Monthly Archives: October 2007

Yet This Is The Harangue

SwankI’m warming up to the writings of Pastor Swank.  First of all, he’s prolific.  Second of all, he butchers the English language like no other Renew America columnist (except for, of course, Kaye Grogan).

Take, for example, the opening graf in yesterday’s column:

It is stupid for supposedly intelligent persons so flippantly to blame parents of children who murder or bring any other mayhem to society. Yet this is the harangue. Recall the massacre in Colorado.

If you’re like me, you had to read that three or four times and you are still a little lost.  It’s kind of like eating ice cream really fast.  You kind of know what’s going on, but it doesn’t matter because your head hurts.

By the way, if I ever decide to rename this blog, "Yet This Is The Harangue" is going to be one of my top choices.

But let’s return to Pastor Swank and the supposedly intelligent persons who blame parents of children who murder flippantly (or whatever he just said):

"These parents are at fault."

"Someone needs to get to these parents and tell them that they have to control their children. I blame the parents!"

"What’s going on with these parents of these killers? What’s going on in their homes?"

"The parents must have known about the arsenals that were built up inside their own houses!"

And so it goes. . .on and on and on.

Gotcha.  People are always blaming the parents when their children go out and murder someone.  Can’t imagine why.  Maybe it’s because sometimes the parents provide the guns?

This is the height of hubris, of naivete’.

"Naivete", I understand.  But how does "hubris" (exaggerated self-confidence and overbearing pride) enter into it?

When I was younger and saw children acting up so as to be disobedient —

Rather than acting up so as to be …obediant?

When I was younger and saw children acting up so as to be disobedient, I would say to my wife on occasion: "If those were MY children, I would do thus and thus."

"This naturally infuriated my wife when I used terms like ‘thus and thus’.  ‘Why can’t you be more specific?’, she would harangue."

And how often have I heard adults of no children or young children make that same pontifical declaration.

Wait, Pastor.  You’re asking me how often you’ve overheard something?

Have you said it?

Have I said a "pontifical declaration"?  Golly gosh, I don’t think so, sir.

However, after having raised three children, I would never lower my intelligence so as to give forth with such nonsense moralizing.

No, Pastor Swank would never, ever, ever, ever engage in nonsense moralizing.

Further, such high-sounding statements only serve to add pain to parents who already are fearing for their lives because of what their adolescent children are threatening at home base.

What are they threatening at home base?  A sacrifice bunt perhaps?

I know that parents with teens out of control cannot dump those offspring on any agency of society.

Military schools all closed now?

Nevertheless, the brutal fact is that in too many homes in our culture there are indeed strong-willed youth who daily are so potentially treacherous that their own mothers and fathers fear for their very lives.

Diagram that sentence.  I dare you.

Many of these parents do not abuse their children, do not misuse drugs, are not alcoholics, are not indecent nor obscene nor irresponsible. They are at home.

Because … what …because drugs, alcohol, indecency, obscenity, and irresponsibility don’t exist in homes?

They are bringing in the salary check to pay the bills.

Stir it up in a pan….

They have tried to create a lifestyle of morality and care.

Which obviously didn’t work.

Nevertheless, sometimes there are offspring who simply reject all of that decency for their own selfish devilment — and such can include threatening their own parents’ and siblings’ existences.

Not only do those offspring give in to "devilment", but shennanigans and skullduggery!

When Cain killed his brother, Abel, was it Adam’s fault? Did God rail against Eve?

Well, actually — wasn’t Abel’s murder — and indeed most of the bad things that happened in the Bible and beyond — a consequence of being thrown out of Eden after Adam ate the apple?

No, Cain was responsible for his own misdeed; therefore, God chastised Cain alone.

Yeah, he went into the land of Nod and built a city.  Some punishment.

There are many Cains who have lived since, and too many alive today.

I’m looking at you, Michael!!

Therefore, for panel members, broadcasters and politicians to get on television to continually ask naively, "Where were the parents in all of this?", obviously is to reveal their own uninformed and insensitive lives.

Note to Pastor Swank:  "Where were the parents" is a legitimate question.  Asking legitimate questions is how one becomes informed.  Assuming, as you do, that the parents are totally uninvolved with their kids’ choices, or are held captive by their out-of-control kids, is indeed making an uninformed assumption.

Those of us in the work of living and the study of counseling families know all too well that there are untold numbers of extremely concerned parents who simply cannot bend their children’s wills toward the right. Those parents wish to God that they could; but they cannot because each child has his own final power of choice.

Hey, good point — where is God in all this?

Further, and this is most significant: when a culture such as ours sets loose one violent movie, video, musical lyric, "entertainment" after another which proclaims blood and guts as a legitimate past time, then many of our children opt for all of that hatred and insanity rather than being appreciative of the loving homes from which they come.

Ah, blame Hollywood.

There is an extremely dark magnet which has been manufactured in our land by evil persons who want money from our youth rather than providing them with the good, kind and beautiful.

Oh, come on.  The Hansons?  Get real.

Anyway, Pastor Swank goes on like this for a few more paragraphs and then ends all Moses-like:

Do not then waste your words on how undisciplined and brainless scores of parents are when their children run amuck.   Instead, spend your energies on creating a society that has rid itself of its own violent allowances.

You know, Pastor, I really don’t think parents are entitled to free rides.  Study after study shows that violence is inherited from parents and passed on.  Violent criminal offenders are more likely to grow up in households with violence (beatings, etc.).

Furthermore, parents teach their kids, directly or indirectly, how to resolve conflicts (or not resolve them, as the case may be).  And while some movies, TV shows, and video games certainly contain their fair share of violence, it is ultimately the parents who bear responsibility for what their kids are exposed to in the first place.  They also bear responsibility for teaching kids the difference between fictional violence and the real-world consequences of real-world violence.

I’m not saying this is easy.  I’m just saying that we can’t offer blanket immunity for all parents, automatically assuming that they have no control over their kids’ violent tendencies.  Again, I refer you to this recent news item.

A troubled teenager accused of plotting a school attack built up a stash of weapons with the help of his mother, authorities said.

Michele Cossey, 46, was arrested Friday on charges of illegally buying her home-schooled son, Dillon, a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle and a 9 mm semiautomatic rifle with a laser scope.

The parents were indulging the boy’s interests because he was unhappy, not knowingly aiding a school assault, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor said Friday. The parents didn’t know of the teen’s plans, but "by virtue of her indulgence, she enabled him to get in this position," Castor said.

But what do I know?  I’m just haranguing.

Hal-Lead-Ween

Halloween might be really scary this year, thanks to China.

Exhibit A:

A US retail outlet on Tuesday pulled hundreds of sets of Halloween costume teeth from sale amid fears they could contain excessive levels of lead.

"Due to possible lead contamination, this product (Ugly Teeth) has been recalled," Factory Card and Party Outlet said in a statement issued on the eve of Halloween.

Described as a "horribly realistic Halloween accessory to make your teeth look hideous", the Chinese-made "Ugly Teeth" are designed to be worn in the mouth by children dressing up for Halloween.

The teeth were analyzed by a team from Ashland University in Ohio looking into lead content in children’s products.

"Lead paint is a problem when it’s ingested by a child, so to have lead on an item that is designed to go into the mouth — that’s what’s particularly horrifying about these teeth," said Dr Jeffrey Weidenhamer of Ashland University in Ohio, the team leader.

"We analysed the paint on the surface of the teeth. The orange teeth were the worst in terms of having six to seven percent lead by weight in the paint," Weidenhamer said.

"That’s about 100 times the US standard on lead in paint which is .06 percent," he told AFP.

Lead can cause damage to the brain and nervous system of children, behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems and headaches.

Exhibit B:

Peeps The maker of Peeps — the fluffy, yellow, marshmallow chicks that have spawned a fanatical following — has tapped an overseas manufacturer to make candies for the first time in the company’s history.

Just Born Inc. is making its Spooky Friends treats for Halloween in China.

That could be a scary thought for American consumers concerned about products made in China, which has been hit by a series of recalls of substandard goods and lead-tainted toys. An August poll by The Associated Press found that most Americans believe the U.S. government is not doing enough to ensure that Chinese imports are safe.

Yet Another Republican Sex Scandal

CurtiscastagnaThis one comes from Washington State.  It involves GOP State Rep. Richard Curtis, a lawmaker who voted against domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples and opposed an anti-discrimination law to cover sexual orientation.

So, if you been following the GOP follies lately (as reported here and elsewhere), you can probably guess what comes next.

Yup, the anti-gay Curtis apparently "engaged in mutual sexual activities" with a male escort/porn actor named Cody Castagna.

The legislator initially said that he was "helping out" Castagna with gas money (to avoid declaring that he was paying for sex). But that turns out not to be true maybe….

Curtis, according to a search warrant unsealed Tuesday, went to the Hollywood Erotic Boutique on East Sprague on October 26th at approximately 12:45 a.m. The store clerk, who had talked with Curtis, referred to him as "The Cross-Dresser" and said that during their conversations he confirmed he was gay and was married with children at home.

During his visit to the video store Curtis was observed wearing women’s lingerie while receiving oral sex from an unidentified man in one of the movie viewing booths inside the store.

Afterward he met Cody Castagna, and they talked about getting together at Curtis’ hotel room to have sex. Curtis left Castagna his cellphone number and went to Northern Quest Casino and receiving a call from him around 3 a.m., and planned to get together at the hotel a short while later.

The two met at the Davenport Tower around 3:34 a.m. and police reports confirm Curtis and Castagna had anal intercourse after which Curtis fell asleep. Castagna, according to court records, then allegedly took Curtis’ wallet out of his jacket pocket and left the room.

Around 7 a.m. he called Curtis and told him he knew he was a member of the Washington State House of Representatives and was married, that he had taken pictures of Curtis with a camera on his cellphone and he offered to return the wallet in exchange for $1,000. In police reports it is claimed that Curtis offered Castagna that sum of money in exchange for having unprotected anal intercourse.

Curtis, during an interview with a Spokane detective, claimed that he gave Castagna $100 for "gas money" and insisted that the money was not payment for sex. During that phone conversation he claimed he only had $200 and left the money in an envelope at the front desk at the Davenport Tower for Castagna in exchange for the return of his wallet.

The attempt to get his wallet back proved unsuccessful as Castagna called Curtis back later on the 26th and demanded the remaining $800 from him. Unbeknownst to Castagna at the time Curtis had already contacted Spokane police and a detective was present with Curtis when Castagna called again.

When he contacted police, Curtis told detectives he wanted to keep the incident quiet and didn’t want to press charges against Castagna and that all he wanted was his wallet back.

During the call Castagna not only demanded $800 for the return of Curtis’ wallet but also said the money would buy his silence, implying that without the money he would expose Curtis’ gay lifestyle to his wife. Curtis admitted to police that if details of the incident became public he would have to tell his wife and would need to hire a divorce attorney.

Following the phone call arranging for the return of the wallet police officers set up surveillance of the location where Curtis’ billfold was to be dropped and subsequently recovered it.

Castagna offered a completely different view of the events that happened on October 26th in several interviews with detectives. Castagna claimed that Curtis had met him at the Hollywood Erotic Boutique and later at Curtis’ hotel room offered him $1,000 in exchange for sex, adding that while he was in Curtis’ room at the Davenport Tower Curtis rented two XXX-rated gay movies for the two to watch. After the two had sex, Castagna claimed that Curtis gave him his wallet as collateral to hold on to until he gave him the remainder of the $1,000.

He also admitted to detectives he had threatening to publicly expose Curtis to his wife.

And another GOP politician falls.

Josh Marshall offers some reasonable advice to other "not gay" Republicans:

If you offer to pay a guy $1000 to have sex with you, don’t try to wriggle out of paying the thousand dollars.

More advice: if you get into a payment dispute with the guy you paid to have sex with you, contacting the authorities to get them involved to hassle the guy is a very bad idea.

Krugman: On Fearmongering

From the NYTimes:

For one thing, there isn’t actually any such thing as Islamofascism — it’s not an ideology; it’s a figment of the neocon imagination. The term came into vogue only because it was a way for Iraq hawks to gloss over the awkward transition from pursuing Osama bin Laden, who attacked America, to Saddam Hussein, who didn’t. And Iran had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11 — in fact, the Iranian regime was quite helpful to the United States when it went after Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies in Afghanistan.

Klan vs. Klan

Kkk_2Why oh why can’t white supremists just get along?:

CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) — Members of one Ku Klux Klan organization say they will assemble at the courthouse Nov. 10 to show their opposition to another Klan group that plans an anti-immigration rally there that day.

Ken Mier, who described himself as an investigator for the Alabama Ku Klux Klan and the national office of the Ku Klux Klan LLC, said in an e-mail to The Cullman Times that his group is against the tactics of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which held an anti-immigration protest last month in Athens.

“We are opposed to the ignorance and stupidity as displayed by the individuals that thumbed their nose at the area churches by continuing to use racial slurs, threats and avoided Christian deportment,” he said.

Now, that’s a new one: Klan members protesting the ignorance and bigotry of rival Klan members. 

I say we give them all fully-loaded rifles, put them all in a huge warehouse, and close the doors.

California Boy Is Al Qaeda, Apparently

Fox News and conservative blogs have been falling all over themselves trying to — forgive the pun — fan the flames of fear by suggesting that the California wildfires were intentionally set by (cue dramatic music) al Qaeda.  Read here and here and here and here and here and… all these.  While evidence suggested arson, nothing other than paranoia suggested that al Qaeda was involved.

So naturally, this comes as no surprise:

A boy playing with matches has confessed to starting a wildfire that destroyed 63 structures near Los Angeles, officials said on Tuesday.

The unidentified youngster, believed to be a preteen, was questioned by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigators on October 22, a day after the Buckweed fire started rampaging across 38,000 acres in the Santa Clarita area, 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

The boy "admitted that he had been playing with matches," said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.

It was initially believed that downed power lines had started the fire.

The boy was sent home after confessing, and the District Attorney’s office will consider whether to press charges.

You would think that those who pointed to al Qaeda would have egg on their faces, and maybe exercise more caution before they engaged in Chicken Little the-sky-is-falling speculation and fearmongering.

You would think…

FURTHER THOUGHT:  Is al Qaeda responsible for this, too?

Obama Implosion

He’s making some very bad campaign choices, and putting off potential supporters.  I’m amazed, even within myself, at how the sheen as worn off, and what a spectacularly bad campaign he is running.  In a detailed insightful post, Chris Bowers explains the problems with the Obama campaign, and indeed, the candidate:

Obama seems to have shot his own coalition in both feet and both hands. Maybe he kept shooting it because it just wouldn’t die. I don’t think there is any need to worry about that now.

Obama consistently refused to stand up for the people who once formed the heart of his coalition. Further, instead of showing leadership during difficult congressional fights, Obama consistently talked about reaching across the aisle and forming consensus while the other side of the aisle was regularly shooting down consensus legislation on Iraq, FISA, habeas, SChip and much more. How much more hollow could that make his rhetoric sound, especially when he was in the Senate when that all happened? In short, he did nothing that was necessary to keep his coalition of African-Americans and creative class progressives together. In fact, it wasn’t even as though he sacrificed one for the other, since he continues to trail Clinton among African-Americans. Instead, he sacrificed the more overtly and naturally anti-Clinton segment of his coalition and made no gains in other areas as a result. This is especially bad when one considers that Obama lost the half of his coalition among whom he was actually winning. This is especially, especially bad when one considers that he cut off the half of his coalition that forms a much larger percentage of the electorate in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Basically, it was political suicide for Obama to not stand up for this segment of the coalition, and to keep preaching to them about the need to froge unity with conservatives and Republicans. He actively brought down the coalition that, at first, it appeared he would ride to victory.

Barring a miraculous victory in Iowa, I think that Obama is done and Clinton is the nominee. I don’t see how Edwards comes back with only $1.5M to spend on ads in Iowa. Further, Richardson hasn’t made any gains in the state in four months, and everyone else trails Clinton by about 25% in the state right now. Seriously, I think it would take a miracle for it to change. From the start, Obama was the only one with a real chance, but now has just suffered too severe a blow with the white, progressive creative class that he needed to win the state. After five months of losing ground among this group, the vicious, deserved, and nearly blogosphere-wide criticism of Obama today seems like too much to overcome. It is the nail in the coffin for his campaign. He just can’t win the primary without those voters, and I don’t see how he gets them back now.

All true, which is why we see this (click to enlarge):

Austopdems_2

Note the Obama dip these past few months.  Conversely, Clinton seems to be running the right campaign.  As Yglesius writes:

It also might be worth noting in this regard that I think almost everyone would agree that Clinton’s had the best-run campaign — free of mistakes, and seemingly drawing blood on those occasions when they’ve felt the need to attack.

O Arturo, Prince of Irony

LegaldocumentfilefoldersThe State of Texas generates too many reports.

Various state agencies and commissions are required by law to write monthly, quarterly, and/or yearly reports.  A LOT of paperwork apparently, especially when you consider that some reports are obsolete (For example, there are still report requirements for the Human Rights Commission, which the Legislature abolished in 2003).

The preparation and storage of all that paper is becoming a problem, according to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in their recently-unveiled 668-page report, following a massive 18 month study.

NOTE:  The people who prepared the report envisioned having to write further reports on the problem, thereby ensuring their job security:

As for the commission’s massive report on reports, Heskett predicts it won’t go away.

"For the report to be effective, it must be ongoing," he said.

Words That Make Women Cringe

Betty_crocker_moist_fistFunny article on certain non-dirty words that apparently make a lot of women cringe.

One of the big offenders:  the word "moist".  There’s even a Facebook group with over 70 members dedicated to "I Hate The Word M***t".

And they’re not kidding.  Some comments:

IF YOU EVEN UTTER "THE M WORD" NEAR ME, I’LL CASTRATE YOU!

My friends and family taunt me with this word constantly. I hate the way it sounds so nasal at the beginning of the word and that it sounds exactly like the meaning. Like its onomatopoeic or something. Urgh.

I’m glad I’ve finally found a place I can feel I belong!

I hate it went the word m***t is used in cookery programmes to describe the food. Its not appropriate!!!

M***t haters of the world unite! I despise the sick, repugnant word! It?s almost as bad as vaginal! Uurrrrhh – Gotta go chuck now!

AHHH i can’t believe there’s a group for this! amazing!! I have wanted to barf on anyone who has said m***t for my whole lifeee gah EWWwweewww

More on word aversion here, including some other not-liked words:  hardscrabble, guru, pugulist, tissue, baffle, squab, cornucopia, slacks…

Bush: A Case Study In “How He Works”

April 2006 — a question to the President from a student at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies:

Student: "I was hoping your answer might be a little more specific. (Laughter.) Mr. Rumsfeld answered that Iraq has its own domestic laws which he assumed applied to those private military contractors. However, Iraq is clearly not currently capable of enforcing its laws, much less against — over our American military contractors. I would submit to you that in this case, this is one case that privatization is not a solution. And, Mr. President, how do you propose to bring private military contractors under a system of law?"

A good question for which Bush didn’t have an answer.  Instread he laughed it off and said it was a good question, and he would look in to it.

Bush: "I appreciate that very much. I wasn’t kidding — (laughter.) I was going to — I pick up the phone and say, Mr. Secretary, I’ve got an interesting question. (Laughter.) This is what delegation — I don’t mean to be dodging the question, although it’s kind of convenient in this case, but never — (laughter.) I really will — I’m going to call the Secretary and say you brought up a very valid question, and what are we doing about it? That’s how I work. I’m — thanks. (Laughter.)"

Here’s the video clip of the exchange:

Flash forward to today, and we see just how private military contractors like Blackwater are held to a system of law.  Short answer: they’re not.

State Department investigators offered Blackwater USA security guards immunity during an inquiry into last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad — a potentially serious investigative misstep that could complicate efforts to prosecute the company’s employees involved in the episode, government officials said Monday.

LATEST:  Apparently, the State Department is now saying it wasn’t "blanket immunity", but rather, "limited immunity".  Not that that really makes a difference…

That’s Franken-steeen!

For Halloween, the first screen adaptation of "Frankenstein":

Running about 12 minutes, it was made by the Thomas Edison Film Company in 1910.  It was believed to have been lost by fire in 1914, until an archival copy was re-discovered in the 1970’s.

No, it’s not very good.  Frankenstein’s monstor looks like a reject from Cats.

Busy, Busy, Busy

The closing weekend of Little Shop of Horrors was successful and loads of fun.  Show got even tighter and the audiences were relatively large and appreciative.  Strike, which I thought would be the worst, was completed in about 3 hours — that includes transporting and unloading everything back at the shop.  Night hadn’t fallen yet, and we were all off to a final cast dinner.

And now I’m head-deep in Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever rehearsals.  I’m very blessed with a lot of seasoned adults — I can just give them blocking and not worry too much about them.  A lot of the kids are very seasoned and talented as well, but there are so many of them, and it’s going to be a tremendous task getting them where I want them.

In the meantime, what did I miss?  Oh, yes.  The Red Sox won the World Series in a four-game sweep.  I missed the third game entirely (didn’t even TIVO it).  I watched the fourth game in a state of semi-exhaustion.  It wasn’t the most exciting game, but for the fact that the Red Sox won and took the title.  I must say, it’s very odd being the non-underdog.  The Red Sox are the new Yankees — the big bad team that everybody loves to hate.  Well, not everybody.

What else did I miss?  I guess there was a tragic fire on the coast.  Yeah, that was bad.

But things are settling down again, and even though I’m in rehearsal, it’s a little different when you’re directing.  And VERY different when directing 30+ kids.  Oy.

I forge on.

Suburban Housewife Counterterrorist Does What The FBI Can’t

Interesting story in Wired about a woman in Montana who spends her free time infiltrating Jihadist online chats:

Ff_rossmiller_fRossmiller developed her remarkable talent for chatting up terrorists after September 11, when she started going into online forums and cajoling valuable information from other visitors. She has passed along numerous case files to federal authorities. Her information has led US forces abroad to locate Taliban cells in Afghanistan, discover a renegade stinger-missile merchant in Pakistan, and help another foreign government identify a ring of potential suicide bombers. She has also assisted in nabbing two domestic would-be terrorists and seen them both convicted of felonies: National guardsman Ryan Anderson received five concurrent life sentences, and Michael Reynolds, convicted in July and awaiting sentencing, faces a similar fate. Timothy Fuhrman, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Salt Lake City office, says Rossmiller was "instrumental in the successful outcome of those cases."

Rossmiller succeeds by exploiting a fundamental flaw in al Qaeda’s famously decentralized organization. The absence of a strict hierarchy makes it pretty easy for a cunning person to mix among the terrorists. So she poses as a potential al Qaeda soldier looking for like-minded comers. She creates multiple characters and uses her older and more respected personae to invite the new ones into private forums. There are other self-taught counterterrorists like her, but they tend to translate and discuss, lurk and report. Rossmiller works the terrorism boards as if she were playing a complex videogame. Her characters come complete with distinct personalities and detailed biographies that are as richly conceived as any protagonist on an HBO series. She keeps copies of everything, time-stamps files, and takes screenshots. She has an Excel spreadsheet that details the 640 people with whom she has had contact on these boards since 2002.

She taught herself Arabic, and now chats using flowery language from Muhammad Atta and other terrorists.  And…

she invested in a proxy server application, which creates a fake IP address off a known IP server someplace real. That way, Rossmiller could send her email as someone living, say, in Yemen, and anyone closely examining the email header would see that the message did appear to come from Yemen. Rossmiller researched the area she was purporting to be emailing from and learned the neighborhood so she could casually mention a nearby restaurant or mosque, sometimes even the name of a local imam.

It’s all very interesting stuff, but it does raise some questions — namely, why isn’t our government doing this?  As the article suggests, the FBI is getting tips from her.

The reason is quite simple — the FBI is bumfuzzled.  In fact, the FBI…

has failed in every attempt to modernize its technology since 2001, and it so restricts the software available to agents that they can’t even begin to match what Rossmiller does. "The FBI is a dinosaur in many respects," says [White House conterterrorism official Roger] Cressey.

Rossmiller agrees. "I went to a meeting in Great Falls, and we got to talking, and someone had to look something up online," she says. "I asked, ‘What do you use for Internet access?’ and one agent said, ‘We have to go to the public library down the street.’"

She also tells a story about another agent who had to get permission to open a Yahoo account because it violated office regs. "They weren’t allowed," she says.

WTF?  If the FBI wants to have internet access to monitor internet chat by terrorists, they have to go to the public library?

So, we’re spending billions of dollars to fight a war in Iraq, and leaving the actual cybertracking of terrorists . . . to Montana amature hobbyists?

Bizarre.  The incompetence with which this so-called "War on Terror" is being fought is astounding.

Ordering Pizza Online

Don’t you hate ordering pizza online?

What you want….

Dom2_2

What you end up getting….

Dom6

NO, NO, NO, DAMMIT!  Can’t you see that I ordered the PEPPERONI on the left, and the MUSHROOMS on the right?!?!?!?

Courtesy of The Sneeze

How to Ruin Halloween

Ua83218250Joel Stein (shorter):

Why can’t Halloween be all about demons and Satan, rather than about scantily-dressed nurses and pirates?

Actually (and predictably), there is a Christian right backlash against the whole demonic thing as well.

Over at Pat Robertson’s CBN you’ll find an entire page dealing with Halloween, complete with godly advice guaranteed to ruin the holiday for the kids:

As Christians you and I are placed in this world to be a light in a world of darkness. There is no lasting benefit to ignore a holiday that exists around us, but it also does harm to celebrate Halloween as it has originated and grown over the centuries.

My suggestion? Christians should be teaching their children (age appropriately) that:

  • there is a spiritual world filled with goodness from God and evil from Satan (Eph. 2:1-10);
  • life with Christ has power over darkness (I John 4:4); and
  • those who celebrate Halloween either are unaware of its roots, or are intentionally promoting a world where evil is lauded and viewed as an ultimate power.

To counter the evil influence of Halloween, we need to join together and celebrate the reality of the heroic efforts of Christian saints over the evil in their day.

How to do this?  Well, CBN writers have come up with this oh-so-fun Halloween game:

Use M & M’s candy to help focus your family’s prayers of intercession for others.

Sure.  Um, okay.  ‘Splain me that, Lucy.

Say:

  • For every green M & M you chose, pray for your spouse (present or future) or some other significant person in your life. This is a great way to get kids thinking about what qualities they want to find in a future mate. Encourage them to pray for this person’s safety, spiritual and physical growth, and so on).
  • For every red M & M you chose, pray for a member of your family by name (a parent, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandchild, niece, nephew, cousin, aunt, uncle, and so on).
  • For every orange M & M you chose, pray for a teacher in your life (a co-worker, a professor, a pastor, a Bible study leader, a child’s school teacher, a mentor, or another teacher).
  • For every yellow M & M you chose, pray for one of your neighbors (a neighbor near your home, an office-mate, a person whose desk is near yours at school, or a neighbor close to your church).
  • For every dark brown M & M you chose, pray for a leader in your life (a politician, a local businessperson, a celebrity, a member of your church’s staff, the President, or another leader).
  • For every light brown M & M you chose, pray for Christians in other countries.

Of course, you can seriously screw up this game by buying those new pastel-colored M & M’s.

175948284_bba36d4709

Over at Crosswalk.com, they’ve come up with other ways to ruin Halloween for your kids:

Some churches and schools reserve a portion of the parking lot for "Trunk or Treat." The kids can be in one safe place and load up with candy served from open car trunks. At our church we’d have to use the side doors from all the minivans. Organize a community outreach such as a "Harvest Festival" with food, games, and gospel skits or messages. Invite your neighbors and kids’ sports teams. If you are comfortable allowing your kids to wear a costume, encourage them to dress up as Bible characters. Learn the character’s story together and use it as a witness to those who might ask, "Who in the world is Elijah ?" Avoid scary costumes and those that don’t honor God.

C’mon, kids.  We’re going to a parking lot to play "Trunk or Treat!".  Yaaaaaaaaay!

But remember, Halloween isn’t just for the kids.  It’s also for the unborn, who are — God tells us — people, too.

So why should they be left out?  Thankfully, they’re not.  Now the unborn can celebrate Halloween, too, with —

Halloween costumes for the unborn!!!

Fetus_halloween

Yaaaaaaay!

Email Chain

Via Matt Yglesius:

Chris Hayes has a great piece on the bizarre world of right-wing chain emails, in which all manner of vicious slurs and lies circulate for months or even years without anyone in the MSM noticing. Sometimes they pop up on a sufficiently mainstream place — Fox News, Rush — for someone in the real press to bother running an item pointing out that the story in question is false, but then the meme just dives back underground again where it lives on.

From time to time, I’ve received these bizarre emails, and every single one of them — I’ve checked them out — is demonstrably false.

Tort Reform

From Feministing:

Germantool "German playboy" Rolf Eden is suing a 19-year-old woman for ageism because, after he wined and dined her, she refused to sleep with him.

Despite a night on the town with Eden, which ended back at his place, she refused to have sex with him, saying the he was too old for her.

"That was shattering. No woman has ever said that to me before," Eden told the tabloid. "I was crushed." He has filed charges with the prosecutors’ office, he said. "After all, there are laws against discrimination."

Yeah, let me tell you what’s up, Rolf. Purchasing a meal and a few drinks for your ladyfriend has NEVER meant you’ve bought the right to sleep with her. I’m sorry she’s not into septuagenarians, but that’s not exactly grounds for a lawsuit.

UPDATE:  Breaking news…just in:

The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that Genarlow Wilson’s 10-year prison sentence for having consensual oral sex with a fellow teenager is cruel and unusual, and ordered him released from prison.

I believe I wrote about this a while ago.  Basically involved a 17 year old engaging in consensual oral sex with a 15 year old girl.  Notably, he was black.  I’m sure that had nothing to do with it though, right?  This being rural Georgia?

Fake News

FEMA holds a press conference with itself:

The agency gave reporters 15 minutes’ notice before the press briefing, making it almost impossible for most reporters to get FEMA’s DC offices (which are nowhere near downtown or Capitol Hill). But the agency didn’t want to hold a press conference on national television without questions, so FEMA employees stood in and gave Johnson the chance to “wax on and on about FEMA’s greatness.”

Of course, that could be because the questions were asked by FEMA staffers playing reporters. We’re told the questions were asked by Cindy Taylor, FEMA’s deputy director of external affairs, and by “Mike” Widomski, the deputy director of public affairs. Director of External Affairs John “Pat” Philbin asked a question, and another came, we understand, from someone who sounds like press aide Ali Kirin.

Asked about this, Widomski said: “We had been getting mobbed with phone calls from reporters, and this was thrown together at the last minute.”

The administration pays pundits to toe the Bush line, and it sends out fake-news segments for local TV stations to air, so I suppose it stands to reason that it would host press conferences with administration employees pretending to be reporters.

Scientific Breakthrough Conquers AIDS?

I’m surprised nobody is covering this:

With the latest advances in treatment, doctors have discovered that they can successfully neutralise the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The so-called ‘combination therapy’ prevents HIV from mutating and spreading, allowing patients to rebuild their immune system to the same levels as the rest of the population.

To date, it represents the most significant treatment for patients suffering from HIV.

Professor Jens Lundgren from the University of Copenhagen, together with other members of the research group EuroSIDA, have conducted a study, which demonstrates that the immune system of all HIV-infected patients can be restored and normalised. The only stipulation is that patients begin and continue to follow their course of treatment.

Read the whole thing.

Dewey, Bangham & Howe: Sex With Lawyers

Every lawyer knows — because it’s drilled into us — that it is unethical to have sex with a client.  It violates the Rules of Professional Conduct in every state bar, and can lead to fines or suspension of your legal license.  The rationale is that having sex with a client creates a conflict of interest.  Also demeans the profession, I suppose.

Professor Eugene Volokh, always with an eye out for the interesting legal case, discovers a story out of Wisconsin, where a lawyer was suspended for having a three-way with his client and his client’s girlfriend.

It gets a bit dicey here, but apparently the lawyer (a male) and his client (another male) engaged in sexual conduct at the same time with the client’s girlfriend (a female).  This, believe it or not, was in lieu of legal fees. 

The legal question that the court had to consider was — in doing so, can it be said that the lawyer had sex "with" his client?  The key word here is "with".

You’ll want to read about it here (and the discussion/tittering in the comments), but the consensus is that the court got it right.  Although the attorney was rightfully suspended (there were other things involved — drugs, etc.), it seems that — technically — he did not have sex with his client.  See if you agree.

Good Times Never Seemed So Good

2 games to 0.  Nice 2-1 win.  Schilling, who is no longer the Schilling of yore, still knows how to compete.  Then came the "dynamic duo of Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon" who kept the Rockies in place for the back end of the game.  Nice to see that even when the bats aren’t connecting (unlike Wednesday’s blowout), the pitching takes charge.

Best part: Pap’s pickoff of Holliday to quelch an 8th inning rally.  Sweeeeeeet.

Pleo

This might be the sought-after toy this Christmas:

I’m gonna get me one just to scare the crap out of the dogs…..

Naughty Crissy

Ah, such a bright future ahead.  From a local Utah newspaper, dated September 1, 2004:

KristyCrissy Morris is just starting her career as a teacher at HHS and will be teaching geography, sociology and PE.  She hopes to make learning enjoyable for the students and make an impact in their lives. 

Crissy was born to John and Carol Thorpe and raised in Santa Maria, Calif., where she lived until her family moved to St. George when she was age 14 and at the beginning of her freshman year.

***

“I have a wonderful husband who works with at-risk youth [Triumph Youth Expeditions of Toquerville] and loves it,” Morris said.  She is married to Rusty Morris and they have one 4-year-old son, Andrew, “going on 20,” and another son on the way.

    Morris loves the outdoors, not only track and soccer, but other sports have been a major draw to her, whether fishing or water sports.  She is looking forward to coaching HHS girls’ soccer and track teams.

“I am very excited to start my career in a place where the community gets very involved and everyone seems to care about the youth,” said Morris.

(Emphasis mine).  Look how exciting and happy Crissy is to be starting her new career as a teacher and get involved with the youth.

But Crissy apparently took getting "involved" with the "youth" to extremes.

TeacherA teacher at Hurricane High School was arrested today, charged with five counts of rape.

Cris Morris, a 29-year-old female teacher from Washington City, is accused of having sexual intercourse with a juvenile male student. Under Utah law, a juvenile student is incapable of consenting to sexual relations with a teacher, which constitutes the act as rape.

Morris was booked into the Washington County Jail and has been placed on administrative leave while the Washington County School District investigates.

Not so happy anymore.

The Haunted Swingset

Click through and watch the video.

If the video is real, it’s really creepy:

A ‘HAUNTED’ playground swing that rocks backwards and forwards on its own for days has scientists baffled.

Parents and children are convinced a ghost is to blame.

They were so spooked they reported the swing to cops after it began moving four months ago.

The phenomenon flummoxed police, who called physics professors into Firmat, Argentina.

But so far the boffins have failed to find a logical explanation.

Locals claim the seat moves nonstop for TEN DAYS before stopping dead, while other swings remain still.

Teacher Maria de Silva Agustina said yesterday: “One child called it the Blair Witch Playground. We believe it is haunted.”

War vs. Children’s Health

A day after the White House through Dana Perino said they weren’t concerned about the newest CBO estimates that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will cost the treasury over $2 trillion dollars, Perino this morning says that Bush will veto the newest SCHIP bill coming from Congress this week. The reason? Because Congress hasn’t justified why $35 billion more over five years is needed for our nation’s kids.

Someone explain that to me.

The Photo Detective

If I could live my life over again, I think I would want this person’s job.

With millions of Americans obsessively tracing their roots, Ms. [Maureen] Taylor has emerged as the nation’s foremost historical photo detective. During a recent meeting of the Maine Genealogical Society, attendees lined up a dozen deep as she handled their images with a cotton glove and peered at the details through a photographer’s loupe. One man offered a portrait photo and asked if it could be of his great grandmother, who died in 1890. "It’s not," Ms. Taylor said after about 15 seconds; she’d dated the hairstyle and billowy blouse to the early 20th century. When another attendee asked why her great-great-grandfather was wearing small hoops in his ears in a portrait, Ms. Taylor explained, "He was in the maritime trade."

Ms. Taylor, who charges $60 an hour, has learned to spot details that reveal not only a photo’s period, but the story behind it. A broom at the feet of a couple in a mid-19th-century portrait, for instance, often marks it as a wedding picture. A photograph of a baby in a carriage from the 1860s might not be a birth announcement, but a death card; in that period of high infant mortality, dead infants were commonly photographed in carriages. A 19th-century woman with unusually short hair may have had scarlet fever, because it was common to shave a victim’s head.

It’s kind of like forensic work, with old photographs and a knowledge of cultural history.

Wkak218_photo_cov

Maureen Taylor has a website, and an interesting blog, too.

Over 750,000 Names On Terrorist Watch List

Wired reports on a GAO Report (full version, summary) that says the

nation’s centralized watch list has grown to include 755,000 names suspected of having terrorist ties, resulting in nearly 20,000 positive matches of persons against the list in 2006, according to a new report from Congress’s investigative reporting arm. Since the list is now used in nearly all routine police stops and for domestic airline travel, Americans made up the bulk of those matches.

The article notes that "individuals who believe they are on the list erroneously or because of a confusion over their name can apply for help through the DHS Advise system, but it is not set up to allow people to contest the information that got them on the list."

There were only 400,000 names on the list a few years ago.

I’m just spitballin’ here, but it seems to me that as more and more names appear on the list, its utility continues to diminish.  But the GAO report touches on this.

Presidential Candidates Respond To California Fires

First, the Democrats:

John Edwards has been out front in responding to the fires in Southern California, both on  his website and through One Corps.

Barack Obama offers this statement of support for the fire victims and his website prominently features the following message:

California needs us.

…with a link to California Volunteers.

Hillary Clinton‘s website features a "How to help" link, which leads you to a page with her statement of support as well as a listing of LA Times’ recommended resources including The Salvation Army and the local Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals.

In addition to linking to important resources on his website, Chris Dodd said the following in a speech to the IAFF’s Occupational Health and Hazards Convention:

"As you know, Governor Schwarzenegger has had to ask other states for help because so many of California’s National Guard, who provide critical support to the citizens while you are fighting the fires, were deployed to Iraq. In a Dodd Administration, never again will our houses be on fire because our troops are taking fire in Iraq. Never again will our first responders be left without the support they need because our President failed to do what it took to keep our communities safe. That is why in 2008, nothing will be more important than leadership that can get results that make us stronger and more secure. That’s the first responsibility of an American President."

And Bill Richardson, who was one of those Governors who sent equipment and personnel to California, posted at The Huffington Post and Calitics asking a crucial question: Where is Our National Guard?

Today, we all extend our sympathies and prayers to those devastated by the wildfires in California. Millions of Americans are impacted by this natural disaster.[…]

Now the Republicans:

Rudy Giuliani: Nothing.
John McCain: Nothing [Actually he now has a link to a resources page, you have to really look to find it.]Mitt Romney: Nothing.
Fred Thompson: Nothing.
Mike Huckabee: Nothing. A 30-minute interview with Glenn Beck on his front page, too, Beck is the guy who claimed that some of the people who lost their homes hate America.
Duncan Hunter: It’s his frickin’ district and it’s hard to find anything outside of this news article.
Tom Tancredo: Nothing.
Ron Paul: Nothing. But he’s doing a "Hollywood fundraiser" tonight He announced yesterday that he’s doing a Hollywood fundraiser in which a "portion" of the $2,000 a plate dinner will go to the Red Cross.

UPDATE:  Help!  I’m experiencing a RonPaulolanch!

UPDATE #2:  More GOP ho-humming of the wildfires.  In this case, it’s Dick Cheney.  During a cabinet meeting yesterday, Vice President Cheney fell asleep on camera while President Bush was discussing wildfires in California. A Cheney spokeswoman “laughed it off,” telling CNN that the vice president was “practicing meditation.” CNN’s chyron reported that Cheney was seen “meditating” — rather than sleeping — during the cabinet meeting.

Terry Francona Announces Josh Beckett Will Start Games 1, 4, 7, 2, 6, 3, 5

From The Onion:

BOSTON—Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona announced Tuesday that the Colorado Rockies would receive a healthy dose of pitcher Josh Becket during the 2007 World Series, saying that the ALCS MVP would start games one, four, seven, two, six, three, and five, in that order. "I don’t think this should come as a real shock to anyone," Francona told reporters, adding that with this schedule, Beckett should get "more than enough rest" between games one and four, which would allow him to be at maximum strength for games seven, two, and, if necessary, six, three, and the crucial fifth game. "Looking at the pitchers I have at my disposal, this gives us the best chance to win." According to Francona, Beckett should also be ready to pitch in late-inning relief of himself in games four and six, close games seven and three, and pitch on three hours rest if needed

Also from The Onion:

Red Sox Attempt To Break Fabled ‘Curse Of Relief Pitcher Curtis Leskanic’

BOSTON—The Boston Red Sox, who have failed to win a single World Series since the departure of relief pitcher Curtis Leskanic in 2004, are attempting to defy the odds and do the impossible: reverse the curse of the journeyman reliever whose ghost has haunted this team since the mid-2000s.

Pitted against the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 Fall Classic, the team that for two long years seemed like it might be destined to lose forever has a chance to finally put an end to its 36-month-long World Series drought. However, the Red Sox must first overcome the famed Curse of Curtis Leskanic, which caused medium-to-long-suffering fans much anguish and heartache during the period between 2005 and 2006.

Read the whole thing

TIVO/Liveblogging Game One

Little Shop brush-up went well and we got out of there at a decent enough hour, so with a little help from TIVO, I can watch Game One of the World Series.  Might be the only game I get to see.

Pregame (TIVO):  Blah blah blah blah blah.  OMG.  That’s Yaz?  Well, I guess he’s got to get old too.  Nice way to start the World Series– reminding Red Sox fans of their mortality.  Jeez, he throws like a girl now.

Top of the First Inning (TIVO):  Beckett rules.  First strikeout.  A good omen.

Bing.  A second strikeout.

Bing.  A third.  Couldn’t ask for a better opening inning.

Bottom of the First (TIVO):  And the second pitch sails out of the park off a Pedroia’s bat.  This is a great way to start the series, but I don’t think we can keep this up.

Youklis doubles with no outs.  This has the earmarks of a Colorado catastrophe.

Youk scores on a Manny single.  2-0.  Ugh.  This rain is nasty.

Manny scores.  3-0.  Two outs.

And that’s the inning.  Three strikeouts on the defense; three runs on the offense.

Top of the Second (TIVO):  Strikeout number four.

Okay, I guess that’s it for stirkeouts.  We’ll allow the Rockies a hit.

Oops. And a run.

Three outs, and two of them were Beckett strikouts.

Excuse me, Bekkkkkett strikeouts.

Bottom of the Second (TIVO): Youk scores again after Ortiz hits him home.  4-1. 

Open up that lead, boys.  I’m never comfortable until you’re at least 5 runs ahead.

Top of the Third (TIVO): One, two, three. 

Beckett might not be striking them out, but he’s getting them to hit easy grounders and pop flies.

Bottom of the Third (TIVO): I’m not a Lugo fan, but that was a nice two-out bunt.  Too bad they couldn’t capitalize.  Still 4-1.

Top of the Fourth (TIVO): One hit (a double), but two more Beckett strikeouts.  Total pitching dominance here.

Bottom of the Fourth:  And I’m live now.

The Ortiz-Ramirez combo pays off.  Ortiz singles.  Manny hits him to third.  First and third, two outs.

They intentionally walk Lowell.  Bases loaded, two outs.  I like this.

Yeah, yeah.  The Red Sox pitching roster bangs on the dugout.  Yawn.  Gotta earn their salary some way I suppose. 

Bam.  Varitek hits a ground rule double to left.  I always feel that’s a cheap way to score, but I’ll take it.  We get to more.  It’s 6-1.  I can relax a little.

Top of the Fifth:  Beckett has seven strikeouts and no walks so far.

One down, two down.  Beckett gets 8th K.  Still pitching 94-96 mph.

Oops, a walk.  Beckett fading a little, but he’s still got it.

Side is out.

Bottom of the Fifth:  Morales pitching now for Rockies.  Lugo opens with a hit. 

Bagged at second on a bad Ellsbury bunt.

Heh.  Balk.  I’m not sure about the rules regarding balks.  Oh, okay.  He has to take a step more toward first than home.  Makes sense.  Anyway, Ellsbury to second on the balk.  Two outs.

Youk doubles, bringing in Ellsbury.  7-1.

And Ortiz doubles, bringing in Youklis.  8-1.  Looks like a blowout.  I like the fact that these runs are coming with two outs.  Their last six RBIS were with two outs.

Make that their last seven RBIs have been with two outs.  Manny singles and brings in Ortiz.

Red Sox have scored 9 runs off of 14 hits, compared to the Rockies 1 run off of 3 hits.

And Lowell doubles, bring Manny to third.  This is the 9th extra base hit for the Red Sox, tying a World Series record — and we’re only in the fifth inning.

I like the placement of the ball when it’s hit.  It’s like the Rockie outfielders aren’t even out there.

Lowell walks.  Bases loaded with J.D. Drew at the plate.  He’s already one post-season grand slam under his belt.  Will he do it again?

No, but he singles in a hard-hitting infield grounder.  Another run scored.  10-1 and the Rockies are replacing the pitcher.

Not that the new pitcher is starting off well.  He walks in a run.  11-1.

Why did the sportscaster just say "These are not your father’s Rockies?".  Nobody’s father had the Rockies.

And another walk makes it 12-1.  This isn’t even interesting now.  Every Red Sox player except Lowell has an RBI.

Speiers walks yet anoother.  And the Rockies are changing pitchers again.  13-1.

Yay!  The inning finally over.  (Never thought I’d be saying that!)

Top of the Sixth:  A close single, a nice double play, a hit, a flyout.  A comparatively quick top of the inning.  Maybe this game will end before midnight.

Bottom of the Sixth:  I guess the only thing interesting now is whether or not someone steals a base, because if they do, we all get a free taco from Taco Bell.  Which, I must confess, really isn’t all that interesting.

Hey.  A fun fact.  The actor Paul Giamatti’s father was the same Giamatti who was baseball commissioner and President of Yale.  Now that’s interesting.

Okay, I admit.  I didn’t watch much of the bottom of the sixth because I was doing laundry.  I feel in the mud while trying to push Cheri Van Loon’s car out of the mud.

Enough with the blonde dancing kid.  And the Geico Flintstone ad.

Top of the Seventh: Another scoreless inning for the Rockies, although I see they got a man on third.

Ashanti is singing God Bless America.  Never heard of her, but her eyelashes could spear armor.

Bottom of the Seventh:  Scoreless.  I guess the only exciting thing now is whether my battery will die on my laptop before the game is over.

Top of the Eighth:  Beckett with 9 Ks is replaced by Timlin.

Whoa.  The small TV in my bedroom died.  Well, the sound did.  I knew this was coming; it’s been fading slowly for the past few months.  I think I’ve had this TV for 15 years.  Time to get a new one.

Apparently, the Rockies fell quicky in the 8th.

Bottom of the Eighth:  Well, this is even going to be less interesting with no sound.

One two three.  Quick inning.

Top of the Ninth:  With Gagne pitching.  Let’s make it quick, shall we?  It’s past midnight.

Fly ball.  One out.

The screen flashed that this is the largest win (12 runs) in World Series history.  Assumng, of course, that the Rockies don’t score this inning.

Fly ball.  Two out.

Hey, sound suddenly came back on.  Maybe someone will explain why they flashed a picture of Van Halen on the screen

Strikeout.  Game over.  12 strikeouts for the Red Sox.  Nice win.  Bedtime.

Alternate History

Wspace224Via The Telegraph, this is the speech that was written for President Nixon, in the event that the Apollo 11 landing — the first manned landing on the Moon — failed:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding. They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

Nixon, of course, never had to deliver that speech because Neil Armstrong (who doesn’t exist — seriously, has anyone ever seen him in the past 40 years?) and Buzz Aldrin (a robot, obviously) survived the mission, owing in large part to the fact that the entire moon landing took place on a huge Hollywood soundstage.  Or so I’m told.

Che Guevara Comes To Winston-Salem

Several people have seen the plane soaring overhead around the city today.

"Hey. That plane is dragging a banner of Che Guevara."

That’s what they’ve been saying.  They’s what I said too, when I first saw it.

It’s not Che.  It’s the Geico caveman.  I caught a close look.

Mistake is understandable though.

So, as a public service, I thought we would go over our heavily bearded people-of-note:

This is Che:

Cheguevaraportrait5001050

Che was a Cuban revolutionary and Marxist leader.  He was executed 40 years ago this month at the age of 39 after being captured during an overthrow of Bolivia.  But the famous image (shown above), taken in 1960, lives on.

This is the Geico caveman:

Geicocavemen

The Geico caveman is a television icon and insurance company spokesman, and will have a series out this fall on network television.  Unlike Che Guevara, he is not involved in Marxist-Socialist politics and was never an ideological comrade of Fidel Castro.  In fact, he is entirely made up, and protrayed by an actor wearing unconfortable latex makeup.

And this, by the way, is Barry Gibb, circa 1980:

Barry

Barry Gibb, unlike the two above, is not dead and/or not fictional.  Which proves, by the way, there is no God.  He is a member of the BeeGees, a music group consisting of three Australian brothers who  popularized disco in the late 70’s with their use of screechy high girly-man voices set to thumpa-thumpa music.  (See, e.g., Fever, Saturday Night).

The banner flying over Winston-Salem is the guy in the middle.

Correction To An Earlier Post

The California wildfires are not — repeat, not — the fault of al Qaeda.

HartlineWe are now informed by the rightwingnut machine that the deadly fires are the fault of homos and gay marriage supporters:

They shook their fists at God and said, "We don’t care what God says, we will issue our legal brief to support gay marriage in San Diego!" Then Mayor Jerry Sanders mocked the Christian vote and signed off on this rebellious legal document to support same-sex marriage.

And then the streets of La Jolla under the Mt. Soledad Cross began to cave in.

They shook their fists at God and said, "We don’t care what the Bible says, We want the California school children indoctrinated into homosexuality!" And then Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law the heinous SB777 which bans the use of "mom" and "dad" in the text books and promotes homosexuality to all school children in California.

And then the wildfires of Southern California engulfed the land like a raging judgment against the radicalized anti-christian California rebels.

The preceding was from mind of "former homosexual" and "pro-family" activist James Hartline (pictured above).

We here at The Seventh Sense seriously regret the erroneous reporting in our earlier post.

1sandiegoonfirecopy_001

RELATED:  Former FEMA director Michael "Heckuva Job" Brown ("Brownie"), who handled the Katrina disaster soooo well, wants everyone to know he’s available for media interviews and advice.

Thanks, Mike.  Don’t call us; we’ll call you.

Maybe If Bush’s DOJ Didn’t Spend Time Trying To Prosecute Democrats….

…they might be as good as Clinton was at convicting terrorists.

The New York Times reports, "From 1993 to 2001, prosecutors in Manhattan convicted some three dozen terrorists through guilty pleas and in six major trials."

But since "the Sept. 11 attacks, the government’s track record has been decidedly spottier, and its failure to obtain a single conviction on Monday in its terrorism-financing prosecution of what was once the nation’s largest Islamic charity was another in a series of missteps and setbacks."

By the way, if you haven’t heard about the case against supposed terrorist Abdallah Higazy, you’ll want to read this:

The Second Circuit opinion, in Higazy v. Millennium Hotel and Resorts, concerned an Egyptian graduate student who was studying in New York on 9/11 when he was falsely accused of communicating with the hijackers through a radio found in a hotel room safe. Higazy professed his innocence, took a polygraph test, but confessed during an interrogation with the FBI after allegedly being threatened by an agent.

Ah hah!  He confessed under torture.  He must be guilty!

Of course, the case started falling apart when someone else — another hotel guest — went to the hotel and claimed ownership of the radio in question:

He was held for 34 days as a material witness, and was released only after the radio was claimed by an airplane pilot who had no connection to Higazy; the radio had been linked to Higazy by a former police officer working at the hotel who later pled guilty to lying to the FBI about the radio.

There’s more to the story, but I’ll let you follow the link.

Wars Cost You $8,000

CNN:

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and anti terrorist efforts abroad could cost the country $2.4 trillion over the next ten years, according to a report Wednesday.

The money, over 70 percent of which would go to support operations in Iraq, includes the estimated $600 billion spent since 2001, Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag said in testimony before the House Budget Committee. That estimate includes projected interest, since the government is borrowing most of the funds required.

***

The $2.4 trillion would pay to keep 75,000 troops deployed overseas from 2013 to 2017. About 210,000 troops are currently deployed. It does not include the Pentagon’s normal spending, which in 2007 is estimated to be about $450 billion.

The estimated $2.4 trillion works out to about $21,500 per American household.

USA Today adds:

The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could total $2.4 trillion through the next decade, or nearly $8,000 per man, woman and child in the country, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate scheduled for release Wednesday.

$8,000.  Worth it?

Fox News Blames California Wildfires On Al Qaeda

Seriously, will these guys ever shut up?

UPDATE:  Glenn "I Should Be On Fox" Beck should shut up too.

UPDATE:  More silly speculation with this head-banging-against-the-wall evoking statement:

Although a new Osama bin Laden video was issued at almost exactly the same time these fires began, and might have contained a coded command to his operatives to carry out planned arsons, it makes sense that al-Qaida has claimed no credit for the fires….

bin Laden would probably be embarrassed, in the wake of his astonishing terrorist “achievement” on 9/11, to be seen resorting to mere fire setting around the homes of innocent people.

That’s right.  The absence of bin Laden taking credit for the fires only increases the possibility that he was responsible for them.

RELATED:  Interesting satellite photos from NASA.

Wildfires

RELATED:  KPBS is really making the best use of the Internet.  They’re using Google Maps to show, in real time, the current emergency status of the entire San Diego area — burned areas, evacuation zones, which roads are open and closed, where the evacuation centers are, all of it.

Reverse 911

Not much to say about the terrible fires in California.  It’s all very sad.  But this underreported aspect to it caught my eye:

Our posting about the wildfires mentions that officials in San Diego used "reverse 911" calls to notify residents that they had to evacuate. We hadn’t heard of this practice. Thankfully, Debi Jones at Mobile Messaging 2.0 knows about the technology.

"The disastrous fires burning in San Diego have initiated a service used by the city and county government to inform and update residents. Mandatory evacuation orders have been communicated via reverse 911 on both landline phones and mobile phones," she writes. "The messages are prerecorded and as I’ve said, three messages have been received on my phone. The first was an evacuation order. The next message was a notice that San Diego schools are closed until further notice along with the instruction to keep children inside and restrict their activity levels (smoke and ash is so thick in the air that keeping it out of your house is impossible during large fires). The third message was information on evacuation centers that were still open as several are already full."

County officials estimate, based on census data, that their calls have reached more than 500,000 people.

Wired reports that these calls aren’t reaching everyone. "Those who rely on VoIP or cell phones exclusively are also out of the loop, because the system doesn’t know to call them. But the city has a website where residents can register a non-landline number and associate it with their address. It’s been up and down," the publication says.

Wired says some residents have taken to calling their home phone to see if their answering machine picks up. If it does, the house is still standing and the juice is still flowing.

Also, it looks like Twitter is coming into its own with the San Diego fires as the "front line" up-to-the-minute source.

My Assessment In Hillary Goes Up

And it’s largely because of her answers to these questions:

I want to start with some questions about foreign policy and terrorism. If you become president you’ll enter the White House with far more power than, say, your husband had. What is your view of this? And what specific powers might you relinquish as president, or renegotiate with Congress — for example the power to declare a US citizen an enemy combatant?

Well, I think it is clear that the power grab undertaken by the Bush-Cheney administration has gone much further than any other president and has been sustained for longer. Other presidents, like Lincoln, have had to take on extraordinary powers but would later go to the Congress for either ratification or rejection. But when you take the view that they’re not extraordinary powers, but they’re inherent powers that reside in the office and therefore you have neither obligation to request permission nor to ask for ratification, we’re in a new territory here.

And I think that I’m gonna have to review everything they’ve done because I’ve been on the receiving end of that. There were a lot of actions which they took that were clearly beyond any power the Congress would have granted or that in my view that was inherent in the constitution. There were other actions they’ve taken which could have obtained congressional authorization but they deliberately chose not to pursue it as a matter of principle.

I guess I’m asking, can a president, once in the White House, actually give up some of this power in the name of constitutional principle?

Oh, absolutely, Michael. I mean that has to be part of the review that I undertake when I get to the White House, and I intend to do that.

What few people understand is the explosion of presidential powers that have occurred in the past 6 years under Bush-Cheney, many of the clearly beyond the scope of the Constitution.  This should be alarming to both small-government conservatives and libertarians.  Even if you don’t think Bush-Cheney has abused those powers, you should be concerned that a president — any president — in the future could decide to abuse them.

Hillary seems to understand that, and is the only candidate to my knowledge to openly suggest and work toward scaling back the presidential powers to make them in line with the Constitution.  It’s also smart of her: it counters the ridiculous meme (thrown out by conservatives) that Hillary is a scary powermonger.

Of course, as others suggest, whether any future president is willing to voluntarily relinquish powers remains to be seen.

Dumbass Quote Of The Week

In case you haven’t heard, J.K. Rowling made a bit of news last week at a book signing:

In front of a full house of hardcore Potter fans at Carnegie Hall in New York, Rowling, sitting on the stage on a red velvet and carved wood throne, read from her seventh and final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," then took questions. One fan asked whether Albus Dumbledore, the head of the famed Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft,  had ever loved anyone. Rowling smiled. "Dumbledore is gay, actually," replied Rowling as the audience erupted in surprise. She added that, in her mind, Dumbledore had an unrequited love affair with Gellert Grindelwald, Voldemort’s predecessor who appears in the seventh book. After several minutes of prolonged shouting and clapping from astonished fans, Rowling added. "I would have told you earlier if I knew it would make you so happy."

This led to a predictable amount of conservative outrage.  At Redstate, dvdmsr says the revelation means that “Dumbledore was more flawed than I thought.”  At another prominent conservative blog, Newsbusters, they claim that the revelation somehow vindicates the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, who was showered with ridicule in 1999 after declaring that one of the Teletubbies, Tinky Winky, was gay. Mark Finkelstein, a Republican official in upstate New York, writes that “somewhere, Jerry Falwell is smiling”.

But the best outrage comes from "Blogs 4 Brownback":

At last the author, a Ms. J.K. Rowling, revealed the revolting truth: Dumbledore is a gay homosexual who doesn’t deserve to live on G-d’s green earth…

Well, I have some good news for the irate people at Blogs 4 Brownback: Dumbledore doesn’t live on God’s green earth.

Know why?

He doesn’t live at all.  He’s fictional.

Yup, it’s true.  He doesn’t exist in reality.

UPDATE:  "Brownbeck" type fixed.

Kucinich Even Crazier Than We Thought

Dscf1215_169099aHe looks like a hobbit, especially standing next to his 6 foot tall, tongue-pierced, 20-something, hot British wife.  Not very presidential, I would say, which is why he’s in the bottom of the barrel in polls.

So this bit of news is likely to bring into the political mainstream:

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has claimed to have seen a UFO, according to Shirley MacLaine in her new book, "Sage-Ing While Age-Ing."

Kucinich "had a close sighting over my home in Graham, Washington, when I lived there," the actress, a close Kucinich friend, wrote. "Dennis found his encounter extremely moving. The smell of roses drew him out to my balcony where, when he looked up, he saw a gigantic triangular craft, silent, and observing him.

"It hovered, soundless, for 10 minutes or so, and sped away with a speed he couldn’t comprehend. He said he felt a connection in his heart and heard directions in his mind."

Aliens sent insturctions to Dennis Kucinich?   Oooookay then.

Although, it’s really not much different from Bush starting wars after he speaks to God.

What You Don’t Know Can’t Hurt You, Right?

Hmmmm:

Anxious to avoid upsetting air travelers, NASA is withholding results from an unprecedented national survey of pilots that found safety problems like near collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than the government previously recognized.

NASA gathered the information under an $8.5 million safety project, through telephone interviews with roughly 24,000 commercial and general aviation pilots over nearly four years. Since ending the interviews at the beginning of 2005 and shutting down the project completely more than one year ago, the space agency has refused to divulge the results publicly.

Just last week, NASA ordered the contractor that conducted the survey to purge all related data from its computers.

***

Among other results, the pilots reported at least twice as many bird strikes, near mid-air collisions and runway incursions as other government monitoring systems show, according to a person familiar with the results who was not authorized to discuss them publicly.

The survey also revealed higher-than-expected numbers of pilots who experienced "in-close approach changes" — potentially dangerous, last-minute instructions to alter landing plans.

So why keep it a secret?  Here’s why:

A senior NASA official, associate administrator Thomas S. Luedtke, said revealing the findings could damage the public’s confidence in airlines and affect airline profits.

Yeah.  Wouldn’t want to hurt airline profits….