Wednesday, August 30, 2006

thank you, Keith Olbermann

"The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald H. Rumsfeld is not a prophet.

Mr. Rumsfeld’s remarkable speech to the American Legion yesterday demands the deep analysis—and the sober contemplation—of every American.

For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence -- indeed, the loyalty -- of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land. Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants -- our employees -- with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve.

Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; and not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as 'his' troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq.

It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile it is right and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.

In a small irony, however, Mr. Rumsfeld’s speechwriter was adroit in invoking the memory of the appeasement of the Nazis. For in their time, there was another government faced with true peril—with a growing evil—powerful and remorseless.

That government, like Mr. Rumsfeld’s, had a monopoly on all the facts. It, too, had the 'secret information.' It alone had the true picture of the threat. It too dismissed and insulted its critics in terms like Mr. Rumsfeld’s -- questioning their intellect and their morality.

That government was England’s, in the 1930’s.

It knew Hitler posed no true threat to Europe, let alone England.

It knew Germany was not re-arming, in violation of all treaties and accords.

It knew that the hard evidence it received, which contradicted its own policies, its own conclusions — its own omniscience -- needed to be dismissed.

The English government of Neville Chamberlain already knew the truth.

Most relevant of all — it 'knew' that its staunchest critics needed to be marginalized and isolated. In fact, it portrayed the foremost of them as a blood-thirsty war-monger who was, if not truly senile, at best morally or intellectually confused.

That critic’s name was Winston Churchill.

Sadly, we have no Winston Churchills evident among us this evening. We have only Donald Rumsfelds, demonizing disagreement, the way Neville Chamberlain demonized Winston Churchill.

History — and 163 million pounds of Luftwaffe bombs over England — have taught us that all Mr. Chamberlain had was his certainty — and his own confusion. A confusion that suggested that the office can not only make the man, but that the office can also make the facts.

Thus, did Mr. Rumsfeld make an apt historical analogy.

Excepting the fact, that he has the battery plugged in backwards.

His government, absolute -- and exclusive -- in its knowledge, is not the modern version of the one which stood up to the Nazis.

It is the modern version of the government of Neville Chamberlain.

But back to today’s Omniscient ones.

That, about which Mr. Rumsfeld is confused is simply this: This is a Democracy. Still. Sometimes just barely.

And, as such, all voices count -- not just his.

Had he or his president perhaps proven any of their prior claims of omniscience — about Osama Bin Laden’s plans five years ago, about Saddam Hussein’s weapons four years ago, about Hurricane Katrina’s impact one year ago — we all might be able to swallow hard, and accept their 'omniscience' as a bearable, even useful recipe, of fact, plus ego.

But, to date, this government has proved little besides its own arrogance, and its own hubris.

Mr. Rumsfeld is also personally confused, morally or intellectually, about his own standing in this matter. From Iraq to Katrina, to the entire 'Fog of Fear' which continues to envelop this nation, he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies have — inadvertently or intentionally — profited and benefited, both personally, and politically.

And yet he can stand up, in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emperor’s New Clothes?

In what country was Mr. Rumsfeld raised? As a child, of whose heroism did he read? On what side of the battle for freedom did he dream one day to fight? With what country has he confused the United States of America?

The confusion we -- as its citizens— must now address, is stark and forbidding.

But variations of it have faced our forefathers, when men like Nixon and McCarthy and Curtis LeMay have darkened our skies and obscured our flag. Note -- with hope in your heart — that those earlier Americans always found their way to the light, and we can, too.

The confusion is about whether this Secretary of Defense, and this administration, are in fact now accomplishing what they claim the terrorists seek: The destruction of our freedoms, the very ones for which the same veterans Mr. Rumsfeld addressed yesterday in Salt Lake City, so valiantly fought.

And about Mr. Rumsfeld’s other main assertion, that this country faces a 'new type of fascism.'

As he was correct to remind us how a government that knew everything could get everything wrong, so too was he right when he said that -- though probably not in the way he thought he meant it.

This country faces a new type of fascism - indeed.

Although I presumptuously use his sign-off each night, in feeble tribute, I have utterly no claim to the words of the exemplary journalist Edward R. Murrow.

But never in the trial of a thousand years of writing could I come close to matching how he phrased a warning to an earlier generation of us, at a time when other politicians thought they (and they alone) knew everything, and branded those who disagreed: 'confused' or 'immoral.'

Thus, forgive me, for reading Murrow, in full:

'We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty,' he said, in 1954. 'We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.'

'We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.'

And so good night, and good luck.'

that explains a lot

Watching the interview Brian Williams did with George W. Bush on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I found myself fascinated by one disclosure the president made.

He told Brian that his father, George H.W. Bush, gave him the the greatest gift a father can give. In his own words:

"He gave me the greatest gift a father can give a child, which is unconditional love."

Suddenly, a lot of things became crystal-clear. It seems to me that the greatest gifts a father can give his son is to do things like teach him how to have integrity and dignity.

To show him how to respect his fellow humans.
To help him to be honest and forthright at all times.
To have good manners and to be courteous to others.
To admit it when he makes mistakes.
To be responsible.
To obey the law.

To be a man.

Guess I was wrong.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Please, shoot the piano player (no, not you, Milo)

Bush Interview with Brian Williams and Rummy's Day at the Podium

Okay, I HATE HIM. I know I should never hate anyone. It's not right in any religion, philosophy or faith. I can't help myself--I just can't. Bush is completely out of touch with reality--denying reality is bad but he's just TOTALLY out of it--and a blithering idiot of a puppet. He is condescending, dishonest, disloyal, evasive, smarmy, and slimy. Oh, and full of crap.

Rumsfeld is a WICKED, WICKED man and between the two of them I am appalled, disappointed, disgusted, frightened and embarrassed... ...but mostly, I'm deeply, deeply saddened that our countrymen have been blind and stupid enough to allow this to continue week after week, month after month, year after year.

Shoot me, just SHOOT me, please.

And DVR Countdown, it's on again later, if you want to see it...or not.

our national shame

I was born just after Dwight D. Eisenhower took office as President of the United States.

In the time I have lived I have seen many things happen. Some of them were wonderful. Some of them were horrible.

When I was still in grade school, a President was assassinated. Over the next few years, a brilliant man who wanted America to live up to the promise of freedom and equality it held aloft for all in the world, and the slain president's brother who likewise dreamed of the future greatness of our nation were both also gunned down.

For many years our country fought a wrong war for the wrong reasons leading to the deaths of thousands and thousands of our brave servicemen and women and schism and division between the people of our country that affects our political scene negatively to this day.

A criminal president was brought down for violating his oath of office and breaking the laws of the Constitution he was sworn to uphold.

One of America's first true spaceships exploded during launch, killing all aboard in a searing burst of flame. Less than a score of years later, the sister ship of the downed spacecraft burned up during re-entry with another loss of precious human cargo.

A huge underwater earthquake so roiled the waters of the Pacific Ocean that it rose up and engulfed thousands of square miles and hundreds of thousands of human lives in a disaster like no other seen in recent times.

All of these things have been tragic and sad and will forever be a part of the memories of my existence.

They pale in comparison to the two most horrible things I have seen in my life.

Five years ago a handful of people took over four civilian aircraft. In a few short hours, they were able to turn several skyscrapers covering sixteen acres of central Manhattan and nearly three thousand citizens into smouldering piles of debris as well as seriously damaging the nerve center of the United States armed forces.

Last year, an important American port city was virtually destroyed in a predictable and predicted natural catastrophe. The government's response was embarrassing. For weeks on our news programs, we saw the bodies of American citizens bobbing in the flooded streets, covered in blankets on sidewalks, hanging from trees and from fences, until people simply became numb to the horror of it all.

Five years later, there is still a gaping wound in the center of New York City. It has been cleaned and debrided, but is now just sitting there as a stark reminder of a few hours of national horror.

One year later, the city of New Orleans has yet to be cleaned. Thousands of abandoned and destroyed houses and vehicles cover hundreds of square miles. A small percentage of residents have returned, and the demographic and ethnicity of the city and its heritage will forever be changed.

Neither one of these situations is acceptable. New York City needs to be rebuilt properly and with utmost haste. New Orleans needs to be rebuilt and every single displaced person needs to be assisted in getting some semblance of normalcy back in their lives. All that we get from the government of the country is platitudes and promises, as they continue to suck the resources of this nation into the pockets of the wealthy patrons who contribute to their continued political power.

That the American populace tolerate this incompetent and malevolent administration is the single biggest stain on the honor of America in its history.

I still should have many years left to live. I do not see how it would be possible for me to see any greater degradation of my home country. I hope I'm right.

Monday, August 28, 2006

unmarked Karr

Breaking news all afternoon has shouted that John Mark Karr's DNA is not a match for the unknown person's DNA found at the JonBenet Ramsey murder scene. No charges will be filed against him in the decade-old case, despite the media feeding frenzy over the last week at the "solving" of this overpublicized murder and the journalistic absolution of the child's parents.

Wow. Who could've seen that coming, huh?

Friday, August 25, 2006

On the subject of cats...

This is Jesebel. She lives next door to my mother-in-law in Kent, U.K.. She has a bit of an attitude, don't you think?

Friday cat-blogging

In the 90's I lived in a house on a small and somewhat isolated cul-de-sac. It was a popular place for people to deposit unwanted animals and I adopted many of my cats that way. For a few years, there was one fuzzy, multi-colored brown girl kitty that hung around and every spring came marching into my house to commandeer a closet to have her latest batch of kittens. I named her "Mommy Kitty." One year, Mommy Kitty didn't come back. The next year she didn't show up, either, and I knew then that she never would. The spring after that, one day a visibly pregnant near-twin for the old Mommy Kitty showed up on my doorstep. Mommy Kitty the 2nd came and went as she pleased, and when the time came for me to redecorate the closet nursery, she disappeared. I didn't see her for a few weeks, and then one day, she was at the door waiting to come in and eat, skinny and obviously un-pregnant again. I figured she had not been successful in her birthing, and let her come and go, pissing off all of the other cats who were indoors-only and couldn't understand why she got to go out and they couldn't. Then, a few weeks after she had reappeared I looked out on the porch and Mommy Kitty the 2nd was there, accompanied by a little marmalade orange kitten and a fat little white kitten with huge blue eyes. The kittens were wild and ran away from me as soon as I opened the door, so I started setting food out for them and getting them accustomed to the smell of me. After several days, they would jump off the porch but no longer ran away when I came outside. Soon afterwards, they disappeared again, and a clearly distraught Mommy Kitty the 2nd kept running in and out of the house. After close to a couple of days with no kittens around, I was out in my back yard and suddenly heard frantic mewing. I realized it was coming from the garage of the vacant house next door. A couple of days before, the owner of the rental had mowed the lawn. I ran over to the garage and was able to force it open just enough for a couple of kittens to squeeze out and rejoin their mom. They were so relieved to see mommy and were so hungry that the three of them plopped down on the ground for the kittens to feed, and I just stayed there and petted all three of them for a good fifeen minutes or so. As soon as they were done eating, I picked up the kittens and brought them inside. Mommy Kitty the 2nd came and went much like her predecessor, but the white baby and the gold baby stayed. The gold baby, my little shy girl Cinnamon Buns, died last year of feline leukemia. The white baby, Monster, is still with me and was the first of many wonderful kids that came from Mommy Kitty 2.

Meet Katie's older brother of the same mommy, and the senior member of the household, Monster. He is regal of bearing, noble of spirit, intelligent and thoughtful, and while my family nearly doubled because of his younger brothers, sisters, and nieces and nephews, I'll never regret having him and all of the other wonderful kittens that Mommy Kitty the 2nd brought to me over her last years.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Who broke the news?

History of the Universe, Part I

"My people, I give unto you these nine - (CRASH!) - oy! - these eight, eight planets!"

(My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nothing.)

Up to HERE

That's it. I turn the news on in hopes of hearing about what is going on in the world and at least 40% -70% of the coverage on every channel is about John Mark Karr.

Does not matter if it is day or night, local or national, periodic news report or 24 hour news channel.

I don't think he did it but I hope they convict and sentence him for wasting everyone's time.

There are no "Free John Mark Karr" t-shirts and bumper stickers on CafePress yet but there is "Kill Karr" and "JonBenet was asking for it". There IS a sucker born every minute....

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

forgot to set my alarm

It's been brought to my attention that today is the day that the world is going to end and the so-called "rapture" is going to occur.

Dammit, and I slept late.

If you'll all please excuse me, I have some serious fornicating to attend to before I receive my fiery punishment and eternal damnation.

See you later.

Or not.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Picky, picky, picky

I can't believe it..I'd have bet money she'd like "Ice Age" .....

The Worst Pun of the Day

We are caught between Iraq and a hard place.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

A little more comic relief...

Cleo is now watching television--not just any television but "Meerkat Manor" on Animal Planet. I noticed her watching the show intently and got a few pics...

She watched until the show was over and "Land of the Mammoth" came on and then curled up and went to sleep.

I guess we'll have to tune in later for the final episode. Or DVR it for her. No, our cats are not spoiled.

they hate us for our freedom...

A Little Comic Relief

These pictures were taken during our move. Apologies for the backgrounds cluttered with cardboard boxes, and leaves on the carpet. Both of them make me chuckle, or at least smile, so I decided to ignore the mess. That's Quinn on the player piano, and Red and Achilles caught in a Public Display of Affection.

Visual Echo

Seeing the continued, nay, continuous and unrelenting coverage of Mark Karr's adventures in Thailand this week, I've been reminded of Milo's remark at the outset regarding the potential for Karr getting the "Lee Harvey Oswald 'abdominal treatment' " for his trouble.

Once again, the visual side of my brain kicked in....

Saturday, August 19, 2006

hava nother nagilah

Surprising practically nobody, Israel once again illegally invaded Lebanese territory yesterday in violation of the United Nations ceasefire agreement that is so recent the ink is still wet.

If the Bush administration is to be consistent in its foreign policy, then doesn't this mean the United States has to invade Israel, force a regime change, and get bogged down in a long and dangerous occupation of yet another belligerent Middle Eastern country?

Friday, August 18, 2006

I want a government job

I want a government job. Clearly ability and accountability do not matter anymore, whatsoever.
Iraq, 9/11, Pakistan, Bin Laden, Halliburton, Diebold....anon. Feel free to add to the list, I'm so frustrated right now I can't think....

you can read the whole thing...this paragraph was a large part of the punchline for me:

"Whoever is at fault, five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and more than $600 million later, agents still rely largely on the paper reports and file cabinets used since federal agents began chasing gangsters in the 1920s."

Unbelievable. Un-freaking believable. Google and Wikipedia have them by miles, nay light years....
Come on...even Microsoft Windows works better....

I love this country!

It seems that Paris Hilton is going to be immortalized in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Frankly, I didn't know they even had a Guinness category for "Richest Girl To Take It Up The Butt On Camera."

Friday cat-blogging

Last week I introduced my baby, my little marmalade kitty named Katie. Last year, a charming rogue named Snickers wooed my baby girl and last February, she presented me with three beautiful kittens. Sadly, one of them didn't make it out of kittenhood but today I have two wonderful grandkitties. One is Doodie, a little female silver tabby who is Kate Hudson to her mom's Goldie Hawn. They are unmistakeably similar, and yet they are unique individuals. Doodie's brother is Monchy, a blue-eyed white tom with gold-colored points like a Siamese that are exactly the same shade and texture of gold as his mother. They are both just as wonderful as their mom, and I am so happy to know that even when my middle-aged little girl finally shuffles off this mortal coil that I will still have her babies to console me. Hakuna matata...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Another One

Another link from Loretta:

"DETROIT -- A federal judge in Detroit has ruled the government's warrantless wiretapping program is unconstitutional and ordered an immediate halt to it."

There's not much more than that in the article, which comes from AP. Hopefully, there will be more, later!

Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical.

From the HuffPost today (Harry Shearer's column):

Craig Murray …[the] former British ambassador to the lovely land of Uzbekistan, he left the government and, as the Brits say, savaged its policies regarding, among other things, tolerating torture by countries like Uzbekistan. Now (hat tip: Andrew Sullivan), in a post in which he expresses deep doubts about the reality of the alleged plot, he says this:

In all of this, the one thing of which I am certain is that the timing is deeply political. This is more propaganda than plot. Of the over one thousand British Muslims arrested under anti-terrorist legislation, only twelve per cent are ever charged with anything. That is simply harrassment of Muslims on an appalling scale. Of those charged, 80% are acquitted. Most of the very few - just over two per cent of arrests - who are convicted, are not convicted of anything to do terrorism, but of some minor offence the Police happened upon while trawling through the wreck of the lives they had shattered.
Be sceptical. Be very, very sceptical.

We have learned to believe very little from what this admin is telling us. Is it far-fetched to think that this is another case of 'mistaken prosecution?' After all, the middle eastern men caught the other day with thousands of cell phones in Michigan (under loud headlines) have already been released for lack of any evidence to terrorist ties (with no headlines, mind you).
Actually, they are still being held on some minor unrelated charges (as the article above says). I am really surprised they let them off the "terrorist" hook so quickly. The government's case must have been so extraordinarily non-existent, that they were forced to let them off the hook without even the customary pestering for months for no reason (other than to show that the government is "doing something" to protect us).
And then they wonder why "conspiracy theories" abound everywhere…

Sickening, as always!

Something That Makes Sense

"But the outrage is magnified by the fact that the Bush administration, even as it stoked national paranoia over a plot to detonate carryon liquids aboard transatlantic flights, was, according to the Associated Press, quietly defunding the development of technology to detect those very bombs. Indeed, the research arm of the Department of Homeland Security has become a "rudderless ship without a clear way to get back on course." This is the bipartisan assessment of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the AP said."

~~From the above-linked article.

Not a lot of argument from me.

(With thanks to Loretta for the link)

2 + 2 = rutabega?

I can't help wondering if anybody else thinks that this new JonBenet Ramsey murder suspect just makes this whole case even more implausible than it was before rather than tying up loose ends? The recent BTK story easily lined up with reality, but this cinematically odd creature complicates the narrative in ways that seem to violate the simple principle of Occam's Razor over and over again. I'm willing to bet that this person gets the Lee Harvey Oswald abdominal treatment extremely soon and that only the official end of the story ever gets told. In the last ten years there has never been one single conjectured sequence of events that doesn't have huge unanswered questions and incredibly unlikely circumstances in it, and this new factor in the equation only seems to make the entire tale all the more unlikely. Now all it needs is Neil Bush and Gary Glitter.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006



How long will it be before some Republican zombie tells us that without the Patriot Act and the NSA's illegal wiretapping program that JonBenet Ramsey's alleged killer would not have been located and arrested?

The winner gets my deepest sympathy for having such a clear view of how the Bush administration thinks.

still the one

Bill Clinton, in a recent interview, pointed out that the situation the Bush administration has mired us in by occupying Iraq has no real bearing in the inaptly named "War on Terror." Mr. Clinton was quoted as saying that if we were trying to take down the people who attacked the United States, "why do we have seven times as many troops in Iraq as we do in Afghanistan?"

Tony Snow, the latest in a long line of hand puppets who occupy the White House press liaison position, responded with snippy self-righteous indignation, "he doesn't know what we are doing over there! He has no way to know!"

That's odd. It has always been my understanding that there is really no such thing as ex-presidents, all that exists are former presidents, and that all former presidents are still entitled to current intelligence and operational briefings because they can be useful and helpful during times of national need.

Now, Bill Clinton is an inquisitive person who keeps his finger on the pulse of world affairs, and stays active and involved with projects around the planet.

Bill Clinton not taking advantage of the ability to learn things that few other people are privy to in a time of precipitous world crises is more ludicrous than Ann "Thrax" Coulter screeching that he is gay.

great unanswered questions

How come, if the "Global War On Terror" (or whatever the hell the "Bush Crusade Against Smelly Brown People With Weird Accents Who Are Living On Top Of Our Oil Deposits And Looked At Us Funny Anyway" is being called today) is a military problem with military solutions as the administration maintains, and not a law enforcement problem as many critics contend, that the highest law-enforcement official in the country, Attorney General Alberto "Abu" Gonzales, appears to be so intimately involved in it?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

From the Angry Democrat News Network

Last week, Dick Cheney said that the victory of the anti-war candidate in Connecticut would embolden the terrorists who want to break our will. These are people who would live seemingly normal lives for years, knowing that on a specific date they will blow themselves up along with hundred of innocent people. Does Mr. Cheney think they are watching election-night results on CNN for more motivation? Perhaps he’s on the attack because his administration has failed to properly protect our ports and air cargo, has failed to implement many of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, tried to divert $6 Million away from airline explosives research, and created in Iraq the greatest recruiting poster Al Qaeda could have wanted. If Dick Cheney and his cohorts spent as much effort on combating terrorism as they do using it to combat Democrats, we’d all be much safer.


The newest statement from George Allen over the "macaque" incident:

"I also made up a nickname for the cameraman, which was in no way intended to be racially derogatory. Any insinuations to the contrary are completely false."

And the made-up nickname just unfortunately happened to sound exactly like a common ethnic slur from his mother's home country. Boy, that's some horrible luck, isn't it?

deja vu

Post Turtle

While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75-year old Texas rancher, whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to former Texas Governor George W. Bush and his elevation to the White House.

The old Texan said, "Well, ya know, Bush is a 'post turtle.' "

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a "post turtle" was.

The old rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle." The old man saw a puzzled look on the doctor's face, so he continued to explain. "You know he didn't get there by himself, he doesn't belong there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, and you just want to help the dumb sh** get down."

blazing assholes

Today's amusing news story is that presidential hopeful George Allen has reversed himself and sort of apologized to the young Webb staffer of Indian heritage whom he publicly ridiculed and called "Macaque," which is a French-Tunisian ethnic slur targeting dark-skinned peoples.

"I would never want to demean him as an individual. I do apologize if he's offended by that. That was no way the point," Allen was quoted as saying today.

---"Sorry about that 'up yours, nigger.'" - elderly woman to Sheriff Bart in the Mel Brooks classic, "Blazing Saddles."

et tu, Matthews?

" 'I see dead people.' That's Joe Leiberman, pretending he's still running for the Senate. He already lost."

--- Chris Matthews on "Hardball," commenting about the Lieberman de facto GOP campaign commercial that debuted Monday.



(NOTE: it has been pointed out to me that this may not actually be the writing of Molly Ivins. I will research and correct as soon as I find out. The sentiments remain wonderful either way.)

Three of the wisest woman I know of live in Texas. What's in the water down there? And why isn't it working on Laura and Babs?

Molly Ivins:

"Any moral proclamation that causes suffering, disease and death is evil. Any moral teaching that willfully ignores the pain it causes is phony morality and should be junked. For those who think the left has no moral absolutes, there is one for you."


"People who ignore suffering and so help more of it into the world are evil. Ignorance is a leading cause of suffering."

Read the entire article, it is brilliant logic if I've ever seen it:

the kinder, gentler new math

From Grand Rapids WOOD-TV 8's website, an article about the alleged plot to destroy the Mackinac Bridge by a couple of guys with a bunch of cellular phones:

"The men would be making about $18 on every phone. $18 a phone is not a lot of money for a single phone, but multiplied out by the 1,000 found in their possession, adds up to around $18,000."

"Around" $18,000?


Is it just me, or is our culture getting damned near to being as stupid as it is possible to be?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Fox, petard. Petard, Fox.

I am Brutus

I wish I was a Republican, just for a couple of days.

I wouldn't suffer from guilt and self-doubt. That would be nice at the moment.

One look at my little honeybear Katie's face below, and suddenly I don't feel so conflicted. Some, but not so much.

Friday, August 11, 2006


After all this time, I'd like to introduce the love of my life - meet Katie.

Hammond heaven

Left to right - Novachord #117, Novachord #132, Novachord #1431

They've Won!

Our fear of terror is destroying our way of life.

When we reach a point that we can't carry liquids or laptops in our carry-on luggage, we are doomed, I tell you, doomed!

Think about it. Last week it was cigarette lighters, nail clippers and scissors. Now it's deodorant, shampoo and toothpaste. Toothpaste, for heaven's sake! As a friend of mine said yesterday,

"An airport full of ticked off people with bad breath, no makeup, cell phones or laptops and they're worried about TERRORISTS? WTF?"

People will not put their laptops in their checked luggage to have them kicked around by the likes of Cameron Brown.

Husband read somewhere that they will not even be selling shampoo and such in the airports.

Pretty soon, we will all be flying in government-issue paper hospital gowns, barefoot, and carrying nothing.

When I saw the towers go down on TV in 2001, I told my kids that their lives would never be the same. When our president (eventually) made a statement that we would fight, etc, etc, I felt good, for about 30 seconds. Then I started thinking about what such a fight was going to entail.

Still, for all my paranoid thoughts, I never once considered not being able to carry toothpaste onto an airplane!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

the other shoe

In a related story, the Fatherland Security Department has raised the Republican Terror Threat level to "Desperate" for the first time.

Let the insinuation, lies and hype begin.


As if by magic, a pro-war candidate is defeated in an American primary and lo and behold, there comes the announcement that a major terrorism plot has been busted, this time in Bush's poodle's territory, Great Britain.

In accordance with standard practice, I am raising my terrorist threat level to "cynical."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

poetic justice

Congratulations to Ned Lamont for pulling off the upset that conventional wisdom (idiot pundits) claimed could not be done.

And it happened on the anniversary of Nixon's resignation in 1974. Isn't historical snark fun?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

anniversary wishes

Sixty-one years ago today, on August 6th, 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb used in warfare on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, on August 9th, the city of Nagasaki suffered the same fate. Between the two cities, over a third of a million people were killed almost instantly, and thousands of more died over the passing years as a result of their injuries, radiation exposure, and crippled immune systems.

The Nagasaki bomb was the second and most recent time that atomic weapons have been used in warfare. I won't dedicate space in this post to the debate over whether or not this was a wise course of action, that's a game that nobody can win.

Today, because of the incompetence, malfeasance, and arrogant stupidity of the man in the White House, the world is closer than it has been in many years to unleashing the nuclear genie once again. The United States government is developing "small" nuclear weapons to use on the battlefield of our churlish president's war on a noun.

We are heading into a crucial election cycle. If the Republican warmongers win again this November, whether legally or by once again manipulating the vote of the American people, there is an extremely high likelihood that humanity will once again see the radioactive mushroom clouds of nuclear war.

The pundits are predicating the results of the upcoming elections on the success or failure of Bush's oedipal invasion of Iraq. They are missing the point.

The simple fact is that the question that people should contemplate at the ballots this November is "can you accept the use of nuclear weapons as a first-strike tactical weapon by the United States or is that completely beyond the pale for a country that presumes itself to be civilized and a leader by example for the rest of the world?"

If you can not tolerate the unilateral use of nuclear weapons by this country, you must go to the polls this November and vote against the Republican incumbency.

The voice of the people has not been as important as it is now since the American revolution. Keep America free and proud and cast your vote against nuclear war on election day, 2006. Your voice has never been needed as much as it is now.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Separated at Birth?

I know, I don't have this much time on my hands but...I was inspired when I saw a photo of Bill Frist today....

everybody needs a hobby

Well, if you've been reading my adventures with exotic antique keyboards lately, here's the next installment. Novachord #117 has now been adopted and reunited with her sisters, #132 and #1431. All of them will be getting the full restore job over the next few years, after which time I should be able to build them by hand.

As if that wasn't enough, about a half-hour after finalizing the deal for the last of the triplets, I was informed that my offer had been accepted on an incredible and historic instrument.

I grew up training as a classical pianist, organist, and harpsichordist. I hated pop music until the end of my sophomore year in high school, when some friends of mine told me that they had a record that I needed to hear. I begrudgingly said all right, and they put on the Moody Blues "On the Threshold of a Dream" album. Already a well-educated classical musician, I could tell that the orchestrations on the album were not a real orchestra, and when I asked about it, I was told that it was some kind of a weird keyboard instrument like a funny organ that was being used. I later found out that the instrument was called a "Mellotron" but was unable to find anybody that could give me any details. I became obsessed by the Moodies, both for the obvious classical influences in their music and for the supersonic string section sound that the instrument made, as well as a number of other sounds that it became evident that it produced.

Soon thereafter, I found the band Yes, who also used these Mellotrons, and I was utterly hooked and knew once and for all what I really wanted to do with my life. I wanted to play music with one of these forward-thinking and experimental bands. I also finally started to get some details.

The Mellotron was a British instrument that used tapes to play back instrument sounds. With a 37-note keyboard range, the instrument used 37 strips of tape, each strip about six feet long with three parallel tracks of sound recorded on it. Hold a key down, the tape strip corresponding to that note gets pulled across one of the 37 tape heads and plays about 8 seconds of the sound of an instrument or an ensemble of instruments playing one note at the same time. When it reaches the end of that tape strip, the sound stops. When you lift the key, a spring pulls the strip back to the starting position. One key, one pitch, one tape strip, three sounds. You change the sounds with a lever that slides the tapes across the heads to the appropriate track. The most common sounds used in that early rock were a violin section, a flute, and a cello or a choir.

If you've ever wondered what that warbly, spacey flute on the intro of "Strawberry Fields Forever" is, it's a Mellotron.

All of those rich washes of violins in the Moody Blues and Yes were done on Mellotrons. Those two bands are entirely responsible for me being the person that I am today, for better or for worse.

I finally found a small Mellotron in 2001, a single-keyboard model. They only made about 2500 Mellotrons total, with five different models between the early 60's and the late 80's when they went out of production, and with the smallest model accounting for about 2000 of them.

Tonight I acquired a big Mellotron, a twin-keyboard model, one that is part of the smaller portion of the 2500 total manufactured.

My new Mellotron was originally owned by a man named Patrick Moraz. Mr. Moraz had the great privilege of becoming the third keyboard player for Yes in 1976, and played with the band for a couple of years. In 1980, he became the second keyboard player for the Moody Blues, staying with them until 1991.

My Mellotron toured with both Yes and the Moody Blues, and is even prominently featured in the Moodies' video for the song "The Voice," which is one of the Moody Blues' two biggest hits, with "Nights in White Satin" being the other one.

After all of this time of lusting for a big Mellotron I have found one, and it was owned by the guy that played with the two most important rock bands in my life and used on stage and on recordings with both of these bands.

Full circle.

No more keyboards for a while. I'm running out of room. Now it's time to play!

you can't handle the truth

The nattering pundits, the oblivious media, and the incompetent and mendacious right-wingers in this country (hmmmm, come to think of it, I guess "nattering pundits" and "oblivious media" are redundant in that opening, aren't they?) have been coming up with dozens of reasons as to why the voters of Connecticut are going to boot Joe "WWWD"* Lieberman out of the Senate this fall.

They are talking about people giving "litmus tests" to Democratic candidates and voters being "anti-war" (which they say with a bit of a sneer, as if that's a BAD thing to be) and yet the answer is so obvious, I don't understand how everybody can be so far off-base.

So, to calm the waters and to explain once and for all why Lieberman is about to get his ass handed to him, here is the real reason why Ned Lamont will be the next senator from Connecticut.


Sitting down?

I mean it, this will shock even the most hardened politics-watcher.

The people of Connecticut have just recently realized that Joe Lieberman... not Henry Gibson.

*("WWWD?" - "What Would W. Do?")

Thursday, August 03, 2006

idiot on the dock

A couple of days ago, Donald Rumsfeld commented on whether there was a civil war in Iraq. He parsed and split hairs with his answer, saying that while there were many different internecine conflicts taking place in Iraq, he didn't think that it fit the traditional definition of civil war.

Today, in response to a question from Senator Hillary Clinton in regard to the incompetence displayed by this administration in the invasion of Iraq and the length of time that it has taken thus far, Rumsfeld, using a cold and dripping-with-arrogance "my goodness" to preface one of his predictable wanna-be-avuncular ask-the-questions, give-the-answers moments, said that many wars have taken longer, including "the Cold War, which lasted over forty years."

Let's see if I got this straight.

The raging conflict in Iraq between different Iraqi factions, which is killing thousands of Iraqis each month, doesn't qualify as a civil war.

However, the Cold War, which was a conflict of ideologies instead of armies, qualifies as a real war.

"Rummy?" I'm thinking that it should be "Cracky," because he's got to be smoking that shit to come up with ideas like this.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Voters in Kansas yesterday decided to support school board candidates who are in favor of teaching science in science classes, not religion. While the battle is far from over, at least we have a reasonable chance of restoring our science standards for the moment, and can try to repair the damage done to the educational institutions and students of this state that has been wrought by "education" standards that favor superstition over science.

I have not felt so good about this state in years. Thank you, Kansas voters.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

shabby anniversary

MTV is twenty-five years old today. In the last two and a half decades, it has caused a tremendous upheaval in the world of music that has directly led to the dilution of quality in music and the incredible proliferation of style over substance.

It used to be that musicians were judged by their music. Today, the music scene is a wasteland of one-hit wonders by people who are generally musically illiterate and incompetent but who have trendy hair and attire, great bone structure, and killer abs. Every new act is hyped for six months or so and then fades to obscurity, and airplay is virtually identical from station to station with a monolithic corporate overseer that sells CDs which cost pennies to produce for thirteen dollars each at discount stores and pays the artists a few measly cents per copy.

Music has turned into a commodity and is devoid of artistry, skill, and literacy, paralleling our own vapid culture. We have lost something inspiring and ineffable in favor of record-breaking profits for the capos of the recording industry.

Much of what passes for music today is drenched in hate and violence and is a paean to the basest instincts of humanity. Music has been treated like a young runaway who has been forced into the vilest of acts of prostitution, and has lost its power to imbue listeners with hope and optimism. I find myself in the tragic circumstance of being a musician who detests most music.

This is a good time to remind everybody that the first song played on Music TeleVision on August 1st, 1981, was the Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star," a satirical comment on the elevation of image over composition.

Talk about prophetic irony.

There is good news, though. Because of the digital revolution, the music industry is dead. It may not seem to be, but it is like a dinosaur that has received a mortal wound but continues walking because its nervous system has not yet managed to send the message to its brain that it is already dead. There is a new paradigm developing that will kill the music industry, that will put production and distribution in the hands of the artist, and will once again make musical skill and talent a primary component of the success of musicians.

More on that in a future post.