

I am against government by crony.
Harold L. Ickes (1874–1952), U.S. Republican politician

Halliburton has received another contract from the government. The company’s subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root was awarded $30 to build a 22-bed prison for terrorist suspects. According the article buried at the bottom of page 17 in the Sunday New York Times, the job is part of a larger contract that could be worth up to $500 million through 2010.

This story was released on Friday. I first read it on Poliblog, under the heading "What Will Howard Dean Say?" which sited the Reuters article, but what bothered me about Poliblog’s post was that he said:

"So, now we have Gitmo + Halliburton. If Karl Rove can somehow be worked into the story, the Democrats’ version of the Axis of Evil will be complete. "

I believe that there is a lot of favoritism going on where Halliburton is concerned. Click here for one example. None of the stories, including the Los Angeles Times story buried inside in its Saturday edition mentioned whether the award was a no bid contract or not. If it was open for bid and Halliburton received the nod, so be it that is the way business works. However, another no bid contract should require an investigation.

As far as Rove is concerned, I despise that unethical, lying “turd blossom” or whatever presidential name Bush calls him.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Misanthrope – Sunday’s Lighter Side

The feeling of Sunday is the same everywhere, heavy, melancholy, standing still. Like when they say, “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.”
Jean Rhys (1894–1979), author

Happy Father’s Day. The third Sunday in June in 1910 was first celebrated by the residents in Spokane, Washington; thereafter by Hallmark. I would like to see Father’s and Mother’s days changed to Parent’s Day. It is really a difficult holiday to take when one’s parent is no longer around. I have told wife and daughter to please not get me anything or do anything special. I only utilize the day if I want them to run an errand or prepare a meal for me. Since the day has not changed yet, I will take this opportunity to say, Happy Father’s Day, dad.

Jagged Little Pill. I suppose the title could be used to describe Alanis Morissette and her never-ending quest to live off this CD. She did her “MTV Unplugged,” which featured quieter versions of her songs from the original “Jagged Little Pill.” In 2004, she released iTunes Originals, a collection available only on the internet narrated with stories about the songs. Now Comes “Jagged Little Pill Acoustic,” which is available only at Starbucks until the end of July. If you are not crazy about this CD, I recommend waiting because Starbucks overcharges from $5 to $7 for its CDs.

This is the long way to the point, but I purchased this CD and absolutely love it. I find the words carry even more punch than the original. I would say that this CD is ‘90s equivalent of Carole King’s Tapestry album in the ‘70s, only she didn’t make multiple versions of it, but the sales figures from each are incredible.

L.A. Dodgers. The team in blue is terrible, the owner is worse and is overtly greedy, and the announcers are sad. I am used to the quality of Vin Scully at least on the TV, since I don’t listen to the games on the radio any more for two reasons, one, the reception is weak and two, the greedy owner fired Ross Porter without so much as a tribute for 28 years of service. Now, we have Charley Steiner teamed with some one who was not named during the few innings I happily watched the Dodgers lose to the Chicago White Sox. It’s unfortunate the owner keeps making it so easy to hate the team I grew up rooting for.

Note: the following is not particularly light.

Hotel Rwanda. This was the movie that was up for the Academy Awards for best actor, Don Cheadle; supporting Actress, Sophie Okonedo and original screenplay. The Academy ignored the movie just as the world ignored the real tragedy and looked the other way in 1994 when Rwanda Hutu militants exterminated some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus without so much as a peep from Washington. If people were to be upset with Bill Clinton this is the situation to feel outrage about, not some private matter in the Oval office. But, not a single right to lifer/sanctimonious religious leader considered it important. I am sorry it took me so long to see this powerful movie. I really feel that we live in such a false world with so much violence, starvation and general cruelty that we are really just kidding ourselves thinking that U.S. democracy is going to change anything anywhere.

Another movie that brings my point home is "City of God." The story of a notorious housing project reputed to be one of the most dangerous parts of the otherwise magical Rio de Janeiro, a place where police and press dare not go. A place where kids kill other children as a way of life. It almost sounds like South Central Los Angeles.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Goodnight Moon

This is what I see when I read this book to my children: an open fireplace with no grate or protective enclosure; sharp fireplace tools; a balloon, ready to pop and be swallowed or choked upon; a telephone with long dangling cord to become ensnared in and strangled by (and why does such a small rabbit-kid need a phone anyway?); and vermin roaming freely.

Margaret Wise Brown, what were you thinking?

The Exit of Sierra Madre

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Backstroke of the West

Thank you,, for so many great shots of this illegal Star Wars bootleg.

Apparently the site has been taken down temporarily... so if it doesn't work, I apologize. If it does, enjoy!

On The Mark -- I Guess It Runs In the (Bush) Family

Jeb Bush couldn't stop Terri Schiavo's tube from being pulled. At last, one would have thought that she'd be able to rest in peace. But no, these Bushies don't stop scrapping if they don't get their way.

Jeb today asked a prosecutor to look into why it allegedly took so long for Terri's husband, Michael, to get help for her when she collapsed 15 years ago. This even after the autopsy revealed that she had not been strangled or abused in any way before she collapsed.

Michael's attorney, of course, said Jeb's request was preposterous. Which it is.

I keep thinking that the Bush clan can't surprise me anymore. And then they do.

The Smell of Lame Duck Cooking

“That’s all I’m going to say for now. Quack, quack.”
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Getting a subpoena or a search warrant from a grand jury or a judge, respectively, is not a tough hurdle to climb, but the Bush gang believes it is. Thankfully, there is an election coming up next year that has extremist Republicans heading for the middle.

According to the Washington Post, the House handed President Bush the first defeat in his effort to preserve the broad powers of the USA Patriot Act, voting yesterday to curtail the FBI's ability to seize library and bookstore records for terrorism investigations. The surprise 238 to 187 rebuke to the White House was produced when a handful of conservative Republicans, worried about government intrusion, joined with Democrats who are concerned about personal privacy.

Bush has threatened to veto any measure that weakens the government’s powers to invade and intrude on your privacy.

Those upset about the vote resort to the following nonsense, from the same WAPO article, "Bookstores and libraries should not be carved out as safe havens for terrorists and spies, who have, in fact, used public libraries to do research and communicate with their co-conspirators," Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella said in the letter.

What is really sad is that The American Civil Liberties Union called the vote a rare victory for civil liberties.

Taking a Temperature -- the Mercury Controversy
Gearing Up -- Guest Columnist

We all remember those elementary school demonstrations of mercury and how it beads, bounces and squeezes everywhere. Well, it's an apt metaphor for a serious political and medical problem with mercury in the U.S. today.

There’s an aspect of the autism epidemic widely covered of late that needs more attention, what may be the nastiest triggers for autism, namely mercury in kids’ vaccinations.

It has been four and one-half years since our son was diagnosed with high functioning autism, and from that day until now, we have watched the whole controversy about whether thimerosol, the mercury preservative in childhood vaccinations, could have caused the epidemic.

At first, we discounted the theory because we didn’t see in our son what others point to as the result of mercury toxicity – a dramatic reversal in development starting at about 18 months. Our son was behind each developmental milestone from the start. However, he suffered mini seizures until he was 5.

Now, science is making a disturbing case. Most damning is the apparent stabilization or drop in the number of new autism spectrum diagnoses since thimerosol was largely eliminated from most vax bottles.

This controversy is very complex, and it is still hard to get my hands around it. But, there’s suspicion that the FDA is protecting the pharmaceutical companies from massive class action lawsuits threatened by parents of kids with autism.

If mercury is a significant causal factor in autism, and if the FDA and pharmas knew but hid that information, their actions were reprehensible, potentially criminal and certainly far-reaching. Regardless, and notwithstanding the unknown benefits of new privately-funded research into autism's causes and treatment, the U.S. will pay a huge price for this epidemic for decades.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Palm Desert

Hit Palm Desert for a few days and was, as usual, struck by the sublime beauty of the sparse wasteland, contrasted with the sheer immensity of the commercial ventures being thrust upon that landscape.

Also struck by the fact that bugs + 100-degree heat at 9 in the morning = never going to live there.

P.S. Our four-year-old didn't quite appreciate the sublime beauty, our six-year-old preferred reading Junie B. Jones to looking out the minivan window, and our two-year-old was too busy removing her shoes and socks to even hear us pointing out another scrub-covered mountain.

Taking Advantage of Others' Tragedy

Evil is like water, it abounds, is cheap, soon fouls, but runs itself clear of taint.
Samuel Butler (1835–1902), English author

An autopsy on Terri Schiavo, the severely brain damaged woman whose death sparked an intense debate over a person's right-to-die, showed that her brain was severely "atrophied," weighed less than half of what it should have, and that no treatment could have reversed the damage.

Pardon the hyperbole, but someone should check to see if Tom Delay, Bill Frist and Jeb Bush have not experienced some sort of atrophying of their respective brains. DeLay used Schiavo’s tragic misfortune to obscure possible illegal activities on his part. Frist and Jeb used her to solidify their right-wing base for a possible runs in ‘08 (which for Jeb means being drafted at the last minute to run).

According to the New York Times, Piniellas-Pasco Medical Examiner, Jon Thogmartin said "This damage was irreversible. No amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons."

Why is it that those in power right were able to get away with shamelessly taking advantage of Schiavo's vegetative state and her parent’s deepest hopes for a recovery? Let’s not forget that this is the same group that took advantage of Pat Tillman’s tragic death to trumpet patriotism and to promote its misguided fight against terrorists.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

On The Mark -- Rash Decisions

When companies are under attack by a newspaper or television news outlet they sometimes do rash things like pull all of their advertising from that outlet. "That'll show them," they think. In nearly all cases it's a bad move. General Motors recently did this with the LA Times. They had been unhappy with reporting by the Times for some time, and a couple months ago the newspaper's automotive writer wrote a rather unpleasant review of some of GM's new cars. The next day GM pulled all their advertising -- valued at millions of dollars. The end result will be that the Times will continue writing bad reviews if they don't like the cars, and GM will have lost a major connection with its potential customers. Seems like a double-whammy loss for GM to me.

So now members of the GOP want to do the same thing with the International Red Cross. They are contemplating pulling U.S. financial support for IRC because of the IRC reports about abuses at U.S. military detention centers for enemy combatants. Signficant dollars, of course. In their minds it's the classic GOP bullying approach -- if you don't fall in line with how we think we'll hurt you.

Yet, all that will happen is that IRC will find funds somewhere else and keep writing reports that reflect bad things if that's what they see. The buck may stop, but it won't stop the IRC. Thank goodness.

Superman, Super Grudge

This is why you don't piss off Superman; he's this close to letting those innocent people burn just because he doesn't want to help Batman.

Getting Off
Gearing Up -- Guest Columnist

Well, the Gloved One uh er um, shall we say, got off. According to the Gallup poll released the day after Wacko Jacko was acquitted on all counts, your humble bloviator is among the nearly 60% of white folk who think he should have been hog-tied and hauled off to a jail cell.

I just don’t know where to begin being, shall we say, uh er um, pissed off.

Allow me to start with the fact that $4 million of California tax payers’ money was spent to unsuccessfully make the case that Jackson is a pedophile not Peter Pan. When will we ever learn? When will these second-rate full-of-themselves district attorneys step aside and hire a high-powered attorney from the private sector to try these high profile cases, so the government can win a case once in awhile? The best shysters to get would be the old ones who want to redeem their greedy amoral careers before they themselves go to the courtroom in Hell by putting away famous murderers and sickos.

The next wellspring of my ire is the small detail that Michael Jackson is guilty as sin. His pedophilia is a sickness, a compulsion that has been there for all too many to see but not see for a long time. The pattern and history goes way beyond circumstantial evidence. And it will continue despite whatever vow of lifestyle change Jackson made.

Lastly, (for the moment,) is the jury that the least money could buy. Shame on the prosecutor for such amateur voire dire to end up with such a jury. California once again has put onto the international stage a collection of barely literate, self-righteously pompous people as our latest example of the true gravitas amongst us. Well, listening to that crew leaves me certain that their gravitas genuinely sucks.

There appears to be little doubt that Mother Arviso is a grifter, liar, and a criminally neglectful mother, but she and her son, like those who came before, no doubt are telling the truth or a good portion of it about Jackson’s behavior.

There, I even made it through this without making any cracks about the real reason Michael wears his glove...

Oh, it'll fester.

Jay Pinkerton posted a chillingly humorous account of a recent splinter incident.

Falafal Sex reveals the identity of the fifth Beatle. Surprised, you will be.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

On The Mark -- Best Quote of the Year

"Don't snap your fingers at me, lady," as said by the 79-year-old juror at the Michael Jackson trial. She was referring to the moment the alleged victim's mother was on the witness stand and, while making a comment, snapped her fingers at the jury.

You know that attitude.

It's the attitude of the guy behind me on the freeway on Sunday who was waving his arms and pointing at his speedometer (having a cow) because I was going 65 MPH. I saw the highway patrol car a mile back. The idiot behind me did not. He passed me gesturing. I had to exit, but I'm hoping he got nailed.

It's the attitude of the (many) people who race through red lights, even while there's a mother with a baby stroller about to cross the street. It's the attitude of someone who cuts in front of you in a parking lot to take the spot you were starting to pull in to. It's the attitude of the person who intentionally takes up two parking spaces, which, frankly, makes one want to dent their car vs. avoid it.

It's the attitude of the people sitting behind you in a movie theater chatting away during a movie, and then they get snippy when you politely ask them to stop. It's the attitude of...well, I could do this for hours.

This juror had the opportunity to put it right back in her face. So many times I've wished I could do the same thing. But I do get some joy in knowing that one person paid a heavy price.

Thinking Inside the Box

It's time to start thinking inside the box.

Everyone else is so fascinated with thinking outside the box, that it's become rather hum-drum. The real outside the box thinking is taking place inside the box.

With that in mind, here are some things I believe could be improved by some inside the box thinking.

Forget about reality TV, dancing backwards-talking midgets, and breaking the fourth wall; sure, "Survivor" may be popular and I appreciate the comedic aspects of making celebrities eat bugs, but how about some classic comedy like "I Love Lucy"? No one ever complains that they've already seen this particular episode, in which Lucy and Ethel concoct a crazy scheme and hijinks ensue. And "Lost" has a pretty big following, but how about a show where you actually understand what's going on, or are at least clued in at the end -- something like "The Twilight Zone"? Gimme some in-the-box shows again, please.

Can we please have a new car that doesn't look like a tank? One that doesn't give you enough room to drive the entire soccer team to the Sahara for a week and subsist entirely on provisions that fit into the ample trunk space? Something that doesn't eat gas like it's not almost three bucks a gallon, and won't throw a gasket or bust a splange or gyrol a mustin (or whatever is under the hood) just after the warranty gives out; that's not too much to ask for, is it?

I know it's wrong to poke monkeys with sticks, but apparently some zoos are now giving apes the ability to douse visitors with water when the mood strikes them. It's better than throwing poo, certainly, but who's in charge on this planet? And these fancy habitats that give the animals a sense of home and places to hide, so that when you take your kids to the zoo you find yourself narrating the trip like this: "Behind the rock live a group of the cutest baby monkeys you could ever see... if you could see them. Back there, behind those bushes, is where the lions usually are, but it's a little hard to tell from here. And over there, in that cave, is where the capybaras are sleeping." Gimme a zoo where I can see the animals -- feed them well, don't torture them -- but can I please see them?

Kids' Birthday Parties
Perish the thought that a four year-old kid should have a party at home with a cake and a clown -- now it's three hours at the local gymnaisum with a trainer leading the kids through pre-Olympic prep exercises, or a day at the local amusement park complete with commemorative hats and bags and all-you-can-eat candy, or a tea party at some crazy Victorian-looking building where everyone wears fancy girdles and eats finger sandwiches or... well, you get the picture. We are holding firm -- maybe a bounce house out front, but no crazy million-dollar parties for kids who won't remember it.

Heros All
Gearing Up -- Guest Columnist

Notwithstanding professional athletes, there are plenty of real heroes in America. Amongst them is a group that is much larger than all of America’s soldiers, fire fighters, law enforcement personnel and first responders combined ‑ invisible heroes called parents of special needs children. My wife and I are part of that group.

No self-hero worship here, nor is this a self-righteous attempt to solicit sympathy. Everyone should be aware of, and thankful for, the devotion and ongoing sacrifices of these heroes. Our eldest son has high functioning autism. As late as a generation ago, many children with autism were institutionalized – either because of misdiagnosis, a dearth of treatments, stigma and/or the pure challenge of daily life for the child and his family.

Today, there are more interventions (i.e. treatments) and professionals to help all special needs parents to take care of their own kids, in their own homes. That doesn’t make it easy for us, but it takes a huge load off of society were the alternative the norm. So, lots of heroes, few of the self-aggrandizing persuasion, but all deserving of your awareness, and if you feel charitable after being over-taxed, your thanks.

Monday, June 13, 2005

On The Mark -- Patriot Act: What Nonsense I'm Reading

During the past week I've been reading various posts and comments regarding possible expansion of the Patriot Act. Most of the commentaries seem to have the common theme of "I'm not a bad guy, so I'm not worried about it. It's only the bad guys who should be worried, so it's a good thing." This is nonsense.

It's not about whether you think you're a bad person, it's about whether someone else with unlimited powers thinks you're a bad person. Watch how fast you don't like the Patriot Act when you're thrown in jail without cause or reason and not allowed to have representation for months or years. What happens if the friend you play tennis with every weekend turns out to be the next Timothy McVeigh, only with a team of militants (there are tens of thousands of them here in the U.S., we just haven't paid attention to them since 9/11)? What happens when you're locked up under suspicion because you were good friends with this suspect? Sure, this is unlikely, but the point is that the government can use the Patriot Act against anybody at any time. It's not just reserved for Muslims.

We've seen countless examples of abuse by our government. Just look at the recent arrests of the suspected terrorists in Lodi, Calif. The initial announcement stated that the suspects were targeting hospitals and food stores. But mysteriously, when the indictment was filed, this information was deleted. Why? Because they wanted to put it into the public mind that these people are evil-doers, convicted without a trial. Is there a better way to reach the public gut (maybe elementary schools, but they're probably saving that one for another time). Maybe these people are evil-doers, but it would be nice if this country would stand on what it's supposedly fighting for: democracy, justice, rights, and innocence until proven guilty -- and not pick and choose who has access to these rights.

By the way, millions of innocent, hard-working, patriotic people were sent to gulags and/or murdered by Stalin and his gang based only on the fact that Stalin et al "thought" they were bad.

Autism not Autistic
Gearing Up -- a Guest Columnist

I don’t have the time… well, sufficient motivation to create and maintain my own blog, so I’m benefiting from the kindness of a friend and glomming onto his.

Now, for my inaugural offering, I want to introduce you to a concept not just close to my heart, but seared into it like a brand. I am the father of a handsome, bright and sweet 13-year-old boy who has high-functioning autism.

The point here is best illustrated by an example. If you had cancer, would you like to be known as “cancerous,” or would you want to be described as having cancer? My son isn’t autistic, he has autism. I’m impatient with verbal shortcuts when it comes to my son.

Unlike a label, He has is a description that leaves his humanity intact, reminds all that he is capable of a lot and has unknown potential in his life. He isn’t doomed in any way.

Trust me when I say I am not a bleeding-heart liberal driven by emotion, always concerned about PC talk or not hurting some minority’s feelings. I’m a moderate on all that, which makes me a Republican. But with 1 in each 166 kids in the U.S. now diagnosed with a condition on the autism spectrum, we all better get with the program.

Guantanamo Bay Prison Matter Settled

We have ways of making men talk.
Anonymous, film catch phrase, often repeated as "We have ways of making you talk."

Last week, President Bush has said his administration is "exploring all alternatives" for detaining the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.

Yesterday the matter was settled. Vice President Dick Cheney, said there are no present plans to move the people being held. "The important thing here to understand is that the people that are at Guantanamo are bad people," he told the Bush media network FOX, reacting to a growing chorus of calls to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay where terrorism suspects are held.

The entire Guantanamo Bay idea of prisoners undermines everything the United States is trying to accomplish in its war on terror. It shows our hypocritical stance on human rights. Torture is okay if we are doing it because we know how to torture humanely.

Cheney also told the Bush network, "We've already screened the detainees there and released a number, sent them back to their home countries. But what's left is hard core."

Case closed: the detainees are there for at least as long as a Republican administration is in place.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Misanthrope – Sunday’s Lighter Side

Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
Henry James (1843 - 1916), writer and critic.

Horse Racing. I enjoy my thrice-yearly interest in horseracing – Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Derby, and the Preakness – unfortunately this year, I have missed each one. I get home from playing pool with On The Mark planning to watch each race and I promptly forget each one. The problem is my two o’clock nap is too enticing and I end up neglecting the horses. Oh well, there is always next year.

My Mother. “You provide far too much information on your blog, it’s like a diary. It’s no one’s business. I like it though, because I can find out what is going on with you.” My mother is not a blog reader. She has no idea the details people provide about their lives. My mother is always on the phone, but she does not call anyone. If I don’t call her, I generally don’t hear from her. Should I neglect to call, I will hear about that. I can tell you right now, my mother is having a fit that I have divulged this much information. Right mother?

Spammers. Toner Mishap was hit by a spammer the other day. It was not that big of deal, but do these intruders think that people don’t know what they are up to? I have to believe that if you are spamming to get buyers, this is your desperate shot at getting customers before you go out of business. Buying from spammers seems a risky proposition because these are people without ethics, so how are they going to treat you as a customer and what will be the quality of their goods?

The Bronx. Wife is heading out to the Bronx to visit her parents in a few weeks. She is looking forward to seeing family and friends, but she is now a Californian until the Mets or the Knicks are playing a California team. She is looking forward to taking one day to herself, going into Manhattan, and shopping for hours. One of the family’s favorite outings when she comes to town is to head out to the Barnes and Noble and peruse, chat and drink coffee – pronounced with the appropriate accent.

July 4th. I am looking forward to a long weekend, six-day weekend if I can arrange it. I plan to see a couple of movies, nap, read and do nothing. However, I am sure Daughter will have a different idea. She’ll want to eat out, see the movies she wants to, to spend “quality” time with Dad. My idea of quality time is for us to read and watch the ballgame on television together. Even when she was a toddler, I couldn’t get her interested in napping with pop. She had to have the biggest stuff animal she could find with her for the nap. She would wait for all of two or three minutes, which is an eternity for a child. She would think I was asleep and slowly move the animal next to me, so I would think it was her and she would scamper off. Of course, after I got up I would go downstairs and pretend I was surprised and shocked about what had transpired. She would get the biggest thrill by tricking her dad.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Home and Garden

Oh, Adam was a gardener, and God who made him sees
That half a proper gardener's work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and pray
For the Glory of the Garden, that it may not pass away!

Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936), writer and poet

Gardeners are a necessary luxury if you work fulltime. No longer does the corporate world work on a set schedule, nor has it for sometime. This development has required me to employ the services of a gardener(s) to keep the yards presentable.

Having a gardener used to be a very meticulous and prideful occupation, but today with the advent of blowers, weed whackers and battery operated shears, when the gardeners come to the house it is more like watching a pit crew team during a NASCAR race. Mowers, blowers and trimmers racing around the house, only it’s helter skelter not a choreographed, organized event where the clean-up man follows the trimmer or the mowers, no it’s just cut, blow trim or trim, blow and cut. Rarely is it cut, trim and blow.

The advent of the blower seems to me the downfall of the art of gardening. Nothing is picked up – dust is just blown from one side of the yard to the other. Oh sure, a few leaves are picked up, but mostly the blowers are just small tornados sweeping the dirt under the carpet, and onto the carpet literally, if I don’t close the sliding door. Just rewards to the inventor of the blower will only be served, if he is sent to hell with the sound of blowers serenading him while he is forced to live and breathe in a cloud of dust.

Another part of the gardener equation is timing. They seem to show up whenever it is convenient to them; there is no set time. However, my gardeners are rather timely, since I threatened to replace the whole team with a group that would come a day earlier (Friday as opposed to Saturday). B2 was mentioning that his gardeners arrive just as the kids are going down for their nap or during naptime, worse still show up when they are entertaining family or friends. On The Mark’s band of mowers, blowers and trimmers will leave without a second thought if the gate is locked without checking to see if anyone is home.

Finally, during the holiday season, when service providers send their clients gifts for doing business with them throughout the year, my service providers expect a gift. I may be a misanthrope, but I am not a skinflint, so I give them something we could all use – cash. However, for the inventor of the blower, I have a suggestion for where he can place his blower.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Israel May Use Sound Weapon on Settlers

Israel is considering using an unusual new weapon against Jewish settlers who resist this summer's Gaza Strip evacuation — a device that emits penetrating bursts of sound that leaves targets reeling with dizziness and nausea. Tzahal (Israel's army) calls it "the scream" (source). Here are some alternatives they could have tried instead:

The Steam
Set up a nice shvitz just outside the Gaza border.

The Dream
A giant, robotic Theodore Herzl berates settlers in a loud voice: "If you will leave, it is no dream."

The Red and Green
Christmas carols -- play 'em loud, all day, every day (and extra loud on Shabbat).

The Extreme
Blindfold the settlers and take them across the border, explaining it's part of a new reality TV show that is a cross between "Survivor" and "Lost" -- then leave them all on Cyprus.

The Team
If you've got a problem and no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

The Cream
Ban the sales of Dr. Brown's Cream Soda in Gaza. Problem solved.

The Gleem
Free toothpaste to the first ten settlers who leave.

The Ream
This one is quite painful, but is very successful as a deterrent when widely publicized.

The Beam
The crew of the Starship Enterprise travels back in time to... right now; Scotty takes care of the rest.

The Redeem[er]
Announce that Moshiach has come, and He's waiting for everyone at the Temple Mount.

Back-up Trauma

Watch this.

A source reports back:
Did I ever mention to you that the high-end data recovery people have counselors answering their tech support lines, to get people to calm down and be able to talk rationally before passing them on to the data specialists? It makes sense, thinking what type of mindset some people are in when their powerbook gets run over by a truck or dropped underwater...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

On The Mark -- 818-Trailer-Trash

This is how bad we've gotten about status in our society. It's not just about zip codes, it's also about area codes. The 310 area code covers a territory of beaches, rich homes and nice neighborhoods. There are also quite a few bad neighborhoods, too, but everyone ignores those.

When it was proposed recently that the 310 area code be split up to create a new area code, one would have thought the proposal was asking that homes be uprooted and moved to another part of the city. People are furious. Not because they have to memorize a new phone number, or plug in new info into their PDAs. It's because the 310 area code massages their egos. When someone asks for their phone numbers, and they reply 310-, it gives them a sense of superiority. A feeling that they're better than you. 818? 805? 213? 626? Poor soul, you haven't succeeded in life. Indeed, you're a lowlife. Trailer trash.

Now keeping up with the Joneses is more than having the latest Lexus. It's about the phone number you give out.

Product Names That Need to be Changed

Seriously -- apparently I love the grocery store.

The March of Folly

The chief attraction of military service has consisted and will consist in this compulsory and irreproachable idleness.
Leo Tolstoy (1828 - 1910), writer

Now here is a shocker: the military (the Army specifically) is expected to fall short of its recruiting goals. Maybe it is attributable:
(a) more police work than military operations,
(b) military vehicles not properly equipped with armor,
(c) faulty bulletproof vests, and
(d) extended duty in a war that the United States was an unnecessary aggressor.

Here is a quote that will have to go down as classic corporate doublespeak: The Army said it lowered the May target to "adjust for changing market conditions." War would certainly fall into the category of changing market conditions.

If we do not fall into a depression of sorts with lack of job opportunities forcing young people into service, I expect the military to reinstate a draft in the next decade, otherwise we could see the 1960s’ slogan come back in vogue – “what if we gave a war and no one showed up?”

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

On The Mark -- Like A Dog (with apologies to Kafka)

Sunday morning I flipped on NBC to watch Meet the Press only to find the French Open being telecast. I haven't watched tennis for quite a while, so I said, why not? Before my eyes was a very competitive tennis match, but also a mirror of what is happening in the Bush Administration today.

First I noticed that the Argentinean player went to the sidelines and took a good while to wipe off sweat and take a drink of water. "He can't do that," I said to myself. "This isn't a changeover." But the umpire didn't say anything. I thought to myself that these little things create bigger things, but also admonished myself for blowing it out of proportion, or so I thought.

Then the crowd starting getting a little unruly. Shouting and yelling while the players were about to serve. "My goodness," I said to my dogs, "this is starting to look like a soccer match. Why isn't the umpire asking for silence?" which he finally did, but it was too late. Then the Spanish player took his sweet time during a changeover to change rackets, drink water, etc., and the Argentinean player got pissed and started gesturing at the umpire. "Serves the umpire, right," I said to my cats. Meanwhile, the jeers and catcalls got louder and more frequent.

It was at this time that I said to myself that eventually we will see hooligans storming the court and having brawls, just like an international soccer match. Then the unbelievable happened. A wave. You know, where different sections of the crowd stand up in unison with their arms raised so that it looks like a wave moving around the stadium. This stupid activity started at the Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984.

Anyway, at this point all was lost. The players, umpire, etc., had no choice but to wait until the crowd decided it was finished. It became the crowd's event. It was no longer a championship tennis match.

People are like dogs, give them an inch and they'll try for a foot. If you don't correct them early, you'll lose control forever. For the sake of this argument, in this case the "people" metaphor is the Bush Administration. They've been given inches that they turned into feet. After five years it's turned into yards. It's no longer what's right or wrong for America, it's about what's right or wrong for them.

We've given them inches, which they are now turning into miles.

Is the Rapture here yet?

Thanks to I Hate Pat Robertson for the nifty Rapture Index. Granted, my religious beliefs don't include a Rapture, but I still find it funny.

Welcome to the Jungle

Just as Darwin discovered the law of evolution of organic matter, so Marx discovered the law of evolution of human history.
Friedrich Engels (1820 - 1895), socialist

G.M. plans to eliminate more than 20 percent of its blue-collar jobs in the United States. It would seem to me that it would make more sense to reduce executive salaries first and make them earn their salaries and bonuses by bringing the company back to profitability without continual layoffs.

General Motors Corp. chief executive Rick Wagoner received a $4.66m salary and bonus last year, an 8% decline from what he was paid in 2003, according to the automaker's annual proxy filing. In addition to his unchanged $2.2m salary and $2.46m bonus, down from $2.86m for 2003, Wagoner also received options on 400 000 GM shares and about $160 000 in other pay.

Let’s see with Wagoner’s bonus alone that could keep approximately 40 people employed making roughly $50,000 per year. The announced layoffs are just a precursor to far more insidious cuts such as going after the retired workers health benefits, which will be followed by defaulting on its promised pensions. However, let’s make this perfectly clear; Wagoner and other executive level officers will have to give up one thin dime.

Don’t look for the Bush gang to offer any relief. Hmmm. I wonder how many of those tough talking assembly line workers are happy they voted for George Bush now.

The Bush gang has offered a plan that would sharply increase premiums charged to employers that operate traditional pensions. The plan would also tighten pension-funding requirements, especially for financially weak employers.

Unfortunately, employer groups say Bush's plan would raise the cost of pensions more than necessary, encouraging employers to terminate even healthy plans.

Our social safety nets are being dismantled and the Bush gang and Republicans in Congress could not be happier. I wonder who they will blame once the people wake up and see that inequality is wider now than any time since 1929 -- the liberal media, the unions? Maybe they should look in the mirror.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

On The Mark -- Numbing and Dumbing

Silly me. I should have known by now that there was a reason why the Bush Administration got ants in its pants about the Newsweek report a few weeks ago stating that U.S. military personnel had flushed the Koran down a toilet. I had a hunch that they were using this report, which Newsweek quickly retracted, for purposes other than accusing Newsweek of instigating anti-American sentiment and riots in Muslim countries. One could call the insurgency in Iraq one big riot that Newsweek had nothing to do with, but that’s for another time.

The Bush Administration’s temper tantrum was all part of its very successful campaign of Numbing and Dumbing the general public, which I’ve reported on several times in the past. They knew a negative report (last week) was coming out about how the U.S. military had improperly handled the Koran, and what better way to deaden the impact of that report against the U.S. military than to re-direct the blame in advance of the report being released (and have Newsweek fold like a bad hand in Texas Hold ‘em)?

OK, the U.S. military did not flush the Koran, or that we know of, anyway. But they did piss on it. They did step on it. They did write on it and use it in a number of improper ways. But, hey, at least they didn’t flush it down the toilet, so it’s not so bad. Ho hum. We’ve heard all this before, so what’s the big deal?

Numb the “audience,” dumb the “audience.”

I really hate to admit it, but damn, these strategic communications guys are good.

Store Wars

My two favorite things, together in one little movie -- grocery stores plus George Lucas = Store Wars! (Yes, that's Chewbroccoli on the left.)

Inconvenience Store

Went to the grocery store and noticed for the frist time that sometihing I read in a fun novel called Slick was on the mark (if you'll pardon the use of that phrase): grocery stores are intentionally inconvenient.

Let's say you have to go shopping, and let's create a list of basic essentials you might want to purchase:
toilet paper
In my local grocery store, the bread is on the far left, and the milk all the way in the back. The juice is in the far right in back, the apples are along the right wall, and the toilet paper is somewhere in the middle of the store in aisle 14 or something like that.

In order to get all of the items on my very simple list, I have to pass through almost the entire store -- forcing me past row after row of other items that I probably would never buy if not for the famed "impulse buy" factor. If grocery stores really wanted to make things easy for their customers, they'd put the necessary items up front near the checkout lanes, so I could really get in and out quickly; instead, they have me walking past sugary snacks and soda and frozen goods... walking past everything else in the store on my trek to gather just five items.

Not that I expect them to do otherwise; everyone's gotta make a buck, and this is the best way to make sure people see all that great stuff they don't need, but will probably buy if it's put within arm's reach.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Afternoon Golf Delight

Devo, where do you find these things?

Another Catholic Church Betrayal

Look through the whole history of countries professing the Romish religion, and you will uniformly find the leaven of this besetting and accursed principle of action—that the end will sanction any means.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), poet

Pope John Paul II’s longtime assistant has refused to burn the late pontiff’s papers as his will instructed. The assistant said that the papers are full of great riches that should be made available to the public.

I have news for the Catholic Church and the assistant, it is not up to them to decide that the deceased Pope’s papers shouldn’t be burned. If they had not checked with John Paul II before he passed away it is too late now to go against the pontiff’s will.

This is just another in a long line of betrayals by the church.

Happy 21st Birthday, Daughter

Oh my son’s my son till he gets him a wife,
But my daughter’s my daughter all her life.

Dinah Mulock Craik (1826–87), writer

It is hard to believe that 21 years ago I became a father for the first and last time. There are so many wonderful memories to recall and the time disappeared much faster than anyone had even warned me about.

During the delivery I was thinking, why couldn’t this be like the old days where they just come out to the lobby and tell the father if it was a boy or a girl. There was no doubt in our minds that Daughter was going to be a boy. Her mother wanted a girl. I wanted a boy, but we both just wanted a healthy baby. We even painted her room blue (actually, her mother and a girlfriend did; I hate doing that kind of work; I am sure there is some reason for that avoidance that I can blame on my parents).

As Daughter came into this world, her mother lifted her head, and the nurse said it was a girl, who was crying in a loud shrilly voice, but when they handed Daughter to her mother she immediately stopped crying. It was a very special and poignant moment that changed my mind about fathers in the delivery room.

Daughter is very punctual or early, and her arrival on June 6, 1984 should have been an indication of what we were in for. She was early by about a week or two. What did I know, I thought that due dates were accurate and there would be no problem going to the Dodger game when she wasn't due for another week, but alas, I missed the game with On The Mark, where first baseman Mike Marshall hit a grand slam against a good Houston team, I believe.

The other thing she arrived with besides a sense of responsibility were big flat feet and vocal chords that to this day rattle the house. Before we were sent packing from the hospital, Daughter was taken out of the nursery and given to her mother because she was waking up the other babies. Again, nothing has changed; she just keeps waking us up coming home late and saying good night dad until she gets an answer.

Daughter has a good relationship with her parents, but I would say like most girls, she is a daddy’s girl, however considering the pain I have caused her I am rather surprised. When she was a toddler, she sat down in protest while I was holding her hand, and unbeknownst to me, I pulled her arm out of place. I didn’t realize what all the crying was about until I put her down for her nap and she kept dropping her right arm that held her bottle, like a bird with a wounded wing. The mere act of putting her jacket on her to take her to the doctor’s popped the arm back in place. She was okay until her mother came home and then she milked it all again.

The most traumatic time happened as Daughter and I were returning from recycling plastic bottles and her mother was at the gym. We were riding on my bike, she was sidesaddle on the bar between the handlebars and me when her foot slipped and got caught in the spokes. I went flying head first as if shot from a cannon and Daughter stayed tangled up with the bike. I immediately picked myself up and untangled her foot from the spokes and I carried Daughter in my arms and stopped a passing car and had him take us to the hospital. The hospital staff jumped to immediately because she was five or six and her face was a bit bloody. Her mother was notified by my father and as her mother came into the hospital, she saw my mangled 10-speed bike, which a policeman was kind enough to drop off at the hospital, and thought a Mac truck had hit us. Daughter was fine and ended up with a bright pink cast on her foot and ankle for six weeks.

Daughter is tenacious. I recall when she was learning to jump rope, she stayed outside for hours practicing until she was able to coordinate her little body and conquer the timing. Her persistence continues. She was completing an open-book final in statistics, when she looked at the test and started crying because she just didn’t know how to do it. Rather than give up, she stayed up all night reviewing notes and rereading chapters and aced the test.

The days fly by and I know that her time at home is part-time at best as she is now interning during the summer and then leaves for California’s central coast and Washington, D.C. in mid-September to intern in the House of Representatives.

Happy Birthday Baby and ace the LSATs!

Happy Birthday to the Misanthrope's Daughter

Just be glad your father has more sense than Penn Jillette.