Thursday, August 31, 2006

Flight 9151-The Dollar Figures

The shock and grief over Flight 9151 has already started to give way to recriminations, and to outright lunacy. And leave it to talk radio to jump to the attack. Not against the airlines, or the airport, or the federal avaiation people, but against lawyers.

It seems a number of law firms have posted advertisements in the Lexington Herald Leader. Or make that had posted. Two of the firms have since voluntarily pulled the ads, the other remaining one was dropped by the Herald Leader.

One of these firms was The Johnson Law Offices. Another was Krilec And Krilec Attorneys-At-Law. They in effect paid for quarter page ads, in one case a full page ad, offerring their services to the survivors of individuals killed in the air disaster.

Talk radio almost immediately went on the attack, and the local news chanels followed up on the flurry of outraged phone calls from listeners angry at the insensitivity and opportunism evidenced by the firms.

Not having heard the radio shows in question, I still have no doubt that these calls were invited by the hosts who doubtless went into the predictable conservative schpiel about greedy ambulance chasing attorneys out to make a quick multi-million dollar settlement off of the grief of the surviving family members by way of class action lawsuit.

What I do doubt seriously is that the radio talk show hosts had the family members welfare in mind so much as the welfare of the airlines and the airport. Conservative talk show hosts seem to all be of a single mind when it comes to tort attorneys and lawsuits. They seldom see one that is justified, and I doubt that this will be one of the few exceptions to that rule. Such lawsuits are bad for society, and for business, results in higher prices, more stringent regulations, and then more higher prices, and lay-offs, and on and on. If you're victimized, well, we feel your pain, but we don't want to intrude on your grief, hopefuly you will pull your self up by your boot straps, just trust in God, and by the way, fuck you.

Okay, sure, I'm as well wary of attorneys and their tactics, I think too they can go too far and do more harm than good, and are really out to make a quick buck and a name of themselves. But, on the other hand, these particular firms so far as I know did not approach the families directly. Sure, it may seem innappropriate and it certainly might be considered in bad taste.

ComAir, on the other hand, has also approached the family members, with a settlement offer of 25,000 dollars. Assumming that is 25,000 dollars per victim, that would amount to a total of 1,250,000 dollars divided up equally among next of kin or beneficiary.

The bodies have not even been buried yet.

To be fair, ComAir might not be even at fault. In fact, I would suggest the major fault lies with the airport, for not making sure the runways were adequately marked in the aftermath of renovation, which did seem to cause the pilot some confusion.

The major villain, on the other hand, may actually be the government. There were suppossed to be two Air Traffic Controllers on duty. There was only one. As a cost cutting measure, staff was reduced during non-peak hours, as it is assummed the new high-tech equipment is adequate to compensate. In at least this cae, of course, it wasn't.

Yet Air Traffic Controllers have for years complained that they are overstaffed, and overworked, to seemingly no avail.

This all seems to be yet another example of empty suits deciding what is necessary in the way of staffing personnel for jobs they have never in their lives performed and have no clue about.

The government, ComAir, and Lexington Bluegrass Airport need to come together with the families-by way of legal representation-and do what's right. That 1,250,000 dollar figure I arrived at might well be an appropriate sum. Not as a total, but per surviving family member and/or beneficiaries.

Then, they need to do what's right and hire the proper amout of Controllers, and take whatever other steps are necessary to prevent a repetition of this tragedy. If not, it will eventually happen again. And again. And again.

Some lawyers and the suits they file are indeed unnecessary and innapropriate, flagrantly obvious examples of greed and exploitation. If a lawsuit is filed in this case, this would not be one such example. In fact, this might be a perfect example of why people have the right to file their grievances with the courts. Nothing is more likely to make a business or government agency reform it's practices than by being hit hard and punished where it hurts, be that in the court of public opinion, or in it's bank account.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Public Access For Now

UPDATE: The crisis has passed. Yep, it was just the modem, and is fixed now. My nerves are still frayed, I think maybe I'm sufferring from some weird kind of post traumatic stress symdrome. But this too shall pass.

In the meantime I guess I should offer thanks to the appropriate deity. Hephaestos, I guess, god of craftsmen. Or I guess I should mainly thank the fine folks at Design And Service for fixing the problem in just under a days time, desite the fact that I was only one of many with the same problem due to the same storm, resulting in lightning through the phone line wreaking havoc on mine and others modems.

Almost like Zeus throwing a tantrum. Yeah, I know, I'm rambling. But I know, it could have been a lot worse. I'm just not one of those kind of people that can think of how it good it feels to get your finger out of a door that's been shut on it. I'm more the kind of person who has to calm his nerves by concentrating aimlessly on inconsequential details and irrelevant, non-related events. Then, I have to sleep two or three hours. Then, I have to put it behind me. And I will.

But I'm still rambling, ain't I?

I'm posting this from my neighborhood library. Two nights ago, lightning came through my phone line and evidently knocked out my modem. The good news seems to be, for now, everything else is working fine. But until I do get it fixed, you won't be hearing from me as much. If it is more than just the modem you might not be hearing much from me for quite some time to come. Hopefully, it will be fixed in the next day or two, at which point things will be hopefully back to normal. Except that I will never again leave my phone line in the wall when I am gone, and from now on when a storm starts the computer is being turned off as well as the line coming out of the wall jack.

On the off chance it is more than the modem, I might be posting from my local library for some time to come, which means maybe once a week, twice at the most. I tell you this just as a way of letting you know if I dont answer your comments right away, this is the reason for it.

In the meantime, I have added a new link, "The Tao Of Masonry" look it up in the links section beginning with "Tao". I have also deleted a link, which has evidently decided to no longer be a blog and has changed instead to an adult porn advertisement site. I don't know what's up with that, but as it is no longer a blog I removed it. I won't mention the former name of the blog.

Finally, you will not see me but very seldom on your blogs while this situation remains current as unfortunately time will not permit it. But hopefully things will be back to normal sooner rather than later.

Wish me luck.

P.S.-I did an update on Flight 5191 on the original post if any are interested, just two or three posts down from here.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Liquid Beauty

The original story as follows was written by the founder-acarya of The International Society For Khrishna Conscousness (ISKCON), His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Praphupada. Those purists among you will find the link to the original Liquid Beauty, actually a retelling by a devotee of the Hindu Vaishnaiva sect.

I prefer to tell my own version of it, so here goes:

Once upon a time, a beautiful woman who happenned to be very devout found herself the object of unwanted attention. From the time she was a young girl, she had multiple proposals of marriage, and had since lost track of the times she had been pursued. Their faces all blended into one giant lustful leer that made it impossible to distinquish one from the other.

As impossible as it was to believe save to those who knew her well, she was at the age of twenty five still a virgin. She was determined to keep her virginity until she found a man suitable for marriage. This was not out of some religous compunction so much as it was just from a sense of self-esteem. Still, as time went on she found herself becomming more and more spiritual. It became a great comfort to her.

One night, as she went about her evening meditations, she felt the power ofthe goddess enveloping her, and she could almost hear her speak out to her, "you will be betrayed by the one man outside your family you trust above all others".

Immediately she thought of Greg, her workmate and a close friend who had been a great help to her both on and off the job, in various ways. Actually, she didn't believe this sudden feeling, but she couldn't shake it, and had trouble sleeping that night.

About a week later, she noticed that Greg seemed to have changed. He became much more attentive, and was suddenly around her all the time at work, and soon started calling three or four times a day. She knew then her feelings were right, and so she put in her two weeks notice, and after a very uncomfortable two weeks left her job. She had years earlier inherited a great amount of money, and so had no need of work as a means of supporting herself. Still, she was distressed as this job had been a chosen path to a career she had longed dreamed of. But it had to be done, she realized.

Still, she was resentful. Why should she have to quit her job on account of a man who turned out to be like all others after all? Yet, he had previously been such a good friend. What had happenned to him? She looked at herself in the mirror, and realized that her beauty was to her a curse. Why couldn't she have just been beautiful? Did she have to be ravishingly so? And was she really all that beautiful? She couldn't see it herself.

As these thoughts tormented her, Greg called, and begged her to see him. He declared his love for her and pleaded, his voice sounding as though he were near to tears. In fact, he seemed to have been crying. Reluctantly, she agreed to see him.

When he arrived at her doorstep, he repeated his declarations of love, and asked for her hand in marriage. She asked him why her, whereupon he responded that his previous engagement had been broken off, and he came to realize then that it was her he loved the whole time. And then he spilled it.

"You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life, more beautiful than even any model or actress I have ever seen, by far."

Like a flash, it occurred to her what to do, and what to say.

"I'll tell you what", she said. "Give me one month to think about it, and I'll let you know. In the meantime, don't come around me, don't call me, don't get anywhere near me. One month. Do you think you are strong enough to handle that? Because if you are not, you certainly ain't the man I'm looking for."

Reluctantly, Greg agreed with this demand, and went on his way. Starting the next day, Darla purchased a months supply of laxatives and other purgatives, and all but stopped eating. In addition, she acquired a series of large pots. She would need at least four of them.

She lived over the course of the next month on nothing but bread and water and a little fruit here and there, but as little as possible. Nor did she use any kind of vitamin or mineral supplement to make up the loss of all the essential nutrients. She quickly became severely ill, and weak. Within two weeks time, she was throwing up what little she did eat. It seemed as though her body was beginning to turn on itself and consume itself, which in addition to the bread and water she quickly passed.

In addition, she caught a cold, and her nose was constantly running.

All of this she kept. He excrement, her urine, her vomit, and her mucous, each one in a sperate jar until, once they were all filled, she found another one in which she mixed all the bodily substances together.

Finally, a month passed, and Greg did not waste a second as he arrived at her door. He knocked impatiently, and when Darla opened the door, he obviously did not recognize the pathetic wretch of a creature that stood before him. She had wasted away to all but skin and bones, her cheekbones were hollow and her eyes were sunk in way back in the sockets. She had sores that seemed to be running with pus on her face, and her once beautiful complexion was ashen, a sickly mixture of white and grey. She was wrinkled and baggy and dry from dehydration. The light clothes that she wore seemed almost to weigh her down, as they now revealed a skeletal frame upon which the skin clung tenuously.

She was a living horror, a veritable manifestation of walking death. Yet, Greg seemed not to notice. In his eagerness, he had only one thought on his mind.

"Where's Darla?", he asked expectantly, barely able to hide his hopeful yet wary desires.

"I am Darla", she said incredulously. It was an effort to her by now to even be able to speak, to say nothing of standing long enough to answer the door. Greg took a good long look at the woman who now seemed to be on the verge of collapse, if not on death's door. Yet, as horrible as it seemed, he could soon tell that this was indeed Darla.

"What happenned to you?", he demanded in shocked amazement.

"I wanted you to see me for what I really am", she explained. "Then, I want you to see what it is you have fallen in love with. I want you to see my beauty. I still have it, though not on me right now. Come with me."

"Darla, what the hell are you talking about", he demanded. But he followed along behind her, until she made her way to the utility room, upon which he noticed for the first time the stench that seemed to permate the house. She stood now in front of a series of large jars without lids.

"There is my beauty", she explained, "distilled down to it's essence."

He looked into the jars filled with the vile collection of excrement, urine, mucous,vomit, and the one that was a mixture of all these substances, and began gagging. He looked. His expression of horrified revulsion spoke volumes.

"So do you still want to marry me?", she asked.

"No, not any more", he confessed. "You've made your point. I have been a real idiot."

"What do you mean?", Darla asked. "Do you mean that you understand now that beauty is only skin deep, and that it is all in the eye of the beholder, that it is all an illussion based on gross material lust?"

"No", he replied. "I mean because I see now that you are one crazy bitch."

ComAir Flight #1591

Update: I thought it might be appropriate to point out that evidently the reason for the mishap had to do with the revamping of the airport and the runways. It proved confusing to the pilot, who evidently was not that used to the Lexington Bluegrass Airport, though he had been there a small number of times.

But what really sealed the fate of the flight was that there was only one air traffic controller on duty at the time of the incident. There should have been two. The pilot of flight 9151 had been cleared for take-off on the correct runway, but had veered onto the shorter one, and this was not caught by the one on-duty controller who had his hands full. He had turned to deal with another plane when 9151 took off.

Why was there only one air traffic controller when there should have been two? Was it another example of cost-cutting, or had the second on duty controller walked off his post due to illness or for a break, or whatever? I don't know. It still isn't clear.

Governor Fletcher, has vowed that the problem that caused the confusion will be fixed, but I'm not sure what he thinks he can do about it. Someone said something about erecting barriers of some sort, but I don't see how that is feasible, seeing as how the two runways in question seem to intersect. Of course, I guess the points of intersection could be left open.

Whatever, I'm sure the problem will eventually be addressed, hopefully in a satisfactory manner, by someone suppossedly more intelligent than myself.

This morning, Sunday, at about 6:07 a.m., a plane, Flight #5191, bound for Atlanta from Lexington's Bluegrass Airport crashed almost immediately upon take off and, filled with fuel, burst into flames. Out of fifty people reported to be on board, there is of now only one survivor, evidently the co-pilot, who was last listed as being in critical condition at an area hospital. According to the Department of Homeland Security, there is no suspicion of terrorism.

What seems to have happenned is, the pilot, an employee of ComAir for only about seven years and a pilot since 2002, went down the wrong runway. The major runway, at a length of a little over seven thousand feet, intersected with another runway of half that distance, and somehow he inadverdently veered onto the shorter runway. By the time he took off, the landing gear, still disengaged, clipped a series of trees, which caused the plane to come crashing into the field of a neighboring farm, causing no injuries or property damage to buildings, plants, or livestock.

With the exception for now of the co-pilot, however, all 47 pasengers and other two crew members, including the captain, were probably killed instantaneously, by the impact and explosion of the jet fuel, which according to some who heard it from a distance sounded much like a clap of thunder. One area resident spoke of his windows vibrating.

It is the second worse aviation disaster in Kentucky's history. The worse was in the late nineteen sixties, when a plane leaving Northern Kentuckys Greater Cincinati Airport crashed, killing 69 of 82 people on board.

I am suspecting that possibly the pilot mght have been drunk, or tired and/or overstressed through overwork, or maybe a combination of similar factors. Bluegrass Airport was not unfamiliar to him, so this would seem to be a rational enough explanation. I just wonder if he or the co-pilot caught the mistake in just enough time to react in such a way as to make matters worse.

What I wonder even more is if this will indeed turn out to be a consequence of airlines cutting costs by cutting back on employees and demanding more time from those they have. It will be interesting to find out the amount of flight hours logged by this particular pilot.

If my suspicions are correct, this could lead to an investigation and review of hours logged by other pilots of this particular airline, and maybe others as well. It could also lead to a class action lawsuit which, if my suspicions are correct, would not in this case be innapropriate.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Ray Nagin-New Orleans Private Living Voodoo Doll

When Ray Nagin first ran for re-election in the aftermath of the Katrina disaster, I told somebody the next time New Orleans was faced with the prospect of having to evacuate due to an approaching hurricane, Ray Nagin would probably be driving one of the buses.

As is more often the case than I would like to admit, I was wrong. Nagin easily won re-election in a run-off election over Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu, brother of Senator Mary Landrieu.

In a way I was glad. Nagin is a man of the people, having risen from the ranks of lowly New Orleans bus driver to the status of mayor of what was then the 27th largest city of the United States. Now, of course, New Orleans is barely a third of it's original size in population, while a great lot of it's heaviest hit areas, most especially those areas that were predominantly or to all intents and purposes totally black, are still in ruins. Decayed human remains were still being found months after the tragedy, though it never rose to the level of the ten thousand that Nagin had initialy predicted.

Nagins on-the-job training seems to have left him in a position in which he was in well over his head before the flood waters ever hit, and some might assert that he still is. And unfortunately, he has an unfortunate tendency to say things he shouldn't say. In some cases, his explanations and excuses only makes matters worse.

The best example of this would be at a speech in which he declared that God was angry at the US for the war in Iraq, of which, Nagin said, God would not approve. He was also, he went on to insist, angry at black Americans for not taking care of themselves and each other.

But, he went on to say that New Orleans was a chocolate city. That is just the way it is. And New Orleans would be a chocolate city at the end of the day.

Of course this caused a furor, and so he explained that by his definition chocolate is a mixture of cocoa and milk, which when applied together you have "a delicous drink."

Well, Nagin still went on to win re-election, though in all honesty he bears a significant part of the blame for the chain of events that left New Orleans unprepared for the disaster and it's aftermath. Now, a hurricane is projected to be on it's path to the Gulf Coast, and the first projections have it hitting landfall anywhere from Southeast Louisiana to Mississippi.

One can only hope he is up to the task, but he is being watched, his every movement and utterrance scrutinized. Such as this recent gem given over the course of a recent interview, in response to criticisms of the slowness of the pace of the recovery and rebuilding efforts of the more heavily damaged New Orleans neighborhoods.

To paraphrase him: "They shouldn't be too quick to criticize, after five years they still haven't fixed the hole in New York City."

Naturally, he has been criticized for this remark, though it so happens he is correct. He should have of course refrained from using the 9/11 terror attacks as a defense, out of sympathy for the family of the victims, yes, but there is an even better reason. And that is, he had a far better target he could have used if he had just thought about it. I am talking here about what has become derisively known as "The Big Dig".

How long has it been now, twenty years or more, and how many billions of dollars, for this mammoth pork barrell waste of tax payers money that was finally ended by the auspices of Senator John McCain when it finally seemed obvious that this was a permanent make work fiasco?

As is so often the case, the projections were heinously short-sighted, both as to funding and the targeted date for the completion of the project. Nor has it yet been completed, and in fact so shoddy was the construction, a part of it collapsed, killing people in one automobile.

Still, until McCain finally said enough is enough, federal money was poured into this project that was far out of proportion to it's value to the nation outside the immediate environs of Boston, as well as out of proportion to the tax revenues generated by the state of Massachusetts. It was money that was considered by Kennedy, Kerry, and other Massachusetts politicians-to say nothing of the construction company involved in the project-as sacrosanct an entitlement as Social Security.

And due to cutting costs and the utilization of second rate at best materials, now lives have been lost. Yet, this would doubtless have gone on for no telling how long.

This of course is not the only example, it is just the most obviously egregious one. There are others. When you add up the roads and bridges to nowhere, the countless pork barrell spending projects that amount to little if any value in way too many cases to anybody outside of the politicians who support them as a means of buying votes, you have to wonder just how it is Ray Nagin, a simple humble politiican from a working class background, has become such an object of ire.

The answer, to my way of thinking, once you look past the part where he does honestly bear a fair share of the blame is that, quite simply, he has stood in the way of the predatory land speculators who would, if they had their way, turn New Orleans into just another temporary seasonal playground for the rich and the upper middle classes. A land of parks, rides, condominiums, office dwellings, casinos, and a few restaurants that might strive to maintain the cities original character, at least on the surface.

The people who dream these dreams might honestly in some cases consider them worthy, but it's time top wake up. The dream does not belong to them. They should find another one. As I said before in about a month long rant where for a period I talked of almost nothing else but New Orleans, the insurance companies should pony up, and stop looking for every hidden clause they can dig out of the fine print, or invent, to keep from making good on legitimate claims.

And, by the way, when they do this, they should not be allowed to pass the cost on to the rest of us.

But the worse part if, this never had to happen. For a relatively small amount of money, the disaster would have not been a third as bad as it turned out being. Nowhere near it. But, the federal governemnt just wouldn't pony up the two or three billion dollars necessary to shore up the levies. The city of New Orleans as well bears some part of the blame for not being better prepared to insure evacuation, and for that matter for not insuring that the pumps which could have lessenned the degree of flooding were actually functional. Nagin himself bars a part of this blame for not being more pro-active in this regard.

But, what is done is done. The people of New Orleans, and the nation, should say, never again. No more billions of dollars for pork barrell projects of dubious value at best, when legitimate needs are refused funding, for whatever reason, be they political partisanship, corruption, negligence, or simple bureacratic stupidity.

Ane we should never forget who bears the greatest burden of blame for this disaster. Not Nagin, the city, or the state of Louisiana, though their share is certainly considerable and perhaps understated to a degree. But the chief burden rests on the federal government, who refused the necessary funding, and stood paralyzed-some might say uncaring, or even hopeful for catastrophe-while a city lanquished in misery and desperation.

New Orleans should rebuild, bigger and better than ever, while no expense is spared to pevent another such catastrophe. But, it should not be a soulless vacation city of tourists and temporary vacationers served by an assortment of temporary and seasonal employees with immigrant work permits, in the midst of a flurry of construction courtesy of federal and state government contracts to the likes of Halliburton.

It should remain the city of African Americans and voodoo practitioners, and jazz and blues, and world class cuisine, and Mardi Gras-real Mardi Gras, not the commercialized, plastic, bubble gum variety envisioned by developers and speculators. Yet, a city that is warmly welcoming, to all, a genuine city with soul, and a history that should never be permitted to pass away.

Hopefully, the city will indeed rise better than it ever was in those areas where it cried out for improvement, in job opportunities and hope for it's traditional residents, a city that will mark an end to the corruption that has plaqued it throughout the past decades from the time of the Carollas, Marcellos and Longs.

Still, at the end of the day, it should indeed remain a chocolate city, and, for good or for ill-yes, Messrs. Bush and Cheney, a DemocraticCity.

World Trade Center Memorial - A Few Words For What They're Worth

One day, I’d like to go to New York City, where among the sites I would definitely have on my must see list would be the hopefully by then completed World Trade Center memorial. I wonder what it might look like, when that day finally arrives, and it is completed, and open and availiable to the public. Having a pretty good general grasp of all the ideas that have been presented, I can imagine myself in some hopefully not too distant future, gazing up at a memorial plaque:











































































Now I’m sure the sarcasm I intended here will probably be lost on some people, and there are some who will think this is for the most part appropriate and desirable. If you do, I doubt there is any thing I can say to convince you otherwise. With some tinkering, my words, or other similar such sentiments, could well end up at the site. To which I have only one question-


Friday, August 25, 2006

The Quality Of Life

The Pro-Life movement is gearing itself up to show it's true colors, and that is looking to be pretty black. You would think that the new technique just recently announced to enable harvesting of stem cells without destroying the embryo from which they are derived would be met with varying degrees of relief, and joy.

Before, the retrieval of stem cells required the destruction of the embryo, which had the Pro-Life movement up in arms, and still does, and has been a mainstay of Republican Party politics.

Now, a method has been advanced which, if proven successful, will make it possible to derive these cells at an earlier stage of embronic cell division. Here follows a description from yesterdays New York Times article:

The new technique would be performed on a two-day-old embryo, after the
fertilized egg has divided into eight cells, known as blastomeres. In
fertility clinics, where the embryo is available outside the woman in
the normal course of in vitro fertilization, one of these blastomeres
can be removed for diagnostic tests, like for Down syndrome.

In other words, this is already being done as a method of diagnosing potential medical problems based on genetic evaluation. It just so happens that this technique, which has demonstrated no adverse effects on any in vitrio children produced from these embryos as a result of the tests, has been found to enable the production of stem cells, as well as providing the necessary medical data.

It is to be expected that this would not soothe the objections of the Catholic Church. No surprises will be noted when you consider the following lunacy from The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Richard Doerflinger, deputy director for pro-life activities at the
conference of bishops, said the church opposed in vitro fertilization
because of the high death rate of embryos in clinics and because
divorcing procreation from the act of love made the embryo seem “more a
product of manufacture than a gift.”

Helllooooo-one persons gift might be another persons curse if it is unwanted, but how often is that the case of a couple that desperately deires to have a child, yet can't do so without in vitrio fertilization. Out of all the children born by this method, what percentage of them were unwanted? What percentage of them become so horrified at the prospect of raising a child, or just the thought of going through pregancy or childbirth, or concern for the financial obligations or other responsibilities, that they run out and get an abortion?

And what business is it of theirs to begin with to interject their spiritual beliefs in a political debate? When did they become the arbitrers of decisions to be made by non-Catholics? This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder how the Catholic Church ever lasted two thusand years, but of course the answer to that would be their dictatorial exertion of political power they are evidently determined to regain.

Unfortunately, they have found allies in other religous Christian denominations, when it comes to such issues as abortion. On this matter, however, the degree of cooperation with the Vatican has been tenuous at best. Seventy percent of the American people, at least, are in favor of this research, and this by the way crosses both political and religous lines.

But if statements from Republican Party spokespersons of the last couple of days  are  any indication,  the will of the people  is at least in this regard an inconvenient hurdle to somehow be overcome by way of the usual political double talk.

Take this, for example, from White House spokewoman Emily Lawrimore:

 But Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, suggested that the new
procedure would not satisfy the objections of Mr. Bush, who vetoed
legislation in July that would have expanded federally financed
embryonic stem cell research. Though Ms. Lawrimore called it
encouraging that scientists were moving away from destroying embryos,
she said: “Any use of human embryos for research purposes raises
serious ethical questions. This technique does not resolve those

In other words, there is still a slight risk of damage to the embryo, or it's accidental destruction, if there were to be a mishap, for example, though you would have to imagine the odds of this are slight. Another objection that was raised by a spokesman for Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) was that even by utilizing this technique at an earlier stage, you would be creating a twin of the embryo which would then be destroyed.

To which Dr. Robert Lanza, vice president of Advanced Cell Technology and leader of the research team that developed the technique, had this to say:

Dr. Lanza said, however, that twinning is a phenomenon that occurs at a
later stage of embryonic development and that there was no evidence
that a single blastomere could develop into a person.

So it looks as though the Republican Party is circling the wagons, and I stand by my own earlier statements on the subject. This has little to do if anything at all with protecting the "life" of embryos, and probably very much everything to do with protecting pharmaceutical industry profits.

Of course, coming out publicly in favor of the suppossed constitutional right of pharmaceutical giants to make billions of dolars in profits off of illness, sufferring, and death doesn't make quite as attractive a political stance as standing up for the "right to life" of an embryo.

On the other hand, when you think about it from a purely cold yet  practical standpoint, it does at least make a little bit of sense.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Planet Pluto-Astronomy v Astrology

Hey, astronomers, yo, yeah you-


Yeah, I'm talking about the decision to declassify Pluto from it's status as planet to that of "dwarf planet". Evidently, size does matter. Well, not really. It seems the astronomers have a conumdrum. At least partly as an effort to distance themselves from what they like to think of as their crazy uncle up in the attic, they long ago denied that the perturbations observed years ago in the orbits of Neptune were caused by the tiny planet Pluto. This despite the fact that those perturbations lead to Plutos discovery in exactly the place it was predicted a planet would be discovered-this finally occurred in 1930.

Immediately, astronomers insisted there had to be a much larger planet out there somewhere that was responsible. Well, it's been seventy six years, and still no "Planet X". Just a bunch of smaller asteroids, most of them smaller than Pluto, some a little larger, and all of them way farther away than Pluto from the sun and from Neptune. This was dubbed the Keipper Belt. Nothing on the magnitude of a gas giant which Planet X was presumed to be.

Well, to astrology, size doesn't matter. Nothing matters but power, and measurable effect. Therefore, as the obvious effects of Pluto on Neptune lead to it's discovery in 1930, I propose that, from the perspective of the astrologer, Pluto should remain classified as a planet. Nuff said.

But, if you want to read more, the following post which I have reproduced through the magic of copy and paste from from a December 18 2005 post entitled "Pluto-Planet of Darkness And Magic", should suffice.

People who believe in astrology-not the hocus pocus newspaper kind that purports to predict life events to an impossible degree, but to those of us who use it as a form of divination,or a method of measuring the effects of the energies of the planets on the sun and earth (and therfore indirectly, through such things as the weather, on ourselves), need no longer concern ourselves with the views of the astronomer, who evidently have way too much time on their hands to be taken seriously on matters such as this.

So, without further ado, the original article follows which should explain the potential and power of Pluto-still the ninth planet of the solar system:
Pluto-World Of Darkness And Magic

Well, tonight may be a Full Moon to remember, for while the Sun is in oppossition to the Moon tonight, it is also in a nearly complete conjunction with the dark planet, Pluto (within just one degree). Should be a great night for magic, as Pluto is a planet of immense power, despite it's tiny size and great distance from the sun, and from us.

Most astronomers long ago decreed that Pluto is a fairly insignificant place, and I have always felt that this was a shot fired across the bridge of astrology, the quirky and somewhat disreputable cousin to astronomy. True, the tiny planet, the smallest one in our solar system, was discovered due to disruptions noted in the orbit of the giant planet Neptune-which is four times the size of earth. Neptune, it so happens, was discovered the same way, by disruptions in the orbits of it's nearest neighbor, Uranus, which is even larger than it.

So whatever this as yet discovered planet was that was causing this disruption in the orbit of Neptune was undoubtedly of considerable size itself, right?

Well, no, not really. Until recently Pluto was considered the second smallest planet in the solar system, slightly larger than Mercury, when it was first discovered around 1930. However, by the 1970's, it was ascertained that Pluto was even smaller than had previousy been believed. You see, up until this time, astronomers had not been looking at Pluto alone. They had been looking at Pluto alongside what turned out to be it's moon, (Charon it was later named, after the mythological ferryman to the Underworld of Hades, or Pluto, and Persephone).

As it happenned, so distant was Pluto, and so small, that the two worlds together created the illussion of being just one planet. Or was it a planet? Due to the peculiar eccentricities of it's orbit, many considered that Pluto may have at one time in the long ago past, been a comet. At any rate, it was certainly too small to have influenced in the slightest way the orbit of Neptune. There must have been something else that was respnsible for this. The inadverdant discovery of Pluto was simply-a coincidence.

Wel, it has been going on seventy-five years since the planet, or comet, was first discovered. Astronomers have perused the solar system, just recently discovering what is apparrently an even smaller planet, or perhaps a mere asteroid, which in an earlier post I nicknamed Minerva-yet this tiny little world is even farther from Neptune, and as if that weren't enough, it is orbiting the sun at a higher plane than all the other planets, which orbit on the same plane. So Minerva is not a sufficient explanation for the past disruptions in Neptunes orbit. Nor has anything else been discovered that can offer up a reasopnable explanation.

But the question remains-how can such a tiny little planet, perhaps no more than a third the size of the planet earth, have such a disruptive effect on a planet such as Neptune, which is four times earth's size. And the answer to that question may well be found in the planets little moon, Charon.

Consider-our moon is roughly one seventh the size of the earth, and has been said to have a great effect on the tides of the oceans, and possibly has an electromagnetic gravitational pull, and effect, beyond just this known fact. At one seventh our size, the moon does indeed seem to pack a powerful punch. Were it not for our moon, earth would not be the same, in fact, it is hard to envision just what it would be like.

Yet, no one has seemed to have noted that Charon, the planet of Pluto, is ONE-THIRD the size of Pluto. To illustrate, imagine if our moon were two and a half times the size it is now, what the effect on our planet might be. The disruptions in the atmosphere would be constant, no doubt. There would probably be constant earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes, and even constant volcanic eruptions. The constant energy release into the atmosphere would be staggerring, and doubltess this would have an extended and permanent effect on the gravitational pull of the earth itself.

The point is, what if this might not equally apply to the planet Pluto. It would depend, of course, on exactly what the overall make-up of the planet is to begin with. After all, there has to be something there in sufficient quantitiers to have any kind of effect, to begin with, right? Well, there can be two ways of inferring this, actually. To start out with, we go back once again to the disruptions in Neptunes orbits that lead to Plutos discovery. The other point of inference is the simple fact that, after all, Pluto is maintaining enough of a gravitational pull to support a moon one third it's own size to begin with. These two starting points are as good as any, and I would maintain that position until it is proven otherwise.

No one really knows for sure if Pluto is even cold or not, it is just assummed it is due to it's distance from the sun. It is said that Pluto is probably a small planet or former comet made up of frozen methane, for the most part, with possibly a small amount of frozen oxygen, ammonia, carbon, and maybe just a smidgen of water ice. But no one knows for sure. No one has ever had a probe close enough to know for sure even what the surface looks like, to my knowledge. Unless it is something fairly recent, there has been nothing done to establish even what the surface of the planet is like, let alone what it's interior is made up of.

Although I would hazard a guess that more than likely the planet is severely cold, it is possible that it could be warmer than currently thought, or at least could contain pockets of warmth. It could at least be hot in the interior.

My own mental image of the planet is that it might well be something very similar to Iceland, with constant eruptions of frozen geysers, though made up mostly of frozen methane. There could be fairly high mountaneous areas on the planet which could be the result of these constant eruptions. A beautiful place, yet dark, foreboding, even terrible.

But certainly powerful, and a conjunction with it is always something that is noteworthy, especially comig at a time of the Full Moon. When performing magic, it is always wise to take note of the various astrological aspects which might come into play, and those involving Pluto are certainly no exception.

I am not a believer in extraterrestrials, insofar as their purported presence on our own planet is concerned. However, this statement comes with a caveat. If there are extraterrestrials that have visited or are visitng us now, and those extraterrestrials do indeed come from some point within our own solar system-Pluto would be the most likely point of origin, for the reasons I have mentioned. Because of the power involved in this tiny and deceptive, seemingly insignificant, dark and assummedly cold little world, nothing can be taken for granted where it is concerned.

It's power, incidentally, has long been asserted by astrologers as being not only great, but disruptive, and potentially destructive. That would certainly be in keeping with the nature of my theories about the dark world. It's power has long been considered dark, in some cases sexual, in some cases aligned with death and destruction, and in some cases it is seen as catharthic.

Whatever the case, it is a power that should not be ignored, and, utilized properly, especially in conjunction with the magic inherent on any full moon night, such as tonight, it can certainly lend a beneficial edge to any magical working.

Of course, some might say, well, even if what you say is true, and Pluto does have enough power to influence Neptunes orbit, that is a far cry from being able to influence us here on earth, and especially the sun. I would remind you of the one scientific fact of which you should be aware. Any action causes an equal and corresponding reaction. In other words, the pull of the sun on the planet Pluto itself will of necessity cause an effect on the sun itself. And that will, of course, have an effect, if only a slight, imperceptible one, on us. Naturally, the heavier a weight that you pick up and carry, the greater effect on your muscles, right? It's the same principle. But even the carryng of a relatively light weight will have an effect. And so it is with the effect of the sun on Pluto, and vice versa, and inadverantly, on us.

No, it is not an effect that can be predicted, like in the absurdly ridculous newspaper horoscopes. It is not even an effect that can be measured. But it is an effect that is there, and it is an effect that, if you wish, you can utilize for your own, hopefully positive, benefits.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

JonBenet Ramsey-Truth And Lies

The first thing that lent so much credibility to the claims of John Mark Karr as regarding his supposed involvement in the sexual assault and murder of JonBenet Ramsey, was, well I guess it would be the fact that anybody would deem it appropriate or wise to confess to such a crime if they didn’t do it.

The second thing is the guys past history, to say nothing of his overal strangeness. He has gone through a string of teaching jobs, both in this country and a horde of foreign ones, including Thailand, none of which seems to have lasted more than a couple of weeks.

He was let go from some due to the fact that he was too strict. He was let go from others because he was too affectionate. Given his confessed sexual predilections, you would think he would have had to have read “Goldilocks And The Three Bears” at one time or another. Unfortunately, the lesson seems to have been lost on him. Yet, the nature of the man seems to cry out that, indeed, for his purposes, JonBenet was “just right”.

More so than his three sons, with whom he was overly strict and controlling, according to the words of his second now ex-wife, who divorced him after he was indicted for possession of internet child pornography, while living in the same California town from where Polly Klaas had been abducted and murdered-another case he was obsessed with, even to the point of communicating with the convicted Klaas killer.

He had also recently just lost yet another teaching job at the school here. I think this was one of the ones where he was “too affectionate”, though as with everything else in this bizzarre story, it’s hard to separate the facts of one case from those of the other.

Shortly afterwards, he left the coutnry, thus avoiding prosecution, after his wife seperated from him and then secured a restraining order to keep him away from their sons. He left, and seemingly never looked back, as he engaged on a trail of teaching jobs that took him to South and Central America, Africa, and Asia.

Somewhere along the line, he decided he wanted to get a sex change operation, and as of now has removed all his body hair as a first step. In the meantime, he engaged in a series of internet communications with Michael Tracey, a journalism professor at the University of Colorado, who has filmed documentaries about the case.

It was Tracey who became ever more convinced that Karr was not only one strange dude, he became convinced that he was a key player in the story of the life and death of JonBenet Ramsey, posibly the most important one of all.

The Colorado authorities thought so too, at first. However, strangely disconcerting information began to come out. Karr, according to his ex-wife, had been with her not only on the Christmas Day in question-in Alabama, no less-but had likewise been with her on every Christmas they had been together. Karr’s former father-in-law verifies this.

Karr also insists that he had drugged JonBenet and that, as if that were not enough, he had picked her up from school on the day-Christmas Day-of her death. Yet, according to the autopsy, no drugs or alcohol were found in her system, not even trace amounts, and of course there was no school on Christmas Day.

While insisting that he “loves” the child, he goes on to assert that her death was not a murder, but a horrible accident. A horrible accident, incidentally, in which the child was not only beaten over the head with what appears to have been a flashlight (though no murder weapon has turned up that would account for the contusions on her skull) but strangled with a garot fashioned makeshift from a cord tied around a broken paint brush handle that had belonged to the childs now dead mother Patsy.

He has to be lying. Or is he? There are other factors to consider.

The ransom note left behind at the scene ended with the words “Victory”, then on the final line what appears to be the signature “SBTC”.

According to a former clasmate of Carrs, he had signed her yearbook with the hope that he would in some far future find “multiple peace” and that he “shall be the conqueror”. It has also been noted that the first letters of the phrase in question was capitalized Though this is a strange declaration at any rate to put about ones own self on another persons yearbook, it may be more an indication of a strange and deluded mind, it’s connection to the Ramsey case no more than a bizarre coincidence.

If it were not, however, for one other thing. The Boulder police have stated that Carr has knowledge that was never released to the public concerning the state of the murdered girls body-something only the killer, or killers, would know. No word as of yet on exactly what that would be.

I wondered initially if it might have to do with drugs in her system. But I have seen the official autopsy report, and it has no mention of this, so that can not be it. What then is it? Perhaps more appropriately, how would this man, obviously deranged, have access to knowledge not availiable to the public at large.

There are only three explanations that make sense.

One, he could have gotten this from leaks from officials close to the investigation in the course of his obsessive compulsive study of the case.

The second possible explanation is that the Boulder police, the DA’s office, the Colorado governors staff, or someone else eager to write finis to this story, fed him the information surreptitously, in order to help him frame himself for the crime.

Both of these explanations need to be carefully looked into. Yet, there is a third that is at least as likely, and may even be more horrifying, more disturbing, in it’s implications. And that is-he might have actually got the information from the true killer or killers. Remember, this was a man who was indicted for the possession of internet child pornography. As such, it is not beyond the realm of feasibility that, at one time or another, probably following his indictment, he came into contact with someone, a fellow member of some pedophile internet ring, who told the truth of the story.

As horrible as that is to contemplate, the question still must be asked, well why would he take credit for it? And the answer to that may well be hidden deep inside the recesses of this mans diseased mind. Still, I think it is actually reasonably easy to answer-because he has become so divorced from reality, he actually truly believes himself to be the perpetrator. I have no doubt, and would certainly not be stunned, if upon being given a polygraph examination where he repeated his “confessions”, he would pass the test with flying colors.

If so, this could well be the result of years of fantasizing about the crime, of imagining himself in the situation of the killer, of wanting to run away with his beloved JonBenet, and of accidentally killing her. After all, he was a strict disciplinarian, according to some who know him as well as you could possibly know an individual such as this. Such a fantasy would play into his personality and character. Of course, afterward he would grieve for his unnecessarilly rough actions, which cost him a good many of his jobs, both of his wives (the first of whom was only thirteen when he married her while he was in his twenties), his three sons, all his friends and families, the respect of all who knew him, and now, JonBenet Ramsey.

I believe that JonBenet Ramsey has become like a goddess to him, a mediator if you will in order to attone for his past actions, like, the hard way.

There is yet another aspect to this-a much darker one. What if, while one night in the course of making his regular rounds on Internet porn sites, he happenned onto a site, a private, encrypted one, that it would take him months to gain approval to join.

After so long of being a member of this site, it paid off in a way he had never suspected. One night, he logged onto a link on the site that took him into the darkest depths of the vilest hell imaginable. He was transfixed by the site of the film on the link, and went back to it over and over again.

He probably never actually saw the men on the camera, though he saw glimpses of them, more shadows than substance, save maybe for a flash of arm and leg, possibly a huge hardened dick pointing in the direction of the little blonde haired girl that lay sleeping in a bed before she was suddenly grabbed up, a duct tape forcefully stretched around her mouth as her eyes stared wide in horror.

Perhaps the camera followed them on their journey to a darkened room in the farthest corner of a basement, as the man carried her with one or two fingers of one hand tightly clenched into the panties that yet covered her vagina while the other arm cradled her by her back.

Once down in the basement, perhaps the tape came off. Perhaps the man-or the boy-was demanding oral sex from her. Instead, she screamed. Loudly. Perhaps the sound was captured on film, perhaps it was silent, though the actions might well have been obvious. Not expecting this reaction, the girl was hit, forcefully, on the head. A little too forcefully.

Looking now at the fruits of their labors, the men then fashioned a garrot in order to finish the job, out of a cord and the first availiable implement they could find that was handy-a paint brush. Though this part might not have been filmed, the first unnecessarily and accidentally savage blow doubtless would have been.

In time, over the years, the men might now have realized what they had done-and more importantly, they realized what they had. A film that, over an encrypted child pornography site, might be worth a lot of money. And one that, maybe, just possibly, would be graphic enough to send a man with a mind already teeterring over the edge into psychosis spiralling down into the depths of a fantasy from which he might never recover.

I know it sounds almost too bizarre to be believed, but consider-it helps to explain as to why John Mark Carr would have such intimate knowledge of the details of the crime, yet in all likelihood had no true involvemnent in it. It explains other things as well. The piercing scream reported from a neighbor, yet which was reportedly unheard by the other family members. Which, accorrding to accoustic investigations of the house, makes sense. A scream coming from that part of the basement would not have been audible to the family asleep upstairs, yet would have been to those in close proximity on the outside.

And there is one other factor. Though one neighbor asserted that she had noticed that one light on the house, which was always left on, had been turned out that night, yet another interviewed neighbor in the course of an official interview attested to having noticed “strange lights” coming from the house.

The ransom note may have been a blind, meant to buy the perpetrator, or perpetrators, enough time to make a getaway and make sure they covered their tracks in various ways. It might have even been left beforehand, for pretty much the same purpose. Which if true would presuppose the intent to actually either kidnap the child, or to rape and murder her, maybe there at the home, maybe somewhere else.

All the movie references in the note does seem to suggest an action movie buff, who might have been the kind of person to make this kind of movie. They are out there. But that can be the subject of another post.

For now, though I hate to end this with a cliche', it does seem appropriate to note that, as they say, behind every lie there is at least a small grain of truth.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Prison Break-The Long Awaited Return

The best show currently on TV is back with a vengeance, and, for the next six weeks, you should be aware that one time you need not expect to see any new posts from me is from 8:00 p.m. to after 10:00 p.m. on Monday night. This is because Prison Break is now followed by a new serial adventure/mystery/drama called "Vanished". More on that at some later date.

When last we left Prison Break, at the end of season one, the motley crew of assorted felons had finally successfully broken out of Fox River Pentientiary, though one was captured and another was killed in the course of the escape. Still, eight are on the run.

1. Michael Scoffield- A structural engineer who, unknown to the authorities, had as an employee of an architectural firm designed the prison, and had on his body a tatoo that was a symbolic rendition of the prisons designs. He had arranged his own incarceration by "attempting" to rob a bank, in order to free his wrongfully convicted brother, on death row and due to be executed for the murder of Terrance Steadman, brother of the sittting Vice-President (now President due to her predecessors unfortunate "heart attack").

2. Lincoln Burrows - Michaels half-brother (the relationship was also initially unknown to the prison authorities) who was set up in an as yet to be unraveled conspiricy to take the blame for Steadmans murder. Come to find out, Steadman is actually still alive, and imprisoned in a mansion in Wyoming, where he was found by Veronica Donovan, Lincolns lawyer and ex-girlfriend, who has been working feverishly on the outside to prove his innocence.

3. Fernando Sucre'-Scoffields celmate through all of last season, a Puerto Rican madly in love with a woman who was, unknown to him, also the object of the affections of his own backstabbing cousin, who set him up to be caught in the middle of an armed robbery. Sucre' during last season had a falling out with Scoffield and temporarily had himself resassigned to another cell, but the rupture was healed over Michaels attempts to gauge his trustworthiness.

4. "Haywire" Potashik-Was for a brief period Scoffields cellmate, which made things very difficult. He was, as his nickname implies, crazy, and to make matters worse, due to a lesion on his brain, never sleeps. Also somewhat of a genius, he quicly figured out in limited detail the symbolic significance of Michaels tatoos. Michaed feined an assault by Haywire, whereupon the crazed con, imprisoned for sixty years for the second degree murder of his own parents, was sent to the psych area of the prison. Later, Michael prevailed upon Haywire to help him recall the part of the tatoo that had been inadverdently burned off. By this time, Haywire figured out the entirety of the tatoos meaning, and as the escape route went part of the way through the psych ward, managed to muscle in on the escape at the last minute. After the escape, the others managed to ditch him, whereupon he stole a bicycle and helmet from a young girl, and was last seen in the woods, riding down the road doing the classic "look ma no hands" maneuver.

5. John Abruzzi-The don of a Chicago area Mafia family and uneasy ally of Scoffields, whom the latter approached for aid by dangling the bait of Fibbonacci, the informer who had caused Abruzzi's life without parole sentence for murder and conspiracy and other related charges. Veronica Donovan, it turned out, had been Fibbonacis attorney, and Michael knew where he had been relocated in the federal witness protection program. In an unexpected plot development, Abruzzi had corrupted Veronica's partner on the outside, intending to kidnap Donovan and so force Scoffield to reveal the whereabouts of the informant. But Nick Savrin betrayed Abruzzis thugs at the end, which cost him his life, unknown to Veronica, as she made her way to Montana in search of Steadman.

6. Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell-In prison for life without parole for the kidnapping, rape, and murder of six teenage victims, the white supremacist gang leader and homosexually inclined predator had nothing to lose when, upon learning in the course of a riot which he had instigated of the tunnel in Scoffields cell, he blackmailed his way into the plot to escape. And, when he was warned by Abruzzi to back out or lose his life, he responded by slicing Abruzis throat. Abruzzi, temproarily overcome with a religous conviction due to the accidental murder of T-Bags cousin and his young son by an associate on the outside, temporarily let his guard down, but survived the incident. He returned to the prison some weeks later, itching for revenge. He got it at the end when, T-Bag having handcuffed himself to Scoffield during the course of their escape in order to protect himself from Abruzzis wrath, Abruzzi responded by cutting off Bagwells hand with an axe he found in a barn that had become a temporary hideout. Bagwell was then left on his own in the barn, and was last seen trudging through the woods on his own.

7. "Tweener"- "That Vanilla Ice Kid" as he was referred to by the one con caught in the escape when it was demanded that he reveal the name of his confederates, he as a thief had the extraordinary bad luck of stealing a series of baseball cards, one of which was very old and very valuable. Thus, the thief and pickpocket received a prison sentence for grand larceny, and was immediately the object of sexual harrassment by T-Bag. Michael warned T-Bag to leave him alone, wherupon the violent con relented. Tweener, however, was impressed upon by Brad Bellick, the corrupt Chief Prison Gurard,ever suspicous of Scoffield, to inform on the PI work crew. This lead to Bellicks temporary incapacitation and the death of one of the cons, Charles Westmorland (in reality, it turns out, famed skyjacker D. B. Cooper). Scoffield came to realize Tweeners betrayal, and after they escaped, told him he was on his own. When last seen, Tweener had hidden in a horse trailer stopped at a roadside construction crew, and soon was headed to St. Louis.

8. Benjamin "C-Note" Franklin-Having been discharged from the army while in Iraq, ostensibly for smuggling, in reality it was due to his reporting of an incident of torture of an Iraqi prisoner. On the outside, finding life difficult, he found work as a transporter of stolen merchandise, for which he received a prison sentence, though telling his wife and daughter he had been recalled to duty in Iraq. He was the go to man among the black cons at the prison, and Scoffield sought and received his aid in securing the drugs he needed to make him seem diabetic, thus gaining him regular lengthy acess to the prison infirmary, a key to the escape. C-Note, however, was suspicous, and when he determined that the PI crew was tunelling under the guard shack Westmoreland had sabotaged for that purpose, he demanded to be let in on the escape.

Tonights season premier took up where the last seasons finale ended, with the five cons running through the woods with Bellick and his guards in hot pursuit. However, a train afforded some cover, as they managed to barely make it to the other side of the tracks, thus holding up the pursuit.

It later becamse obvious that Michael and Lincoln would have a problem with the other cons. More than one of them had heard of Westmorelands dying words to Michael when he extracted a promise from Michael to visit his dauhter, hospitalized and dying of cancer. Westmoreland revealed that he had five million dollars stashed under a silo in Utah. C-Note, one of the cons who had heard this (Tweener and T-Bag were the others) reminded him in front of both Abruzzi and Sucre'. It was obvious they would be stuck with them for awhile.

Michael then revealed to Lincoln that the tatoos contained more than just the prison designs. They contained a map to various outside areas pivotal to their eventual escape to South America. One such plan involved a grave which contained money, and clothing, the last of which would be now availed of by all five of the cons.

They barely escaped from their newest nemesis, an FBI agent called in to head up the search for the escaped convicts, whom he called in a press conference the "eight most wanted men in America". He was on to the tatoos, and knew that the tatoos, which he would soon reproduce from the tatoo artist who had in painstaking detail applied Micaels design, were the key to not only the prison escape, but to their future plans.

Bellick as well is hot on their trail, and is doggedly detrmined to track them down.

As for T-Bag, he soon stumbled upon a camp site, which contained the one thing he was looking for-a cooler with ice, into which he put his severed hand, which he carried with him from the minute he left the barn on his own. He then secured the services of a veterinarian, whom he threatened in the harshest trms with the murder of his wife if he would not-without anesthesia-reattach the hand.

The other cons meanwhile had availed themselves of a stolen vehicle. While still in the woods, they were approached and questioned by a young girl, whom Abruzzi promptly grabbed up and held at gunpoint when her father appearred and threatened them with a shotgun. Though the others decried this tactic-after the fact, of course-they all still went uneasily down the road in the stolen vehicle.

But the real shocker came at the end, when Veronica Donovan, having confronted the still very much alive Terrance Steadman, found out that he was as much a victim of the conspiracy as Lincoln, and was adverse to crossing his sisters murderous conspiratorial designs on government power. He pulled a gun on her when she used her cell phone to call the police, but she refused to be moved from her course of action. After she called the police, and reported that Terrance Steadman was still alive and was a part of the plot to frame Lincoln Burrows for his own murder, along with the now President of The United States, she then called Lincoln Burrows, who now had a cellphone, which I assume was likewise extractd from the false grave.

When she found out the escape plot had been sucessful, she urged Lincoln to tun himself in. She now had proof that Steadman was still alive, that the President was in on the conspriacy to frame him, and the police were on their way, in fact, they had just puled up to the house, then entered the house. The last thing Lincoln heard was the cops orders to Steadman to back away from her, which he did. He then pointed the gun at Veronica, whose last words were "oh no" before a hail of bullets went crashing into her forehead and chest.

The entire town in which Steadman now lived, imprisoned in a house the doors of which can only be opened from the outside, and which has windows which are bullet proof and two inches thick, is on federal land, and policed by federal agents. As scenes of the dead and strangely smiling Veronica Donovan transformed into the federal agents carrying out what was evidently her hacked up body in garbage bags and placed in the trunk of a car, the scene changed to a horribly distraught Lincoln Burrows, being comforted by his borther Michael.

Televisions best adrenaline rush is on for another season, reportedly it's last. It was originally conceived as an eight part miniseries, then ran for the entirety of the season, and then was renewed for a second season. If tonights episode is a portent of things tocome, might we prevail on the executives of Fox to renew it yet again? Probably not. Some things just cry out for an eventual ending, and it's hard to see how many extensions of this theme can be rasonably justified. But, while it lasts, damn is it good.

As good as it is,though, last season required quite a bit of suspension of belief, and this season can be assurred of the same. The bit with T-Bag and his hand has already been decried by critics who had reviewed the season premier before hand (no pun intended) one pointing out that such an operation would not only require anesthesia, but micro-surgery aimed at enabling the healing of damaged nerves. But as T-Bag told the vet when informed that nobody could withstand such an operation, "I ain't nobody".

Still, for the coming season, our eight cons (no sign tonight of Tweener or Haywire) will find out the hard way, escape from prison is not exactly freedom. It's just not quite as claustrophobic.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sodom And Gomorrah Revisited

I’ve searched high and low for all the different links I could find pertaining to the discovery of the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and ferretting out the truth is about as easy as, ironically, finding the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Not that my previous post called The Last Days Of Sodom And Gomorrah is innaccurate, far from it. A perusal of various different links reveals the facts of the discoveries. Where it seems to get tricky is in the matter of the interpretation. But this is easily explained.

By far the best site I have found so far is to be found at the web-site listed for the Bblical Archaeology Society. The only problem with it is that the article about it was written in-get this now-1980.

In a sense, that is almost ancient history itself. Still, because it is the best site, and because it is an excruciatingly long link, and because the little link box in Bloggers post editor can’t be pasted into from copied links, or mine can’t anyway, I have supplied this link as a title to this post title. Just click onto the title of this post and it will take you there.

Another good site, which contains a link to the Smitsonian, is to be found here at

Other links, such as here, verify the discovery, while pointing out that this is proof that the ancient cities were real, and, unbelievably, that the discoveries verify the Biblical account. Well, this is an easy enough claim to make, all you have to do is ignore, i.e. not mention, any of the evidence to the contrary.

Still others likwise verify the authenticity of the discovery, but also from a Christian perspective, in a negative way. These sites could not be the sites of the ancient cities because-get this, now-the timeline is improper. The cities were destroyed two hundred years before the Biblical cities, so Bab edh Dhra and Numeira can’t be Sodom and Gomorrah. As though the Biblical writers would never dream of playing around with the facts, or heaven forbid actually make shit up to suit their own purposes.

This one here describes the sites, but gives as the site of Sodom an entire different place in an entirely different area adjacent to the Dead Sea. Again, the writer of this article as well seems overly dependent, even addicted, to the Biblical account.

I guess by now you get the message. The only thing for which there seems to be any kind of agreement is that five different places were discovered that were at one time ancient cities, that they were destroyed around roughly 2300 BC, and that is pretty much it.

I will stick to my thesis, as shown in the original post on the subject, for the following reasons.

1. There were five of them, the exact same number given in the Biblical account.

2. Bab edh Dhra (Sodom) and Numeira (Gomorrah) at least were totally destroyed by an intense fire which was obviously profound in it’s intensity. (the others so far as I have been able to determine had not been excavated).

3. It fits the story as well as could be hoped for, in fact, better than any scholar would have dared to hope for.

So why is this story so little known? Well, let’s see now. Because it doesn’t fit the Biblical story, perhaps? Sure, I know I said it did, just now. But there are parts that don’t fit.

The largest of the cities, Bab edh Dhra (Sodom) had at most a population of a thousand, and maybe as little as four hundred people. Yet, this was the largest and most important, according to the Bible. It is also seemingly the largest of the discovered ruins.

Yet, this was a city that, along with the other four, according to the Bible, engaged in an armed rebellion against their overlord Cherdolaomer, the King of Babylon, and his allies, so it must have been huge, right?

Well, if you believe the Bible is the infallible word of God, you’d damned well better, by golly.

What seems to have actually happenned is as I said, at the time the stories were circulated a mythology was created to explain the barely visible ruins. To put it in laymans language, they made the shit up. There was a purpose to it, of course, but you have to wonder just how authentic it can be or how well it was believed by the perpetrators of the myth when they didn’t even bother to make up names for the places that would make sense as being descriptive of their founding, nature, character, or environment.

No one would found a city and call it Sodom, which means “Burndt”, or Gomorrah, which means “A Ruined Heap”.

And in the midst of researching these links I made another discovery, one that is just as unlikely. And that is, if I were the King of Sodom, and discovered that my name, Bera, meant “Son Of Evil”, I think I’d be a little like the “Boy Named Sue” of Johnny Cash hit song fame, I’d be wanting to kick my old mans ass. Unlike old Sue, I’d change my name.

So what happenned obviously is that the ancient Israelites took the old story of the destroyed cities and made a myth out of it in which, of course, their founding ancestors and their God played a vital, pivotal role. Nothing at all mysterious about it. It was slander on a grand scale, no doubt, of the true cities inhabitants. On the other hand, you have to look at all this in perspective. By the time these stories were circulated amongst the Israelites, the destruction of the cities, would have occurred-take a deep breath now-

No less than seven hundred years, at least, before the stories were told. Think about that. That would be like me finding the ruins of an old Indian settlement in Kentucky that had been destroyed in the year 1300 AD and, not having the slightest knowledge of the history of the settlement, the true nature of it’s destruction, or the character and culture of the people, to say nothing of having limited at best knowledge of archaeology or anthropology, etc, I devised a story to explain the catastrophe.

How acurrate could I possibly be? Therefore, how accurrate could the original purveyors of the myth of Sodom and Gomorrah have been?

So there you have what is in my opinion the answer to the question as to why this discovery isn’t so well known. These ruins affirm the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Then, they turn right around and demolish it.

Therefore, you have people that get excited over the discovery of a rock formation on a mountain in Iran that looks vaquely like a ship and are all too ready to gleefully jump the gun and declare the discovery of “Noah’s Arc” as proof of the literal truth of the Bible. But, as embarrassing as this is when the truth comes out, hey, it still doesn’t disprove the Bible, it just proves this particular find was a false alarm.

This, however, is not a false alarm. This, my friends, is a five alarm fire, and it burns to ashes any legtimacy as to claims for the literalist interpretation of the Bible. And that is all too appropriate in this case especially.

It is valid, historical proof, not of the Biblical accounts or their accurracy, but rather is proof of something more substantial-the cities of Bab edh Dhra and Numeira are one irrefutable snapshot in time, and are proof of the historical evolution of mythology and religion.

True scientists and archaeologists-people that actually love and revere the truth, in other words-can be forgiven for taking the opportunity to conduct their work in private, in peace, and away from the controversy of the glaring lights and accussations born of religious fanaticism. The religous fanatics, for their part, will be all too happy in this case to allow them to do so.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Republicans Crazy John McCain

I’ve probably got a few new assholes symbolically torn in my hide by now over at Vodka Pundit, where I’ve been engaged in the futile and thankless task of talking common sense and reason to a bunch of people that like to think of themselves as conservatives. To join in the fun, or just to stare at the blood, look fo ra post entitled (Way) Too Early Handicapping.

Most people of course know what the standard definition of a conservative is. They pride themselves on being fiscally responsible (remember now, I said the “standard” definition), and they believe in small, limited government, law and order, a strong national defense, low taxes, lessening of bureacracy, limited regulation of businesses, non interference in state matters where the powers of the federal government are not expressly defined, and a strict constructionist interpretation of the constitution.

In regards to social issues they also tend to be conservative (though not necessarily always). As such they tend to be “Pro-Life” (read Anti-Abortion).

Most of these standard definitions, by and large, if not all of them, perfectly fit Arizona Senior Senator John McCain. Had he lived in the forties and fifties, he might well have given Ohio Senator Robert Taft a run for his money for the title of “Mr. Republican”.

Listen to a conservative Republican of today refer to Senator McCain, and you would think he was referring to the spawn of Satan. When you think of the relatively new phrase RINO (Republican In Name Only), you think of John McCain. It is almost as though the term was invented for and inspired by him. I fact, I’m almost certain that to be the case.

These conservative Republicans are up in arms at the prospect of a McCain run for the Presidency of The United States under the Republican label. Just as John Kerry was swiftboated in the 2004 eection, some of the same players have now attempted to float a trial balloon to do the same to McCain. Suppossedly, there are rumours circulating to the effect that McCain, while a Prisoner Of War in Viet Nam, colluded with his captors. He may have broke under torture, or indeed may never have been truly tortured at all, despite what to them is the exxaggerated at best and totally made up at worse fiction of his incarceration during some five years or more of that conflict. In return for special treatment, including his own private, comfortable quarters, and a live in maid and sex kitten, he relinquished all kinds of vital information, pertaining to American tactics and strategy, and who knows what all else.

And of course we all know about the half breed mulatto baby he had by a black mistress which we all learned about during the course of the 2000 Republican primary contest in South Carolina.

Before I go on, I want to make it clear, I am not a supporter of Senator John McCain. As I said on Vodka Pundit, in exactly these words-he is too damned conservative for me. There are other things. I still have reservations about his integrity of the past, but this based solely and exclusively on his involvement in the nineteen eighties as a Freshamn Senator with the so-called Keating Five. He was one of the ones mired in this banking scandal, yet there was never enough evidence for him to be indicted, along with the older son of then Vice-President George Herbert Walker Bush.

Of course, you never hear this bandied about, though this scandal caused the crash of the Savings And Loan Industry, necessitating a massive federal bailout. You never hear it mentioned, of course, because it involved a member of the Bush family.

I also have reservations due to his concerns about the treatment of prisoners of war, which has been greatly exxaggerated, for the most part. He wants them treated according to the Geneva Convention. I feel this is giving them a status they do not deserve. It’s not that I think they should be painfully or brutally tortured, it’s just that I don’t think they should be recognized as legitimate armed combatants. I believe in coercive interrogation when it comes to them. McCain does not. That is an honest difference of opinion and is probably inspired by his own time in a Prisoner Of War camp.

Still, the man is a hero, and is deserving of respect, until such time as he does something, or something comes out about his past involvement with Keating, that proves otherwise.

So why do conservatives hate him so much? I think it has to do precisely with his integrity-not his lackof it. This is a man who has gone on record as excoriating the out of control spending exhibited by members of his own party, in addition to that of the Democrats. He has gone on record as being extremely critical of the culture of special interests and PACS that has pervaded Washington politics over the course of his career.

He has approached this issue on a non-partisan level in words, and on a bi-partisan level in deed, as witness his co-sponsorship with Wisconsin Senator Russ feingold of the Campaign Contributions Reform Bill. For all the bills faults-and they are legion-at least McCain did draw attntion to this problem, and in fact ran his campaign on it in 2000, touring the country by bus in what was billed as “The Straight Talk Express”. He won the New Hampshire Republican primary that year in an upset over George W. Bush, whose operatives took off the kid gloves afterwards. The rest is history. Relastions between Bush and McCain have been strained, barely cordial. McCain, like Lieberman, was a recipient of “The Kiss”.

Since then, McCain has towed the line, and as I said on Vodka Pundit, shame on him for that. Still, he knows, understands fully, that this is his one and only shot at receiving the Republican Party nomination, of not being swift boated or otherwise sabotaged by the powers that be, the movers and shakers of the party.

The Falwells, the Robertsons, the Dobsons.

The Limbaughs, the Hannitys, the Coulters.

The Bushes, the Cheneys, the Roves.

And all those shadowy operatives who lurk somewhere in the nether region through which they are all bound.

It makes you wonder if maybe McCain as a Prisoner Of War didn’t just possibly give out valuable war time information to the enemy.

Not during Viet Nam. During Keating.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Last Days Of Sodom And Gomorrah

Modern forensics can perform miracles, even on old bones that have been buried for more than four thusand years. In the preceeding picture, we see the reconstructed image of your typical, garden variety Somomite. Further scientific investigations around the area of the environs to the Southeast of The Dead Sea have gone so far as to provide not just tantalizing clues, but a great deal of verifiable evidence as to what actually happenned to the old, long destroyed “Cities Of The Plain”.

There were five of them altogether, Sodom being, according to tradition, the most important of the five. Next in stature seems to have been Gomorrah. All of them were burnt to cinders, with the sole exception of one called Zoar, the smallest of the five, which later seems to have become abandoned. In fact, the names are actually incorrect. The actual original name of Sodom was “Bab edh Dhra”. Sodom was given as the name of the city way after the fact, and is a name that tranlates simply as “Burndt”. The name of Gomorrah was actually “Numeira”. The name by which it has become known to us simply translates as “A Ruined Heap”.

So what exactly happenned? How did Bab edh Dhra become “Burndt”, and Numeira “A Ruined Heap”? The answer seems to have been a coming together of a series of unfortunate catclysmic natural events. There is a vast fault along the coast of Africa that now seperates it from the Arabian peninsula by way of the Red Sea. Evidently, there was at one time a great earthquake that opened up veins of great reserves of natural gas, which, being lighter than air, floated up into the upper atmosphere. Simultaneously, the event that triggerred this massive earthquake simultaneously caused the ruption of a great volcana, possibly the volcano of Thera off the coast of Greece, or possibly another one.

As the hot burning ashes made their way across the atmosphere, they eventually made their way to the skies over the five cities,whereupon the exposed and escaping natural gas condensed around the sulpheric ashes and embers, which then erupted into flames, of thousands of degrees farenheit, which then rained down mercilessly on Bad edh Dhra and Numeira.

Numeira is an interesting case. For, by the time the catastrophe occurred, the city had been abandoned. Whether this was in response to the first earthquake, or whether Numeira, which may have been an astrological observatory and so might have seen the raining sulfur before it approached the city, is unknown. It’s quite possible that the city was abandoned before any of these events, as it had become economically unfeasible as a community, due to the natural arridness of the region. Whatever the case, they left. Not one person within the environs of “Gommorrah” died as a result of the “fire from heaven”.

Sodom is a different story. There was indeed a city there that was for the time vastly huge. In fact, it contained some 200,000 to 250,000 people. All of them in tombs. Yes, Sodom seems to have been a necropolis. The gentleman at the top of the page was not a victim of the flames from heaven, it seems, but a mere corpse who had been buried well before this event.

The city that was determined to have existed in these environs and which indeed contained a living population, seems to have amounted to an amazingly low figure of from 400 to 1000 persons. Possibly an ancient world funeral cult and community. Those buried here, including our featured Sodomite, may then have been from any number of areas of the Canaanite lands.

There is also a question as to the time of the destruction. Using the Bible as a guide, the timeline would have been somewhere between 2000 to 2100 BC. Yet, according to scientific carbon dating and other such analysis, these cities seem to have been destroyed actually some two hundred years before this.

So what is going on here? It seems to me that the ancient Hapuru, the ancestors of the Hebrews-the Israelites-had heard tales of the cities destruction, and this became the germ of a myth. In ancient times, almost all cultures contained symbolic stories of evil cities, ruled by wicked and avaricous people. This is the case of Homers The Illiad, and is also the reason for the Battle of Kuruksetra which forms the backdrop to The Bhagavad Gita. So these stories fit this need of the Hapiru quite nicely. But there must have been a point to it.

Most people assume the Sodomites were destroyed because they were homosexuals, and though the Biblical account does imply this as a partial reason, there were others as well. Given interpretations incude everything from ritual prostitution, to beastiality, to arrogance and pure avarice. Human sacrifice was as well said to be the norm.

But mainly, their chief sin seems to have involved the crime of inhospitality, as witnessed the account of the Sodomites demands to have sexual relations with Lots visitors, who were two angels. Once you look at this, and all the other reasons, for the Sodomites destruction, and you look at it plainly in the context of the times in which the story was being circulated, it becomes all too crystal clear.

The Hapiru were engaged in a policy of genocide. They were suppossedly told by God that all the then present inhabitants of the land-the Canaanites-should be destroyed. Every single one of them. Every man, woman, and child. Even their cattle and livestock were to be destroyed in some cases, and even in some cases their gold and other valubles were to be destroyed. The reason for this is a subject for another post, but suffice it to say, for whatever reason, it amounted to a cultural and racial extinction on the scale of mass murder, one that would have made the Nazis envious in it’s scale and scope, and, in the long run, in it’s degree of success.

Of course, something this profound has to have with it something in the way of an explanation. The long destroyed and yet, at the time, barely visible remants of Bad edh Dhra and Numeira , provided the entirety of the reason. The Canaanites were, in every way, as bad, if not in some cases worse, than the preceeding cities of Sodom and Gommorrah. These were the people that God himself had destroyed, due to their sin and avarice. Now, the Hapiru, God’s chosen people, were being called on to conduct this holy war, this merciless slaughter, of the people of Canaan. And they must not fail. They must not faulter. It wasn’t a mere murderous venture. It was divine retribution, as vistied by God himself through the hands of his chosen people.

The Caananites did indeed share all the qulaities of the Sodomites, including, it is vital to realize, what has been interpreted as their chief sin, that of inhospitality. They probably despised the Hapiru. They didn’ tfit in with the remainder of the population, and were to be carefully watched, if possible destroyed. Whatever the truth of the Canaanites feelings about them, it was probably the truth as the ancient Israelites saw it. And the long forgotten Cities of The Plain provided not just an excuse, but an inspiration, to destroy the people that were in the way of their destiny.