Vote for America's future. Vote Green.

Friday, December 30, 2005

I thought protection rackets were illegal, but don't tell the Washington Federation of State Employees.

According to this report from The Olympian and other news sources, over 300 Washington state employees may lose their job because of their failure or refusal to pay a fee to the union. These union dues are compulsory, regardless of actual union membership status, though a lower fee is being extorted, er, required of those who choose not to join the union. My first thought when I heard about this was that Al Capone and other mafiosi have done this in the past and probably still do this sort of thing. It's called a "protection racket". I find it shamefully predictable that a Democrat governor would sign a collective bargaining agreement that ended up such a sweet deal for the union leadership, and such a bane for the workers. For the remainder of this issue, I defer to Sound Politics, a blog that has covered this issue in greater depth and is far better versed in current events and politics in Seattle and Washington state.

I found another interesting website belonging to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a group whose stated purpose is "Defending America's working men and women against the injustices of forced unionism since 1968." I first feel the need to clarify that I am not against unions in abstract. I think that, as long as they genuinely work to better protect their members, and said membership is not compulsory, they can, and occasionally do, have a salutary effect on a workplace. However, like large organizations are often wont to do, the case history is becoming increasingly compelling to the contrary.

Thus endeth the rant. To all, I wish you a happy and safe New Year's holiday, and if you feel the need to consume a bit of alcoholic holiday cheer, please, for everyone's sakes, stay off the roads. Actually, staying off the roads is probably a good idea for anyone insofar as it is possible.

Monday, December 26, 2005

I don't think I've been this disgusted in a long time.

I'm sure we've all heard by now about the tours of Hurricane Katrina-ravaged areas of New Orleans. People are charging $30 a head to view the devastation left in that monster storm's wake. Let's dissect this a bit. People are charging $30 a head to see where peoples lives were ruined and where people died horrible deaths. People are "earning" $30 per person to take people on a tour of a hell the likes of which our nation has never seen. This is my 87th post here, and but one of hundreds of comments I've left across the blogosphere. I mention this because the only word I know to describe this is one I have never used before in my forays in blogspace: abomination. It is an abomination to profit from the dead. It is an abomination to give funds to those who profit from the dead. It is an abomination to pay to tour a place of so much suffering for the sole reason that it is a place of suffering. If someone wants to aid the recovery efforts, fine. There are numerous legitimate web sites for organizations involved in the relief effort. Also, if anyone is willing to contribute their time, their energy, to aiding the relief efforts, there's plenty of work to be done in Louisiana, and Mississippi, and to a somewhat lesser though, in areas, no less dire extent, in coastal Alabama. If you're interested, contact a relief agency or church group and ask them where they need you.

While I'm ranting about the hurricane, the experts have backtracked on their initial reports that Hurricane Katrina made landfall as a Category 4 storm, and now say that she hit land as a 3. Who cares? Who honestly gives a flying fuck? Her winds may have been a 3, though I find a 4 more believable based on the damage and the sheer size of the storm. However, she came with a Category 5 storm surge. That close to land, with the waves that storm generated, with the water that had pushed around, where exactly was the water going to go, except into land, and with terrible force and result? If you own a house that's been hit by a tornado, do you care if it was an F3 or an F5? Either way, your house is rubble. The figures may be of interest to scientists, but the people who are on the ground and dealing with the effects of nature either don't give a damn or are insulted by what some may perceive as an attempt at trivializing what occurred.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Osama bin Laden's Niece Poses for GQ.

I guess that's marginally interesting, and I suppose it would be more significant if her father were one of Osama's brothers instead of one of his half-brothers. It isn't unsurprising that Osama, being one of 50+ children borne of his father's four wives, would hold some dramatically different views from some, or more probably many, of his siblings and half-siblings. That being said, I feel that this story is far from insignificant. Specifically, this story is significant for showing the diversity of opinion and belief within the various Muslim communities throughout the world.

Wafah Dufour is a California-born musician and law school graduate who currently resides in New York. Her father, Yeslam Binladen, has intentionally changed the spelling of his surname to distance himself from his half-brother, and he gained Swiss citizenship in 2001. He has been but one of Osama's siblings to condemn the actions of world's most wanted terrorist. Wafah Dufour changed her surname to her mother's maiden name to further distance herself from her uncle.

I thank and applaud Ms. Dufour for her courage and her willingness to show another side of Western Islam, one with which many of us may not be as familiar. Also, I offer my most sincere condolences to her. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that she has faced knowing that she's related in any way, no matter how distantly, to that monster. It's bad enough when someone commits an act of evil, but it's so much worse when it's a member of your family, even an estranged family member.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Why I feel sorry for David Letterman

Some clearly delusional woman in Santa Fe, NM, has been granted a temporary restraining order against the late night talk show host for allegedly using code words to communicate with her and sending her mental messages or some such shit. I fully agree that a temporary restraining order should have been granted in this case, but I think it should have been granted AGAINST Colleen Nestler, not FOR her, and that she should have also been forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. As a result of one fan with some obvious and serious mental issues, Mr. Letterman is having to expend his money and his time to deal with something he shouldn't. It could always be worse, though. He could reside in the same state as her.

More holiday cheer. Merry f***ing Christmas.

You Are Broccoli Casserole Soda

Vegetarians taste better!

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Your Hidden Talent

You have the natural talent of rocking the boat, thwarting the system.
And while this may not seem big, it can be.
It's people like you who serve as the catalysts to major cultural changes.
You're just a bit behind the scenes, so no one really notices.

Things that make you go "Duh!"

You are Agnostic

You're not sure if God exists, and you don't care.
For you, there's no true way to figure out the divine.
You rather focus on what you can control - your own life.
And you tend to resent when others "sell" religion to you.

Some Christmas inanity

You Are Blitzen

Always in good spirits, you're the reindeer who loves to party down with Santa.

Why You're Naughty: You're always blitzed on Christmas Eve, while flying!

Why You're Nice: You mix up a mean eggnog martini.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bush has admitted to spying on a number of American citizens.

I'm sure we've all read the news about it, seen it on Meet the Press, Fox News, CNN, other major network news programs, and a handful of people even saw it in MSNBC. I find this disturbing on a couple of levels.

First, from everything I've read, the Judiciary branch of the federal government was not involved. I have very little problem with this, as long as it meets the typical standards to get a search warrant, which, by definition, requires the intercession of a judge. I'm not even particularly bothered by the fact that such surveillance was done without the notification of the parties involved. This is nothing new, as evidenced by RICO cases and the investigation of various organized crime syndicates. Furthermore, the resources needed to track the communications of even one individual and those they contact, while remaining covert, necessitate the expenditure of more money and resources than would make this feasible for wide-scale use. This, combined with the involvement of the Judiciary, would provide a reasonable and, more importantly, legal means to do so while affording minuscule interference with the civil rights of the public at large, if not outright preserving them.

Second, I am deeply disturbed by the national security consequences of the revelation of some of the means with which intelligence data are gathered. This is something I find troublesome at best, as it affords those who would do the nation harm the information to counteract legitimate intelligence-gathering and anti-organized crime operations. Furthermore, I have serious concerns that the benefits of the revelation of this program will not outweigh the cost in future intelligence-gathering and anti-organized crime capabilities. Intelligence and counterintelligence operations have been part and parcel of statecraft for millennia and will likely continue to remain so.

On a completely unrelated note, there is a very interesting RICO case currently working its way through the courts: a countersuit filed in response to Atlantic v. Anderson against the RIAA. If substantiated, I join at least some of the commenters on that thread in hoping that criminal charges are filed against the companies involved.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A site that will put you in a diabetic coma

I was reading Yahoo, and saw a reference to a site that specializes in nothing but happy news. If it's in the least bit negative, they won't publish it. It's called As of now, the weather report is that it's quite pleasant in Austin, TX. However, most of the country is cold, and my bad knee is aching. Integrity tops web dictionarys' lookups, but that's because no one knows what it means anymore. Breast cancer patients may get less chemo, but I wonder if that's because HMO's are getting ever cheaper. Experts urge less focus on antioxidants, possibly because Americans don't eat all that many vegetables that aren't fried and/or coated in thick gravy or grease. Scientists deciphered the DNA of dogs, but still can't get them to stop sniffing everyone's asses. Garth Brooks and Trish Yearwood have wed, promising yet another generation of redneck celebrities. Fans mark the anniversary of John Lennon's murder, but they wouldn't be if he hadn't been shot in the first place.

All of the above are real headlines on this site. The happy bits are theirs, while the festering cynicism is all mine. Visit that site, sing "Happy Happy, Joy Joy" if you must, and stay away from the sweets. That site will put you in a coma if you try reading under the influence of cinnabuns.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Musings on Miami, Tookie Williams, and Spanish in School

I guess by now, anyone with access to a radio or television knows about the crazed lunatic who claimed to have a bomb on an airplane and was later killed by Air Marshalls. What I find utterly astonishing is that there's any type of debate possible over whether or not the law enforcement officers did the right thing. He claimed to have a bomb in his carry-on, he repeatedly refused to obey the orders of the officers, he resisted arrest, and then he reached into his carry-on. Ten out of ten times, when faced with that situation, law enforcement anywhere is going to react with deadly force, and if there are instances where one might not, then that law enforcement officer should be fired. The man's widow claimed that he was bipolar and had not taken his medication. If that were the case, she should be arrested for criminally-negligent homicide or any other similar statute that may apply in her case. Whenever you're travelling with someone, especially someone you care about, you check to see if they've taken any medication they may need in the course of the day at the proper time. I don't care if you're discussing hormones, cholesterol-lowering medication, blood pressure medication, antihistamines, motion-sickness medication or whatever, and that's doubly true of medicines to treat psychiatric conditions. You. Make. Sure. Debate Iraq. Debate our nation's domestic policy. Debate the relevance of France in international politics. Hell, debate the relative strength of the conferences, divisions, and/or teams in sports. This is clearly a case that's a no-brainer. My condolences go out to the agents who had to deal with this guy. I have absolutely no sympathy for his widow.

Tookie Williams founded one of the largest street gangs in the nation, glorified that lifestyle for years, and has been convicted of murdering four people in the process of two robberies that netted, if memory serves, around $200 in 1979 dollars, roughly equivalent to $500-600 today unless I'm way off. If he has changed his life around, as he and his supporters have alleged, good. If he has prevented even one kid from joining a gang, good. However, how much blood is on his hands, not only from his victims, but also from that which he created? If there is to be capital punishment, it should be applied in especially egregious cases, where the guilty are responsible for multiple and/or particularly heinous murders, and the exceptions to this should be few and rare, such as mental defect or spousal/domestic abuse. With the former, the argument is quite convincing in the opposite, and for the latter, the facts of the cases definitively exclude that from the realm of possibility. The only argument in this case should be one of whether or not the death penalty is moral, and I haven't been shy about my stance on that issue.

A Kansas City school showed that the Midwest will stoop to lows even the most backwoods part of the South refuse to approach when a kid was suspended for a day and a half for speaking Spanish in the hallway. The kid was responding to a fellow Spanish-speaking student who had asked to borrow a dollar, and responded in their native tongue a phrase even I, a nonspeaker of the Spanish language, knew: "No problema." Was the kid being disruptive? No, they were in the hallway between classes. Was he being ugly to a fellow student? No, he was exhibiting the kind of behavior any parent would like to see from their kids, in this case, thoughtfulness, kindness, and generosity. Did the school have a policy against speaking Spanish in a public school? No, and if such a policy were to be written, it would most likely be challenged heavily in the courts, and rightfully so. His father challenged the suspension all the way up to the superintendent of that school system, and the school quickly relented. He has since retained a lawyer to pursue a civil case against that school and that school board. I wish him well, and my advice to that school system is to bend over and grab your ankles.

As a bonus to this blog, I have a comment about the latest antics of one of my least-favorite people: Ann Coulter. At issue is not whether or not what she said qualified as hate speech. After all, there's plenty of that to go around, too much to be honest, and it comes from all corners of the political spectrum. What is at issue is her statement to the students, "I love to engage in repartee with people who are stupider than I am." Oh? I guess there are people less intelligent than Ann Coulter, somewhere, though I'd estimate the world population of such people at under 1,000. She equates reasoned dissent with treason and wrote a book defending Senator McCarthy. She's a superbitch who hasn't found a far-right cause she didn't like, and frankly, the only reason anyone pretends to listen to her is to stare at her tits and her legs. So, Ms. Coulter, my advice to you is to sit down, shut up, look pretty, and whatever you do, DON'T REPRODUCE! Most women have far more than that to contribute to society and are valuable as individuals and as women, but you do not.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Supreme Court and Abortion

I was going to post about the recently uncovered story alleging that Bush had contemplating Al-Jazeera's offices in the friendly nation of Qatar, but anything I was going to say was said far better by Snave at Various Miseries. So, instead, I will discuss the first abortion-rights case to be heard by the Roberts court.

The question in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood is whether New Hampshire's parental notification law will be upheld. If I had to choose between either pro-choice or pro-life, I would probably have to say I'm pro-choice, though I am in favor of some restrictions on abortion and am strongly in favor of measures to reduce the demand for it. On the surface, the New Hampshire law seems like a good idea. I favor parental notification in principle, but a potential problem with this law is that there is no explicit exception in the case of emergencies where the mother's health is in jeopardy, though other laws in the state of New Hampshire may protect doctors in those instances. As a general rule, I believe it should be as difficult for a minor to get an abortion as it is for a child to receive other forms of medical treatment. In the specific case of abortion, I believe it should require parental/guardian notification unless the mother's life or health is in danger, or unless the parent/guardian fathered the child or otherwise abused the mother-to-be. But this question is not about my personal views. It is about which way this court will rule on this case. Chief Justice Roberts has shown some signs of being a maverick and has been given the American Bar Association's highest rating. At this point, all that is left is to wait a few months for the ruling.

Four polls, one conclusion: We're all fucked.

I know I've been silent, but then again, it's not like I get all that much, or frankly, any, traffic. From the beginning, I viewed this blog with a bit more honesty than I saw in other blogs, and realized that, in the final analysis, this would be nothing more than one of several million places where one guy vents his spleen, a small act of self-indulgence made far larger by modern technology. So, in keeping with those roots while introducing something new, I bring you recent polls collated by, with a touch of the old, snide commentary as the mood strikes me.

According to a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll conducted from November 8-9 with 900 registered voters and a margin of error of ± 3%, asked the question, "Overall, do you think the Bush Administration is more ethical, less ethical, or about as ethical as other recent presidential administrations?" The response was 29% believing the current administration is more ethical, 39% less ethical, 28% same, and 5% unsure. Gee, this really sounds like a guy who promised to clean up the ethical problems of the previous administration has been doing a bang-up job. What I find even more interesting is that this was a poll conducted by Fox News, an unapologetically center-right news network, and yet Bush did that poorly.

From November 8-13, The Harris Poll asked 1,011 adults, "Do you think that the Bush Administration generally provides accurate information regarding current issues or do you think they generally mislead the public on current issues to achieve their own end?" The margin of error was ± 3%, and the response was as follows: Among all adults, 32% accurate, 64% misleading, 4% unsure; among Republicans, 68% accurate, 28% inaccurate, 4% unsure; among Democrats, 7% accurate, 91% misleading, 2% unsure; and among Independents, 25% accurate, 73% misleading, 2% unsure. One could take several conclusions could be derived from this poll, such as the possibility that Republicans are less likely to vote in lock-step with their party than Democrats or that the Republican Party's base is even becoming disgusted with the current administration. Naturally, I pay the most attention to the Independents, whose votes are critical in winning any election. Republicans will almost invariably vote Republican and Democrats will almost invariably vote Democrat, but Independents decide elections. I listen to what President Bush says, and I can't believe some of the bullshit he's spewing, though other things, I actually agree with. Among those policies of his I agree with, I either agree with them for different reasons and/or feel he's approaching in an inept manner. Then again, I felt almost the same way about President Clinton.

This brings me to my last poll for this extended rant. Between November 8-13, The Harris Poll asked 1,011 people how Republicans and Democrats are doing in Congress, with a margin of error of ± 3%. The results were equally dismal, with Republicans being rated 27% excellent/pretty good and 69% only fair/poor, and Democrats being rated 25% excellent/pretty good and 70% only fair/poor. I cannot honestly claim to be an expert, but I know bad numbers when i see them. If there were viable alternative parties, I would be seriously worried if I were a member of either party's leadership. As it stands, I would only be worried if I were a member of the Democratic Party leadership. I say that because it's far more difficult to unseat an incumbent than it is to retain a seat, and to successfully do so, one must be demonstrably better than the incumbent one is trying to replace. According to this poll, it is painfully clear that the Democrats are utterly failing to do so. I've posted my opinions on the reasons this is so, but the most critical of these is that the Democratic Party leadership hasn't evolved beyond a "not them" stance. As evidenced by Hilary Clinton's election to the United States Senate, that's simply not sufficient to win major elections. That was the core of her opponent's campaign, and as a result, Hilary Clinton won the election with about 70% of the vote, if memory serves. To retake control of Congress and have a real shot at the White House in 2008, the Democratic Party needs to express a real and realistic vision for the future and produce a candidate who can appeal to a wider base than the two clunkers they've turned out for the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Looking for help picking a berry to grow...

What's your favorite brambleberry?
Which type of brambleberry do you prefer?
Baba berry

T.O. can now consider himself TKO'd.

After reviewing the merits of the case, Terrell Owen's time in Philadelphia is officially over. I can find no fault in Philadelphia's stance and actions. Once a player becomes that much of a distraction and embarassment, the larger question becomes one of whether your team can afford to have him continue to be a problem, not one of whether or not you can do without him. The Eagles organization has decided that it's better to lose without him than win with him, and if I were in their place, the only thing I would've changed is that I would've gotten rid of the bastard earlier. The players' association was so incensed about the situation that they have threatened to remove the arbitrator from the list of approved arbitrators, but I can't see where any other impartial arbitrator could have come to a different conclusion. This ruling could not have been a shock to T.O. Football analysts, insiders, informed outsiders, and those who care about the game were all saying as much. With his talent, I can see where any team would want him. A player of his caliber would be an asset to any team, barring extreme circumstances. However, T.O.'s tenure has been nothing more than a string of extreme behavior, and with years of him displaying an attitude as nasty as any pro athlete since Ty Cobb, I can't see why any team would want him.

It is my sincerest hope that Mr. Owens steps back, looks at what he has caused, look at what he has done to his career, and finally, for once in his pathetic life, grow up. That being said, I have very little doubt that my hope is in vain, and more's the pity. With his stats, he could easily be on the way to the Hall of Fame, but with hit attitude, he'll relegate himself to the status of a difficult Jeopardy question.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Am I a bastard? Musings on a fallen WWE Superstar...

I am a fan of the late Eddie Guerrero. His energy and his evident love of the business were very obvious to anyone who spent even a short amount of time watching him. Especially after he came back after he beat his demons, his gratitude for everything, for every breath he took, was evident in everything he did. He was probably one of the greatest in-ring entertainers of the last generation. I say this out of a deep respect for Mr. Guerrero and out of sorrow for his family and friends, but I also say this as a preface for what I'm about to say next.

I was just a fan. I never knew the guy, never even met him. I never spent the time on the road with him like his friends and coworkers, his family within the sports entertainment business. I never got a chance to see anything other than what he displayed for the world. Millions of us, his fans, never got a chance to see the man his friends, his family, his coworkers got to see, so while we the fans will remember him for a while, eventually, the only people for whom the loss will really hurt are his friends, his family, those who really knew him. I don't think we the fans will forget, at least not at first, but I don't think the loss will have the same kind of immediacy and pain for nearly as long. I think that's very sad, and I also think that's undeniably true. I realized that about a day after Mr. Guerrero was found dead in his hotel room, and ever since, I've been asking myself if I was a heartless bastard for thinking that. I still don't have my answer, and its absence haunts me.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Irreverend Jesse Jackson is a Cunt, and other related musings...

Terrell Owens has been a boon to the Eagles on the field, and nothing less than a bane to the Eagles off of the field. Yet Jesse Jackson chooses to feel the punishment is far too severe for what Terrell Owens did. For the record, Owens is being suspended without pay for a total of four games for conduct detrimental to the team. He will then be deactivated for the rest of the season with pay. I know that we don't know everything Terrell Owens has done, but here's a brief rundown of what we do know: He has fought with teammates. He has repeatedly shown a lack of professionalism. He has repeatedly insulted his teammates, most notably the excellent Donovan McNabb, the very man who threw T.O. the pass he converted for his 100th touchdown and upon whom he relies to make him look good. He has repeatedly insulted his team's management. Jesus H. Christ! He even said the team would be better off with another quarterback, the over the hill Brett Favre. Furthermore, there are indications that he was a very disruptive force in the locker room, which has been borne out with what little we have heard. I'm no expert, but if problems in a locker room bubble over to where we, the public hear about them, there's a very serious problem, and in this case, the problem is Terrell Owens.

Irreverend Jackson said, as cited in the above linked article, that the level of punishment would have been warranted if he'd've been caught shaving points from the game, selling drugs, carrying a gun, or fighting fans without sufficient restraint. I strongly disagree with both his characterization of the actual offense and the hypothetical charges he mentioned. True, Terrell Owens will not play for the rest of the season. However, he's only being suspended without pay for four games. Furthermore, the offenses Jesse mentioned would warrant far harsher treatment than T.O. is receiving. Point shaving, selling drugs, carrying an unlicensed weapon, and fighting fans would wararant at least a two season suspension, if not a lifetime ban from the game, and possibly criminal charges. I find it heartwarming that JJ thinks so little of the fans, the public, and the sport as evidenced by his belittling some very severe charges.

Jesse, I have a question for you: If I were to insult my coworkers publicly, openly criticize the management where I work, routinely display a gross lack of professionalism, publicly defame the business where I work, and serve as a very disruptive influence in the workplace, what do you think would happen to me? Just for the purposes of clarity, I'm a white man, and I'm so pale I scorch in the sun. I know exactly what would happen to me. I wouldn't be suspended for a few games, get paid for the rest of the year, or receive any of the other perks T.O. is receiving. I would be fired and escorted off the premises. I would receive no severance package, would not be eligible for unemployment compensation in the state of Alabama, and would basically be fucked. Furthermore, it would be the right decision by the business. Do you know how many times I've seen that very thing happen? Ask the owner of a business or a member of management how many times they've had to do that. Ask an average person who's been in the workplace a few years how many times they've seen that happen. Then ask me if I have any sympathy for Terrell "Toddler" Owens. The only people who have earned my sympathy in this debacle are his teammates and management. In short, go fuck yourself up the ass, Jesse Jackson and Terrell Owens.

Of course, Ralph Nader felt the need to stick his pointy nose in the situation, so the former statements apply to him. The difference is that he isn't important enough to be quoted.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

For a change of pace, here's something far weightier and disturbing...

As I was surfing today, I ran across this story about something I've never even heard of, National Security Letters. Apparently, this is something that was enacted circa the 1960s or 1970s, and affords the FBI barely checked powers to gather information on individuals without their knowledge or consent. Until John Ashcroft's appointment to the office of Attorney General of the United States, this was apparently quite rare, but under the Patriot Act and his directives, this is far mor commonly used, and some would argue abused, today. For more information, please click on the link above. As for me, I was under the impression that we, as citizens of the United States of America, had certain rights. I wonder if the First and Fourth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America ring any bells to those who engage in these fishing expeditions. Frankly, I see this as bad law, bad policy, bad for the nation, and a true victory for the terrorists those who use this claim to attempt to protect us from. However, America is not just a nation, not just a blob on a map. The United States of America is an idea, and anything that allows that idea to fade and be betrayed is a true victory for the terrorists, one far longer lasting than any act of evil they commit. It is for that reason that I applaud the ACLU's opposition to the laws and policies that enable this. For over two centuries, grand juries and subpoenas have been more than sufficient to achieve this end. This, however, has far too much cost for too little gain.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

NCAA Division I-A Football Analysis-Week 10

Since I'm a fan of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, I'll start with that game. The line on that game, according to Yahoo, was 'Bama by 16, and since they beat Mississippi State 17-0, they at least beat the spread. One thing I find disconcerting, however, is the fact that 'Bama has only scored one offensive touchdown in the last three conference games, and none of those were tonight. They scored their touchdowns on defense and special teams, and that's very troubling considering the fact that the next two weeks bring LSU and Auburn, both major conference rivals.

I had hoped that the Utah State game would at least show them how they can get the job done, but apparently, I was wrong. Considering the kind of shitstorm Coach Shula inherited when he came here three years ago and the lingering troubles he has had since, this season is nothing short of a miracle. 9-0, knocking off serious competition along the way, a guaranteed berth to at least a mid-level bowl, not bad considering what he has to work with. Though Alabama doesn't have the highest total points per game in the SEC, they've still had enough to keep their loss column empty, and that's ultimately the most important thing. But with so little offensive depth, frankly, it's a miracle it hasn't caught up with them yet.

Their saving grace thusfar has been their incredible defense. They have the stingiest defense in the SEC and the second-stingiest in Division I-A NCAA football, allowing only 9 points per game. However, if they can't score, they're in deep trouble against a strong LSU team and an Auburn team that looks to spoil.

In other news, UCLA had their asses handed to them by Arizona, 52-14. That isn't a football game. That's an NCAA-sanctioned mugging. UCLA falls to 8-1. Also, Virginia Tech fell 27-7 to a very game Miami team, also falling to 8-1. The only remaining undefeated teams in Division I-A football are USC, Texas, and Alabama, each of whom handily beat their respective opponents, though the last in a far less convincing manner than I would've liked. Notre Dame hammered Tennessee 41-21, handing Tennessee their fourth consecutive loss and seriously endangering Tennessee's hopes for a bowl bid. The only chance Tennessee has to appear in a minor bowl is to win their last three games, and at least one of those, Vanderbilt, will be tricky at best if their near-upset of Florida is any indication. Florida State was shocked by NC State, 20-15, though Boston College's loss to North Carolina guarantees Florida State a spot in the ACC championship game on December 3. The remainder of the top 25 went pretty much as expected.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Odder musings than normal...

I was thinking about Tori Amos, and how her lyrics have become increasingly cryptic while remaining autobiographical, and in light of recent events, I thought I would try to imitate her, maybe toss in some James Joyce stream of thought prose. But then again, perhaps the beatniks were inspired by Joyce and provided inspiration to Ms. Amos. Who am I to know? Anyway, on with the show. I just ask that you comment, let me know if you liked it, thought it sucked, thought it was weird, or whatever.

Person speaks, reminds me of ago, of attempted but failed help by long-forgotten friends. Not their fault; they didn't know, couldn't have known, though they at least knew they didn't know. At least they were there, cared, gave a damn, but I was still shattered, still felt a volcano of pain in my soul.

Years pass, and with wisdom comes age and perspective and healing. New friend, new town, new life, new me. Friend speaks, same story from ago but completely different, and I know that I wish I knew what to say, what to help ease the anguish that radiated from her, and that maybe some of my old friends knew and didn't know what to say, and that they felt as helpless as I do now. I still see her face, marvel that she could function, marvel that she's not in a room weeping, sleeping, breaking. I know, and I don't, because I have and haven't been there, because no one can go quite to the same places in the soul another has been. Too many variables changed, too many hearts broken, and this time, wisdom does not bring peace. Is it wisdom to know that you don't know, when someone needs you to know, or is it failure? I don't know, but I know what I feel.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Latest poll reveals ethics concerns about the current Administration.

According to a recent Washington Post-ABC poll, 55% of Americans believe the recent indictment of "Scooter" Libby indicates wider problems in the current administration, while 41% think it's an isolated incident, and 4% either had no opinion or did not answer. The margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points. I can really understand why the 4% don't have an opinion yet, though if it's just because they're too lazy, then fuck 'em. I can see not wanting to form an opinion until all of the data is in. I can respect that as an intellectually-honest choice. However, this was the most powerful chief of staff for a vice-president in the nation's history, and he served under the most powerful vice-president in the nation's history. If the allegations are true, I can't see how this could be seen as anything other than a symptom of a wider problem within this administration.

Mr. Libby may be innocent of the crimes of which he has been accused. In the United States, as a matter of constitutional law and over two centuries of precedents, all accused are considered innocent until proven guilty. If he is found innocent, I believe he should receive a public apology. However, if he is guilty, I believe he should face the maximum punishment allowed by law. The leak of the identity of a CIA operative is a very serious thing and may have very serious national security implications for years to come. How likely is a foreign agent to speak to a CIA operative with the knowledge that some petty bastard may blow the cover of the person to whom they report? I'm not sure, but I would wager that the probability is diminished now. Also, how likely is a citizen of the United States to choose to become a CIA operative in light of this scandal? Again, I'm not sure, but I would wager that the probability is diminished, perhaps substantially.

There are plenty of other ways to do political damage to an Ambassador or other government official you dislike. That type of thing has been going on for as long as governments have existed, and certainly occurred under past administrations. This, however, went far beyond the pale. It is my deepest regret that perjury has not been adequately prosecuted under past administrations.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

And then there were FIVE, and other Division I-A football musings...

The five in question is the number of undefeated teams in NCAA Division I-A football. Fourth-ranked Georgia fell from their number in a 14-10 loss to 14th-ranked archrival Florida.

In the rest of the undefeateds, after a first half scare, #2 Texas went on to rout Oklahoma State 47-28. #8 UCLA overcame a near-upset by Stanford by tying the game up in the last minute and forcing overtime, winning with a final score of 30-27. #1 USC easily destroyed Washington State 55-13. #5 Alabama easily demolished Utah State 35-3. And finally, #3 Virginia Tech handily beat #13 Boston College 30-10.

Also, in a game very close to my heart, #23 Tennessee lost yet again to an SEC rival, slipping to 3-4 and all but killing any bowl hopes this year. Unlike their three previous defeats, this comes not to a top-10 team, but to unranked South Carolina by a score of 16-15. My heart is all atwitter at that news.

Georgia still controls their own fate in the SEC East, while the picture is slightly more muddled in the SEC West. Alabama has three conference games left on its regular schedule, with the first being next week against Mississippi State. If Alabama wins out, the question becomes moot, but if Alabama defeats LSU, and Auburn defeats Alabama, it could be the Tigers of Auburn representing the SEC West in the championship game, not the Alabama Crimson Tide. All in all, there's still plenty of great football to be played and watched. So buy up your tortilla chips and salsa and a hearty supply of cold beer, and enjoy.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

University of Alabama football-Week 8

Damn, I'm glad I got home early enough to catch the last few minutes of the first half. I wish I'd've been at Bryant-Denny Stadium yesterday afternoon. The final score was 6-3, with the Tide maintaining a perfect record of 7-0, but the scoreboard does no justice to what was happening on the field. It was games like yesterday's that shows exactly why the Southeastern Conference is the best conference in all of Division I-A football. This was not a game that was won by yards, but by inches. Tennessee played an excellent game, and against most other opponents, that would've been good enough, but the game was really decided on just two plays. The first play came in the third quarter, when 'Bama punted from deep inside their own territory. Tennessee's Lucas Taylor fumbled a punt around midfield and 'Bama recovered, eventually leading to the first points in the game at the close of the third quarter.

Tennessee tied things up with a field goal of their own with 11:52 to go in the fourth quarter, a play set up by a kickoff return to the Tennessee 46. The brutal fight continued until, with 5:08 left in the game, Tennessee looked to score on an excellent short pass on 3rd and Goal from the 'Bama 15. Tennessee's Cory Anderson was a scant yard or two from the end zone when 'Bama's Roman Harper got his helmet on the ball and popped it out like a cork. The ball rolled out of the end zone for a touchback and giving 'Bama the ball on their own 20. From there, a 43-yard pass to DJ Hall on 3rd and 8 and excellent time management led to the Tide's kicker, Jamie Christiansen, scoring a game-winning field goal for the second week in a row.

Tennessee falls to 3-3 (1-3 in the SEC), ending their season for all intents and purposes. The only reason they're in the top 25 is the fact that their three losses came to Top 10 teams (Florida, who had been ranked in the top 10 at the time of their meeting; Georgia, who is currently undefeated and ranked 4th in the nation, and 'Bama, also undefeated and currently ranked 5th in the nation). They face 57th-ranked South Carolina for yet another in-conference game next week, to be followed the next week by a battle against the 9th-ranked Notre Dame. The only importance of any games in Tennessee's future is to see if they can eke out a bid in a minor bowl. Their major bowl hopes died this week, and because of that, I'm very, very happy.

Alabama jumps to 7-0 (5-0 in the SEC), continuing their hopes for a national title and further illustrating why the BCS is a bad idea. Two of the top five teams in the nation are in the SEC, in different regions of the conference, and if things continue as they are, they will have to face each other for the conference title. One will emerge victorious, while the other will probably still get a strong bowl bid. Either way, if the winner is undefeated, there's still a good chance that they will be cheated out of the national title race for a second year in a row. The next two games are against the 105th-ranked Utah State and the 82nd-ranked Mississippi State, leading up to the vastly important games against LSU and the regular season ender against Auburn at the Iron Bowl. From there, they'll probably face Georgia at the SEC Championship Game, assuming things continue on their current course. At this point, the main thing that is certain is that there's still one hell of a lot of good football to come. Roll Tide Roll!!!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Fuck the revisionist French:

France, in what can only be described as an act of hypocrisy and revisionism on a scale not seen since Japan removed references to various war-crimes committed by their nation during World War II, has enacted a law to re-cast their colonialist days in a positive light. Yeah, that's a great way to rekindle more friendly relations with Algeria, who ousted them after a brutal eight-year civil war. If Bush were to have attempted something like that, they'd've been all over it like flies on shit. Here's a note to any Frogs who may have stumbled onto this site: Your nation is good at making food. You're no Italy, but you're far from being slouches yourself. I suggest that you stick to making wine, cheese, bread, and other delectable things, and leave more weighty matters to those nations who actually have a clue.

Which Historic General am I?

King Edward I
You scored 64 Wisdom, 73 Tactics, 59 Guts, and 56 Ruthlessness!
Or rather, King Edward the Longshanks if you've seen Braveheart. You, like Edward, are incredibly smart and shrewd, but you win at any costs.... William Wallace died at his hands after a fierce Scottish rebellion against his reign. Despite his reputation though, Longshanks had the best interests of his people at heart. But God help you if you got on his bad side.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 58% on Unorthodox

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You scored higher than 57% on Tactics

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You scored higher than 66% on Guts

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You scored higher than 79% on Ruthlessness
Link: The Which Historic General Are You Test written by dasnyds on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Yeah, baby!!! I fucking HATED Mel Gibson in Braveheart.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Now proposing the Million Naked Men and Women March:

I was reading about how Louis Farrakhan, the paranoid hatemonger in chief of the Nation of Islam, had organized a far worse attended sequel to his Million Man March about a decade ago. There was a time when people such as he would have been given a goblin outfit or a red armband with the reverse of a Jainist symbol on it, and renounced as the racist scum he is.

However, I liked the idea of a million people gathering for one purpose. Therefore, I propose the Million Naked Men and Women March. I would love to see a million people march on the National Mall wearing nothing beyond their facial expressions, jewelry, and maybe some cheap sandals or flip-flops. To prevent massive identity theft, I would suggest that the participants leave their valuables and any clothing they want to keep in a safe location, such as their hotel rooms, and perhaps just wear cheap robes until they near the beginning area of the march.

Anyone who wishes to take this idea and run with it is welcome to it. I ask no more than a mention of my blog when advancing this idea. Is this absurdist humor? Perhaps, but it would also serve an additional purpose of at least being interesting.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Question about new blog name:

I've been giving this a bit of thought for a while, and I have come to the realization that the name of this blog could be better. Given the fact that I am such a cantankerous, cynical, foul-mouthed, and occasionally insightful youngish guy, here are a few of the names that I've thought of:

1) Chaotic Fred's Twisted Playground
2) Friederich Engels In Hell
3) One Pissed-Off Unorthodox Libertarian
4) Random Libertarian Heterodoxy and Other Musings
5) I'm Fucked Up, You're Fucked Up, and We're All Just Fucked.
6) no change
7) (readers' suggestions)

Regardless what name this blog may be in the future, the website address will remain unchanged for now. Any changes will be announced well ahead of time. I welcome your feedback, and if you like what I have to say, bring a friend. But be warned: I'm a graduate of the Howard Stern and Crossfire schools of debate. My one regret about that tutelage is that I never got flashed or had a porn star strip on my radio show. Wait... I don't even HAVE a radio show. Goddamn it!!! :P

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Former-Secretary Bennett, could you be an even bigger son of a bitch?

Well, just when you think William Bennett couldn't be any dumber, he said in front of 4500 people and members of the news media, “I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could, if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.” He later defended his comments by saying that he was, to use fewer words, using it as a straw man to argue against. Holy shit. That sounds like something Senator Byrd or David Duke would say. I mean, what the unholy FUCK was he thinking when he said that? It's one thing to be a racist asshole and bigoted idiot, but it's another thing to say that in front of that many people and defend your comments. As the old adage goes, it's better to be thought an idiot and be silent, than to speak and remove all doubt. I know what I want to give him for Christmas: A muzzle, and a one-way trip to Compton.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Of counsels and Supreme Court Justices:

I woke up this morning to yet another "Why the hell did I vote for that asshole?" moment. Yes, I know I'm late. I was busy reading fanfiction last night and missed the news until this morning's newspaper. Miers is somehow supposed to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor? Holy everlasting FUCK! What were you thinking, Chimpie? Were you thinking? I don't claim to be a legal expert or possess anything other than a curious, intelligent, and often odd mind, but I don't think it's too much to ask a nominee for Justice on the nation's highest court to have at least SOME experience in the federal judiciary. I'd've taken a lowly circuit court judge, but I would've really preferred an appellate court judge. Is it too much to ask that a Supreme Court Justice hear several years of cases before his or her elevation? Is it too much to ask for said nominee to have written opinions on significant cases, and for those opinions to be a part of public record? Jesus. Hell, the Democratic Party doesn't need to do much in 2006. Between Bush, Delay, and Frist, all the Democratic Party will need is to moderate their message a bit and run on a "Not Them" ticket. Even Pelosi, Dean, Kennedy, and Byrd haven't been able to cause as much damage to their party as Bush alone has caused to the Republican Party. Toss Delay and Frist into the mix, and you have a truly toxic situation. To Bush's credit, Roberts was a good nomination, though I would've preferred he be offered an Associate Justice position instead of going straight to the Chief Justice's chair. I think that seat is better suited to a sitting member of the Supreme Court. However, precedent is split pretty evenly on that issue. Miers, though... It's as though Dave Letterman retired from the Late Show and CBS, in their finite wisdom, chose Carrot Top to take over the reins. I seriously wonder if President Bush is allergic to good press, much like his father before him. I sincerely hope the United States Senate shows the good sense to let out a collective "What the FUCK?" and demand a qualified candidate.

Can I get a GODDAMN IT from the crowd?!

First, at the top of the screen, you may notice my new Adults Only warning in the area immediately under the blog name. That is because of the foul language that is liable to spew forth from my keyboard. With that said, enjoy the show.

I saw where this son of a bitch was heading years ago. I knew he was going to do it, and I knew that kind of demagoguery only has one purpose: To end up as the executive of a state or nation. Yesterday, Roy Moore announced his candidacy for Governor of the State of Alabama, though as far as I'm concerned, it was merely a formality. I've ranted about him before, around the time I started this blog. In a speech one newspaper referred to as a cross between George Wallace and any Southern Republican gubernatorial candidate, he announced his candidacy. I was just thinking the other day, "Hmmm, we weren't embarassed and became fodder for mockery enough when that old bastard was in office, god damn his soul, why not have someone who's an even bigger asshole in the seat he once held?" Well fuck me blind. Why does this shit have to happen to my state? What? Ivan, Dennis, and Katrina weren't enough, you cunt? You had to join the list of disasters? I never imagined four years ago that there would actually be a candidate bad enough for me to vote for Don Siegelman again. He was a shitstain and a blight on the state during his one term. But I forgot all about Roy Moore. If forced to choose between the two in a general election, which I sincerely hope I don't have to do, I will bend over, relax, and cast my ballot for Don Siegelman. So again, I ask: Can I get a GODDAMN IT from the crowd?!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Urban's lads got beat down by the Tide:

For three years, the 'Bama faithful have been waiting for Coach Mike Shula to produce a signature win. For the first two of those years, they met with nothing other than heartbreak. But this season, they came into their game against the Florida Gators with a 4-0 record and atop the SEC West, and were ranked 15th in the nation in Division I-A football. They came to this game knowing they were facing a Florida team that was also undefeated and ranked 5th in the nation in Division I-A. Florida's quarterback, Leak, was closing in on Danny Wuerffel's record for most consecutive passes thrown without an interception, and the Gators had been nothing less than dominant in each of their four wins, while the Crimson Tide, though similarly undefeated, had some hiccups in their performances.

The titans clashed yesterday, and Shula walked away with his signature win at long last. 'Bama scored twice in its first four plays and 1:33 of possession, getting out to a very early 14-0 lead. By halftime, the Crimson Tide was up 24-3 and did not let go. With a final score of 31-3, Coach Shula became the first coach to keep a team coached by Urban Meyer out of the end zone, and the first coach to keep a Florida team out of the end zone since 1992.

Though Tyrone Prothro is out for the rest of the season with a broken tibia and fibula, and that will leave them wanting at the wide receiver position, it was, in line with 'Bama tradition dating all they way back to the Bear, the defense that was an extremely important part of this victory. This humble blogger wishes Mr. Prothro well and thanks him for an amazing season. And to NFL scouts, take a look at this remarkable young man. He's worth your time. This is at least as true of 'Bama quarterback Brodie Croyle, who now owns the 'Bama record for most career touchdown passes.

Friday, September 30, 2005

I've finally found my ideological home.

I had explored libertarianism, and specifically, the Libertarian Party. I thought they had some good ideas, but from the outset, felt that they were engaging in seriously self-defeating behaviors. I hadn't even heard about neolibertarianism until I took a detailed quiz to focus my thoughts on my political leanings. Sometimes, one must do that or something similar to figure out where one is. Sometimes, it amounts to writing down a list, writing in a journal, or something. In my case, it involved going to one of my myriad bookmarked web sites, taking a fun quiz, and then reading for myself on the results. I vigorously eschew evangelism, but if you want to see a brief overview of neolibertarianism, this is a good link.

Don't think that I've stopped looking for superior political belief systems, or on a smaller scale, upgrades to various items in my belief system, because I believe that, when we find better ideas, that we should incorporate them into our worldview. This is simply a reflection of where I am now, and to a greater or lesser extent, where I've either been or leaning for years. I finally have the comfort of knowing that, if I'm a misfit, at least I know I'm not a misfit alone anymore.

Bah, I know I'm a misfit, and it's a source of pride. How many people can quote "Heathers" and listen to both bluegrass and electronica and occasionally get Missy Eliot songs stuck in their heads... Sometimes, I've listened to a Prodigy CD followed up with an Allison Krause CD immediately after, just for the jarring effect of it.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Yet another post-hurricane rant

I'm sure you're all quite tired of me discussing hurricanes, but it seems to still be, if not the only topic of conversation in my area and on the national news, certainly on the top shelf.  I've been silent about the issue of looting, except with my family, because my belief about where foraging ends and looting begins is quite simple.  I will return to that point later, because frankly, I have other things I find far more worthy of my ire.  So, without further ado, thus beginneth my rant proper.  Adult language will be forthcoming and in huge quantities, so if you're offended easily by such things read no further.
Apparently, some shit-stain of a state legislator in my state of Alabama by the name of Hank Erwin (Montevallo, AL) has declared Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to be a punishment from Gawd.  He thinks that the people of Alabama are more innocent than the people of Texas and Louisiana?  He thinks that only evil people suffered as a result of those fucking storms?  He thinks that he's so much better than those who lost EVERYTHING they had in this world?  To modify a quote from the movie Heathers, "Fuck me gently with a chainsaw.  Who does this cunt think he is?  Mother Theresa?"  That guy REALLY pissed me off.  I know good people who lost everything.  I know good people who sustained serious damage from this storm.  I even know some complete assholes who suffered and some who sustained no serious damage.  In the end, there are only victims of this storm, survivors, those who want nothing more than to help, and those who wish to defraud the other three groups.  I want to see this motherfucker get tossed in a town hall meeting in Bayou la Batre, a shrimping town where some of the boats aren't even off land yet and where none are making a living doing the work of their fathers before them.  Toss him in a room full of people from coastal Mississippi and the bayou parrishes of Louisiana and extreme east Texas and western Louisiana.  Let him say that shit to those poor people.  And let's see how he feels afterward.  Let him really hear their pain.  Let him suffer as they have.  Let him have worked a lifetime to build a modest but good life and watch it all wash away.  And then, let him talk about the punishment of Gawd.  If there is a God, and this was his punishment, I have only two things to say to him:  Your aim sucks, and motherfuck you, you stupid, sadistic fuck.  Any god like that is no better than a kid with a magnifying glass burning ants.
The second part of my rant is the focus on New Orleans by FEMA and other agencies, and the news media.  Yes, New Orleans suffered amazing levels of damage, and we saw heartbreaking images on our television screens from that devastated city.  But they're not the only ones to have suffered.  The cities of Biloxi and Gulfport in Mississippi were fucking RAZED by Hurricane Katrina.  They will have to level pretty much both entire cities, as well as numerous smaller towns in coastal Mississippi and Louisiana.  There's every bit as much suffering and long-term devastation outside of New Orleans as in it, and yet on the news, what do we keep hearing?  Updates on stories from New Orleans, as if Rita didn't hit recently and bring its own version of hell.  The people of Mississippi and the Louisiana parrishes not immediately around New Orleans, as well as the more recent victims of Hurricane Rita, have been forgotten, by government agencies, by major charitable organizations, and by the mainstream news media.  Where are their stories?  Where is the talk about the slow recovery they all face?  Where is the talk about the death and devastation in those areas?  And why is one city getting very nearly all of the attention?  I know I'm not the only one who sees something deeply wrong with this fucking picture.
So, now that I've vented my spleen, there's been talk about the looting that occurred, and what even constituted looting.  So, here's where I draw the line.  If someone was looking for foodstuffs, even beer and alcohol, I think that constituted foraging.  The food was going to rot or be washed away anyway and would've been a loss, as would the beer and booze.  Besides, I'm not a drinker, but I can't blame anyone for wanting to get drunk after seeing everything they've worked for... gone.  However, I also saw people grabbing microwaves, and DVD players, and other shit that they ended up having to abandon anyway when they left the city.  I heard about people stealing a generator from a hospital just to keep their beer cold.  That shit is looting, and that shit is wrong.  So to the man with the Heinekens seen on Petty Rage, I wish you well.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I'm tired...

I'm so damned tired of this hurricane season. I thought I'd become numb to the constant threat of hurricanes, become inured to the tattooing the entire Gulf Coast has taken this year. I was wrong. Rita is well to the south and west of me, and there's still a part of me that wants to run for higher ground. I wish I had some faith in something. I wish I had the comfort of believing in a higher power. Instead, I find that I just believe that shit happens, and the best you can do is hope that the shit harms as few people as possible, and that none of it gets on you. Baldwin and Mobile Counties in Alabama (on the map, it's the two chunks of land on either side of Mobile Bay) have coastal flood warnings in effect, and the storm is due south of the remains of New Orleans.

I feel so sorry for those who will get Hurricane Rita, whomever they are. I have a pretty good idea of what they're going through right now, and am nowhere near being a big enough bastard to wish that on anybody. But am I a horrible person if I say that I'm just slightly relieved that it probably won't be me? A far larger part of me answers that question with a resounding "yes".

Tonight, I made the grave mistake of turning it onto Fox News when Bill O'Reilly's show was on. Americans are suffering by the hundreds of thousands, with that number certain to rise within the next 48 hours. People are in desperate need of assistance with even the most basic of needs. So, Bill O'Reilly did something genuinely productive and consistent with his character: He acted like an asshole and argued with another asshole from the other side of the aisle over a story that's been over for a while. His willing foil this time was Phil Donohue. What's up with O'Reilly? Doesn't he have some producers to sexually harass? O'Reilly and Donohue are both shit-stains, and the sooner they're off the airwaves, the happier I'll be. I don't favor censorship. I favor free market pressures. If people don't buy it, the product goes away. If you don't believe me, tell me the last time you saw a Josta soda in the local convenience store. I know that most of the people who visit my blog are of a more liberal bent, so this will probably be telling them something they already know, but if you do watch Fox News on a regular basis, stop watching O'Reilly's show. Do what you can to passively encourage sponsors to not spend as much for his show or drop it altogether. I say passively because we all know how well public outrage does for pop icons, and much like Howard Stern and for similar reasons, Bill O'Reilly qualifies. Just ask 2 Live Crew. They might've sold 10k albums had it not been for the outcry by Congresspersons and their spouses. In short, they sucked beyond all telling. Instead, I think their album went gold, maybe platinum, because of the stirring, thought provoking lyrics of the song "Me So Horny." Jesus H. Christ, even P.Diddy has better, more original lyrics, and a good chunk of his songs are him just saying "yeah" to other people's music. So don't watch his show, and encourage your conservative friends to do the same. I would say to do the same to Donohue, but he hasn't had a show in years.

Thus endeth the rant. Oh, and Blondage and everyone else in the projected path, be safe, and I wish you all the very best of luck.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Reflections on the tropics, yet again

1933 is considered one of the most active tropical seasons on record. If the naming convention of today were used back then, it would've used all of the names for that season, a total of 21. As I watched the Weather Channel, I saw that we were already 2 ahead of that pace for this time of year, with our 17th goddamned named storm of the season. We've seen Arlene, and Bret, and Cindy; the awful Dennis and Emily; the forgettable Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irene, and Jose; the living nightmare of Katrina, a storm compounded by multiple serious failures at the local, state, and federal levels; Lee, Maria, and Nate, which stayed in the middle of nowhere; Ophelia which dumped a bunch of rain and did little else; Philippe which is thankfully on the road to nowhere; and the potentially devastating Rita. The only names left are Stan, Tammy, Vince, and Wilma, and from there, the Greek alphabet. As much as it pains me to say it, with a season that doesn't officially end for another month and a half, the Greek alphabet is not unthinkable. Will it get to the point that we'll have to have a reserve list for each year, in case the names run out?

Am I the only one for whom the names are starting to run together? Earlier this season, I had to catch myself mistaking Hurricane Dennis for Hurricane Ivan. It's like the Gulf Coast keeps getting pounded and pounded. I wonder how many of us on the Gulf Coast are suffering from a degree of post-traumatic stress disorder. I'm eating myself into oblivion and wishing I were a drinker. Instead, I choose to be sober since, frankly, I don't like headaches or vomiting, and I get enough of the former and enough stomach upset without adding to it. My ulcer flares, my anxiety levels spike hard for days at a time, my dog recently died, and I know that with all of this, I'm still doing far better than over 1 million of my fellow coastal Americans. I wish I were one of the most miserable people in the Gulf Coast. I wish things were good enough for that to be even remotely possible, but it isn't. I still have a home and a job, and that's more than many can say. I'm indescribably thankful for that, but I'm also sorrowful for those who are suffering, and I feel guilty that I feel good about sustaining only minimal damage in the recent past. I'm alive and safe, my family's alive and safe, and I feel guilty for feeling good, and I feel guilty for being miserable on some level for kinda petty reasons.

In short, I'm fucked, but nowhere near as harshly as others, so I'm thankful. Maybe it's just the exhaustion talking. I don't know. But contribute what you can to established charities in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and join me in my hope that this pain isn't compounded by Rita.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

And now for some original poetry:

It's been years since I've written any poetry, even longer since I wrote anything that was raw, aching, coming from a part of me that was broken and needed mending. Thankfully, age has given me a small measure of wisdom and perspective, but apparently, it hasn't quite killed my occasional need to express myself in an artistic manner. I don't know if this will suck or if people will like it. I just ask that you be honest. I went into this thinking there was at least a 50% chance that it would suck, so if it does, be honest, but don't be cruel. So, without further ado, here it is.

"Sweet November"

Sweet November, month of bitter pain,
Singing softly its pretty, sad song
Of life, death, and lightness of heart.

I feel the cold seep deep in my bones,
That beautiful aching splintered bite,
That brings freedom to this tired old soul.

A chill that promises scents of cloves,
And simmering good scents in the air,
Of pecans, dill, sweet potato, and tarts.

The cold that brings a hope of new life,
That chills the water, safely keeps me,
Protects my hearth, my family whole.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

In Loving Memory of my faithful canine friend.

My dog of the last twelve years died earlier this week.  She was my close friend and one of the most honest souls I've ever met.  If she liked you, she let you pet her.  If she didn't, you knew it.  And if she wanted to trick you into getting your hand too close, it took some reading, but you knew that too.  She knew when we were upset, and tried to comfort us even when she was feeling so sick as she was during the end.  There were hundreds of little things she did that showed that she had a far more complicated personality than some people I know, and she was truly a member of my family.
She wasn't able to eat during the few days leading up to her death.  Eventually, she'd get to where she couldn't hold down water.  I picked her up to clean her, and just that quickly... she was gone.  She's gone, and my heart is broken.  When I was coming home from work today, I had to catch myself when I was thinking about taking her outside to walk and I'd buried her just a day or two before.  There are a thousand things I wish I'd've done differently, things I wish I hadn't've said, time I spent doing trivial things instead of being with her, basically taking her for granted and thinking she'd always be there even though I knew she wouldn't on an intellectual level.
Now, I see these pictures of dogs, see them on TV, and I can't stop thinking about a tiny 6-lb. creature who completely owned my heart.  I flash back to when she was a spry puppy who'd slip her leash, and I'd have to chase her down the street.  I was much younger, faster, and more agile then, and she'd nimbly evade me for minutes at a time, running like a tiny gazelle.  And even then, as tiny as she was, she had a bark that belied her size, and a bite to match.  Even as she neared the end, she had that bark and that bite until the pain got to be too much for her.  I miss and will continue to miss her more than I will ever be able to express.
And no, I'm not okay, but I will be eventually.  As I write this, I'm keeping well back from the keyboard because I don't want my tears to short it out.  Everything is just too quiet without her here.
It just seems selfish of me to be hurting this much when there are people not far from me who have lost far more, and I know that and I feel awful about it.  However, this dog had seen me through some of the toughest years of my life, taught me things about life and about myself, and she was a blinding light in a world that sometimes seemed very dark.  Those of you who aren't pet people wouldn't understand, but those of you who are understand exactly what I'm saying.  I will never forget her, how beautiful she was, I won't say "sweet" because she was full of piss and vinegar, but she was a very good, loyal, and true friend.  I just miss her so much.
It seems I'm just starting to repeat things I've already said before, so I guess I'll end this post now since I don't have anything to add that I would be able to adequately express.  But appreciate your pets and your loved ones.  Let them know you care about them, because eventually, there will be a day the pets and loved ones won't be there and all you'll have is memories.  The loss is painful enough.  Don't compound it by adding regrets to the mix.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

PHEV's and other musings

I don't know about you, but I think it's high time I stopped ranting about Hurricane Katrina for now. I've said pretty much everything I have to say on the topic, with the exception of my opinion of Lt. Gen. Honore. I've been really impressed with him, and from the beginning, he's been nothing but brutally honest about the situation. He didn't candy-coat anything that needed to be said and he really got things moving. In fact, he was the first ranking government official to do so. As a result, for what little it's worth, Lt. Gen. Honore only needs three things: More troops, more resources, and another star on his shoulders. Being of Creole heritage and being a native of that region, he was able to communicate in a manner Louisianans respect and understand, including the things that are unsaid but understood by anyone born into the cultures of Louisiana. In many ways, Louisiana is another country even moreso than any other state in the Union. This is doubly true of bayou country. New Orleans was the cultural and culinary capital of my region. She will be missed sorely.

Now, for something that was actually part of the title of the post, I've expressed my support for biodiesel and PHEV's (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) in the past. I encourage everyone to join the California Cars Initiative group on Yahoo, as I find it has some seriously thought-provoking material. In the 135th post on that group, the fourth point referred to "a 'neo-con-green' alliance of environmentalists and national-security conservatives who see it as the best way to rapidly reduce consumption of foreign oil." I guess I don't quite fit into either of the groups referenced in that alliance, but that's nothing new. Those of you who read my blog know that I stubbornly refuse to fit neatly into any category. So as for me, I see strong arguments in favor of both the neo-cons and the environmentalists supporting PHEV's. Reducing smog and our dependence on foreign energy sources is good for the nation as a whole. However, that also ignores the positive human rights implications of PHEV's. A reduced demand for petrochemicals equates to reduced funding for regimes that treat women as chattel at best and treat all of their people with the exception of their ruling classes like shit. Reducing the money available to tyrants is a good thing. My personal preference would be to see diesel-electric hybrids be at the forefront, since, with my admittedly limited understanding, biodiesel can be used straight in many, if not most, existing diesel engines and all newer diesels. is a good site for information on this topic. Also, is a good trade site owned by the National Biodiesel Board and has some interesting information. Also, even as old as he is, Willie Nelson is still kinda cool. Thankfully, such sites and other car sites exist, because my actual knowledge of cars is limited to adding and checking the oil, gasoline, and antifreeze, and changing the air filter. Somehow, that makes me feel less manly than I'd prefer, but I guess we each have our own knowledge base and things that make us curious, and the drive to expand the former and satisfy the latter. In my case, the first is esoteric, the second encompasses very nearly everything, and the third is sorely lacking in this regard.

Hurricane Ophelia looks like she's heading towards North Carolina or maybe Virginia. I hope the same thing for this storm that I hope for all storms: That they be weak and fast-moving. Yoda knows we don't need any more natural disasters for a very long time. And yes, I say "Yoda knows" because I think I like that fictional character more than the Christian god. I was experimenting with the term to see how well I liked it. I may start saying it more to further cement others' belief that I'm a geek. Well, that's all for now.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

FEMA and the world's response to Katrina:

I desperately wish I had something happier to discuss for this, my fiftieth post, but I don't. I am by turns humbled and grateful for the response of some nations to Hurricane Katrina; and very angry about the initial domestic response to the catastrophe. I find myself especially humbled by the outpouring of support from some of the smallest and poorest nations in the world. This article on Yahoo News outlines some of the offers the United States has received in response to this horrible disaster. Bangladesh has offered US$1 million; Cuba, 1100 doctors; the Czech Republic, rescue teams, a field hospital, pumps, and water processing equipment; the Dominican Republic, rescue workers, doctors, and nurses; and also on this list offering substantial aid are El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, and basically, a list of most of the nations in the world. For that, I as just a private citizen and native of part of the affected area, am deeply thankful. Thankfully, neither my loved ones nor I will need that help as a result of this storm, but over a million people will need assistance in some form or another, and, to put it mildly, I would not be surprised if our government will have to take at least some of the nations up on their offer. As a side note, though the U.S. policy towards Cuba's government is not the most cordial in the world, I realize as do, I hope, most other Americans, that their leadership is not a reflection on their people. I believe their response reflects that. Also, France is actually sending troops and supplies to the affected region, and it it my hope that their people will show far more competence than their diplomats or president. They will certainly be a big help in areas of Louisiana where French is the native tongue of the residents.

I've mentioned the gratitude for foreign nations' responses to Hurricane Katrina, but I would also be remiss if I did not mention the response of private aid and relief organizations, and businesses. The largest and best-known are the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross, but other organizations and faith-based groups are joining them. From what little research I've done, many, if not most, major corporations in the U.S. are assisting with fundraising and other assistance in response to this catastrophe. Again, this is both good and, unfortunately, necessary.

I've mentioned that I'm very angry at the response of some of the domestic governmental agencies and their response to Hurricane Katrina. More and more people in the military are saying that they were ready but were held back by FEMA, and I've heard some mention that the Red Cross and Salvation Army made it to the affected region and started distributing supplies a day or two before FEMA came in. Bureaucracy has its place in providing for accountability and ensuring that public funds and trust are not being abused, and in normal times, it does serve a salutary purpose if kept in check. However, in times of crisis, which by any definition of the word, this is, that same bureaucracy can and has cost lives, and that is a far greater abuse of the public trust. I don't believe this is a Democrat or a Republican problem, because it took decades for things to deteriorate to this point. I agree with Spiegel's assessment that the response to Katrina was not unlike that after 9/11/01, and that what we are seeing is a repetition of past mistakes. I simply disagree strongly with the other insinuations of their article. They compared it to the response to 9/11, and yet in a fit of ideological fervor, they refused to take that train of thought to its logical conclusion, in that it had very little, if anything, to do with the race or wealth of those affected, and everything to do with incompetence at higher levels of government in their response. In short, that which should have happened immediately didn't occur for days, and people died as a result. I blame everyone from Mayor Nalin of New Orleans for not ordering the evacuation sooner, to Governor Blanco for the same and for showing an inability to effectively lead her state during this crisis, to the current Administration. There's more than enough blame to go around for everyone to get as many helpings as they want, but it would have been far better had there been no or little cause for the blame. It's too late to change that now. All we can do is go forward and provide any assistance we can to those affected, and make the necessary changes to attempt to prevent this from happening again.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hurricane Katrina and Mississippi

I in no way wish to diminish the suffering of those in New Orleans. What they are suffering is truly awful, a hell on earth that I, even as close as I am, can hardly comprehend. But where is the help for Mississippi, where 75% of the state received damage, with the damage becoming worse the farther south you go? Where is the help beyond that which Alabama, which did not get through Katrina unscathed, has sent in the form of 2,000 troops from the National Guard? Where are the cameras, the federal government, and the Congressional Black Caucus and Kanye West talking about how the response was inadequate for the people of Mississippi? Many towns of varying sizes have seen no supplies for days in south Mississippi. What has Congressman Jesse Jackson (is he a Jr. or a III?) said about Mississippi and about other towns farther east in Louisiana whose people are suffering is every bit as great as those in New Orleans? Where is their self-professed Christianity? Where is their alleged compassion? Where is their concern for their fellow human beings, regardless of race? Or are they, as I think is patently evident, more concerned with promoting their own agendas than in solving this problem?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane Katrina-Afterthoughts

First, I and my family are fine.  Though my family sustained some damage from the storm, it was, thankfully, minor, especially when compared with that which was suffered in Mississippi and Louisiana.  For those of you of a religious bent, I ask that you pray to whatever deity or deities you worship and ask them to provide comfort to those who have suffered so much.  I know people in my area who were not nearly as fortunate as we were.
Second, to everyone, religious or not, I beg you to donate to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, or any of a host of other legitimate charities and earmark the funds for Hurricane relief.  Donate blood, donate an hour's pay or a day's pay or whatever else you can spare.  Donate your time to local efforts to provide relief to the disaster-stricken areas.  Or donate any supplies you can spare to legitimate food drives for disaster relief.  Just do SOMETHING to help those affected by this monstrous storm.  I have spoken to an elderly couple in their 80s, and they have never seen anything like it.  I don't think anyone, at least not in the last century or more, has seen a storm of this magnitude and destruction.  There are probably well over ten thousand people dead, and well north of a million people who are suffering as a direct result of this storm.  A major city and numerous minor cities and small towns have been erased from the landscape.  I cannot even begin to tell you the impact that this storm has had on an entire region.  Days later, I see long lines for gas at gas stations, at least at the stations that still have gas.  Curfews are finally being lifted in Southwest Alabama, and I can't even begin to express my gratitude for the National Guard and the various electric company personnel from across the nation and Canada who have assisted in the quick restoration of power to my region.
To put the destruction in perspective, it would be like Baltimore, MD, sustaining catastrophic damage from a storm, and New York City sustaining severe damage from the same storm.  Nothing like this has ever occurred in living memory, and it is for that reason that aid is so desperately needed.
I think this storm has made tragically obvious the fact that President Bush has been listening too much to the wrong people.  Once he was made aware of the devastation of the storm, first by the flyover in Air Force One, and later by his aerial view on Marine One and by tours on the ground, the response was rapidly improved by the federal government.  Part of the problem is that FEMA was ill-positioned to deal with this storm.  According to televised news, which is all I had for days, they were initially too close to the disaster area and had to rapidly redeploy farther from the coast.  The Coast Guard and other military and civilian organizations were doing the right things from the beginning.  They just weren't doing enough of it, and that fault lies in the mayors' offices, and in the governors' mansions, and in Washington, DC.  Governor Barbour of Mississippi has clearly been doing everything he can, though his capabilities are severely limited because of the damage his state took.  So my criticisms lie with the mayor of New Orleans, who was safe and detached while his people were suffering.  If Harry Connick, Jr., a private citizen who was much farther away than Baton Rouge, can make it into New Orleans and do his part to help, why wasn't the mayor of New Orleans there?  Why did Governor Riley of Alabama trust the mayor of Mobile and not order the evacuation, the four-laning of I-65, that we saw during Hurricane Dennis less than two months ago?  Why hasn't Governor Blanco of Louisiana been able to put her face on the television since earlier in the week, and why instead has she had to rely on U.S. Senator Landrieaux (sp?) to be the public face of the state of Louisiana?  These are questions that demand answers, and those responsible for these failures should face the consequences of that failure.
And finally, my deepest contempt is for those who have looted, and for those who have pillaged, and those who undoubtedly will prey on those victims who have already lost so much.  In that last group, I include those who will use this in a cynical manner to advance their political or racist agendas.  On that second note, I mean you, Kanye West.  I watched that telethon for disaster relief.  What the FUCK did you mean when you said that President Bush hates black people?  Did President Bush create Hurricane Katrina?  Did Hurricane Katrina give a damn about the race, gender, religion, sexual preference, shoe size, or political affiliation of those in her path?  Were only African-Americans hurt by this storm?  Have only African-Americans suffered the horror we've seen in New Orleans, Biloxi, Pass Christian, Pascagoula, Bayou La Batre, AL, and Baton Rouge, and to a somewhat lesser extent, in Mobile, Grand Bay, the Eastern Shore of Alabama, and to varying degrees elsewhere?  Try telling that to the people I know who suffered partial or total loss of their homes.  Try telling that to all of the people of all races, religions, etc., who have been displaced or killed by this storm.  Try telling that to the families that are separated in different refugee camps, not knowing if their loved ones are even alive.  Kanye West, I challenge you to do something novel and try actually to become a man for the first time in your miserable, pathetic, hate-filled life.  You are no better than David Duke, and I know no words to express the depth of my contempt and disgust for your unforgivable comments.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Since I'm so very tired from watching the Weather Channel and otherwise tracking news sources to keep an eye on this storm, I'll keep it brief.  If you read my post on August 21, you'll notice that I mentioned my love of the South, and my passionate hatred of this time of year which exceeds that love.  I'm still in the Hurricane Warning area, and I thoroughly hate it.  I imagine I have a very small taste of what it is like to be a soldier in a combat area, always looking over my shoulder, not knowing when the next attack will occur.  This in no way mitigates what our soldiers experience, but it's simply the best analogy this tired brain can think of at this time.  If I've offended anyone, I'm sincerely and deeply sorry.  If fate is willing, I'll be back soon.  If not, it has been very nice knowing all of you.  Everyone, be safe and live well.

Friday, August 26, 2005

VERY Random Thoughts

First, I've started to wonder if I'm becoming a bit of a leech in cyberspace, or at least, more than a bit of a slacker for someone who runs his own blog.  I honestly can't think of a single piece of code on my site that I didn't get elsewhere or modified from things I saw elsewhere.  The basic page layout, including background, are provided by  The counter comes from somewhere else, I have Haloscan trackback and comment functions as well as the Comment function provided by Blogger.  I'll probably be phasing that out just for clarity.  As (I believe Sheryl) pointed out, there is more than a bit of confusion caused by there being two comment links.  Do you like the fact that the links on the left open in their own window?  Although I have an HTML book, I viewed source and found that off of a site I like.  LeftyJones and JB at PettyRage, I think it was you, and apologize if I caused offense by taking that one line of HTML code.  There's also the "email this page" thing provided by yet another site, with the proper credit being attached.  Finally, there's the newest function:  The fuel efficiency conversion.  I got the basic source code from this site, and once I had done the math myself on good old-fashioned pen and paper, I modified the code that had originally been used in the example for Fahrenheit to/from Celsius conversions to come up with the two buttons you see at the bottom of the sidebar.  Damn, I sound almost Catholic with the guilt...  It isn't that I'm incapable of learning to code in Javascript, HTML, or XML.  It's that, frankly, I'm too lazy.
The newest function brings me to the second point:  Why on earth would I put that on a site?  It came to my attention that Europeans find miles per gallon to be unnatural since they measure fuel efficiency in the opposite manner.  They use volume per unit of distance, specifically, Litres per 100 kilometres.  The one surprising thing I found (though in retrospect, it should've been fairly obvious) as I laid the groundwork on pen and paper is that the same formula used to convert from Miles per Gallon to Litres per 100 kilometres can be used to do the reverse.  It should have been obvious since the basic ideas involved in each are inverted.  The American system of miles per gallon is, in essence, distance per unit of volume, while L/100km is unit of volume per distance.  So, naturally, the only thing that really changes is the variable, not the method for handling it.  The definition of gallon I used was that found on Yahoo Education.  For clarity, the conversion was from U.S. gallons to mL, moving the decimal place to the proper position to convert the result into Litres.  The formula, therefore, is as follows:  378541.1784/(x*5280*.3048), where x is the variable.
Third, lest you believe that I can actually get through a post without mentioning weird occurrences or politics or go into a rant about the teen angst I got over years ago, alas, this is not the case.  I can't help feeling that I'm going to go to hell for saying this, but I actually agreed with some editorial comments made by Fox News personality John Gibson about Code Pink.  While he's unabashedly very conservative, he does, on occasion, make some good points.  He took serious issue with their "vigil" outside of Walter Reed, and with good reason.  Soldiers have TV, radio, and print media to see their views.  Soldiers at Walter Reed are there for one of two reasons:  They're there to get better and to a point where they can get at least some of their lives back, or they're there to provide medical support to those wounded soldiers.  I agree wholeheartedly with his equation of that to spitting on soldiers when they came back from Viet Nam.  I further agree with him that if they want to protest, they should go to Crawford, TX, or the White House, or Congress, or any other organization/company they feel aided in the decision to go to war.  Just leave the wounded soldiers alone.  In short, for once, I would like it if they showed some goddamned humanity instead of proclaiming their "humanity" in the same manner that Pat Robertson proclaims his Christianity while advocating the assassination of a foreign head of state.
This brings me to my last point for now.  For the record, I REALLY don't like President Chavez of Venezuela.  I think he's a seriously bad actor, as evidenced by the people he calls "friend", one of whom is good old Fidel Castro.  I find baffling his close alliance with the current government of Iran, given the statement of either him or his Vice President that religious extremism is one of the greatest threats currently facing the world.  If these are the men President Chavez calls "friends", maybe being on his shit list isn't such a bad thing.  That being said, I think he should be removed from office, by his own people in the form of an election or impeachment proceedings, should the latter have a legal basis.  He's clearly a dangerous man and has the potential to become a serious destabilizing force in that region.  Feel free to bring on the rants.