Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat
Sighing through all her works gave signs of woe,
That all was lost.
John Milton (1608 - 1674), poet

Our hearts and best wishes go out to the people whose lives have been (this is an understatement) upset and devastated by Hurricane Katrina. This appears to be what the insurance industry calls 100-year natural disasters. Check out Poliblog for updates and additional photos. I was amazed at the photo of Katrina from space.

Curtains dangle from windows blown out by high winds Monday at the downtown Hyatt Regency hotel in New Orleans. The hotel's guests rode out the storm in windowless conference rooms (photo from

Rather than pretending to be a war (of his own making) president, Bush should be at ground zero offering support, pledging funds and most importantly making sure the funds get distributed quickly and to the right people.

Why is Bush always so damn slow? Tuesday he was in San Diego going through his faux war president routine, but he took a minute to tell residents of the affected storm areas who have no power not to leave the shelters. Meanwhile, he returns to the ranch.

Natural Disasters I'd Prefer to Hurricane Katrina

Whipped-Cream-Avalanche Katrina

Too-Much-Jello Katrina

Endless-Concert-Of-My-Favorite-80s-Bands Katrina

Finding-So-Many-Quarters-In-Your-Couch-You-Don't-Know-What-To-Do Katrina

Preparing for Economic Depression

Here we all live in a state of ambitious poverty.
Juvenal (47–138 AD), Roman poet

The number of Americans who fell into poverty rose to 37 million — up 1.1 million from 2003 — according to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday. It marks the fourth straight increase in the government's annual poverty measure.

These statistics are simply nonsense because the poverty level is ridiculously low to begin with. The poverty threshold differs by the size and makeup of a household. For instance, a family of four was considered living in poverty last year if annual income was $19,307 or less. For a family of two, it was $12,334. Those numbers can be doubled and one would still have a very difficult time making ends meet.

While disappointed, the Bush gang — which has not seen a decline in poverty numbers since the president took office — said it was not surprised by the new statistics. And, I can only guess that they do not care.

Overall, the nation's poverty rate rose to 12.7 percent of the population last year. Of the 37 million living below the poverty level, close to a third were children.

The Census Bureau also said household income remained flat, and that the number of people without health insurance edged up by about 800,000 to 45.8 million people.

The last decline in overall poverty was in 2000, during the Clinton administration, when 31.1 million people lived under the threshold. Since then, the number of people in poverty has increased steadily from 32.9 million in 2001, when the economy slipped into recession, to 35.8 million in 2003.

For a country as rich and resourceful as the United States it is a shame that so many people have to live like this and so few care.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Financial Calamity -- Priceless

It is said that the world is in a state of bankruptcy, that the world owes the world more than the world can pay.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82), essayist

Along with high gas prices, food prices, entertainment prices, overpriced homes, now your credit card interest rate is going up too. According to the Wall Street Journal article in the Aug. 11 issue, a few major issuers, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Citigroup, and Bank of America are going to hit you and me with maximum penalty rates that can reach over 30 percent.

Of course, no one has put a gun to our heads and told us to over spend, or not pay a minimum payment. We can resist everything but the temptation to reward ourselves for working so hard, get that new car, treat yourself and spouse or significant other to an expensive dinner you’re worth it. Don’t forget that well deserved vacation for those 60 and 70 weeks you have been putting in. And, most importantly, don’t forget to pay your minimum payment on your credit card. But if you miss it, no worries.

The banking industry counts on you missing it. U.S. cardholders paid more than $24 billion in credit-card fees in 2004, an 18 percent jump from 2003. Guess what, the banks were worried we might file for bankruptcy, so they tighten the laws. Our politicians didn’t let them simply tighten the screws, no Sir, no Mme, our elected officials put the screws to all of us.

With the new laws, you will have your wages garnished to ensure you pay at least a good portion of that bill, if you eventually get a job. Everything is for the corporation and to protect the corporation. You and I have no one looking out for us anymore. Maybe we never did, but the government at least used to make it look like they did.

On some level we must all believe we have a chance at the brass ring because we keep allowing the rules to change in favor of those at the top. We have bought into a fantasy where we know the price of everything, but forget the final tally for society -- financial calamity -- priceless.

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Pious Hit List

I judge a man by his actions with men, much more than by his declarations Godwards—When I find him to be envious, carping, spiteful, hating the successes of others, and complaining that the world has never done enough for him, I am apt to doubt whether his humility before God will atone for his want of manliness.
Anthony Trollope (1815–82), novelist

Taken from Slates’ article “Pat Robertson’s Hit List,” I thought I would make Robertson’s hit list a bit more succinct:

  • David Souter
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Stephen Breyer
  • John Paul Stevens
  • Pagans
  • Abortionists
  • Feminists
  • Gays
  • Lesbians
  • ACLU
  • People for the American Way
  • Scotland
  • European bankers
  • Bavarian illuminati

Robertson should be exposed for the charlatan that he is as he goes about defrauding many of those who buy into his nonsense. You could guess that in a number of the cases, he is taking advantage of the least educated among us and those that can least afford it to donate money. It's shameful.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Misanthrope – Sunday’s Lighter Side

I am an optimist, unrepentant and militant. After all, in order not to be a fool an optimist must know how sad a place the world can be. It is only the pessimist who finds this out anew every day.
Peter Ustinov, actor

Polite Form of Address – The first time I was called sir I was amused because it was a little kid who used it and I was probably about 20 or so. As I got a bit older, anyone who used sir to address me, I would politely tell them my name so I they would not have to use the respectful salutation. This week I have passed into new territory. I was called a gentleman. I don’t recall exactly how it was used, but to me I thought they were talking about my grandfather. I am not ready yet to be a kindly old gentleman. Cranky, cantankerous curmudgeon I can live with, but gentleman. This getting old stuff is for the birds.

Think Positive – We had a half-day seminar on positive behavior at the office. I am sure there is some value in it all and I will certainly try to embrace many of its aspects. I will begin by putting a positive spin on my shoes. Men’s shoes are very expensive. I rationalize the price by amortizing it over the years that I keep the shoes. Wife kindly took my shoes to the shoemaker to have new soles put on. When the shoes were finished, they looked as if they were some sort of special orthopedic shoes with extra large soles. Practicing my new positive thinking, if I were concerned about my height the extra two inches would be terrific. As I trek the half-mile from my $100 a month parking spot to the office, I will never have to worry about the new soles ever wearing out again.

Working all Night – There was a big project that required an extraordinary amount of hours, but through this effort I discovered a wonderful time to drive. At there is virtually no traffic. I was able to sail straight through without any congestion. The next night, I was finished at 9 p.m. and the freeway was a bit sticky. There was a traffic sign warning drivers that there was a 90-minute delay. Using my positive thinking, I was delighted to have worked late so I missed the traffic jam figuring the signs were from earlier in the evening. Nope. Traffic came to a sputtering stop. When I eventually made it to the next exit, I hopped back on the freeway going the opposite direction and took an alternative route. It is a good thing I know my way around the local freeways.

Realistically Positive – This new positive me may have my friends equating my personality change with that of Jack Nicholson in “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest,” after his frontal lobotomy.

Optimism is the content of small men in high places.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940), writer

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Movie Ideas for Paul Newman & Robert Redford

Movies are an inherently stupid art form that often relies on scams, tricks, stunts, gambits, ploys, ruses, or gags that are logically or physically impossible, and often both.
Joe Queenan, journalist and writer

Paul Newman and Robert Redford are expected to be reunited in a movie for the first time in more than 30 years. The reason for the delay according to the actors is that there have been no good projects.

Why not do what Hollywood always does have a remake. A few movies that come to mind for Redford and Newman could include:

The Sting (original movie) – a rookie grifter Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) tracks down veteran flim-flam man Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) in 1930s Chicago, the duo plans to fleece a homicidal racketeer (Robert Shaw) through a phony racetrack scam. Ripe with double and triple crosses.

The Sting SS (new version) – Aging con artists Redford and Newman plan one last caper, they become advisors to the Bush gang on Social Security. They have convinced the president that there is no money in Social Security and that they have a new idea called “personal savings accounts that are safe, secure and highly profitable – the stock market…

Grumpy Old Men (original movie) -- For decades, next-door neighbors and former friends John and Max (Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau) have feuded, trading insults and wicked pranks. When an attractive widow (Ann-Margret) moves in nearby, their bad blood erupts into a high-stakes rivalry full of naughty jokes and adolescent hijinks. Will this love triangle destroy the two old grumps? Or will the geriatric odd couple overcome their differences and rediscover their friendship?

Grumpy Old Men (new version) – Newman and Redford would not fight over an attractive widow, they have teamed up to fight HMOs. In this slapstick comedy, Newman hobbles and falls while on crutches after his hospital removed the wrong leg, and Redford sells illegal drugs to pay for his prescription medicine.

Grumpier Old Men (original movie) -- A family wedding reignites the ancient feud between next-door neighbors and fishing buddies John and Max (Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau).

Grumpier Old Men (new version) – Sharing a refrigerator box because the government has severely reduced services to the elderly has reignited the ancient feud one more time between these two combatants.

The Sunshine Boys (original movie) -- Two faded vaudeville legends (George Burns and Walter Matthau) -- Lewis and Clark -- reteam for a television special about the history of comedy. Trouble is, the two geezers can't stand each other.

The Sunshine Boys (new version) – Two old neo-cons reteam one last time in a white house administration and convince the president to start a war for no reason and with no exit strategy.

Another Fine Search Round-up

This is what out statistics database says you're looking for when you come here. There's still quite a lot of interest in Chewbacca, and even one search query that includes "Superman" and "penis" is one too many... so, frankly, it seems that many folks in the Toner Mishap audience are freaks.
soup plantation coupons
funny bad language e cards
honey smacks box with jedi mind game cards chewbacca
nazi uniform buy
christopher doody
white trash girl art
pictures of toner dumps
learning to smoke
fcc banned words
picture of orville redenbacher
white trash wal mart
love you tender
i am chewbacca the song
how is superman penis
hunter s thompson farewell
supernova chewbacca
yellow hat sect
the crucible twilight zone
fish heads mp3
gabriele london
red hats napa
chewbacca and princess leah picture
freelove freeway noel gallagher

Friday, August 26, 2005

Guerilla Gorilla:
Irritable Male Syndrome

[It's Friday, and that's means it's time for Guerilla Gorilla. It seems that GG has made good on his intention to learn to communicate more in line with the accepted rules of American English grammar, and other than a few odd choices of word or phrase, this is a whole new gorilla! Of course, he seems to have kept his beret and indignation. And love of profanity.]

Guerilla Gorilla here, proud to be in much fuller command of written English. My education was, in part, fueled by consuming mass amounts of reading materials, including that drivel commonly referred to as "weekly newsmagazines." [grunt] And so my fascinating introduction segues into this week's post, culled from the freshly-printed pages of this week's Newsweek.

Jed Diamond has coined the phrase "Irritable Male Syndrome" (known to its sufferers as, apparently, IMS) and has also [grunt] written a book about it. Apparently, he writes, if a man suffers a drop in testosterone he can become irritiable, frustrated and angry. There's plenty more in that vein, including a test to determine if you have IMS.

Jed Diamond, you can kiss my hairy silver back.

If you are irritable, frustrated, and angry, you do have a problem, but it's called being a higher mammal. Humans and apes of both sexes can feel this way, and the way we should deal with it is to accept what you can not change, or go talk to a therapist, or punch a wall when no one is looking and then later you can claim you were trying to catch a fly with a baseball bat and whattya mean I have anger issues? Screw off!


Seriously -- I have a mate, and I know that there are certain... syndromes... that are real and documentable and you do not monkey around with that. [grunt] But other than that and a few other things, you humans need to get over yourselves -- you are screwed up mammals, and getting angry or going crazy or losing your virility is what happens when you're alive. Angry? Live with it. Frustrated? Join the rest of the planet.

IMS is bullshit, and even an ape like me can see that. Now quit it before I become irritable, frustrated, and angry.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Avoid subway cooties!

If the Misanthrope were still riding public transit, I'm sure he would now be ordering this: the bring-your-own-to-avoid-germs subway strap.

[Thanks, BoingBoing!]

On The Mark -- Missed Opportunities

I enjoy watching the Little League World Series tournament. It's a chance to see raw emotion and talent on the field. Very refreshing. I noticed one game in particular -- Venezuela vs. Saudi Arabia -- one morning and decided to Tivo it.

What better way to demonstrate the beauty of America and democracy to young Muslim kids in Saudi Arabia? I thought. Certainly better than anything Karen Hughes will try to do. Certainly better than the "hate schools" we hear so much about.

I was wrong.

I settled into my chair that night, flipped on the tube, and thought I had taped the wrong game. Sure, on one side, the team in green colors, were the kids from Venezuela. But on the other side, in red and white uniforms, were a bunch of white kids, lots of them with blond hair. Then it hit me; they must have been the children of military and diplomats. Basically, the international American team. I didn't take the time to learn exactly where the kids' parents came from. I wasn't interested anymore.

Missed opportunities.

Volkswagen does it again.

Volkswagen is famous for its "Lemon" ad, and everyone remembers the recent TV spots featuring "Da Da Da" and "Mr. Roboto." But I was nonetheless surprised to laugh out loud at the newest VW ad in this week's issue of Newsweek, for the new Passat. I wish I could show it to you, but you'll have to settle for my description:

The entire bottom half of a two-page spread is alloted to the ad, which features a Passat in the lower right corner, surrounded by a couple dozen square-cropped photos, each with a number such as 20/120 -- the photos are each symbolic of one of the car's "120 not-so-standard features." It's nicely done -- there's a small caption on the side of each photo that explains it (20/120 is fireworks, which represents LED tailights).

Biut that's not the good part. The good part is that one of the pictures says 121/120, and is a cute picture of a capuchin monkey. Curious, I read the caption:

"Not a feature. We just like monkeys."

P.S. If you haven't seen one of my all-time favorite television ads, Starbuck's Doubleshot commerical called "Glen," download it from this site.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Time to get rid of your laserdiscs.

Now ads for new releases don't even mention VHS (don't even think about Beta) -- it's all DVD and UMD which, for those of you who are out of the loop, is the format for usage on your personal videogame player (brand expunged to avoid gratuitous product placement).

I guess this means I'm one step closer to being totally out of it -- but at least I know what "UMD" means.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

For the Love of War

“I don't say we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but I do say no more than ten to twenty million people killed.”
George C. Scott (1927 - 1999), actor, As General Buck Turgidson, referring to nuclear war with the USSR in Dr. Strangelove

My complete and utter dislike of President Bush just grows everyday and every time he opens his mouth. He so wants to be a war president so desperately that when the when Donald Rumsfeld had changed the Global War on Terror to the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism, war President Bush immediately changed it back. Never mind that the new terminology was far more accurate.

Now our war president is comparing his situation to World War I and II, according to the Associated Press. He also recited the 9/11 date five time in a 30-minute speech. The speech was the first of two that Bush is giving this week to make his case for staying the course in Iraq. The second is Wednesday in Idaho, and in between Bush plans to take a day off at the Tamarack Resort 100 miles north of Boise, he can’t interrupt his vacation too much, even if he is trying to be a war (of his own making) president.

Maybe the End is Near

As soon as he ceased to be mad he became merely stupid. There are maladies we must not seek to cure because they alone protect us from others that are more serious.
Marcel Proust (1871 - 1922), novelist.

The whole world has gone mad.

According to the Associated Press:
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson called on Monday for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling him a "terrific danger" to the United States.

Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, said on "The 700 Club" it was the United States' duty to stop Chavez from making Venezuela a "launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President Bush, accusing the United States of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. U.S. officials have called the accusations ridiculous.

"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

It's difficult to even come up with a comment for this.

Monday, August 22, 2005

On The Mark -- No Time to Cut and Run

The talk is heating up about pulling our troops out of Iraq. Forget it. Ain't gonna happen. The analogy to Vietnam is becoming more prevalent. There are similarities, but those relate to the respective administrations lying to the U.S. citizens and mismanagement by the Pentagon. What we're fighting for is vastly different. In Vietnam we were fighting the "dominoes." In Iraq, we're (now) fighting for something much more tangible. Oil. Survival.

If we pull our troops out, the entire Middle East will turn into Armageddon. Iraq will turn into a legitimate civil war. Iran will rush in, not to mention Russia, and heck, why not China? Saudi Arabia will eventually become vulnerable. WE will become vulnerable, because we haven't learned how to survive with less oil.

It's a mess. We never should have invaded in the first place. But it's no time to cut and run. In fact, we need to do the opposite. We should send in another 500,000 (or more) troops. Secure the borders. Yes, I hate to say it, a total and complete occupation in hopes that the situation will eventually settle down (with "hopes" being the operative word). Get the infrastructure in place so the citizens can have running water and electricity. Squeeze out the insurgency.

It's the only chance we have. The current "strategy" isn't working and won't work. Pulling the troops out will create chaos.

Someone who has influence on Bush needs to have the balls to say to him, "Mr. President, you have to come clean with the American people. You have to be honest and say it's not going well, we've made mistakes, and then tell them what we're going to do to fix it."

It's time for Bush to put his macho, Texan ego aside, get back to DC, tell the American people the truth. In other words, be a leader. If he did this, his approval ratings would soar.

If he thinks everything is going according to plan, and keeps trying to erroneously compare the situation in Iraq with how the U.S. democracy came to be, then I'm afraid he truly is delusional. There's no other logical way to look at it.

Defending the Indefensible Iraq

How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print.
Karl Kraus (1874–1936), Austrian satirist

President Bush will interrupt his vacation to defend the Iraq war (god forbid), yes it is permissible in today's society to work from home or anywhere, but the president being on vacation for five weeks is symbolic of an out of touch president.

It’s hard to defend an unjust war such as Iraq. We are at war because of a deliberate and premeditated choice of our own government. The choice reflects a fatal turn in U.S. foreign policy, in which the strategic doctrine of containment and deterrence that led us to peaceful victory during the Cold War has been replaced by the Bush Doctrine to prevent war.

This administration has no interest in listening to opposing views. The unilateral rush to war should come as no surprise when looking at how they trashed the Kyoto environmental treaty, the A.B. M. treaty, and the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court and did so contemptuously and arrogantly, without offering compromises or remedies for their flaws, it defended the war on terrorism exclusively in the theological language of good versus evil, viewing any attempt to analyze terrorism politically as morally inadmissible; it undermined the power of the persuasive reasons for confronting Saddam (such as his consistent failure to disclose and dispose of his weapons of mass destruction) by mixing them with unpersuasive ones (such as his alleged cooperation with Al Qaeda); it created the impression that the U.N. effort to disarm Iraq has been a charade masking a predetermined plan to oust Saddam by force no matter what.

We have truly made Iraq a proving ground for terrorists to try out tactics and then bring them to other countries. We do not have enough forces to curtail random terrorist attacks in Iraq, we have poorly protected our troops with less than adequate equipment, we continue to call it a war because Bush wants to be known as a “War president;” unfortunately it is a war of his own making.

This president has no shortage of audacity, he is far worse than Bill Clinton who claim he did not have relations with that woman. Close to 2,000 soldiers have died in this senseless war. Bush’s father knew better than to take out Saddam, but Bush Jr. who always has to try to beat whom he views as a competitor, decided to consult a higher authority, and since that higher authority speaks privately, who can dispute what s/he told Bush Jr.

Now he is going to attempt to defend his futile and dying strategy to stay in Iraq this week. Of course, there will be those who will believe everything a president has to say, but truly, this is really an unnecessary mess that we are in from gas prices to military deaths. This president should be forced out of office early or at a minimum congress should do its best to neutralize him.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Misanthrope – Sunday’s Lighter Side
A Bigger Bang x2

In honor of the Rolling Stones kicking off their new tour tonight in Boston and Hunter Thompson having his ashes shot from a cannon last night, I thought I would devote the Lighter Side to two who did not and will not leave without a bang.

’Tis the maddest trick a man can ever play in his whole life, to let his breath sneak out of his body without any more ado, and without so much as a rap o’er the pate, or a kick of the guts; to go out like the snuff of a farthing candle, and die merely of the mulligrubs, or the sullens.
Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616), writer

Hunter S. Thompson. Last night in Woody Creek, Colorado, a loud boom signaled that the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson were shot skyward surrounded by fireworks in the air and celebrities on the ground. According to the article,

A 15-story tower modeled after Thompson's logo: a clenched fist, was made symmetrical with two thumbs, rising from the hilt of a dagger. It was built between his home and a tree-covered canyon wall, not far from a tent filled with merrymakers.

The private celebration included actors Bill Murray and Johnny Depp, rock bands, blowup dolls and plenty of liquor to honor Thompson, who killed himself six months ago at the age of 67.

Thompson is credited with helping pioneer New Journalism — or, as he dubbed his version, "gonzo" journalism — in which the writer made himself an essential component of the story. His most famous work is "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," a wild, sprawling satire featuring "Dr. Thompson," a snarling, drug- and alcohol-crazed observer and participant.

His widow, Anita Thompson, 32, has said she plans to publish at least three new books of her late husband's unpublished letters and stories and is looking for a permanent archive for his works.

I told Daughter that I wanted my ashes spread through the Library of Congress, she could do it very inconspicuously, but instead she told me that I would be lucky if she dumped them in a Borders parking lot. Unfortunately, I have no inheritance to bribe her with, so I have no idea where I will end up.

“I give the Stones about another two years.”
Mick Jagger, 1964

The Rolling Stones. The Reviews are starting to come out and the Rolling Stones CD “A Bigger Bang” is getting terrific reviews. In Today’s Sunday Los Angeles Times (I’d provide the link, but you need a password), Robert Hilburn has a nice chat with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and a couple of sentences from the supporting cast.

Here are some of the comments about the new CD, which will be available Sept. 5.:

… the Stones' new album [is] their strongest since "Tattoo You" almost a quarter-century ago.

Some of the new songs offer classic jolts of the Stones' blues-rock swagger, while others show a vulnerability that has rarely surfaced in the band's work

…the new album, "A Bigger Bang," takes the band beyond mere pose.

I find it rather interesting that with all the faux controversy over the band’s new “Sweet Neo Con” with a line our two about the current Bush gang "You call yourself a Christian / I think that you're a hypocrite." the critics are forgetting that the song Jagger/Richards previously wrote about the first Iraq war with a song call “Highwire.”

Our lives are threatened, our jobs at risk
Sometimes dictators need a slap on the wrist
Another Munich we just can't afford
We're gonna send in the eighty-second airborne
Get up, stand up, who's gonna pay
I wanna talk to the boss right away

We walk the highwire
Putting the world out on a deadline
And hoping they don't catch the shellfire
With hot guns and cold, cold nights
We walk the highwire

Putting the world out on a deadline
Catching the bite on primetime
With hot guns and cold, cold nights
Get up! Stand up!
Dealer! Stealer!
We walk the highwire
We send all our men into the front lines
We're hoping that we backed the right side
With hot guns and cold, cold nights
We walk the highwire
We send all the men up to the front lines
And hoping they don't catch the hellfire
With hot guns and cold cold, cold, cold,
cold nights

Keith said in the interview about the new CD and tour:

"And I wanted that spirit back too. In this band, it's almost a necessity to have new songs we are excited about, otherwise we go out like the Beach Boys and just play the old favorites. Please, no."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Flags in Gaza Prove It's Not Over Yet

The pullout from Gaza is not the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; this is, of course, obvious to most observers. For those of you who wonder whether the terrorists will end their attacks with Gaza under Palestinian control, or even if they would do so if given control of the entire West Bank, check out this photo from today's Los Angeles Times.

That flag the Palestinian kid is holding? With the initials of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine at the bottom? Look at the upper left of the photo to see a stylized image of the entire country of Israel -- that's what they want: the whole thing.

I know I'm not going to make any new friends by using the word "they" above; I know one can't generalize about an entire population of people as easily as that. But I'm not changing it.

Call me a pessimist, or a cynic, or a hawk, or a naysayer... but this is not over. Let's hope the Palestinian people get past what Abba Eban said of them: "Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity." The opportunity in front of us is peace and an end to bloodshed; let's take it.

St. Peter's Automated Out-of-Office Email Message

[I wish I could take credit for this, but I can't; it's the work of the blogger at Aquent. Enjoy!]

Thank you for your email, I'm sorry I missed you.

I will be out of the office until August 31, 2005 and will have limited access to phone and e-mail until that date.

All Afterlife Orientations will be initiated on my return. I apologize in advance for any inconvenience.

If you are responding to an e-mail received at your home or office regarding your Afterlife Induction, please accept our apologies (and condolences). Our office is still in the process of migrating its services online and our temperamental server has sent you an e-mail in error. Please go about your summer as planned as Inductions will be rescheduled shortly after my return. We will be in touch with you at a future date, you need not contact my office regarding your new induction date.

** PLEASE NOTE: All calls and e-mails to our office regarding new Induction Dates will not receive a response! **

If you are checking your e-mail from one of the six terminals connected to the Afterlife Internet in the Pearly Gates Waiting Area, I wanted to welcome you as well as let you know we have a 15-minute time limit for using the computers. Please mind your time, as others may be waiting in line. Courtesy is always first in my book. I realize these are neither the newest nor the fastest computers around, but they were all we could muster from IT. Please don't complain about them as it just brings everyone down.

** The e-mail system only works within the Afterlife Internet Directory (i.e., st_peter@afterlife.hev). Messages sent to outside e-mail addresses will not be delivered and merely slow the server down. **

Make yourself at home during your short stay in the Pearly Gates Waiting Area. Do not become alarmed in regards to the absence of washrooms (or WCs if you will) or drinking faucets in the facility; I assure you that you will need neither. To occupy yourself during your wait you will find "gently used" People, Rugged Backpacker, and Country Cook'n Magazines on the end tables. You are welcome to visit with your neighbor. Please do not adjust the channel or volume on the television.

The candy machine is still not functioning properly; do not try to use it. A technician has been scheduled next month put it back into working order.

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** Be aware we do not sell Raffle Tickets or Amway in the Afterlife. Should someone in the Waiting Area approach you with either, please contact St. Michael immediately using the Red Courtesy Phone. **

Thank you for your continued patience,

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Phone: 030-11-435-9994
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Friday, August 19, 2005

On The Mark -- Jazz Greats

I read yesterday that jazz great, Oscar Peterson, was honored by his native country (Canada) by having a postage stamp named after him (the first time for a living person). Diana Krall and hubby Elvis Costello attended the ceremony and Krall played a Peterson instrumental that Costello put words to. Peterson also performed a piece he recently wrote, Requiem, in honor of all the jazz greats who have died recently.

This was timely for me because I had just been thinking in the morning about how there will be no more legends in my lifetime once the few remaining greats die. Save for a few examples, there seems to be a big gap between the Hank Jones's, McCoy Tyner's, and Oscar Peterson's of the world and the younger musicians. Soon I won't be able to see someone who played with Louis Armstrong or Charlie Byrd or John Coltrane or Charlie Parker as I was able to when I saw Clark Terry (who Miles Davis considered his idol) at the Blue Note in NYC a couple weeks ago. I took going to see Ray Brown each year for granted (a world-renowned bass player and once married to Ella Fitzgerald) until he died suddenly of a heart attack a couple years ago.

If you've never seen live jazz -- real jazz -- you're missing out on a true American experience, where it was born. If one of the greats comes to town, go to the club, have a couple drinks, sit back, relax, and enjoy innovative music -- often made up as they play along -- just a few feet from your seat.

Guerilla Gorilla:
Bootleg this!

[It's Friday, and that means it's time for Guerilla Gorilla. This week GG weighs in on the subject of content piracy.]

Guerilla Gorilla not feeling like throwing poop today. Not feeling like it because too many people to throw poop at.

First, there is entertainment industry, which charges Guerilla Gorilla much money for bad CDs or crappy movies. Why try to sell me album of one good song plus eleven mediocre songs for twenty dollars? No wonder me like iTunes so much -- can buy just one good song by itself for one dollar. And me watch movies for free on cable.

Then there is also guy who sells bootleg music and DVDs on corner downtown. What he doing other than making entertainment industry mad? And just to sell crappy home-movie version of Spiderman 2? That has French overdub and no DVD extras?

Here Guerilla Gorilla's idea: industry make better product, at more reasonable price. Consumer pay for it legally instead of freeloading off mp3 blogs or buying from guy-on-street-with-sack. Sound like good arrangement to me.

This week Guerilla Gorilla will be listening to language tapes to learn self how to write English better; maybe this will help Guerilla Gorilla to better convince you humans of my greatness. [grunt]

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Now serving Jews!

After eating at a New Jersey restaurant, Elliott Stein and his girlfriend were handed a bill that said ''Jew Couple'' near the bottom, as a table identifier used by the waitstaff. The description also turned up on Stein's credit card statement weeks later.

Stephen Reid, a spokesman for the restaurant, said it had been the waitstaff's practice to use descriptions of diners to identify them on checks. But the server in this instance is no longer working at the restaurant, general manager Malia Wells said Wednesday. ''We don't run our establishment like that,'' Wells said. ''It was definitely poor judgment on her part.''


On The Mark -- Enough Is Enough Series

"Oil on ice does not get this slimy."

A wonderful quote from Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Grogan. He was describing how Pennsylvania's legislators used a loophole to secretly vote themselves immediate pay increases at 2 a.m. one recent night, then went on a two-MONTH vacation, as reported in today's LA Times.

These raises weren't for cost-of-living increases (as The Misanthrope wrote about yesterday). They ranged from 16% to 34%. They had pooled $130 million in what some analysts have called a slush fund to help pay for these raises. The raises turn out to be particularly hefty when you factor in that they've only served an average of 77 session days a year for the past 5 years.

And by the way, these raises were approved by the legislators just hours after they had voted to slash Medicaid services to the state's disabled, elderly and poor. Fortunately, the media and residents of this state have kept the heat on and now a few legislators have decided not to take their raises "this year."

We're beginning to see a little bit of outrage in this country. A little "enough is enough" attitude.

Good. Finally.

So three graphic designers walk into a bar...

Graphic design humor kills me. There's a great sampling of faux George Lois cover rip-offs at Panopticist, and much more besides (including a redesign of US Weekly that takes as its inspiration Harper's). Enjoy!

OK, I can't make you wait... it's too good:

So check it out, won't you?

Fantasy Leagues Revisited:
The Graphic Design Dream Team

There are, like, millions of baseball fans sharing their fantasy line-ups on the web -- who the best pitcher would be, the best catcher, the clean-up batter, and so on. So why not a fantasy graphic design team? The folks you'd want to see working together putting out a magazine, let's say... assuming, of course, that there were fewer dead people in the ranks and that they could actually work together (a feat beyond many of the talents in this field).

Here's my list -- my semi-modern "dream team" of designers, artists, and photographers... and what role they would play in this possibly incredible publication. Of course, I know that I will no doubt kick myself over the folks I forget to include, but I have decided to do this without consulting any other lists or even my bookshelves; I'm just writing down those that are foremost in my mind. Please feel free to add your comments, or try a version on your own page (just let me know where to go to read it).

Creative direction
Tibor Kalman, Paul Rand, Alexander Isley

Cover illustration
Art Spiegelman

Neville Brody, David Carson, Abram Games, Stefan Sagmeister, Eric Gill

Type design
Frederick Goudy, Matthew Carter, Jonathan Hoefler, Dennis Ortiz-Lopez, Zuzana Licko

Gary Baseman, Greg Clarke, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Lynda Barry

Man Ray, Mark Seliger, Ansel Adams, Annie Leibovitz

Chuck Klosterman, Steven Heller

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

On The Mark -- Playing Games

Here's something that should make one pause for a moment. Soon Russia and China will be teaming up for extensive war games in that region. One-time bitter enemies, that still have differences along some of their shared borders, playing in a region that the U.S. tried to squeeze into after 9/11 as it prepared to invade Afghanistan.

Of course, both nations are "playing" it down, but this is more for international PR than to see how their weapons work and how they react strategically to a situation. Russia wants to get back on the world stage, to be the superpower to balance the U.S. China wants to hint that if Taiwan becomes a military target, that it's not just China the U.S. will have to worry about. And not just Taiwan, North Korea, too. Let's not forget that it wasn't until the Chinese "quietly" got involved in the Korean conflict 50 years ago that discussions for a cease fire began (paraphrasing: a field commander's radio report to a general "We just had a massive firefight with a Chinese battalion;" General: "You're wrong, they're not in this conflict," field commander's response "Like hell they aren't").

No one likes unilateral decisions, and no leadership likes to hear President Bush say all options are on the table, including military, when it comes to Iran, knowing that no one in the world can do anything about it.

As many recent news reports and books have noted, things are changing (back to the old ways) fast in Russia. In fact, one leader is trying to push through a law that would make it illegal for Russian women to marry foreigners, or at the least, make it so they could never return to their homeland and that their extended families would be affected in various ways. Not too far from a law Stalin put in place in 1947 that forbid Russian women from marrying foreigners.

I will be in Russia for the third time this year in a couple weeks and will report a new series of updates on new developments.

Stop Adjusting for Inflation

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.
Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961), author

Economy Shows Signs of Strain From Oil Prices reads a front page headline on the New York Times website. What a surprise!

The article says Wal-Mart blames energy prices for not meeting quarterly profits. Airlines are again feeling the pinch, and the winter fuel needs have yet to come into play.

Here is my favor line: Without question, economists say, rising oil prices cause less economic pain than they once did. It takes half as much energy to produce $1 of gross domestic product today, adjusted for inflation, than it did 30 years ago. Even at today's prices, oil is cheaper than it was in the early 1980's, once adjusted for inflation.

It does not seem that we should compare products based on an adjusted for inflation index unless everything is based similarly. We can’t adjust our pay checks for inflation. Adjust my home for inflation and it’s worth $2 million, but you say my home value is current. So are the gas prices. They have not stayed stagnant. My salary is current, adjust it for inflation and I should be making something akin to a poor mid-level executive. Adjusted for inflation seems a bogus yard stick.

Iraqi Going Down a Familiar Path

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.
Country Joe and the Fish, rock band

Families of fallen soldiers coming out against the war are going to be real problem for the Bush Gang. There is no Walter Cronkite to gage the country's pulse, but grieving parents make a poignant story.

The latest family to speak out against the war is Paul Schroeder and Rosemary Palmer, whose son Lance Cpl. Edward Schroeder II, was killed two weeks ago in a roadside explosion that took the lives of 16 Marines from Ohio.

According to the article, the day after burying their son, the parents urged President Bush to either send more reinforcements to Iraq or withdraw U.S. troops altogether.

"We feel you either have to fight this war right or get out," Rosemary Palmer, mother of Lance Cpl. Edward Schroeder II, said Tuesday.

The soldier's father said his son and other Marines were being misused as a stabilizing force in Iraq.

"Our comments are not just those of grieving parents," Paul Schroeder said in front of the couple's home. "They are based on anger, Mr. President, not grief. Anger is an honest emotion when someone's family has been violated."

Palmer accused the president of refusing to make changes in a war gone bad. "Whether he leads them out by putting more troops on the ground or pulling them out - he can't just let it continue," she said.

The White House gang did not comment because, I am guessing here, they have not figured out a way to put a spin on it yet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Elvis Died 28 Years Ago Today

I read the news today oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade

John Lennon/Paul McCartney, the Beatles, “A Day in the Life”

It’s hard to believe the Elvis has been gone for 28 years. It was on this day in 1977, I am sure before many readers here were born, but for me it was one of those "I'll always remember where I was when I heard the news" events. I was returning from Catalina Island after camping out on the beach with a friend there for a night.

We had not heard the news until after the local radio station stopped playing one Elvis song after another. The DJ reported that Elvis was dead. I did not own any Elvis records, but he was a rock and roll icon, and every Beatles fan knew about Elvis' influences.

Another time capsule that points out how time races by.

Stop the babies before they kill again!

It's about time national security authorities took a step combatting terrorism's best-kept secret: baby terrorists.

Yahoo is reporting that infants have been stopped from boarding airplanes throughout the U.S. because their names are the same as or similar to those of possible terrorists on the government's 'no-fly list.' There are those who protest this kind of action is unwarranted or unneccessary, but they are dangerously shortsighted.

Last month at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, Sarah Zapolsky and her husband were detained by a ticketing agent who told them their 11-month-old son was on the government list. "I understand that security is important," Zapolsky said. "But if they're just guessing, and we have to give up our passport to prove that our 11-month-old is not a terrorist, it's a waste of their time." Sure; until that 11-month-old hijacks a plane and flies it into a skyscraper.

Well-known people like Sen. Edward M. Kennedy have also been stopped at airports because their names match those on the lists. I don't think anyone can object that keeping Teddy under closer scrutiny is a just one of the many benefits of this policy.

And in the meantime, every baby stopped is one less baby crying during the entire flight. Crying, of course, to distract us from his evil plans.

Adjusted for the Here and Now

I've been waiting for years to buy a brand new cadillac
But now that I've got one I want to send it right back
I can't afford the gas to fill my luxury limousine
Ray Davies, lead singer for the Kinks, “Gallon of Gas”

Retail gas prices hit another record high over the past three weeks, mirroring a rapid increase in the cost of crude oil, according to Lundberg survey.

Consumers are turning their pockets inside out or adding more debt to their already over burden credit cards as the average price of all three grades rose nearly 20 cents. Do you realized that if all the stars aligned perfectly it would take months for gas to come down by 20 cents a gallon. But today, if the crew chief on an oil derrick has the flu, we can expect to suffer right along with the ill chief from our wallet’s point of view.

The biggest cop out that reporters and analysts use is that $2.53 is not adjusted for inflation. Well, I have news for reporters and the like, my paycheck is barely adjusted for the here and now.

I suspect however, that the oil executives’ bonuses are adjusted for inflation as they hold their umbrellas upside down to collect the windfall of cash.

(the gas prices pictured would be a relief as So. Calif pays pennies short of $3.00 a gallon)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Isaac Mizrahi Pet Clothes

I love my dogs -- I do. And I spoil them; just ask my wife. In fact, until we got the first of our two toy poodles (who are both, kin-ahora, still with us), I was a cat person. Gingie, and then Rashi after her, changed me. Now my house is filled with dog toys and dog snacks of all shapes and sizes.

But even so, I drew the line when my wife came home with our poodles after a grooming session and they had painted toenials. That only happened once. And when my wife tried to put booties on Gingie when we lived in a snowy locale, I objected to that as well.

So I think I'm being totally consistent when I say that this...

... is just too much.

If you need to buy designer-label clothes for your pets (even if it is Target), you have too much money or too few worthwhile things to spend it on.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Misanthrope – Sunday’s Lighter Side

Against the disease of writing one must take special precautions, since it is a dangerous and contagious disease.
Peter Abelard (1079 - 1142), French theologian and philosopher

Oil Change. I brought the car to the dealer for an oil change because I simply trust them more than the local shops. I sat in the lobby reading my newspaper and everything was good. I finished reading, I started to watch the television, and rarely have I seen such insipid programming. I believe it is called the "Steve Edwards Show" and he has two or three female co-anchors. Luckily for those fortunate readers outside of the Los Angeles market, you don’t this rubbish. My description of their silly banter would not do justice to how truly bad this show is. It’s almost reaches the level of Wayne's World garage Cable Show on the old Saturday Night Live.

I called my friend Scribe and he informed me that such programming is exactly what the dealerships want because it numbs the customers’ brains so that when the bill is presented, one is like Jack Nicholson after the frontal lobotomy, and you pay the bill without question.

Angels. I am so glad that I adopted the Los Angeles Angels. They are an exciting team facing stiff competition in their division from the Oakland As, it has become an exciting pennant race. For the first time this year, I listened to game on the radio driving home. The Dodger station has weak reception for most of my drive home, but the Angel station was clear all the way home. Also, since the Dodgers fired Ross Porter after 20 plus years of service, I refused to listen to them on the radio. This afternoon the Angels face the 19-year-old pitching star for the Seattle Mariners. I expect a good game. Go Angeles.

Blogging. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy the blogging community for the most part. I learned a few things from Bitch.Ph.d and Dr. Steven Taylor at Poliblog. I have even sent a couple of notes back and forth to them. Jack at Random Thoughts generally provides interesting comments on articles I’ve missed. Janet at The Art of Getting By is very clever and has great grasp on life for being so young. I know I am leaving out plenty of others such as, Vitriolic Monkey, Simply Put, Et, al, Diary of a Hope Fiend, Through a Looking Glass, The Dog’s Breakfast, Fighting Inertia, Daxohol, The Bulldog Manifesto, basically just look down the right side of our blogroll list and you will see the sites we visit regularly, even if two of those mentioned don’t link to us.

This a long way of telling you that I have enlisted the services of Lorianne at Hoarded Ordinaries as a writing coach. You can’t blame her for grammatical errors or typos here. She serves a bit like a personal trainer, she is my motivation for getting back into short story writing. It’s working for me. I have been devoting more time to my creative writing and thoroughly enjoying it. Maybe one day I will be published in a literary quarterly. Although, I mentioned that we probably get more readers at Toner Mishap than at a quarterly publication, but it’s the challenge and prestige of such publications that would make it such an honor for me.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Extreme pastry!

As I understand it, the more of these "Entenmann's Extreme Glazed Popems" donuts you eat, the more your agility, grace, and derring-do increase, making you more able to perform fantastic athletic stunts, particularly those practiced by Generation Y.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Damn It!

It's all right letting yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back.
Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones lead singer

It's reviews like this that make me crazy and cause me to break my promises, to which those around simply roll their eyes and say, 'oh no not that, again.'

Guerilla Gorilla:
No Vacation For Me

[It's Friday, and that's means it's time for Guerilla Gorilla. This week GG favors us with his thoughts on President Bush's five-week vacation at his Crawford Ranch in Texas; it's the President's 50th trip to the ranch in his five years as President.]

Guerilla Gorilla perturbed today. Perturbed is me using human art of sarcasm, so I better fit in polite society. Want to seem proper if engaging in political discussions. But Guerilla Gorilla digress from main topic of symposium.

Human President George Bush on vacation again, at his ranch for 50th time in five years. This time for five weeks! Guerilla Gorilla hasn't had vacation like that since... well, ever! And Guerilla Gorilla is not running the free world, only trying to overthrow human hegemony... um, only trying to share thoughts and feelings with humans to promote understanding. Again, Guerilla Gorilla digress. [grunt]

Is this a human thing, where the more important you are the more time you can not do your job? Regular humans who work in small boxes in office buildings only vacation for one or two weeks, but President goes home for five weeks? While war in Iraq continues? Makes hair on my back stand on end.

Maybe if he was doing great job. If everyone was saying, "Hey, that President is good guy. He so smart. He deserve vacation." But Guerilla Gorilla not hear anyone say that. So what deal with that? [grunt]

Makes me want to throw poop.

An American Hero

The voice of protest, of warning, of appeal is never more needed than when the clamor of fife and drum, echoed by the press and too often by the pulpit, is bidding all men fall in and keep step and obey in silence the tyrannous word of command.
Charles Eliot Norton (1827 - 1908), writer, editor, and educator

For President Bush, questions about an exit strategy in Iraq have become especially delicate as a crowd of antiwar protesters has expanded at the edge of his ranch, rallying around Cindy Sheehan, the California woman whose son Casey was killed in Iraq in 2004.

See Bitch.Ph.d’s posts on Cindy Sheehan and checkout the links.

Sheehan is an American hero.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

On The Mark -- 16 More Years! 16 More Years!

I can hear this chant already from the next Republican convention. I was in DC last week and during lunch with some colleagues I tossed out a prediction. At first they thought I was crazy, but as the discussion progressed they started to realize it was a viable possibility.

A few weeks ago I posted that I thought Dick Cheney would be the next Republican candidate for president. One of our readers (sorry, I don't remember who it was) stated that it could go even further, with Cheney picking George W. as his running mate for vice president.

So that's what we discussed in DC. It went from impossible to reality (but they wanted to check to see if a former president could run for VP).

But I saved the best part for last. "But, wait!" I said like an informercial. "There's more." A loud groan could be heard. I continued, "After one year Cheney will step down, supposedly for health reasons, W will assume the presidency, and then appoint his brother, Jeb, as the new VP, thus setting him up for another 8 years, after W has finished out the remaining 7 years of his new presidency (assuming, of course, that they get re-elected).

Under this scenario, there would be a Bush in the presidency for 24 consecutive years (minus one while Cheney was in office).

At the same time, while Papa Bush's downfall was that he didn't know the price of a gallon of milk, W's downfall (I hope) may be when the price of gas tops $3 for good when we were supposed to be sending our men and women to die in Iraq to prevent this from happening.

People don't start paying attention until it affects their wallets.

The Spazmatics

My wife and I went to see the Spazmatics in concert the other night. They're a cover band that dresses up in vintage 1980s geekwear and covers the New Wave hits that were the soundtrack of our youth.

We discussed whether our enjoyment of such fare made us as pathetic as my in-laws, who listen primarily to KRTH (an oldies station) and go to see old guys dress up in leather jackets and ducktails to sing 50s and 60s doo-wop songs. I said no, because we were only enjoying the concert ironically.

We both know that 80s music is the epitome of rock and roll, and as proud members of the Reagan youth (kids who grew up with jelly beans in the oval office, not young Republicans) we still get chills for the B-52s and Oingo Boingo, but we don't limit our listening to nostalgia radio. We still listen to and buy new music, and KROQ is still my primary preset.

Am I protesting too much? Perhaps. But there's one thing I know is true: listen to all the Yellowcard, The Game, and Gwen Stefani you want -- they'll never match up to Social Distortion, Run DMC, and Cyndi Lauper.

I wanna love you tender.

These are stills from an Armi Aavikko video ("I Wanna Love You Tender") that is one of the best horrible videos I've ever seen. The lyrics include gems such as this:
If we all say we wanna love you tender
No one has to be a great pretender
And this world will be a better place to live in.
Those of you who read Finnish can read up on Mr. Aavikko here. Those of you who don't read Finnish will have to settle for watching the video here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

More Nonsense Spewed from the Rev. Falwell

"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

Lewis Carroll (1832 - 1898), writer and mathematician

The Rev. Jerry Falwell has done it again. Is there anyway to make this horse’s ass shut his flytrap of a mouth? He sent out a note urging his flock to "vote Christian in 2008" in a letter raising money for his ministries.

According to the Associate Press article, Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director, said Falwell's statements are "directly at odds with the American ideal and should be rejected."

"Understanding the danger of combining religion and politics, our founding fathers wisely created a political system based on individual merit and religious inclusiveness," Foxman said.

Falwell told The News & Advance of Lynchburg Tuesday that his statement was misunderstood

That is what they all say; maybe he could come up with something original – and believable.

"What I was saying was for conservative Christian voters to vote their values, which are pro-life and pro-family," Falwell said. "I had no intention of being anti-Jewish at all."

No, it was just being anti-thoughtful and if he were to follow Christian scripture, anti-forgiving.

Disney Board Not Guilty, But Not So Smart

It's time for greatness -- not for greed. It's a time for idealism -- not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action.
Marian Wright Edelman, author, lecturer, and proud social agitator

A judge ruled that The Walt Disney Co.'s board did not breach their fiscal responsibilities by agreeing to hire Hollywood agent Michael Ovitz as president in 1995, then granting him a $140 million severance package when he left just 14 months later.

The judge said that while directors' conduct "fell significantly short of the best practices of ideal corporate governance," board members did not breach their duties or commit waste.

"It is easy, of course, to fault a decision that ends in failure, once hindsight makes the result of that decision plain to see. But the essence of business is risk — the application of informed belief to contingencies whose outcomes can sometimes be predicted, but never known," the judge wrote in a 175-page opinion.

I like the judge’s reasoning, but maybe he should have commented on the common sense of fiscal responsibility that paying Disney executives a king’s ransom in salary, bonuses and benefits while laying off employees is shameful and truly inexcusable.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

On The Mark -- Google Googled

A reporter at CNET's online news site wanted to illustrate how easy it is to get personal information on someone using the Google search engine. The best way to illustrate this? Why, of course, google Google's chief executive. So the reporter reported what she found, the chief executive's home address, his net worth ($1.5 billion), that he is an amateur pilot and he attended the Burning Man festival. It took the reporter about 30 minutes to get this information.

Now Google is up in arms. They have told, the online tech news service of CNET, that they will not speak to any of their reporters for one year. Now they've refused to speak to the Associated Press.

Give me a break. Serves the chief executive right.

Unfortunately, sometimes one has to feel the pain in order to know that it's real for thousands of others. Kind of like when Pres. Bush told one grieving mother who had lost a son in the war that he understood her grief, and she responded, no you don't, you'll only understand if one of your daughters goes to fight in Iraq.

Anticlimactic Twilight Zone Episodes

[Featured at McSweeney's]

The Monsters are Due on Oak Street

After sighting an unusual meteor overhead, suburban residents become increasingly paranoid when their electric power suddenly fails to function. As the tension mounts, the neighbors begin to suspect one another of being disguised aliens that caused the mysterious outage, making wild accusations and attacking each other. Then one man hears on his radio that the blackout was caused by a Texas-based energy company that manipulated the power grid. The residents become outraged over this for a few days and then fixate on property taxes.

[And there are plenty more at McSweeney's]

Beat It, Get Lost

I’m no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and in the jury system — that is no ideal to me, it is a living, working reality. Gentlemen, a court is no better than each man of you sitting before me on this jury. A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up.
Harper Lee, author

Something stinks with the Jackson jury. Two jurors who voted to acquit singer Michael Jackson of child molestation and other charges say they regret their decisions. One can have buyer’s remorse over purchasing a car, spending too much on clothes, but not when it comes to deliberating on a jury.

On June 13, the jurors unanimously acquitted Jackson of all charges, which alleged that he molested a 13-year-old boy, plied the boy with wine and conspired to hold him and his family captive so they would make a video rebutting a damaging television documentary.

Would they have mentioned their regrets if they had voted for the death penalty and an execution had taken place? I doubt it. They would have kept their mouths shut and confined their stories to a journal instead of a book deal; something they should do now as well.

Monday, August 08, 2005

TV Journalist Peter Jennings Dead at 67

I subscribe to leaving people with essentially -- sorry it's a cliche -- a rough draft of history. Some days it's reassuring, some days it's absolutely destructive."
Peter Jennings (1938-2005)

Peter Jennings, the Canadian-born broadcaster who delivered the news to Americans each night in five separate decades, died Sunday. He was 67. Jennings, who announced in April that he had lung cancer, died at his New York home.

B2 On Vacation:
Ventura County Fair

The B2 Family went to the Ventura County Fair last week (Wednesday was dollar day, and for a family of five that's too good a deal to pass up). One of the exhibit halls was featuring "collections" -- award-winning groupings of objects around a common theme. Each of the photos links to a larger image on Flickr; do check them out, won't you?

When did collecting Batmobiles become something worth a second place ribbon?

Sure, it's a nice collection, covering the range of Batman vehicles from the 1960s TV show to the latest, "Batman Begins." But worthy of a ribbon? It's not like it's... oh, I don't know... a collection of Star Wars Pez dispensers. Now that would be worth a first place blue ribbon:

With hand-lettered labels, I note. There was also an "Emperor" Pez dispenser, but he had fallen from the top shelf to the bottom, and could not be righted for this photo.

Meanwhile, someone else walked away with a blue ribbon for this... statuette of the Incredible Hulk? Really? A statuette?

Yes, really.

But here's my favorite. This is truly awesome -- an aquarium filled with Batman figures!

Click here to see the whole thing... I had to paste together two photos in Photoshop to show the tremendous magnificence of this entry -- eight Batmen in one aquarium!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Misanthrope’s – Sunday’s Lighter Side

The people are unreal. The flowers are unreal, they don't smell. The fruit is unreal, it doesn't taste of anything. The whole place is a glaring, gaudy, nightmarish set, built up in the desert.
Ethel Barrymore (1879 - 1959)

Brushing Your Teeth. I walked by Daughter’s bedroom and there she sat on the edge of her bed, cross-legged, watching the morning news, brushing her teeth. I have no idea where she picked up that little gem of a habit. I prefer standing in the bathroom over the sink. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.

Daughter Again. When she was little, she would go out to the garage with me, hunt down crickets, and stomp on them with her tiny hiking boots. Now that she is older, she has developed a squeamishness about spiders and other insects (not that I am Mr. Outdoors. I won’t sit in the backyard without my fly spray), but on our evening neighborhood walks, we have to walk in the street to avoid spider webs. The itsy bitsy spiders string their webs thither and yond across the sidewalks from parkway to front yard and she has now walked through her last web.

On the Set. I have a great aunt who is an extra in many television
and movie shows (“Minority Reports” as the crazy woman with the corncob pipe, a passenger in the train in “Spiderman 2,” and most recently in “Six Feet Under,” she was the dead woman sitting on the pot when she was discovered). Friday night, I thought I would be a great nephew, especially since she called me asking for a favor, to take her out to a location beyond where B2 lives, for her role/part in an HBO special. It was only to be from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., but I had to pick her up at three, meet her co-extra at four, but those plans were scraped, then travel 40 miles one way to get her to the location. By 1 a.m. I had lost my patience. I am not enamored by Hollywood, as I told her, you can send Hollywood to Canada for all I care; location filming frequently blocks traffic and is just an overall nuisance. Celebrity does not impress me, but it’s fun to say you have seen so and so or talked to so and so. On the set, Bill Paxton was the star, he rode a bike around and was talking to everyone. I agreed to hangout thinking I could read my book, but once the sun went down there were no lights for reading. I read inside a teamster’s van for a while, I sat on a porch in the neighborhood for a while, but I just wanted to get home. I got my wish sometime after 2 a.m. Daughter wants to do it next time.

New Rolling Stones CD. I have this love hate relationship with the Stones. I think their songs have declined greatly over the years, I would love them to retire, so I won’t hate it when I miss their concerts. I, of course, will have the new CD the day it is released.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Human Butterfly Effect

There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to trace.
Joseph Addison (1672–1719), English essayist

What a difference a person can make. Al Aronowitz (picture above), 77, whose obituary ran in the Los Angeles Times Friday, was primarily known for introducing Bob Dylan to the Beatles 41 years ago this month, brings home the point that one man, one woman or even a young adult can influence not just a generation, but a world.

Maybe because it occurs to me we are witnessing the end of era, otherwise I’m not sure why Aronowitz stands out to me, I never heard of him before, but he was one of the original writers of new journalism, according to the article (in which the writer becomes a central part of the story, possibly forefather to blogging), when he covered the Beat generation. His style influenced Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson.

He introduced The Beatles and Bob Dylan to each other, they most likely would have met anyway, but his interceding hastened a new era, an era where a singer or artist’s personal thoughts (word/lyrics) could be laid bare without cute double meanings and innuendos. His introduction ignited a new creative spark that helped transition the Fab Four from pop into more personalized lyrics and helped move Dylan into an electric sound.

What on the surface appears innocuous and mundane by a largely unfamiliar behind the scenes individual made a difference in the world. It is the Butterfly Effect, the notion of a butterfly flapping its wings in one area of the world causing a tornado to occur in another area of the world, but this time by a human, a creative and enthusiastic individual. The world certainly felt the Aronowitz effect.

Abstolue prefection.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing the word "perfect" misspelled. Of course, the advertisement copy had me smiling even before I saw the error.

Friday, August 05, 2005

B2 On Vacation:
Magic Mountain

Greetings from my vacation! Yes, this year the B2s are vacationing at home, making every day a trip to some fantastic (but local) spot of interest. This past week has been great, and I've been storing up some stuff to share with you. First stop: Six Flags Magic Mountain, in beautiful Santa Clarita, California.

What can I say about the other happiest place on earth, other than DO NOT RIDE TOO MANY ROLLER COASTERS IN A ROW (sorry I had to yell). During the week there are no lines for any rides, and I found out that having a little time in between "Psyclone," "Batman: The Ride" and "Scream" is actually a good thing. Let's not talk about it, OK? Instead, a little bit on the nutritive offerings at the park. First, the prices.

Yes. A burger, fries and drink for eight bucks. EIGHT BUCKS! (Again, sorry about the yelling.) This is the same amount of food you can get at a fast food place for less than five dollars, and at least at Mickey D's the meal comes with a small "My Little Pony"! But when you've got hungry folks with no where else to go, prices tend to stay high.

A little advice: if you go to Magic Mountain, don't order the sushi. Who even thinks selling raw fish at a place where half the patrons are already nauseous is a good idea? WHO?

Last -- my favorite worst name for a resturant ever:

I don't know if the marketing guys in the Six Flags corporate office ran out of good ideas after naming the "Swashbuckler" and the "Goldrusher" rides back in the 70s, but the coaster these days are not as colorfully named; the latest one doesn't even get a name, just a letter: X. So it's not totally surprising that the "B" team is working on names for the in-park restuarants, but this is really just too lame. I can only hope that someone over there reads this blog and decides to rename the place something better, like "Tryptophan Treats" or "Not Just for Thanksgiving."