"[My relationships were] like I was in these movies where the script was only half-written. When I’d get to the end of this half-script, the other actors wanted me to ad lib. But I had never gotten the hang of that. That’s why these movies were always box-office failures. Six of them in the past twenty years. I always blew the lines." ~ from my horrible first novel "Learn How To Pretend." (unpublished)(obviously)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nice Try, Republicans

 

  Coming home from school today I was riding the bike trail that runs along the main north-south arroyo. Under one bridge I saw three or four various Obama yard signs floating in the bottom. No doubt someone had been pulling out quantities of them and tossing them.

  A little further along, I turned onto Alameda and spotted this poster on a wall.

  Later on, the squeeze told me she heard a joking comment made (by an "adult") that the person was going to collect up some Obama signs and get rid of them.

  Nice. Funny, but I don't seem to see this happening to McCain signs. It seems just another outward sign of the vitriolic spirit of the GOP.

  It's pretty sad, really, what they've become. At least when I felt they were driven by the evangelicals, I thought there was some sort of belief system backing it. Now it just seems to be hate and spite.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rio Grande riverside

IMG_0089

I took this back when I first got my Canon. It was shot along the banks of the Rio Grande near the Alameda bridge in Albuquerque. I'll have to track down the original which is much sharper.

Creative Commons License
This work by Rick Robb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Read to your kids

 


Alli and the boys share a story.
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Saturday, October 25, 2008

6 ways mushrooms can save the world

Paul Stamets is one of my heroes (in a nerdy science kind of way.) Paul probably knows more about fungi than any other human on the planet.

This video is just under 20 minutes, but it's got some interesting information in it.

More of my photos to see on flickr

Here's a link to my new Flickr account.

Here. This. Click this. This one here. Yes. This.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WelfareQUEENS: When Poor Women Are the Experts on Poverty


Wednesday, October 15, 2008 6:05 PM

by Danielle Maestretti (original article on utne.com)

Blog Action DayWriting for the new issue of make/shift (article not available online), Keidra Chaney profiles the welfareQUEENS, a performance art group that aims to “make poor women of color visible and vocal in the U.S. dialogue on poverty,” adding their stories and experiences to the opinions of policy makers and “experts” who have rarely (if ever) experienced poverty themselves. (The welfareQUEENS’ name, of course, is a reclamation of the hideous term popularized by Ronald Reagan during his first presidential campaign.) Chaney writes:

At a time when the gap between the wealthy and the poor seems insurmountable, poverty remains misrepresented in both mainstream and independent media. Poor people, often demonized as criminals or infantilized as charity cases, are rendered silent. The voice of experience is quieted in favor of the voice of so-called expertise. Academic scholars, social workers, and pundits are allowed to represent the poor in the media while those who actually experience poverty daily go unquoted.

Back in May, I pointed to an excellent FAIR study that backs up this argument. In fact, the study notes, “If you’re poor and want to get on the nightly news, it helps to be either elderly or in the armed forces.”

The welfareQUEENS are neither, so they communicate their stories another way: Last year, the group wrote a play based on their experiences with poverty, then performed it at the U.S. Social Forum and at San Francisco’s Brava Theater.

Chronologically structured around the experiences of three generations of women, the play looks at the herstory of the welfare system. The performers speak of the lives of their grandmothers and mothers, who experienced domestic abuse, discrimination as single parents and women of color, and separation from their families through domestic work.

The Bay Area–based welfareQUEENS are part of the POOR News Network, a grassroots media organization that includes the online POOR Magazine and tons of other poverty-related projects.

For more alt-press dispatches from Blog Action Day, click here .
This post is part of Blog Action Day 08 - Poverty

Blog Action Day: Putting Poverty Back on the Agenda


Note that I missed this on the official day. Maybe next year....

_________________________________________

10/15/2008 11:55:57 AM (Original article on Utne.com)

by Hannah Lobel

Blog Action DayToday is Blog Action Day, an annual event that taps thousands of bloggers across the globe to tackle a single pressing issue. This year, the focus is on poverty. We’ll be spotlighting excellent alternative press coverage of poverty throughout the day here. Let’s get started with this rallying call to progressives from In These Times:

One of the finest traditions of the American left has been its historic commitment to solidarity with the oppressed and poverty-stricken peoples of the world.

In the last few years, however, the progressive movement has become far too insular. As a result, we have too often neglected our internationalist responsibilities–especially when it comes to confronting the ravages of world poverty.

Ken Brociner argues that while other concerns have understandably drawn progressives’ focus—namely, the war in Iraq and electoral politics—the movement is in danger of succumbing to a deadly domestic myopia.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 18 million people die each year due to poverty-related causes. This staggering figure represents about one third of all deaths that occur throughout the world on an annual basis. And these are deaths that could be easily prevented through better nutrition, safe drinking water, and adequate vaccines, antibiotics and other medicines.

It’s a point that’s proved particularly salient in the last few weeks, as headlines warming of Great Depression II have Americans gnashing their teeth over their disappearing retirement funds. As folks see their budgets increasingly squeezed, it’s easy to ignore the dire needs of those abroad. This dismissal has infected the campaign trail as well, with both presidential candidates confessing that the economic crisis likely will force them to roll back their foreign aid plans.

Which is all the more reason why, as Brociner notes, progressives must not lose sight of their internationalist obligations. Because if they don’t keep global poverty on the U.S. agenda, then who will?

For more alt-press dispatches from Blog Action Day, click here .

Assigning U.S. Troops to U.S. Soil and Other Presidential Power Grabs


10/13/2008 4:27:06 PM

by Chelsey Perkins (originally accessed at Utne.com)

At the beginning of this month, something quite extraordinary occurred in the United States, something that—despite its clearly controversial nature—went almost entirely unaddressed by mainstream media outlets. On October 1, the U.S. military assigned the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division to the United States Northern Command (NORTHCOM). This means that U.S. soldiers will be operating on U.S. soil, seemingly in direct contradiction of federal law.

The Army Times broke the story early in September, reporting that the unit “may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack....” Since the story ran, NORTHCOM officials have backed off from the “crowd control” and “civil unrest” purposes. As Col. Michael Boatner told Amy Goodman on the Oct. 7 episode of Democracy Now!, “We’re proud to be able to provide this capability. It’s all about saving lives, relieving suffering, mitigating great property damage to infrastructure and things like that, and frankly, restoring public confidence in the aftermath of an event like this.”

Questions remain, however. Why here and why now? With Homeland Security funding already helping to militarize police forces throughout the United States, what additional purpose would a U.S. military unit serve? Well, consider this possibility: The country is facing its most frightening economic crisis since the Great Depression, and civil unrest is more than a looming threat for the government. Then there's the question of whether the maneuver is even legal. Critics of the unit assignment—including Glenn Greenwald at Salon, Amy Goodman, and author Naomi Wolf—cite a longstanding law that appears to be violated by the Pentagon’s recent assignment.

The Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878 following Reconstruction, prohibits federal military personnel from acting in a law enforcement capacity in the United States, except if authorized by constitutional amendment or Congress. Also important to note is the Insurrection Act of 1807, which authorizes the president to deploy federal troops to quell lawlessness, insurrection, or rebellion, yet seriously limits his powers by indicating that a state government must first request assistance.

In 2007, Congress amended the act to include the authority to deploy troops in the instances of a natural disaster, epidemic, public health emergency, terrorist attack, or “other condition”—a vague phrase leaving open the possibility of wide-ranging interpretation. Although Congress repealed the amendment via the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, President Bush attached a signing statement essentially claiming his constitutional authority would allow him to act as he saw fit.

Since September 11, 2001, the executive branch has been slowly chipping away at civilian protections against martial law, possibly rendering both Posse Comitatus and the Insurrection Acts impotent. For example, as noted in 2005 on the Balkanization blog, a footnote in the 2005 book Torture Papers references a memo written by federal judge Jay Bybee in 2001 indicating his (and apparently Alberto Gonzalez’s and John Yoo’s) interpretation of the Posse Comitatus Act as not forbidding the use of military force for the purpose of preventing or deterring terrorism within the United States.

There's also National Security Presidential Directive 51, an executive order issued in May 2007 that defines the president’s unilateral authority to maintain continuity of the government in the instance of a “catastrophic emergency.” In the directive, a “catastrophic emergency” is defined as “any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government function.” As Matthew Rothschild, editor of the Progressive, points out, by using the word “or,” the directive could read “any incident... that results in extraordinary levels of... disruption severely affecting the U.S.... economy.” Sounds like a “catastrophic emergency” could be declared today, with a domestic military unit at President Bush’s disposal.

Although Wolf and others go so far as to argue that President Bush has executed a coup and should be arrested or that he could potentially call off the election in the name of an emergency, the chances that we’ll be living in a full-fledged military dictatorship anytime soon are probably slim. It isn’t that the soldiers will suddenly begin patrolling polling stations or shooting fellow citizens; it’s that this action and dramatic expansions of presidential power set a dangerous precedent that could be exploited through hazily legal means.

Because President Bush defined the whole world as a battlefield in the “War on Terror,” the United States is a battlefield, too. And as commander-in-chief, the president’s orders to the domestic military unit could theoretically supersede the law of the land. Whether a president with ill intentions would act on this authority remains to be seen, but even though it hasn’t occurred, we shouldn’t be any less frightened about the possibility of it occurring at any moment. And we should make sure our laws protect against such abuses of power.

Image by Army.mil, licensed under Creative Commons.

Gah!! It's 12:03 in the Ay-Em

  Fashiz! I can't believe it's this late. I'm still working on this midterm take-home. This thing is (or will be) roughly 10 pages when through. It's 5 questions with a 500 word essay for each. That's in the range of 2500 words. That's a lot for a mid-term.

  I'm just hung up on this last bit. Trying to pull something right out of my ass to finish it up. This is the beginning of the last essay...

I believe that what Benjamin is trying to say in his quote regarding film’s social significance is that this relatively new medium strips away former preconceptions of what art “does,” as well as what the role of an artist is. Film vulgarizes what was seen as the role of art. Whereas in the past there was a sort of perfect standard with which to evaluate what was reproduced in the art, with the coming of film, this was no longer possible. Film is specific to the time it is viewed, the context within which it is viewed, and the function it serves. Art in former times was part of a cultural heritage, but the coming of film challenged this and moved art towards the political realm.


  Yeah. I know!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Old School texting

  I was half-watching an episode of That 70's Show the other night. Three of the kids were talking to some girls on a CB radio and it got me to remembering those days.

  Of course, the CB radio was not in as widespread use as cell-phones or computers today, but there were a fair amount. It had been popularized by a song called Convoy by C.W. MCall, and was about a group of truckers in, duh, a convoy. Most of the song was in the form of truckers talking on their CB. ANd of course, there was the film Smoky and the Bandit,which also featured the late Jerry Reed as a truck driver, and Burt Reynolds as his Firebird-driving redneck-ass friend. After that, there was a huge interest in truck driving and everyone who was anyone had a CB.

  I didn't, but only because I didn't have money to buy it with, or a car to put it in. But some of my friends did.

  Anyway, I got to thinking about how kids who did have CBs were kind of like kids who text now. It was this form of distance communication -- sort of like a Voice Chat Room. (Does anyone even do chat rooms anymore?.) People had, what were called, "handles," that is a name they were known by, similar to the logon names we now use online. Talking on the CB was a way of group chat that parents were not privy to.

  It's also gotten me to thinking, what was it before that? What is it about this desire, especially for the younger population that inspires a need to communicate with one another though not really anyone else that drives this sort of communication technology?

  No. I'm asking. What it is?

Blogging from your cell: not

Blogging from your cell: not as cool as it sounds.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Welcoming Angels

From Writer's Almanac for Oc. 17, 2008
To read more, or subscribe, visit writersalmanac.publicradio.org/
_________________________________

Welcoming Angels
by Pat Schneider

Between the last war
and the next one,
waiting for the northbound train
that travels by the river,
I sit alone in the middle of the night
and welcome angels.
Welcome back old hymns, old songs,
all the music, the rhyme and rhythm,
welcome angels, archangels,
welcome early guesses
at the names of things,
welcome wings.

I have grown tired of disbelief.
What once was brave is boring.
Welcome back to my embrace stranger,
visitor beside the Jabbok.
Welcome wrestling until dawn,
until it is my hip thrown out of joint,
my pillow stone, my ladder
of antique assumptions.
Welcome what is not my own:
glory on the top rung, coming down.


"Personal Address" and "Welcoming Angels" by Pat Schneider from Another River: New and Selected Poems. © Amherst Writers and Artists Press, 2005. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Medallion

From Writer's Almanac
To read more, or subscribe, visit writersalmanac.publicradio.org/
_________________________________
Medallion
by Michael Heffernan

I'm going to go out and walk around a little,
because it's a nice day, in the seventies,
after a night where the temperature dropped
just below freezing. There isn't much here
in the anteroom of the self, I don't think,
so why should I go on investigating
what last night's dream meant, or the subtleties
of the numerology of the soul as evidenced
in cryptanalytical encodings in the poems
of Bertran de Montségur? I'm out of here,
and off on a little walk in the neighborhood,
but first I'd like to tell you I appreciate
your letting me share. It meant a lot to me.
Quite candidly, I'm not sure what to do
on days like this, or any day, really.
It all runs together, into a place
the good seem to have occupied as their own
and spruced up so nicely others of us who aren't
so good, but not the worst of citizens,
can't help but feel a little out of pocket,
as the saying goes, and I for one would like
to reach into my pocket and pull out
the ruby medallion my mother gave to me,
which fell out of my coat into the grate
by the front tire of the bus I'd waited for
across the street from the Shubert Theatre
in Detroit in 1959. I'd say,
to anyone around inclined to listen,
here is a little something you can have.
I hope you like it. Why don't you just keep it
and give it to another good person some day.
Tell them it used to be Bertran's, who came here once
on a horse all spangled with rubies and golden bells.


"Medallion" by Michael Heffernan from The Night Breeze Off the Ocean. © Eastern Washington University Press, 2005. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

50 things you should know about Barack Obama

OK, It's fluff but it doesn't hurt anything.

_________________________________________________________

50 things you should know about Barack Obama
From Dallasnews.com

08:09 PM CDT on Friday, October 17, 2008

1. Barack Obama's father was a black Kenyan and his mother was a white Kansas native. The two met while attending the University of Hawaii.

2. Mr. Obama grew up in Hawaii and lived in Indonesia for a few years. From age 10 on, he lived with his maternal grandparents in a Honolulu apartment.

3. He admits that as a teenager, he used drugs such as marijuana and cocaine to cope with questions of racial identity.

4. Mr. Obama played forward on his high school basketball team and was known as "Barry O'Bomber" for his left-handed double pump shot.

5. He wasn't the first in his family to attend Harvard. His father, Barack, also attended the university.

6. Mr. Obama has been a first black president before. He was elected president of the Harvard Law Review.

7. He stopped going by the nickname "Barry" in college after reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

8. He had a pet ape named Tata when he lived in Indonesia as a child.

9. Mr. Obama is only the third black U.S. senator since Reconstruction.

10. His wife, Michelle, agreed to allow him to run for president only if he agreed to quit smoking. But he recently admitted that he still has an occasional cigarette.

11. Mr. Obama is quite the "Renegade." That's the code name he chose for his Secret Service detail to use.

12. Ms. Obama once told Glamour magazine that her husband is smelly in the morning.

13. He has never faced significant opposition from a Republican opponent.

14. His desk in the Senate once belonged to Robert Kennedy. Mr. Obama was only 6 when Mr. Kennedy, who was running for president, was assassinated in 1968.

15. If elected, he will be the third president in a row without sons. Mr. Obama has two daughters: Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10.

16. Mr. Obama says his daughters made him promise that, as a condition for running for president, they can get a dog after the election, win or lose.

17. He was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996. He initially had a hard time fitting in because the chamber was controlled by Republicans, and some of his fellow Chicago Democrats thought he was pretentious and "a white man in blackface."

18. As a state senator, he was selected to give his now-famous keynote speech at the Democratic convention in 2004 after presidential nominee John Kerry heard him speak in Chicago.

19. He is 6 feet 2 inches tall, and his wife is almost 6 feet in heels.

20. He once joked, "I'm so overexposed, I make Paris Hilton look like a recluse."

21. As a kid, he collected Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics, and as a teen, he listened to jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr. and Earth, Wind and Fire.

22. He grew up without any particular religious beliefs. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was not religious, and his father was an atheist. Mr. Obama joined the United Church of Christ as a young man in Chicago, saying he was inspired by the good work of Christians he had met and "felt God's spirit beckoning me."

23. Mr. Obama earned a starting salary of $13,000 a year as a community organizer in Chicago in the 1980s. In 2007, he and his wife made $4.2 million, according to their tax return.

24. He won a Grammy award this year for the audio version of his book The Audacity of Hope.

25. In 2000, he lost by a landslide when he challenged former Black Panther Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, for his seat in the U.S. House. Mr. Rush is still in office.

26. Mr. Obama easily won his 2004 U.S. Senate race, defeating Republican Alan Keyes with 70 percent of the vote. Mr. Keyes was a late replacement for primary winner Jack Ryan, who dropped out of the race when after his divorce records revealed sex club allegations from his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan.

27. Mr. Obama formally announced his presidential candidacy in February 2007 on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., where Abraham Lincoln once declared that "a house divided against itself cannot stand."

28. Throughout 2007, he trailed Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom many pundits characterized as the Democrats' "inevitable" presidential nominee. He found an opening in an October debate, when Mrs. Clinton gave a convoluted answer to the question of whether she supported driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. After that, the race became more competitive.

29. Oprah Winfrey joined Mr. Obama on the campaign trail in December for a series of rallies starting in Des Moines, Iowa. Nearly 30,000 people came to see them in Columbia, S.C.

30. Mr. Obama wasn't an overwhelming favorite among black voters early in the campaign. Some didn't think he was "black enough," and others doubted that an African-American could be elected president. But his victory in predominantly white Iowa convinced many black voters that he could win the nomination.

31. Mr. Obama's campaign inspired many music video spin-offs, including "Obama Girl" from the Web site barelypolitical.com. Hip-hop star will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas also wrote a song, "Yes, We Can," based on a speech given by Mr. Obama after his loss in the New Hampshire primary and made it into a video for the Web.

32. In February, Mr. Obama racked up 11 straight victories and gained the lead in the number of delegates needed to win the nomination.

33. Mr. Obama lost the Texas primary to Mrs. Clinton but drew big crowds, including an estimated 15,000 at Dallas' Reunion Arena in late February. He ended up winning a majority of delegates in the Lone Star State because his supporters flooded precinct caucuses on election night.

34. Mr. Obama did well in states with large numbers of black and college-educated voters. But he struggled to draw working-class whites, Latinos and rural residents, especially after making comments in San Francisco that some rural voters "cling to their guns and religion."

35. Ms. Obama stirred up controversy after saying that for the first time in her adult life, she was "really proud" of her country. She later said she misspoke, and others, including first lady Laura Bush, defended her.

36. During the primaries, tensions grew between Mr. Obama and former President Bill Clinton over the ex-president's comments that seemed to belittle Mr. Obama's victory in South Carolina.

37. The tension between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton grew as well. The New York senator released a TV ad that questioned whether Mr. Obama would be ready for a "3 a.m." foreign crisis phone call, and Mr. Obama criticized her judgment and derided her as a Washington insider.

38. Mr. Obama's association with longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright proved troublesome during the primary season. Dr. Wright was criticized for racially incendiary sermons and views. Mr. Obama initially tried to defend him and gave a widely praised speech on racial relations in America, but he later renounced Dr. Wright after the pastor made controversial remarks at the National Press Club. The Obamas left Trinity United Church of Christ soon afterward.

39. Opponents – most recently the McCain-Palin campaign – have criticized Mr. Obama's association with 1960s radical Bill Ayers, a member of the Weather Underground. Mr. Ayers and Mr. Obama were involved with a Chicago education reform group, and Mr. Ayers hosted a party for Mr. Obama when he announced his Illinois Senate run. Mr. Obama has denounced Mr. Ayers' "detestable acts" but says he was only 8 years old during Mr. Ayers' bombing campaign.

40. Mr. Obama clinched the nomination June 3 and claimed victory in a speech in St. Paul, Minn., later the site of the GOP convention. Four days later, Mrs. Clinton suspended her presidential campaign and endorsed Mr. Obama.

41. A few weeks later, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton campaigned together for the first time in the appropriately named town of Unity, N.H. But he struggled to win over her supporters, including white blue-collar voters.

42. Mr. Obama spoke to a huge crowd in Berlin this summer, just as former President John F. Kennedy had done decades ago.

43. In a campaign ad, Mr. Obama talked about his mother's death from cancer in 1995 and how, in her final days, she was more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well.

44. Mr. Obama's momentum stalled during the summer when the McCain campaign ran ads – including one with Paris Hilton – accusing him of being a vapid celebrity without substance or a proven record of leadership.

45. Mr. Obama selected Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate to help bolster his foreign-policy credentials, disappointing many Democrats who favored Mrs. Clinton. Early in the presidential campaign, Mr. Biden had questioned Mr. Obama's readiness to be president.

46. Mr. Obama was the first presidential candidate since Kennedy to accept his party's nomination at an outside venue. He gave his acceptance speech at Denver's Invesco Field on Aug. 28, drawing a crowd of 85,000.

47. Mr. Obama was accused of sexism and disparaging Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin when he referred to Mr. McCain's policies as "lipstick on a pig." His campaign denied the allegations, saying he was referring to Mr. McCain's policies as the "pig."

48. Campaigning in Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama tried to connect with blue-collar voters by bowling, but ended up with an embarrassing score of 37. "My economic plan is better than my bowling," he told fellow bowlers. "It has to be," a man called out.

49. Mr. Obama told 60 Minutes earlier this year that every time he played basketball before a key primary, he'd win. He said he plans to play before the general election.

50. If elected, Mr. Obama will be the fifth-youngest president ever at inauguration.

Compiled by John Riley and Talia Sampson from wire and Internet reports.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beautiful

Bizarro now on Blogspot (since January)



Bizarro is one of my favorite cartoons these days. Dan Piraro, the creator, is the next generation in a line of truly offbeat single-panel story-tellers. But more than that, Dan has got a social conscience, so you'll see a lot of cartoons that, while retaining his odd sense of humor, also make brilliant points.

And, he can draw. He's got a very distinct style. As an added bonus, every cartoon has one or more of the following scattered around the image: a slice of pie, an eyeball, a stick of dynamite, a bunny head, and/or a flying saucer.

Now I find Dan has got a blog here on blogspot. Check it out at http://bizarrocomic.blogspot.com/

P.S. In his first post back in January, Piraro delivers a much-needed true assessment of MySpace, saying, "Badly designed, impossible to navigate, ugly, loud, depressing, reeking of death. How did this beast that is eating the fabric of our civilization and puking it up on the shoes of our future achieve such popularity? I might be talking about the Bush War, but in this case I'm referring to MySpace.

I had a blog on MySpace for a while and it made my colon throb. And not in a good way." (italics mine.) Truer words were never spoken.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Image

The squeeze and I were watching TV last night. We were switching through the channels on our way to watch CSI when we paused on PBS. It was a program about Iraq war vets and the guy talking was showing photos from his time there. He was in, I guess you'd call it the second wave, after the initial forces swept into Baghdad.

One of the pictures he showed was of a pile of charred bodies. The squeeze turned her head away and said "I don't want to watch this." I didn't blame her. We turned to CSI. Here, a girl jumps from a building and lands on top of a bus breaking every bone in her body. As the coroner moves the body, we see the jelly-like legs flopping around. Nearly as revolting.

The difference in watchability, of course, is that we know that one is real and one is fake.

But also, one is for titillation and one's for eduction.

For the briefest moment I was disgusted that PBS would run something like this right before an election.I mean, isn't it a federally funded organization?

And then, I thought... Who gives a rat's ass? Who cares if a federally funded organization shows the horrible truth of war right before an election? The shame is that it was on the network the liberals are already watching. It's a shame that those images of war weren't running on every network. Screw the campaign ads. Just show us this image for 30 seconds at a shot.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another class assignment

How to Ride After 40

This is what you will do, knowing that you’ll have to start out with one you like; one that fits you. Don’t go with one of those cheap ones like you see at Wal-Mart. They’re garish and they’re loose in all the wrong ways. Your friends tell you that if you want it just for the functionality—a low-priced one where you don’t care if someone else takes it—by all means, have at it. “Hell,” they’ll say, “if you don’t care that it’s been used and abused by another guy, just look online.” The thing is when you go that route—again—you’ll keep trying to fool yourself into thinking you’ve got a good clean ride. In the long run, it will be a lot higher maintenance than if you’d gotten the right one in the first place. This is a lesson you will learn over and over, again and again.

Before you go out looking you will need to know what you want, and what you’re willing to settle for and so, you’ll do your research. You’ll want the right size. When you straddle, you want some wiggle room between crossbar and crotch. In the saddle, your leg should not be fully extended, but leave a bit of a bend so you can push. You want a saddle built for comfort, not for speed. Too long of a reach is not good. It’ll be hell on your back and arms. Some of these young bucks ride bent over into crazy positions. But they don’t ride for long stretches. They’re on and off in a couple of minutes. At your age, you’re thinking that if you’re going to take the time to get on in the first place, you might as well go somewhere.

If it’s been more than a few years, you’ll be a little surprised. You’ll find that it’s true; “it is like riding a bike,” though your first few rides are shakier than you expected. The newer models seem different, more sleek and sporty than the old clunkers you rode in your youth. Way more responsive, too; they have a mind of their own. And these days, you’ll have to wear protection. Somehow you’ve made it to middle-age without it, but you know you’re just tempting the fates if you ride without some kind of covering on your head.

With all that in mind, the best thing to do is get a bicycle. Most anyone will do. At first you’ll have to deal with the many gears. You’ll have that Granny-Gear on there that’ll get you up anything without breaking a sweat, though you’ll be spinning your wheels like a madman. Easy, but as you shift, the chain starts riding up and catching on the chain-rings and it’ll get harder. You’ll only dream of using 21st gear on the downhills, and it will become discouraging. You’ll want to ride more often, but you’ll need some motivation.

So this is what you will do. You’ll set a goal. Figure maybe you’ll start with a 20 mile ride. You’ll find a woman you like who lives maybe eight or twelve miles away. Maybe your regular waitress at Applebee’s. Maybe the new bariste at Starbucks. Or better yet, that young girl that works in accounts payable. Whichever one, she’s cute and single, and you’ll bet she’s in the phonebook. Look up the address on MapQuest and find her house. It’s only five miles away, but it’s uphill and you can get a good workout. She will smile at you when you tell her you’ve been riding. Not in a laughing way, but like she’s impressed. She has a bike in her garage that she hasn’t been on since she graduated from college five years ago. She’ll confide this last in a longing way that says she misses riding, but also there’s a hint that she’s trying to let you know she’s a little more experienced than her looks belie. She’ll smile at you again and, depending on which woman it is, will hand you either your Fiesta Lime Chicken, a venti Frappacino, or an August Expense Report to be signed by your district supervisor.

Before your first ride, you will need prepare yourself physically. Shower and splash on some Old Spice. Don’t shave; the two-day growth of stubble gives you a more rugged quality and from the covers of the magazines you see, women seem to like that. No matter how unappealing the idea seems, you’ll put on a pair of shiny, black, spandex compression shorts. It makes you look more like a serious cyclist. You’ll want to wear a looser fitting shirt though, since the shorts really make your gut look big. Nonetheless, the shirt should be somehow sports or outdoor related. Wearing a promotional t-shirt from work will mark you as a poseur. As will your Florsheims. As will the black socks. Speaking of socks, suppress the urge to stuff a rolled-up pair in the bike shorts—it doesn’t fool anyone.

The point is that you’ll have to begin with a goal when you ride and you’ll figure her house is as good a goal as any. Riding gets you closer to her. Of course, you’ll want to avoid seeming like a stalker, so you’ll make many false starts. You’ll ride by her house without looking at it directly. You’ll glance out of the corner of your eye to see if she’s watching, and if she is, you will already have rehearsed what you’ll say. “Hey, I didn’t know you lived up here,” will be the start. You’ve got to sound convincing because if you don’t, you’ll have stalker written all over you. It’s bad enough you’re going to get caught with a hand in the cradle if she agrees to go out with you.

She’ll say one of two things. Three things, if you include “Hello. 911? Yes I’d like to report…” But she’ll either say, “See you later,” or “Let me change real quick and I’ll go for a ride with you.” If the latter, you’re screwed. She’s 25 or 26. 27 tops. You’re… Well, you’re old enough to be her father with room to spare. In fact, your own daughter is… Yeah. Shit. Shit is right. Point is that right about then is when you get that sudden sinking feeling that despite the fact that she hasn’t ridden in five years, she is after all only 25 or 26—27 tops—and that means that she is young and able. You’ve spent countless hours watching her, and you know she looks as good coming as going and that you don’t look that good if you’re out of shape. You realize that when she comes out of the house in her bikes shorts, jersey and fingerless gloves, you are going to be made to look like a very, very old man. And you also realize that unless you get on the bike and ride like a man, you’re never going to get to ride like a man. You hop off the bike and deflate your tire before she returns

This is what you will do, knowing that you’ll have to start out with one you like; one that fits you. Don’t go with one of those cheap ones like you see at Wal-Mart. They’re garish and they’re loose in all the wrong ways. Your friends tell you that if you want it just for the functionality—a low-priced one where you don’t care if someone else takes it—by all means, have at it. “Hell,” they’ll say, “if you don’t care that it’s been used and abused by another guy, just look online.” The thing is when you go that route—again—you’ll keep trying to fool yourself into thinking you’ve got a good clean ride. In the long run, it will be a lot higher maintenance than if you’d gotten the right one in the first place. This is a lesson you will learn over and over, again and again.

Before you go out looking you will need to know what you want, and what you’re willing to settle for and so, you’ll do your research. You’ll want the right size. When you straddle, you want some wiggle room between crossbar and crotch. In the saddle, your leg should not be fully extended, but leave a bit of a bend so you can push. You want a saddle built for comfort, not for speed. Too long of a reach is not good. It’ll be hell on your back and arms. Some of these young bucks ride bent over into crazy positions. But they don’t ride for long stretches. They’re on and off in a couple of minutes. At your age, you’re thinking that if you’re going to take the time to get on in the first place, you might as well go somewhere.

If it’s been more than a few years, you’ll be a little surprised. You’ll find that it’s true; “it is like riding a bike,” though your first few rides are shakier than you expected. The newer models seem different, more sleek and sporty than the old clunkers you rode in your youth. Way more responsive, too; they have a mind of their own. And these days, you’ll have to wear protection. Somehow you’ve made it to middle-age without it, but you know you’re just tempting the fates if you ride without some kind of covering on your head.

With all that in mind, the best thing to do is get a bicycle. Most anyone will do. At first you’ll have to deal with the many gears. You’ll have that Granny-Gear on there that’ll get you up anything without breaking a sweat, though you’ll be spinning your wheels like a madman. Easy, but as you shift, the chain starts riding up and catching on the chain-rings and it’ll get harder. You’ll only dream of using 21st gear on the downhills, and it will become discouraging. You’ll want to ride more often, but you’ll need some motivation.

So this is what you will do. You’ll set a goal. Figure maybe you’ll start with a 20 mile ride. You’ll find a woman you like who lives maybe eight or twelve miles away. Maybe your regular waitress at Applebee’s. Maybe the new bariste at Starbucks. Or better yet, that young girl that works in accounts payable. Whichever one, she’s cute and single, and you’ll bet she’s in the phonebook. Look up the address on MapQuest and find her house. It’s only five miles away, but it’s uphill and you can get a good workout. She will smile at you when you tell her you’ve been riding. Not in a laughing way, but like she’s impressed. She has a bike in her garage that she hasn’t been on since she graduated from college five years ago. She’ll confide this last in a longing way that says she misses riding, but also there’s a hint that she’s trying to let you know she’s a little more experienced than her looks belie. She’ll smile at you again and, depending on which woman it is, will hand you either your Fiesta Lime Chicken, a venti Frappacino, or an August Expense Report to be signed by your district supervisor.

Before your first ride, you will need prepare yourself physically. Shower and splash on some Old Spice. Don’t shave; the two-day growth of stubble gives you a more rugged quality and from the covers of the magazines you see, women seem to like that. No matter how unappealing the idea seems, you’ll put on a pair of shiny, black, spandex compression shorts. It makes you look more like a serious cyclist. You’ll want to wear a looser fitting shirt though, since the shorts really make your gut look big. Nonetheless, the shirt should be somehow sports or outdoor related. Wearing a promotional t-shirt from work will mark you as a poseur. As will your Florsheims. As will the black socks. Speaking of socks, suppress the urge to stuff a rolled-up pair in the bike shorts—it doesn’t fool anyone.

The point is that you’ll have to begin with a goal when you ride and you’ll figure her house is as good a goal as any. Riding gets you closer to her. Of course, you’ll want to avoid seeming like a stalker, so you’ll make many false starts. You’ll ride by her house without looking at it directly. You’ll glance out of the corner of your eye to see if she’s watching, and if she is, you will already have rehearsed what you’ll say. “Hey, I didn’t know you lived up here,” will be the start. You’ve got to sound convincing because if you don’t, you’ll have stalker written all over you. It’s bad enough you’re going to get caught with a hand in the cradle if she agrees to go out with you.

She’ll say one of two things. Three things, if you include “Hello. 911? Yes I’d like to report…” But she’ll either say, “See you later,” or “Let me change real quick and I’ll go for a ride with you.” If the latter, you’re screwed. She’s 25 or 26. 27 tops. You’re… Well, you’re old enough to be her father with room to spare. In fact, your own daughter is… Yeah. Shit. Shit is right. Point is that right about then is when you get that sudden sinking feeling that despite the fact that she hasn’t ridden in five years, she is after all only 25 or 26—27 tops—and that means that she is young and able. You’ve spent countless hours watching her, and you know she looks as good coming as going and that you don’t look that good if you’re out of shape. You realize that when she comes out of the house in her bikes shorts, jersey and fingerless gloves, you are going to be made to look like a very, very old man. And you also realize that unless you get on the bike and ride like a man, you’re never going to get to ride like a man. You hop off the bike and deflate your tire before she returns

A brief exercise for my CW 421 class....

This is part one of this assignment.
__________________________________________
Dying of Embarassment

“Who was that?” Malinda asked me as she sat grading papers at the dinner table. I didn’t want to say. I’d been checking the messages on my cell phone and when I hung up, and Malinda asked me, I had the incredible presence of forethought to create an outright lie on the spot. My face was twisted into such a way that it was clearly not a wrong number, or the lottery commission.

“It was my cousin, Jim,” I said. “From Yankton.”

“I thought you two weren’t talking.”

“Well, we weren’t. Aren’t. He just called to let me know his… mom died.”

“Your aunt…?” she prompted, turning her attention from her work

“Mary. Aunt Mary.”

Malinda looked at me skeptically. “You look awfully upset,” she said.

“Well, as a little boy, Aunt Mary and me were close.” She went back to her papers, slashing through her students work with a red pen, a surgeon with her scalpel.

“Anyway,” I added. “The funeral was yesterday. Not that I would have gone, but…”

The fact is it was the doctor’s office. I’d gone two months ago, though I hadn’t told Malinda I was going, or even that I thought there was a problem. I didn’t tell her because she’s the type of person who’d expect me to do something about it. I’m the type of person who’ll just let it go. I’ll bitch and moan, for sure, but that’s as active as I’ll get. I’ll intentionally let it get past the point of being able to do anything. I’ve spent my entire live doing that. Active passivism.

But I went anyway. They’d done tests. That’s what the call was about. “Calls,” plural, I should say. There were a half-dozen calls from Dr. Joikers office. It was worse than I could have imagined. Colorectal Polyps! I was mortified. I could have dealt with stomach cancer, even, maybe, prostate problems. But I had some sort of weird growth up my ass. Sure, I was in my early fifties and that’s when this shit happens to you. But I still had my hair, and not a speck of gray. I worked out and rode forty miles every weekend. Hell, my RealAge was 42. I had piercings and sweet ink for Christ’s sake! Someone as cool as me did not get embarrassing diseases like colorectal polyps.

I dropped onto the sofa and flipped on the T.V. I could feel the damn things inside me, wriggling around or whatever it is they do. I could see Malinda through the doorway. She was looking fit and trim. Of course she was nearly fourteen years younger than me, and she looked a lot younger than that. She was every high-school boy’s dream. I don’t think I could say “colorectal polyps” out loud to myself, let alone to her. I looked at her again and clenched my sphincter.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One of the funniest scenes from Taladega Nights was the discussion of which Jesus they liked the best.

This shirt is available from Snorgtees

Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton

I'm not the first, but I'll repeat it here, Tina Fey is more Sarah Palin than Sarah Palin.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ringo Starr: Don't send me any more fan mail


This showed up today on Breitbart
_________________________________________
Ringo Starr: Don't send me any more fan mail
Oct 14 11:22 AM US/Eastern
By GREGORY KATZ
Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) - Ringo Starr doesn't want to hear from you. If you do write, your letter will end up in the trash. After 45 years of stardom, he doesn't want to spend any more time answering mail or sending signed photos back to fans.

The fan fatigue led the former Beatles drummer to post a sometimes angry sounding short video clip on his Web site telling fans that any mail sent to him after Oct. 20 will not be read or answered. British television stations broadcast the video on Tuesday.

"It's going to be tossed," he says on the video. "I'm warning you with peace and love, I have too much to do. So no more fan mail. Thank you, thank you. And no objects to be signed. Nothing. Anyway, peace and love, peace and love."

The drummer and singer did not elaborate on the reason behind his decision to cut off a major point of contact with his many fans.

Starr, 68, has maintained a very active touring and recording schedule in recent years, drawing large crowds for performances with his All-Starr band.[snip]

_______________________________________________

Ease up, Freak. I won't.


OK, seriously? Does Ringo Starr really get that much fan mail? Do people know he's even still alive? I for one didn't. His "many fans"? Who are these people, and are they institutionalized?

And what's with this "recording schedule" crap? The least talented Beatle has a recording schedule? What's he recording? Dancing with the Stars on his TiVO?

I've said this before and I'll say it again. The Beatles are the most over-rated musical group in history. Period.

Stick around to hear me bash the paper-based sleeping pill that is Lord of the Rings.

UPDATE: Here is a link to a review I wrote on Amazon for the film version of LotR. My helpful review status has improved with time. It used to be that nobody liked my review.
http://www.amazon.com/review/R1RC9Y6HUH4RJU/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Understating the Obvious



Understating the Obvious
(You can’t make this stuff up)

True story: A man in Israel recently
wrestled a leopard in his underwear.
Facts: The leopard was not in the man’s underwear.
And the man, though he was wrestling,
was wearing boxer shorts.

The leopard leapt
through the bedroom window,
to eat the housecat
who was sleeping with the man
and his small daughter
who was sleeping with her father
because she had been frightened
by a mosquito
in her own bedroom.

The man leapt
up in his underwear and wrestled
the leopard to the ground.
He threw a full-nelson onto the cat
and pinned it until authorities arrived.

He was later quoted as saying:

“This sort of thing
doesn’t happen
every day.”

(c)2007 Rick Raab-Faber

A good quote

"It's hard to know when to respond to the seductiveness of the world and when to respond to its challenge. If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I rise in the morning torn between the desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." E.B. White

I lifted this from fellow blogger and Whidbey Island Unitarian minister, Kit Ketcham. (http://mskittyssaloonandroadshow.blogspot.com/)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Least Popular Sound Bites

Pay no attention to that little google ad in the corner.

Oh my god! Google placed an ad for GOP.com on my blog here. I guess if you are already a Republican you can click through on it and earn me big bucks. But otherwise... Of course... are you thinking what I'm thinking? That I'm probably violating my terms of service? Me too.

From Writer's Almanac for Oct. 13.2008

Warnings

by David Allen Sullivan

A can of self-defense pepper spray says it may
irritate the eyes, while a bathroom heater says it's
not to be used in bathrooms. I collect warnings
the way I used to collect philosophy quotes.

Wittgenstein's There's no such thing
as clear milk
rubs shoulders with a box
of rat poison which has been found
to cause cancer in laboratory mice.


Levinas' Language is a battering ram—
a sign that says the very fact of saying,
is as inscrutable as the laser pointer's advice:
Do not look into laser with remaining eye.

Last week I boxed up the solemn row
of philosophy tomes and carted them down
to the used bookstore. The dolly read:
Not to be used to transport humans.

Did lawyers insist that the 13-inch wheel
on the wheelbarrow proclaim it's
not intended for highway use? Or that the
Curling iron is for external use only?

Abram says that realists render material
to give the reader the illusion of the ordinary.
What would he make of Shin pads cannot protect
any part of the body they do not cover
?

I load boxes of books onto the counter. Flip
to a yellow-highlighted passage in Aristotle:
Whiteness which lasts for a long time is no whiter
than whiteness which lasts only a day.


A.A.'ers talk about the blinding glare
of the obvious: Objects in the mirror
are actually behind you
, Electric cattle prod
only to be used on animals, Warning: Knives are sharp
.

What would I have done without: Remove infant
before folding for storage, Do not use hair dryer
while sleeping, Eating pet rocks may lead to broken
teeth, Do not use deodorant intimately?

Goodbye to all those sentences that sought
to puncture the illusory world-like the warning
on the polyester Halloween outfit for my son:
Batman costume will not enable you to fly.

"Warnings" by David Allen Sullivan from Strong-Armed Angels. © Hummingbird Press, 2008. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

From Writer's Almanac for Oct. 13.2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

hailstorm




We had a decent hail storm here the other day. It had been raining and the clouds started swirling. Suddenly this hail came through and beat the hell out of the trees and plants. Great hot air ballooning weather.

You can't see anything in this picture. I'll redo it and post it later. I've been working with an online resizing site called DrPic.com with not too shabby results. This one's too small though.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Story with no dialogue

The temperature seemed to have dropped 20 degrees, there was that much of a chill in the air as he entered the kitchen. It should have been warm in here, hot even. The early morning sun flowed through the window onto the table where he sat down. His head pounded. The normally spacious kitchen seemed to be the size of a shoebox. The air was so tense a knife wouldn’t have cut it. A chainsaw or maybe even a blowtorch may have been more in order.
She threw the plate on the table, the greasy eggs slipping, sliding over the edge so that they rested on the table. The toast was scorched, the bacon nearly raw. She glared at him through red-rimmed eyes, taunting, daring him to complain. She set a coffee cup square in the middle of his plate and poured hot coffee. He held a hand up when it was good, but she continued to pour until he looked up and met her eyes. Animal eyes. Not happy eyes. Her lips were tight. The cup over flowed and she stopped.
His plate swimming in coffee, his breakfast ruined, he slammed his fist down, catching the edge of the plate, flipping it and the eggs and coffee and soggy toast onto the table. He kicked out at the chair across from him, the one where the jacket hung. He barely hit it with his foot, but the weight shifted and the chair spun and tipped over.
She poured a silent cup of coffee for herself and hurled the glass carafe across the room. She picked the coat up, leaving the chair lying where it fell. Staring at him all the while, she reached into the inside breast pocket. He glared back, daring her. She pulled out a pair of panties, red and trimmed with lace. She held them up between them and with the lightest of cold-hearted smirks, dropped them on the table. She reached back into the pocket and removed a pint bottle of Bushmill’s, and poured it in her own cup.
He stared dumbly at the panties. She stood up, and put her jacket back on and put the whiskey bottle back in the pocket. She picked the panties back up off the table, waved them beneath his nose. She drained the whiskey-laced coffee and wiped her chin with the red panties. She put them back in her pocket and walked out the door, pausing only to slam it behind her.

Story with all dialogue

“Jesus it’s cold in here,” Tim mumbled. “You’d never know it was May.”
“Mmm-hmm,” Susan mumbled in reply.
“God my head hurts. What the hell bus hit me last night?”
“I’m sure I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t there. Was I, sweetheart?”
“Shit.”
“Uh-huh.”
“Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.”
“Why yes. Yes it was.”
“Say, is that breakfast I smell cooking?”
“Brilliant, Watson. What was your first friggin’ clue?”
“Ummmm… The burnt toast smell?”
“Wrong answer”
“Jesus! You didn’t have to just slam it on the table! What the hell is wrong with you?”
“Looks like you’re the one with the problem! And quit kicking at the furniture. That’s not going to solve anything.”
“You just poured coffee all over my breakfast. And dammit, look, Susan if you’re going to be all uppity acting, I want to know why.”
“You really want to know?”
“Damn straight!”
“Well, let’s just take a look in my jacket pocket here. Maybe that will provide us with a clue.”
“Cut the theatrics, Susan.”
“Oh. Look. Ooohhhh… some nice red panties. Oh and with pretty red lace. How romantic. And they smell like… Hmmm… Is that Obsession?”
“How the hell would – Whose are those?”
“And what else is this in the pocket? Bushmill’s? Oh, baby, you know how I love the Bushmill’s”
“What’s going on here? Why is there whiskey and underwear in your jacket? Come to think of it, when did you get those panties? I don’t’ recognize them.”
“Who said they’re mine?”
“Well then if they—“
“Danielle.”
“Dan… Danielle my office assistant?”
“That’s the one, buttercup.”
“But…”
“Happy Valentine’s day… I am soooo out of here. Loser!”
 


Enough of the politics and economic crisis. Here's a shot I took when the boys and I were hiking in the bosques last weekend.
Posted by Picasa

Crisis Du Jure

I’ve been following, with some vague interest, this economic crisis. I follow it with the same interest as one would, say, a possible melanoma on one’s face. It terrifies the crap out of me, but I realize that it could just as easily turn out to be nothing.

Not that I think this is nothing. Not that I don’t think this thing is going to get a hell of a lot worse before it gets better. There’s no way that we’re not going to be suffering the repercussions of this one for years to come.
I was against the bailout for a while, but as I got to understand this mess and what it could mean—not just for us, but the world—I realized that we almost have no choice.

Having said that, I believe that those responsible must be hunted down like dogs in the street and made to pay for their crimes against humanity. Every mother-loving son. There’s no excuse for any of this aside from greed. I remember once, when I was ranting against the rich, my mother saying how those people worked hard for that money—which I thought was a lot of horse crap. They got it by exploiting others, or by lending money to others to create it. I usually got over the tizzies I’d worked myself into over this fairly quickly. Sure, WalMart is a corporate giant sack of scum and I despise what they’ve done to America, but I have to admit, they do two things: They do provide employment for otherwise unemployable people, and they do provide those same people with affordable goods. The WalMart board is still a bunch of greedhead creeps guilty of crimes.

That being said, WalMart is a minor violator compared to those who have caused the financial collapse. The ex Union Carbide executive responsible for Bhopal is a mid-level criminal in comparison to the financiers who caused this crash. Hanging’s too good for ‘em. Send them to work behind the counter at McDonald’s I say.

Our current regime, all other things aside, are just a symptom of what's wrong with our society. This financial crisis is nothing more than a natural cause of allowing fat cats to run our country.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Palin Rationale


From PunditKitchen.com

Political music from Peggy Seeger

Check out Peggy Seeger's MySpace page for some sweet old school political music. This is the sort of stuff you would have heard a few generations back.

Listen to "Sarah Palin's Hard Rock Candy."

http://www.myspace.com/peggyseeger

And, in case you didn't know, Peggy is Pete Seeger's little sister. In case you didn't know who Pete Seeger is... you got some reading to do.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

By Jingo

Looking a little like Jefferson Davis,
or maybe Abe Lincoln, had he lived
long enough for his hair to turn white,

this man comes dressed in red,
white, and blue, for some patriotic display.
A matching top hat, gives the anachronistic
appearance of a dandy, peddling
a sure-fire snake-oil cure-all.

About him run armies of boisterous,
ill-fed children, some of whom look like him.
Most of whom don’t. Several of them fight,
Pushing shoving hitting yelling.

The man pulls his hands out of deep pockets
and, with long arms, reaches out
to the screaming brats.

“By jingo!” he shouts,
thumping first one child’s head,
then another,

“Stop–”
SMACK! [blinding an eye]

“–hitting–”
SMACK! [knocking limbs from torso]

“–your brothers! –”
SMACK! [leveling a neighborhood.]

(c) 2007 Rick Raab-Faber

The Frogs Went Silent in the Night

The frogs are going away.
Frogs going.
Bees going.
Prey, predator, pollinator.
Packing bags and bidding adieu.
We’re in deep shit,
I can tell ya.
People expect the end of the world to be
some big cataclysmic event,
but I think it will be more subtle and delicate.
Like, one day we’ll wake up and,
as if recollecting a too-short vacation, say
“remember that world thing
that used to be here?
What ever happened to that?”
Of course there won’t be anyone
left to answer us,
so we’ll just roll over
and go back to sleep.
©2007 Rick Raab-Faber

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)—Back in the Puerto Rican rain forest for the first time in five years, biologist Rafael Joglar sensed something was wrong. He wasn't hearing the frogs whose nocturnal calls he had long recorded in the misty highlands.
It was as if a small orchestra had lost key players, he recalled.
After that discovery in 1981, Joglar and wife Patricia Burrowes, a fellow University of Puerto Rico amphibian specialist, found that other populations of frogs in the genus Eleutherodactylus—known locally as coquis for the distinctive co-kee sound made by two species—were also mysteriously absent. Similar reports trickled in from frog specialists worldwide, particularly in Central and South America.
Working their way through such suspected culprits as pollution and habitat loss, researchers here eventually zeroed in on climate change. The average minimum temperature had risen from 1970 to 2000 by 2 degrees Fahrenheit, a significant rise for climate-sensitive amphibians.
Scientists believe higher temperatures lead to more dry periods and a chain reaction, at higher elevations, that leaves the frogs vulnerable to a devastating fungus, Burrowes said.
In Puerto Rico and nearby islands, experts believe three of 17 known Eleutherodactylus species are extinct and seven or eight are declining. Loss of the frogs, scientists warn, could have disastrous consequences, depriving birds and other predators of a food source, eliminating a consumer of insects and disrupting the ecosystem in ways impossible to guess.
Original story at http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=2007-03-31_D8O77I4G0&show_article=1&cat=breaking

The Shovel

As the words were tumbling out of my mouth,
I looked down at my foot
Resting on a shovel,
About to dig a hole
From which I’d take a
long
time
digging
out.

(c) 2008 Rick Raab-Faber

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Sitrep

Things just get odder. After that last post, I was installing updates for Office 2007, and I crashed again. This time there was no rebooting. The drive won't even spin. So, I thought, well, hell. Maybe it's the drive. I started looking into prices to replace the drive. I thought, while I was in there, I'd look at a drive for my old Compaq.

I wanted to make sure that the drive was indeed dead on both machines. When I hit power on the HP, I get my lights, and I can kind of hear the drive humming. So I thought I'd try it on the Compaq, which died a year and a half ago.... And the damned thing came to life. I don't quite understand it. I mean, I'm typing this post on it right now.

The only thing I can think of is that at some point something got jostled and disconnected. I use to just toss it into my backpack. And this time when I booted it, it was on its side as I held it to my ear.

Of course its no replacement for my HP, but it will do. Plus it's got cool stickers on it.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Not to jinx anything, but....

Three + days later and it may be looking good. I've got from booting to a blue screen with three lines of code on it, to a new clean install with about 100 successive (though not always successful)Windows updates.

I just completed the last one and am in the process of rebooting. It's running CHKDSK right now.

I had it back to factory settings a few days ago, but I reinstalled all my software, and was trying to install all the updates at once and it go hurtled back to the stone age.

This time I did all the updates first. Groups of 10 or so and then reboot. Hopefully by going this route I'll isolate the problem if it comes up again.

My suspicion is that it was an Intel Chipset optional update. For a while I was able to open things, but I would get a lo-rez screen that was all stretched out.

It may also have been the new Firefox update, or the new iTunes update.

Thanks to the squeeze for the loan of her old Dell Inspiron 6000. It's a brick running XP, but it runs.