Wednesday, December 28, 2005



News is that Osama Bin Laden's niece will soon be seductively garbed in lingerie and posing in the pages of GQ magazine.

Either it's one more victory for America -- an ironic one that will perplex all the folks in the GOP's religious right, the folks who are misguidedly asking for FCC control over cable -- or I'd be very worried about working in the GQ building.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005



Who'd have thunk that I'd today be reading a call for the impeachment of George W. Bush at Barron's Online? Not I.

You'd think people wouldn't be all that upset over a little wiretapping. Nobody seemed very unhappy about it during the 1960s.

Ironically, I was forced to listen to Ann Coulter this morning on the Today show (before I changed the channel). Coulter was, of course, defending the current Administration, offering up how Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War. The thing is, Ann -- had we gone and done that, there would be less cause for complaint. The continuing failure of the Bush White House PR machine is that it's trying to have the nation be both "at war" and "normal." The last time a president tried doing something like this was Lyndon Johnson, and it didn't really work out well for him.

What's next? Michael Moore and Al Franken on the GOP ticket in 2008?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005



Here's your chance to help a friend get published. Gerri Russell, who is in the Romance Writers of America Seattle chapter (where my spouse is also a member -- and former president), is a finalist in Dorchester Publishing's American Title competition. It's like American Idol for unpublished writers -- every few weeks there's a vote and some of the finalists are sent packing. Each vote is based on a different aspect of the book. Gerri has already survived the "Best Opening Line" competition, but this round the battle is "Best Hero and Heroine."

At the end of the competition, the winner will receive a publishing contract with Dorchester and a publicity boost from RT BOOKclub.

Gerri is in the final nine, but three more get eliminated by New Year's Day.

To vote, just e-mailing with THE WARRIOR TRAINER in the subject line. (One vote per person please). Voting ends January 1, 2006. Results will be posted online on January 23, 2006. The winner will be announced during the Awards Luncheon on May 19, 2006, at the RT Booklovers Convention in Daytona Beach, FL. Your e-mail address will be kept confidential.

Just so you know what you're voting for, here are the particulars from the contest website (which you can also visit here):



Scotia of Glencarron, a devoted swordswoman descended from a line of women warriors, must guard herself against those who challenge her title and seek the Stone of Destiny, an artifact important to the preservation of Scotland and coveted by her enemies, who wish to take control of the country. Trained by her demanding mother to be a warrior in the ancient ways at the cost of her femininity, Scotia feels unworthy of love and wrestles with the responsibility of continuing her lineage.


Ian MacKinnon, a bastard by birth, yearns for the chance to become his clan's champion when a group of renegade Englishmen march through Scotland demolishing clans and villages as they search for the Stone of Destiny. Ian vows to defend his clan from this new terror, but to succeed, he must learn to fight in the ways of the ancients from Scotia, the legendary Warrior Trainer.

Judges' Comments:

Flavia Knightsbridge -- Now this is more like it! A sword-handy warrior who's ready to do a little schooling on her man. I already like Scotia.

Leslie Kazanjian -- A woman warrior and the proud Scots bastard who must humble himself to learn her martial arts -- this pair promises more sparks than the swords that will surely clash.

To vote for THE WARRIOR TRAINER e-mail with "THE WARRIOR TRAINER" in the subject line.

In addition to voting, if you're feeling really beneficent, let other folks know about Gerri and the contest. (Send them this whole page.) The more votes, the merrier!

By the way, if you let Gerri know you voted for her, she'll toss your name in a hat and draw a winner. If yours is the name drawn, you could be the rougish Scots bastard or nubile sword-wielder (or their equivalents, more accurately) in her next novel (and, while not yet published, she's won national awards for her work and clearly will be). I'm hoping for stable boy who turns out to be a warrior prince, myself.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005



So Alex Rodriguez will play in the very cool upcoming World Baseball Classic event this March. That's awesome.

But, even though he was born in New York and grew up in Miami, he's going to play for the Dominican Republic.

Maybe I don't know a lot about his upbringing, but I hadn't heard that he'd spent a large amount of time growing up in the Dominican (though apparently, his parents are). We aren't talking Sammy Sosa and the old milk-container-as-a-glove story. I had heard that Rodriguez and Doug Mientkiewicz were teammates in high school, and that Mientkiewicz and his teammates apparently spent all their free time at Rodriguez's house. I don't think it was in the Dominican.

I think I sense Rodriguez's desperation to win something. Anything. Poor rich little A-Rod has all that money, but looks like he won't ever win a championship.

I wonder if that explains why Mike Piazza is going to play for Italy? Isn't Piazza from outside Philadelphia?

While I'm at it, here's a shout out to our own government, which has chosen to prohibit Cuba from participating. I originally wanted to blame Castro, but that's my early 1960s upbringing; no, it's the US Treasury Department's fault. Man that Bush Administration... always up to something good!



The scariest error I have ever heard of in print is still the one made by the hiking magazine that sent hikers to a killer cliff in England (story here; note I corrected yesterday's misrecollection of it being a cliff in Germany) but here's a fun (scary?) wrapup of 2005.

I wish I could get Blogger to post pictures properly again...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Wednesday, December 07, 2005



If that's you commenting, hey, nice to hear from you... you should drop an email or something.



A link from the website for the upcoming New York Comic-Con advertises that those Queer Eye for the Straight Guy guys are looking for candidates to make over at the New York Comic-Con.

Quick observations:

1) I didn't even know there was a New York comic convention again. I hope Phil Seuling is happy in heaven.

2) I wonder whether there are enough fans to meet their criteria: 25-40 and straight. Heck, when Interlac started, I thought everyone was straight. Hoo boy, was I wrong!

3) One of the sub-categories the Queer Eye guys are seeking is a fan about to have a baby -- only he has too many comics and such. Like any self-respecting fan will choose a baby over a vg/mint copy of Green Lantern #76.

But don't let me stop you. Go ahead and volunteer, or nominate someone -- all they have to do is be a comic geek in the New York metropolitan area.

Thank goodness I'm now in Seattle...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005



But, just days after Ford Motor Company agreed to stop advertising in gay publications, three vehicles in President Bush's motorcade from Camp David rearended each other.

Monday, December 05, 2005



Hey, it's the holiday season. Go crazy.



You can imagine how amused I was to discover that one of Yahoo's most forwarded stories is the one titled, "Is George Bush the Worst President -- Ever?"

I guess I need to redesign my poll (moved to the bottom of the left column earlier today, in case you hadn't noticed) to include James Buchanan, identified by columnist Richard Reeves as the president most historians think was the worst.

As the second Dumbya term careens along like a kid's wagon falling off a cliff, it strikes me that Our President is more strikingly reminiscent of the string of Tammany buffoons who were mayors of New York in the second half of the nineteenth century. Everything is about who you know, who you drank with, whose friend of your parents needs a consulting paycheck, all of it wrapped up in one great big ball of "My way or the highway."

It's all Franklin Delano Roosevelt's fault. Had he not been such an innovative, brilliant, and beloved president, he never would have been elected four times, and the Republicans would never have been impelled to propose the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution. Thanks to that bit, no second-term president ever has to worry about what the American public thinks, because liked or disliked, he's out of there. Would Iran-Contra have happened had Reagan (and more likely, his aides) been positioning himself for a third term? Would Congressional Republicans have felt it necessary to impeach Bill Clinton if they knew he'd have to face the American public in 2000? Look how effective the chance to run again was in 1968, when Lyndon Johnson resigned rather than risk a defeat at the polls.

Is George W. Bush the worst president in American history? I can't say. I know he's the worst one in my lifetime.

Thursday, December 01, 2005



Scientists revealed that herring can communicate. Their medium: Breaking wind. Little bubbles of information help them gather together for the evening, join together, and stay safe.

Is it any wonder that President Bush loves Tex-Mex cuisine?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005



Superman, Batman (without Robin!), Wonder Woman, Supergirl, The Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Plastic Man, and Aquaman will become the Postal League of America next year as the featured images on a series of commemorative stamps issued by the United States Postal Service, as reported on Newsarama and brought to my attention by Harry Broertjes.

Here's the image I'm trying to upload (without cooperation from Blogger).

According to the USPS, the series will be followed in 2007 by Marvel characters. See the USPS release here.

I've got to guess that the comics stamps are the result of the Postal Service's short-lived make-your-own-stamp program, in which you could provide an image that would be made into a stamp. I wonder how many images of SANDMAN got uploaded...?

Ah, well, after Marvel it's only a short step to Charlton, Atlas, and First. Grimjack, anyone?


Robert F. Kennedy Memorial to Host Online Charity Auction with

The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial will host a charity auction online December 1-12 through the Charity Folks Online Auction Website ( featuring many one-of-a-kind experiences and items. The goal of Ethel Kennedy, friends, colleagues and supporters of the Memorial is to support the Memorial’s human rights and social justice work around the globe.

The word is out, and I don't think I'll be able to bid on any of these goodies:

• Shark fishing off Nantucket with former Congressman Joe Kennedy
• Tour the Spy Museum in Washington, DC with former CIA Chief William Webster
• Diving expedition in search of Columbus’s Santa Maria with renowned treasure hunter and pirate ship explorer Barry Clifford off the coast of Haiti
• Private lunch with Charles Grodin, Regis Philbin, and Alan Alda at a New York City restaurant
• Lunch with Bob Woodward, followed by a tour of the Washington Post
• Roundtrip travel on the Boston Bruins’ team plane to Montreal. Stay in the team hotel and ice it off with seats to the game
• Face down the green monster from President Kennedy’s seats at Fenway Park
• Tickets, airfare and a stay at the Four Seasons to see the ultra-exclusive “Christmas in Washington,” the annual holiday music celebration under the gracious patronage of the President and First Lady and broadcast by TNT. The concert features American Idol winner Carrie Underwood; country music superstars Rascal Flatts; new R&B songstress Ciara and Gospel great CeCe Winans, with more artists to be added
• See the Boston Red Sox from the player’s perspective with Dugout seats at Fenway Park
• Have Alec Baldwin help pick you a pound puppy at a New York or Los Angeles auction
• Drinks at PJ Clarke’s in New York with Law and Order’s Sam Waterson
• Walk-on role in the hit series Desperate Housewives.

Bidding will take place over the 12-day period on with all bids closing on December 12. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, a 501 (3) (c) non-profit organization. The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial works "to realize RFK’s dream of a peaceful and just world through domestic and international programs working to empower the disadvantaged and oppressed through supporting our next generation of leaders and tackling the toughest problems facing our society" (though apparently not well-constructed sentences).

Source: Robert F. Kennedy Memorial

So, if you're Christmas-shopping for that hard-to-buy-for bleeding heart liberal, here's a great place to spend your money.

And I just thought of something... with Republicans in power, and since they have all the money, maybe these items won't take that big a bid to win.

Okay, my twenty bucks is in. And, if you're buying for me, I'll settle for the Desperate Housewives gig or the lunch with Grodin, Philbin, and Alda.

Monday, November 28, 2005



Go easy on that.
You will drink too much gin. Not the worst way to die, but you won't remember too much of your life. Hey, at least you made some people laugh!

In checking out Jennifer Agee's website, I see my own spouse will be asphyxiated by a rug. Don't know what to make of that.

What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla

Sunday, November 27, 2005



I guess they're worried about those tourists without American dollars. Thanks to Harry Broertjes for forwarding the story.

Friday, November 25, 2005



The spouse recently forwarded this to me, as collected by Laura Ann Gilman, who, like my spouse, posts on (as suricattus).

People spend a lot of time thinking up their children's names. It's just a pity they don't always think as hard about their domain names.

Firstly there is Who Represents?, a database for agencies to the rich and famous:

Second is the Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views:

Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island:

Need a therapist? Try:

And there is an Italian Power company:

Finally we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New South Wales:

Brings me back to college and the case study of the Chevrolet they couldn't sell in Spanish-speaking countries: the Nova.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005



I see that DC Comics has again advertised for a new marketing director. (It also looks like DC needs a new proofreader; read the ad carefully.)

I think I sent my resume off in April or so, when this last got posted to Publisher's Marketplace, mostly as a way to say hi to my former employer and fellow Legion fan, Paul Levitz.

Think I should apply seriously this time? I wonder if they'd let me live and work from here in Seattle...

Monday, November 21, 2005



Okay, this has been bugging me for a while. It ain't Plamegate, but it's important to me.

Apparently, Ichiro Suzuki, the much-ballyhooed right fielder and leadoff hitter for the Seattle Mariners, is unhappy with field manager Mike Hargrove (at least according to the Kyodo News Service). Hargrove, with four fewer seasons in Seattle and who never could get four 35-foot singles in a season, much less a single game, is said to make Suzuki unhappy because he does not make the same demands on his players that Suzuki makes of himself.

If he ain’t happy, send him away.

I’m not a huge Ichiro fan. There are things he does that are clearly amazing, but his whole approach to the game between the lines confuses me.

I have seen Suzuki single to lead off an inning, then sit on first base waiting for the minuscule Seattle offense to score him without a stolen base. He appears unwilling to risk being thrown out. I have also seen him bunt for a hit with two out and a runner on second. Getting a runner from second to third with two out is of marginal utility, especially with the series of mediocre second-place hitters the Mariners have employed of late. Suzuki appears to have some mastery of the bat; I’d rather he put the ball in play and give that runner on second a chance to score. Granted, they play for two differently packed offensive lineups, but compare Suzuki’s runs batted in to those of Boston’s Johnny Damon.

One other thing Damon does is take the base on balls. It appears that Suzuki is unwilling to take a walk, even if it helps the team. Suzuki recently faulted his teammates for not “having a positive feeling at the plate. Like being up on a 3-1 count and hoping for a walk, and the next pitch is a ball. Or, with the same count, you think you’re going to crush it.” The problem is that he instead prefers to swing wildly at a 3-1 pitch out of the strike zone, reducing his chances of reaching base from 100% on a walk to 33% on a single. With his low walk count, his on base percentage as a leadoff hitter does not compare well unless his batting average is well over .350. With his unorthodox swing, it appears that he must start the bat before the pitcher is finished with the windup, so it’s possible that Suzuki can’t change his mind, once committed. If so, his skill set is flawed.

I fear that Suzuki just does not do well as a team player. The “me first” attitude that is so uncharacteristically Japanese starts with his arrogant desire to force us all to call him by his first name only. Even today’s great North American players don’t do that; we all know who “Barry,” “Pedro,” and “Manny” and their egos are, even if there are others in the game with that same first name.

Right now, I almost wish I hadn't bought so many Ichiro Suzuki souvenirs to send to in-laws in Japan.

With the Mariners’ unique ownership situation, it looks to be essential to have a Japanese superstar. Watching Hideki Matsui play for the Yankees, I only wish it were he – with the ability to hit in the clutch (remember that double against Pedro in the 2003 ALCS?) – and not Ichiro Suzuki who played for the Mariners. The Yankees have signed Matsui for another four seasons, but I’d make trade for Godzilla in a minute. Seattle could still have a Japanese superstar – heck, Matsui was bigger than Suzuki was prior to 2001 – and Suzuki would indeed be valuable to the Yankees, who would benefit from having a genuine leadoff hitter. And, I'm betting, Matsui would not sit and stew, but would instead actually lead the other players on the team.



While wandering the Internet this morning, I ran across this website, which believes that if you buy Iraqi dinars, you'll make a killing when the country finally shrugs off those annoying suicide bomb attacks and resumes shipping oil to debt-laden democracies.

Me, I don't like the odds, but maybe you will. There's a funny pro-Dumbya joke there, too.



Remember that here in the United States prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks by al-Qaeda, we were entranced with stories about sharks and missing Congressional interns?

Well, in Belgium they're worrying about whether it's a good idea for the state to subsidize prostitution for the disabled. Right now, they'll pay for masturbation supplies, but they won't pony up for a hooker. Governments have to draw the line somewhere, you know.

Meanwhile, Stephen Hawking tossed out his first wife and married a second. The world confuses me.

All I know is that if this is the biggest issue in Brussels, I wouldn't be taking mass transit there right now.

Sunday, November 20, 2005



Our friend Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan, who is currently the editor of Technical Analysis of Stocks & Commodities magazine, an entrepreneur with her own business (Phantasia Chocolates), is a new American (she hails officially from India, though she grew up all over the globe). As she studied, we were amused to look at the materials she needed to know to become a citizen; materials that I was surprised proved difficult for some common US-born Americans to answer correctly.

Bill Hibler, a freelance client of mine (Quidnunc is his business) forwarded this to me. I'm proud to say that I got 29 of 30 correct. I hope you do at least as well.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The GOP Refuses To Let Its People Think

Did you know if you went to, the website for the Republican National Committee, it would WRITE letters to the editor for you?

This is one such letter.

Everything below is copy that Republicans don't believe members of their own party can say cogently in their own words.

For instance:

Fix the Broken Nomination Process: President Bush believes that judges should strictly and faithfully interpret the law, rather than legislate from the bench. He has appointed judges to the Federal courts who share his judicial philosophy, and his appointees have been rated the best qualified of any recent Administration by the American Bar Association. No nominee to the Federal courts of appeals had ever been filibustered prior to the Bush Administration, but a minority of Senate Democrats has conspired to filibuster ten of President Bush's judicial nominees. President Bush will continue his efforts to end this obstructionist behavior.

Social Security
Fix Social Security now once and for all: Social Security is sound for today's seniors and for those nearing retirement, but it needs to be fixed for younger workers - our children and grandchildren. The government has made promises it cannot afford to pay for with the current pay-as-you-go system. If we do not act to fix Social Security now, the only solutions will be dramatically higher taxes, massive new borrowing or sudden and severe cuts in Social Security benefits or other government programs.


Safety and Security
Protect the Homeland: President Bush is committed to keeping the nation strong and secure through strengthening our military, deploying a missile defense, strengthening the NATO alliance and supporting military families and veterans. The President is committed to promoting an independent and democratic Iraq to ensure further stability in the Middle East and the world on the whole.

You see?

By the way, if you go to the Democratic site, it's only slightly better -- it provides talking points, but doesn't make it easy for you to drop DemPolitSpeak into a form and mail it off.

I have read that some newspapers have fallen for this charade, which saddens me. Follow links on Google for the phrase, "demonstrating genuine leadership."

Were I to write a real letter to the editor, I might point out that the luckiest thing to have happened for George W. Bush is Osama bin Laden. Without his heinous attacks, Bush and his "strategery" would have barely made it out of an incompetent first term.

The lesson here is that whatever we think -- favoring the president or the party in power, or opposed to it -- it's good to use our own brains to think about the guys in charge. Blind loyalty -- on either side -- just leads to bad results.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005



Today's not-really-news-story-of-the-day is about a 37-year-old woman in Georgia who, for two years, has been having a sexual relationship with a teenaged boy. Like the case here in suburban Seattle, where a female 30-ish schoolteacher kept having sex -- and children -- with a middle-schooler, the story makes the national news primarily for its titillation quotient. I suspect that there are about as many of these instances as there are bird flu cases (at least, for the moment).

In Georgia, this woman is now pregnant. She did what some would consider the Right Thing -- she got married. Except that the boy is still 15, and while Georgia law permits children under 16 to marry with their parents' consent (can anyone say "sharia"?), apparently the 15-year-old father of a pregnant 37-year-old woman's fetus may not marry. I want the American religious right to explain THAT to me... I suspect that they want to have their fetus and stone the mother, too, but perhaps I'm stereotyping.

I have met well-adjusted, successful people whose parents were what I would consider ridiculously young, so this can't simply be a matter of presuming someone young can't handle a child.

More to the point, this case throws all sorts of water on the rush to try teenaged crime suspects as adults. If you can't be 15 and be married in Georgia, then one would presume that you shouldn't be tried for murder as an adult, either.

Is this the hobgoblin of small minds? Perhaps. I remain confused by laws that say that 18-year-olds are mature enough to incompletely sever chads in Florida, but can't buy a beer. And why should 16-year-olds be permitted to drive, but not get an abortion? And does it matter what the actual 16-year-old is like? I remember junior high school, where a room full of 14-year-old boys could include kids who were practically zygotes and kids with facial hair that would have shamed most middle-aged men and muscles that would have made Jose Canseco jealous. The girls were the same; some were better-developed than any centerfold model, while others were as two-dimensional as the page on which the photograph was printed.

Society demands more maturity of its children at all ages, but especially so at markers along their paths to adulthood. Two centuries ago, if a teenager could read and write and cook and sew or reap and sow, that was all that was necessary to get along. A century ago, you could still pretty much get by without much book-learning and awareness of the world. Today we have five-year-olds being dressed up to look like they belong in Vogue, ten-year-olds dealing drugs in middle school, and fifteen-year-olds who know more about technology than most people twice their age. More important, we expect children to understand things that would have been the crowning achievement of any thinker not too far in the past. And, for crying out loud, we give these children access to things that are inconceivably expensive and dangerous -- not just a car, but a luxury car; not just clothing, but designer clothing; not just a summer vacation but unchaperoned trips to Europe or Central America.

Is it any surprise, then, that adults in their 30s find themselves emotionally at ease with kids in their teens? Is it any surprise when adolescents misread the signals they're given by both parents and society at large? No, it shouldn't be.

So if we're saying that a 15-year-old is bright enough to figure that he shouldn't kill someone, then we must reasonably judge a 15-year-old bright enough to marry.

I'm just saying.

Monday, November 07, 2005



In 2008 I shall restore your dignity and make you servants worthy of my rule. This new government shall become a tool of my oppression. Instead of hidden agendas and waffling policies, I offer you direct candor and brutal certainty.

So says General Zod, an early candidate for the 2008 campaign for president. And, hey, if we change the Constitution to permit Arnold Schwarzenegger to run, it means Zod can, too!

Friday, November 04, 2005


You've got to read this post at Cyphering!

Then promise you won't buy any of these items.

Monday, October 31, 2005



I am totally nude come see me. Take a bit for all pics and movies to load. Why do I do this I like to make men blow their jiz in their pants. Visit me. Posted by xx to Weird Tales of the Untrue and Mostly Facetious at 10/31/2005 03:20:38 AM

The one thing pornographers have in common with the deeply religious is that neither one of them can spell or correctly punctuate.

Now I have to securitize my site against posts like these, so you've been warned. And I'm not visiting your website, either.

Thursday, October 27, 2005



They're hiring at the CIA.

Back when I was in college, an acquaintance named Al Turniansky stayed with me while he was completing his interview with the CIA. I know they didn't hire him, and I don't remember much of what he told me (assuming he told me much; I presume everything was on a need-to-know basis almost as secretive as the non-disclosure agreements routinely required by Microsoft), but I do remember him saying something like this: "I answered an ad that was looking for people who liked to spend a lot of time alone, without much contact with people, for months at a time, and who liked doing very detailed work."

One more thing: The CIA jobs page has a recommendation from Jennifer Garner from the television show, Alias. Is that cool, or what?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005



I have only seen hypnotism acts on television and mind-control devices in spy movies, but those wacky Japanese seem to be working toward making the world a more... controlled... place.

NTT, Japan's telecommunications giant, has developed a device that can control humans by shooting electricity into the human ear. Right now we're not talking about post-hypnotic suggestions to murder the president, but the researchers have been able to make a subject wearing the test helmet walk in a particular pattern.

The cover story is that this will make videogaming more fun, but already some are considering military applications, and police departments are thinking it would be a useful tool in helping to control a bad guy.

But, as with all technology, with the good comes the bad. Sure, you may be able to keep a hostage-taker off-balance long enough to capture him and free hostages. But if this technology works, wouldn't it be handy at a supermarket, a department store, a mall, or a casino? Apparently, says the reporter in the article I linked above, the experience is not unpleasant and you don't feel as if you're unhappy. So you wind up in front of the expensive wines instead of the $2 per liter stuff. How different is this from Muzak, which was programmed to elicit specific human responses? Or aroma?

And then... could people beam this electricity at you from a distance, making you into their remote puppet? It might be fun at a sporting event... folks in the stands without theirs might wonder why the running back turned and ran the wrong way with the football.

Could you work this more than ninety feet from a polling place?

Yes, guns don't kill people, people kill people. But goodness gracious, we are just asking for it with some of the things we're trying to figure out, aren't we?



I know I've got Mike Gold's blog linked over below and to the left, but his most recent post about the pitiful thing that television news has become is must reading.

Monday, October 24, 2005



According to a poll reported by this morning, most Americans don't believe in the Theory of Evolution.

I think this pretty much explains everything about the red states and the blue states, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, mediocrity and merit. Only 30% polled thought that there was room for a deity to have initiated the process of evolution.

In fairness to the religious conservatives out there who take the Old Testament as literal and not allegorical, the scientific community has not been able to prove the Theory of Evolution. Then again, Einstein's work was still a theory when American atomic weapons obliterated two cities in Japan. And for you religious folks out there, let's not forget poor Galileo. He, too, butted up against monolithic Christianity, dying in prison for writing that the earth orbits the sun.

I hate to bring religion into the conversation, but if we're going to have a planet where your theory that God is blue and my theory that God is green means we have to wind up killing each other, we've missed the boat, it seems.

As for Darwin's theory, it's as plausible as anything else. I suspect that if you're going to take the Old Testament literally, all the bones of animals that no longer exist can be those that didn't quite make old Noah's boat. And there's no doubt that humans, throughout their existence, have often misinterpreted their observations of the universe, constructing reasonable models that worked.

But once more we're faced in the US with a hairline difference in our opinions, a difference so model-thin that it means we'll just yell at and hate each other for years and years. That just makes no sense.

Friday, October 14, 2005



According to this story, Americans are ruder than ever, not just when visiting France, but here.

Well, duh.

The article blames parents who are too harried to care, but it's not just that the kids haven't been taught the proper fork for the salad course. It's a generation, perhaps two, of Americans who aren't bright enough to perceive the difference between "rude" and "casual."

Here's what I'd like to see. I'd like to see someone like Snoop Doggy Diddy hosting a show on being polite on MTV or BET or UPN. Even better, whichever of these young hip hop idols is most popular should start dressing and speaking better.

But let's move the issue away from popular culture, where, although the problem is pervasive, the solution is simple. Let's move to the political arena, where rudeness passes for discourse these days. Just because you disagree with me (or I with you) is no excuse for namecalling or unfair characterization. There are numerous examples on all sides. We seem to not care that we're all in this together.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005



You are a

Social Liberal
(70% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(25% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test



This may be something that you suspected all along... because it's been clear that either Satan loves the Yankees, or Jesus hates the Yankees.

If anyone wants to buy me one, I'll take a 2X.

As for the Yankees loss to the Angels, let's look at the superior performance put in by the woefully underpaid Alex Rodriguez, who managed two hits and no runs batted in against the AL West champions. I looked up Rodriguez's postseason experience prior to this series, and it's generally good, but I have to tell you that I remember one particularly noteworthy episode that says it all about the player the Yankees thought would bring them the world. It was the 2000 American League Championship Series between the Yankees and the Mariners. Roger Clemens still pitched for the Yankees; Rodriguez was playing out his string with Seattle. Rodriguez stepped to the plate for his first AB of the game versus the Rocket, who promptly handed the young star a bowtie. After that high and tight pitch, A-Rod took the collar for the day and the Mariners submitted meekly to Clemens. Ultimately, the Mariners lost the series (though Rodriguez put a 4-for-5 game together in the Mariners final loss).

Alex Rodriguez has yet to perform when the game counted. When the Yankees were struggling against the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS, the most memorable thing Rodriguez did was to girlie-slap the ball out of the first baseman's glove on a play that cost the Yankees a potential run-scoring rally. Again this year he failed to drive in a run against the Angels. Since Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, he's 3-for-27, and 3-for-29 since his third-inning home run.

To be fair, Rodriguez is a stunning talent. I wish I had 1% of his talent. But Rodriguez may not be the kind of guy who can perform in New York. He clearly presses when the situation is baseball-critical, unlike his teammate and onetime friend, Derek Jeter, who possesses less talent, but more baseball moxie and seems to have that Reggie Jackson clutch-performance gene.

The other disappointment for the Yankees must be Randy Johnson, who desperately tried to hand Game 3 to the Angels, only to be saved by a short-lived Yankees rally. Johnson has proven in the past to be a big-game performer -- but only when pitching for a small-market team. I expressed concerns about Johnson's ultimate efficacy when he was traded to the Yankees, and while he had a good September, he had no pop in his pitches last Friday in the Bronx. Maybe it was the weather, I don't know; he sure was a different pitcher in Monday's loss, shutting down the Angels in relief. Johnson also is an awesome talent, even in his 40s, but he has never pitched in a town that wasn't prepared to love him unconditionally. He may have won four Cy Young Awards, but New Yorkers didn't see him do that, and his little camera stunt couldn't have helped him much, either.

Ultimately, the main problem with the Yankees remains George Steinbrenner. The 1996-2000 Yankees were a product of the years when Steinbrenner had nothing to do with running the team. The early-to-mid-1990s did not show well in the team's record, but during his suspension Steinbrenner's "baseball people" were free from Steinbrenner's inability to be patient, and were able to put together a team whose players worked as a team. It didn't have an All-Star at each position, a proposition counter to Steinbrenner's visceral approach, which says that he needs one at every position and several on the bench (cf. this year's squad, which included bit players like Tony Womack, Tino Martinez, Al Leiter, Tom Gordon, and Ruben Sierra). A team like this won't be able to do what Ozzie Guillen's or Mike Scioscia's teams can -- hit to the right side, squeeze, take the extra base. (Although I was amused at the disagreement between Tim McCarver and John Kruk about whether it was sound baseball for Mark Bellhorn to stay on second on the high-hop infield hit by Gary Sheffield with two out in the ninth on Monday. Doing play-by-play, McCarver called it "excellent baserunning" to stay, while Kruk's post-game analysis called it a fundamental error for Bellhorn not to have taken third. Kruk believed that, had Bellhorn taken third, Angels first baseman Darin Erstad would have been holding Sheffield's pinch-runner, Tony Womack, to first, which would have let Matsui's ground ball through for a run-scoring single.)

So, does Jesus hate the Yankees? Probably not. Jesus loves everybody, including sinners. It's still a cool t-shirt.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005



When I logged onto AOL this afternoon, I was given the tempting choice to give Martha Stewart my advice. Sadly, "retire" wasn't one of the options.

But goodness, the full-court publicity press is on, isn't it? I swear she's on the Today show every morning, now AOL (which has no connection to Martha that I'm aware of), and heck, now even me.

I never liked the woman (although it's clear that somebody had it in for her in a disproportionately mean manner since her crime was the equivalent of ignoring the only parking ticket you've ever gotten), but really, please, can we move on to something more interesting.

Wait... let's give Harriet Miers a home economics TV show, and put Martha Stewart on the Supreme Court. What the hell. I mean, it's not like anybody really cares about either job.

Thursday, October 06, 2005



Martha Stewart will get the special permission needed enabling her to enter Canada in order to row a giant pumpkin in a race.

I want a picture.

I also wonder whether Ken Lay can go with her.



Sadly, the mansion used as the model for stately Wayne Manor in the mid-1960s television show, Batman, has been damaged by fire. Sounds like no one was hurt, but it just seems like all the symbols of my youth are disappearing...



I hate bad drivers, inconsiderate drivers, inattentive drivers, and unprepared drivers. If you and I are stopped at a light, and I'm going to take a right turn on red and you're in the left lane, there's no reason for you to creep into the crosswalk. Not only do you block my view, but you don't belong there and you might make it difficult for pedestrians.

If you are making a turn, there's no excuse for not signaling. Being in a parking lot or having nobody behind you is not valid. A pedestrian may be looking for your signal. Of course, I don't own any of those $50,000 SUVs or Bavarian imports, so perhaps those cars aren't manufactured with working turn signals. I wouldn't know.

If you are turning left, you need to make a RIGHT-ANGLE turn. That means you don't make an arc, but an inverted "L." That should keep you from driving over the double yellow line in my lane, and, more to the point, keep you from nearly striking my car -- this is particularly important if you're making that last-minute left turn as the yellow light is turning red and you're doing it at full speed.

Oh, and on the Spokane Street viaduct, the speed limit is 35 mph for a reason. That means 35 mph, not 55 mph. If yours is the next vehicle crushed by an oil tanker, don't expect me to stop and help. Or cry.

Anyway, now that I'm done whining, I found this set of photographs on this guy's blog very amusing. Also this one and this one.



1. Pick up the nearest book to you.
2. Find the 123rd page.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

"These dealers also have to buy more posters, so they could be your customers."

From Kovel's Guide to Selling Your Antiques & Collectibles, by Ralph & Terry Kovel. I had no idea this book was even in our house. I just pulled it off the tv room shelf nearest my office. Thanks to Matt Agee's recent LiveJournal post for this.



I understand that performers are more vain than smart, and care more whether they look good than whether they comport themselves with intelligence or wit when they appear on talk shows like The Late Show With David Letterman.

But is it just habit, or is Letterman as stupid as everyone else, or are today's news reporters as stupid as performers? Tonight Letterman introduced NBC's Campbell Brown as "the lovely" (or maybe it was "the beautiful") Campbell Brown.

What the bleep does that have to do with her reporting skills?

Ironically, I've thought of her as a lightweight, but she actually comported herself with some intelligence, describing how she tried to find a way to get more information from the very secretive Bush White House. But just once I'd like one of these newswomen to just say to Letterman, "Dave, I resent you calling me beautiful. Call me smart, or just shut up."

Hey, it'd be good for ratings.



Every once in a while you read a story that just cements your own half-ill-informed beliefs. In this case, David Shuster, now with MSNBC, says that reporters would even "make stuff up."




I miss reading Molly Ivins, who is no longer carried in Seattle. Thank you, Al Gore, for the Internets.

Here's her column on Harriet Miers. Read it and cringe.



From the land of the well-intended forward comes this basically true one from my cousin Joe LoPue. I'm editing it down for your convenience:

Let's hear it for Costco! (This is just mind-boggling!) Make sure you read all the way past the list of the drugs. The woman that signed below is a Budget Analyst out of federal Washington, DC offices. [Editor's note: According to this conservative website, the woman exists, but has nothing to do with the report.]

Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active ingredient in prescription medications? Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet. We did a search of offshore chemical synthesizers that supply the active ingredients found in drugs approved by the FDA. As we have revealed in past issues of Life Extension [Editor's Note: Think they have a viewpoint? Well, do ya, punk?], a significant percentage of drugs sold in the United States contain active ingredients made in other countries.

Celebrex: 100 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $130.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.60
Percent markup: 21,712%

Claritin: 10 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71
Percent markup: 30,306%

Keflex: 250 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $157.39
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.88
Percent markup: 8,372%

Lipitor: 20 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $272.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80
Percent markup: 4,696%

Norvasc: 10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $188.29
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.14
Percent markup: 134,493%

Paxil: 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $220.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $7.60
Percent markup: 2,898%

Prevacid: 30 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $44.77
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.01
Percent markup: 34,136%

Prilosec: 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $360.97
Cost of general active ingredients $0.52
Percent markup: 69,417%

Prozac: 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $247.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.11
Percent markup: 224,973%

Tenormin: 50 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $104.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.13
Percent markup: 80,362%

Vasotec: 10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $102.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.20
Percent markup: 51,185%

Xanax: 1 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $136.79
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.024
Percent markup: 569,958%

Zestril: 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) $89.89
Cost of general active ingredients $3.20
Percent markup: 2,809

Zithromax: 600 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $1,482.19
Cost of general active ingredients: $18.78
Percent markup: 7,892%

Zocor: 40 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $350.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $8.63
Percent markup: 4,059%

Zoloft: 50 mg
Consumer price: $206.87
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.75
Percent markup: 11,821%

The "writer" says that "everyone should know about this," and, of course, " please read the following and pass it on." Bitterly, the email adds, "This helps to solve the mystery as to why they can afford to put a Walgreen's on every corner."

The email also refers to Steve Wilson, an investigative reporter for Channel 7 News in Detroit, who did a story on generic drug price "gouging" by pharmacies; some of these generic drugs were marked up as much as 3,000% or more. The email complains that drug companies are often (rightfully) blamed for the high cost of drugs, but points to pharmacies. The example: "If you had to buy a prescription drug, and bought the name brand, you might pay $100 for 100 pills. The pharmacist might tell you that if you get the generic equivalent, they would only cost $80, making you think you are "saving" $20. What the pharmacist is not telling you is that those 100 generic pills may have only cost him $10!

At the end of the report, one of the anchors asked Mr. Wilson whether or not there were any pharmacies that did not adhere to this practice, and he said that Costco consistently charged little over their cost for the generic drugs.

To further amplify the original emailer's complaint, Compazine, which helps prevent nausea in chemo patients, was comparison-shopped. The generic equivalent cost $54.99 for 60 pills at CVS. At Costco, 100 pills were $19.89. The poster goes on to point out that, although Costco is a "membership" type store, you do NOT have to be a member to buy prescriptions there as it is a federally regulated substance. You just tell them at the door that you wish to use the pharmacy, and they will let you in.

I am asking each of you to please help me by copying this letter, and passing it into your own e-mail, and send it to everyone you know with an e-mail address.

Sharon L. Davis
Budget Analyst
U.S. Department of Commerce
Room 6839
Office Ph: 202-482-4458
Office Fax: 202-482-5480
E-mail Address:

Additional information:

Markups on Generic Prescription Drugs (WXYZ-TV)

Steve Wilson's report: Prescription Drugs (WXYZ-TV)

So let's think about this. The person complaining -- who probably votes Republican, I'll bet -- is complaining about the free market cost of drugs. Drugs, which have monopolies (patents, they're called) are pretty much not competitively priced, and the general marketing rule of thumb is -- charge what you can! This is not new, nor even evil, and, if you voted for the current administration, you shouldn't even complain about it. (See the post I reference above from the right-wing guy.)

These same people drive SUVs and complain about the price of gasoline.

As a liberal who also believes in the free market, I will point out that we can't have it both ways. If we're going to have a free market economy, then we can't inhibit free trade. But -- and this is what I believe -- since the ultimate result of a free market economy is monopoly (remember that from Econ 101?), then there's nothing wrong with tinkering with the economy, especially since there's no reason why individuals should suffer needlessly.

Whether or not Costco is your best choice for buying drugs, I can't say. I looked up my thyroid drug at the Costco site, and it's apparently not available. Right now I pay something like $15 for a three-month supply, but I'm also paying $366 a month for my health insurance, which covers my prescriptions.

I will say this: In a truly free market, where there are enough competitors, there will be downward price movement. However, for some pretty good reasons, we permit drug companies to have patents on the drugs they develop. The logic is that the enormous profits they make in the first years the drug is available only through the manufacturer will pay back the immense costs involved in developing the drug. (Not to mention the cost of lawsuits when the weight-loss drug being marketed turns out to kill a significant percentage of people who use it.)

The alternative is to make important substances, such as drugs, or petroleum, or electric power, quasi-governmental or totally governmental organizations, and, for some reason, we don't really want that, either. Although I would submit that one good practice might be to prevent ginormous (wow, I never thought I'd use that word) corporations in the same business from merging without requiring some equally ginormous public benefit. For instance: Sure, Exxon and Mobil can merge, but the merged company cannot lay off employees and must sell gasoline at the pump for no more than x% markup.

Drugs, gasoline, electricity, and other items like this are items not easily done away with. In Economics 101, this was called "price inelasticity." If suddenly we needed to pay for oxygen, we'd pay whatever we had, because you just can't live without oxygen.

Therefore, in my humble opinion, anything that is relatively price inelastic is something that should not be thrown willy-nilly into the free market. Free market bullies will hoard the item and then hurt people while gorging themselves on the profits.

That said, if you're out there in the real world, buying milk and bread and cars and gas and Claritin and cigarettes, then remember to shop accordingly.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Rumer Willis. Apple Paltrow. Phinneas Roberts.

Okay, I don't know what surnames the offspring of Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts really have, but we can pretty much stop with the first names.

But today the mother of all baby names was announced: Kal-El Coppola Cage. He is the offspring of Nicolas Cage and wife of the moment Alice Kim. And, God bless Nic, he loves his Superman, and I guess he's trying to one-up Jerry Seinfeld, who worked the Man of Steel into every episode of his classic sitcom.

But I have to ask: Isn't that some sort of infringement? Will AOL Time Warner (or whatever it is this week) sue? Will little Kal-El's younger brother, should he be born, be then named Clark Kent Cage? Or would the logical second choice be Jor-El (Superman's Kryptonian father, for those who may not know)?

I am all in favor of unique names. I suffer having two other Mike Flynns in Seattle who are in the same business as me. Another Michael Flynn is a bestselling science fiction writer, and there's also an actor named Michael Flynn. My spouse dropped her maiden name -- Smith -- faster than someone else's used Kleenex, even though Flynn isn't much less common these days.

So I can see where one might be tempted to choose a unique first name. Still, I might go to number 100 on the list before I got to number 2,000,100. And when you're growing up priveliged -- as baby Kal-El is bound to do -- there will be no likelihood of getting your ass kicked in by schoolyard bullies. Especially since any of his classmates will be named Apple, or Rumer, or Phinneas.

Being of the television generation, I remember the discussion on My Three Sons when Robbie and his wife were going to have their triplets. I remember there was discussion of the name "Erasmus." Thing is, I couldn't begin to remember what the actual characters were named. (More pathetically, I remember that the triplets who played the screen triplets were Guy, Garth, and Gunnar Swenson... all three of which struck me as odd when I was young, although "Garth" appealed to me because it was the real name of the character Lightning Lad from my favorite strip, The Legion of Super-Heroes.)

There's no secret that Nicolas Cage had wanted to play Superman in the upcoming movie. I believe the story is that his schedule precluded it. I guess in a way it's good that he hadn't hoped to play Satan, or Rumpelstiltskin, or Hitler.

It should be noted that the name "Pamela" was invented for a work of fiction, and just became popular after that. So, if we're going to open the world up for unique names from popular fiction, let's consider some potential beauts that could soon belong to your favorite actor or singer:

Doonesbury Depp
Dilbert Duff
Peter Parker Pitt
Tarzan Aguilera
Yossarian Ma
Fox Mulder Valderrama
Chandler Aniston
Phoebe Buffay O'Neal
Nemo Cruise
Homer Simpson Lachey... oh, wait, never mind.

You get the idea... in fact, I look forward to your additions.

Your humble servant,

plain ol' Mike Flynn



So I have this theory about Harriet Miers, the latest nominee for the US Supreme Court.

I picture a staff lunch. Everybody who works at the West Wing is there -- Turd Blossom and the gang -- munching on dry turkey clubs and sucking on Safeway Select sodas.

They talk about University of Texas football -- shouts of "hook 'em horns" fill the room. They debate the joys of semi-automatic gun ownership. They wonder which explosives are best for taking out abortion clinics.

Then the designated bad-news deliverer -- who has made sure to finish eating his lunch just in case he gets thrown out of the room -- reminds the president that he needs to nominate a Supreme Court judge soon.

"I hear there's rumors on the Internets that I have to do that," says the president. "Okay, anybody in this room want to be on the Supreme Court? Harriet, how about you? You look smokin' hot in black!"

And so it went. The woman is a lawyer, but she's never been a judge. That presents quite the poser, since she has no judicial record for critics (or supporters) to refer to. On the other hand, I believe that the last Supreme Court justice who had no judicial experience was Earl Warren. He didn't quite turn out to be the conservative that the Republican president who had nominated him expected, did he?

And the White House went out of its way to point out that 10 of the last 33 Supreme Court nominees were, like Miers, cronies of the guy in the Oval Office. This is the old "Billy did it, so I can do it, too" defense, which is about the level of intellect involved here (and routinely displayed by these folks).

Democratic Sen. Harry Reid is said to have been one of her recommenders. Considering the state of the Democratic Party, I'm not sure that reassures me.

I will keep an open mind here, but I don't expect much.

Saturday, October 01, 2005



I've got a link over there, down and to the left, to Richard Pachter's reviews for the Miami Herald. He comments on business-related books, and one review he emailed early last month has been sitting with me.

It was of the book Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East, by Clyde Prestowitz.

According to Pachter, who describes the book as "scary," the book reasonably presages that the United States is just a step or two from economic disaster.

Pachter reminds us that Prestowitz, the founder and president of the Economic Strategy Institute, served as counselor to the secretary of commerce in the Reagan Administration, and led many trade and investment negotiations with Japan, China, Latin America and Europe. This ain't Michael Moore.

Prestowitz says that with the shift of manufacturing to the Far East, subsequent transfer of strategic technologies, establishment of the dollar as the international monetary standard, termination of the gold standard, lack of government support for competitive industries, huge government and private debts, lack of savings and a laissez faire approach to international trade, bad things are in our future.

We already know about the joys of outsourcing... we have airplanes built partly in China and tech support in India. These are scary because they're the most populous nations on the planet, but as they make rapid economic progress, not only will they grow quickly, but the growth will be further enhanced by the power of their population. Our answer is that our productivity is good. Pachter quotes Prestowitz:

"It is comforting to Americans to keep telling themselves they have the best productivity and GDP growth and will therefore remain the location of choice for foreign investment. But is it true? While there is much evidence to indicate that U.S. productivity has indeed taken a jump, there is also cause for prudence about this conclusion. While American productivity per worker per year is improving faster than that of Europe, on a per hour basis the Europeans are starting to come out ahead.

"This once again raises the issue of living standards. Americans are not only working more hours than Europeans or Japanese, they are working six more weeks a year today than they did 20 years ago. Yet median family income has not risen much. As for unemployment, it's easy to keep it low if you put 2 percent of all the men in the country in jail and don't count them as unemployed -- which the United States currently does. Further, we only count as unemployed those receiving unemployment benefits or who tell poll takers they are actively seeking a job.

"To see how this works, look at Kannapolis, North Carolina. When the town's only mill shut down, reported unemployment soared. A year later, however, unemployment magically disappeared -- not because people got jobs, but because their benefits ran out. The real story of the U.S. economy is rising hours worked, rising debt and job creation largely restricted to low-paying categories like retail sales and fast-food restaurants. This is not a formula for long-term prosperity."

When Bill Clinton was president, the standard joke was, "Sure, Clinton created 100,000 jobs, and I have three of them." What kind of jobs is George W. Bush creating? And, as labor is devalued by both employers and employed, what future is there for the average working guy without huge wealth? Remember, capitalists with great wealth have easily transportable wealth -- Bill Gates could live just as pleasantly in Macao as he could in Medina, WA -- but if I can't find anyone to buy my house because nobody's making money, and if my house is my biggest investment, how much capital do I really have? (See my references elsewhere to the growing fear of the real estate bubble, just to add to the fun.)

As a nation, we have already shipped our wealth overseas. We are now shipping our manufacturing overseas. That's going to leave us as a nation whose sole productivity will be the movement of money, the making of films with large explosions, and government expenditure. The conservatives can't reduce the size of government. It's the only thing that's propping up the GDP right now.

Friday, September 30, 2005



Apparently George W. Bush's idea of diplomacy is to take a woman who has nothing in common with the unconvinced and name her undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. (Which seems more or less like a euphemism for "propaganda," but then, this nation needs some world-friendly PR, so I'll not complain about that too much.)

Karen Hughes -- you may remember her as the GOP version of Janet Reno, only nastier and with less of a sense of humor -- has apparently been touring the Muslim world to make them like us, God bless it.

Of course, that's exactly the problem. When she tells Muslims that George W. Bush is a man of God, what are the odds that her audience doesn't think of the Crusades? When she barges in without bothering to learn some of the language or customs of the people whom she's trying to sway to the American way of thought, is she really doing Americans a favor?

I contend she is not.

I'm sure there are others out there, but back in my college days, I remember taking an international business class from one Dr. Grub, who, above all, burned in our little business student brains that the best way to conduct business overseas is to understand the people with whom you're trying to do business.

Why should politics be any different?

The answer, sadly, is that to George W. Bush and his cadre of C students, politics is all about Christianity.

Fred Kaplan's Slate article on Hughes.

Steven R. Weisman article on the Hughes trip from the New York Times.

Friday, September 23, 2005



In all I had seen about Hurricane Katrina, I had not seen this video by Aaron Brown for CNN. I ran across it today, as I was following links about today's levee break, which is flooding the Ninth Ward of New Orleans all over again.

I'm just at a loss over the scope of the disaster this hurricane season. As Rita aims again toward Louisiana (though Texas will bear its brunt, the water is bound to cause problems in Louisiana, and I heard tornado warnings this morning), it becomes clear that the era of being your college roommate's buddy s not enough of a recommendation for getting a job.

Sadly, many won't see it that way.

Thursday, September 22, 2005



In the 1978 classic film Animal House, as Flounder's brother's car is being pimped out by his fellow Delta delinquents, Flounder fears his brother's reaction to the wholesale carnage being visited upon the vehicle. Otter, as only a frat brother can, reassures Flounder thusly:

"You fucked up. You trusted us."

I was reminded of this great moment in how friends can be uncaring as I read the story from the Baton Rouge Advocate about the Louisiana school buses never used to ferry people out of the destruction following Katrina. I have heard complaints -- including from my cousin, who lives in nearby Metairie -- that the locals proved their incompetence by not having those buses out and ready.

Now, it turns out, FEMA directed them not to use those buses.

This changes the tone of the debate for me. Up until this moment, I was happy to assume that the local governments were incompetent. I have been to Louisiana, and not everybody I've met seems like he'd be likely to get a middle management job at a New York advertising agency.

And perhaps they were. Governor Kathleen Blanco, assured by FEMA that 500 buses were on the way -- air-conditioned buses, unlike the ones already on the ground in the New Orleans area -- believed that they were, and chose to trust the federal government. She has forgotten, of course, that the foxes control the hen house -- the little government people are running the federal government, and they don't believe much in what it is they're heading. (Perhaps this explains why Joe Horse Boy was in charge of disaster response.)

So, Blanco, a Democrat, and theoretically a believer that one good thing government can do is pool resources and solve problems, trusted the government. The result was disaster and death.

It's kind of like when you were a kid and your parents asked you to do something that you didn't want to do. If they asked you to clean the bathroom, but you instead dropped bleach all over the good towels, suddenly you were no longer asked to clean the bathroom. So perhaps the plan was to avoid having to respond to all those annoying emergencies and help all those people who probably hadn't donated to the proper election committees.

Somehow, I don't think that Gov. Blanco -- or any Democrat (or, for that matter, any Republican) -- will make this same mistake twice.

Friday, September 16, 2005



ATTENTION: Link below is for ADULTS ONLY!

So, while looking for something else, and following some links, I stumbled across this. Just goes to show that some people will go to any lengths to do some good in the world.


But... he raised $378.

Monday, September 12, 2005



The New York Times, which I'm sure is read every day in the Crescent City, published this wrap-up of the task ahead. (Registration required; aw, go ahead.)

Salon published this story about a Playboy Club bunny's time in New Orleans in the 1970s. You'll have to watch an ad. Deal with it. Forward courtesy of Harry Broertjes.

The story of the Mississippi physician who was handcuffed by the military simply for expressing an opinion to Vice-President Dick Cheney, using words Cheney himself has uttered.

Saturday, September 10, 2005



I've been out scanning and linking and have decided that it's interesting to read blogs from a specific ethnic point of view and try very hard not to have knee-jerk reactions to them.

Try it yourself. Here are some to consider:

Angry Asian Man

Just to be different...

Thursday, September 08, 2005



In tracking down information on the Internet, I followed the link at Cyphering to the Keith Olbermann timeline of what (and more important, when) the Federal government knew about the likelihood of levee damage. It's here.

From there, I found Crooks and Liars, which offered this link to Boing Boing with some interesting questions about the rosier news today, part of which says that things aren't quite as sunny at the Astrodome as this morning's Today show indicated, and part of which quotes New Orleans suburban residents as saying that the 17th Street Canal was purposely destroyed by someone -- blame is put on Lousiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco or the Army Corps of Engineers -- in order to save the more expensive real estate in New Orleans. I'd take it with tons of salt, considering the common belief outside the west that Jews knew that the World Trade Towers were going to be attacked.

All I know is that it's an insane mess. Still haven't heard from my cousin Jack and godson-in-law Jon, who were going to drive from Destin, FL to Metairie, LA to see what was left of their homes...

Friday, September 02, 2005



My cats made a mess of the litter box. I had to take a hedge clipper to the wisteria and arbor vitae that have grown practically wild in my yard. I had to take a plunger to the toilet. The car door didn't latch the first time. Quality Paperback Book Club hasn't acknowledged my payment. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer left another stupid typo in an article.

And then I read more about what's happening in the Gulf states, and you realize that everybody there would be happy to have to deal with the crap that pissed me off today.

Worse, I keep thinking about people with whom I'm acquainted and hoping they're okay. Even if they're people to whom I haven't spoken in years.

Over at The Blue Chair, Jim Chadwick points out that, despite our amazing civilization, we live on a knife's-edge between extreme modernity and Third World status. How right Jim is. What would you do if your house disappeared in a flood? If there was no electricity for the ATM? If there was no gas for the car? If there were no roads to truck food into your city, no fresh water to drink, and sewage and corpses drifting in your street?

Oh, and, by the way, to those of you in the world who are enjoying this, let us point out that when Banda Aceh nearly disappeared from the face of the planet, nobody here was happy to see those people perishing or struggling. If your world view, your politics, or your religion lets you be happy with the pain and suffering and destruction of others... well, it's the one time I hope that there really is an afterlife anything like the one I was taught about when I was a kid.

I'm going to write a check to the Salvation Army today. I trust you'll write one to someone today, too.


Situation grows more desperate.

"It's like we're in Afghanistan," said Lisa Washington of Algiers, who came to the Dome with a large group from the Lafitte housing development. "People are getting raped. People are getting killed. People are getting diseases. We're fighting for our lives right now." From the New Orleans Times-Picayune weblog, published by reporters who can't get to the newspaper's building.

Missing persons board.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005



I know it's lame posting a link, but at least it'll help you figure out how to help.

In the latest news, my cousin's in Tennessee, my goddaughter and her husband are in Arkansas, and my cousin's son is in Texas.



I've gotten this one a couple of times before, but I thought the timing was ironic; this one arrived in my in box, via Joe Confreda, on Monday, August 29th.

Subject: It will be four years on Sep. 11

almost 4 years and still going ?

Please don't break.....

This is why I always say I love YOU....

This has not been broken since 9/11/01, please keep it going...
This has been kept alive and moving since 9/11. In memory of all those who perished this morning; the passengers and the pilots on the United Air and AA flights, the workers in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and all the innocent bystanders. Our prayers go out to the friends and families of the deceased.


If I knew it would be the last time
That I'd see you fall asleep,
I would tuck you in more tightly
and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.

If I knew it would be the last time
that I see you walk out the door,
I would give you a hug and kiss
and call you back for one more.

If I knew it would be the last time
I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise,
I would video tape each action and word,
so I could play them back day after day.

If I knew it would be the last time,
I could spare an extra minute
to stop and say "I love you,"
instead of assuming you would KNOW I do.

If I knew it would be the last time
I would be there to share your day,
Well I'm sure you'll have so many more,
so I can let just this one slip away.

For surely there's always tomorrow
to make up for an oversight,
and we always get a second chance
to make everything just rig ht.

There will always be another day
to say "I love you,"
And certainly there's another chance
to say our "Anything I can do?"

But just in case I might be wrong,
and today is all I get,
I'd like to say how much I love you
and I hope we never forget.

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,
young or old alike,
And today may be the last chance
you get to hold your loved one tight.

So if you're waiting for tomorrow,
why not do it today?
For if tomorrow never comes,
you'll surely regret the day,

That you didn't take that extra time
for a smile, a hug, or a kiss
and you were too busy to grant someone,
what turned out to be their one last wish.

So hold your loved ones close today,
and whisper in their ear,
Tell them how much you love them
and that you'll always hold them dear

Take time to say "I'm sorry,"
"Please forgive me," "Thank you," or "It's okay."
And if tomorrow never comes,
you'll have no regrets about today.

Send this to at least 10 people to show your support.


I'm not forwarding it, but it's perpetually on the Internet now. When you find this via Google, forward the heck out of it. Or not. I suspect you've already done the right thing when it comes to these sorts of things.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Bill Haber, AP
Residents walk through floodwaters Tuesday on Canal Street in New Orleans.
From America Online.


Spent the better part of yesterday and this morning ascertaining the whereabouts of my cousin Jack and his family, who live in Metairie. My Uncle Frank called at 9 this morning from Ballston, NY to ask if I'd heard, but I hadn't. A little later his wife June called to say they'd heard from my cousin, who had evacuated to Chattanooga, TN, where he has business interests and friends. Apparently his wife already wants to go back, but I wouldn't count on that happening soon.

Once more we're faced with our own fragile hold on our home planet. The photos I've seen so far look no different than the tsunami photographs from last year. The toll will be enormous, first in lives, then in lives ruined, as people begin to realize that everything they've saved and treasured has been destroyed. Insurance companies will go bankrupt, and those that don't will probably be unable to pay enough.

Soon we'll hear about how insane it is to live in a region that's situated below sea level, but let's not dwell on that. There are threats from nature to humans everywhere -- tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, mudslides. Which is why the entire concept of humans threatening other humans is so stupid.

I will hold out hope if you know of someone who lives in the area, especially if you still have no word about his or her safety. And please. Let's not hear any sniggering about whose deity may have done what to which area of what country. It's weather, for crying out loud.

I haven't wrapped my mind around the looters, yet. The only photos I've seen so far show people taking groceries, which has that Jean Valjean sound to it. The guys stealing whiskey and DVDs, however...

America Online coverage.

America Online looting coverage.

Monday, August 29, 2005



Major marketers are now looking to blogs to be used as any other marketing tool. The logic is that bloggers are read by people who value the person whose opinions are being published. Word-of-mouth is always stronger than advertising, just as a PR placement is stronger than advertising.

But, that said, to you, my devoted readers, here is my promise: If I hear from Ripple Effects, CooperKatz, MMW Group, Ketchum PR, or New Media Strategies about what I can do to promote their clients, and there's money involved, I am so helping out.

After all, if it works for the president, it should work for me, right?

That said, perhaps you should now take everything I post with a grain of salt. Which you should have been, anyway.

This post has not been sponsored, but I feel compelled to tell you that my deodorant is Old Spice.



There's nothing I can do with this story except send you to see it and have you submit your own joke.

John Cleese is selling portions of his soon-to-be-surgically-removed colon.

Manuel! Manuel!

Friday, August 26, 2005



So the London Zoo has humans -- in fig leaves -- on display this week. They even get games and music to occupy them.

The marketing guy in me loves this. This is weird and quirky and will get people to the zoo in droves to see exactly what's going on. (Although the Y chromosome in me notes that the only names I see connected to this are male, and consequently, I'm not as interested as I could be.)

The marketing guy in me also realizes this is why there's no web-cam for this little stunt. Why go to the zoo if you can sit home in your underwear and watch?

I love stunts like this. A couple of years ago in Japan two athletes were tethered to the side of a building and played soccer there.

But it makes me think. Wouldn't it be cool if we could put some other folks on display this way? I'd love to have a webcam in the Oval Office, for instance. Or maybe be able to look at the kitchen in restaurants -- particularly those restaurants where they purposely keep the lights so dim you can't be sure precisely what you're eating.

AOL story (source of photo, above).

Tuesday, August 23, 2005



When I was a boy, I must have missed the point of my Religious Instruction classes. (Religious Instruction in New York in the 1960s was when the Catholic kids were let out an hour early one day a week to go to the local Catholic school for inculcating. I always wondered if that was when the Protestant and Jewish kids were taught all the stuff I somehow never learned growing up.)

You see, I bought into all that stuff. You know. "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." "Love thy neighbor." "Don't give little Timmy a swirly."

Apparently, either the Catholics are loony (well, for the sake of this post, let's assume they're not), or the difference between Protestants and Catholics is way larger than I thought.

You see, even though the Catholic and the King James bibles disagree on which number it is, I seem to recall one of the bigger commandments of the ten is "Thou shalt not kill."

And there wasn't anything conditional about it, either. There's no footnote that says "except for self-defense or in time of war or justifiable homicide or manslaughter or religious disagreement."

It's pretty straightforward, really. Don't kill.

And yet, today, as I'm logging on to check my email, here's a story saying that Pat Robertson thinks that maybe it's time to assassinate the president of Venezuela.

Now, I am thankful that I am now aware that the president of Venezuela may be as bad a person as, if not Osama bin Laden, perhaps Saddam Hussein. This is good information to know, just like it's good to know who the bad guys are anywhere.

But I would like to think that a Christian leader (as opposed to a leader who is Christian, if you grok the dichotomy) would tend to think that the word of God is more important than his own desire for murder.

It's enough to make me want to take the Lord's name in vain.

Thursday, August 18, 2005



I've been collecting forwarded email jokes for about 20 years now. They're in various files on various computers and disks.

My goal is to have them all on the Internet and easily accessible. A database of funny.

Of course, there'll be problems. Almost all of the forwards I get are uncredited. So my goal is to post the blog, and, I hope, learn from kindhearted folks who might actually be the author in question -- without getting sued.

In fact, the first person who threatens to sue me will cause me to shut down the blog.

But... until then... I just began posting to it five minutes ago. The first post is up, courtesy of Interlacker Will Harbaugh. To see it, go here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005



My longtime pal Mitch Martin, who has a real job working at a major financial magazine (not the one that used to employ me), is involved with the Burning Man festival. While you couldn't get me there unless it was in a stretch Hummer with its own bed, bathroom, maid, and butler, he and other friends of ours (one of whom is Kelly Lyles, a friend of my spouse's college roommate Cindy and of whom we are likewise fond) (check out her website, and particularly her car, "Leopard Bernstein") are. The festival comes up at the end of this month, and he recently sent me this email:

Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 19:01:00 -0700 (PDT)
From: Mitchell Martin
Subject: I don't do this very often...

...but I'm asking all my friends and colleagues (and all those random people in my address book who are going to be surprised to read this) for a small donation.

Small, as in $5-$20.

I wish I could say it's for a good cause like saving the world or saving the whales or saving the world from whales, but it's less grandiose than that, although it *is* tax-deductible for those of you subject to U.S. taxes.

As many of you know, I've been associated with the Black Rock Gazette at Burning Man for the past several years. This year, the Burning Man organization decided not to fund the Gazette, except for one preliminary issue. In the scheme of things, a free and sometimes loopy newspaper at Burning Man might not seem like a big deal to many of you, but it's important in the context of providing interesting and reliable information to a community, which the professional journalism world seems increasingly unable or unwilling to do.

Saddened by the loss of our funding, a bunch of the core staff of the old Black Rock Gazette is creating a new newspaper, the Black Rock Beacon. Unlike the Gazette, we have to pay for all of this out of our own pocket, and the dozen or so of us involved have already pledged several thousand dollars of our own money to it. We're also spending a lot of time working on it ahead of Burning Man, which takes place at the end of August.

We're about $2,000 short of what we need. In case you're wondering, if you wanted to create a two-page newspaper in the middle of the desert with equipment you could buy on eBay for a temporary community of 40,000 people, it would cost about $7,000 the first year, and maybe $3,000 after that, since the capital equipment -- and the cool wooden shack one of your buddies bought -- could be reused.

Those of you who are journalists or Burners will probably understand this. The others will just have to take it on faith that this a good cause -- or not, but if I've sold you, please give parsimoniously.

We have a website:, with instructions on making donations. You can use PayPal or credit cards, and if you don't have a PayPal account, this is an excellent opportunity to open one, you'll need it someday. The website also has some interesting Burning Man links, and if you've ever wanted to have a dangerous vacation in the middle of a desert in the middle of nowhere, maybe you'll come along this year.


I told Mitch I'd send a few bucks his way, but I figure I can appeal to my fellow loonies out there, since we all share some sort of particular foible for our hobby. There is no obligation of course, but next time you see a story about Burning Man, you can know that you played some small part in the insanity.