Saturday, December 27, 2003


I hadn't thought about this much among the debate about high school teams named the Indians or the Cherokees, or state flags with the stars and bars on them, but there's apparently a huge number of schools in the US -- mostly in the south -- named for prominent Confederates.

The white folks in the south seem to have grown up with -- well, southern education, and all that implies -- and refuse to yield any single inch on their tradition of slavery, Jim Crow, and a general disaffection for Americans of African descent and non-white Christians of any stripe.

The idea of a young black scholar walking around with a degree from Jefferson Davis High School just riles me.

But, perhaps... perhaps I am being a pigheaded politically correct liberal about this. Maybe we should embrace all of our mistakes as a nation, much as some educational philosophies now encourage the absence of grades and winners in schoolyard games.

So. Why not go whole-hog and rename some of our schools and public buildings for Americans who did us less than proudly. For instance, perhaps St. Patrick's Cathedral could be renamed the Paris Hilton Cathedral. Suppose we rename the US Military Academy at West Point the Benedict Arnold Military Academy. Maybe the Academy Award could be renamed the Ed Wood instead of the Oscar.

Or maybe we could rename a school for Osama bin Laden. Because, really, what's the difference between naming a school for one man who hated the United States and the freedom for which it stands or another? And, by the way, if you name a school for bin Laden, you have the added advantage of not having named your school for a loser like Stonewall Jackson or Robert E. Lee.

Saturday, November 01, 2003


Here's another email I was sent.

Interesting Facts

When the thirteen colonies were still a part of England, Professor Alexander Tyler circa 1787 wrote a warning based on the fall of the Athenian Republic over two thousand years previous to that time.
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money (generous gifts) from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."
The average age of the world's greatest civilization has been two hundred years.  These nations have progressed through the following sequence.
    From bondage to spiritual faith;
    From spiritual faith to great courage;
    From courage to liberty;
    From liberty to abundance,
    From abundance to selfishness;
    From selfishness to complacency,
    From complacency to apathy,
    From apathy to dependency,
    From dependence back into bondage."

Where do you think this nation falls in this progression? Have we progressed down to one half, two thirds or more to dependence back into bondage. Scary isn't it?

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University of Law, St. Paul, MN provides the following 2000 election factoids for consideration:
    * Population of the counties won by Gore 127 million  -  won by Bush 143 million
    * Sq. miles of country won by Gore 580,000  -  won by Bush 2,427,000
    * States won by Gore 19  -  by Bush 29
    * Murders per 100,000 residents in counties won by Gore 13.2  -  by Bush 2.1 (not a typo)

Professor Olson adds, "And may I add that the map of the territory Bush won was (mostly) the land owned by the people of this great country. Not the citizens living in cities owned by the government and living off the government."

Taking the path of least resistance is what makes rivers run crooked!

Should we find ourselves in a state of apathy, think about the quote from Edmund Burke, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."

Monday, October 06, 2003


Our president, George Dumbya Bush, is the son of a previous president, George Humbert Humbert Bush. I would bet my house that if a person with the same life experiences and skills had run for president in 2000 -- from any party -- he would never have raised enough money to get enough signatures to get on any of the primary ballots. But because Daddy Bush had been president, he gets to make Sonny Bush president, too. And you can bet that Jeb Bush is in line in 2008.

This comes to mind today because I read how Connie Mack IV is moving to Florida to run for the same House seat his father, Sen. Connie Mack III, used to possess.

Not that the Democrats are any better. There are Kennedys (Jack, Bobby, Ted, Bobby Jr., Sargent Shriver, and now the Arnold-in-law, who seems to have taken up the family avocations, politics and pawing women), of course. Hubert Humphrey's son went into the family business. There are the Longs. And then the cross-party politicos, the Roosevelts (Teddy and Franklin) and the Rockefellers (Nelson and Jay).

While this phenomenon isn't unique to politics -- leaving the family business to the offspring dates back to when the first hunter-gatherer left his favorite sharp stone to his eldest -- it's particularly loathesome in the United States where we took up arms against our blood brethren (and their paid mercenaries) in order to keep away from monarchy.

Do I believe we should be able to elect anybody we choose? Absolutely. I don't believe the 22nd Amendment should have been enacted. As opposed to his presidency as I was, if the American public wanted to vote a third term to Ronald Reagan in 1988, I would have had no problem with the results of the election. (I would have campaigned vigorously against him, but I wouldn't object to a three-, four-, five-, or even six-term president.)

But why do we believe that, with 280 million bright, creative, and caring Americans, we have to limit ourselves to the love-juice dribblings of people we've already elected? Ask yourselves this: Was George W. Bush any better prepared for the presidency just because his father was able to keep Dumbya out of the county lockup during his wilder days? Is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. a better Congressman because his uncle was president? Aren't there better qualified people in Texas and Rhode Island? I say yes, there are -- even in Texas, where it takes a while longer to find the bright folks.

I would much prefer to do away with the 22nd Amendment and substitute for it one that prohibits the direct descendants of presidents and Congressmen from running for those offices. Is it a little bit unfair? Maybe. But I think we'd wind up with a better group of representatives, and perhaps even a group of representatives less bound by old-family debts and promises than the current batch.

Let's not even talk about actors and football players.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003


So a few weeks ago my wife breathlessly tells me that an asteroid has been found that's going to smash the Earth in 2014.

Then... it became improbable.

Now, it's unlikely.

Anybody sense a coverup? If we can't find the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, what makes us trust astronomers when they say what an object that's been flying undetected around the heavens for 13 billion years will do?

Me, I'm building a spaceship. Of course, finding oxygen will probably be a problem...

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

And The Number One Bumper Sticker you'd Like To See

Welcome to America speak Iroquois!

"The United States is putting together a Constitution now for Iraq. Why don't we just give them ours? It's served us well for 200 years, and we don't appear to be using it anymore, so what the hell?" -- Jay Leno

Of course, now John Ashcroft's got a file on me...

Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Recently Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury was built around the results of a study that linked masturbation to lower incidences of prostate cancer in males. Even Trudeau realized that some newspapers would shy from the material.

How wrong on the count of both newspaper and cartoonist.

Here's what my local newspaper -- the Seattle Times, a union-busting monopoly-in-the-making -- had to say about its decision to not run the strip:

The "Doonesbury" comic strip has seen plenty of controversy over the years, and The Times has routinely chosen to publish it rather than second-guess its creator, Garry Trudeau. Today Trudeau offered an opportunity to sidestep offending some readers, and we accepted.

In Trudeau's original strip for today, the characters talk about masturbation. The topic was prompted by a study in which Australian scientists found that men who masturbate often in their 20s are less likely to get prostate cancer later in life.

Anticipating that some newspapers would object to the topic, Trudeau agreed to allow Universal Press Syndicate, which markets the strip, to send out a substitute. Given the choice, we decided to publish the substitute.

The original strip was relatively innocuous, but some readers would have been offended by it, especially because it appears in the mix of other Sunday comics. (The daily strip appears on our editorial page, because its content is typically political.)

For those of you who want to see the strip, it will be available today through our Web site. At you'll find a link to "Doonesbury."

The Associated Press quoted Trudeau as saying the comic "isn't really about masturbation or the cancer study as such, but about the shifting nature of taboos and the inability of two adults to have a certain kind of serious conversation."

"Still, I understand that the mention of certain words per se will not be acceptable to some family newspapers."

The Associated Press also reported Trudeau said his decision to allow an alternative strip didn't signal his intention to start supplying replacements "every time there's a chance someone might be offended."

Controversy typically hasn't prompted us to withhold a "Doonesbury" strip. We've taken heat for publishing strips about extramarital sex, homosexuality, abortion, AIDS, Watergate, Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, President Bush (both of them) and more.

We've withheld the strip twice. In 1974 we dropped one that accused then-Attorney General John Mitchell of being "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" in the Watergate scandal. In 1986 we dropped a sequence called "Sleaze on Parade," which carried a long list of Reagan administration appointees the strip said were accused of misconduct in office.

We found some flaws in the list and concluded the material was beyond the realm of fair commentary.

If the syndicate hadn't offered an alternative for today's strip, we would have run the original. As it was, it seemed the strip would needlessly offend some readers, so we took the alternative. Feel free to let us know how you feel about the decision.

Inside the Times appears in the Sunday Seattle Times. If you have a comment on news coverage, write to Michael R. Fancher, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111, call 206-464-3310 or send e-mail to More columns at

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

For his part, Trudeau should have chosen to keep the strip in his desk drawer. Clearly he sought the publicity that having the strip pulled would garner. After all, he's probably lost his real edge to cartoonists like Aaron McGruder and The Boondocks. But if he himself offered an alternative strip, then he knew the strip on its own wouldn't be compelling enough for newspapers to run it despite the subject matter.

The strip, incidentally, wasn't that funny.

Got this e-mail from my college pal Brian Lehrhoff, and I'm going to make it my job over the next few weeks to track down the origin of each of these points. What frightens me is that the majority of it may be true.

*Subject: George W's Resume
The White House, USA


I spent the US surplus and bankrupted the US Treasury.

I shattered the record for the biggest annual deficit in history (not easy)!

I set an economic record for the most personal bankruptcies filed in any
12 month period.

I set all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the stock

I am the first president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.

I am the first president in US history to enter office with a criminal

In my first year in office I set the all-time record for most days on
vacation by any president in US history (tough to beat my dad's, but I did).

After taking off almost the entire month of August off for vacation, I
presided over the worst security failure in US history.

I set the record for most campaign fund raising trips by any president
in US history.

In my first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their job.

I cut unemployment benefits for more out-of-work Americans than any
other president in US history.

I set the all-time record for most real estate foreclosures in a12-month

I appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than
any president in US history. (check out their criminal records on

I set the record for the fewest press conferences of any president,
since the advent of TV.

I signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than
any other US president in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crises in US history and refused to
intervene when corruption was revealed.

I cut health care benefits for war veterans.

I attacked and took over two countries.

I set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously
take to the streets to protest me (15 million people), shattering the
record for protest against any person in the
history of mankind.

I dissolved more international treaties than any president in US history.

Members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in US
history. (The poorest multimillionaire, Condoleeza Rice, has a
Chevron oil tanker named after her.)

I am the first president in US history to have all 50 states of the
Union simultaneously struggle against bankruptcy.

I presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud in any market
in any country in the history of the world.

I am the first president in US history to order a US attack and military
occupation of a sovereign nation, and I did so against the will of the
United Nations and the vast majority of the international community.

I have created the largest government department bureaucracy in the
history of the United States, called the "Bureau of Homeland
Security"(only one letter away from BS).

I set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases,
more than any other president in US history (Ronnie was tough to beat,
but I did it!!).

I am the first president in US history to compel the United Nations
remove the US from the Human Rights Commission.

I am the first president in US history to have the United Nations remove
the US from the Elections Monitoring Board.

I removed more checks and balances, and have the least amount of
congressional oversight than any presidential administration in US history.

I rendered the entire United Nations irrelevant.

I withdrew from the World Court of Law.

I refused to allow inspectors access to US prisoners of war and
by default no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions.

I am the first president in US history to refuse United Nations election
inspectors access during the 2002 US elections.

I am the all-time US (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations. The biggest lifetime contributor to my campaign, who is also one of my best friends, presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation).

I spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in US

I am the first president to run and hide when the US came under attack
(and then lied, saying the enemy had the code to Air Force 1)

I am the first US president to establish a secret shadow government.

I took the world's sympathy for the US after 9/11, and in less than a
year made the US the most resented country in the world (possibly the
biggest diplomatic failure in US and world history).

I am the first US president in history to have a majority of the people
of Europe (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace
and stability.

I changed US policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded
government contracts.

I set the all-time record for the number of administration appointees
who violated US Law by not selling their huge investments in
corporations bidding for gov't contracts.

I have removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any
other president in US history. In a little over two years I have created
the most divided country in decades, I entered office with the strongest economy in US history and in less than two years turned every single economic category heading straight down.


I have at least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine (Texas driving
record has been erased and is not available).

I was AWOL from the National Guard and deserted the military during time
of war. I refuse to take a drug test or even answer any questions about
drug use.

All records of my tenure as governor of Texas have been spirited away to
my fathers library, sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All records of any SEC investigations into my insider trading or
bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

All minutes of meetings of any public corporation for which I served on
the board are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view.

Any records or minutes from meetings I (or my VP) attended regarding
public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public


For personal references, please speak to my dad or Uncle James Baker
(They can be reached in their offices at the Carlyle Group where they
are helping to divide up the spoils of the US-Iraq war and plan for the
next one.)

(Note: this information should be useful to voters
in the 2004 election. Circulate to as many citizens you think would be
helped to be reminded about his record.)

Monday, September 08, 2003


Survival, with honor, that outmoded and all-important word, is as difficult as ever and as all-important to a writer. Those who do not last are always more beloved since no one has to see them in their long, dull, unrelenting, no-quarter-given-and-no-quarter-received, fights that they make to do something as they believe it should be done before they die. Those who die or quit early and easy and with every good reason are preferred because they are understandable and human. Failure and well-disguised cowardice are more human and more beloved.
--Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

You could talk about how Warren Zevon died too young, or you could talk about how Warren Zevon lived his life as if he were one of Galileo's experiments on the acceleration of gravity, or you could talk about how his work was dark, or quaint, or funny.

But ultimately, you could talk about Warren Zevon forever and ever, because he had the uncanny ability to look deep inside of you and see not only your soul, but your internal organs and the connective tissue, and think how ironic it all is.

I first found Warren Zevon through the song that probably is the one his most casual fans know, "Werewolves of London." I knew he thought the way I did when I heard of how he espied "a werewolf drinking a pi?a colada at Trader Vic's," whose "hair was perfect." Later, much later, my spouse pointed out it was a metaphor, and it is, but it's still a damn funny song.

But the song that made me realize that Warren Zevon understood me was "Excitable Boy," a song both happy and repulsive all at once, just like life, and just like each of us.

Nobody saw life like Warren Zevon. I'm sure nobody will quite see the afterlife like Zevon, either.

Saturday, August 30, 2003



Young man, there's no need to feel down
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground
I said, young man, 'cause you're in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy

Young man, there's a place you can go
I said, young man, when you're short on your dough
You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
They have everything For young men to enjoy.
You can hang out with all the boys

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
You can get yourself clean
You can have a good meal
You can do whatever you feel.

Young man, Are you listening to me
I said, young man, what do you want to be
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams,
but you've got to know this one thing.

No man, does it all by himself
I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf
And just go there, to the Y.M.C.A.
I'm sure they can help you today

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
They have everything for young men to enjoy.
You can hang out with all the boys

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
You can get yourself clean
You can have a good meal
You can do whatever you feel.

Young Man, I was once in your shoes,
I said, I was down and out with the blues
I felt, no man cared if I were alive
I felt the whole world was so jive

That's when someone came up to me
and said young man take a walk up the street
There's a place there called the Y.M.C.A.
They can start you back on your way.

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
They have everything For young men to enjoy.
You can hang out with all the boys

It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.
Young man, Young man, there's no need to feel down
Young man, Young man, pick yourself off the ground

just go to the Y.M.C.A.
Young Man, Young Man, I was once in your shoes,
Young Man, Young Man, I was out with the blues


I'm just asking.

Friday, August 29, 2003


It's always sad when a parent dies. My sympathies go out to Barry Bonds and his family. Bonds the elder clearly touched many people.

One was Willie Mays. Perhaps the greatest centerfielder in baseball, the second-greatest (at least for the moment) home run hitter in history, Mays is Barry Bonds' godfather. And, in the wake of Bobby Bonds' death, Mays said that Bobby Bonds deserved to be in the Hall of Fame.


Baseball players, even the greats, apparently, just have no sense of history. I remember that Don Mattingly had no idea who Lou Gehrig was and believed Babe Ruth to be mythical, not real. Many of today's players have no idea who older players were. And finally, there are those players who confuse talent -- which every major leaguer has -- with success. Bobby Bonds was a very good player, but based on his peregrinations, it's also clear that he was not good enough for a team to hold onto him no matter what. After playing seven years with the Giants, he played seven more with seven different teams.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Bobby Bonds. But what I am complaining about is the inability to separate the truly great from the very good. When in doubt, a player should be left out.

Visit a website I like called There they use Bill James' way of calculating similar players. I looked up Bobby Bonds, and here's what gives:

Similar Batters

1. Ron Gant (907)
2. Reggie Smith (888)
3. Jack Clark (884)
4. George Foster (883)
5. Fred Lynn (875)
6. Roy Sievers (868)
7. Dick Allen (866)
8. Ellis Burks (865)
9. Bobby Murcer (864)
10. Rocky Colavito (862)

Most Similar by Age

22. Jim King (981)
23. Oddibe McDowell (973)
24. Ellis Burks (953)
25. Jack Clark (952)
26. Andre Dawson (957)
27. Jack Clark (943)
28. Jack Clark (933)
29. Dale Murphy (919)
30. Dave Winfield (922)
31. Dave Winfield (914)
32. Dale Murphy (913)
33. Dale Murphy (918)
34. Dwight Evans (904)
35. Dwight Evans (908)

You'll notice that these are all very good players, but of them, only Dave Winfield is in the Hall of Fame. I might make an argument for Dwight Evans, but nobody else has.

The Hall of Fame belongs to the greats. Let's let logic, not emotion, keep it so.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Summer Fizzles

Today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer reprinted a Hugh Hart article from the San Francisco Chronicle on summer movies that sizzled, in which the author pretended to explain it.

The article proves that nobody in Hollywood or the community of film critics has a clue about why the public buys anything.

For instance, one wag named Brandon Gray (of a company called "Box Office Mojo," golly gee) said that the reason Hollywood Homicide failed was because nobody wanted to see its "iconic" star Harrison Ford riding a little girl's bicycle. That could be true. A very good film, Last Action Hero, failed because his core audience didn't want to see Arnold Schwarzenegger making fun of action flicks and because people who would have liked to see action flicks lampooned didn't want to see an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. But I contend that the real failure of Hollywood Homicide was its title. It didn't sound like a comedy, and I feared a film more the gritty and bloody shoot-'em-ups so popular with the kids. Fans of those movies probably didn't want to see a Harrison Ford film. Oh, and one more thing: Harrison Ford is old. He's not a star of the current generation. Some actors make this transition well, some don't.

The other film mentioned in the same paragraph was The In-Laws, the remake of the wonderful 1970s film starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin. Okay, I didn't see that one either. But the two have in common this: Old leading men who are trying to be younger on-screen and off-screen. Douglas is (repulsively) married to one of the world's most beautiful women, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Ford is dating the equally young (although substantially lesser) Calista Flockhart. I have to think that if they think their personal lives are going so well, the rest of the world will think they're attractive. I don't think so.

By the way, The In-Laws failed because remakes should never be made. (Unless it's A Star Is Born, which seems to be the exception to the rule.)

You know what's worse than a remake? Something set in an era that nobody remembers. Such was the case with Down With Love, the romantic comedy made to look like, and set in the era of, Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Hollywood has it half-right: Some people will search out movies starring their favorites. But Renee Zellweger probably hasn't reached that point yet. But more likely the potential audience will run out and see a film with a favorite star if it offers a premise that makes sense for that star. (See Harrison Ford and Michael Douglas.) Kindergarten Cop was a hit because people like Schwarzenegger (maybe too much, but that will soon be California's problem) and thought it would be interesting to see him in that situation. (Note: See -- we'll watch a movie in which an icon does silly stuff.) Baby boomers think the world is interested in what they remember, and think. It's not. It's on to 8 Mile.

As for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you can name the problems with this movie (which, by the way, I enjoyed well enough at a matinee price). First, it's set in the past. Second, it stars Sean Connery, who may have retained his attraction well into his dotage, but seems to have lost that a film or three back. (In fact, I can name the film -- Entrapment -- ironically co-starring the young and babelicious Zeta-Jones. That was when my wife and I first realized Connery had merely gotten creepy.) It also appears that once Connery was cast, there was no money in the budget for any other actors of equal power to appear in the League with him. The film also had huge script problems, starting with how Captain Nemo got a submarine to Paris (solved by the scriptwriter by not showing it), and continuing with how all the characters decided with little provocation on whom the red-herring traitor in the group was.

Why did Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life not succeed? I don't know. Wasn't it advertised on Fox enough? Gray contends that the word "cradle" turned off the testosterone crowd. Maybe. I didn't know what the film's name was, it was just Lara Croft II as far as I was concerned. I think the audience was probably tired of star Angelina Jolie and her hyper-publicized split from Billy Bob Thornton. Plus, like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, its main base is England. That works for Austin Powers movies, because those are jokes, but really, nobody in the USA really cares about anyone from England, not in a serious movie.

Then there's Gigli. Haven't seen it, but I will one day. But my first reaction when I heard about this movie was it would fail simply because of the title. Aside from Italian-Americans who are still close to their heritage, nobody knows what this word means or how to pronounce it. Oh, and by the way: I don't think Ben Affleck can carry a film on his own yet, either... face it, Colin Farrell stole Daredevil, and guys wanted to see Jennifer Garner as much as another Marvel super-hero. Let me rephrase my point: Anybody remember Pearl Harbor? One assessment here by Gray I agree with: Guys think Affleck is whipped, and that ain't going to help him be a guy's guy.

Of course, the film that turned out to be the summer's biggest hit starred the voice of a man who has played nebbish after nebbish and a woman whose sexual preference got her booted off the air by ABC: Finding Nemo, featuring Albert Brooks and Ellen De Generes. De Generes is hated by a big portion of the country because she "promotes the gay lifestyle" -- I know people who refer to her as "Ellen Degenerate." I guess enough people are comfortable with her, however, because they saw Finding Nemo in droves. It helps to have a wonderful script about a father's love for his son and amazing, state-of-the-art Pixar animation (our stock is up since we bought it).

All that said, take what I say with a grain of salt. I think much of the film-going audience is composed of idiots and many critics are fools. I like Ishtar, widely considered to be a failure. I love The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (and you should, too). I thoroughly enjoyed Last Action Hero.

Ultimately, the problem in Hollywood is that apparently it's not important to first have a good script. It's important to have a "bankable" star (though a large number of big hits have been made without them), or to have a movie that's like a movie that was a hit. Just give us a compelling story with actors it's easy to care about and you'll get a hit. It can't be that hard.

Then again, marketing seems to be a challenge for most companies. Remember New Coke?

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

AMAZING TRUE STORY! (Gleefully Stolen and Adapted)

On a tour of the US, the Pope took a few days off to visit the beach to relax. He was cruising along the sands in the Popemobile when there was a frantic commotion just off shore. A helpless man, wearing a BOSTON RED SOX jersey, was struggling frantically to free himself from the jaws of a 25-foot shark. As the Pope watched in horror, a speedboat pulled up with three men wearing NEW YORK YANKEES jerseys.

One quickly fired a harpoon into the shark’s side while the other two reached out and pulled the blue semiconscious Red Sox fan from the water. Then using the long clubs, the three beat the shark to death and hauled it into the boat. Immediately the Pope shouted and summoned them to him. "I give you my blessing for your brave actions. I heard that there were some bitter hatreds between Yankees fans and Red Sox fans, but now I have seen with my own eyes that this is not true." As the Pope drove off, the harpooner asked his buddies, "what was that?" "It was the Pope," one replied. "He is in direct contact with God and has access to all of God’s wisdom." "Well" the harpooner said, "he may have access to God and his wisdom, but he doesn’t know anything about shark fishing. Is the bait holding up okay, or do we need to get another one?"

Friday, August 15, 2003


I almost don't believe the massive blackout on the east coast today. It can't happen -- I'm not there. I was in 1965 when I was 8, and I was there in 1977 when I was driving back from dropping my cousin at her boyfriend's house and it got very, very dark.

To the denizens of New York, I say mazel tov. I am glad that you managed to avoid breaking into stores and making off with televisions and shoulder-mounted rocket launchers. To those of you who had to trudge home from midtown Manhattan to Bay Ridge or Pelham Bay or Flushing or (God help you) Belle Harbor... well, the deity of your choice bless you.

But let me say this about blackouts. They're good for the soul. You remember what's important about life. Things like air conditioning (which we in Seattle don't use much). Elevators (useful when your office is on the 35th floor, as was mine when I worked at NW Ayer in 1980-82). ATMs (although when I first worked there was no such thing) (yes, I'm old). Not to mention your good old-fashioned electric toothbrushes, desktop computers, cable televisions and George Foreman Electric Grills. Imagine a world with none of these things.

But mostly what I thought about today was...


I was out tonight watching my 35+ baseball team lose (my doctor says I have achilles tendonitis and shouldn't run for another month), so I asked the spouse to tape the news coverage. One young woman was being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer, and I had to replay her comments two or three times to be sure I heard her correctly.

She'd been at her dentist's office, actually in the process of having her teeth drilled, referring to working in the "time zone" of "thirty, forty years ago when there was no electricity." Granted this woman probably had a stressful day, but someone who works on a trading floor should be bright enough to know that we've had electricity in this country since Thomas Edison. And most time zones I know are about 1,000 miles wide and about an hour's time difference, not thirty years.

Then again, someone actually employed this woman, so I guess old folks aren't that bright, either.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


In a development more reminiscent of the 1962 Mets (or the 2003 Tigers), Ted Williams' head has been dropped, drilled, cracked, shaved, and worse since his death a little over a year ago.

You know, I'd like to live forever. Who wouldn't like to really reap the rewards of compound interest, or see the Boston Red Sox finally win another World Series? But Futurama aside, I find it difficult to believe that it makes sense to be frozen after death. You're dead. Live with it.

But what kind of nimwit organization is Alcor, anyway? They've dropped Ted's head! Cracking it! That's just wrong.

Sunday, July 27, 2003


So after it got out at the office that I had once blogged, people had to go and look. I had complained that I had given up because Blogger™ seemed incapable of actually posting my stuff.

But now... it looks like posts will actually post. So now I have to get back to work.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003


The following comes to me as an e-mail, and I hope that I'm not infringing any copyrights by reprinting it.

National Baseball Hall of Fame
April 7, 2003
Mr. Tim Robbins

Dear Mr. Robbins:

The President of the United States, as this nation's
democratically-elected leader, is constitutionally
bound to make decisions he believes are in the best
interests of the American people. After months of
careful deliberations, President Bush made the
decision that it is in our nation's best interests to
end the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein, and to disarm
Iraq of deadly weapons which could be used against its
enemies, including the United States. In order to
accomplish this, nearly 300,000 American military
personnel are in harm's way at the moment. From the
first day we opened our doors in 1939, The National
Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum--and many players and
executives in Baseball's family--has honored the
United States and those who defend our freedoms.

In a free country such as ours, every American has the
right to his or her own opinions, and to express them.
Public figures, such as you, have platforms much
larger than the average American's, which provides you
an extraordinary opportunity to have your views
heard--and an equally large obligation to act and
speak responsibility. We believe your very public
criticism of President Bush at this important--and
sensitive--time in our nation's history helps
undermine the US position, which ultimately could put
our troops in even more danger. As an institution, we
stand behind our President and our troops in this

As a result, we have decided to cancel the April 26-27
programs in Cooperstown commemorating the 15th
anniversary of Bull Durham.

Dale Petroskey
president, Baseball Hall of Fame

Tim Robbins
April 9, 2003

Dear Mr. Petroskey,

As an American and as a baseball fan, I was dismayed
to read your letter canceling my appearance at the
Baseball Hall of Fame due to my public criticism of
President Bush. I had been unaware that baseball was a
Republican sport.

I was looking forward to a weekend away from politics
and war to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of Bull
Durham. I am sorry that you have chosen to use
baseball and your position at the Hall of Fame to make
a political statement. I know there are many baseball
fans that disagree with you and even more that will
react with disgust to realize baseball is being

As an American who believes that vigorous debate is
necessary for the survival of a democracy, I reject
your suggestion that one must be silent in time of
war. To suggest that my criticism of the President
puts the troops in danger is absurd. If people had
listened to that twisted logic we'd still be in
Vietnam. I must remain skeptical of the war plans of
Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, all of whom have never been
in battle, one of whom skirted service in Vietnam for
a cushy stateside job. It does not surprise me that
these men, in their current federal budget have cut
$844 million dollars from Veteran's health care. Yes,
let's support the troops. For Life.

I wish you had, in your letter, saved me the rhetoric
and talked honestly about your ties to the Bush and
Reagan Administrations. You are using what power you
have to infringe upon my rights to free speech and by
taking this action hope to intimidate the millions of
others that disagree with our president. In doing so,
you expose yourself as a tool, blinded by partisanship
and ambition. You invoke patriotism and use words like
freedom in an attempt to intimidate and bully. In
doing so, you dishonor the words patriotism and
freedom and dishonor the men and women who have
fought wars to keep this nation a place where one can
freely express one's opinion without fear of reprisal
or punishment.

Your subservience to your friends in the
administration is embarrassing to baseball and by
engaging in this enterprise you show that you belong
with other cowards and ideologues in the Hall of
Infamy and Shame.

Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets; all
improbable glorious miracles that I have always
believed in.

Tim Robbins

To add my two bits' worth, prior to seeing these letters, I had already e-mailed Petroskey to complain. I wish Robbins hadn't gotten political back. To my mind, the great thing about baseball is that it democratizes all... it has room for liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats... heck, even communists. All fine. All Petroskey had to do was to ask -- not even order, but ask -- Robbins and Susan Sarandon to keep their politics out of whatever event was to unfold, and nobody would have thought twice about it.

Petroskey has to do what he wants to because the current administration is flexing its muscle like an imperial power, creating a world in its own self-image. You know the old saying, "Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should." It applies to genetic engineering and it applies to war in Iraq. And it especially applies to a director of a museum who goes out of his way to exclude half of his audience. In the words of Red Foreman -- what a dumbass.

Sunday, February 02, 2003


I got a chill last week NASA announced that it was getting ready to put teachers in space again. Then I woke up Saturday to the news about the Columbia shuttle. Do you get the feeling that there are fates that shouldn't be tempted?

When I was a boy, I loved the space program. Even now, I can tell you the name of every American who flew into space in each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.

Three days ago, I couldn't have told you the names of any of the STS-107 astronauts. I knew one was from Israel... another perhaps unfortunate public relations effort of NASA, just like sending Christa McAuliffe ( into space. Even today, I still can't name all seven without looking.

The risks each took seemed so small these days... over 100 shuttle missions, most of which went smoothly. But once more, we see how enormous the risk is.

Surely, questions will be asked. What hit the wing of the shuttle on liftoff? Why wasn't the wing examined more closely in space? Did NASA downplay the possible damage to avoid taking astronaut time away from paid experiments? If there was a possiblity of damage, why not dock the shuttle with the International Space Station, while it's there, and leave the shuttle in orbit or return it to earth automatically (even if it meant crashing it crewless into the Pacific Ocean)? Or even the first question -- why employ such a bizarre design in the first place?

Most important, remember this: As short as these pioneers' lives were, and as tragically as they died, at least they were aware of the risks they faced. And they were doing what they wanted to. Compare that with the 2,800 who died on September 11, 2001.

Astronaut biographies can be found at

Friday, January 31, 2003


According to a story in Zen Entertainment (, there's a chance The Gong Show will return. I say give Barris a gun instead of a gong. Now THAT'S reality TV worth watching!

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Just testing.... Please, just skip this post, go on with your life and do useful things.

Thursday, January 16, 2003


We send all the wrong people into space. Today's space shuttle mission sent the first Israeli astronaut into space on another mission to continue building the International Space Station.

While this is all wonderful, I can't help thinking that it would be much better if we put Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat up into space, and didn't let them down until they'd come to an agreement they and their people could both live with. I've got to think after a few weeks of nothing but freeze-dried ice cream and lima beans, world peace would be much closer at hand.

While we're at it, how about sending up Saddam Hussein and Kim Il Jong?

Once more, we spend money the wrong way...

Thursday, January 02, 2003


>From: MediaPost
>Subject: Real Media Riffs - Friday, Dec 13, 2002
>MIME-Version: 1.0
>Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 13:27:00 -0500
>Friday, December 13, 2002
> What Impact Should This Have On This Year’s TV Upfront?: The Mayan
>Calendar, a sophisticated instrument of time and space more than two
>thousand years old, prophesizes that Humanity will come to an abrupt end
>on a date equating to the winter solstice of 2012...exactly ten years from
>this December 21st. Should we be worried? Author Steve Alten, whose novel,
>DOMAIN centers upon the 2012 event, thinks so. "A calendar, in this sense,
>measures how long Earth's solar year is. What's disturbing about the Mayan
>prophecy is that their calendar is actually more accurate than the
>European Calendar we base our current calendar on today -- even though
>it's 1,500 years older. The calendar itself is divided into five great
>cycles. Humanity is presently in the fifth and last cycle, the previous
>four all ending in cataclysms."


This is no time to be talking about resolutions. Particularly since other people might be reading them. Imagine the embarrassment when I discuss that I resolve not to eat Big Macs anymore.

But, one of my resolutions is to post to this... well, frequently. Daily would be insane. Let's view it like a column... maybe posts three times a week, say Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

That's presuming this gets posted. My December 20 systems check apparently hadn't posted.

Anyway, I'll write to you three times a week; you can e-mail me whenever you like something I've said. That's, of course, And if I knew how to HTML, that would be a link. But it ain't.