Monday, October 31, 2005

Separated at Birth:
Ray Bradbury and Cory Doctorow

Two science fiction greats: Ray Bradbury and Cory Doctorow.

I'm reading Sam Weller's biography of Ray Bradbury this week (The Bradbury Chronicles), and it's quite a good read. Weller has had unfettered access to Bradbury and his life, and the biography is comprehensive, if at times a little simple in its style. Great stuff inside, like Bradbury's decision early in his career to write a short story every week, figuring that he'd have better odds of writing a good one that way.

Just as interesting (OK, maybe a little less) is the similarity of Bradbury to contemporary writer Cory Doctorow, about whom I've blogged before. His Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is already a sci-fi classic (I've linked to Amazon for you so you can buy it right now) and his latest, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town is a genre-bending great about which I've already blogged. And he looks a lot like Ray Bradbury!

From Harper’s Index

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963), novelist and essayist

The Republicans equate the Carter Administration with long gas lines and rising gas prices. According to Harper’s Index:

  • Percentage change in the average monthly price of oil during the Carter Administration: +85
  • Percentage change during the presidency of George W. Bush, before Hurricane Katrina hit: +107

    This one is incredible to me. Don’t tell me the administration didn’t purposely ignore the pleas for help in New Orleans:
  • Days after Katrina kit that Dick Cheney’s office ordered an electric company to restore power to two oil pipelines: 1

    I believe in the long run the Iraq War will prove worse than the Vietnam War because of the lack of preparation. We may not lose as many soldiers thankfully, but the ramifications will be longer lasting:
  • Number of journalists killed in Vietnam during twenty years of war there: 63
  • Number killed in Iraq since March 2003: 71

    How I hope this is remembered come the 2006 mid-term elections:
  • Years after the start of the Vietnam War that a majority of Americans first said it was a mistake: 3 1/2
  • Years after the start of the Iraq War that a majority said this: 1 ¼

    Next time you go to buy something remember this:
  • Number of consecutive years that the U.S. median income has failed to increase: 5

Noted without comment:
Crowd surfing warning

Sunday, October 30, 2005

This and That

Nothing matters very much, and very few things matter at all.
Arthur Balfour (1848 - 1930), British prime minister

Toner Mishap. As you can see I have decided to keep writing for Toner Mishap. The two-week break was much needed and reminded me of the joy of writing on the blog. The discipline of writing for the blog I find spills over to creative writing. If I don’t write daily on the blog I'm less inclined to write at all. So I will continue to post items, but on my own timetable, no longer trying to post items daily before 9 p.m. (PST) in order to have fresh content for a new day by (EST),which will relieve the pressure I felt previously.

Without On the Mark and B2 contributing regularly (B2 will have a post on Monday) I feel as though I am in a big house by myself. So, I am sure the direction will change a bit, new blog links will start appearing, and some old ones will be leaving. Maybe I should borrow Jack’s title and call this Random Thoughts II, which has a nice ring to it, but I love Toner Mishap.

If you are sticking around thank you, if you are just coming around, welcome.

East Coast. I am heading out to New York for meetings for a couple of days and then I will zoom over and see Daughter in D.C. She already has tours lined up for the day. We are going to tour the Capital, the Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress. I should have many pictures from my new camera and a few comments about D.C. This will be my first visit to the nation’s capital.

Shooting Pool. It seems that our weekly pool playing at On the Mark’s has slipped into about a once or twice a month gathering because of all the things that have to be done on a Saturday. The previous Saturday, On the Mark and I bought a half core of firewood that we picked up and delivered to our respective homes. You know it gets so cold out here that we have to have our firewood ready for our long dreary winters of 60-degree evenings. Nonetheless, having a fire creates a great ambiance for reading and napping.

The Boy King. No I am not talking about W, but King Tut and how we have turned him into a joke. Steve Martin’s King Tut single years ago was very funny, now this is humorous too, but in a sad sort of way. A tissue dispenser seems a bit silly, which is why it probably makes it a great office or bathroom item for discussion. I have to admit, I’m sorry I don’t have one.

Shopping Mall. We have a new shopping mall in my town and it has turned out to be a major pain to me. The main drive into the mall now intersects with the gym and getting in and out has added several frustrating minutes of stop lights and lots of cars to what once was a two-minute drive. People are acting as if they have never been to a mall before. It’s absolutely nuts.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Obscene Profits

I do not know where we are going, but I do know this—that wherever it is we shall lose our way.
Práxedes Sagasta, Spanish politician

Oil company profits are excessive which is proof that they were gouging consumers at the pumps. ExxonMobil made $10 billion in profit for the third quarter. That is more than $3 billion a month.

Worse than watching oil executives take home lotto-sized bonuses, is learning they have no plans to invest in furthering research in alternative or renewable energy.

"We're an oil and gas company. In times past, when we tried to get into other businesses, we didn't do it well. We'd rather re-invest in what we know," says Exxon spokesman Dave Gardner.

...Exxon [will not] significantly step up how much money it puts into finding oil or refining it into gasoline, which could help ease tight supplies that have driven oil and gasoline prices to records this year.

This is when the government should step in, tax the company, and invest the money in alternative energy. If one of our top energy companies, which can help or hurt the economy depending on either its greed or foresightedness, cannot see its way to improve then it should be up to the government to force its hand.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Beginnings of Justice

Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.
H. L. Mencken (1880–1956), U.S. journalist

Rather than just having Vice Presidential Adviser I. Lewis "Scooter' Libby Jr. indicted on obstruction of justice, false statement and perjury charges, real justice would be if it were the president who was charged on such counts and then impeached.

Update: Libby resigned and left the White House. I wonder if they will hire him as a consultant equal to his full pay, similar to what they have done with the former FEMA Director Brown.

Nature Being Natural

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity … and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.
William Blake (1757–1827), English poet

If a tree has sex in the forest and there is
nobody around does it make a sound?

His and her veggies.

Pat Robertson might have something to say about this.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Timely News?

Our job is like a baker’s work — his rolls are tasty as long as they’re fresh; after two days they’re stale; after a week, they’re covered with mould and fit only to be thrown out.
Ryszard Kapuscinski, Polish journalist

The Los Angeles Times finally got around to listing the obituary of Len Dresslar, the voice of the Jolly Green Giant. Why did it take so long? Any longer and Dresslar would have returned reincarnated. He died Oct 16.

The passing is certainly worthy of obit news, but if the paper waited this long it was either an oversight or someone from the family called and gave them hell.

In our consumer driven society the Jolly Green Giant has been acknowledged by Advertising Age magazine as one of the three most recognizable American advertising icons of the 20th century – after Tony the Tiger and the Marlboro Man.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Short-Term Poetic Justice

Avarice, sphincter of the heart.
Matthew Green (1696–1737), English poet

The banks and credit card companies worked long and hard to get the new bankruptcy bill passed. President Bill Clinton would not sign such an onerous piece of legislation that would hurt the working class. But, get a president who sides with the greedy corporate world and the people will suffer.

Har, har, har, I thoroughly enjoyed the New York Times article that reveals the gluttonous money-grubbers, who make organize crime blush at the high interest rates they charge, may have overreached and will now lose money. I realize it’s only short term, but I love it because the suits think mostly short term.

In recent days, the five biggest bank issuers of credit cards have said that the unexpectedly large flood of filings shaved hundreds of million of dollars off their earnings in the third quarter.

But with tens of thousands of petitions still being processed and Hurricane Katrina's impact on cardholders still being sorted out, the bankruptcy rush is likely to result in well over a billion dollars worth of losses by the end of the year.

Sallie L. Krawcheck, the chief financial officer for Citigroup, said, "It's clearly done some short-term earnings damage to the card industry."

We’ll get it in the end, but it’s worth gloating now.

My Den From My New Camera

This is where The Misanthrope ends up in complete indecision
about what to read next.

The Misanthrope reads here, however slowly.

The Misanthrope writes the posts from here.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

He Can't Be Serious!

There is no such thing as a man willing to be honest that would be like a blind man willing to see.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), writer

How can this be said without a laugh?

According to the Associated Press, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Cheney is doing a "great job" as vice president. The spokesman also said Cheney's public comments have always been truthful.

Reasons to be Misanthropic

It disturbs me no more to find men base, unjust, or selfish than to see apes mischievous, wolves savage, or the vulture ravenous for its prey.
Molière (1622–73), French dramatist. Philinte, in Le Misanthrope, act 1, sc. 1.

The death toll in Pakistan and India after the Oct. 8 earthquake has reached 53,000, according to the New York Times. Yet, these two countries are acting like little kids offering relief and rejecting it, coming up with proposals and counter proposals. Meanwhile, people’s lives are hanging in the balance. Surprisingly the Bush gang is not even involved.

I read Kurt Vonnegut’s “A Man Without a Country” and while I am not even trying to include myself in this group, I do have to say I join them in their belief:

Albert Einstein and Mark Twain gave up on the human race at the end of their lives, even thought Twain hadn’t even see the First World War.

Like my distinct betters Einstein and Twain, I now give up on people, too. I am a veteran of the Second World War and I have to say this is not the first I have surrendered to a pitiless war machine.

What can be said to our young people, now that psychopathic personalities, which is to say persons without consciences, without senses of pity or shame, have taken all the money in the treasuries of our government and corporations, and made it their own?

Short People

Short People are just the same
As you and I
(A Fool Such As I)
All men are brothers
Until the day they die
(It's A Wonderful World)
Randy Newman, singer/song writer “Short People” (complete lyrics to song listed at the bottom of the post)

I decided to check some of the blogs unknown to me listed on our blogroll; Prontopup, in this case, which is where I discovered the link to Roger Ebert's reply to a short person who called him on his use of the word midget. (Here is another Toner Mishap secret, B2 is the technical guru here. I ask B2 to blog roll people and he always does, but I have not checked out everyone he has added. I will learn how to add sites yet.)

I apologize in advance for my ignorance and my prejudice, but short people (aka, midgets and dwarfs) give me nightmares, maybe it has something to do with the "Wizard of Oz." I promise to work on my shortsighted views. If I had a friend, was better read, or was close to someone abnormally short, I am sure I would have learned this long ago.

If there is anyone who is offended by this post, I sincerely apologize and I will definitely improve on my narrow mindedness. I found the following note rather amusing and enlightening:

The following exchange, reprinted here in its entirety, began with an e-mail to Ebert's Movie Answer Man column.
From Daniel Woodburn to Roger Ebert
April 6, 2005
Dear Mr. Ebert,
I am an actor that you have reviewed neither favorably nor unfavorably in two different movies: one was “Death to Smoochy,” the other "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her.” I have absolutely no objection to you trashing a film or lauding it. I do object to the use of the word "midgets" in your review of “Death to Smoochy.”

As a writer you are aware of the power of words. The use of the word midget is, for Little People, equated with any other hate word someone might use to describe a minority group. I simply ask you: if you were to see Little People children would you take away their humanity in the same way with the use of such a hate word? I can respect a yes answer but I cannot respect the person who answers yes.

Danny Woodburn

From Roger Ebert to Daniel Woodburn
April 12, 2005
Dear Mr. Woodburn,
I had no idea the word "midget" was considered offensive, and you are the only person who has ever written to me about it. In my mind it is a descriptive term, like "dwarf." "Little People" has seemed to me to have a vaguely condescending cuteness to it. If I am now informed that "midget" is offensive, I will no longer use it. What is your feeling about "dwarf?" Is "Little Person" always the preferred term? Our newspaper's style book, based on Associated Press, does not consider "midget" or "dwarf" to be offensive terms, but perhaps we have not caught up.

Roger Ebert

After the Wizard of Oz, my next familiarity with short people came from Frank Zappa and his dwarf bowling comments, which shows how mixed up I am. But, as Ebert says, I will catch up.

I decided to look up the word midget and I learned something:

midg·et. noun, 1. Offensive. An extremely little person who is otherwise normally proportioned.

Randy Newman's song is obviously a parody, similar to his song about Rednecks. In case you missed it in the '80s here are the lyrics to Randy Newman's "Short People."

Short People got no reason
Short People got no reason
Short People got no reason
To live

They got little hands
Little eyes
They walk around
Tellin' great big lies
They got little noses
And tiny little teeth
They wear platform shoes
On their nasty little feet

Well, I don't want no Short People
Don't want no Short People
Don't want no Short People
`Round here

Short People are just the same
As you and I
(A Fool Such As I)
All men are brothers
Until the day they die
(It's A Wonderful World)

Short People got nobody
Short People got nobody
Short People got nobody
To love

They got little baby legs
That stand so low
You got to pick 'em up
Just to say hello
They got little cars
That go beep, beep, beep
They got little voices
Goin' peep, peep, peep
They got grubby little fingers
And dirty little minds
They're gonna get you every time
Well, I don't want no Short People
Don't want no Short People
Don't want no Short People
'Round here

Monday, October 24, 2005

A Few Personal Items I Find Fit to Comment Upon

Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.
Mark Twain (1835–1910), author

Toner Mishap. There are days when I have missed commenting. In the two weeks that I have not written anything, I have not yet used the time wisely, which aggravates me to no end. Frankly, I have missed Toner Mishap. It’s just too good a site to let go to seed, so I plan to write more frequently, but no promises about daily writing.

I am not sure how many readers we have left, but those of you who show up thank you, your readership and comments are appreciated.

Las Vegas. Wife and I took a bit of a vacation last week to celebrate our birthdays. We went to Las Vegas because it was close, not cheap. I find that Las Vegas is extremely overpriced from their hotel rooms, food and drinks to gambling. We stayed at a middle of the road hotel (Monte Carlo) on the strip and we felt very much like cattle as the staff offered no interest in customer service. We were booked for a mini-suite for four days, but because they did not have the room cleaned at 3 p.m. as promised and we were tired from the drive, we opted to down grade to a regular room, wife’s wise decision. We even checked out a day early because the town’s greed and consumption just worn on us.

Elton John. We saw Elton John’s Red Piano show at Caesar’s Palace. Wife had never seen Elton John before and she loved the show, which featured a number of his popular songs. I had seen him at the Hollywood Bowl and I have been to far more concerts than she has and I found the audience was as active as store mannequins and that Elton John basically just phoned in his performance. I was disappointed, but wife loved it, so I didn’t rain on her parade (she won’t read this blog, neither will mother, thank goodness).

Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity. This was an excellent show. I loved every minute of it. The performers in this show are incredible. It was a very enjoyable show and I highly recommend it.

Rolling Stones. On the Mark predicted it, but I didn’t believe him. He said I would go see the Stones at the Hollywood Bowl and I denied it. Well… Wife and I are going to see the Stones at the Hollywood Bowl Sunday, Nov. 6. The seats are very much toward the back, but I’m hopeful there will be a large screen to see and the sound should be awesome, so I am looking forward to it.

Toner Mishap. Oh, it feels nice to write this stuff again.

Noted without comment:

"Designed especially for Lady golfers with long manicured finger nails who prefer to wear their jewelry while playing."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Magneto and Winston Smith

What’s the deal with Ian McKellen and John Hurt? Are they really different people, or what?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Misanthrope – Sunday’s Lighter Side
‘Till the Next Good-bye

Until the next time we say good-bye
I’ll be thinking of you

Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, singers/song writers

This could be the last time. May be the last time, I don't know. But it’s been fun, it’s been a thrill and it’s been time consuming. Yes friends, The Misanthrope is saying good-bye, but not necessarily so long, which means I could and most certainly will pop up from time to time, but I'm not going to be around daily as I have been, at least writing. Like any habit, I have gotten used to checking in on a handful of blogs rather regularly and that will continue.

B2, On The Mark and I have all talked but this day at various times, but we figured the one year anniversary was a good time to say so long, at least to writing daily. Here is a tidbit about Toner Mishap; On The Mark and B2 have never met. I don't think they have ever spoken except through the comments section.

My hat's off to my two colleagues figuratively and literally. B2 and I work together, which is my pleasure and makes the commute to work less hell (note, it would take more than B2 to make the drive a pleasure). B2 is the one who suggested a blog last year when I told him I used to have a dot net site called The Misanthrope, but I didn't want to do it again, alone. He said he would participate too and came up with the great name Toner Mishap by running misanthrope through an anagram site. I equate B2 to Nicholson Baker with his ability to find the unusual in the quotidian.

On The Mark and I have been best friends since the 10th grade when we were on the same misfit basketball team, so On The Mark will generally agree to some of my writing ideas. As you have seen, he is an excellent writer and has keen eye for reading between the lines and getting to the heart of the matter.

Both these guys are tremendous talents.

We are going to put our best of pieces up shortly. The first time Boing Boing picked up a B2 post and the numbers jumped by a couple of thousand in a day, you would have thought we won the lotto. The second B2 post picked up by Boing Boing was just as thrilling and the numbers jumped by almost 10,000. What were the items? Something about Chewbacca and the other one was a post related to Star Wars from a B2 grocery store excursion, and if we could get royalties on those posts, we'd still be raking in the dough. I was also thrilled to be picked up by AOL blog news and finally Waxy picked B2's coffee table book-sized post about the Simpson’s in Spanish, and hence we will break 100,000 probably Wednesday is my guess. A post that was not picked up by the big blogs was Hopper Rolls Over in His Grave, this is an outstanding and entertaining piece on how a classic work of art has been high-jacked for all kinds of commercial purposes. If we don't post another item the hits will continue through the magic of Google images. On The Mark's Russian posts were terrific and very interesting.

Online Friends. Blogging has created some online friends for me: Jack at Random Thoughts; Lorrianne at Horded Ordinaries, Janet at the Art of Getting By; Dr. Stephen Taylor at Poliblog; Dr. B at BitchPh.d; Q at Simply Put; Anita at Fighting Interia; and of course, our most regular commentor Chandira at Diary of a Hope Fiend. I have learned one thing or another from all of you, thank you! I don't want to forget Alice at Through a Looking Glass; Andrea Lewis at scratching surfaces; Panthergirl at The Dog's Breakfast or Laura at Daxohol.

Still Around. Really all this means is that we are stopping daily blogging. No one told us to blog daily, but we felt that to build readership and keep it we needed to blog daily.

The upshot of all this writing has inspired my creative writing, which I really want to focus on for a while without the distraction of the blog. When you combine the day job and dealing with the outside world, blogging creates additional pressure that I just don't need. I am hopeful if you have us blogrolled you can see when we have updated and you'll stop by. Already I want to write about congress considering taking away or reducing tax deductions for homeowners. I have truly grown to despise political hacks in both parties.

See you around,

The Misanthrope

And I'll miss you most of all, Scarecrow.

Twelve months, one thousand posts, and one hundred thousand hits. Give or take.

Toner Mishap has been a great way to spend my time, and the blogosphere has been a great place to coexist with my alternate self, but the time has come to close the curtain on this chapter of my life and bury the hatchet in a mixed metaphor. Or something like that.

My wife is always close to my thoughts. Whenever I start something new, I wonder how she will react -- to my papercutting, to my dads' zine (Another Mouth), to this blog... sometimes I clue her in early, and sometimes she finds out later, but she always supports me and makes me feel good about myself. When I told her that the Mishap was no longer going to be an everyday concern, but rather an every-so-often one, she voiced real concern; it seems that for her this has been a real window into my mind, and she wonders how we will connect now. For this, if for no other reason, I have something better to do with my time every day than attempting to amuse strangers with either (1) how geeky I am, or (2) how geeky I'm not: I just need little more time with my rabbi to let her know how much she means to me.

In the past year I've blogged on comics, D&D, Edward Hopper, and Chewbacca (and a few other things). I've shared music, photos, thoughts, and rants. I've introduced you to Guerilla Gorilla (who still, to this day, refuses to spell "guerrilla" correctly), and maybe even to Hector Vex, Attila, Beaucoup Kevin, Rick Richman's Jewish Current Issues, and Jay Pinkerton.

What will I do now? The hardest part about starting something new, I have learned, is finding the time to do it. I already have the time blocked out, because I committed it to Toner Mishap; now I hope to be spending that time with my my knife.

Thank you all for joining us on this adventure. Thank you to the Misanthrope and On the Mark for making it even more enjoyable. And thank you to my biggest fan, as always, my wife.

On The Mark -- Goodbye for Now

First, I want to thank The Misanthrope and B2 for inviting me to write for Toner Mishap. It's been a great experience.

Second, my hat is off to The Misanthrope and B2 for writing and posting well-written and well-researched articles every day. They were committed to keeping the Toner Mishap fresh with new material every day, no easy chore. The Misanthrope punched us in the gut with his hard-hitting commentary and B2, along with his great writing, opened my eyes to many things that were previously not in my universe.

This change for Toner Mishap doesn't really affect me too much, because I've only been able to post once or twice a week for a while now. I hope to be able to continue that pace. In fact, my next post will be tomorrow. But it will definitely be a noticeable change for my colleagues, because they were creating, researching, and writing every day -- and dedicated to making sure new material was live first thing in the morning.

I did notice one clear trend, though, over the year. Earlier in the year, when this blog would challenge the Bush Administration, we often had intelligent responses from those who support the Administration. But as the year has marched on, as more scandals in the Administration have erupted, the responses we've been getting have been trending toward being rude and childish. We like a good argument. We like a good fight. We like to hear the other perspective, even though we may not agree. There hasn't been much of a fight lately, mostly just name calling, but maybe that's because the Bushies are finding they have less ground to stand on.

We are in an interesting and scary time. More so than any other time in my nearly 50 years of life (that I was old enough to understand, anyway). Now, more than ever, we need critical thinking and writing.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Religion’s Version of Yelling into the Wind
A Penultimate Post

Nine-tenths of the appeal of pornography is due to the indecent feelings concerning sex which moralists inculcate in the young; the other tenth is physiological, and will occur in one way or another whatever the state of the law may be.
Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), British philosopher

Is religion out of control? We have President Bush allegedly chatting with God personally, now we have National Porn Sunday tomorrow. For any Catholic priests reading this, it is not a day to attack the young boys in your flock, it’s a day for 75 evangelical Christian churches across the country to confront an issue rarely discussed in church, but not doubt running through people’s heads during long insufferable sermons.

One associate pastor was quoted as saying pornography is America’s dirty little secret. I have news for him, it’s not so secret or so little. In a suburb less than 10 miles from here, it’s know as the porn film capital. I am certain that the Chatsworth Chamber of Commerce doesn’t promote that statistic, but this is a profitable industry and a pleasurable distraction for some.

These are old statistics, (but you get the idea, just double or triple them to make them current) from the book Reefer Madness Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market by Eric Schlosser, according to Adult Video News, from 1985 to 1992 the number of hard-core video rentals each year in the Unite States rose from 79 million to 490 million. In 2001, the number climbed to 759 million. Americans spend as much as $8 billion to $10 billion on adult entertainment. It's not going to be stopped anytime soon.

A 2002 Christianity Today survey in showed that 51 percent of U.S. pastors called Internet porn their biggest temptation (I wonder if they meant theirs or their parishioners?). In the same survey, 37 percent of pastors called it a struggle, and four out of 10 said they'd visited porn Web sites (I believe they are talking about the pastors, but the article in the Dallas News was not clear).

Generally, this boring and victimless vice is better regulated than attacked. I'm afraid the churches can do nothing to stop this and only bring more attention to the topic, which ultimately will make it more mainstream and less of a forbidden fruit.

On The Mark -- Throwing Bush Out with the Bath Water

At first I was fooled, too. When I saw the Neos come out against Bush after he nominated "Harry" Miers to the Supreme Court I thought it would split the party. But after thinking it through a couple moves ahead on the chessboard, I realize that there's no splitting going on here. The Neos now realize that Bush and anyone associated with him, or who tries to run for office, or keep office, riding on his coattails will go the way of the soldiers who followed Custer. From the Neos' perspective, as it relates to Bush, you can stick a fork in it. He's done.

So, from the Neos' point-of-view, it makes sense to distance what they consider the "real" republican party from him -- to show the voting red reds that they're not backing a loser (and this word can have many meanings in this context). Plus, Bush is of no use to them anymore. The Neos are making their play for the future, they're being bold about it, and they're sacrificing Bush for the good of the party.

I would venture to guess that if things were going great for Bush (in Iraq, in the devastated regions of the U.S., no indictments or near indictments of party leaders, etc.) the Neos wouldn't have been so aggressive to dismiss Harry.

Let's face it, the Neos are powerful -- in money and words. For example, say whatever you want about Ann Coulter, but when she publishes a book it opens at or near the top of the list and stays there for a long time.

I hope the Dems don't sleep through this, too, and realize too late this strategic move by the Neos. They seem content at the moment to sit on the sidelines and watch the Republican party fall apart. But if that's the case, I'm afraid they're watching the wrong show.

What's going on at Toner Mishap?

The end is near, my friends; the end is near. Find out the details tomorrow.

Friday, October 07, 2005

On The Mark -- Travels in Russia, Series III: But Is Lenin Smiling?

There is a raging debate in Russia today about the fate of Lenin's body. This debate is a reflection of the many different moods and attitudes, mostly specific to generations, related to the current social issues in this vast country. One can stand in long lines (as I did) to see his body encased in a plastic box in a darkened mausoleum. The contrast of dark and light reminded me of viewing Rembrandt paintings in Amersterdam.

But he might not be there much longer. One of Putin's deputies has raised the question of whether Lenin should be buried like everyone else (some say he requested to be buried in St. Petersburg). Many people say good riddance and that it's an embarrassment to the New Russia to have someone who represented (and created, long after his death) such bad times on display like an art piece in the main tourist area of Moscow. Others, some of the older generation, and definitely the communists, are outraged that moving him out of Red Square would even be considered. The young kids, those born after 1980, say, "who?"

When I walked around his body I tried to see if he was smiling. You see, no one in Russia smiles (except, again, those young ones). When I asked about this I was told that Russians view foreigners' smiles (i.e., Americans) as fake, that the physical reaction doesn't really reflect what that person is thinking (and it is hard to argue this point). When I asked them if they thought my smiles were false, they responded, "no." When I probed, they said that the reason they can tell the difference is that "you also smile with your eyes, and your eyes cannot lie."

Very interesting, I thought. When someone smiles at me now, I look into their eyes (although not to the extent of Mr. Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David) to see if the smile is genuine.

Berkowitz v. Bush

David Berkowitz, "son of Sam," explained that he had been ordered to commit murders by his neighbour, Sam Carr, and that these orders were transmitted through Carr's dog, Harvey.

President Bush, "son of George," explained that he had been told to commit war by God, and that these orders were transmitted through, well, God.

Guerilla Gorilla:
God Tells Bush to Wage War

[It's Friday, and that's means it's time for Guerilla Gorilla. This week, GG writes about President Bush's intimate relationship with God.]

Human President Bush will be quoted in an upcoming BBC documentary saying that God told him to wage war around the world. Palestinian information minister Nabil Shaath says that Bush said to him,
"God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.'

"And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq.' And I did."
Frankly, it's a little frightening to me that you humans rely so much on input from purportedly-real superbeings. Now granted, apes have never been known to worship God (or even gods), so maybe I just don't get it -- but that isn't even really the point. [grunt]

What irks me is that I had always learned from my benevolent keepers and handlers that the U.S. government doesn't get too tangled up with religion anymore. That once upon a time, the good men who wrote the Constitution mentioned God in such documents because of the nature of society at the time, but that the U.S. has some sort of separation between the two. That governmental leaders were not going to do things just because their flavor of religion urged them to do it.

So why did Bush declare a "Jesus Day" back when he was governor of Texas? Why does he keep giving taxpayers' money to churches, even repaying churches for the charitable donations of their parishoners? Why would he make political decisions, such as waging war, based on what he says are directions from God?

Does his reliance on his Christian God mean he doesn't believe in the validity of other human religions? Does that mean that Bush doesn't have to worry about what happens to Muslims (or Jews, or whoever) because they're not Christians and they're not right?

Does it mean that if Bush thinks his God tells him to thump that Bible a little harder and start appointing all of his right-wing Christian buddies to the government that he should just do it?

If I were a non-Christian human living in the United States, I would be getting a little concerned about now. Of course, I'm just an ape, so what do I care, right? [grunt]

A Direct Line to God

God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos: He will set them above their betters.
H. L. Mencken (1880–1956), journalist

I have been trying to ignore the Bush gang because frankly it’s a disaster for the country as a whole and for the working class struggling to get by in particular. But this story that the most powerful leader in the world has private conversations with God is beyond disturbing -- it’s unnerving.

How can he talk about Muslim radicals when he is an evangelical radical? If you believe the Bible you will find that God last spoke to Job. After Job, God has never spoken again; that is until now

President George W. Bush allegedly said God told him to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, a new BBC documentary will reveal, according to details.

Bush made the claim when he met Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and then foreign minister Nabil Shaath in June 2003, the ministers told the documentary series to be broadcast in Britain later this month.

The US leader also told them he had been ordered by God to create a Palestinian state, the ministers said.

Shaath, now the Palestinian information minister, said: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God.

'God would tell me, 'George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan'.'

"And I did, and then God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq...' And I did.

"'And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, 'Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.' And by God I'm gonna do it'," said Shaath.

Abbas, who was also at the meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, recalled how the president told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation.

"So I will get you a Palestinian state."

A BBC spokesman said the content of the program had been put to the White House but it had refused to comment on a private conversation.

Here is a link that points out the danger of unchecked prayers.

Update 10/7/05 8:30 a.m.
The White House gang initially declined to comment on the above story, but since it is such a scary thought to think that the leader of the free world converses with God, they finally responded:

"That's absurd. He's never made such comments," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Thursday.

But, what did he say? That is probably classified just as the 10 terrorist attacks are. hmmm, shades of Joe McCarthy

Thursday, October 06, 2005

McDonald's has a Dipping Sauce Policy

This is the sign on the drive-through window at McDonald's, detailing their dipping sauce policy, as well as their salad dressing policy.

I know they need a policy, but posting it seems a little unnecessary, right? Or is it some sort of disclaimer so they don't get sued for not providing enough sauces?

Yikes! Snakes Alive

There's a snake hidden in the grass.
Virgil (70 - 19 BC), Roman poet

From an Associated press story; I am not sure readers would appreciate the picture but you can find it if you click on the link or Jack's.

The alligator has some foreign competition at the top of the Everglades food chain, and the results of the struggle are horror-movie messy.

A 13-foot Burmese python recently burst after it apparently tried to swallow a live, six-foot alligator whole, authorities said.

The incident has heightened biologists' fears that the nonnative snakes could threaten a host of other animal species in the Everglades.

The gory evidence of the latest gator-python encounter — the fourth documented in the past three years — was discovered and photographed last week by a helicopter pilot and wildlife researcher.

The snake was found with the gator's hindquarters protruding from its midsection. Mazzotti said the alligator may have clawed at the python's stomach as the snake tried to digest it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Tom DeLay’s House of Shame

Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country.
Karl Kraus (1874–1936), writer

Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter has said it best:

Thus began what historians will regard as the single most corrupt decade in the long and colorful history of the House of Representatives. Come on, you say. How about all those years when congressmen accepted cash in the House chamber and then staggered onto the floor drunk? Yes, special interests have bought off members of Congress at least since Daniel Webster took his seat while on the payroll of a bank. And yes, Congress over the years has seen dozens of sex scandals and dozens of members brought low by financial improprieties. But never before has the leadership of the House been hijacked by a small band of extremists bent on building a ruthless shakedown machine, lining the pockets of their richest constituents and rolling back popular protections for ordinary people. These folks borrow like banana republics and spend like Tip O'Neill on speed.

There is nothing more that I can add except to urge you to read the entire column.

The best D&D game ever...

The best D&D game ever would no doubt feature 1:1 scale broadswords for everyone to use, and dice the size of melons.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Sweet New Year

I'm dipping my apples in honey; shanah tovah!

Not Just a Piece of Meat

Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian or an ordinary man has; but I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616), writer. Sir Andrew Aguecheek, in Twelfth Night

It makes one long for the days of the mobsters running Las Vegas. Today, the old mob guard are spinning in their graves thinking about the profit they let slip away in Las Vegas. Their business plan was to provide inexpensive food, drinks and lodging in order to get people to spend money on gambling, which is where the profits were.

Today corporate America runs Las Vegas and everything becomes a profit center. Forget that one can no longer find cheap shrimp cocktails or an inexpensive buffet or even a reasonably priced hotel room. Now, the bigger ritzier hotels not only charge $300 plus for a room, but they are now offering $190 steaks to the big shot who has more money than he/she knows what to do with.

Many of the jaw-dropping prices are the result of more Kobe beef being served. Shintaro, the Japanese eatery at Bellagio, where the 10-ounce Washugyu Kobe tenderloin is going for $190. Shintaro's 12-ounce sirloin commands $170. Over at Bradley Ogden, the high-end restaurant at Caesars Palace, the 8-ounce Kobe steak goes for $175. Also cracking the $100 barrier: Craftsteak at the MGM Grand, with a 10-ounce Kobe filet mignon price at $100. On the cusp: a 14-ounce Kobe ribeye for $98.

If that becomes a regular price for beef, I will have no choice but to become a vegetarian.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fresh Tequila

Is this a produce section I see before me,
the tequila toward my hand?
Come, let me buy thee.

I was at the grocery store the other day, and I was in the produce section -- I'm lucky that two out of my three daughters enjoy fruit as much as I do, so I know at least a percentage of the women in the house will not get scurvy. But what do I find tucked under the peaches? Tequila? In the produce section? I mean, I know it's made of agave, which I can sort of imagine finding there, but bottles of tequila?

Soon Only Gays Will Want to Marry

Marriage is socialism among two people.
Barbara Ehrenreich, author

More and more heterosexual men and women are opting not to get married. In Britain it is predicted that within 25 years more couples will opt to live together instead of getting married, according to government statistics published last week.

The projections are based on the recent steep fall in marriage rates for people aged under 30. As the older generation dies, a new generation of people who prefer living together to marriage will take their place.

Britain's Office for National Statistics predicted predicts never-married people will outnumber married people by about 650,000 by 2031 when the number of Britons aged 16 years or older will hit 48 million.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Misanthrope – Sunday’s Lighter Side
Talkin’ Baseball Playoffs

Baseball is the greatest of American games. Some say football, but it is my firm belief, and it shall always be, that baseball has no superior.
Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931), inventor

At the start of the baseball season On The Mark and I (here) made our picks, now is the time to see how we have done:

In summary, I did pretty well in picking the division champions in both leagues. I didn’t do as well picking the rest of the positions. I was correct in the American League East with the Yankees first followed by Boston Red Sox. I missed the American League Central Division, I had Minnesota first and the Chicago White Sox third. I was certainly wrong there.

My favorite is that I picked the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to finish first and they did. The rest of that division I got wrong. However, the Dodgers did not fool me, I picked San Diego to finish first, and they did. I also made the right call by picking St. Louis, but I missed badly in the National League East by selecting the Florida Marlins. Once again, the Atlanta Braves took that division, I think for the 14th time in almost as many years.

On The Mark’s picks were very similar and he too missed the National League East and he picked the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West.

The playoffs beginning Tuesday and we may know tomorrow whether it will be Boston or Cleveland in the playoffs. I am still sticking with my picks at the beginning of the season that the Angels and St. Louis will be in the World Series. On The Mark picked also picked the Angels.

Let’s Go Angels!

And so I drink long life to the boys who plowed a new equator round the globe stealing bases on their bellies.
Mark Twain (1835 - 1910), writer

Saturday, October 01, 2005

"The Shining" As Heartwarming Comedy

Click this link to see a revamped trailer for Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" that makes it seem more like a heartwarming comedy tha nthe awesome thriller it really was. Funny, funny stuff, courtesy of BoingBoing.

Drug Inventor Dies Without Pain

No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.
P.J. O'Rourke, writer

Leo Sternbach, the inventor of Valium and a number of other tranquilizers died at his home in North Carolina. He was 97. What are the odds he had plenty of Valium on hand?

Valium was the country's most prescribed drug from 1969 to 1982. Nicknamed "Mother's Little Helper" after the Rolling Stones' song, it was three times more potent than its predecessor, Librium, another member of the class of tranquilizers invented by Sternbach.