30 November, 2009

Four Painless Ways To Give

Check out this site. And, after clicking the button, be sure to check the tabs at the top of the page.

And try Goodsearch. Every time you use the search engine, a penny is donated to your favorite cause. And, if you use the site to go to your favorite stores [listed below the search slot] they will give a percentage of your purchase price to your cause.
I just changed my book-buying destination. I discovered that Amazon gives 1.5% and Barnes & Noble gives 3%. Who knew?

Demeur noted that there's another one out there: free rice.com. There are several quizzes you can take. Each correct answer gets 10 grains of rice sent to the hungry. To date they've sent tons of rice around the world. And it's free for you. Paid for by sponsors.
So, you play a game, have fun and help people who need it. What could be better?

And are you a Facebooker?
There's a site there called Save The Planet. Another game site, there are dozens to choose from. Play, earn points and L$ [lunch money] and donate it to your favorite cause [again, several to choose from]. Sponsors then turn your play money into the real thing and give to the cause of your choice. You even get to see just how many ounces of CO2 you're pulling out of the atmosphere, how many grains of rice you're sending to the hungry, how many square inches of blanket you're giving to the homeless or square feet of rainforest you're saving.
So, if you enjoy playing games anyhow, why not do it and make a difference?

19 November, 2009

A Balm in Gilead

[jfwiw-- I posted this piece several years ago. I revived it now because it is becoming more and more relevant every day. So, if it looks familiar — no, you're not going crazy.]
I have a proposition for the ultra-conservatives in this country and for the rest of us. Now, I’m not including all born-again or fundamentalist Christians in this proposal—only those who don’t like the way this country was originally set up and would like to change the direction it’s going. Anyone who wishes to would be welcome to participate and no one would be forced to.
Here it is:

I propose that the US cede a certain territory—say, from the border between Mexico and the United States on the south and along the gulf coast, along the western Texas border north to the Missouri River, and east to the Mississippi River—as a sovereign territory to be handed over to those who don’t want to live under the US Constitution any more. For convenience’ sake, I’ll call the new nation ‘Gilead’. The area is not cast in stone—it is simply one possible region to consider.
The territory thus created would have abundant farmland, a coast and an already developed infrastructure including a number of urban areas ranging from large cities to small towns and the connecting highway network within it. It would also include the oil reserves of Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and off the western gulf coast.

Now, before those remaining behind get all up-in-arms—allow me to remind you: the infrastructure was paid for by everyone’s tax dollars. Gilead’s citizens paid taxes while they were US citizens and are entititled to the benefits they would have received from them had they remained in the US.
Think about it on an individual level: if you and your family were to move from California to Boston, you would be inheriting the communication systems, roads and water lines set up there before you arrived. The same would be occurring here—just on a larger scale.
The two governments involved could, should they choose to, agree to a debt-repayment agreement for the infrastructure inherited by Gilead.

Homeowners who live inside Gilead’s boundary who wish to move out could register their homes on the internet. Those who live outside Gilead and wish to move in could do the same. We would then do a 1:1 swap between homes of comparably assessed value. The homeowners would carry their mortgages with them and simply pay them off on their new properties—or work out appropriate agreements with their respective lending institutions. Those who are renting would simply move to the area of their choice.

The area to be included is already populated by a number of people who would want to live in Gilead—so there would be less inconvenience to the general population than would occur if either the east or west coast were the region to be ceded.
Even so, this mass migration would take a while—so why don’t we give ourselves about 15 years to complete the move? This would avoid a massive upheaval of the population all at once and give Gilead’s government time to get set up before the Date of Government Transference.

Considerably less than one generation after implementation of the plan, those people who believe the Constitution was a mistake could move to Gilead and create their own country. Gilead would have no ties to the United States beyond a common boundary and any ambassadorial and trade functions the two governments wish to pursue—just as we have now with Mexico and Canada.

* Inside Gilead, if they wish their legislation to consist of the laws set forth in Leviticus, they could set that up.
* If the primary government or that of any city or state wants to put the 10 Commandments or a Nativity Scene on a public building’s lawn or in the lobby, they could do so.
* If the populous wants to ban any religion other than Christianity, they could do that, too.
* They could close all businesses on Sundays if they wish.
* They could mandate state-sponsored prayer in the schools. They could ban evolution and teach only creationism.. They could include Bible Study in their curricula, as well.
* They could give government funds to faith-based charities.
* Given today’s technology, if they wanted to keep unwanted radio and television broadcasts from crossing their borders as well as limiting internet access, I imagine they could do so.
* They could limit marriage to a union between one man and one woman.
* They could ban abortion and contraception and practice abstinence-only and the rhythm method.
* They could prohibit assisted suicide and direct hospitals to practice all heroic measures to maintain life for as long as possible.

Well, you can see the advantages, I’m sure.

Once an adult moved to Gilead, he or she would no longer be a citizen of the US and would not have the Right of Return. On the off chance, someone wanted to come back, they would get in line like any other immigrant and go through the full process. [I would recommend an exception be made for people who were below some agreed-on age—say 21—when the move occurred so that people who were minors on the Date of Transfer can make their own decisions when they reach adulthood. Most of them, though, would likely choose to remain where they grew up.]
Travel between the two countries on business or vacation or to visit friends and relatives would be fully permitted, of course.

In exchange, the United States’ Constitution would be left intact. Those of us remaining in this country would be let alone to live our lives as we wish to do.

This seems to me to be a win-win situation for everyone involved. The needs and wants of all current United States citizens could be met with minimum upheaval and turmoil.

And, whatever you may be thinking—no, this is not tongue-in-cheek. I’ve been thinking about a way out of the situation this country finds itself in and, though many details would have to be worked out, this general plan seems to me to be a fair and equitable solution.
One more bit:
Since posting this, I thought of another site for the new nation. How about the US Virgin Islands?
Separation by ocean waters rather than a couple of rivers and a land border would be more secure. And they'd love the name, right?

The US might have to offer more help during set-up, I'm not sure. I don't know the economic situation in the VI, what their infrastructure is like, etc.
I do know that the US is notorious for ignoring its possessions off its southeast coast.
And, of course, we would have to secure the cooperation of the Islanders. If we've been ignoring them for centuries, they might not be of a mind to collaborate with this scheme.

24 October, 2009

The First Step Toward Stopping Big Brother?

Recently, one of my favorite Senators, Jim Webb wrote:
America's criminal justice system is broken.
How broken? The numbers are stark:
• The United States has 5% of the world's population, yet possesses 25% of the world's prison population;
• More than 2.38 million Americans are now in prison, and another 5 million remain on probation or parole. That amounts to 1 in every 31 adults in the United States is in prison, in jail, or on supervised release;
• Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1200% since 1980, up from 41,000 to 500,000 in 2008; and
• 60% of offenders are arrested for non-violent offensives--many driven by mental illness or drug addiction.

When I was a college kid I was blown away by two instances of totalitarianism.
The first instance, of course, involved Nazi Germany and the internment camps. Six million Jews and six million other human beings (consisting of Catholics, Gypsies, mentally ill, mentally retarded....) were exterminated.
The second instance involved Stalinist Russia which had its own dalliance in extermination but which also incarcerated some ten million people in the Gulags. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote much about this horrible prison system including his The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
The numbers just astounded me along with the living conditions of these Soviet prisoners. The death rate was astounding.
But times have changed. And now we, the richest country in the world and supposedly the freest, have the largest prison population. To reach 25% of the numbers reached by Soviet Russian sickens me.
So, now, Obama is pushing to stop the raids on the perfectly legal [per state laws] marijuana clinics.
"Let's not arrest people who aren't breaking the law." What a novel idea.

Now, Mr. Obama, let's take the next logical step. Let's legalize marijuana across the board. I know this idea has been around for a while. It's a good idea. Let's tax it. Let the government use this perfectly good, safer than alcohol commodity as a source of revenue.

19 September, 2009

An Insider Speaks Out

Wendell Potter, a former high-ranking PR executive for Cigna wrote an expose of the health care industry. The following is an excerpt. The entire article can be found here.
And here is a related article that exposes numerous practices engaged in by the 'health care' industry.
I'm the former insurance industry insider now speaking out about how big for-profit insurers have hijacked our health care system and turned it into a giant ATM for Wall Street investors, and how the industry is using its massive wealth and influence to determine what is (and is not) included in the health care reform legislation members of Congress are now writing.

[I]n recent years I had grown increasingly uncomfortable serving as one of the industry's top PR executives. In addition to my responsibilities at CIGNA . . . I was in a unique position to see not only how Wall Street analysts and investors influence decisions insurance company executives make but also how the industry has carried out behind-the-scenes PR and lobbying campaigns to kill or weaken any health care reform efforts that threatened insurers' profitability.

I also have seen how the industry's practices . . . have contributed to the tragedy of nearly 50 million people being uninsured as well as to the growing number of Americans who . . . are underinsured. An estimated 25 million of us now fall into that category.

What I saw happening over the past few years was a steady movement away from the concept of insurance and toward "individual responsibility," a term used a lot by insurers and their ideological allies. This is playing out as a continuous shifting of the financial burden of health care costs away from insurers and employers and onto the backs of individuals.

As an industry spokesman, I was expected to put a positive spin on this trend that the industry created and euphemistically refers to as "consumerism" and to promote so-called "consumer-driven" health plans. I ultimately reached the point of feeling like a huckster.

I thought I could live with being a well-paid huckster and hang in there a few more years until I could retire. I probably would have if I hadn't made a completely spur-of-the-moment decision a couple of years ago that changed the direction of my life. While visiting my folks in northeast Tennessee where I grew up, I read in the local paper about a health "expedition" being held that weekend a few miles up U.S. 23 in Wise, Va. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals were volunteering their time to provide free medical care to people who lived in the area. What intrigued me most was that Remote Area Medical, a non-profit group whose original mission was to provide free care to people in remote villages in South America, was organizing the expedition. I decided to check it out.

That 50-mile stretch of U.S. 23, which twists through the mountains where thousands of men have made their living working in the coalmines, turned out to be my "road to Damascus."

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I reached the Wise County Fairgrounds, where the expedition was being held. Hundreds of people had camped out all night in the parking lot to be assured of seeing a doctor or dentist when the gates opened. By the time I got there, long lines of people stretched from every animal stall and tent where the volunteers were treating patients.

That scene was so visually and emotionally stunning it was all I could do to hold back tears. How could it be that citizens of the richest nation in the world were being treated this way?

A couple of weeks later I was boarding a corporate jet to fly from Philadelphia to a meeting in Connecticut. When the flight attendant served my lunch on gold-rimmed china and gave me a gold-plated knife and fork to eat it with, I realized for the first time that someone's insurance premiums were paying for me to travel in such luxury. I also realized that one of the reasons those people in Wise County had to wait in long lines to be treated in animal stalls was because our Wall Street-driven health care system has created one of the most inequitable health care systems on the planet.

Although I quit my job last year, I did not make a final decision to speak out as a former insider until recently when it became clear to me that the insurance industry and its allies (often including drug and medical device makers, business groups and even the American Medical Association) were succeeding in shaping the current debate on health care reform.

I heard members of Congress reciting talking points like the ones I used to write to scare people away from real reform. I'll have more to say about that over the coming weeks and months, but, for now, remember this: whenever you hear a politician or pundit use the term "government-run health care" and warn that the creation of a public health insurance option that would compete with private insurers (or heaven forbid, a single-payer system like the one Canada has) will "lead us down the path to socialism," know that the original source of the sound bite most likely was some flack like I used to be.

Bottom line: I ultimately decided the stakes are too high for me to just sit on the sidelines and let the special interests win again. So I have joined forces with thousands of other Americans who are trying to persuade our lawmakers to listen to us for a change, not just to the insurance and drug company executives who are spending millions to shape reform to benefit them and the Wall Street hedge fund managers they are beholden to.

Take it from me, a former insider, who knows what really motivates those folks. You need to know where the hard-earned money you pay in health insurance premiums -- if you lucky enough to have coverage at all -- really goes.

I decided to speak out knowing that some people will not like what I have to say and will do all they can to discredit me.

I'm writing this because, knowing how things work, I'm fully expecting insurers' PR firms to quietly feed friends of the industry . . . with anything they can think of to discredit me and what I say. This will go on behind the scenes because the insurers will want to preserve the image they are working so hard to cultivate -- as a group of kind and caring folks who think only of you and your health and are working hard as real partners to Congress and the White House to find "a uniquely American solution" to what ails our system.

I expect this because I have worked closely with the industry's PR firms over many years whenever the insurers were being threatened with bad publicity, litigation or legislation that might hinder profits.

One of the reasons I chose to become affiliated with the Center for Media and Democracy is because of the important work the organization does to expose often devious, dishonest and unethical PR practices that further the self interests of big corporations and special interest groups at the expense of the American people and the democratic principles this country was founded on.

After a long career in PR, I am looking forward to providing an insider's perspective as a senior fellow at CMD, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak out for the rights and dignity of ordinary people. The people of Wise County and every county deserve much better than to be left behind to suffer or die ahead of their time due to Wall Street's efforts to keep our government from ensuring that all Americans have real access to first-class health care.

13 September, 2009

No Way to Treat a President

-- by Eugene Robinson [click on the title for the full article]

"[T]he right-wing Republicans in Congress, especially those in the House, are all too sincere. And that's the problem.

Last November's election so wounded the GOP that the nation is now suffering collateral damage. The Republicans who were punished at the polls for the failures of the Bush years were those in the most evenly contested districts, which meant they tended to be relatively moderate. Those who represent solidly Republican districts were safe, and their greatest fear isn't being defeated by a Democrat next fall but being challenged by a primary opponent who's even more of a right-wing yahoo.

There are quite a few Democratic pragmatists in Congress -- which is why health-care reform is being worked over so thoroughly by the Blue Dogs. In the Republican ranks, especially in the House, pragmatists are few and ideologues are legion. Many of them probably believe the nonsense they spout about creeping socialism and an urgent threat to America As We Know It. But it's still nonsense. The ideologues' sincerity just makes this toxic, rejectionist rhetoric more dangerous."
I hadn't put together the dynamics of the far-right move of Congress -- particularly the House of Representatives. Robinson clarified that for me and I owe him a debt of gratitude for the realization.

And, of course, he's right on the other matter, too -- the rhetoric is, indeed, dangerous. It can lead to actions by other sincere people. That is what frightens me so much and that is why, every time I see Obama in public, I fervently hope he is wearing a bullet-proof vest.

11 September, 2009

Great News! Martinez Pulls a Palin.

This is old news, I know, but I hadn't learned the details till today. And I'm filled with revulsion for my country in general and the Rethuglicans in particular. And the Demo-lie-down-and-dies should have stopped it after the factso they're just as guilty of betraying the Constitution as these three bandits.

From Mel Martinez' biography at Wikipedia:
Despite an absence of a quorum, the Senate approved The Palm Sunday Compromise, formally known as the Act for the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo (S. 686 CPS), in the early hours of March 20, 2005, to allow the case of Terri Schiavo to be moved into a federal court. The bill passed unanimously by voice vote and no formal record of the vote was made. Bill Frist (R-TN), Rick Santorum (R-PA), and Mel Martínez (R-FL), the only Senators present, voted for the bill with the remaining 97 Senators not present.

The act was strongly criticized by many on both sides of the political divide for the following reasons.

* The law applied to only one individual. Comparisons were drawn with bills of attainder, which are specifically prohibited by the United States Constitution. While some saw this as a legally flawed analysis since bills of attainder take away individual rights rather than bestow them, the rights of Michael Schiavo, as Terri's guardian, to make decisions on her behalf were stripped away.

* The law was a violation of the separation of powers. Many argued that Congress had exceeded its powers by substituting its judgment for that of the courts and directing the courts on how to proceed. This argument was addressed by Judge Stanley Birch in a highly critical concurrence with the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, given on March 30, 2005.

* The law failed to create any substantive rights. The law enacted by Congress obliged the federal courts only to review the rulings of the Florida state courts to determine whether procedural due process had been afforded. However, there was no serious argument that the Florida courts had violated any constitutionally mandated procedural requirements. Nineteen different Florida state court judges, at various times, considered the requests on appeal in six state appellate courts.

As in the state courts, all of the Schindlers' federal petitions on behalf of Mrs. Schiavo and appeals were denied, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant certiorari – effectively ending the Schindler family legal options.
At the same time as the above law-aimed-at-one-person was passed, the so-called Sciavo memo surfaced, causing a political firestorm. The memo was written by Brian Darling, the legal counsel to Florida Republican senator Mel Martinez. It suggested the Schiavo case offered "a great political issue" that would appeal to the party's base [core supporters] and could be used against Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, because he had refused to sponsor the bill. [Nelson won re-election in 2006, btw. So much for the best laid plans of mice and lice.

No one bothered to suggest that 3 men out of a body of 100 ramming a 'law' through was improper? Hello?!?
At least their plan to keep the agonies of the family going failed. The federal court agreed with the state courts. The circus ended and Terri was allowed to die quietly
at last.

The only good thing I can find to say about Martinez is that he pulled a Palin. He has cut-and-run a year and a half before his term is up.
He had said shortly after taking office he planned to serve only one term.
From here it looks as if he took on the job for just the amount of time he needed to pick up the perks the Senate hands out so generously. He now has a lifetime pension and life-long health care
both paid for by you and me. It's a good gig if you can get it.

So long, Mel. Good riddance. I hope your successor treats Florida better than you have
but I'm not holding my breath.

05 September, 2009

Back in April, I wrote a piece on Preserve, Protect and Defend about Obama's statement that he wanted to look forward and not pursue the people who developed and carried out the torture programs. In it, I suggested a convoluted reasoning on his part that might, in the long run, bring the perpetrators to justice.

I may not have been looking deeply enough, however.
Today I read a piece by Eugene Robinson in the Washington post. He wrote, with disgust, of the psychiatrists and physicians who participated in the torture.
And I came across this comment on the article.
Whoever gkam is, my hat is off to him or her. The reasoning is absolutely wonderful.
If this is what Obama has in mind our nation may be saved yet.
Please, please let gkam be right.
gkam wrote:
There are large issues at stake here, and they are not all ours.

Eric Holder has no choice - he MUST investigate these crimes. But if Holder pursues the perpetrators of Shock and Awe, torture, and other war crimes, several things will happen. The conservatives will scream "politics", and the matter will forever be tainted.

It will then go to a Grand Jury, and become instantly secret. We will find out only what the government wants us to know.

What's more, we are not the aggrieved in this matter. These were international crimes, committed in foreign lands, against citizens of other countries, in direct violation of International Law. They belong in the international venue, in the jurisdictions of international courts.

This is terrifically important: The real victims will not trust our country to deal with our own leaders. If we decide to prosecute, it will cheat those victims of those crimes out of THEIR justice, in THEIR jurisdictions, the actual locality of the crimes.

I believe Obama was intentionally waiting, giving time to those building their international cases from the continuous streams of information emanating from the squealing rats jumping ship, and the lice hopping off the rats.

Obama knows that one of the primary criteria of the International Criminal Court is whether it is likely that the offenders will be tried in their own country. By "not looking back", Obama sent a signal to those prosecutors elsewhere to start their investigations. They are doing so as we type.


As the Big Bad Boys get their day in the Dock of the Hague, we will deal here at home with those who corrupted our Department of Justice and looted the treasury.

That way, everyone wins - we get justice, the aggrieved get their day in their courts, tyranny is exposed and prosecuted, and the entire world gets an object lesson in rampant violence and International Evil.

Justice be done!

30 August, 2009

British health care explained

How does it stack up against ours? You decide.

24 August, 2009

Holder Stepping to the Plate

Holder to Appoint Prosecutor to Investigate CIA Terror Interrogations - - By Carrie Johnson of the Washington Post

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has decided to appoint a prosecutor to examine nearly a dozen cases in which CIA interrogators and contractors may have violated anti-torture laws and other statutes when they allegedly threatened terrorism suspects, according to two sources familiar with the move.

Holder is poised to name John Durham, a career Justice Department prosecutor from Connecticut, to lead the inquiry, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process is not complete.

Durham's mandate, the sources added, will be relatively narrow: to look at whether there is enough evidence to launch a full-scale criminal investigation of current and former CIA personnel who may have broken the law in their dealings with detainees. Many of the harshest CIA interrogation techniques have not been employed against terrorism suspects for four years or more.

The attorney general selected Durham in part because the longtime prosecutor is familiar with the CIA and its past interrogation regime. For nearly two years, Durham has been probing whether laws against obstruction or false statements were violated in connection with the 2005 destruction of CIA videotapes. The tapes allegedly depicted brutal scenes including waterboarding of some of the agency's high value detainees. That inquiry is proceeding before a grand jury in Alexandria, although lawyers following the investigation have cast doubt on whether it will result in any criminal charges.

Word of Holder's decision comes on the same day that the Obama administration will issue a 2004 report by the then-CIA Inspector General. Among other things, the IG questioned the effectiveness of harsh interrogation tactics that included simulated drowning and wall slamming. A federal judge in New York forced the administration to release the secret report after a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Follow the link for the complete article.
Back in April I wrote a post that suggested that Obama might have pushed Holder toward this move. Maybe it's happening? Wouldn't that be lovely?

19 August, 2009

"If Stephen Hawking Lived in England" and Other Great Points the Left Doesn't Want You to Know.

by Jennifer Epps
Published on Friday, August 21, 2009 by CommonDreams.org

Fellow Patriots,
Here are some important things to keep in mind when those blood-suckers from the left try to spread their lies about health care!! Print this out so you can bring it to a town hall.

1.) If Stephen Hawking lived in England, he'd be left to die. Thank God he's safe at the University of Cambridge in Massachusetts.

2.) If the government was capable of ensuring health care for seniors, they would have done it decades ago.

3.) If we didn't have a free enterprise health care system in America, then we would not be able to achieve all those advances in medicine funded by the National Institutes of Health.

4.) When the people of oppressed countries like Canada, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Israel, Australia and New Zealand finally get democracy, they can vote out their socialized health care systems.

5.) England's capital is the ultimate proof that national health care kills free enterprise. That's why London has no stock exchange, no banking district, no tabloid newspapers, no big musicals, and no expensive real estate.

6.) Even the World Health Organization agrees that "America has the best health care system in the world"; the WHO ranks the American health care system at the very top part of its list, right after the first part where 36 other countries rank higher.

7.) Free enterprise is the greatest system ever invented and government can't even come close. What else but private industry could have split the atom, or gotten a man on the moon?

8.) If you drove 100 miles on the interstate freeway you still couldn't come up with one good thing that government has done.

9.) I'm writing an urgent letter to my Senator about the health-care issue. I'm explaining how the government never does anything right. I'm sure the Post Office will deliver it in a day or so.

10.) The last thing anyone needs is a government official getting involved with health. I look after my own health. For example, I always make sure I eat at restaurants rated "A" in the window.

11.) I really resent the government thinking I need any assistance from them. I buy my FDA-approved medication on my own.

12.) If health care were available to all at government expense, people would over-consume, using it when they don't really need it. As in the common phrase: "It's Saturday night, honey. Would you rather go to a movie, or shall we have our gallstones removed?"

13.) For some reason, the lunatic left can't understand that the most important thing in health care is consumer choice. When you're in a car accident and you've lost pints and pints of blood, what you really want to do is to sit down, think over how much you want to spend and where, and comparison-shop. And if you happen to choose an incompetent surgeon, well, he damn well won't get your business next time, will he?
Jennifer Epps is an L.A.-area political activist, writer, producer, and director who studied theatre and has written several hundred film reviews. She is currently developing an anti-war film.
I wish I could add something to this but I can't—I just can't do it—that's all.

The Catcerto


18 August, 2009

The Truth Is Out: Obama Hates Gays

Emma Ruby wrote for the Huffington Post:
"Yesterday, the Obama administration filed a follow-up brief in the Smelt case -- the couple in California challenging DOMA who were the recipients of an imprudently written reply brief back in June. This time, it looks like some liberals in the Justice Department got their hands on a copy of the brief before filing. There are some nice words in there aimed at smoothing hurt feelings.

"But the brief also argues for a new and dangerous interpretation of the rational basis test.

"The rational basis test is applied by the court to laws that violate the equal protection clause, but do not implicate certain protected groups. In other words, if the law does not discriminate on the basis of race or gender, it will likely be upheld if the government can find any rational reason why the law exists. These reasons can be invented on the spot and are usually not tested very vigorously."
See here for the complete article.
So, after his disastrous comparison of gay marriage to incest and the marrying off of children, he turns around and says, "Oh—well—gay marriage is just too hard to do anything about! Forget it, then. So what if people are denied their rights? That's just too bad for them, then, isn't it?" And he scoops up his marbles and goes home.

To which my response:
"Voting for Obama is just too hard! Forget it then. I'll find someone else—surely someone doesn't see finally allowing people their rights as too difficult a task for the president to do."

14 August, 2009

My Crusade

Well folks—
I restarted Scattershot so I wouldn't feel obligated to post all politics all the time—then promptly posted 5 political articles. Go figure.

BUT, today I'm departing from that and posting something that has been consuming my waking hours for several weeks. I think I can safely post about it now without jinxing it.

First allow me to say that there's absolutely NO wake-up call like a diagnosis of diabetes. None whatsoever. Nada. Nothing.
The prospect of blindness. Liver damage. Amputated feet. Kidney failure. Heart failure.

For years, I'd try to diet—but would keep eating the same old junk food—just less of it. So, I was hungry all the time and I wasn't losing weight. I’d feel deprived and, sooner or later, would stop dieting. Then I would pig-out and end up GAINING weight. Eventually, I just quit trying. And I kept on eating all the wrong things.

Well, shortly before that fateful diagnosis hit me upside the head with a 2 by 4, a friend’s doc told him to eat 5 times per day to lose weight. I decided to try it. I began eating vegetables and fruits and whole grains and such for the first time in my adult life. And I didn’t lose weight. Rrrrrrrrrrggggghhhhhh!
Still, for some reason, I kept at it—who knows why? Maybe one reason was—I wasn’t hungry and I WAS eating right, at least and at last.

So, then I got the diagnosis and I panicked. Lucky for me, my doc sent me to a nutritionist who congratulated me on my move toward healthy eating and explained what I was doing wrong. All I had to do was tweak my diet a bit and the pounds began to fall off. Hey! I was onto something here!

So far, I’ve quit taking the blood pressure medications I’d been on for years AND I’ve quit taking the diabetes med my doc put me on about 5 weeks ago.
I’m eating right, swimming at least once per day and walking most days, as well [another first in more years than I can count.]
One thing that helped in the swimming department was the move, a couple of years ago, to a retirement community. I hadn’t worn a swimsuit in decades—because I would be faced with all those 20-somethings worshiping the sun whenever I headed to the pool. Here, though, almost everyone looks just like me! So no more avoiding the pool out of self-consciousness. The fact that the pool is about 3 blocks away helps too.
And, today, I received another major surprise. During today’s walks [first to the pool and later to my park’s maintenance office] I found myself walking fast! THAT’S a first in years and years.
I wasn’t pressing myself to walk faster—I just did it! It felt completely natural!
Right now I’m restraining myself mightily. If I’m not careful I may just break my arm patting myself on the back.

And—here’s the proof of the pudding:
1] I’ve lost 24 pounds [from 236 down to 212] in—what?—about 5 weeks. My goal is 135 pounds—maybe even a few less than that—we’ll see.
2] Though I’ve quit the blood pressure meds, my bp hovers around the 130’s/80’s range—a marked improvement even from the levels when I was taking 3 meds to keep it under control.
3] My fluid retention has dropped dramatically—though I’ve stopped taking the diuretic. OK, OK, yes, I’m taking dandelion root now but, hey!—it’s not nearly as strong as HCTZ AND it is high in potassium, which the HCTZ was leeching from my system. So, that’s a Good Thing.
And [4] **drum roll** my blood sugar level hit 78 yesterday! SEVENTY EIGHT!
For those who may not know—70-90 is normal. And my starting level was 154!

So—today I’m claiming my bragging rights—in case you hadn’t figured that out already. =)

12 August, 2009

Urine Luck! Pee May Be the Fuel of the Future

Scientists at Ohio University have stumbled on a major break-through that could be the key to bringing hydrogen fuel cells into wide-spread use. Scientists discovered that placing a nickel-based electrode in a pool of urine and applying a small electrical current produces hydrogen gas.

"One cow can provide enough energy to supply hot water for 19 houses," Ohio University professor Gerardine Botte said of the discovery.
The scientists are hoping to make commercial version of the technology available by next year.
Maybe they've found a practical way to run those hydrogen fueled cars? Pull up to the pump and out comes -- PEE!
No more depending on middle eastern countries for our fuel and we could clean up those huge pig farms in N. Carolina.

11 August, 2009

The Truth about Canada

Heard on National Public Radio
These days, we can hardly turn on our TV's without seeing political ads telling us how horrible Canadian health care is.

Now, just so you know, no one in Congress or the White House is suggesting that the US adopt the Canadian design. [Though why they aren't, I don't know--it's a great system. Oh--that's right--the insurance companies don't want it. I forgot.]

Sarah Varney, reporter for NPR member station, KQED, decided to check out health care north of the border. See what you think.
Varney opened her piece with a visit to a doctor's office. She interviewed John Riley who was being treated for colon cancer in a small doctor's office in a gritty, working class neighborhood. He and his wife have been seeing the same doctor for over twenty years. They are allowed to choose their own physician.

Varney asked John if he had been required to wait for treatment. "Nothing but good. Everything has been going bang, bang, bang."
Did he have out-of-pocket expenses? "Other than gettin' there. No. Everything is good. I'm covered. I'm covered."
So, how does the Canadian health care system work? It's paid for by income tax and sales tax. All Canadians are covered and can see any doctor they want, anywhere in Canada with no co-pays or deductibles.

Some things aren't paid for: optometry, dental care or prescription drugs. Some people carry additional insurance to pay for those--others pay out-of-pocket for them.

American opponents to a new health plan like to call Canadian health care "Socialized Medicine [HORRORS!]." That's not an accurate description. Actually, it's socialized insurance--meaning that the risk is pulled together and paid for by the government.

While individual provinces and territories set their own overall health budgets and administer the health plans, the delivery of the actual care is private. Doctors run their own practices and bill the government rather than the patient or a 3rd party provider.

A physician Varney interviewed [Dr. Barsalai] told her that doctors earn a good living in Canada and don't have to handle the hassles involved with dealing with hundreds of different insurance policies--each with its own rules.
The article didn't say so, but I would imagine the issues of pre-approval or preexisting conditions don't come up.

Barsalai said that medical costs in Canada are half of what they are in the US. Infant mortality is lower. Life expectancy is longer. Obesity is lower and accessibility is higher.
Canada must be doing something right.

The Commonwealth Fund, a respected and non-partisan health research organization surveyed the 19 top industrialized countries in regards to deaths that could have been prevented had appropriate care been available. Canada rated 6th in positive outcomes while the US rated last.

Steve Morgan, a health economist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said, "I think a lot of it has to do with access. Canadians who need to manage a chronic condition or are faced with an urgent situation don't think about their pocketbooks. They seek the care and, more times than not, they get the care they need."

Varney met with Morgan and his colleagues at the UVC Center for Health Policy Research to find out what the data they've collected over the years reveal about the Canadian health system. Varney advised them of what the American public is told about the Canadian process: that health care is rationed, there are long waiting lists and a government bureaucrat gets between the patient and his/her doctor.
Professor Bob Evans, one of the grandfathers of the health economics field, said, "An illusion has been created that there are long lines of people who are near death waiting for care. That's absolute nonsense!"
Evans has been studying the two systems [Canadian and American] since they were founded about the same time during the 1960's.
He went on to say, "Are there people lined up not getting the appropriate care they need in appropriate times? Of course there are. It's a huge system and a very complicated one. And things do go wrong. But, as a general rule, what happens here is: when you need the care--you get it. We're not a third world country! [He sounded downright incensed.]

When federal funding for health care declined when a recession occurred during the 1990's, lines for nonessential services [and even some urgent ones] grew. The Canadian Supreme Court did find that, in some serious cases, patients had, in fact, died as a result of waiting for medical services. Stories of the deaths and of people traveling to the US for medical care dominated Canadian news. As a result, the Canadian government poured billions of dollars into reducing waiting times in the areas that were the most critical including cardiac care, cancer and joint replacement surgery.
As a result, the amount of wait time has been dropping. Most provinces now report waiting times on publically available websites. No such data or accountability is available in the US.

That's not to say there aren't frustrations regarding waiting for health care in Canada. At BC Children's Hospital, Jocelyn Tomkins, a young woman born with a condition similar to spina bifida, stated, "I haven't been able to walk since I was eight. I've had lots of surgeries and interventions but, beyond that, I hold a job and I live a pretty much normal life."
Jocelyn credits an army of doctors and physical therapists for that normal life but she admits there have, on occasion, been roadblocks.
"Of course there were some times when I had to wait for care and those were always the most frustrating moments."
A few years ago, when she was on a wait list for a pain clinic, she traveled first to Seattle and then to Texas. The care she required cost $1,800.00. Very few Canadians do go south for health care. It's a bit like getting struck by lightning--it's rare but, when it happens, everyone talks about it.

On some occasions, provinces pay for people to receive specialty care in the US. One such instance is the fact that a shortage of neonatal beds in Canada leads some women with high risk pregnancies to travel to the US [at Canadian expense] to deliver. It doesn't happen often and polls show that the vast majority of people are happy with their health care.

A few people would like to purchase private health insurance. Currently that is not allowed.

Canadians share some anxieties with their counterparts south of the border: a concern regarding their aging baby boomer population; overuse of emergency departments and a shortage of primary care doctors. But what Canadians don't worry about are losing their health insurance or going bankrupt because of a health crisis.

09 August, 2009

Republicans Just Never Learn, Do They?

Rusty Depass, a GOP activist, stated that Michelle Obama's ancestor was a gorilla and posted it on Facebook.
Later he made a non-apology apology, saying ""I am as sorry as I can be if I offended anyone. The comment was clearly in jest."

"IF I OFFENDED ANYONE?" Did he really say that?
Later he attempted to blame Michelle Obama for his words.
[Click on the title for the complete article.]

His comment was similar to the early days of the Nazi party when men in brown shirts and swastika armbands stood on street corners handing out handbills that compared Jews to apes. Comedians made similar "jokes" in nightclubs.
Do we want to return to those times?

Speech is free in this country and must remain so unless we want to drift into a totalitarian state. Therefore, we cannot outlaw such remarks. However, what we can do is try such statements in the court of public opinion.

So, what do you think?
Apparently, I can't stay away from politics after all.
My excuse, this time, though, is that this had been in my hopper for months and I just stumbled across it today.

05 August, 2009

Una and Laura are home! YAYAYAYAYAY!
Thank goodness we now have a president who doesn't posture, yell "Bring it on!" and label other countries as evil but, instead, pursues diplomatic avenues.

Una and Laura owe Obama and Clinton their freedom, maybe their lives.
The rest of us owe them the potential of reopening relations with North Korea and, possibly, a safer world.

Hnh! I went and closed my political blog because I was so discouraged — and here comes some good news. Go figure.

04 August, 2009

Tell Me Why

written and sung by a 13-year-old boy. the grown-ups don't have an answer.

13 June, 2009

I LOL'd. you will too.

18 March, 2009

Christian the Lion

And here's the full story. It's over an hour long in 10 minute increments.
Well -- so much for that.
The owners of Born Free who own this video, as well, threatened to sue the person who posted this to Youtube. You can view the 1st and last segments and, if you like them, a link is provided where you can order a copy of the whole program. **sigh**
the story began in 1969 and, I think, the last any human saw of Christian was in 1974.

One of the more astounding parts of the story was this:
John and Ace phoned George in 1974 and told him they wanted to come for another visit. [2 years after the video above]. George told them that it had been quite a while since he'd seen the pride and doubted they would be able to find them.
They decided to go anyway--at least to see George.

When they got to the camp, George told them that the pride had returned the day before and they were just outside the camp.
Christian and the men had another lovely visit. The lionesses were not happy about it and let it be known but Christian stayed with the men for a couple of days.

After John and Ace left, the pride left the camp and they were never seen again. George kept hoping they would return but they never did.

George believed [and I do, too] that Christian knew John and Ace were coming and came to meet them.
After that visit, they never planned another trip to Africa so there was no need for Christian to return to the camp to greet them as he was fully assimilated to Africa by then.

19 August, 2008

Life Emulating Art

Back in the mid-1970’s when I was in my late 20’s, I took several creative writing classes while attending university.

Back then, Dr. Ingersoll stressed again and again, the importance of creating tension either between characters or between the circumstances and the characters. I went along with the program—I wanted the grade, after all—but I wasn’t a true believer. After all, weren’t there plenty of times when tension wasn’t present in peoples’ lives?
Well, ok, I was aware that MY life had, by and large, been pretty angst-filled—but, surely, that wasn’t the norm, was it? Well? WAS IT?

During the months I've endured over the past few days, I’ve been thinking more and more about Dr. Ingersoll. Maybe he knew his onions, after all.
First, I was thanking my lucky stars.
I had ordered hurricane shutters back in May, or so. The company kind of dragged its feet until I phoned em and started LEANING on them to get with the program here! Hurricane season was well underway [in late June] and I WANTED MY SHUTTERS, GOLDANG IT!

OK, they got here with the shutters—and the windows had been measured wrong by the sales agent. So, the installers hauled about half of em back to the factory and recut/redrilled new ones. They came back and got em installed quickly, once they actually, you know, FIT the windows they’d been custom-cut for.

Hurdle # 1 cleared.
When I’d ordered em, most of them were set to be cut and hung vertically. There were 2 exceptions because I wanted fire-access. So, 2 windows-worth were hung horizontally so the bottom halves of those windows could be left open for easy [well, EASIER, anyway] exit in case of fire.
Most of the shutters are left up permanently—so, Sunday afternoon saw me out hanging those bottom halves. A simple enough job, you’d think. Drag out the ladder, hang the shutters on the bolts installed around the windows, tighten the thumb-screws, dust off your hands and you’re done, right?


It turns out, the installers hadn’t drilled the holes on one of the panels. They had, oh so thoughtfully, marked which window it was supposed to fit. They’d even marked where the holes were SUPPOSED to be. Of course, I hadn’t noticed the absence of the actual holes till it’s twin was already installed. So, just to be certain, I took down the panel I had hung, fit it to it’s twin and yes, the holes and the dots lined up. So, I went in search of my drill bits—and didn’t find one big enough to fit the bolt that had to go through the holes I would be drilling.

While drilling, repositioning the drill and drilling another hole, then repositioning AGAIN and drilling a hole between the 2 and kind of sawing the drill-bit in a circular motion, I thought about Dr. Ingersoll again.

Finally, the holes were large enough and with much grunting and tugging and slapping the panel into position, it was where it was supposed to be. NOW, I could thread the nuts onto the bolts and put away the ladder.

Oh, and of course, all this was happening when the weather here on the coast where humidity is generally low and there is ALWAYS a breeze which makes the weather SO much more pleasant than it was back in Missouri in August was feeling downright midwestern. Yesterday saw temps and humidity both hovering in the century range. And those shore breezes were but a pleasant memory as the storm closed in. I guess Fay was hogging all winds for herself and leaving nothing for the rest of us.

Still, Hurdle # 2 cleared.
Then, this morning, I pulled out my hurricane kit and took stock of my supplies. First aid kit: check. No-cook food: check. Flashlights: check. Batteries: check. Radio that doesn’t need AC current: ruh-roh.

I THOUGHT I had a useful radio—I really did. But, when I unpacked it I quickly discovered that, in order to listen to it I have to crank it continuously. And the crank is noisy.

Just try to listen to the radio and actually get some useful information in that situation. I noticed that my bedside clock radio had a battery compartment. So, it was off to Target this afternoon. I picked up several 9 volt batteries, brought em home and installed one. I unplugged the radio and tried to listen to it. Nope. It turns out, the only thing the battery is good for is keeping track of the time so that, AFTER POWER IS RESTORED, it knows what time it is and you don’t have to reset the clock. But as for either listening to the radio or being able to tell the time while the power is out, forget it.

I phoned a friend across the street. SHE has been here for years and years and has several battery-powered radios and a battery powered tv. So, she lent me one of her radios. Once more, saved by the skin of my teeth. And, again, I thought about Dr. Ingersol.
Then, finally [so far], I heard that sometime tonight, the rains are due to begin. So, I went out to close the accordion shutters over my glass doors. And discovered that they had been installed BACKWARD.
One half of my glass door opens and the other half is immobile. And the two sections of the accordion don’t meet in the middle. They meet in the middle of one side where, theoretically, the homeowner can shut them and easily reach the locking mechanism. Only, the installers installed em so that the closure is positioned over the IMMOVABLE side of the door.
I can look through the glass at it and it's the prettiest little lock you ever did see. It looks very efficient and I'm sure it would do a bang-up job of securing the two sections of doors. Only, I can’t actually, you know, REACH the lock over there beyond the pane of glass that can’t be moved.

After struggling with it in vain and finally just giving up, I came in and placed a very nasty phone call to the company that sold me these perfectly good shutters [except for the fact that I had to drill the holes in one of em myself and now, I couldn’t lock the section that is positioned over my MOST VULNERABLE window of all—the one that is 7 feet tall by 8 feet wide. Gee, thanks, Shutter Co.]
Of course, it’s now after 10 PM—so the most I could do was leave the company a nasty message which won’t be received till after the storm has passed.
[After all, the company's employees live in Florida, too. They're going to be securing their homes or hunkered down listening to THEIR radios tomorrow--not in the office listening to messages from irate customers.]

So, after I vented my spleen at the Shutter Company’s answering machine I stopped and thought the problem through. And, I had an idea.
That's a dangerous practice, I know. But, I'm used to working without a net.

I went hunting for that ladder I’d used yesterday to hang the shutter panels. And I couldn't find it. I opened the shed, couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, came inside and couldn’t find the flashlight I wanted. I located another one, went back outside, shined the flashlight around inside the shed and—the ladder wasn’t there.

I came back inside and hunted around and found the ladder and, sure enough, [**whew!** FINALLY SOMETHING WENT RIGHT!] the bungee cords WERE where I thought they were! They were wrapped around two tubes of the ladder. So, I went outside and rigged two bungee cords across the accordion doors to, hopefully, hold them closed.

BUT, the fact remains, they ARE outside and Fay IS coming. How long will it take her to TWANGGGGG those cords and send them flying, throw open the accordion doors and slam part of my neighbors' roof against my door and take it out? Probably a lot less time than it would take me to sue that company for installing the doors backward.

I think I’d better go think up a better way to seal that door. And here it is, coming up on 2:00 AM. Fay has made landfall and is headed my way. I think I’d better get busy.
Meanwhile, I just heard that Fay is starting to get more ‘organized’—which means this Tropical Storm could, yet, turn into a hurricane.
It’s starting to spawn tornadoes [and Florida doesn’t know the meaning of the word, ‘basement.’ An oversight I’m sure it has regretted in the past—and will again.]
Now the latest forecast is suggesting it’s starting to zig-zag. So, it could head back west again—toward Clearwater.

OK, Dr. Ingersoll, you were right. I was wrong. Are you happy, now?
I DID rethink and reroute those bungee cords INSIDE the accordion doors. I'm far from certain they will hold the doors shut when Fay hits, of course, but I think they may stand a better chance.

And, I am not, by nature, a litigious person. But, if those doors spring open and my glass doors get shattered and all the stuff stored in my Florida room gets flooded and or ruined or blown out and damages my neighbors' homes or whatever---or the inner door gets shattered and and my house is destroyed because the installers didn't pay attention to what they were doing---they're gonna learn the definition of 'lawsuit' in a hurry. . . .

Meanwhile, I certainly hope the world doesn't continue to remind me of an adventure novel. I've had enough excitement for one month--over the last 2 days.
Postscript # 2:
After all that, Fay veered east and didn't come back. The next day I had to go outside to discover the fact that it had rained a little.

Yep, Dr. Ingersoll is totally and completely vindicated. Blast his eyes.

18 August, 2008

Well, Fay is coming in for a landing tomorrow -- or Wednesday or Thursday -- who knows? They're calling the landfall 'uncertain' [as to time and place]. Gee, ya think???
Clearwater is smack in the middle of the zone-of-probability. So, whatever happens, I'll be out-of-pocket sometime in the next few days.

I've gotten my storm shutters up, brought in ALL my outdoor furniture [my Florida room looks like a junk sale (in fact, the whole house does)] and laid in a load of groceries that don't need to be cooked.
My home is a modular one even though it's in one of the infinite number of mobile home parks in Clearwater -- so it's pretty sturdy and I'm probably going to stay put.

Over and above my survival kit, I'm taking Jake-the-Cat, Molly and Huck [the computer twins] with me if I am-scray to higher ground. Hey! you wouldn't leave YOUR pets behind, would you?

Assuming I have a home after Thursday or so, I hope to be back up and running within a couple of weeks -- whenever power is restored.
If you don't hear from me by the end of August, please send any white light you can spare to the Clearwater, Florida region.
Thanx, two crows.

18 July, 2008

Engineers educate the general public on the subject of cats.

06 July, 2008


Book Review
Firmin by Sam Savage, illustrated by Michael Mikolowski, paperback, 162 pages, Coffee House Press, list price: $14.95
Firmin, the title character of Sam Savage's novel, is a real rat. I mean a real rat — the sort with four legs, a long tail and presumably a pinkish nose (the color isn't certain since the illustrations are in black and white). What sets Firmin apart from others of his clan is that Firmin is a reader. He devours books — both figuratively and literally.

Born in the basement of a book shop in Boston's Scollay Square in the 1960s, Firmin (the runt of the litter) discovers his passion early on when he is nourished not by his mother's milk (too many siblings jostling about ahead of him), but by the books he both gnaws on and reads. Beginning with a diet of Moby Dick and Don Quixote, Firmin naturally worries about finding his Destiny. A quick look in the mirror tells him that he'll never be as dapper and debonair as his hero Fred Astaire, and he'll never search for an elusive white whale or tilt at windmills. But surely, he thinks, there's something more to life than scrounging for food in a dilapidated movie theater:

Could it be that I, despite my unlikely appearance, have a Destiny? And by that I meant the sort of thing people have in stories, where the events of a life, no matter how they churn and swirl, are swirled and churned in the end into a kind of pattern … Lives in stories have direction and meaning. Even stupid and meaningless lives, like Lenny's in Of Mice and Men, acquire through their place in a story at least the dignity and meaning of being Stupid Meaningless Lives, the consolation of being exemplars of something. In real life you do not get even that. ...
This darkly comic homage to the power of imagination, the lure of books and the desire to live a life that means something speaks to all of us. And you'll never think about rats the same way.

02 July, 2008


Previously by Allan Ahlberg, illustrated by Bruce Ingman, hardcover, 32 pages, Candlewick Press, list price: $16.99

Allan Ahlberg's whimsical take on the world comes through clearly in all of his books for young children, but perhaps never more so than in Previously, where he teams up with artist Bruce Ingman to produce a charming concatenation of some familiar fairy tales. Beginning with Goldilocks arriving home after her adventure with the three bears, author and illustrator tell her story backward, so to speak, by describing what she had been doing "previously." The final "previously" has her walking in the woods, before coming upon the house of the three bears, where she bumped into Jack (of climbing the beanstalk fame).

As his story progresses backward, it turns out that he's the same Jack who tumbled down the hill with his sister Jill, and that the two of them had encountered the Frog Prince, who (before he was turned into a frog) had fallen in love with "a disappearing girl named … Cinderella," who had collided with the Gingerbread Man and his retinue, and so on and so on, until the very satisfying conclusion.

Reading this book aloud to 4- to 8-year-old children is a delight. Not only will they take great pleasure in repeating "previously" with you each time it appears (nearly 30 times) in the text, but they'll appreciate Ahlberg's word pictures — The Frog, "sitting on the window sill/with a sorrowful look in his eye/and a crown on his head"; or Goldilocks, who "had been humming a tune/and having a little skip by herself in the dark woods." Beginning with the deliberately childlike pencil drawings on the endpapers, Ingram's pictures offer a colorful and clever complement for Ahlberg's quirky text. Just take a look at the picture of the poor Frog Prince watching Jack and Jill arguing at the breakfast table, and you'll see what I mean.

30 June, 2008

hilarious [I think] video =D
See more Demetri Martin videos at Funny or Die

29 June, 2008

The Ghost in Love

Book Review
The ghost was in love with a woman named German Landis. Just hearing that arresting, peculiar name would have made the ghost's heart flutter if it had had one. She was coming over in less than an hour, so it was hurrying now to make everything ready. The ghost was a very good cook, sometimes a great one. If it'd spent more time at it or had more interest in the subject, it would have been exceptional.

From its large bed in a corner of the kitchen a mixed-breed, black-and-oatmeal-colored dog watched with great interest as the ghost prepared the meal. This mutt was the only reason that German Landis was coming here today. His name was Pilot, after a poem the woman loved about a Seeing Eye dog.

Suddenly sensing something, the ghost stopped what it was doing and eyeballed the dog. Peevishly, it demanded "What?"

Pilot shook his head. "Nothing. I was only watching you work."

"Liar. That is not the only thing. I know what you were thinking: that I'm an idiot to be doing this."

Embarrassed, the dog turned away and began furiously biting one of its rear paws.

"Don't do that. Look at me. You think I'm nuts, don't you?"

Pilot said nothing and kept biting his foot.

"Don't you?"

"Yes, I think you're nuts, but I also think it's very sweet. I only wish she could see what you're doing for her."

Resigned, the ghost shrugged and sighed. "It helps when I cook. When my mind is focused, I don't get so frustrated."

"I understand."

"No, you do not. How could you? You're only a dog."

The dog rolled his eyes. "Idiot."


They had a cordial relationship. Like Icelandic or Finnish, "Dog" is spoken by very few. Only dogs and dead people understand the language. When Pilot wanted to talk, he either had to get in a quick chat with whatever canine he happened to meet on the street when he was taken out for a walk three times a day, or he spoke with this ghost—who, by attrition, knew more about Pilot now than any dog had ever known. There aren't that many human ghosts in the land of the living so this one was equally happy for the dog's company.

Pilot asked, "I kept meaning to ask: Where did you get your name?"

The cook purposely ignored the dog's question and continued preparing the meal. When it needed an ingredient, it closed its eyes and held out an open hand. A moment later the thing materialized in the middle of its palm: a jungle-green lime, a small pile of red cayenne pepper, or a particularly rare saffron from Sri Lanks. Pilot watched, absorbed, never tiring of this amazing feat.

"What if you imagined an elephant? Would it appear in your hand too?"

Dicing onions now almost faster than the eye could see, the ghost grinned. "If I had a big enough hand, yes."

26 June, 2008

The Girl Who Silenced the UN Environmental Conference for Five Minutes

25 June, 2008

Hey, folks--
A major change just happened in my life which may well result in fewer posts being put up here than was previously the case:
For the last six months or longer I've been approaching one after another person in my community asking for help with some major projects I'm undertaking in my new home. Several people said things like, 'Oh, sure, I'll help you, as soon as ______ [fill in the blank].'
I think we all know what THAT means, right?

A couple of weeks ago, I was reduced to going through the yellow pages and phoning handy-men for estimates. When one quoted me the price of $800.00 to wallpaper 2 walls [that's WALLS, mind you, not ROOMS], I again started talking to people in my neighborhood.

So, last week, when a friend of a friend actually set a date to begin, I held my breath and SHE ACTUALLY FOLLOWED THROUGH! :)
The resulting mural in my living room is stunningly beautiful if I do say so.She has agreed to help me with several other projects, as well. Another mural, for instance, building a loft-bed-with-closet- underneath [and a staircase for getting into bed], the frame for the air-chair I brought with me [that is still in its box], constructing and filling a 2nd shed, converting the first shed into a workshop, and some major landscaping. You get the picture.

So, posts are likely to be thin on the ground for a while.
I hope to keep at least one blog fairly functional even while all these plates are in the air and—most likely—that one will be All that Is.

So, please do drop by http://the-turtles-back.blogspot.com/ and visit Mary Ellen of The Divine Democrat [who is co-hosting] and me.
I imagine if something absolutely outrageous occurs in Washington [and how likely is THAT to happen?] I'll put in an appearance at Preserve, Protect and Defend to scream about it. So, I hope you'll check in there occasionally, as well.
But, let's face it, if someone says she'll help me build a bed/closet complex or an air chair and actually SHOWS UP—well, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, don't cha know?

23 June, 2008

Cindy McCain Robot Gets New Head -- by Andy Borowitz
State-of-the-Art Head Stores 2,000 Recipes

"We have the technology."
That was the message out of the McCain camp today as Sen. John McCain unveiled a newly refurbished Cindy McCain robot, featuring a
state-of-the-art replacement head.

While the Cindy McCain robot had been a fixture during the primary campaign, appearing at the senator's side at hundreds of campaign events, a McCain campaign aide went out of his way to indicate that with its newly installed head, the CinBot-9000 was ready "to take it to a whole new level."

"This new head is going to enable the Cindy McCain robot to do things that it could never do before," said McCain aide Davison Matz. "For one thing, it will now be able to talk."

Mr. Davison said that while the robot's previous head had been able to emit simple sentences such as "I've always been proud of my country," the replacement head will have a 400-word vocabulary that will enable the android to simulate human-like speech.

"The robot will be able to talk about the economy as well as Sen. McCain himself," Mr. Davison said.

He also said that the newly improved Cindy McCain robot would have increased data storage, enabling it to store up to 2,000 recipes from a variety of online recipe sites.

Appearing with Sen. McCain at its unveiling, the CinBot-9000's new head appeared virtually identical to the previous one, down to its bleached blonde hair and glassy-eyed stare.

Beaming with pride, the GOP nominee remarked on the new head's resemblance to the old one: "She still plasters her makeup on like a trollop."
And with a trowel, it looks like.

06 May, 2008

This from the Washington Post
It's About Nothing -- by Dana Milbank

Dispatches from the twilight of a presidency:

7:13 a.m.: The South Lawn. President Bush, determined to dispel doubts about his relevance, grants an early-morning interview to Robin Roberts of ABC News's "Good Morning America." Joined by the first lady, he fields hard-hitting questions about . . . the White House grounds. "It's a beautiful place," the president discloses.
7:58 a.m.: By e-mail, the White House Communications Office sends out its "Morning Update." It lists two events on Bush's schedule for the entire day: a "Social Dinner in Honor of Cinco de Mayo" and, an hour later, post-dinner entertainment. To react to the main news of the day -- thousands of deaths from the cyclone in Burma -- Bush sends his wife out to make a statement. She criticizes the Burmese government for its failure "to issue a timely warning to citizens in the storm's path" and "to meet its people's basic needs." Reporters, too tactful to draw parallels to New Orleans, quiz her instead about daughter Jenna's wedding. . . .
12:39 p.m.: The White House Briefing Room. On the podium, the understudy to the understudy to the substitute to the understudy to Bush's first White House press secretary is giving a sparsely attended briefing on what he knows about Burma blocking relief efforts ("I am not aware of that report"). . . .

Eight months before the end of his second term, President Bush is forgotten but not gone. Power has shifted to Congress, attention has moved to the campaign trail, and the White House seems at times to be just going through the motions. For many reporters who remain on the White House beat, it has become a time to phone it in -- literally.
Click here for the complete text.
Now, may Congress use the power it has for good--unlike what it did the other day when it gave big money to farm subsidies while, simultaneously, cutting funding for starving children around the world.

11 April, 2008

Saint Shrub

President George W. Bush was scheduled to visit the Episcopal Church in NW Washington as part of his campaign to restore his 28% approval rating in the polls. Karl Rove made a visit to the Bishop and said, "We've been getting a lot of bad publicity because of the President's position on stem cell research, the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, and the VA Hospitals. But, we'll make a $500,000 contribution to your church if during your sermon you will say that the President is a saint.

The Bishop thought it over for a few moments and finally said, "The Church could really use the money - I'll do it."
The following Sunday, President Bush showed up for the sermon, and the Bishop began: "I'd like to speak to all of you this morning about our President, George Bush. He is a liar, a cheat, and a low-intelligence weasel. He took the tragedy of September 11 and used it to frighten and manipulate the American people. He lied about weapons of mass destruction and invaded Iraq for oil and money, causing the deaths of tens of thousands and making the United States the most hated nation on earth. He appointed cronies to positions of power and influence, leading to widespread death and destruction during Hurricane Katrina. He awarded contracts and tax cuts to his rich friends so that we now have more poverty in this country and a greater gap between rich and poor than we've had since the Depression."
"He has headed the most corrupt, bribe-inducing political party since Teapot Dome Scandal. "The national surplus has turned into a staggering national debt of 7.6 trillion Dollars, gas prices are up 85%, which the people of America cannot afford, and vital research into global warming and stem cells is stopped cold because he's afraid to lose votes from the religious right."
"He is the worst example of a true Christian I've ever known. But compared to Dick Cheney, George W. Bush is a saint."

09 April, 2008

Hello, All--
My abrupt departure was occasioned by the death of my mother.
It wasn't really a surprise although we'd been lulled into a false sense of security, I suppose.

She'd had Alzheimer's Disease for many years so we knew it was only a matter of time.
But, on the other hand, her hospice nurse had told me just a week and a half before her death that she was walking daily [with help], hoarding food [a common occurrence among Alzheimer's patients] and taking her baby doll with her everywhere. So, when the end came, it did feel pretty sudden.

At that, I believe she did my sister and me a favor.
I'm not one who hankers for the bedside vigil, myself. I've done it with people outside my family and what it boils down to, for me, is sitting by the bed feeling helpless. My mother spared us that. She departed while my sister and I were both in airplanes with our phones turned off.
By the time we got to her home, she had been cleaned up and did look to be sleeping. Yes, I expected her to open her eyes and say, 'What are you all staring at?'

03 April, 2008

I will be offline for several days. Family business suddenly came up.
Market Tumbles on News That Bush Is Still President
White House Appearance ‘A Painful Reminder,’ Experts Say
by Andy Borowitz

President George W. Bush used a Rose Garden appearance today to reassure investors that he was at the helm of the U.S. economy, causing stock markets to plummet around the world.

“You don’t have to worry about this economy, because I am in charge of it,” said Mr. Bush, touching off what some observers were calling a global financial panic.

Mr. Bush began his remarks about the economy at 10:30 A.M. eastern time, and by 10:31 markets around the world had already gone into a perilous free-fall.

According to Wall Street insiders, the markets were responding to the news that Mr. Bush was still president.

“Over the last few weeks, the markets have absorbed the news of the subprime crisis, the housing meltdown, and the Bear Stearns failure,” said Logan Teasdale of Citigroup. “But the news that President Bush is still president was too much for the markets to shrug off.”

Over the past few months, Mr. Teasdale said, traders have tried hard to forget that Mr. Bush was still president, but his White House remarks today were “a painful reminder.”

At the Federal Reserve, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke huddled with central bankers to find a way to calm the markets rattled by Mr. Bush’s alarming appearance.

One solution reportedly being pondered by the Fed would involve sending Mr. Bush to Disney World for the remainder of his time in office.

Elsewhere, in his first comment on the Eliot Spitzer scandal, Vice President Dick Cheney said he has never hired a prostitute because “I’ve been screwing the country the last seven years.”

27 March, 2008

YouTube called this 'playing'. Hmmmmm -- I'm not so sure. The lioness seems less than amused, to me.

25 March, 2008

from the sublime to the ridiculous --- :D
This came to me via the blog of a friend in my community.
Thanks, Jim

01 March, 2008

28 February, 2008

This from the Borowitz Report:
Cash-rich Obama Buys Yahoo
Outbids Microsoft for Internet Giant

Flush with cash after a deluge of online donations, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill) stunned the business world today by outbidding Microsoft for the Internet giant Yahoo.

The purchase of Yahoo is believed to be the largest acquisition of a multibillion-dollar company ever by a Democratic presidential candidate, industry experts said.

A spokesman for Microsoft at the company’s Redmond, Washington headquarters acknowledged that the company was “disappointed” to lose Yahoo to Sen. Obama, but added, “We can’t really be mad at him, because we love him so.”

The news of Sen. Obama’s $48 billion offer for Yahoo sent a shudder through Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY)’s campaign, which for the past six weeks has been subsisting on Ramen noodles.

In his televised debate in Cleveland, Ohio with Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama said that he was able to purchase Yahoo because his campaign was reaping online donations averaging $1.8 billion a day.

Mr. Obama also offered to “personally hire” 2 million Ohioans to do odd jobs around his campaign headquarters.

“People say, can we really come up with enough errands for 2 million Ohioans to do?” he said. “Yes we can.”

Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick praised Sen. Obama’s plan, telling reporters, “His campaign is more than just words, he is offering people a real opportunity to go on a Starbucks run.”

Sen. Obama later added, “My campaign is more than just words, I am offering people a real opportunity to go on a Starbucks run.”

Elsewhere, President Bush said that the economy was not in a recession, leading economists to conclude that the economy was in a recession.

01 February, 2008

This from the Onion:
Area Eccentric Reads Entire Book
January 19, 2008

GREENWOOD, IN—Sitting in a quiet downtown diner, local hospital administrator Philip Meyer
looks as normal and well-adjusted as can be. Yet, there's more to this 27-year-old than first meets the eye: Meyer has recently finished reading a book.

Yes, the whole thing.

"It was great," said the peculiar Indiana native, who, despite owning a television set and having an active social life, read every single page of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. "Especially the way things came together for Scout in the end. Very good."
Click here for the complete text.

30 January, 2008

Maybe it's their makeup/body paint-- but this vid looks like it's been photoshopped.
I saw these guys on Cirque du Solei, though, so I know they're for real.
Watch and marvel!

28 January, 2008

Recycling Mostly Air. Not anymore!

Back when I was selling the KC house, I held out to be able to take my high quality can-crusher with me. Of course, if I’d been thinking clearly I’d have taken it off the wall before putting the house on the market in the first place. But as anyone who was around at the time is fully aware, I was NOT thinking clearly. [fwiw—if ANYONE who undertook a home-sale-and-cross-country-move was thinking clearly they simply wouldn’t do it—right?]

Where was I—oh yeah:
So, after I got somewhat settled in, I looked around and couldn’t find my drill bits. Okay, no problem, they ‘ll surface—right? Wrong.
Well, I WAS NOT going to out and buy new ones. If I did that every time they went missing, there’d be no point in recycling in the first place except to replace the resources I’d wasted by being so absent minded. I held out and, yesterday, I FOUND EM!

So, today I finally got the drill bits, the power drill, the level, 3 large screws and the can crusher all into one room at the same time—and all it took was 10 months and 2 weeks. The can-crusher is now mounted on the wall. The tools are put away [and, this time, I know where I put the bits]. The aluminum cans that had previously FILLED a fairly large plastic shopping bag now take up about 1/8 of the space in said bag.

Now, a word of warning here:
If anyone who comments on this piece resorts to giggling, chuckling, snortling, guffawing or pointing and snickering when I reveal the fact that the drill bits were in a toolbox in the laundry room [the room I mounted the can-crusher in and where it has been residing just waiting to be installed for most of those 10+ months] their comment will be summarily deleted—
just sayin. :)