Monday, May 31, 2004

Unprecedented Negativity From Bush

DANA MILBANK AND JIM VANDEHEI WASHINGTON POST - Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is unprecedented -- both in speeches and in advertising.

Three-quarters of the ads aired by Bush's campaign have been attacks on Kerry. Bush so far has aired 49,050 negative ads in the top 100 markets, or 75 percent of his advertising. Kerry has run 13,336 negative ads -- or 27 percent of his total. The figures were compiled by The Washington Post using data from the Campaign Media Analysis Group of the top 100 U.S. markets. Both campaigns said the figures are accurate.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Doonesbury

Where's a goth when you need one?

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. - Almost half of a $273,000 grant awarded in 2002 to fight the Goth culture in Blue Springs has been returned because of a lack of interest — and the absence of a real problem.

Blue Springs received the grant two years ago from the Youth Outreach Unit, money the city and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves trumpeted proudly as a way to fight a perceived Goth problem.

But $132,000 of the grant was returned because officials never found much of a problem with the Goth culture, which some students called a fad that most people eventually outgrow.
Ya know, this plan still has promise. Rep. Graves just needs to choose a new target. There must be other unpopular groups of teens living in Blue Springs. I wonder if he's ever considered going after fat or "geeky" kids?

Game

I don't condone everything in this game, but it's certainly, uh, interesting...

Saturday, May 29, 2004

My First Time

MY FIRST TIME

The sky was dark,
The moon was high.
All alone,
Just her and I.

Her hair so soft,
Her eyes so blue.
I knew just what,
She wanted to do.

Her skin so soft,
Her legs so fine.
I ran my fingers,
Down her spine.

I didn't know how,
But I tried my best.
To place my hand,
On her breasts.

I remember my fear,
My fast beating heart.
But slowly she spread,
Her legs apart.

And when she did it,
I felt no shame.
All at once,
The white stuff came.

At last it's finished,
It's all over now.
My first time,
Milking a cow!

Heh heh

Friday, May 28, 2004

World's Tallest Bridge Nears Completion

BBC - Construction workers in southern France have connected the last link in the world's highest road bridge.

The bridge over the River Tarn in the Massif Central mountains will carry vehicles across a 2.5km (1.5 miles) valley at a height of 270m (885ft).

When finished, the highest pillar will stand at just over 340m (1,115ft) tall.

The Millau bridge is expected to open for traffic by the end of the year, completing a new motorway link between Paris and the Mediterranean.

Once its pylons and giant suspension cables are in place, the structure will be higher than the Eiffel Tower, which reaches 343m.

MTV Bans Ads for "Supersize Me"

REUTERS - Film documentary "Super Size Me," a critical look at the health impact of a fast-food only diet, has been downsized at cable network MTV which has refused to air advertisements for the film, its distributors said on Wednesday. Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films said in a statement the cable TV channel targeted to young audiences has told them the ads are "disparaging to fast food restaurants."

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Most Exciting Sport Ever

I stumbled across an altogether exciting sport the other day - Girls' College Softball. Why would this sport be interesting, you ask? At first glance, I'll admit - doesn't sound all that thrilling. But trust me - it is. See, K-Dawg and I both quickly realized that a fairly talented group of Little Leaguers (none more than 9 or 10 years old) could easily mop up some of the best girls' teams in the game, namely those competing in the College World Series of Softball. The game which we watched was riddled with errors and all-around horrible play, but heck, I suppose that happens now-and-then in any sport (at every level). So maybe we just saw an isolated incident of poor play, right? Hmmmm.

This afternoon, I happen to turn the TV on and whadya know... more softball! Looking at the handy-dandy scoreboard in the corner of the screen, I initially think to myself, "Well, gee, I guess I was wrong. This looks like a rather good bout!" Michigan was up 2-0 in the bottom of the 12th over LSU. I believe games normally end after 7 innings (because 9 is just too many, I guess), so this was really quite the epic battle. The Lady Wolverines had hit a two-run blast in the top of the inning, and all they had to do to win was get three little outs. This should have been no problem, considering they had held the other team scoreless the whole game. Well, two of the first three batters went down without putting up too much of a fight. So the game was down to the final batter... a girl on first, up by 2. Maybe Michigan was just a little too comfortable.

The girl at the plate did this weird running-bunt thing (no surprise, for those familiar with the sport). Expectedly, the ball rolled right to the pitcher. All she had to do was pick the ball up and tag the runner out. It was a routine, easy play that my grandmother probably could have made. But rather than do that, the pitcher decided kicking the ball into foul territory would be more fitting for the moment. Okay, so two runners on now. Still up by two. 2 outs.

The next batter hit an RBI single and advanced the other runner to third. Uh oh. It was at this time that the coach decided it might be a good idea to change her pitcher for the first time in the game. Runners at the corners, a star reliever coming in, up by 2-1. By all accounts, this was still Michigan's game to lose.

Well, if you're a fan of the big M... I've got good news and bad news. The good news is the new pitcher retired the only batter she faced, getting the third out of the inning. The bad? Before doing that, she threw a wild pitch, allowing the tying run to score from third.

On to the 13th.

Top of the inning for Michigan: 1, 2, 3. LSU was back at the plate now in the bottom half of the frame. Michigan's star reliever got the first two batters, lickety-split. Looking good. But remember - this is the wild and crazy world of softball, so you never know what might happen next! In this particular case, a single by LSU prolonged the game, but that should have been the end of their threat for the inning...

Mouth literally wide open, I watched spellbound as the fourth batter to come to the plate in the inning hit a weak shot to the shortstop, who then proceeded to throw the ball into right field for no apparent reason. Okay, that in itself was pretty unexpected, but the error hadn't cost Michigan the game. The runner on first had advanced to third on the poor throw, but she had stopped there content with being just a few feet away from home for the next batter. Well, she would have been content to stay there, I guess, had it not been for what happened next... The right fielder scooped up the ball that had sailed over first base and then decided to rifle it home (even though the runner was clearly stopped on third). In her hurry to get it there, I want to say she missed the bag by a mile, but that wouldn't be true. The throw was perfectly on target. The catcher, however, must have been dreaming about shoes or something, because the ball bounced off her and down the line. The girl on third slowly waltzed down the basepath and scored. And just like that, LSU had won 3-2.

There ya have it... typical Girls' College Softball. And I didn't even mention the hand-holding, the chants, or the field's itsy-bitsy dimensions. In short, those girls - although more appealing to the eye than most ballplayers I've seen - well, they definitely don't got game.

Campaign Debates to be Rigged Again

WHILE gaining open political debates is a tough struggle, a step along the way would be for Ralph Nader, the Libertarian, and the Green candidates to hold debates, pressuring CSPAN, NPR and major networks to carry them.

FORT LAUDERDALE SUN-SENTINEL - In dictatorships, it's common for political insiders to hinder or even silence non-establishment challengers. To do that in America, which supposedly champions open elections, is outrageous and intolerable. But that is just what the Commission on Presidential Debates has done.

OPEN DEBATES - Six weeks before the 1998 gubernatorial election in Minnesota, The Star Tribune pegged Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura at 10 percent in the polls. Three debates later, on October 20, he was at 21 percent. Remarkably, Ventura's cash-strapped campaign had not yet aired a single television advertisement. On Election Day, Ventura captured 37 percent of the vote and became the governor of Minnesota. Governor Ventura explained his astounding victory, "I was allowed to debate. I proved that you could go from 10 percent to 37 percent and win if you're allowed to debate. Rest assured these two parties don't want to ever see that happen again."

OPEN DEBATES
COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW
MORE STORIES

Iraq War Will Cost Americans $4,000 Per Family

SEAN GONSALVES, CAPE COD TIMES - According to Doug Henwood, author of "After the New Economy," $4,000 is the amount that each household will have to fork over in taxes to foot the Iraq occupation bill. "I feel a little callous about talking about the economic impact of the war in Iraq, which seems like an afterthought next to the human toll. But at a time when civilian budgets are being cut at every level, when clinics are closing and professors at our public universities have to pay for their own photocopying because there's allegedly not enough money, it's amazing how much we're spending," Henwood says.

Henwood pegs the military costs in Iraq to date at about $143 billion, with the tab rising $4 billion to $5 billion a month. Reconstruction has cost about $20 billion so far, with another $50 billion to $100 billion still needed, Henwood reports.

"If the occupation goes on for three years, which is what the military pundits say is likely, the total bill could come to $362 billion. Add to that an estimated 0.5 percent knocked off GDP growth because of high oil prices, and that's another $50 billion," he says.

Add it all up, and the bill comes to nearly $4,000 per household, not including interest. "I wonder how people would react if they got a bill from Washington for that amount," he said.

Amnesty: War on Terror Has Made World Less Safe

BOSTON GLOBE - The US-led war on terror has made the world more dangerous, rather than safer, and has prompted the most sustained erosion of human rights and international law in 50 years, Amnesty International said in an annual report released yesterday. The report, which examined the state of human rights in 157 countries and alleged abuses committed by 177 armed groups, was followed by unusually scathing criticism of the Bush administration. . .

The release of the report in Washington was accompanied by data indicating that terrorist acts have increased since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the advent of the war on terrorism. Jessica Eve Stern, a lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University who has spent six years interviewing members of terrorist organizations, cited statistics indicating that the number of terrorist incidents increased from 2,303 in the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks to 4,422 in the two years after Sept. 11.

''There is no question in my mind that the war in Iraq increased terrorism, in part because the United States created a weak state unable to maintain a monopoly on the use of force," Stern said after the news conference.

Her statistics, included in a database maintained by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank, and funded by the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, run contrary to a recent State Department report that indicated a slight decline in terrorist acts from last year. The State Department did not provide details about how the data were collected to a reporter who requested the information.

AMNESTY REPORT

Violation: Excessive Joy

KCTV, MO - There was a dress code and a behavior code that was strictly followed at the Grandview High School graduation. One family who got kicked out for cheering their son's accomplishments said it was being taken too far. It all began when 18-year-old Brandon Sample's family clapped and whistled as the Grandview grad walked across the stage.

It may have seemed harmless, but it was enough to get them tossed out of the ceremony. On home video, a police officer said, "You've got to leave." A woman said, "This is a celebration, sir."

The police officer said: "I know. The school didn't want you, them doing that. You don't leave, you go to jail. You understand that?" . . .

"We were proud. It was one those where it was like the proudest moment in your life, and so we cheered. It was just a cheer, and then we were quiet," said Joy Sample.

That was when the officer approached, asking the teen's mother, father, aunts, and even his 86-year-old grandmother to leave . . .

The Grandview School District defended the policy, saying the crowd was getting too disruptive, and they had to keep things under control. Some parents agreed.

Religiosity in the U.S.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Hope for TV After All: Jessica Simpson Pilot Dropped

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Picking up Chris's Slack

So I was watching Matlock this afternoon... It was a pretty captivating episode. You see, Matlock's client had been accused of murdering this other guy, but (get this!) he was really innocent. In fact, the other guy was even still alive! Long-story-short, I was really getting into the program by the time the big court scene rolled around at the end. In case you're not familiar with the show, this is the part where the audience finds out "what really happened." So just as Matlock began grilling the guy on the witness stand, cleverly letting everyone finally understand the case's mystery, some bright fellow at the cable company decides to issue a monthly test of the Emergency Broadcasting System. Now, I'm all for keeping people safe, but this afternoon's fiasco was pushing it. Apparently, one can't "test the EBS" without muting the sound of everything on TV. So there I was, perched on the edge of my seat, about to discover "what had really happened," when suddenly I can't hear Matlock anymore... I think, "alright, this won't last long - don't worry." Well, literally a minute-and-a-half later (after they've scrolled through every county in the metro area at the top of the screen TWICE), the sound finally comes back. Matlock gives a sly grin to the camera and the judge says, "Case Dismissed." Mouth agape, all I can do is weakly utter, "Whaaaa happened?!?"

Thanks EBS: 58-and-a-half good minutes of Matlock down the drain.

Spike Milligan Finally Gets the Epitaph He Wanted

AFP - Late British comedian Spike Milligan, the creator of landmark radio series The Goon Show, has finally been given his choice of inscription on his gravestone - "I told you I was ill."

It took two years for the cross to be erected because family members had not decided what inscription the headstone should carry, leaving the comic’s grave marked only with flowers and a small statue.

Girls' Names Mutate Faster Than Boys'

ARTS JOURNAL - "The “mutation rate” in names is higher for girls than for boys. Parents, in other words, are more liable to be inventive when choosing a name for a baby girl. The researchers have found that for every 10,000 daughters born in America there is an average of 2.3 new names. For sons, the figure is 1.6. One possibility is that in a society where family names are inherited patrilineally, parents feel constrained by tradition when it comes to choosing first names for their sons. As a result, boys often end up with the names of their ancestors. But when those same parents come to choose names for their daughters, they feel less constrained and more able to choose based on style and beauty."

Great Moments in Preventing Littering

MARC FISHER, WAHSINGTON POST - Andy Chasin's story begins at home, in Woodley Park, with Mom. Or at least a package from Mom, sent in March, with love, from Arizona, via Fedex. The package stayed at home, but somehow the air bill, the sheet of paper that contains Chasin's address, wound up in his pocket, where he discovered it earlier this month while walking on Connecticut Avenue NW. Having no need for the slip, Chasin tossed it into the trash can on the corner. This would be the crime scene.

Last Friday, Chasin, 28, was in his office at the law firm of Baker & Hostetler, when he received from the District government a Notice of Violation, delivered at a cost of $4.42. The city's Department of Public Works charges Chasin with Improper Use of Public Litter Receptacles. Fine: $35.

The notice is signed by Cecil Herd, Solid Waste Inspector. Attached to the notice is the evidence: the Fedex bill. . .

"Folks hate to be caught doing something that maybe they weren't supposed to do." That's Mary Myers, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Public Works. "I understand he's frustrated. But we have an enormous problem of overflowing litter cans due to people putting their home or business trash in the public litter cans."

But Mary, a single sheet of paper?

"Doesn't matter," she says. "The purpose of public litter cans is for simple pedestrian trash -- cups, food wrappers, a gum wrapper, the kind of thing you would have in your pocket."

Saturday, May 22, 2004

The Nap Taker

THE NAP TAKER (Shel Silverstein)

No - I did not take a nap -
The nap - took - me
off the bed and out the window
far beyond the sea,
to a land where sleepy heads
read only comic books
and lock their naps in iron safes
so that they can't get took.

And soon as I came to that land,
I also came to grief.
The people pointed at me, shouting,
"Where's the nap, you thief?"
They took me to the courthouse.
The judge put on his cap.
He said, "My child, you are on trial
for taking someone's nap.

"Yes, all you selfish children,
you think just of yourselves
and don't care if the nap you take
belongs to someone else.
It happens that the nap you took
without a thought or care
belongs to Bonnie Bowlingbrook,
who's sittin' cryin' there.

"She hasn't slept in quite some time -
just see her eyelids flap.
She's tired drowsy - cranky too,
'cause guess who took her nap?"
The jury cried, "You're guilty, yes,
you're guilty as can be.
But just return the nap you took
And we might set you free."

"I did not take that nap," I cried,
"I give my solemn vow,
and if I took it by mistake
I do not have it now."
"Oh fiddle-fudge," cried out the judge,
your record looks quite sour.
Last night I see you stole a kiss,
Last week you took a shower,

"You beat your eggs, you've whipped your cream,
at work you punched the clock,
You've even killed an hour or two,
we've heard you darn your socks.
We know you shot a basketball,
you've stolen second base,
and we can see you're guilty
from the sleep that's on your face.

"Go lie down on your blanket now
and cry your guilty tears.
I sentence you to one long nap
for ninety million years.
And when the other children see
this nap that never ends,
no child will ever dare to take
somebody's nap again."

Evil Bush?

Ha ha ha ha ha....



Check out the M behind Shrub's head.

'Fahrenheit 9/11' Wins Cannes' Top Prize

Director Michael Moore's controversial anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 has won the prestigious Palme d'Or best film award at the Cannes festival.

It is the first documentary to win the top prize since Jacques Cousteau's "The Silent World" in 1956.

The film received a 15-minute standing ovation when it was screened on Monday.

Fahrenheit 9/11 explores the Iraq war and alleges connections between President George Bush and leading Saudi families, including the Bin Ladens.

"What have you done? I'm completely overwhelmed by this," Moore said in his acceptance speech.

The film was originally set to be released in the US through Disney subsidiary Miramax, before Disney blocked it. It is now expected to be released through a third party.

The Lobotomized Weasel School of Writing

CRISPIN SARTWELL, LA TIMES - The other day, our 16-year-old son, struggling with his homework, asked his mother this question: "Do you know how many paragraphs an American history essay is supposed to have?" The answer, of course, is one. Or seven. Or 700. Whatever.

But that is not what he has been taught; he's been told there's a correct number. Once I was working with him on an essay and he told me we needed exactly three arguments. No more, no fewer, although he did not know yet what they might be.

Today's educational establishment is making actual illiteracy look good, like an act of humanity and rebellion. Writing, which ought to nurture and give shape to thought, is instead being used to pound it into a powder and then reconstitute it into gruel.

The thoroughly modern grade-A public-school prose style is not creative or interesting enough even to be wrong. The people who create and enforce the templates are, not to put too fine a point on it, people without understanding or imagination, lobotomized weasels for whom any effort of thought exceeds their strength. I recently read one of the many boilerplate descriptions of how students should write their essays. "The penultimate sentence," it said, "should restate your basic thesis of the essay." Well, who says? And why?

Plug Pulled on Graduation Speaker

TARA MAY, GRAND RAPIDS PRESS, MI - It was not the speech that school officials approved. So they pulled the plug on Nicholas Noel's commencement speech to fellow graduates Wednesday night when in the fourth sentence the senior class president referred to Grand Rapids Union High School as a "prison."

As more than 1,000 people watched, power to the microphone was cut and Noel returned to his seat at Ford Field House. Officials later refused to give him his diploma, although a school spokeswoman said he would receive it soon.

"He has nothing to apologize for," said his mother, Connie Noel. "It was a perfectly good speech, and they would've realized that if they had allowed him to talk."

Noel said he described the school as "the Union High Prison System" because students were expected to act alike. The message of his speech was that high school paints for students "a picture of life that is incomplete," he said. "The colors of life are yet to come," Noel said. "It was really nice, nothing in bad taste. I tried to be different, and I was punished."

He said the rest of his speech would have been positive if he had been allowed to finish it. A copy of his written speech goes on to call Union a "foul institution" and a "horribly irresponsible and depraved place to learn these life lessons...."

But it also said Union's mix of cultures provides "bizarre training" for the real world. He wraps up by quoting Hunter S. Thompson: "Who is the happier man, He who has braved the storm of life and lived. Or he who has stayed securely on the shore and merely existed."

Assistant Principal Ken Larsen said commencement speeches must be approved before graduation, according to school policy.

Friday, May 21, 2004

The Cat and the Moon

THE CAT AND THE MOON (W.B. Yeats)

THE CAT went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon
The creeping cat looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For wander and wail as he would
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass,
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

Bad Vision

Meh, it seems my color vision is going downhill too. On a whim, I decided to try testing my color vision this afternoon, and my results showed that I might be "deuteranomalous."

Now, this might just be a scam to get me to the optometrist, but according to my exam, I am "poor at discriminating small differences in hues in the red, orange, yellow, green region of the spectrum. From a practical stand point though, many protanomalous and deuteranomalous people breeze through life with very little difficulty doing tasks that require normal color vision. Some may not even be aware that their color perception is in any way different from normal. The only problem they have is passing the 'Blank Blank' color vision test."

Anyhow, it's kinda depressing to know that I'm losing one more function as I get older. I've taken these tests before and have always passed. Totally unexpected - but then all of life's surprises are.

Hopefully you're in better shape than me. Color Vision Test

Bill bans teens from tanning booths

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) -- A state famous for tanned bodies and year-round sunshine would be the nation's first to ban teenagers from artificial tanning booths if a bill passed by the state Assembly becomes law.

Lawmakers, citing a rise in skin cancer cases in California and across the nation, voted 42-26 to add artificial tanning to teenage no no's that already include smoking, drinking and buying lottery tickets.

Teens often visit tanning salons before proms, vacations and weddings, say owners of an industry that claims 160,000 employees nationally and $5 billion in annual revenue. California is estimated to have 1,500 tanning salons.

Backers of the bill, including the California Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, blame tanning salons for part of 1 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed every year in the United States. The group cited 7,400 deaths annually from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

"There is a big difference between going to the beach and a tanning salon," said the bill's author, Assemblyman Joe Nation, a Democrat. "When kids go to the beach they put on sun screen."

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Vindicated

VINDICATED (Dashboard Confessional)

hope dangles on a string
like slow-spinning redemption
winding in and winding out
the shine of it has caught my eye

and roped me in so mesmerizing and so
hypnotizing, i am captivated, i am

vindicated, i am selfish i am wrong
i am right, i swear i'm right
i swear i knew it all along
and i am flawed but i am cleaning up so well
i am seeing in me now the things
you swore you saw yourself so clear

like the diamond in your ring
cut to mirror your intention
oversized and overwhelmed
the shine of which has caught my eye

and rendered me so isolated, so
motivated, i am certain now that i am

vindicated, i am selfish i am wrong
i am right, i swear i'm right
i swear i knew it all along
and i am flawed but i am cleaning up so well
i am seeing in me now the things
you swore you saw yourself

so turn up the corners of your lips
part them and feel my fingertips
trace the moment for forever

defense is paper thin
just one touch and i'd be in
too deep now to ever swim
against the current

so let me slip away
so let me slip away
so let me slip away
so let me slip against the current

so let me slip away
so let me slip away
so let me slip away
so let me slip away

vindicated, i am selfish i am wrong
i am right, i swear i'm right
i swear i knew it all along
and i am flawed but i am cleaning up so well
i am seeing in me now the things
you swore you saw yourself

slight hope dangles on a string
like slow spinning redemption

Stupid School Administrator Tricks

CYNTHIA L. GARZA, FT WORTH STAR TELEGRAM, TX - A wooden baseball bat, no longer than 8 inches and visible through a car window, spurred Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School officials to call sophomore Cory Henson out of class Monday in order to search his vehicle. Under the Fort Worth school district's zero-tolerance policy, Henson was immediately suspended, pending a conference with administrators today. Officials will decide whether the bat is considered a weapon that would merit punishment, including placement in an alternative school or expulsion for up to a year.

"First I was stunned," said Cory's mother, Sheila Henson. "I thought, I'll go up there and investigate this a little further.". . .

Henson describes the bat no bigger than the souvenir bats available at professional baseball games. The piece found in Cory's car broke off a trophy, he said. He does not know how it ended up car but said someone was probably playing with it and left it in the back seat. . .

What's more confounding to Henson is that it was the small bat, and not the full-sized aluminum bat that was in the trunk with other baseball equipment, that was confiscated as a weapon.

Sgt. Daniel Garcia of the Fort Worth Police Department School Initiative Unit said he was not aware of the full-sized bat in the car. If the student plays baseball at the school, then common sense would prevail in the situation, he said.

"The [smaller] bat could be constituted as an illegal club," because it was in the driver's access area and had a hole in the center of it, Garcia said.

Police did not file any criminal charges and any handling of the situation is solely at the district level now, Garcia said.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Inspiration

INSPIRATION (Henry David Thoreau)

Whate'er we leave to God, God does,
And blesses us;
The work we choose should be our own,
God leaves alone.

If with light head erect I sing,
Though all the Muses lend their force,
From my poor love of anything,
The verse is weak and shallow as its source.

But if with bended neck I grope
Listening behind me for my wit,
With faith superior to hope,
More anxious to keep back than forward it;

Making my soul accomplice there
Unto the flame my heart hath lit,
Then will the verse forever wear--
Time cannot bend the line which God hath writ.

Always the general show of things
Floats in review before my mind,
And such true love and reverence brings,
That sometimes I forget that I am blind.

But now there comes unsought, unseen,
Some clear divine electuary,
And I, who had but sensual been,
Grow sensible, and as God is, am wary.

I hearing get, who had but ears,
And sight, who had but eyes before,
I moments live, who lived but years,
And truth discern, who knew but learning's lore.

I hear beyond the range of sound,
I see beyond the range of sight,
New earths and skies and seas around,
And in my day the sun doth pale his light.

A clear and ancient harmony
Pierces my soul through all its din,
As through its utmost melody--
Farther behind than they, farther within.

More swift its bolt than lightning is,
Its voice than thunder is more loud,
It doth expand my privacies
To all, and leave me single in the crowd.

It speaks with such authority,
With so serene and lofty tone,
That idle Time runs gadding by,
And leaves me with Eternity alone.

Now chiefly is my natal hour,
And only now my prime of life;
Of manhood's strength it is the flower,
'Tis peace's end and war's beginning strife.

It comes in summer's broadest noon,
By a grey wall or some chance place,
Unseasoning Time, insulting June,
And vexing day with its presuming face.

Such fragrance round my couch it makes,
More rich than are Arabian drugs,
That my soul scents its life and wakes
The body up beneath its perfumed rugs.

Such is the Muse, the heavenly maid,
The star that guides our mortal course,
Which shows where life's true kernel's laid,
Its wheat's fine flour, and its undying force.

She with one breath attunes the spheres,
And also my poor human heart,
With one impulse propels the years
Around, and gives my throbbing pulse its start.

I will not doubt for evermore,
Nor falter from a steadfast faith,
For thought the system be turned o'er,
God takes not back the word which once He saith.

I will not doubt the love untold
Which not my worth nor want has bought,
Which wooed me young, and woos me old,
And to this evening hath me brought.

My memory I'll educate
To know the one historic truth,
Remembering to the latest date
The only true and sole immortal youth.

Be but thy inspiration given,
No matter through what danger sought,
I'll fathom hell or climb to heaven,
And yet esteem that cheap which love has bought.
___________________

Fame cannot tempt the bard
Who's famous with his God,
Nor laurel him reward
Who has his Maker's nod.

Texas Denies Unitarians Religious Status

R.A. DYER, FT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM - Unitarian Universalists have for decades presided over births, marriages and memorials. The church operates in every state, with more than 5,000 members in Texas alone.

But according to the office of Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, a Denison Unitarian church isn't really a religious organization -- at least for tax purposes. Its reasoning: the organization "does not have one system of belief."

Never before -- not in this state or any other -- has a government agency denied Unitarians tax-exempt status because of the group's religious philosophy, church officials say. Strayhorn's ruling clearly infringes upon religious liberties, said Dan Althoff, board president for the Denison congregation that was rejected for tax exemption by the comptroller's office.

"I was surprised -- surprised and shocked -- because the Unitarian church in the United States has a very long history," said Althoff, who notes that father-and-son presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams were both Unitarians. . .

Questions about the issue were referred to Jesse Ancira, the comptroller's top lawyer, who said Strayhorn has applied a consistent standard -- and then stuck to it. For any organization to qualify as a religion, members must have "simply a belief in God, or gods, or a higher power," he said. "We have got to apply a test, and use some objective standards," Ancira said. "We're not using the test to deny the exemptions for a particular group because we like them or don't like them.". . .

The Rev. Anthony David, lead pastor of Pathways Church in Southlake, said he is disturbed by the comptroller's decisions because it ignores Unitarian Universalists' belief that spiritual fulfillment can emerge in "different ways at different levels."

"It reflects an incredible misunderstanding of what a church needs to look like," David said.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Five Little Monkeys

Five Little Monkeys (Unknown)

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
So Momma called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

Four little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
So Momma called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

Three little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
So Momma called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

Two little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
So Momma called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

One little monkey jumping on the bed
He fell off and bumped his head
So Momma called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed!

No little monkeys jumping on the bed
None fell off and bumped his head
So Momma called the doctor and the doctor said
Put those monkeys back in bed!

Highlights

Busy day behind me.... busy day ahead. Class at 8, then 1. Should study in between. Should study afterwards. Drawing the line at studying beforehand.

And now for Tuesday's highlights (and lowlights):

Annoyance for the day: summer parking last year was like $40... this year it's $72.

Weird event
: Trying to study in the library as some guy walks around the block playing bagpipes.

Glad I wasn't that person moment
: Watching the dumb girl on a cell phone in front of me try to walk out the 'No Exit' turnstyle and fall over.

Bittersweet occasion: Remembering the time we walked along the sidewalk in the snow.

Funniest moments: Scrizz's impression of Morrow / K-I losing his shutout to K-II.

Glimpse of history-in-the-making: Watching Randy Johnson pitch the ninth inning on TBS in what turned out to be MLB's 17th perfect game.

Bit of trivia learned from TV
: Great Britain (not France) was the third country to test an atomic bomb in 1952.

Interesting factoid: Luds would rather 'be with' Faith Hill than Eminem.

Apologies for the sentence fragments. Too tired for verbs.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Monotone - Saying Nothing

MONOTONE (Carl Sandburg)

THE monotone of the rain is beautiful,
And the sudden rise and slow relapse
Of the long multitudinous rain.

The sun on the hills is beautiful,
Or a captured sunset sea-flung,
Bannered with fire and gold.

A face I know is beautiful--
With fire and gold of sky and sea,
And the peace of long warm rain.


My turn:

SAYING NOTHING

In a moment, a moment lasts forever
But infernal bounds of time
A moment is a moment
It passes by
And I have said nothing.

The ring of your valediction
Floats through the air
And long since, it persists.

Something.

Asking the right questions...

WASHINGTON POST - Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) asked two senior Pentagon officials exactly the right question about the Bush administration's interpretation of the Geneva Conventions. "If you were shown a video of a United States Marine or an American citizen in control of a foreign power, in a cell block, naked with a bag over their head, squatting with their arms uplifted for 45 minutes, would you describe that as a good interrogation technique or a violation of the Geneva Convention?" The answer is obvious, and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, honestly provided it. "I would describe it as a violation," Mr. Pace said. "What you've described to me sounds to me like a violation of the Geneva Convention," Mr. Wolfowitz said.

RUMSFELD OKAYED TORTURE

SEYMOUR M. HERSH, NEW YORKER - The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focused on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld's decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America's prospects in the war on terror.

According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon's operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld's long-standing desire to wrest control of America's clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.

Rumsfeld, during appearances last week before Congress to testify about Abu Ghraib, was precluded by law from explicitly mentioning highly secret matters in an unclassified session. But he conveyed the message that he was telling the public all that he knew about the story. He said, "Any suggestion that there is not a full, deep awareness of what has happened, and the damage it has done, I think, would be a misunderstanding." The senior C.I.A. official, asked about Rumsfeld's testimony and that of Stephen Cambone, his Under-Secretary for Intelligence, said, "Some people think you can bullshit anyone."

Sunday, May 16, 2004

If It Be Your Will

If It Be Your Will (Leonard Cohen)

If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will

If it be your will
That a voice be true
From this broken hill
I will sing to you
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing
From this broken hill
All your praises they shall ring
If it be your will
To let me sing

If it be your will
If there is a choice
Let the rivers fill
Let the hills rejoice
Let your mercy spill
On all these burning hearts in hell
If it be your will
To make us well

And draw us near
And bind us tight
All your children here
In their rags of light
In our rags of light
All dressed to kill
And end this night
If it be your will

If it be your will.

Winkers

Observation for the day:

When you blink, you close both eyes.

When you wink, you close only one eye.

So why are the turn signals in cars called "blinkers"? Shouldn't they be termed "winkers"?

"Blinkers" ought to = emergency flashers. Ya know, we live in quite a mad world.

Shared with me by Heather.

Everything You Know Is Wrong

Everything You Know Is Wrong (Weird Al Yankovic)

I was driving on the freeway in the fast lane
With a rabid wolverine in my underwear
When suddenly a guy behind me in the back seat
Popped right up and cupped his hands across my eyes

I guessed, "Is it Uncle Frank or Cousin Louie?"
"Is it Bob or Joe or Walter?"
"Could it be Bill or Jim or Ed or Bernie or Steve?"
I probably would have kept on guessing
But about that time we crashed into the truck

And as I'm laying bleeding there on the asphalt
Finally I recognize the face of my hibachi dealer
Who takes off his prosthetic lips and tells me

Everything you know is wrong
Black is white, up is down and short is long
And everything you thought was just so
Important doesn't matter

Everything you know is wrong
Just forget the words and sing along
All you need to understand is
Everything you know is wrong

I was walkin' to the kitchen for some Golden Grahams
When I accidentally stepped into an alternate dimension
And soon I was abducted by some aliens from space
Who kinda looked like Jamie Farr

They sucked out my internal organs
And they took some Polaroids
And said I was a darn good sport
And as a way of saying thank you
They offered to transport me back to
Any point in history that I would care to go

And so I had them send me back to last Thursday night
So I could pay my phone bill on time
Just then the floating disembodied head of
Colonel Sanders started yelling

Everything you know is wrong
Black is white, up is down and short is long
And everything you thought was just so
Important doesn't matter

Everything you know is wrong
Just forget the words and sing along
All you need to understand is
Everything you know is wrong

I was just about to mail a letter to my evil twin
When I got a nasty papercut
And, well, to make a long story short
It got infected and I died

So now I'm up in heaven with St. Peter
By the pearly gates
And it's obvious he doesn't like
The Nehru jacket that I'm wearing
He tells me that they've got a dress code

Well, he lets me into heaven anyway
But I get the room next to the noisy ice machine
For all eternity
And every day he runs by screaming

Everything you know is wrong
Black is white, up is down and short is long
And everything you used to think was so important
Doesn't really matter anymore
Because the simple fact remains that

Everything you know is wrong
Just forget the words and sing along
All you need to understand is
Everything you know is wrong
Everything you know is wrong



All I have to say is.... WOW!

On edit:


Dark Side of the Moon

Saturday, May 15, 2004

At a Window

AT A WINDOW (Carl Sandburg)

GIVE me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

Friday, May 14, 2004

We're the Worst!!!!!!!!

Best cities for dating

1. Austin, TX
2. Colorado Springs, CO
3. San Diego, CA
4. Raleigh/Durham, NC
5. Seattle, WA
6. Charleston, SC
7. Norfolk, VA
8. Ann Arbor, MI
9. Springfield, MA
10. Honolulu, HI

Worst cities for dating

1. Kansas City, MO

2. Wichita, KS
3. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
4. Detroit, MI
5. Louisville, KY
6. Greensboro/Winston-Salem, NC
7. Atlanta, GA
8. Pittsburgh, PA
9. Houston, TX
10. Charlotte, NC

Thanks to Ahsan for ruining my day. ;-)

pResident Dumbass - Part II

Why do Americans reward ignorance? Shouldn't we expect our leaders to at least read/watch the news? Disagree with something in the papers, fine. But ignore the news entirely because it endangers your viewpoint of the world? That's mad.
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush mostly shuns news coverage because he worries it might cloud his "clear outlook" with what he perceives as a left-leaning bias, he said in a book excerpt.

"I like to have a clear outlook," he told the author in one of two interviews. "It can be a frustrating experience to pay attention to somebody's false opinion or somebody's characterization, which simply isn't true."

Bush, who is known for devouring the sports section of newspapers, said he scans the front pages of a few major dailies and, if he finds a particularly interesting story, "I'll skim it."

White House aides, including chief of staff Andy Card, cull the newspapers for information that they present to Bush, who also relies on First Lady Laura Bush's recommendations in deciding which news stories to read.

Okay... first of all, wtf is a "false opinion"??????? How can an opinion be false? An opinion, by definition, is someone's view of the world. You may disagree with my beliefs, but even so, that doesn't make my opinion "false."

But gee... it really must be 'frustrating' for him to have to listen to "somebody's false opinion or somebody's characterization, which simply isn't true" (i.e., information that contradicts his assumptions or viewpoints). I can see how it (i.e., critical thinking) really could get in the way of having a "clear outlook."

If it wasn't so incredibly, ridiculously sad, this would be funny. I mean, you expect this sort of thing coming from a parody site like The Onion, but it came directly from the idiot himself.

pResident Dumbass

Okay, the idiot has ticked me off again....

Underfunded school gets air conditioning in one room for one day for Bush

During an appearance once again labeled a "presidential visit" and not a campaign stop, Bush talked to a crowd Thursday at Parkersburg South High School about his No Child Left Behind act and the development of college preparatory programs in public schools.

"The people here in Parkersburg can run the schools here a lot better than anyone in Washington D.C.," the president said, generating roaring applause from the crowd.

But Brenda Brum, a librarian at Parkersburg South and a former delegate, said Bush's comments fly in the face of the reality teachers, students and parents face every day trying to meet new federal mandates.

"He doesn't think the federal government is responsible for funding local schools," Brum said. "My question then is why are they setting all the rules?"

Brum said that on Thursday one only had to look around the school to see how the expensive No Child Left Behind requirements are affecting students.

"We've got 1,200 students sitting over there in an un-air conditioned auditorium watching this (on television) with fans blowing on them to keep cool," she said. "Here, we've pumped in air conditioning for the President. I resent that. We need to first make sure there's money to provide students with an adequate learning environment."

What does it say about the guy when he can't even spend 45 minutes in mountainous West Virginia (in May!) in an un-air conditioned room? If students there have to endure classes without AC, then Bush should expect to do the same if he wants to make a speech about education there (on the taxpayer's dime, no less).

You are my sunshine....

I'm currently sitting in the Med School library. We have microscope lab about an hour from now, and I'm trying to kill time. I'll probably type up my notes after I finish this post, so the longer I make it, the more work I can avoid. ;-)

It's a rather dreary day outside (again). So I thought the following primer on how the weather affects us was fitting:

First we have sunshine. It's fairly obvious...
Bright days with full sun are positively stimulating. In fact the lack of sunshine can cause what is commonly known as the 'winter blues' or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that rules our body's main functions (mood, activity, sleep, temperature, appetite and sex drive). It is stimulated by the natural light that passes through the retinas in our eyes, and when less light is available these functions slow down, [leading to] tiredness during the day and overeating to loss of libido and aggressive behaviour.

Next, the wind:
A persistent or noisy wind can lead to an increase in tiredness and irritability, or even a sudden decrease in mood. Some school teachers have noticed that children tend to be more irritable and that there are more playground 'upsets' when it is windy. Seasonal winds are known as 'ill winds' in many cultures and have a variety of names such as the föhn (Alps), Mistral (southern France), Chinooks (western Canada and the USA) and the Sharav (Middle East). They are linked to feelings of anxiety, stress, depression and sleepless nights. Studies have also linked these winds to an increase in traffic accidents, crime and suicide rates, and they have even been taken into account during legal proceedings.

Finally, pressure:
Atmospheric pressure is continually fluctuating, and researchers in the Ukraine have found that slight low-frequency atmospheric oscillations can influence human mental activity, causing significant changes in attention and short term memory functions. So next time you find it hard to concentrate at work, blame it on the pressure!

There ya have it. Meteorological Psych 101. Now back to work...

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Acquainted With the Night

Acquainted With the Night (Robert Frost)

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain--and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-by;
And further still at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Who is John Kerry?

WONKETTE - A Wonkette campaign trail operative gives us an observation about Kerry's attempts to ape W.'s regular-guy demeanor with the press corps: "He wants to come over and kind of punch you in the shoulder in a friendly way, but when he does it, he really punches you. It hurts." And, added our operative, "He doesn't actually talk to you. He just punches you in the shoulder."

The secret of wedded bliss is to lower your expectations

BBC - The secret of a long and happy marriage appears to be not to expect too much from it.

US researchers say that, unless you have superior relationship skills, your hopes of cosy coupledom are likely to be dashed.

Far better, they say, to aim low to ensure you are not disappointed.

No comment. Although there is hope out there...

After meeting the very fetching and slightly younger Aurora, he changed color and his eight arms became intertwined with hers. Then, the two retreated to a secluded corner to get to know each other better...

"They both were gripping the back wall of the tank. He just about covered her completely," Hocking said.

...at least for octopi.

I didn't even get fries with that!

I'm a sucker for gimmicks. That's why I had to try McDonald's new "Adult Happy Meal" today. Everything is boxed up in a Happy Meal-esque package (rather wasteful, if you ask me - I had to struggle just to push the thing into the garbage can after I had finished eating). The salad was all right (although I'd recommend Wendy's) and the water was well... water. My toy was a "Stepometer" (in other words, a pretty non-functional pedometer). After test-walking it around the apartment, I've found that it registers somewhere between two and three steps for each actual stride I take. Verdict: if you want a toy, just get a regular Happy Meal (or better yet, forego the Golden Arches, scrounge up a few nickels and dimes, and buy yourself some marbles or tiddlywinks).

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Sheep

SHEEP (Carl Sandburg)

Thousands of sheep, soft-footed, black-nosed sheep--
one by one going up the hill and over the fence--one by
one four-footed pattering up and over--one by one wiggling
their stub tails as they take the short jump and go
over--one by one silently unless for the multitudinous
drumming of their hoofs as they move on and go over--
thousands and thousands of them in the grey haze of
evening just after sundown--one by one slanting in a
long line to pass over the hill--

I am the slow, long-legged Sleepyman and I love you
sheep in Persia, California, Argentine, Australia, or
Spain--you are the thoughts that help me when I, the
Sleepyman, lay my hands on the eyelids of the children
of the world at eight o'clock every night--you thousands
and thousands of sheep in a procession of dusk making
an endless multitudinous drumming on the hills with
your hoofs.

Headlines of the Day

"Area Graduates Become Alumni" - Raleigh News & Observer

"Critics have commented unfavourably on the lack of action in the first novel written without verbs" - Guardian

"50 Cent ends show after being hit with water bottle. Reminder: This man was shot nine times and lived" - MTV

Baseball may have been invented decades earlier than thought

WOOD-TV - A discovery in a western Massachusetts public library may shed new light on the origins of baseball. Legend says Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. But historian John Thorn says a document found in the Pittsfield public library predates that by more than 40 years. It's a 1791 bylaw commanding that no one be allowed to play baseball within 80 yards of a new meeting house in Pittsfield, to protect windows in the building.

Need to work on my hitting in MVP Baseball 2004....

The Final Frontier



The historic first image of a planet circling another star may have been taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The "planet", 5-10 times the mass of Jupiter, is orbiting a small white dwarf star about 100 light-years away.

Astronomers are being cautious, saying they require more data to be sure it really is a planet and not a background object caught in the same field of view.

Confirmation will come if follow-up observations can show the planet and the star moving together through space.

Over the past 10 years, scientists have discovered more than 120 so-called exoplanets. However, all have been found by indirect methods - none was photographed directly.

In case you didn't know, I'm a pretty big space buff. News like this is rather inspiring, and it gives me hope for the future. Perhaps I've read too much science fiction, but I feel like humankind is now scraping the surface of something of immense importance. I don't think we'll ever be able to conquer the stars, but that doesn't mean we won't be able to explore them from our own backyard. This is why the decisions made by George Bush and Sean O'Keefe recently have bothered me. I feel like we're not prioritizing the right things. The Winston-Salem Journal recently opined on the subject:

Returning to the moon and then getting to Mars will be tremendously expensive, its costs measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars over the next two decades. Bush has promised to increase NASA funding to help pay for that exploration. But the president has also made it clear that NASA must find a significant portion of the exploration funds from its existing budget, and that has the potential to delay or kill important scientific inquiries.

The highest-profile cut will be the loss of the Hubble Space Telescope, which has given scientists their best look ever into deep space. NASA has canceled the shuttle trip that was intended to service Hubble, and that will mean Hubble's loss within the next several years. NASA is replacing Hubble with the James Webb Space Telescope, but that won't be launched until 2011.

Other scientific projects, most not as well known to the public as Hubble, will be delayed or cut. These are projects that Congress has backed because they are the consensus choices of many scientific associations throughout the country. They may not be as well understood as a ride to the moon or a telescope that can peer deep into the universe, but they offer both long-term benefits to the knowledge base of science and to the practical information needed in today's world...

NASA's earth-science budget has been reduced by about $1 billion. This money was to have gone for studies of global warming and worldwide precipitation. At best, the projects will now be undertaken several years behind schedule. With these delays, critical time is being lost, time that might have been used to take the information discovered in these studies and convert it to important improvements to life on earth. More dangerously, these delays in research might lead to the killing of some projects...

Manned exploration is important, too. But it should not be paid for with funds originally dedicated to the kind of scientific discovery that has brought so much improvement to those living in the modern era.

But there is still a small sliver of hope. Public outcry about the demise of the space telescope has caused NASA to consider unmanned options for trying to service the Hubble, although I'm not convinced they're all that sincere or likely to work. The KC Star has more.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

After some fiddling...

....I think I'm beginning to remember how html works (it's rather simple really). I put a little more space in between the ad at the top of the page and that big blue box underneath it per the request of a certain Dark Jackal. I think everything's a bit more aesthetically pleasing now. Don't like the way something looks? Let me know, and I'll work on it. (Disclaimer: if you think this page would look better with a bunch of frilly pink things scattered all over it [or some other such nonsense], I reserve the right to laugh derisively at your suggestion.)

In other news, I have confirmed that tennis is not my strongest sport, although I think I should be given credit for hitting the ball the farthest from the court. Tomorrow I've got another lecture about female hormones. Seriously, why do girls have to be so complex? Male physiology took just one-fourth the time that we've spent so far covering gals' systems. I blame those of you with two X chromosomes for causing me to need to study more.

I suppose we'll end in true DaDaist style:

PY: randomness
Zhivago08: coconut squirrel flags
PY: but those taste good
Zhivago08: ah, but good is as baseball mitts do
PY: often, as the grape says
Zhivago08: nonsense, as any yam might bound
PY: pieces or craft the often fowled thought
Zhivago08: but ships flee flightingly from orangemen
PY: Syracuse sucks
Zhivago08: lol.. no argument

The problem with having a lawyer as your neighbor

MICHELLE BOORSTEIN WASHINGTON POST - It took 16 years of mutual threats, warrants, multiple lawsuits - including two that reached the Virginia Supreme Court - but the furious dispute between neighbors John Frederick Ames and Oliver 'Perry' Brooks is over. Rural Caroline County is abuzz but not entirely surprised by the shooting Monday morning that left Brooks, a 74-year-old farmer, dead and Ames, a 59-year-old lawyer and cattle breeder, charged with first-degree murder. The two men had been at odds since they became neighbors in 1988, when Ames bought the 675-acre estate next door to Brooks. . .

The Ames-Brooks feud went on so long that Sheriff Tony Lippa has asked the Virginia State Police to take over the case, saying he knew both men too well. The feud started as soon as Ames bought historic Holly Hill, where he tends to his bulls at dawn before he goes to his law office. He built an elaborate fence and charged six adjoining neighbors half its $45,000 cost, citing an 1887 law that allows landowners to build a barrier and compels neighbors to pay 'a just proportion.' Although the Circuit Court agreed with Brooks and five others that they should not have to pay, the Supreme Court said in 1991 that the law and a 1970 amendment sided with Ames.

'My mother was just devastated. It wiped her out, took every penny she had,' said Frances Hurt, 65, whose family used to own Holly Hill Farm before it was subdivided and some of it was sold. Hurt lives on an eight-acre parcel that borders Ames's driveway. She moved there when her mother died in 1995 -- a death she said was accelerated by stress over Ames's suit.

Ames was once convicted of reckless driving for aiming his tractor at a state trooper who directed him to get off the main road, though his record was cleared after he did community service. Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey Latney recused himself in Ames's traffic case because he said he knows the lawyer too well, Dick said. Latney did not return calls for comment on this case. . .

All the neighbors made payments for the fence, except Brooks, who refused to pay. Dick said Brooks bulldozed portions of the fence in the mid-1990s and fired a shotgun at Ames, prompting the lawyer to hire a security guard who ended up in a fight with Brooks and testified in Circuit Court about it. . .

For the next decade, state police and the sheriff's office responded to complaints from both sides, typically involving Brooks's bull. Dick said the bull would go onto Ames's property, and Ames would keep it until authorities came to help take it home and then charge Brooks for its bed and board.

Last weekend, according to state police and court records, Brooks's bull plowed through the fence again. Keeping it off Ames's property 'is real important,' Dick said, because Ames's breeding business could be harmed if his cows mated 'outside of the lineage.'

Ames's wife, Jeanne, received a call from next door saying Brooks himself wanted to pick up the bull Monday, Dick said. But she told the caller that Brooks should not come -- each man was barred from the other's property by court order -- and John Ames asked that a sheriff's deputy come to deal with the handoff, Dick said. Ames also demanded -- as usual -- $500 for caring for the animal for two days.

State police said Brooks went over to Holly Hill in the late morning, as Ames was about to leave for his office in Richmond, according to Dick. What happened next is unclear. Sheriff's deputies, responding to a call from the Ames home about 11 a.m., found Brooks dead by a utility shed.

BREAKING:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A tragic fire on Monday destroyed the personal library of President George W. Bush. Both of his books have been lost.

Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer said the president was devastated, as he had not finished coloring the second one.

Courtesy Nate, who also recommends to "club liberals, not sandwiches." Now that's fair & balanced. ;-)

Monday, May 10, 2004

Rain

Nice thing about today: for every problem that appeared, I eventually found a solution. Another nice thing about today: waking to the sound of thunder. That was especially nice.

Rain

THE RAIN is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.


Robert Louis Stevenson, 1913

The Barbecue Vote

I stumbled across this article earlier today. I felt it addressed the subject matter rather well, although nothing compares to the original.

:: New Statesman: They work longer hours than Dad did, regret not having wives who stay at home, and hate seeing those minorities getting uppity. Meet the angry white men Bush can rely on.

By any rational measure the average white American male enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world. The United States is consistently near the top of the UN's Human Development Index measuring quality of life in 175 countries. Yet white men across America are mad as hell, and George W Bush's campaign strategists are counting on their anger to keep their candidate in the White House in November...

At heart AWMs are convinced their adult life sucks, and they seem unaware that people in Africa or Asia face greater difficulties. Most Americans get their news from television, and the majority tune in to local channels or cable, rather than ABC, NBC or CBS. Local TV news barely touches foreign stories unless there are sensational images or quirky aspects ('my, aren't those Finns weird?'). Americans have a galaxy of information at their fingertips thanks to the internet, but that does not make them more worldly than their fathers.

Paradoxically, because they no longer get their news from Walter Cronkite or his modern network equivalents, many live in a bubble in which they hear and read only the narrow views of the prophets of doom with whom they already agree. Their bewilderment and disconnection from the gritty reality of elsewhere has only been increased by 9/11.

However, this only goes some way to explaining why AWMs will be willingly herded into the George W Bush camp come election time. If they believe they are much less well-off than their fathers, then logically they should vote for the party that best represents their economic interest against the ruthless, downsizing corporations and the greedy medical insurance companies screwing them out of healthcare.

But, defying all Marxist analysis, AWMs are crazy about the sedated frat-boy from New Haven, Connecticut; the under-achieving, privileged scion of those Washington insiders, the Bush dynasty. The AWMs obligingly rally behind this petulant former drunk-driver who describes individuals in his cabinet as 'fabulous' - not a word an AWM would ever use.

Karl Rove, the brain behind the Dubbya brand, perfectly understands the anxieties of the AWMs. He knows they feel patronised by the bicoastal metrosexuals who describe Middle Americans as 'the people we fly over'. He also knows they want their president to be 'the kind of guy you can talk to while you're standing around the barbecue'. They don't want to feel threatened by some sophisticated, egghead, liberal 'jerk' from Georgetown, Boston or San Francisco...

The Republicans are richer and better organised than ever, and confident that the ponderous, if worthy, John Kerry will be too liberal, aloof and dull to convince AWMs to join him. The Democratic candidate may be a war hero and may enjoy manly, extreme sports, but is he the kind of guy you can talk to around the barbecue?


Thoughts?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it....

This is a blog. My blog. Read it. Learn something new. Or ignore it. Remain ignorant. Up to you. :-)

Tea for the Tillerman

The Only Good Thing That's Been Written About Pat Tillman:

GWEN KNAPP, SF GATE - Just when we thought we had a pure and simple hero, a millionaire athlete who gave up wealth and fame to become the ideal patriot, to make the ultimate sacrifice, his friends and family complicated everything. They turned Pat Tillman into a human being Monday, showing us what was really lost during that ambush in Afghanistan, insisting that we question every assumption we've made since he died an icon on April 22.

Yes, there were uplifting tales, moments when tears and pride swelled in everyone watching Tillman's memorial service at the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden. There were jarring moments, too, and they carried the message of the afternoon -- "challenge yourself" -- more powerfully than those laden with conventional inspiration.

Tillman's youngest brother, Rich, wore a rumpled white T-shirt, no jacket, no tie, no collar, and immediately swore into the microphone. He hadn't written anything, he said, and with the starkest honesty, he asked mourners to hold their spiritual bromides.

"Pat isn't with God," he said. "He's f--ing dead. He wasn't religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he's f--ing dead."


~~~ By the time the ceremony ended, after his brother and brother-in-law sipped the Guinness that Garwood poured in Tillman's honor, the funny, thinking, wild, crazy man had come to life. The family's loss, the loss of every soldier's family, seemed more real. Tillman wasn't an icon anymore. He was a man you wanted to know, to spend time with, to lift a Guinness alongside. But that had become impossible, the price of war, because his brother was right. Pat is dead. He's f--ing dead.

Just something to think about.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

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People often just write TEST for their first post. At least I had a couple of sentences preceding that dull and uninspiring term.

TEST