Thursday, July 31, 2008

Last Week's canyon and volcano adventures

as a family, we went to The Grand Canyon, (where we did not have to take the helicopter out... but man... I REALLY felt the 2x multiplier on my age vs my son's age!) last week.

Then, we saw several of Arizona's 400+ volcanoes (Sunset Crater, pictured left and San Francisco Peaks to the right - used to be a 25K ft high mega volcano 100K years ago):

Then it was off to Bryce Canyon (in the LDS filled state of Utah)

...and yes, Bryce Canyon IS beautiful... but it was not the last canyon we saw on the trip. On the way back, shortly after crossing back into AZ from UT, we crossed the Glen Canyon Dam

It was an enjoyable 5 day trip. Americans don't take enough vacation in general, and this one was planned back when Christopher was in 4th grade when we lived in Indiana, so it only took 11 years to come to fruition. We'll do Yellowstone next time, before it's super volcano erupts and wipes out the northern Mountain Time Zone and most of the Midwest. Lots of drivin...

Everywhere we went, we ran into Europeans. On the GC rim, down in the GC, at Bryce Canyon... Brits, Germans, French, Belg (we spoke to them in French), Portuguese, Spanish, Scots, Dutch, Danes... and a few Asians (Japanese and Chinese) here and there. Anytime you walked more than a few foot ball field lengths away from a parking lot or bus stop, it was hard to find an American. Wherever there was a snack stand, or cafe, the GC was crawling with vast numbers or lumbering, sedentary Americans. Same thing held true at Bryce.

If you wanna see more pictures, let me know in email, and I'll loadem up onto flicker or picassa somewheres.

The importance of accurate URLs

my friend Jill sent me this scary link ...which proves, that you really need to have accurate web addresses. Just "drop on 's' and you get sent to scary literal interpretation Bible land.

you have to see it for yourself... lmao! I am looking forward to the comments that will surely follow.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's a series of tubes!

Alaska's Senatorial version of Foghorn Leghorn, Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican Senator Ever (and I thought Calhoun was in there a long time from my HS AP History class! ...but his Senate tenure kept getting interrupted by being Vice President) has been indicted by a Federal grand jury. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Who's Really on the phone...

I stumbled across this link at MotherJones this afternoon, regarding the people are that work as phone sex operators. Too damn funny. It makes the ads you see on European TV late at night all the funnier.

Click on the individual photos, for a short synopsis of each person. "Works from home" - man, with gas now over $4 a gallon, and sex being incredibly profitable with nearly all humans, more people may be embracing this vocation!

It's not "selling out", it's "arriving"

On my buddy Ron's blog, I recently pontificated about the differentiation between the social commentaries that the deceased George Carlin and Bill Hicks used to make. I got kinda long winded (Joe, long winded, no! really!?!), but my point was (and still is) that I agree with Henry Rollin's view point, that "we didn't sell out, we've arrived!" when it comes to large corporations paying personalities, artists, musicians, etc, for their work.

Yes, the corporation is using the beloved / respected / attractive / interesting artists' work to sell (or pimp out) their own products, which may be antithetical or anathema to what that artist might have stood for... or it may be aligned somewhat tangentially with what the artist had originally intended, but just because a corporation is paying someone for their work Does Not make that artist or group a "sell out". It means that the group or the individual who created that original work in the first place, is being paid for their efforts. It's not being stolen, or usurped, in this age of hyper-legalization. Now, if the corporation is directing and censoring the work, then yes, it is selling out - but if it is already created, all the more power to them!

Most of the time, labeling others as a "sell out" is 'sour grapes' (or jealousy, hatred, envy, anger) that someone else is being paid more attention to / making more money / being acknowledged more visibly, by the one who is criticizing - while wearing the mantle of non-conformity and pseudo-individualistic rebellion. "They're lame!" "They've given up their creative spirit to be corporate whores!" "They've conformed to the societal norm, and therefore need to be shunned" "They're not poor like us anymore, and therefore we reject them" - what a load of manure!

When Iggy Pop, or the Ramones, or Southern Culture on the Skids created their original material, they were NOT working for large Corporate Masters, they we're doing their own thing, making music, having fun, doing what they loved to do. Years later, when someone who enjoyed their music thinks it would work well in an advertisement for some product, or they put the song in the credits of some movie, that artist (or whomever they sold the IP rights to their work to) is getting paid for that content.

George Carlin never really gave a crap about what other people cared, as long as they left him alone. He was intensely individualistic, and if you didn't agree with him, that's all well and fine for you. George wouldn't hate you for your different beliefs, he would just make fun of you if he thought it was funny, or ignore you if you were irrelevant to him.

Bill "The Prophet" Hicks was also staunchly individualistic as a comedian and person, but had more of a "if you're not 100% with me, you're an asshole, f-you" sort of mentality from the material I have seen of his - granted I have seen alot more of Carlin's material over many more years. So when I hear Hick's ranting about how anyone who has ever made a commercial is a worthless turd in his drink and a sucker of satan's cock, I see it as self-loathing, wallowing, sort of a "since I am so far out of the main stream, screw the main stream, and screw anyone who likes anything that is successful, I'll be over here abusing and hating myself, and furthering my own demise, f-off everyone!" Bill was funny, and not a self-centered Texan as many from that Republic can be from time to time - but was so brimming with hatred for those who disagree with him, I have a hard time embracing his material in it's entirety, as I do George's work. Both Bill and George were in concurrence that corporate America wants the masses to be complacent and sheepish... which is pretty much the truth, and both hated the foul-weather-patriotism that was virtually non-existent on Sept 10th, but exploded exponentially the next day.

When I was in high school, I heard people say "they're too main stream, they suck!" - and sometimes, that was true. Sometimes, the mainstream DID suck. Sometimes, it didn't suck (Apple, Linux, Fiskars, Honda, organic food, etc, have spent most of their existence outside the 'main stream'). After I got married, I heard my brother in law (who is a formidable tattoo artist, in his own right) say similar things about this artist, or that group, and how he'd never 'sell out' or 'lower his standards'. Now that my son is 21 years old, and makes all of his own choices, I've occasionally heard similar phrases out of his mouth as well, about "those guys are too main stream" or "they used to be good, before they got popular"

...and sometimes, sure, sometimes it IS true that personal integrity can be compromised when the corporate over-lords are directing the artists' output (look at Ministry, as a corporate entity, vs Ministry as Al Jorgenson's own work as a perfect example). But if the work is already generated, and has been around for years, and some corporation wants to pay that artist for including their work in an ad, or a movie, or wherever, and that artist agrees that being included and gets paid for it, then All the More Power To Them. It's about time they get paid for their work. Being a "starving artist" one's whole life sucks. Chopin, Michael Angelo, Mozart, Beethoven, they all had corporate or governmental sponsorship in their eras.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Senility, Alzheimer's, or just clueless?

McCain doesn't understand geography...

McCain doesn't understand the forward progress of time... crediting The Surge™ to being the main driving force in Iraq's inter-ethnic cleaning issues
[Sunni awakening in Anbar starts 3 months prior to The Surge™]
from Crooks and Liars

McCain doesn't understand the fundamental difference between Sunnis and Shia...
from ThinkProgress

Or does he understand them, but he can't speak coherently, or express himself coherently? I thought one of the first rules of politics, is that the candidate has to have the ability to express himself in his constituent's native language... at least.. no?
CBS news comments here...

72 is not unreasonable an age for the onset of Alzheimer's... a Commander in Chief with a swiss cheese brain potentially? When Reagan was having issues in his 2nd term, wife Nancy was running alot of things quietly in the back ground. Do we want Cindy (The Joker, and former addict) stepping in for her lost hubby in 2010 or 2011?

And I used to subscribe to McCain's newsletter, when he ran against frat boy W in 2000... That was 8 years ago... how many brain cells can degenerate in that time?

It's remarkable how a "senior senator" can keep making such massive gaffes, and not be as low in the polls as say.. Alan Keyes when he ran against Obama back in 2004.

I'll be gone for a few days. Christopher and I are going to hike down into the Grand Canyon tomorrow. I hope I make it back up!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why Republican's should not talk about flip-flopping

Zaius Nation and The Carpet Bagger Report have posted a fantastic (and exhaustive) list of McCain flip-flops. Any attempt to try and label Obama as a "flip flopper" and this illustrative list should be referred to immediately (I keep it handy to send to co-workers and relatives who forward me mis-guided emails from time to time).

Here's The Carpet Bagger Report list, for your convenience (and to show the sheer length of the list!):

Based on some reader suggestions, we’re going to do things a little differently this time. Now, I’ve numbered the list and organized it by category for easier reference.

Remember, just two weeks ago, John McCain said, “This election is about trust and trusting people’s word.” Just a few days prior, the McCain campaign admonished Barack Obama for trying to “have it both ways” on issues.

And with that in mind…

National Security Policy

1. McCain thought Bush’s warrantless-wiretap program circumvented the law; now he believes the opposite.

2. McCain insisted that everyone, even “terrible killers,” “the worst kind of scum of humanity,” and detainees at Guantanamo Bay, “deserve to have some adjudication of their cases,” even if that means “releasing some of them.” McCain now believes the opposite.

3. He opposed indefinite detention of terrorist suspects. When the Supreme Court reached the same conclusion, he called it “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.”

4. In February 2008, McCain reversed course on prohibiting waterboarding.

5. McCain was for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay before he was against it.

6. When Barack Obama talked about going after terrorists in Pakistani mountains with predators, McCain criticized him for it. He’s since come to the opposite conclusion.

Foreign Policy

7. McCain was for kicking Russia out of the G8 before he was against it.

8. McCain supported moving “towards normalization of relations” with Cuba. Now he believes the opposite.

9. McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Hamas. Now he believes the opposite.

10. McCain believed the U.S. should engage in diplomacy with Syria. Now he believes the opposite.

11. McCain is both for and against a “rogue state rollback” as a focus of his foreign policy vision.

12. McCain used to champion the Law of the Sea convention, even volunteering to testify on the treaty’s behalf before a Senate committee. Now he opposes it.

13. McCain was against divestment from South Africa before he was for it.

Military Policy

14. McCain recently claimed that he was the “greatest critic” of Rumsfeld’s failed Iraq policy. In December 2003, McCain praised the same strategy as “a mission accomplished.” In March 2004, he said, “I’m confident we’re on the right course.” In December 2005, he said, “Overall, I think a year from now, we will have made a fair amount of progress if we stay the course.”

15. McCain has changed his mind about a long-term U.S. military presence in Iraq on multiple occasions, concluding, on multiple occasions, that a Korea-like presence is both a good and a bad idea.

16. McCain said before the war in Iraq, “We will win this conflict. We will win it easily.” Four years later, McCain said he knew all along that the war in Iraq war was “probably going to be long and hard and tough.”

17. McCain has repeatedly said it’s a dangerous mistake to tell the “enemy” when U.S. troops would be out of Iraq. In May, McCain announced that most American troops would be home from Iraq by 2013.

18. McCain was against expanding the GI Bill before he was for it.

Domestic Policy

19. McCain defended “privatizing” Social Security. Now he says he’s against privatization (though he actually still supports it.)

20. McCain wanted to change the Republican Party platform to protect abortion rights in cases of rape and incest. Now he doesn’t.

21. McCain supported storing spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Now he believes the opposite.

22. He argued the NRA should not have a role in the Republican Party’s policy making. Now he believes the opposite.

23. In 1998, he championed raising cigarette taxes to fund programs to cut underage smoking, insisting that it would prevent illnesses and provide resources for public health programs. Now, McCain opposes a $0.61-per-pack tax increase, won’t commit to supporting a regulation bill he’s co-sponsoring, and has hired Philip Morris’ former lobbyist as his senior campaign adviser.

24. McCain is both for and against earmarks for Arizona.

25. McCain’s first mortgage plan was premised on the notion that homeowners facing foreclosure shouldn’t be “rewarded” for acting “irresponsibly.” His second mortgage plan took largely the opposite position.

26. McCain went from saying gay marriage should be allowed, to saying gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed.

27. McCain opposed a holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., before he supported it.

28. McCain was anti-ethanol. Now he’s pro-ethanol.

29. McCain was both for and against state promotion of the Confederate flag.

30. In 2005, McCain endorsed intelligent design creationism, a year later he said the opposite, and a few months after that, he was both for and against creationism at the same time.

Economic Policy

31. McCain was against Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy before he was for them.

32. John McCain initially argued that economics is not an area of expertise for him, saying, “I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues; I still need to be educated,” and “The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should.” He now falsely denies ever having made these remarks and insists that he has a “very strong” understanding of economics.

33. McCain vowed, if elected, to balance the federal budget by the end of his first term. Soon after, he decided he would no longer even try to reach that goal. And soon after that, McCain abandoned his second position and went back to his first.

34. McCain said in 2005 that he opposed the tax cuts because they were “too tilted to the wealthy.” By 2007, he denied ever having said this, and falsely argued that he opposed the cuts because of increased government spending.

35. McCain thought the estate tax was perfectly fair. Now he believes the opposite.

36. McCain pledged in February 2008 that he would not, under any circumstances, raise taxes. Specifically, McCain was asked if he is a “‘read my lips’ candidate, no new taxes, no matter what?” referring to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 pledge. “No new taxes,” McCain responded. Two weeks later, McCain said, “I’m not making a ‘read my lips’ statement, in that I will not raise taxes.”

37. McCain has changed his entire economic worldview on multiple occasions.

38. McCain believes Americans are both better and worse off economically than they were before Bush took office.

Energy Policy

39. McCain supported the moratorium on coastal drilling ; now he’s against it.

40. McCain recently announced his strong opposition to a windfall-tax on oil company profits. Three weeks earlier, he was perfectly comfortable with the idea.

41. McCain endorsed a cap-and-trade policy with a mandatory emissions cap. In mid-June, McCain announced he wants the caps to voluntary.

42. McCain explained his belief that a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax would provide an immediate economic stimulus. Shortly thereafter, he argued the exact opposite.

43. McCain supported the Lieberman/Warner legislation to combat global warming. Now he doesn’t.

Immigration Policy

44. McCain was a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to illegal immigrants’ kids who graduate from high school. Now he’s against it.

45. On immigration policy in general, McCain announced in February 2008 that he would vote against his own bill.

46. In April, McCain promised voters that he would secure the borders “before proceeding to other reform measures.” Two months later, he abandoned his public pledge, pretended that he’d never made the promise in the first place, and vowed that a comprehensive immigration reform policy has always been, and would always be, his “top priority.”

Judicial Policy and the Rule of Law

47. McCain said he would “not impose a litmus test on any nominee.” He used to promise the opposite.

48. McCain believes the telecoms should be forced to explain their role in the administration’s warrantless surveillance program as a condition for retroactive immunity. He used to believe the opposite.

49. McCain went from saying he would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade to saying the exact opposite.

Campaign, Ethics, and Lobbying Reform

50. McCain supported his own lobbying-reform legislation from 1997. Now he doesn’t.

51. In 2006, McCain sponsored legislation to require grassroots lobbying coalitions to reveal their financial donors. In 2007, after receiving “feedback” on the proposal, McCain told far-right activist groups that he opposes his own measure.

52. McCain supported a campaign-finance bill, which bore his name, on strengthening the public-financing system. In June 2007, he abandoned his own legislation.

Politics and Associations

53. McCain wanted political support from radical televangelist John Hagee. Now he doesn’t. (He also believes his endorsement from Hagee was both a good and bad idea.)

54. McCain wanted political support from radical televangelist Rod Parsley. Now he doesn’t.

55. McCain says he considered and did not consider joining John Kerry’s Democratic ticket in 2004.

56. McCain is both for and against attacking Barack Obama over his former pastor at his former church.

57. McCain criticized TV preacher Jerry Falwell as “an agent of intolerance” in 2002, but then decided to cozy up to the man who said Americans “deserved” the 9/11 attacks.

58. In 2000, McCain accused Texas businessmen Sam and Charles Wyly of being corrupt, spending “dirty money” to help finance Bush’s presidential campaign. McCain not only filed a complaint against the Wylys for allegedly violating campaign finance law, he also lashed out at them publicly. In April, McCain reached out to the Wylys for support.

59. McCain was against presidential candidates campaigning at Bob Jones University before he was for it.

60. McCain decided in 2000 that he didn’t want anything to do with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, believing he “would taint the image of the ‘Straight Talk Express.’” Kissinger is now the Honorary Co-Chair for his presidential campaign in New York.

61. McCain believed powerful right-wing activist/lobbyist Grover Norquist was “corrupt, a shill for dictators, and (with just a dose of sarcasm) Jack Abramoff’s gay lover.” McCain now considers Norquist a key political ally.

And while I realize there are some who believe these constant flip-flops are irrelevant, I respectfully disagree.

Keep your pussy cat brushed

Allergic to cats, but maybe you don't hate them (my buddies Matt and Joe M excepted)? Got an old tooth brush? Don't throw it out, or use it to clean battery post terminals... instead... brush your cat! The felines seem to think that getting brushed by a human's old used tooth brush is 'as good as sex' from the happy purring and writhing around they do.

if that doesn't play for you, use this YouTube link.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"right said fred"

I got my first hate-blogger comments today! Man, I feel so special! LOL!

Some judgmental semi-sentient named "fred" (who hides his ID, as true cowards are prone to do) decided to blast several of my blog postings with negative comments. I guess it helped him to vent as he attempted to belittle my observations, but all of his 'criticisms' only served to reveal his true character. It's pretty amusing.

My friend Jason sent me this link to a World of Warcraft "Right Said Fred" video... which makes me laugh each time it plays.

I've tried to embed it here into this posting... but I am not sure I got the HTML coding right. (I am still only semi-literate on using the Internets)

New ambassador to Minsk?

I've been in Spain and Mallorca this last week, with limited connectivity, but upon arriving back in the US on Thursday, I see how John McCain has Completely thrown his most trusted economic adviser - Phil Graham - under the bus.

I've been thrown under the bus a few times in the past by petty and evil bosses, and insecure co-workers in the last 3 decades, so when I hear or see someone else getting thrown under the bus (disavowed, labeled incorrect or incompetent or not representing the correct part line), I sorta find a twisted sense of joy in looking back at the facts, that lead up to the denunciation.

As I shaved and got dressed in my un-air conditioned, musty, Holiday Inn North ATL airport hotel room Friday morning (that Delta paid for, since they canceled my flight back to Arizona), I could not stop laughing each time the TV played clips of McCain saying:
“I think Senator Gramm would be in serious consideration for ambassador to Belarus, although I am not sure that the citizens of Minsk would welcome that.” (this link provided by that liberal bastion, Fox News)

...and then John Edwards calling Gramm a "guru" on ABC (and linked here to Huffington Post)

And like most denials, that are completely opposed to the facts, the more the McCain camp tried to say that Gramm was not a trusted adviser and that he didn't speak for McCain, the more they tried to deny it, the more obviously apparent it was that he was indeed the closest of advisers and a long term friend.

"In 1996, McCain was national chairman of Gramm's unsuccessful presidential bid." (from Politico back in January 2008)

"McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers. "They've been friends for years, and he values Sen. Gramm's advice."" (from Politico again, in Jan 2008)

Huffington Post
back in January said that "Texas Sen. Phil Gramm (who would almost certainly be Treasury secretary in a McCain administration)."" ... raises the hairs on the back of my neck!

So here's this fellow sentator, whose friendship goes back at least 12 years to Gramm's unsuccessful 1996 Presidential bid when McCain was a Vice Chairman of the campaign, and is a close friend, a trusted advisor, a PhD in economics, and McCain, in the national media, throws him under the bus.

Wow. What amazing loyalty! No flip flopping there by McCain.

Searching the McCain website, one finds lots of references to loyalty.

Searching Google, one finds veterans who are pissed at McCain for not following standard prisoner of war protocol when he was held by the North Vietnamese - this is not a made up site, it contains transcripts of intercepts from statements made by McCain on Vietnamese radio. Of course, McCain WAS tortured... and everyone knows that torture produces such excellent information.

And there's McCain's well documented loyalty to W.

And I could go on and on.. but that's enough for now. I need to pack. My hot wife and I are going to Vegas tomorrow, to spend a few days with our good friends Tim and Jill who are celebrating 20 years of marriage this weekend.

À bientôt!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Newest Reason to use Anonymizer Proxy Sites

Crooks and Liars has an incredibly well sited entry on the recent invasive federal Court order that requires YouTube to hand over all it's user traffic information to poor little Viacom. It's sickening.

A few anonymous proxy server sites, for reader's reference:
if you have a favorite, please let me know which one you use.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - torture techniques

Back in the Korean war, a few pilots got shot down over North Korean territory. These US pilots were turned over to the Chinese, who used various torture techniques to get false confessions from the airmen. Techniques included: (from the 1975 study detailing them)
- standing for long periods of time
- sleep deprivation
- monotonous food
- threats of death
These techniques got the American pilots to admit to all sorts of heinous crimes, false intelligence, meaningless confessions that only won PR campaigns amoung the North Korean kool aid drinkers.

So, with a sense of frustration that Guantanamo interrogations were not going fast enough, not producing enough "actionable intelligence" ... the Bush administration directed the Pentagon to apply the Chinese torture techniques on Gitmo prisoners, removing the study's title from the 1957 medical journal article that expounded upon them, and insert the techniques into the interrogation manual used at Gitmo. To hear the "Here and Now" radio report on it, click here and then search on July 2nd (if it is not July 2nd when you read this).

Another awesome decision, in a string of decisions from this incompetent and evil neo-cons.