This page shows all the posts for the "Random thoughts" Category from E Pluribus Unum
The most current posts are on the main page.

October 24, 2007

“Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.”

Pausch.jpgRandy Paush is dying but he wants to tell you what he's learned about living.

Randy is a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University. In September, he delivered his "Last Public Lecture", entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." This talk was modeled after an ongoing series of lectures where top academics are asked to think deeply about what matters to them, and then give a hypothetical "final talk", i.e., "what wisdom would you try to impart to the world if you knew it was your last chance?"

In Randy's case it wasn't hypothetical -- in August he was told he had 3-6 months left to live a "normal" life.

Since giving his lecture, the video has been downloaded over 1 million times. It runs about 90 minutes (the first 8:30 are introductions and testimonials). Settle in and watch it -- it is deeply moving but, at the same time, upbeat and inspirational.

On October 22, he appeared on Oprah's show and delivered a 10 minute version of the lecture.

Take some time out of your busy schedule right now and listen to what Randy has to say. It will stay with you far longer than anything else you'll hear or see today.

March 08, 2007

Would You Rather...

...Live in a world where you needed a quarter to get into every bathroom (including the ones in your home)


...where every bathroom only had one square of tissue?

(From Zobmondo! The outrageous book of bizarre choices, Workman Publishing, 2001)

March 01, 2007

How to Save Hundreds On Your Next Big Electronics Purchase

From StoryEvent:

[First,] you indicate that you're interested in buying a big fat warranty...

...then ask ask the sales assistant to lower the item's price. Since big box electronics stores are often pushed to sell warranties, they'll be willing to budge on the price of your item - especially if it's got a big price tag.

[But wait, there's more...]

Then when checkout time comes, you have a change of heart on the warranty. Simple enough.

(HT to Lifehacker)

December 11, 2006

Shrines To America

by Mark Adams

Go to any town square in middle America and you will witness an interesting architectural phenomenon which speaks volumes to our collective cultural history.

Holding a prime piece of real estate will be a large, impressive church that has been standing for well over one hundred years.  It may even have a plaque designating it as a protected historical building, but you can be sure it has been in continuous operation servicing a dedicated congregation for generations.

Looking across the street, usually in the center of the square, will be the courthouse. Often this building enjoys historical significances as well. Originally it was the center of all government power, whose functions have long since outgrown their original building -- outsourced to taller, box-like structures ringing the square.  But you can get there from the unmistakable old courthouse whose employees are more than willing to tell you where to go.

I marveled at this as a young lawyer, traveling to a city I hadn't been to before, and instantly recognizing where to go simply by heading to the center of town, parking close to the building that looked like it was where I should be, and as long as I was in the proper uniform -- suit, tie, briefcase in hand -- i would politely be directed to my designated cubbyhole via signs and helpful security.

However, over the last several decades, another garish building has dominated the center of the city. Literally overshadowing the quaint courthouse and high spires of the church is the county lock-up.

It seems a truly sad commentary on American society that an ugly, cinderblock monstrosity, a jail, is now the dominant building downtown -- literally overshadowing those other icons of our growth as a nation.

Seven Million in Prison: US Has Most Prisoners in World: "Tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime rates have contributed to the United States having the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world, according to criminal justice experts. A US Justice Department report released on November 30 showed that a record 7 million people - or one in every 32 American adults - were behind bars, on probation or on parole at the end of last year."

(Via t r u t h o u t.)

October 05, 2006


by Mark Adams

This is an absurd statment:
The Washington Times wants Speaker Hastert to resign. To do so would be to capitulate to Democratic-activist-induced and MSM-abetted hysteria. Not only should Hastert not resign, he should use every opportunity to swing back hard at a MSM deeply compromised by its ideological extremism and a Democratic Party committed to retreat and defeat in Iraq and fecklessness in the war generally.
There are both factual assumptions quite at odds with reality and an illogical linkage to the the assumptions he makes. Yet this is the kind of stupidity spewed out by the Reich Wing punocracy on a regular basis -- adored by Wingnuttystan.

Are they just trying to where us down with this drivel, or is it an active attempt to dumb-down America?

July 18, 2006

Bush Loyalists: Why are these people so angry?

Rosemary blows her whistle and demands that everyone come out of the pool!

"Who on the Right advocated the killing of journalists?"

Well, for starters, she ought to look around her own home -- she's living under the same roof with one of them. And she's got a book on her nightstand from another one.

But that isn't the only thing that's bugging me:

Is she suggesting that killing journalists is worth a comment or two but killing of your political enemies is not?

And lastly, why are these people so angry and vicious? Don't they know that their side controls everything that happens in this country? Talk about sore winners!

God help us all -- here and around the world -- if they lose the next election.

July 17, 2006

Lieberman in a nutshell

Torture is OK but blow jobs are beyond the pale.

July 16, 2006

Journalists: It's time for some articles on the pro-Bush blogosphere

Glenn Greenwald:

When it becomes commonplace to hurl accusations of treason against domestic political opponents, or when calls for imprisonment and/or hanging of journalists and political leaders become the daily fare -- all of which is true for the pro-Bush blogosphere -- those are serious developments. And they merit discussion and examination by the media.
This has been happening for quite some time -- read the Greenwald piece for details -- yet (because of it?) the traditional media has ignored this developing situation.
...[L]et us read about the extremist rhetoric, vicious character smears, and deliberate incitement to violence that has become the staple of the largest pro-Bush blogs --Malkin, Powerline, Instapundit and LGF -- along with the bloggers whom they tirelessly promote [Ed. Note: and the bloggers who tirelessly promote them back].

Hundreds of thousands of people each day, including pundits and television news producers, are reading this material. The journalistic value in examining it and reporting on it ought to be self-evident.

Instead, all we hear about -- incessantly -- is Bush Derangement Syndrome.

UPDATE: Nitpicker wants to know:

Why is the opposition of a candidate [Lieberman] considered an "Inquisition" from the left, but death threats from the right get ignored? Why is it worth covering an in-house Kos spat, but not the calls to violence by frequent guests on national news programs like Michelle Malkin and David Horowitz?

July 15, 2006

Why Bush is still “popular”

Rasmussen says that Bush's uptick in their poll (into the low 40's) "is the result of his base coming home."

Translation: his base loves it that we're mortified at the thought of 2+ more years of this:

They like to call it "Bush Derangement Syndrome," (a term coined by the self-important and ghastly pundit-psychiatrist Charles Krauthammer). But honestly, what does it say about "his base" that they look at Bush and feel pride?

P.S. Speaking of polls, Fox News has Bush's approval rating dropping 5 points (into the mid 30's again) over the last two weeks.

"It is important to remember that the president got his bounce after the killing of al-Zarqawi in Iraq," comments Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "While administration officials were careful not to overplay the significance of this, it naturally created hope that things would get better. Several weeks of bloody footage from Iraq have pretty much dashed those hopes."
Except for the base -- who loves it that we're depressed about another 2+ years with this guy at the wheel.

Stay the course!

July 14, 2006

I know how Glenn Greenwald feels

Glenn Greenwald:

My post yesterday concerning the hypocrisy and inconsistency of those right-wing bloggers ... doesn't seem to have been very well-received by the Right Blogosphere.

In less than 24 hours, they swarmed together to spit out the most petulant wave of childish insults and substance-free foot-stomping that I have seen in quite some time -- a frenzied wave of ad hominems and bitter personal insults...

I enjoy being with people who disagree with me. I enjoy debating the issues. But when the other side can only respond with name-calling, it eventually bores the crap out me. And that's when I switch the channel.


July 11, 2006

Syd Barrett, 1946-2006

SydBarrett.jpgHe had a pretty brief career although his legacy was substantial. No one really knew the nature of his mental illness (I've heard schizophrenia and even Asberger's). His mates loved him and took care of him for the rest of his life, faithfully sending the royalty checks.

And maybe he found some peace at the end, maybe not.


[In later years,] he reverted to his real name, Roger Barrett, and spent much of the rest of his life living quietly in his hometown of Cambridge, England. Moving into his mother's suburban house, he passed the time painting and tending the garden...He was a familiar figure to neighbors, often seen cycling or walking to the corner store...

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
And you are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

July 05, 2006

Be Vewwy Quiet...Weh Hunting Wabbits

Report: CIA unit that hunted bin Laden closed

I don't believe that for a minute.

I think this is disinformation designed to fool that wascally wabbit into thinking we've given up. Just wait -- he'll pop his head out of the hole and -- BAM! -- wabbit fwicassee.

George W. Bush -- as crafty and devious a genius as we've ever seen.

June 28, 2006

We've finally run of things to blog about...

And now it's come to this:

Hitler Cats!

June 17, 2006

On logic and emotion

Recently, the military reported that a milestone was passed -- 2500 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines killed. Logic tells us that is a very low number compared to other wars. The White House Press Secretary even went so far as to call it just "a number."

However, inexplicably, the public has long since turned against the war effort, saying the entire venture is simply not worth it.

Why? Are the American people mistaken in their logic? Or are they being very logical? Or is there something else behind this momentum against the war?

Last night, Miss Julie and I watched a documentary from the American Film Institute called "The 100 Most Inspirational Films." One of the films was Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson as William Wallace, Scotland's greatest patriot.

Here's Wallace rallying his troops before a climactic battle:

"I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny! You have come to fight as free men. And free man you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?"

"Two thousand against ten?" - the veteran shouted. "No! We will run - and live!"

"Yes!" Wallace shouted back. "Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!"

Logical? No, of course not. But inspirational? I can't even read the words without my heart soaring.

Did you ever see Spartacus? Or Gandhi? Or Glory? Or Mr. Smith Goes To Washington? Or Schindler's List? Or absorb ANY story about one man fighting for a lost cause or a hopeless quest? How about the story of the Founders of this country?

Where's the logic in ANY of that? It isn't there. And yet we do it because it is who we are.

Like Gandhi said, "Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still the truth." To me, that means logic isn't enough. You must speak from (and to) the heart.

June 16, 2006

I don't really care if you wear a motorcycle helmet or not, dude.

A newly-contrite Ben Roethlisberger apologized to the Pittsburgh Steelers, fans and his family on Thursday, saying he was fortunate to be alive and pledging to wear a helmet if he ever again rides a motorcycle.
You know what? Shut up.

Just. Shut. Up.

What an idiot!


OK, that was harsh. I should remind myself that guys like Roethlisberger do perform a public service: they are organ donors on wheels.

And besides, eventually all motorcyclists will be smart enough to wear helmets because the stupid ones will have culled themselves out of the gene pool.

June 15, 2006

People are happier when they're older?

A new study suggests that people may think that the happiest days of their lives are when they're young, but that belief doesn't jibe with reality.

June 09, 2006

How to save LOTS of money on groceries

You could follow the Hillbilly Housewife's plan or you could eat Monkey Chow.

Yes, you heard me...Monkey Chow.

June 08, 2006

How (and why) does anyone defend Ann Coulter?

If you are reading this, you probably have heard something about pundit Ann Coulter's recent comments addressing the families who lost loved ones on 9/11.

Up to now, I haven't written about her comments. Not because I don't know where to start. I'm afraid that once I got started I I simply wouldn't know where to stop.

So I'll just say that Keith Olbermann speaks for me.

On the other hand, what I can't fathom are the comments from our friend Rosemary Esmay:

I saw her defend herself and I think that she made some really good points....Lots of people lost [loved ones] on 9/11 but these 4 women are acting as political operatives and using their 9/11 widowhood as a shield from debate/response.
First of all, I can't think of a single thing that Coulter said that would qualify as a "really good point."

As for these women using their pain as "a shield against debate/response," I haven't seen or heard that -- have you, Rose? If so, let's have it. As far as I know, no one (not even Coulter) has been prevented from saying whatever they want about these women.

You know what I think? I think that for years the exact opposite has been ocurring right under your nose, Rosemary.The Bush administration and its loyalists have used 9/11 as a shield against any criticism whatsoever of their policies and performance in office. Anyone who dares to criticise Bush has been labeled a terrorist sympathizer and a traitor, a coward, or worse -- now they get accused of (get this!) enjoying the sight of their husbands being burned to death. Is that one of the good points you think Ann Coulter made?

P.S. Rose: you call yourself the Queen of All Evil, but I think Ann Coulter just ate your lunch. And you didn't even put up a fight.

For those of you who would like to read the response from the women that Coulter attacked...

Continue reading "How (and why) does anyone defend Ann Coulter?" »

June 06, 2006

Here's what brings out the worry-wart in me

9/11 was an election day. Today is an election day. Today is 6/6/06.

May 16, 2006

Gas caps on cars...which side?

Pssst -- it's on the gas gauge...


More on this...

Regarding the gas gage, the tank if often on the same side of the car as the gage is of the instrument cluster. So if you look at your gas gage and it is on the right side of the speedometer, your gas tank is almost ceratinly on the rioght side of the car. If it isn't, it almost always has the arrow....

Foreign cars typically have the gas tank on the driver's side - US cars on the passenger's side. (This isn't a 100% rule, but its its pretty common).
Next time you get off the Jersey turnpike (or similar freeway) and there's a lot of long lines for gas, you might notice that for the most part American-made cars are in the long lines, while foreign (and more often European than Japanese/Korean) don't have to wait that long because the gas tank is on the opposite side....

(HT to Lifehacker)

May 09, 2006

You're the decider -- what's your decision?

As faithful watchers of The West Wing know, the incoming President has 18 months, tops, to get anything done. So his/her campaign has to focus on what that is -- and leave the rest for later.

That said, I was interested to see this list of issues that Democrats in Blogville have reached consensus on.

Scan the list and tell me -- which one of these you would campaign on?


I think the "liberal netroots" does have a fairly clear consensus on a number of issues. I'm not going to claim every liberal blogger or blog reader agress with everything on this list - that'd be ridiculous - but nonetheless I'd say there's a pretty obvious general consensus on the following:
  • Undo the bankruptcy bill enacted by this administration
  • Repeal the estate tax repeal
  • Increase the minimum wage and index it to the CPI
  • Universal health care (obviously the devil is in the details on this one)
  • Increase CAFE standards. Some other environment-related regulation
  • Pro-reproductive rights, getting rid of abstinence-only education, improving education about and access to contraception including the morning after pill, and supporting choice. On the last one there's probably some disagreement around the edges (parental notification, for example), but otherwise.
  • Simplify and increase the progressivity of the tax code
  • Kill faith-based funding. Certainly kill federal funding of anything that engages in religious discrimination.
  • Reduce corporate giveaways
  • Have Medicare run the Medicare drug plan
  • Force companies to stop underfunding their pensions. Change corporate bankruptcy law to put workers and retirees at the head of the line with respect to their pensions.
  • Leave the states alone on issues like medical marijuana. Generally move towards "more decriminalization" of drugs, though the details complicated there too.
  • Imprison Jeff Goldstein for crimes against humanity for his neverending stupidity
  • Paper ballots
  • Improve access to daycare and other pro-family policies. Obiously details matter.
  • Raise the cap on wages covered by FICA taxes.
I'm sure I could think of a few more things. I left off foreign policy because I find that most people who write about it imagine they're playing the game of Risk. It's nice to have nice bumpersticker doctrines which are ultimately meaningless, but basically "put grownups in charge" is my prescription. Kick the petulant children out.

...adding a few more things which would be obvious if we weren't living in the Grand and Glorious Age of Bush:

  • Torture is bad
  • Imprisoning citizens without charges is bad
  • Playing Calvinball with the Geneva Conventions and treaties generally is bad
  • Imprisoning anyone indefinitely without charges is bad
  • Stating that the president can break any law he wants any time "just because" is bad
...oh, and I meant to include:
  • Marriage rights for all, which includes "gay marriage" and quicker transition to citizenship for the foreign spouses of citizens.

May 02, 2006

Bruce Reed is a terrific writer -- here's proof

Bruce Reed makes a great observation:

What do you get when you mix a Bush 41 speechwriter with a Sunday celebrity from Fox? Well, if Peggy Noonan and Terry Bradshaw had a grown son together, he might sound a lot like Tony Snow. To paraphrase Stevie Wonder, baloney and irony go together in perfect harmony.
But wait, folks, he's just warming up...
It's too early to predict whether these talents will combine for greatness or disaster. But so far, the results look promising. Asked by Cox News whether he would be frank with the president, Snow delivered this gem:
"They want people to express their opinions. You're not coming here to drink the Kool-Aid. You're coming here to serve the president. And at this particular juncture I think what you want is as much honest counsel as you can get."
In just four sentences, Snow managed to refer to himself in the first, second, and third person – even switching back and forth in the same sentence. When he said, "I think what you want is as much honest counsel as you can get," he referred to the president in the second person and himself in the first person and (implicitly) the third.
Um, yep, he's absolutely right. Please note that I had to diagram Snow's sentence on a whiteboard to confirm what Reed knew right from the start.

But here's the clincher!

Even Yogi Berra couldn't go from first to third on a single quote.
Stop, Bruce, you're killing me! As they say on the Internets -- ROTFLMAO!

April 11, 2006

Here's proof positive that there are too many lawyers

Legal Battle Brewing Between Dwarf Kiss Tribute Bands, MiniKiss v. Tiny Kiss...

There are no more Boy Scouts

From the LA Daily News:

Mayvis Coyle, 82, was shuffling with her cane across busy Foothill Boulevard while a traffic police officer watched and waited.

And watched and waited.

Even before Coyle finished crossing the intersection at Woodward Avenue, he had scribbled a $114 ticket for crossing against a don't-walk signal. "I entered the crosswalk, it was green," said Coyle, of Sunland, who is fighting the infraction issued Feb. 15. "It turned red before I could get over. There he was, waiting, the motorcycle cop.

"He said, `You're obstructing the flow of traffic."'

Would it have killed him to walk into the intersection and escort her the rest of the way?

March 14, 2006

The Ides of March Are Upon Us

You know what I'm thinking? I'm thinking that this country has come off the rails. The usual coalitions have broken apart. The electorate is disgusted. Congress is paralyzed. Bush is clueless. Everyone is fighting each other. No one is in charge.

March 08, 2006

Gordon Parks, 1912-2006

gordonparks.jpgIf mainstream America remembers Gordon Parks at all, it remembers him as the director of Shaft. But Parks had a long and distinguished career in a number of other fields before he got to Hollywood.

Michael Wilmington:

Parks, who died Tuesday in his New York City home at the age of 93, was a true Renaissance man who had an astonishing array of gifts and talents. He excelled in many areas and lived an improbably full, inspiring and productive life.
That is an understatement: if Parks' life were grafted onto a character in a novel, we wouldn't believe it -- he'd be too large for life. But that was Gordon Parks for you.
Above all, he was a photographer, one of the legends of his profession. He was the first African-American staff photographer for Life magazine, and later became the first black to direct a major Hollywood movie.

Parks' perfect eye and sensitivity to light and dark revealed themselves in many other fields as well. He was a novelist, poet, journalist, composer of both film scores and classical music (including the 1989 ballet "Martin," about Martin Luther King Jr.) and even, for a while, a semi-pro basketball player.

All his great gifts however, especially his genius for photography and writing, came together in his work in film.

Parks once said, "I've known both misery and happiness. I've lived in so many different skins. It is not possible for one skin to claim me."

He was a giant and a huge influence on me. Rest in peace, Mr. Parks.

P.S. If you get a chance, read Parks' The Learning Tree and/or Choice of Weapons. The first is a novel (based on his own childhood) and the second is an autobiography.

March 07, 2006

The Top 10 Most Read Posts at E Pluribus Unum (calendar year to date)

Oddly enough, number 3 on the list is one that I wrote nearly a year ago -- and it gets some page-views even now.

  1. Here are a couple of tough issues that you need to consider
    February, 2006

  2. Top Ten Chuck Norris Facts
    December, 2005

  3. Marbury vs. Madison
    April, 2005

  4. Face Recognition Software: I look like Fidel!
    January, 2006

  5. Movie trailer mash-ups
    February, 2006

  6. Mixed bag
    January, 2006

  7. What Terrorists Do (and how Karl Rove & Chris Matthews are helping)
    January, 2006

  8. Krewe du Vieux says 'C'est Levee'
    February, 2006

  9. The "Pragmatist" of Hamas
    February, 2006

  10. I favor the separation of Church and War
    February, 2006

Buck O'Neil denied admission to Hall of Fame

OneilBuck.jpgKeith Olberman:

Buck O'Neil [is] a living link to the great stars who were prevented from reaching the Major Leagues because of the color barrier that would not fall until 1947. Himself Jackie Robinson's teammate with the legendary Kansas City Monarchs, later their manager. Even now, at the age of 94, one of the great ambassadors of any sport. And yesterday, baseball might as well have told Buck O'Neil to get lost.

Yesterday was the day the game elected to its Hall of Fame, 17 heroes of the era of the "Negro Leagues." The last such election scheduled. Ever. And Buck O'Neil was not elected.

No question about it: O'Neil is one of the greatest players that professional baseball has ever seen, white or black:
[He was a] first baseman on four pennant winners and manager of five more in the old Negro Leagues, the first man of color to be a coach in the major leagues...
If you saw Ken Burns documentary Baseball , you know what I'm talking about.

At 94, Buck O'Neil is our last living link to an age that will pass away forever when he is gone. It was the least they could do to honor him during his lifetime.

March 06, 2006

Oscar highlights

  • I won a bet that Jon Stewart would let fly with a "shot in the face" joke at some point in the telecast. He did and I got extra points when he mentioned Bjork and her infamous swan-gown.

  • George Clooney's reactions from his seat during any number of references to him from the stage.

  • The attack ads (especially the one touting Reese Witherspoon) narrated by Steven Colbert.

  • Three 6 Mafia voluntarily doing a clean version of their song, then winning the award, then thanking Oscar's executive producer Gil Cates in their ecstatic acceptance speeches, and...

  • Queen Latifah wondering "how is it that I wasn't in that number?"

  • Reese Witherspoon quoting June Carter Cash: "I'm just trying to matter."

  • Jon Stewart: saying that Hollywood was "a moral black hole, where innocence is obliterated in an endless orgy of sexual gratification and greed." (cue the crickets) "I don't really have a joke here. I just thought you should know a lot of people are sayin' that."

  • George Clooney, saying he was proud to be part of the "out-of-touch" Hollywood community.
Oscar trivia:
  • Last night was the first time in 49 years and only the third time ever that all six major award categories went to six different movies -- Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor/Supp. Actor, Best Actress/Supp. Actress.

  • It was at least the second time a Spielberg film was multiple-nominated and came away with nothing.

  • Kong and Geisha got more as many Oscars than as Brokeback and as many as Crash.

  • Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) won Best Screenplay for the second year in a row.
Oscar lowlights:
  • Bill Conti playing music throughout all the acceptance speeches. Was he watching another show?

  • Whatever that was on Charlize Theron's shoulder. It looked like a dead parrot -- wrapped in silk organza.

  • The remarks from the Academy president, for being a collossal bore and getting -- or losing -- additional points for insisting a little bit too strongly that movies are best watched in a theater, "with strangers."
How about you?

P.S. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: the burning car on stage.

February 21, 2006

I'm through getting mad -- now I just want to get even

A couple of thoughts on Tuesday morning:

  1. President Bush is the lamest of ducks and has been since his Social Security destruction-plan flopped last year. So I don't want to waste any breath railing against his hideous inadequacies as President. If you like the guy, you won't listen, and if you already know about his horrific record as CinC then I'm just preaching to the choir.

    We had our shot at keeping Bush out of the Oval Office but he's there for the foreseeable future (see below for more).

    So, what does this mean? It means that the next best thing is to do whatever I can to enable the election of a Democratic Congress.

    • Only then will right-thinking people have a chance of stopping this guy's whacked-out agenda.
    • Only then will we have a chance to cut off funding of his Treasury-draining tax-cuts.
    • Only then will we have a chance to get to the truth of the matter about the lies told, and the crimes committed, by this White House.
    • Only then will we, the people, have a chance of holding these people accountable for what they've done.
    • Does that include impeaching the President? Well, the Constitution does give Congress that authority. But it will never happen as long as the Republicans control Congress. So it's imperative that the Democrats take control of at least the House and preferably the Senate as well. Then, and only then, do we have a chance of launching the necessary investigations of high crimes and misdemeanors.
  2. So what is the best way to get a Democratic Congress elected? The best way, of course, is to vote for the Democratic candidate for the House (and the Senate, if applicable) and to work to get others to do the same.

  3. But there is something else that I, we, can do: we can let Congress and the traditional media know that we won't stand for business as usual.

    So from now on, if I go off on a rant about something outrageous that this Republican-controlled government is doing, I am also going to include the names, phone/fax numbers, and email addresses for those members of Congress, Democrat and Republican, who need to hear that I'm unhappy and what I expect them to do about it.

    And/But I think there are members of the traditional media (network, cable, newspapers, magazines and their assorted advertisers) that also need to hear from me whenever they (i.e., Chris Matthews) say something that is factually inaccurate, intellectually dishonest, and/or parroting Republican talking points. So, where applicable, I'll include their email addresses (or websites organized for this purpose).

    And if, from time to time, that includes participating in advertiser boycotts, then so be it. Shy of getting people to shut off their TVs and/or cancel their subscriptions, it is advertising money that keeps the traditional media alive. The Sinclair Broadcasting advertiser boycott was a good case in point.

So that's it. I'm done getting mad -- now I want to get even.

It's the very least I can do. And I hope you'll join with me when I ask you to do the same.

February 13, 2006

Connecting the dots: Cheney & Whittington & Texas Funeral Home Service...Did Bush lie under oath?

Miss Julie and I were dumbstruck when we heard the news on the radio yesterday that Cheney shot Whittington.

Like most people, my first thought was, "Cheney has finally jumped the shark!"  We were literally speechless. Then we simply couldn't stop laughing.

But when I heard that Whittington had been appointed by Bush to a seat on the Texas Funeral Service Commission, I remembered a story from 1999, during Bush's first campaign for President.

Did Bush lie under oath in funeral home case?

An SCI attorney says the Texas governor talked to him about a state agency investigation, contradicting Bush's affidavit in the case.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

By Robert Bryce and Anthony York

Aug. 9, 1999 | A sworn affidavit by Texas Gov. George W. Bush insisting he had no discussions about a state investigation into a political contributor's funeral home business has been contradicted by the company's own lawyer....

A hearing has been set for Aug. 30 in the Travis County Courthouse in Austin to decide if Bush must testify in the case.

IIRC, Bush was never asked to testify and the rest is history.

Now this:

Whittington has been a private practice attorney in Austin since 1950 and has long been active in Texas Republican politics. He's been appointed to several state boards, including when then-Gov. George W. Bush named him to the Texas Funeral Service Commission.
Perhaps someone should see if there are some dots to be connected here. Maybe it's nothing, but it sure feels like an episode of Columbo to me.

I'm just saying.

February 07, 2006

Odds n Sods Tuesday

February 03, 2006

Wasp performs roach-brain-surgery to make zombie slave-roaches

Just when you're totally immersed in whatever it is you're doing in life, you stumble over a whole 'nother universe hiding, right there, in plain sight. It's like God is saying "Hello! I'm busy right now. Take a seat and I'll get with you asap."

This is one of those times:

Ampulex compressa is a wasp that has evolved to tackle roaches, insert a stinger into their brains and disable their escape reflexes. This lets the wasp use the roach's antennae to steer the roach to its lair, where it can lay its egg in it.
...where the wasp can lay its egg in the roach.
The larva grows inside the roach, devouring the organs of its host, for about eight days. It is then ready to weave itself a cocoon--which it makes within the roach as well. After four more weeks, the wasp grows to an adult. It breaks out of its cocoon, and out of the roach as well. Seeing a full-grown wasp crawl out of a roach suddenly makes those Alien movies look pretty derivative.
No sh*t, Sherlock.

(HT to Cory)

January 31, 2006

Odds n Sods on a Tuesday morning

  • The Onion interviews Stephen Colbert:
    What the right-wing in the United States tries to do is undermine the press. They call the press "liberal," they call the press "biased," not necessarily because it is or because they have problems with the facts of the left—or even because of the bias for the left, because it's hard not to be biased in some way, everyone is always going to enter their editorial opinion—but because a press that has validity is a press that has authority. And as soon as there's any authority to what the press says, you question the authority of the government—it's like the existence of another authority. So that's another part of truthiness.

    Truthiness is "What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true." It's not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There's not only an emotional quality, but there's a selfish quality.

  • Sleepless in Seattle gets a horror movie. Watch the trailer.
  • Man trips on shoelaces in museum, shatters priceless vases.
    Man, I hate when that happens.

January 26, 2006

Mixed bag

Odds n Sods on Thursday morning:

Enough for now. I gotta go.

January 24, 2006

Panda VideoCam: I dare you not to smile!

PandaWorld.JPG"Live! Pandas! Live!"

You can watch live images of Mei Xiang, a giant panda, and her cub, Tai Shan, at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

January 23, 2006

Notable Quotes

Too bad this man is not President today:

There is nothing heroic about turning your back on America, or ignoring your own responsibilities. If you want to preserve your own freedom, you must stand up for the freedom of others with whom you disagree. But you also must stand up for the rule of law. You cannot have one without the other.
(HT to Rosemary)

January 19, 2006

“Kill or be killed Porkchop”

The title of this post is lifted from some graffiti I saw as a teenager growing up in Detroit. I was always intrigued by it and much later on, I decided it would make a great epitaph or perhaps even the title of my autobiography (Vol. 1).

(The image on the left [click it] has a similar look and feel. It's from a show featuring murals by local graffiti artists at the Shrangi-La Gallery in the Atlas Building on Gratiot.)

In any case, I recently came across Detroit Blog, which is devoted to "all things Detroit: politics, urban exploration, news, photos, and commentary about the city."

The authors loves Detroit, "even the old Detroit of blight, waste and emptiness. Hockeytown. Motown. I grew up here, had my best times here. It’s my home."

I don't live there any more myself, but I'm proud to say I did grow up (and lived much of my life) there. My kids were born there and my mother still lives there.

Once upon a time, Detroit was American industry. Detroit was American music. Detroit was American sports. Some of the most interesting and vital people in American history are from Detroit.

Me? I'm a proud product of Detroit Public Schools, and if you've got a problem with that, why don't we step outside and discuss it?

I guess as long as any of my family still live there, I'll miss it.

P.S. You can take the boy out of the city...and so forth and so on.

What I read about while waiting for the elevator this morning

What a country!

January 17, 2006

Face Recognition Software: I look like Fidel!

Miss Julie and I are always casting characters in books or documentary films with well-known actors. Recently we were watching How to Draw a Bunny, a documentary about artist Ray Johnson. I suggested that John Malkovich would be perfect in the role. Creepily enough, during the final credits, we discovered that Malkovich was the executive producer.

Can I pick em or what?

We've even gone so far as to cast the actor who should play me in the imaginary movie based on my life. We both settled on Alfred Molina. Right.

Now, it seems there is a site called My Heritage that is developing software (now in beta) that compares your photo with their database and comes up with some matches.


Christian Slater (the eyebrows?) 61%
Michel Platini (?) 47%
Marshall McLuhan 47%
Andrei Sakharov 44%
George Martin 43%
Ralph Nader 43%
Bjarne Stroustrup (?) 43%
Edmund Stoiber (?) 40%
....and last but not least:
Fidel Castro! 39%

And for Miss Julie:

Halle Berry 67% (I kid you not!)
Marianne Faithfull 65%
Sofia Coppola 65%
Hilary Swank 63%
Kirsten Dunst 63%
Helena Bonham Carter 62%
Charlize Theron 62%

Gentlemen, I am blessed.

P.S. OK, OK, a few false positives:

Miss Julie:
Roger Moore
Kenneth Branagh (redhead)
Whoopi Goldberg

Susan Sontag (definitely not a hair thing)

(HT to Double Plus Ungood who clocks in with Gary Oldman, Danny Kaye, John Travolta, Richard Strauss, Edward Elgar, Billy Bob Thorton, Stephen Spielberg, Ehud Barak, and/or Nikolaus Harnoncourt. False positive: Ayn Rand.)

January 11, 2006

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Random Thoughts: What Democrats and Republicans do

It occurs to me:

  • If I'm John McCain, wouldn't I be (at least privately) bitter about the recent treatment I got from Bush?
    Think about it: McCain campaigns for Bush when it really counts, he backs Bush's Iraq policy, he virtually becomes a Bush clone on gay rights and abortion, and so forth. Then, when McCain's signature anti-torture amendment passes (despite Cheney's opposition), Bush reluctantly gives in, but not until issuing a statement saying that none the restrictions apply to the Chief Executive if he so chooses.

    McCain is still the toast of the traditional media, but (to me) he looks like Bush's butt-boy now. Hey John -- was it worth it? Do you really think this will get you the nomination in '08?

  • Larry Sabato thinks the Republican nomination for President in '08 is dangerously wide-open at this time.
    As for me, I think it doesn't matter who they nominate. The party's policies on tax-cuts (who doesn't want one?), culture-wars (the queers are coming for your children!), and terrorism (we're all gonna die unless you vote for me) are enough to give any Republican nominee an advantage from the get-go. The Democrats, OTOH, usually wait until a nominee emerges before crafting party policy.

    Despite that, Sabato also believes that after eight years of Bush, the country will be ready for a change. Again, I disagree. In 1988, the people voted for Bush 41 after eight years of Reagan. And the fact that his opponent was Michael Dukakis probably only reinforces my point.

  • In order to start winning elections again, the Democrats must again invoke the memory and attitude of FDR.
    I don't mean they campaign on bringing back "big government." I mean that the Dems must remind people that the only thing they have to fear is fear itself.

    Bush and the Republicans have managed to continue to win elections by relying on a climate of fear and hysteria. I hope that more than one future historian will encapsulate this decade by recalling this recent exchange in the US Senate:

    “None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a former judge and close ally of the president who sits on the Judiciary Committee.

    “Give me liberty or give me death,” said Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who has led a bipartisan filibuster against a reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

    I say I hope that becomes the indelible memory, but I wonder sometimes. Are Democrats capable of reminding people that we have a tradition of brave and resolute behavior in the face of threats from the outside world? Can people be motivated by a clarion call for the protection of their own civil liberties?

    Or will people continue to react to the nightmares, terrors and hysteria whipped up by Bush's Republicans?

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