Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Chili

In keeping with the last Yule, and in honor of my (made-up)Yule God, I now present for your New Years edification, the following chili recipe, which I call, of course-

The Mighty Eskimo Chili Recipe

You will need-

2 pds. of ground moose burger (failing that, two pounds of ground chuck will do just fine-it did for me).

two eight-ounce cans of tomato sauce (and equal parts water)
one-half of a large green pepper
one-half of a small white onion
one eight-ounce can of pinto beans
About twenty strands of spaghetti broken up into quarter pieces
one-half can of beer, flat
one Hershey's bar (or one large piece of homemade fantasy fudge recipe from Kraft Marshmallow Cream jar).
one package of chili seasoning mix
hot sauce-about nine dashes, or to taste

First, in a large skillet, brown the meat, and drain the grease into a container for disposal.

In a large saucepan, add the meat, the seasoning mix, the tomato sauce and water, mix thoroughly over medium heat. After it comes to a boil, add the beans, the onion, and the green pepper. Allow to boil lightly for about twenty minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Then, add the candy and the beer and the hot sauce. Stir as you reduce the hear to low for about ten minutes. Add the spaghetti and then cover with a lid, allowing to simmer for about twenty minutes.

Eat a large bowl for New Years night, with a beer or Coke, etc., along with saltine crackers and Doritos with dip of choice. keep a large roll of toilet paper handy, and don't say I didn't warn you.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Harold Pinter-A Dramatic Effect

I never will forget the time I watched a Harold Pinter play. It was a light-hearted, inspiring, heart-warming and joyous little production about a widower named Steve Douglas, his three lovable sons-Robbie, Chip, and Ernie-and their curmudgeonly old Uncle Charlie.

Oh, wait a minute-that was My Three Sons.

No, the play I saw was The Homecoming, about a retired butcher named Max, his younger brother Sam, who worked as a chauffeur, and Max’s three sons. There was Joey, a construction worker with dreams of being a boxer; Lenny, who seemed to be a pimp; and Teddy, a professor of philosophy at an unnamed American University, who in the play has just returned to the family home in North London for a visit (thus ostensibly the reason for the play’s title). Teddy has also brought along his wife, an attractive woman named Ruth, by whom he has three sons of his own, whom he and Ruth have left in America for the duration of the couple’s visit.

By the time that the play concludes, however, Teddy will be returning to America alone. Ruth has agreed to remain with the family, who has decided to rent her a flat and put her to work as a prostitute. Of course, there’s a lot more leading up to this, as the play seeks to lay bare the elements hidden within what Pinter seeks to convince us is-and what he honestly seems to believe is-a typical working class family.

One of the ironies of Pinter’s plays is in that it would seem there is little evidence that he had any real contact or experience with any family from the lower or working classes. His conception of them would seem to be so cliché’-ridden as to call into question those critics who so frequently hail the genius of his insight. His information would seem to consist of second-hand gossip among the upper and middle classes as to what these families are like.

To be sure, there are families like that to some degree, but there is also a lighter, more positive side that Pinter either dismissed as irrelevant, or perhaps never considered the idea of its existence.

Still, this is not to dismiss the validity of his observations, such as they are. There are certainly darker, seedier sides to the working classes and all others, and Pinter captures them brilliantly, leading one to conclude he must have at least done some form of second-hand research on his subjects aside from idle parlor room gossip.

In fact, I tend to look upon him somewhat as the Walter Sickert of modern drama. Whereas Sickert the Post-Impressionist artist honed his technique of portraying working and lower class subjects “through the keyhole” to display the seedier sides of life, Pinter attempted the same thing in his plays, possibly to greater effect.

Some of course do not agree. One reviewer feels that Pinter’s plays are unlikely to survive him for long. This is more than a valid point. Sickert himself almost vanished from public consciousness after his death and became an unknown to all but a small circle of art experts. It was not until the last couple of decades that interest in Sickert and in his art revived, though this was due mainly to author Patricia Cornwall’s insistence that Sickert was in reality Jack the Ripper.

Nor was Sickert the only great artist to suffer this kind of indignity, aside from perhaps the wild accusations of maniacal crime sprees. Herman Melville, the renowned author of Moby Dick, went through a similar period of obscurity after his passing. It is very possible that, as the author of the piece at the previous link said, Pinter’s work will fade from memory for two reasons. For one thing, his work no longer has any real shock value. For another, people’s tastes are likely to veer towards a more balanced view of the human condition.

Pinter’s work eventually gained him recognition as a Nobel Laureate, and in his acceptance speech, he launched into a tirade against America, which he seemed to blame (along with the Western world in general) for every conceivable ill in the world today. His unabashed hatred of America in fact seemed to eat at him more every day, growing in proportion to the cancer from which he suffered for years, and which eventually took his life during this Christmas season.

Was Pinter always a miserable human being? He very possibly was. He seemed to hate everything about the modern Western world, particularly America, but I wonder how much of this was a projection of his own self-loathing in proportion with his own illness. He even took his political views to the extent of joining a defense of Slobodan Milosevic, probably on the grounds that Milosevic, while arguably a tyrant, was a too-convenient scapegoat for the aims of Western imperialists.

Pinter declared during his later years that he had an obligation to speak out against the excesses of Western political corruption and the excesses of capitalism. Yet, as pointed out here, the irony of his position seems to have escaped him.

As the article puts it-

The ultimate paradox of Pinter's political agitation is that his views – anti-American, anti-capitalist and so on – far from being bravely dissident are now the new artistic orthodoxy. From the National Theatre's house bard David Hare to Turner Prize winner Brian Wallinger, the cultural champions of our time tick most of the boxes on the think-a-like-a-Pinter form.

It is other voices, and this is even more true in the Scottish cultural landscape, which now struggle to be heard. Conformity with the assumptions of a broad left consensus appears to be a precondition for securing an artistic hearing. Cultural conservatism has been driven to the margins. If you doubt me, then let me ask just one question: When was the last time a new right-wing play was commissioned to appear on a Scottish stage? If it's a question to which your only answer is silence, then remember, as Pinter knew, silence can be the most eloquent sound of all.

In any event, if Pinter does fade from public consciousness, I’m sure it won’t be for long. It almost certainly won’t be forever. In the meantime, people continue to discuss his plays and their meanings. Some of his detractors claim they lack meaning, and that Pinter’s major contribution to drama is the use of the pause for dramatic effect, something for which credit him for developing and utilizing to new levels.

At the same time, he has his supporters and fans. This is understandable, as he could be, in real life, engaging as his works were provocative, as demonstrated in this interview.

If I were to give an assessment of Pinter’s work, I would guess he seems to be saying that humans are by nature violent, obsessive, compulsive, and reckless, and that the lives of working and lower class peoples reveal the true core of humanity, stripped of its practiced pretenses. His plays bring it all out, laid bare to the surface.

In the Homecoming, Max waxes poetic about his long-lost friend MacGregor. It’s not until near the end that we learn MacGregor had been carrying on an affair for years with Max’s beloved late wife, the mother of his sons, facilitated by brother Max the chauffeur, whom Max consistently berates and feminizes as consistently as he continually tries to infantilize his sons, whom he delights yet in tucking into bed at nights. Sam eventually falls to the floor, a victim of an apparent heart attack, though it’s unclear if he is dead or dying. The remainder of the family looks upon this as an inconvenience. Teddy, the oldest son, is distressed mainly at losing a ride to the airport back to the US. Nor does he seem particularly distressed that Ruth has decided to remain with the family. Slightly bemused, but not deterred from changing or even delaying his return to America, he seems to have considered this from the beginning of his trip.

Ruth you see was a prostitute before her marriage to Teddy, and Lenny seems to remember her as such from some time past. The Homecoming then is hers. She has dropped the pretenses of civilized culture at last. She was not happy then. She will still not be happy, perhaps, but at least she will be what she always was, and what she will always really be. She can at least pretend to some level of personal fulfillment.

Teddy, whom Ruth tells not to be a stranger, can finally cut away from the totality of his past. We know somehow that he will never see any of them again. He has his own niche inhabited by those pretenses of his own construction, and has no room for those of the past. Yet, we see in time that he will be the same kind of father to his three sons as Max was to he and his brothers. His break from the past is an exercise in futility. It will almost certainly come around full circle.

All the others will continue to live their lives as always. Ruth will be their mother, sister, daughter, and lover. She will fill a void, but that void will doubtless swallow her up inside it, over time. We can easily assume of course that she and Joey eventually go “the whole hog”.

I have to wonder whether Pinter ever watched an episode of My Three Sons. I can easily imagine that he did, and that wholesome picture of family life inspired to write this as a cynical response. In its own way, however, The Homecoming is, though grittier and harsh, funnier, more compelling, and ultimately more satisfying as an artistic endeavor. Unfortunately, it is every bit as realistic as a view of humanity from the opposite extreme as that portrayed by those old time situation comedies. That in itself if anything should give us all pause.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

There's No Such Thing As Health Food Either-It All Makes You Shit!

The towns of Harriman and Kingston Tennessee and surrounding areas got more than a lump of coal for Christmas this year-they got about five hundred million gallons of
coal sludge when the retaining wall of a damn broke, sending the refuse cascading through the region, much of it emptying into the Tennessee River in a disaster that dwarfs the Exxon Valdez incident. The following video is aerial footage of the disaster which destroyed three homes, engulfed the entire area, but luckily took no lives. It was taken by one of the local television stations.

The culprit seems to be the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the lack of oversight of the government agency which supplies power to large portions of Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. This disaster was preventable, but the damn that contained the dust, which is basically a by-product of the process by which coal is burned to produce electricity, was not properly maintained. The constant rain, totaling nearly eight inches over the last week or so, was just too much.

They have been quick to reassure area residents the problem will be cleared up relatively quickly, and that there seems to be no unsafe levels of heavy metals or other pollutants on the ground or the drinking water. Hopefully, they will make good at compensating victims in quick fashion.

Just as maddening however is the attitudes of certain environmental groups who see this not as a tragedy, but as an opportunity. The prevailing meme that has spread throughout the environmentalist and leftist blogosphere and web-sites-

This disaster shows that the term ‘clean coal’ is an oxymoron. It’s akin to saying ‘safe cigarette.’ Clean coal doesn’t exist.

Of course, like I said, this coal dust and sludge is in effect a by-product, the waste that resulted in the process of burning coal in producing electricity. You would get this result whether or not you underwent a process of producing clean coal. Of course the natural by-product of such a process is, and will always be, a waste product. And, by the way, this waste product in and of itself is also put to use. It is used in road construction and paving. Therefore, despite what the radical environmentalist left might assert, it is not as though this is some kind of poisonous material with which we are forever doomed to stand guard over, lest some hideous curse be unleashed upon the earth and the environment.

For these people to use this disaster in order to further their agenda is not just inappropriate, it is insensitive and self-serving. It makes me wonder if there possibly might be some sabotage involved.

Plus, their reasoning is just plain stupid, if taken at face value. It's like saying, "hey, there's no such thing as healthy food, because if there was, it wouldn't make you shit."

By the same token, the TVA needs to step up to the plate and quickly compensate those whose properties were damaged and destroyed, and for that matter they need to kick in some extra for pain and suffering. Then they need to make sure this never happens again, here or anywhere else. Bottom line, companies and regulators first concern should be the safety, health, and welfare of the public, as well as their property.

The environmentalists need to stop short of the celebrations. They may not be the villains here, but they are certainly not heroes. Their deeds are in fact in many instances what I would have to describe as toxic.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Yule-When Quinn The Eskimo Gets Here

Yule Tarot Card-The Knight of Cups

Lucky me, I've drawn the Knight of Cups. I'm going to try to ignore the fact that I drew it reversed. So let's see, does it mean I'll find love, peace, and contentment for the upcoming New Year? It seems kind of strange to have to work for those kinds of things. It looks unintentionally hilarious when you have to hunt for them, especially in camouflage. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Yule Stone-The Greenland Ruby

Yeah, this looks like a sapphire on my computer, which for some reason hates red, but its a ruby, and its this years Yule stone. The ruby is a stone of passion and energy, and is one of the four precious stones-the others being diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires. Where can you find the ruby? Well, Afghanistan, believe it or not, is one of the major areas of the earth for ruby mining. I just found this out today. There are also mines in Vietnam, Pakistan, India, Cambodia, and a few other places. In the US, they are to be found in the Carolinas and Montana.

But, possibly the best kept secret as far as the ruby market goes, is the very extensive finds within Greenland. And, of course, certain companies are determined to exploit these mines for all they're worth, at the expense of the native Inuit population, who view the ruby as a divine stone. It is not that uncommon for some to be in possession of stones worth in the neighborhood of half a million dollars.

It has been known for some time that Greenland possessed an abundance of rubies, but it wasn't until the recent retreat of the Northern glaciers and ice floes that perhaps the largest area of ruby mines were uncovered.

Greenland, by the way, is an autonomous state of Denmark, and sends two representatives to the Danish Assembly, yet they are not-repeat not-a member of the EU. I wonder how long that will last. Of course, this could be a way for the Danes to keep the mineral wealth of the island to themselves. There is also diamonds, gold, and petroleum of some kind there, among other things.

The Inuit, both full-blooded and those that are of mixed Danish heritage, all together of whom make up roughly 84% of the population (the other 26 percent are of pure Danish extraction) are discouraged from mining the fields, other than as employees of the major mining companies. Naturally, they have their advocates who are intent on making sure they get their fair share of the profits.

You might want to read this article.

Who would ever imagine land in Greenland would ever look so good?

Yule Power Animal-What Else?

Yeah, this is what I came up with. Well, I drew an adult one, but I thought, hey, since Yule represents a new birth and stuff, this might be more in keeping with the spirit of this particular Sabbat. Cute huh? Yeah, well just wait a while. Still, a perfect picture when you consider the recent snowstorms that have blanketed the Northeast, to say nothing of snow in New Orleans, of all places.

Also, it seems global warming has put this poor little tyke in a precarious position. The ice sheets in his Arctic Circle environment are continually dwindling, making it harder for he and his parents to find enough food to sustain them. They hunt off the ice, you know. They stalk seals and such, and have even been known to hunt beluka whales when they have no other choice. They aren't exactly on the endangered species list, but-well, they're getting there, put it that way.

They can swim for miles, and for long stretches at a time, but of course they need a base of solid ice. They can live on frozen land, but its not suitable for their dietary needs.

Ironically, if this global warming keeps up, they might find the Great Lakes more to their liking. I think the extra arctic moisture due to increased evaporation of the ice sheets is in fact a primary component to the increase in the wintry weather throughout so much of the US. Therefore, more than ever, the polar bear is our brother. Of course, here in Kentucky, we mostly have rain, dag nab it.

Still, cold days are ahead for us all, in more ways than one. So, in keeping with the spirit of the season, I will attune with the spirit of the Yule Power Animal, the polar bear, in the hopes of acquiring his strength, stamina, and his dogged determination.

Hard Times Are Upon Us

Today, December 21st, at roughly 7:04 a.m. eastern standard time, as the Sun enters the first degree of Capricorn, with Mars a mere four to five degrees back in Sagittarius, what else could be more ominous than the Sun being in a near-to-perfect conjunction with Pluto, planet of death, destruction, and regeneration? Well-


Saturday, December 20, 2008

One Step Back And A Deep Breath Forward

Things aren't always what they seem, and like most people, I might have somewhat jumped the gun over the recent Blagojevich scandal. Note I said a little bit. I have no doubt this guy is as corrupt as-well, as nearly any other governor with the sudden ability to exercise the power to appoint a replacement to the US Senate. That's just the point. This guy probably hasn't done anything any other governor has not or would not do.

Realistically speaking, what governor would not appoint the person he thought would most likely help him in his own political or other career? Granted, this might not always come down to bribery, pay-off, appointments of self and/or spouse to high paying positions, etc. On the other hand, is even all of that really that unusual?

Something has been bothering me about this whole thing, and it's been a nagging pain in the back of my mind. I think I can sum it up in two words-Patrick Fitzgerald.

This is the guy that insisted on crucifying Scooter Libby over the "Plamegate" affair, and went about the job of wrecking this guy's career, weeks and even months after he knew full well Libby was not the originator of the leak of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame. The true original leaker was actually Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who was never charged, nor even, so far as is known, questioned or investigated. Granted, Libby and some others might have shared some degree of guilt, but his role at least was minor in comparison to that of Armitage, who played the whole thing off like it was a slip of the tongue on his part that others merely took advantage of.

Now, US Attorney Fitzgerald has his sights set on yet another target, the beleaguered Illinois Governor. Yet, the question remains, who exactly did Blagojevich attempt to bribe? It would appear that he spoke to some length with Jesse Jackson Jr., who is rumored to be Fitzgerald's source in all this. However, is there anything to back up this assertion, other than loose talk and some Nixonesque gutter language? Were candidates one through four offered the current and soon-to-be vacated Senate seat of President-elect Obama in exchange for-what?

I smell a rat. I smell a lot of them. Depending on the degree of involvement of Rahm Emmanuel, Obama's pick for Chief-of-Staff, this could get ugly, but maybe not if Fitzgerald manages to finagle some kind of appointment, albeit somewhere down the road-you know, just to make it look good. FBI Director Fitzgerald. Has an ominous ring to it, does it not? For that matter, has Obama already picked his Attorney General? Well, things can change.

As for Blagojevich, he and Obama, at least according to current political gossip, have not been especially close, although I'm not sure exactly what the problems or areas of disagreements are, if any. At any rate, this might in fact be the true extent of Obama's involvement. Get rid of a prickly thorn in his side in the person of Blagojevich, set up his chosen replacement in the Illinois Governor's mansion who would then appoint Obama's annointed successor in the US Senate. Fitzgerald gets his payoff somewhere down the road, in the form of a cushy promotion.

Unfortunately, the feisty Blagojevich isn't playing by the game book. This could actually turn out to be cause for much merriment, as more developments unfold.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren To Lead Prayer At Obama Inauguration-So What?

You have to hand it to Barak Obama. Like most presidents, he promised he would do his utmost to be the president of all Americans, so his decision to have Pastor Rick Warren deliver the invocation at his inauguration seems in keeping with that promise, and that tradition of inclusion. It is particularly impressive when you stop to consider that, more than any other single person, Rick Warren came closest to derailing the presidential campaign of Barak Obama, when the candidate appeared with John McCain at the so-called "Saddleback Forum", named after the Saddleback Church in California of which Warren is the pastor.

Obama made an extremely poor showing and came across to many conservative and even moderate Americans as both arrogant and somehow at the same time evasive. McCain's remarks, by contrast, propelled him in the polls over Obama appreciably. Had the election been held just a few days later, McCain would have handily won.

Of course, it did not turn out that way, and it is true that the victorious Obama can certainly afford to be gracious, but that's beside the point. This seems to be at least an attempt to heal divisions and at least put on a show of bringing the country together.

However, the gay activist community is in an uproar over the decision, mainly due to Warren's opposition to gay marriage, especially his opposition to the California Supreme Court decision upholding the rights of gays to marriage in that state. It is perhaps understandable they feel that way, in that Warren was instrumental in leading the drive to outlaw gay marriage in California, a drive which was successfully implemented by way of popular vote during the last election.

Well, as much as I would like to say I don't really care about this matter, the facts remain, many people do, and are opposed to gay marriage. For the gay lobby to expect a president of the US to relegate a man whose views on this matter represents the majority of Americans to the background is short-sighted at best.

For one thing, there are many good and valid reasons to support gay marriage, but there are as many equally valid reasons to oppose it. Here are just a few I can think of off the top of my head.

1. Divorce Court. The court dockets throughout the nation are crammed to overflowing as it is. Why add to it? Who would it really benefit?

2. Child adoption. Some might make a case that under the Equal Protection clause of the constitution, gay couples would have just as much right to adopt a child as a heterosexual couple. If this were decided in the affirmative, it would be a disaster. True, some gay couples would undoubtedly make as good or even better adoptive parents than many heterosexual couples, but that's beside the point. There would be an internal conflict within the mind of an adoptive child that could cause just more problems, and if there is anything kids in this world have more than enough of, it's problems.

It would be absurd to imagine that school kids would be accepting and tolerant of children with same sex parents. Sure, some would, but most would not. At the very best, the child would be shunned by many if not most of his peers. At worse, they would be subject to unfair speculation and bullying.

In the long run, this could all create a backlash against gay citizens like nothing they have yet experienced. Yet, they seem not to consider any of this.

3. The Boy Scouts. Gays have cut their own throat by assaulting this organization and insisting they be denied access to public lands, tax exempt status, etc. Their case for such a position is shaky at best, but they pursue it relentlessly, or at least have in the past. This leaves the impression that gay activists want nothing more than to force their will on any organization, including churches, that do not welcome them in at least with open arms, if not zippers. Well, there are certain churches and other religious groups that are never going to do that, tax exemptions be damned. At the same time, it's hard to fault them for wanting to maintain that firewall against any prospect of limiting their rights as organizations which they have traditionally enjoyed.

Gays deny this intent of course, but as surely as night follows day, there are some who will pursue this tactic vociferously, just as they have against the Boy Scouts organization. Who can blame religious organizations for casting a wary eye at them, especially when they see the debaucel that has unfolded within the Episcopal Church over the last few years. Some legitimately suggest this has happened through leftist and/or gay activist infiltration. I don't know that I would go that far, but it is certainly a valid point of inquiry. Does anyone doubt for a minute that, without the leadership of Rome, the American Catholic Church might well take a similar position?

Well, like it or not, there are conservative Christians who hold to a more traditionalist view of Biblical scripture and, like it or not, they aren't going to sit by calmly while more liberal views are crammed down their throat. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they aren't just going to bend over and take it like men. At the same time, they would prefer to not have to be put in that position to begin with, and they feel, with much justification, that liberalization of gay marriage laws might well lead to just that, and more.

All of these things are questions that will have to be answered forthrightly and openly by the leadership of the gay community before there can ever be any progress made at acceptance of that same gay community by mainstream American society. These are real and valid concerns that will not be answered by the typical leftist flame-throwing and name calling tactics.

Rick Warren, by the way, is not by any means a "conservative" Christian. He is actually quite moderate, at least in comparison to such fundamentalist stalwarts as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or Doctor James Dobson. For the gay community to demand that Obama cast him and his followers into the political wilderness of outer darkness is actually quite intolerant and dogmatic, when you stop to think about it.

Personally, I feel the First Amendment Rights of everyone should be respected, including those of fundamentalist Christians. No one has a constitutional right to be universally loved. Obama felt anything but love when he spoke at Warren's Saddleback Forum. If he can move on, everyone else should do likewise.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Solving Kentucky's Budget Problem One Brain Cell At A Time

Kentucky has a budget shortfall of roughly half a billion dollars, so of course like any good Democrat, Governor Steve Beshear proposes to fix this by raising cigarette taxes. He and his supporters claim that by doing so we will go a long way toward resolving this problem, and at the same time, we will cut down on the number of smokers.

I seem to be at something of a loss at understanding how raising cigarette taxes will accomplish both of these goals.

I have a better idea, one that will solve Kentucky's problem, probably within a two-to-three year span of time, and leave us with a government surplus, thus enabling to add to, not take away, from the Rainy-Day Fund.

The answer-spread the pain, and then, just like that, take it away. How?

Simply, Kentucky sales taxes are six cents on the dollar. Raise them to seven cents. That's how you spread the pain. So then, how do you take that pain away so quick few if any people even notice it?

You cut cigarette taxes, and state gasoline taxes, in half.

Whamo! Problem solved. Reckon there would be any takers?

Of course not.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Things Fall Apart

OPEC has decided to raise the price of oil, and by the time you read this it will probably be old news, so I'm not going to waste my time hunting for a link to a source, or try to hunt down a clever photo to try to cast a humorous slant on the matter. The point is, while I see their dilemna it bodes no good for the US or the West in general. The drop in oil, gas, and heating prices-and for the matter housing-has been one of the few good things in the current economy, and now soon enough, that too will be gone. Bottom line, in order to maintain their current levels of spending, OPEC needs gas prices to hover close to the three dollar per gallon range. Now the US average is 1.67, a price we all should have known was unrealistic to maintain for any length of time.

In the meantime, there are murmurs that Toyota likely will record it's first loss in twelve years. What does that mean? It means the US Congress, or possibly President Bush (by way of executive order) is going to be throwing more bad money after bad money and bail out the American auto industry. I know, I supported loans to the industry, and still do, but I'm just afraid the loans are going to turn into "loans", with no oversight, just another example of money disappearing down a rat hole.

It's a sure sign that America is quickly becoming a third world nation when the most powerful people in our society, the captains of industry, start behaving like Third World Thugs with American taxpayer money. Only in our case, the soldiers and mercenaries are the unions and their supporters in Congress. Yet, they should see that if Toyota falls on hard times, it's a safe bet that GM, Ford, and Chrysler are not going to fare any better any time soon. Don't think for one minute, however, that will give them pause.

The futility lies in the face of the facts that, bottom line, no one is eager to spend any more money than necessary and a new car doesn't make the top ten list of necessities, especially when there is no assurance that there will be a supply of replacement parts in production within the near future. It would be quite foolish to plop down twenty or thirty thousand dollars on an item that you might possibly not be able to have repaired or serviced.

In the meantime, China is quickly disintegrating. Factories are closing due to falling orders from overseas, especially the United States.

Why is all this happening? Because we have grown an insatiable government bureaucracy whose appetite never wavers, and like some malignant tumor, it has grown and intertwined with similar entities across the world. These kinds of government bureaucracies thrive on money, and the higher are the prices of commodities and necessities, the more they can rake in in the way of taxes.

That's the reason these people and their political allies want to keep prices artificially inflated on anything from automobiles and the power sources that fuel them, to houses and the power sources that heat and cool them, to the very food that fuels and provides our sustenance. When these prices fall flat, their tax structure falls apart, and then the world falls into chaos.

Thus, you have a desperate scramble to fund, to bail out, to loan, to fund government make work projects, all in a vain attempt to keep prices, and thus the tax revenue they bring in, artificially inflated.

Of course, some people see the silver lining in the potential of the auto companies potential failures. This might actually be the best time to invest in GM stock. After all, if the current owners can't save the company, somebody somewhere is surely going to buy it for a song, which is a major factor behind objections to any auto company bailout. The stock might not be worth much now, but someday, it surely will. It's worth a gamble. On the other hand, if the unions aren't reined in, maybe not.

The American people of course tend to see lower prices as a good thing, but when was the American government and bureaucracy ever in sync with the American public?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dancing Girls Stand Up to Islamic Fundamentalists

The Mujra is a dance that has been a part of Pakistani culture since well before there ever was a Pakistan-since the days of the Mughal Empire, in fact. Yet, it is an art form that is under the gun these days in Pakistani society, according to this post from Renegade Eye-

The dancing girls of Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, are on strike in protest against the tide of Talibanisation that is threatening to destroy an art form that has flourished since the Mughal empire.

The strike, which is supported by the theatres where they perform, was sparked by the decision of Lahore High Court last month to ban the Mujra, the graceful and elaborate dance first developed in the Mughal courts 400 years ago, on the grounds that it is too sexually explicit.

The Pakistani courts have attempted vainly to encourage dancers to move to what the article calls "family friendly" dances, but the girls who make up the dancing community have balked, and went on strike, with the support of the theater owners. As a result the ban on Mujra has been lifted. Unfortunately, the main danger is not so much through the courts, but through the atmosphere of vigilantism they have spawned, resulting in acts of terrorism directed against many of the "juice bars" and DVD/CD stores of Lahore, which is the cultural capital of the country.

Unlike the dancers and their supporters, many within the Lahore community fear to speak out against the oppression for fear of further retaliation by religious extremists. As explained here-

A striking feature of those suffering persecution from fundamentalists is not their fear but their acceptance that, if they had encouraged immorality, they deserved punishment. The main centre for selling CDs and DVDs in Lahore is Hall Road. But when one of the tough-looking shopkeepers received a threatening letter accusing him and others of selling risqué films, the mood was not one of defiance, but of submission. The traders heaped up the forbidden DVDs and CDs in the middle of Hall Road and made a giant bonfire. "I swear we sell no pornography," said one nervously.

Following is a YouTube video of a Pakistani dance, featuring a dance troupe consisting of both men and women.

There are many such dance videos of Pakistani dancers on YouTube, though whether this particular one is accurately described as Mujra is hard to say. It might well be more of a Bollywood style, or some hybrid. Yet, whatever the case, it is easy to ascertain that the objections of the rigid fundamentalist Islamic radicals put all such endeavors in danger of extinction, or at least being pushed far underground. Their goal is evidently not just to suppress, but to wipe out all vestiges of what they consider an un-Islamic culture.

Thankfully, there are some within Pakistani society willing to stand up for their rights, though obviously at great personal danger to their well-being and their very lives.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Cancerous Growth Of Government Power And An Example Of Where It Can Lead

The above cartoon might look like a joke, but it might be one based on what passes for reality.

Check out the following bullshit, which I copied from The Fat Guy. Bear in mind, this is not just some wild meanderings postulated by some extremist left green group like The Sierra Club or Greenpeace. This is actually being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Is it any wonder conservatives and a good many others balk at the idea of giving the federal government (or any other kind) any more power than is absolutely necessary. I keep telling myself it has to be some kind of joke, but, well, read on and you be the judge.

For farmers, this stinks: Belching and gaseous cows and hogs could start costing them money if a federal proposal to charge fees for air-polluting animals becomes law.

Farmers so far are turning their noses up at the notion, which is one of several put forward by the Environmental Protection Agency after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that greenhouse gases emitted by belching and flatulence amounts to air pollution.

“This is one of the most ridiculous things the federal government has tried to do,” said Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, an outspoken opponent of the proposal.

It would require farms or ranches with more than 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle or 200 hogs to pay an annual fee of about $175 for each dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 for each hog.

The executive vice president of the Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation, Ken Hamilton, estimated the fee would cost owners of a modest-sized cattle ranch $30,000 to $40,000 a year. He said he has talked to a number of livestock owners about the proposals, and “all have said if the fees were carried out, it would bankrupt them.”

Where are we gonna go when these retards

What I would like to know is, when did the Supreme Court ever make such a ridiculously stupid ruling, and why? For that matter, do they even have the authority to make such a judgment?

Somebody please tell me this is a joke, because if it's not, there's only one other conceivable explanation. The people in charge of policy making in the US are completely unhinged.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I've been testing Google's new browser, Chrome, which on this date was officially released from Beta stage. So far, so good. It loads pages just as fast as Firefox, but even better, so far it seems to play YouTube videos much better. I've tested three so far, and no stopping or pausing. Not even once. On Firefox, it always seems to stop once, sometimes twice, sometimes for a few seconds, sometimes for as much as half a minute.

I'll run a few more tests on a few more videos, and if this continues and all else goes well, Chrome might well become my browser of choice. I encourage everyone to download it and give it a shot.

By the way, I've had Firefox running in the background the whole time. Who knows, it might run even better if I shut it down while I'm on Chrome.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some Liberals Never Die (They Just Smell That Way)

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich doesn't seem to be in a hurry to step down from his office, and now even the Illinois legislature, solidly Democratic, is poised to get rid of him. Senior Senator Richard Durbin has encouraged him to step down, as has President-elect Obama. Evidently, Blagojevich's wife Patty has been involved with him in the scheme to sell the soon-to-be open Illinois Senate seat currently held by Obama, which will of course become vacant upon Obama's assuming the office of President of the United States.

Whenever a Senate seat becomes vacated before the tern of the current office holder expires, the Governor in most cases appoints a replacement to fill out the remainder of the term. Blagojevich has evidently decided to try to profit from this official duty. One of the ways he intended to do so was by acquiring a high-paying job for his wife, according to a report issued by the office of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.

There have been many potential candidates for the office-at least five, as number five has been identified as Jesse Jackson Jr., a current member of the House of Representatives and the son of the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

Jackson has not been named as a suspect in any bribery attempts, nor has Obama been officially identified as complicit in the scheme. In fact, Blagojevich allegedly said, referring to Obama, "fuck him."

At the same time, Fitzgerald is understandably tight-lipped as to the range of the charges-at this time-concerning anyone else. It is interesting that Patty Blagojevich has not yet been indicted, although she is implicated in the scheme, and is herself a public person. As the first lady of the state of Illinois, she has involved herself with different initiatives, including a literacy project. This is ironic, as according to the wire-taps obtained of phone conversations of both she and her husband, they would seem to be more at home at a drunken frat party than, say, a society function. Even more pertinent is the fact that she seems to be involved in the scheme up to her eyeballs.

No matter who all turns out to be involved in this scandal, of which so far we the public might have just glimpsed the tip of the proverbial iceberg, the question remains, just how much is a Senate seat worth?

On paper, the answer would be maybe three hundred grand or thereabouts a year, which is certainly respectable, although living in Washington would eat much of that up over the course of a year. Some elected officials-former Democratic House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt comes to mind here-stretch their dollars by living in places like West Virgina. Most of them, however, prefer Washington-or worse, Georgetown. Blagojevich, as a former House member, would know all this.

So what exactly would they really be paying for? Maybe a more important question would be, who exactly is really footing the bill?

I personally think the value of a Senate seat is not the admittedly respectable yearly salary and perks. It's the power, the kind of power to influence policy decisions.

There might well be a very good reason no potential candidate for the office has yet been indicted. They might not be the ones bidding on the honor-at least not directly.

But, for every viable candidate for public office, there are undoubtedly many more with the money and the will to buy said candidate in order to get the chance to influence policy that might affect them or their business. The mystery of whether the candidates are or are not directly or indirectly involved might well be the reason that, so far, Blagojevich is the only conspirator named in the indictment.

There are still deals to be made, and names to be named. Patty Blagojevich might make for one pretty and appealing songbird. If she won't there will certainly be others. This is going to get nasty, and Rod Blagojevich and his wife, if they do go down for this, almost assuredly will not go down alone. The Governor in fact seems to be taking this calmly-way too calmly. He can still appoint Obama's successor, and has in fact already returned to work, although the Senate might not agree to seat his appointee, and the Illinois legislature is even now considering articles of impeachment. Blagojevich's stance might well be a facade. But is there more to it than that? Is it possible he or his wife-or both of them-might make some kind of deal, or have already?

If you live in the Windy City of Chicago or any place in Illinois, and you hear the suddenly constant sound of a whirring, buzzing noise, that might well be the sound of hundreds or even thousands of paper shredders working overtime into the night.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

No, Please, Not Another Kennedy

(Elihu Vedder's "The Fates")

The Fates have kindly persevered far too often in rectifying our grievous mistakes of the past. Why continually put them to the test? Isn't Ted Kennedy's career enough of a warning? It's almost like they were saying, "damn, you people insist on electing these people, so here, we're going to let you keep just this one so you can see what's up with that. Just to show that we still have your best interests at heart, and in the hopes you finally learn your collective lesson, we're going to cause him to get caught doing something so stupid he'll never rise any higher, just to keep him from doing TOO much damage, but people-this is it."

Now Caroline Kennedy Schlossbery has expressed interest in taking the soon-to-be vacated New York Senate seat currently held by soon-to-be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which happens to be the same seat held by her Uncle Bobby (whose "removal" was one of those big favors the Fates kindly did for us). The irony here is that she was partially responsible for Obama beating Hillary in the primaries, so Obama might feel like he is somewhat on the spot, but that's probably a minor issue. Hillary, after all, already has her pay-back.

Now it's time for the people of New York to get theirs.

Caroline Kennedy will probably get the nod from Democratic governor Dave Patterson, with Obama's probable enthusiastic approval, and she will be no doubt be a consistently "liberal" vote, little more than a glorified yes-woman to Harry Reid and Obama, and will probably get mucho face time in the press, something which she is typically unaccustomed to, as one of the bridge builders between the executive and legislative branches. She'll doubtless have an influence on judicial appointments, health care initiatives, and education, among other things.

The torch is about to be past (yes I know this "past" is a typo but I decided to keep it as in this case it is appropriate) to a not quite as old generation of Kennedy's by the old decrepit Liberal Lyin' Ted, who might in a few years seem somewhat moderate by comparison.

But at least for the next four years, assuming this appointment goes through, the people of New York will have a right to complain, and will hopefully take their fate back into their own hand when the seat comes up for re-election in 2012, as opposed to once more entrusting it in the hands of doubtless very liberal Democrat Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and telling her to run with it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Elisha Cuthbert-Hockey Whore

Wow, is it all right if I not give a damn about Elisha Cuthbert and her evidently seldom vacant vagina? Dude was right, she is his sloppy seconds, and all he was doing was pointing out that his fellow hockey players are acting like a bunch of dogs going after the nearest bitch in heat. So what? If she weren't a famous actress she would probably be passed from team to team, as opposed to just player to player. I admit I would hit that too, but only with three layers of latex.

You can always spot a phony press-agent composed apology. Check this-

"I would like to sincerely apologize for my off-color remarks to the press yesterday from Calgary.

"I should not have made those comments and I recognize that they were inappropriate. It was a bad attempt to build excitement for the game, but I am now acutely aware of how hurtful my actions were. I caused unnecessary embarrassment to my peers as well as people I have been close with in the past.

"I apologize for offending the great fans of the NHL, the commissioner, my teammates, my coaching staff and the Dallas Stars management and ownership. As many of you know, I like to mix it up on and off the ice from time to time, but understand that this time I took it too far."

Earth to Sean Avery-you were never "close" to the ho, you just fucked her, and a lot of fans don't seem to even get that you were referring to her. Evidently you should have named her specifically in your "apology" and then begged for forgiveness.

Sean Avery should be reinstated with back pay for his six-game suspension. If he should be suspended for anything, it should be the Dallas Stars who suspend him, not the league, for being a mediocre at best player, which was probably the reason Cuthbert hopped onto another player. After all, a big star can't be bothered with someone that proves himself less than first rate on the ice. The bedroom is probably irrelevant, as she seems to only fuck her friends, and everybody she knows is her friend. Just ask Justin Timberlake, his friends, and the other two hockey pucks she's bedded since fucking Avery.

Who rates fifteen million dollars for a four-year contract anyway? Sean Avery was supposed to be worth it, but he just has not performed to expectations. That's what real hockey fans care about, not whether some spoiled Hollywood bitch gets her itty-bitty feewings hurt, or whether her current cum-donor feels somewhat belittled.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


In the long run, the most lasting effect of the Mumbai terrorist attacks might be the further instability of Pakistan. If it is ever put together, there is a good chance this assault, which seems to have been tightly organized and highly sophisticated, might have been coordinated from within the inner chambers of Pakistani Intelligence. It is known of course that the attackers entered Mumbai by way of boats, and India had warning of the potential for such attacks for some time. Still, if it does turn out to have been coordinated by Pakistani intelligence agents, what would be the purpose of such an act? Why would they take such a risk at destabilizing their own country?

The only possible answer would be to overthrow the current Democratically elected regime and see it replaced with-the Taliban, perhaps? All it would take would be a flare up of tensions with India to the point of war-a war Pakistan could never hope to win.

I seriously doubt that most Pakistani intelligence agents are devout Muslim, either fundamentalist or otherwise. However, they might deduce that the Taliban might be easier to manipulate, in the sense that such as the Taliban would be much more inclined to increase the power of the state intelligence apparatus in order to maintain their own control. The Taliban would be the public face of national power, but they could also be easily removed, with little to no objections from the population once they've had a taste of the way they tend to wield power.

Still, if this is what is going on, its a dangerous game that could backfire. Not everyone among the Taliban leadership might be so unsophisticated and generally naive as the Pakistani Intelligence might assume.

I find it telling that this attack occurred in a period of transition within the United States government. Bush's hands are all but tied, and Obama is now relatively restrained insofar as his ability to respond. The only way Bush could muster a response would be by working in concert with Obama. Otherwise, we could end up with another Somalia fiasco, only this time much worse, flavored with the threat of a nuclear standoff.

In the meantime, this attack, while occurring on Indian soil, was actually a blow struck at the international community, with Orthodox Jews being the targets of the most vicious assaults. India almost has to respond in order to save face. Could that be the overall intention?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Old News

While Googling the name of an old acquaintance (Hello Judy Robinson), I came across this old series of reprints from the Mt. Vernon Signal originally reported on June 9th, 1900. I thought some might find them interesting. I left the considerable number of typographical errors in place, and picked out some of the more whimsical and bizarre. One happens to refer to a case I've been interested in researching for some time, but before I get to that century old abortion case, I though I would start off with this jewel of a report on an occurrence that happened at Green Bay Wisconsin-

At Green Bay Wisconsin on Thursday some children saw a woman cut a
chickens head off. They concluded to play chicken themselves,
selecting the smallest in the number they proceeded to chop of the
childs head. Some men were working in the yard at a derrick. Becoming
horrified at the sight one let go a rope which threw the derrick to the
ground killing eight men

Kids, huh?

Here's an old "Letter to the Editor" that I find fascinating, for some strange reason-

Dear Signal: After a lingering illness in which I have suffered much,
taken medicine, lost what little avoirdupoise I once possessed and
nearly all my beauty, I am again able to pen you a few items. The six
weeks drought is broken and farmers are driving business with a vim;
nearly every man farmer is done planting and out of the first weeds.
Wheat generally reports favorabley but oats and grass have had severe
set baks. Plenty of peaches, cherries, blackberries and some apples to
look forward to with delight and expectancy. Corn was never as scarce
in Possum Holler as it is now, but I have seen the price much higher
than 75 cents per bushel. A.J. Sears our enterprising merchand who
sells more goods than any other country merchant is Rockcastle county
holds egges, the poor womans dearest frend at 9 cents per dozen. The
healt of the denizens of the Holler was never better, but the rations
are dangerously short. Cattle shelp and hog buyers are as plentiful as
Republicans in Jackson. All liberty loving people in our town without
regard to politics or religion like the decision of the Supreme Court
in the Beckham-Taylor case. This clearly shows to all minds that it is
yet conceded by the highest authority that the states the people have
some rights that must be respected. Elder Todd now regulary fills his
appointments at the Christian church.

Many of our young ladies who have been at much trouble time and expense
to qualify themselves to teach are left without a job. Remember young
ladies there is ayet room at the top of the ladder and go up higher and
"try again".

As we are force to the necessity of an election for Governor at the
coming November election adn as there are divisions an schisms in ur
party and as Mr Beckham has a "cinch" on the Lieutenant Governor's
office for the whole term, we think it our duty to seriously cast about
for a candidate who has never been mixed up in any of the "late
unpleasantness", one calculated to be acceptable to the whole Democracy
of Kentucky and not objectionable to our freinds, the enemy and as I am
and have ever been a Democrat, I think I have some rights in the matter
and as I am sure that we find in the person of the Hon J.D. Black of
Barbourville with all the esentials and preequisites necessary for a
candidate who can be elected by 25,000 majority we areise to niminate
him, while all Possum Holler stand ready to second the same. Give us
Black and we are safe without the least of trouble, Very truly yours,
Buck Varnon

Here's hoping old Buck recovered his beauty and his "avoirdupoise" (whatever the fuck that is). Note the reference here to the Goebbel assassination. If you diod not already know about it though, you would never surmise that much.

Evidently, these next two reports have something to do with the end of a term of military service during the preceding Spanish American War, though it could pertain to something else, possibly the assassination of Governor Goebbels that occurred earlier at the beginning of this year, or maybe even some mining strikes. See, that's the thing about these old newspaper accounts. You read them and they raise more questions than they answer. At any rate-

Capt C.C. Calhoon who went to Barboursville to muster out John Powers
Taylor militia company, was unable to do so because the members on
their return from Frankfort had taken the arms into the county. He
haas ordered Lieut Black to gather up all the equipment

This next one, in a similar vein, is even better-

Capt C.W. Longmire and Sergt B.R. McClure of Lexington went to
Maysville to muster out the Mason County Gurards. They spent the night
with some kindred spirits and Police Judge Wadsworth issued a warrent
for their arrest, charging them with being drunk and disorderly. They
went to Aberdeen Oho to avoid arrest. The Mason County Guards turned
over their equipment ot Capt Horace Cochran

You have your political sex scandals as well. At least I guess that's what the following report is about. Why report it at all if you are going to skimp on so many details?

Mrs Sarah E. Boreing filed suit in London against her husband
Congressman Vincent Boreing for divorce and alimony

It makes you wonder if this was simply meant to embarrass the Congressman for the upcoming election, but then again, that was five months away at the time. Here's some more examples of skimpy reporting from the era-

A colored girl delivered the welcome address at the Berea College

All black or African-Americans of the day of course were referred to as colored, and in many cases they seem to have been nameless. Unless of course they were criminals, as is the case of the following report from nearby Garrard County-

Edward Summers, colored, escaped from the Garrard county jail early
Monday morning by prizing the bars leaving three other prisoners in the
jail, who delclined to go. Summers was in for alleged burglary. He is
the foruth prisoner to escape from the jail within a month

Evidently the following marriage announcement was premature, or things didn't turn out exactly as planned-

It was reported last week in the Interior Journal R.H. Hamm and Miss
Helen Thurmond were married while taking in the reunion at Louisville
and a great many were surprised when Mr Hamm returned bringing no one
with him

That's it. No explanation. Maybe she met somebody at the "reunion" (of what you will note is never stated) that struck her fancy more than poor Mr. Hamm. Maybe Miss Thurmond's bones rest to this day at the bottom of the Ohio River. We may never know, and probably won't.

I've come to the conclusion that whoever set the type for the old paper must have been dyslexic, as (s)he repeatedly misspells the same words in the same way. Or maybe the poor soul just didn't know how to spell. Take the following two reports about two different men who worked at "falgging" (flagging?) for the local railroad, one of whom met with an unfortunate incident.

D. Martin who is falgging for the work train on this line, has made a
reputation of Killing snakes and explaining the political situation

Coming so closely on the heels of the assassination of Governor Goebbels, one has to wonder if the irony here was intentional, and if so, on whose part? The next one though is best-

Hubert Hartley brakeman was struck by an engine at Pittsburg, Monday
night and seriously injured. he was falgging and sat down on the track
and went to sleep

Damn, people sure were strong in 1900.

This lack of attention and even lack of general interest in details admittedly adds a sense of mystery to the times in question, yet, it seems all the more odd when you consider that even the most ordinary, mundane aspects of the lives of every day folks could fill the little weekly paper. Here's some examples-

DEATH: Miss Mattie Wiley, daughter of Jesse Wiley died at Ridgeway
four miles east of Fulton, from the effects of a dose of morphine taken
with suicidal intent. Ill health was the cause of suicide

Mrs W.H. Brannaman who has been sick so long with rheumatism is getting
able to go about the house without the use of her crutch. It is to be
hoped how soon this good woman will get well and be herself again

John Mullins charged with grand larceny came before the court yesterday
morning plead guilty and was given one year in the pen

S.H. Martin received rather a painful but not serious injury by
spraining both of his ankles while attending the Confederate Reunion

The editor of the paper at the time-one Edgar Albright-is the subject of a couple of reports much like those immediately preceding-

Misses Maud Coble, Dove B. Letcher and Annie Thompson, Mrs Cleo Brown,
Judge R.G. Williams, W.R. Henderson, T.A. Stewart, E.R. Cox Master
McKenzie Brown, and the editor, composed a party that spent a very
enjoyable day Sturday at Sigman's spring. The spring flows out of a
large cave it is surrounded by a beautiful shade and is a most
delightful place to spend a little outing.

And then there's this little piece of obvious ass-kissery-

The editor of the Signal Mr E.S. Albirght ws here Saturday with that
usual pleasant smile on his face. Edgard is a good boy and a hustler

Well, he probably never read his own paper. Check out the misspellings on this report about that year's school graduation-

The Commencement exercises of the Mt Vernon Collegiate Institute which
took place Friday night were highly creditable to the entire faculty
the graduates T.a. Stewart and W.R. Henderson both had good orations
and delivered them well. Hon W.R. Ramsey who delivered the class
address almost captivated the entire audience by the beautiful and
striking contrast which he drew between yesterday and today showing how
differently and better situated the girls and boys of today are to what
they were 100 years ago. The music under the control of Miss Cox was
first class and added greatly to the enjoyment of the evening. The
diplomas were then presented by C.C. Williams Pres of the Board of
Trustees in a few and appropriate remarks after in which Prof Ewers
said a few words expressing his satisfaction the progress which the
entire shcool had made during the eyar he also expressed his
appreciation of so great amount of interest manifested by the people
generally in the school, and assured them that by a continuance of
their hearty cooperation that he would be able to make the school even
much better than it had been this year.

Here's an add for strawberries that I found interesting.

STRAWBERRIES: I will have about 3,000 plants to dispose of this fall
of my own raising. they are the earliest..ripening by May 5 and th
largest, some measruing 5 inches around. Send me your order for the
amount you want. Price 40 cents per hundred for fall planting. S.C.
Franklin, Mt Vernon

What makes this particular edition so compelling is the trial that unfolded this year involving a well-connected attorney tried for the murder of a young girl whom he had impregnated, then killing her in the course of trying to make her have an abortion. He had supposedly promised to marry her. The affair occurred at the hotel in London, Ky. where the girl and her father both worked. Once he got what he wanted, he got more than he bargained for, and then ended up with a five year prison sentence. Here's the story in part-

At twelve o'clock Monday the jury in the Wilson case was secured and
the commonwealth began promptly at 1 pm, taking evidence. The
follwoing is a list of the jury, G.M. Sigman, W.H. Carmicol, W.H. Doan,
W.H. Chasteen, A.G. Burdett, Jothan Brown, Isaac Phillips, R.P. Pike,
Fount Craig, C.M> Cummins, David Hysinger, Micajoh Southards. The
attorneys for the defense are Hon James B. Black of Barbourville, J.A.
Crapt, R.L. Ewel and R.L. Reed of London, W.A. Morrow of Somerset and
C.C. Williams, L.W. Bethurum and S.D. Lewis of the local bar. The
attorneys for the prosecution are W.R. Ramsey of London, Judge J.H.
Tensley of Barbourville Commonwealth's attorney J.N. Sharp of
Williamsburg and Judge R.G. Williams and Judge P.D. Collyer of Mt
Vernon. The case is being watched very carefully by the attorneys on
both sides, and greater interest is being manifested by every one, than
in any case we have ever seen tried in this court room. Ther have been
about forty eight witnesses testified, including specialists from
Cincinnati and Lexington who made an examination of the waman after her
death. "Picture of Miss Mary Cloyd, the dead girl". The testimony was
finished Wednesday and the argument by the attorneys was begun Thursday
morning. Each side was allowed five hours for the argument. The
attorneys for the prosecution wanted four speeches, while attorney for
the defense only wanted one. So the case for the defense was argued by
W.A. Morrow of Somerste and commonwealth's attorney Sharp argued for
the prosecution.

I've seen the girl's picture, by the way. She was drop dead gorgeous, which in her case was her downfall.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

God-Director Of Kentucky State Department Of Homeland Security

I have to admit this story took me completely off-guard, even though it involves the state of Kentucky and actually took place two years ago. It just happens to be one of those things that was slid under the radar screen during a session of the Kentucky Legislature. Seems as though Kentucky has its own "Department of Homeland Security" which receives a considerable share of its funding from the federal government. Yet, according to this story on, the number one line of defense against a terrorist attack in the state is-God.

The story is covered extensively by Feral Child, who includes the following segment along with a quote from the Kentucky legislator, who happens to be a Baptist minister responsible for the inclusion of the language of the bill-along with a plaque on the walls of the Kentucky Homeland Security office which also credits God for our safety and security-

As amended, Homeland Security’s religious duties now come before all else, including its distribution of millions of dollars in federal grants and its analysis of possible threats.

The time and energy spent crediting God are appropriate, said [State Representative Tom] Riner, D-Louisville, in an interview this week.

“This is recognition that government alone cannot guarantee the perfect safety of the people of Kentucky,” Riner said. “Government itself, apart from God, cannot close the security gap. The job is too big for government.”

Of course I think I see what is going on here. This language was included at the insistence of State Representative Riner who was probably needed for passage of the bill, or perhaps it was a trade-off pertaining to some other matter. Whatever the case, the bill passed overwhelmingly in the Kentucky Legislature, enjoying widespread bi-partisan support.

And really, it doesn't bother me so much other than the fact that federal funds are involved. Even at that, it doesn't disturb me greatly, other than the implication that there exists the potential to divert blame for any future failure in security on a vengeful God, or on the sinful natures of the citizens of Kentucky.

Feral Child misses the mark however at one point, asserting that-

That must explain why Kentucky has fared so well in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. That and the utter absence of any strategic or even symbolic targets within the state. That and the fact that Al Qaeda terrorists couldn’t find Kentucky if they were handed a map of the midwest. They probably think that Kentucky is some of hat worn by infidels.

That of course is wholly inaccurate. There is Churchill Downs during the Kentucky Derby, or for that matter any part of Louisville during that period. There are also several tourist attractions of considerable note that might be a target for the simple fact that they might not be considered high priority. Yet, a devastating attack on them during the peak of tourist season would be devastating, and the impact would reverberate throughout the nation. It would draw attention to the numbers of such places nationwide, and cause a feeling to permeate throughout small town communities everywhere that, yes, "we could be next".

Nor do I think the Kentucky Legislature will be impressed by the following witticism-

If God loves Kentucky so much, why does the commonwealth need an emergency operations center at all? Why not just have a plaque?

Nor this-

Case in point: India. I’m sure Mr. Riner would agree that the troubles in India this week were caused by a lack of plaques, proselytizing, and graven images. What India needs is not a competent government security apparatus, but more religion.

Clever, yes, but I'm sure Representative Riner, for one, would quickly point out that India tends to worship "heathen idols", which might thereby explain why God so quickly unleashed his wrath on these pagan idolaters.

By and large, I have no problem with Kentucky being a predominantly Christian state, nor do I care that this is reflected to more or less a degree within some pieces of legislation.

At the same time, I would hope that, sometime in between prayer session at the Kentucky State Department of Homeland Security, the officials in charge actually find some time to do some real work. If there is no need for such work, then I guess maybe we can all thank whatever God or Goddess we feel most comfortable with, but in that case I'm not so sure that US federal and Kentucky tax dollars would not be better spent on other endeavors.

Hat Tip Secular Right

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Echidne Of The Snakes And Sarah Palin

Usually, when I deem it time to pay a visit to Echidne Of The Snakes, I prepare myself for a dose of ultra-feminist rhetoric on steroids, from a Wiccan perspective. I imagine the lady who owns the blog would just as soon keep the hair under her arms and on her legs. Sometimes, she gets so wound up on the subject of feminism I have to wonder if she is actually trying to be satirical.

On a whim, I just typed Sarah Palin into the search function of her blog, and lo and behold, I was in for a very pleasant surprise. No, she was not a McCain-Palin supporter, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, she opposed them strongly. However, this page of essays I dug up, all of which contained references to Palin to some extent-some more so than others-struck me as very thoughtful, from a feminist perspective. If all feminists had treated Palin like this, and all leftists as well, I might not have developed such a raging mad-on at all of them.

If more feminists, leftists, and pagans had defended Palin against the uncalled for slurs, I might even have a small amount of grudging respect for them.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Patrick MacGoohan as Edward Longshanks

I finally watched Braveheart for the first time, and I was impressed. It was a great flick, despite its obvious historical flaws and inaccuracies, the most obvious of which I spotted right away, despite the fact that I know next to nothing (if that much) about that period of English and Scottish history. When King Edward Longshanks (Edward I) sends his daughter-in-law to meet with William Wallace, the thought that thundered through my skull was something along the lines of "now shit, there's just no way that really happened."

Come to find out, not only did it not happened, there was no way it could have happened, or even been considered, seeing as how Isabelle did not marry the future Edward II until AFTER Wallace was dead. She was nowhere in the picture, in fact. Obviously, Gibson wanted to create a sense of romantic intrigue, and Isabelle provided the one female romantic lead in the movie, Wallace's own bride having been raped and murdered by the English (which of course was the reason for his rebellion).

Everything else was pretty accurate, with the exception of some costuming inaccuracies I read about which were fairly insignificant in the great scheme of things. I also wondered about the scene where the Scots meet with the Irish conscripts to the English army on the field of battle and, instead of fighting, join forces. I'm sure it happened, I just doubt that it happened in quite the manner in which it was portrayed.

Of course, when the film was first released, Mel Gibson (star, producer, and director) took a lot of flack for his supposed homophobia due to his depiction of the homosexuality and weakness of Edward II. The facts are, of course, Edward was weak and ineffectual, and he happened to be a homosexual, so I'm not sure what the problem here is. Was Gibson expected to write Edward to be something other than what he was? (In Edwards defense, though he certainly was a lousy king in almost every conceivable way, he did have a liking and empathy for the common people over the nobility, and in fact was instrumental in the founding of the universities of Cambridge and Oxford).

One scene in particular that caused some controversy was where Edward Longshanks lured his son's male lover to an open window in a castle with the pretense of eagerly getting his advice on how to deal with the William Wallace threat. He then overpowered him quickly and sent him flying out his window to his death. I have found no independent historical verification for this scene, and I'm sure it was an artistic license probably meant to convey a sense of the lives, interactions and relationships of father and son. Gibson later stated that he intentionally portrayed Edward Longshanks as a psychopath, and was surprised that the scene in question generated laughter from audiences. Uhhm, well, it was funny. Perhaps it was unintentionally so, but this was due more to the genius portrayal of Edward Longshanks by Patrick MacGoohan than any inherent sadism on the part of the audience. Besides, this foolish character should have known that a man with the reputation of Edward Longshanks needed no military advice from such a young upstart. Edward had fought successfully in a crusade, during a period in which he almost lost his life at the hands of an Islamic would-be assassin. A psychopath I have no doubt he was, but he was a psychopath with an attitude, a history, and, last but not least, a throne.

As for his son, his history becomes more comprehensible when viewed through the lens of the attitudes of the time towards homosexuality which was fostered and encouraged by the Church (at this time in England still the Catholic Church). It explains his dislike of the nobility and his difficulties during his reign. He had a heavy cross to bear, and with a father like Longshanks, its little wonder he had a hard time coping. I think the problem is the implication that homosexuals are by their nature weak and ineffectual. Growing up with the pressure he was constantly under, its incumbent to ask how he could be anything but weak and ineffectual.

As for William Wallace, though Gibson portrays him magnificently, he is little more than a vengeful cartoon character. Yet, this too is understandable. This was a man who revolved the entirety of his life, his sole purpose, toward revenge against the English and ending their domination of his beloved homeland. That lives little room for character development, but then again, Wallace might have been, in his own way, as psychopathic as Longshanks.

Gibson brings an intensity to his portrayal of William Wallace that would be hard to match.

Gibson has a kind of edge about him when portraying psychopathic or otherwise disturbed characters, and his portrayal of William Wallace was no exception. When he rode up to discuss terms with the English diplomat, the wild, crazed look in his eyes and the sneer as he moved about on his horse hurling insults at the English, his oppressors, was classic Gibson.

Unfortunately, psychopaths tend to be obsessive-compulsive, and this tendency brought about Wallace's doom. He was lured into a meeting with important Scottish lords, among them Robert the Bruce-who had already betrayed him once-against all sound advice, attending the meeting in the hopes of finally rallying the lords of Scotland against their harsh English masters and throwing off their oppressive yoke. Instead, he was lured into a trap designed by the elder Bruce, a horribly disfigured leper whose affliction denied him any legitimate claim to the throne of Scotland which was otherwise his by birthright. He made the deal in order to secure the place of his son, and in so doing earned his son's hatred and scorn. I'm really surprised Shakespeare didn't touch on all this. He did write a play about Edward Longshank's father-I think. As you can tell I am also no expert on Shakespeare.

At any rate, Wallace was delivered to London, during the dying days of Edward Longshanks, and when ordered to admit treason, replied that he had never accepted Edward as his king. As a consequence he was ordered executed following a period of "purification" by torture. If I understand this concept right, this was allegedly to save his soul and/or force him to change his mind, and at the same time make an impression among the people. It was probably more than anything for entertainment purposes aimed at the crowd of commoners who would flock to see such things. Wallace was racked, drawn, and disemboweled. During his last seconds, he summoned his last reserves of strength and screamed "Freedom". By this point the crowd, enthralled by his courage and strength, begged for mercy on his behalf.

It was a great film and would deserve four or maybe even five stars, but I would have to limit it to three due to the unnecessary use of Isabella as a romantic plot device, an unfortunate ploy doubtless meant to attract female audiences. There is enough actual drama and intrigue in this story, what is known of it, without having to burden it with unrealistic fictional occurences.

At the same time, if you have never seen this film, I do highly recommend it. You can almost feel these times come alive before your eyes. Gibson and MacGoohan are paricularly good.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How Fox Network Can Save And Revive Prison Break

Jody Lynne O'Keefe as Gretchen Morgan/Susan B. Anthony

Pretty solid rumor has it this will be the last season for Prison Break, which is a shame, but understandable, seeing as how it consistently loses viewers with each successive season. It is the fourth rated show now in its night and time slot, Monday at 9:00 p.m. on Fox. It is also easy for me to see why it is losing viewers. I also see how the show could be saved and revamped to become yet the ratings success it was in its first season. Since this show has since its inception remained by favorite network program, I offer this advice to Fox Network and the writers and other staff of Prison Break. It should be obvious, but-wait for it-


Alright now, seriously folks, think about this. The show was conceived as an action/suspense/mystery series about a genius architect who arranges his own incarceration within the same prison wherein his brother is about to be wrongfully executed for a murder he did not commit. His intentions are, simply, to break his brother out of prison and in the meantime, hopefully, prove his innocence.

The first season ended with the break-out of the two, accompanied by others who either were intentionally invited to be part of the plan through some necessity, or who in some way discovered the plot and demanded to be let in on it.

The second season revealed more of the truth about the mysterious "Company" who framed Lincoln Burrows, and why they did so.

There was a brief return to a prison-a Panamanian hellhole-in season three, where Michael was forced this time to actually do the Company's bidding.

Now, we are in season four, and Michael Scoffied, along with brother Linc, and a team of other series regulars, have banded together to bring down the Company, once and for all.

So do we see now the reason for the gradual and growing lack of interest? The Company has turned into one of those plot devices that exist solely for the purpose of churning out yet another episode, in the minds of many viewers. And, like it or not, they have had enough-more than enough-of the Company.

Look at it from this perspective. Suppose that, at the end of Season One, Scoffied, Burrows, and the rest of the "Fox River Eight" had not broken out of Fox River. What if they had remained stuck in that prison, season after season, many times almost but never quite getting there? Maybe Lincoln might succeed in having his sentence commuted to life imprisonment-a necessity after so long under such a scenario-but nothing else is ever accomplished.

Yeah, it would have gotten old real quick, wouldn't it? Well, so it goes with the Company. They need to finally get the justice they deserve. Then, there can be a new villain or foes, another organization, with different kind of plots involving using Scoffields expertise in understanding the criminal mind. Say for example he is tapped by some government agency to help track a sadistic group of prison escapees who happen to be some kind of domestic terrorist group.

Maybe at one point Scoffield might find himself incarcerated in a prison for the criminally insane. Perhaps he might be sent undercover in a prison to gather information and find himself for some reason drawn into an escape plot run by a vicious psychopath who is his equal or better in intelligence and cunning.

There are many possible scenarios that could keep the series fresh, original, innovative, and exciting. The Company has grown stale. Without a doubt, they will meet their end at the end of this season. It's just a shame that it took so long that the end result will probably be the death of the series.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Monster That Ate Detroit

When Toyota first burst onto the American auto market, they were a joke. Within twenty years, they were the source of great anxiety. They were going to destroy the American automobile industry. After so long, those fears were seen as unfounded and xenophobic by most Americans. Now, those old fears seem borne out, but whose fault is it-Toyota and the foreign auto industry in general, or the Detroit auto makers, the Big Three? Is it possible that it is they who are, in fact, the dinosaurs?

It would take a book, not a blog post, to trace the decline of the Big Three auto makers, but it's easy to delineate the decline in brief. You start with an overly grasping union, add overly restrictive governmental regulations and taxes, and finally, mismanagement at the highest levels.

When Detroit started turning out crap, right around the early seventies, to try and stay competitive, it was the beginning of the end. Then came the lay-offs, and reversals in labor gains.

In the meantime, Ford, Chrysler, and GM became American auto makers in name only. Ford and GM eventually got to the point where it outsourced much of its work to Mexico and other foreign nations, while Chrysler itself was brought by a German company. All three have tanked, as Toyota, who now seems to all but dominate the American auto market, is a major American employer. They are in fact possibly the largest single employer in the state of Kentucky.

Now the Big Three want a "bailout". Patrick Buchanan makes several good points. The Big Three should be given assistance. Restructuring by way of bankruptcy in their case is a band-aid solution which would not offer reassurance to American auto purchasers. However, if there is a bailout, it should come not with strings attached, but with steel cables. It should first and foremost come in the form of a loan-a low interest loan, granted, but nevertheless a loan, not a bailout. It should also come with the understanding that further manufacturing should be retooled to meet the current energy and efficiency concerns. No more gas guzzlers if you want a bail out. More-much more-fuel efficient engines.

I do not suggest that the Democrats in Congress force Detroit to start devoting all their resources to hybrids or electric cars, by the way, but they should certainly begin moving in that direction, and increase exponentially as the technology becomes more advanced. I have grave fears that the labor unions are going to demand their piece of the bailout pie as well, which would be self-defeating. Inordinate and inappropriate demands for higher pay and increased benefits, especially full scale medical coverage, would be inappropriate and unwarranted at this stage. These companies need first to survive and become profitable. When this is demonstrated, when and if the Big Three once more are successful, then any further deals should be worked out between the companies and the unions without government involvement, if at all possible, so long as the loans are paid back to the government. Repaying the taxpayers money must be the first priority. Repetitions of the same actions that got us into this mess is just more insanity. Yet, I strongly fear the Democrats will be inclined to push hard to affect the demands of Labor when it comes to apportioning any loan or grant to the auto industry, thereby rendering any such aid useless at best.

Yet, despite the very real contribution of the unions and the government itself for the current mess, the industry deserves the lions share of the blame. They had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor by creating fuel efficient vehicles, and refused to do so. They had to be dragged kicking and screaming toward CAFE standards they should have willingly and even eagerly pursued on their own initiative. They were more than capable of developing the technology to make such automobiles efficient, affordable, and profitable. Instead, they tried to compete with the monster from Tokyo by promoting an artificial demand for gas guzzling SUVs. All was well for a while, until the gas and oil crunch hit. When that happened, Detroit was swept away in a tsunami of its own making.

Now they are begging for help, but so far have demonstrated little if any willingness to rethink their marketing and business strategies. They went up into the Halls of Congress much like a bunch of homeless vagrants holding signs "Will Work For Food". Nine times out of ten, at least, such people expect you to drop a five or ten dollar bill in their box and move along. You should not actually seriously expect any work out of such a person unless there is an alley close by. So it is with the Big Three.

As for the monster that did in fact nothing other than sit back and watch while Detroit gorged on its own rotting carcass, get used to it. He just gets bigger and better every year. He is not going away.