Monday, June 30, 2008

This little girl was born with about the worse streak of bad luck a child can have. First, she was born in a small village in one of the most remote parts of India, where one might easily assume the people are more religiously inclined, and profoundly more superstitious, than most others. Then, she was born during a severe thunderstorm, which ceased on the day of her birth, which also happened to take place during a festival in honor of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi.

The icing on the cake? She was born with eight limbs-four arms and four legs. The goddess Lakshmi, it just so happens, is portrayed as having eight limbs.

Can you imagine what the result would have been had this little girl been born a thousand years ago? She would have been worshiped as a living goddess and honored with all manners of presents and sacrifices in her honor, and would have lived a life of plenty, though otherwise she would doubtless have been overly protected to the extent she might well have been one miserable little girl.

That might well have been her fate today. She was already declared an incarnation of Lakshmi, and the villagers were ready to honor and worship her as such by and large, although one enterprising soul, doubtless an outsider, offered to buy her for use as a circus freak performer.

Her parents, though wary, and even though they themselves believed the little girl was a goddess, decided instead to go the surprisingly sensible route of having the little girl operated on. The success of the operation will result in a normal life for her. A good thing, too. According to the doctor who performed the operation, she probably would have died in her teens from an infection.

It turns out her extra limbs were the result of a parasitic "shadow twin" that never developed to the extent it became a fellow siamese twin. The infection was the result of one of this twins limbs growing on her spine and protruding through her back.

She is now normal, and will more than likely even be able to raise a family of her own someday.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

From The City That Gave Us Poe (And Other Stories Of Death And Destruction)

When I decided to set my novel in Baltimore I wasn't aware of the particulars of that city's crime statistics, though I knew it was pretty bad. Still, as the writing progressed, I got to thinking "damn, my murder rate in my fictionalized Baltimore is off the damn charts", so I decided it might be better to tone it down. I started inventing reasons to not kill off characters for the sake of some semblance of realism.

Now, come to find out, the novel might have been mild in comparison with actual recent statistics, even with the bombing at Johns Hopkins University Hospital and the marijuana laced with embalming fluid subplot thrown in for good measure.

500 year old vampires and baby eating vultures aside, Baltimore is a fucking horror story in its own right. So, what to do, hon?

There comes a time in the course of human events when things get so fucking bad that you have to do something about it, and that time seems to be now for the city of Baltimore.

Here is the story of Nicole Sesker, stepdaughter of former Baltimore Police Commissioner Hamm. Miss Sesker, a heroin addict and prostitute, is no longer among the living, strangled and murdered, her body discovered on one of those streets where she plied her trade for several years.

The real story though is the scope of the heroin problem in Baltimore, which according to various estimates has anywhere from 45,000 to 65,000 heroin addicts. Going by the more conservative estimate, that is roughly one out of every sixteen Baltimore residents.

You might wonder how one city could become so bad, that only halfway through the year there have been more than one hundred murders in a city with a population of under a million. Miss Sesker makes 108.

For a good blog devoted to keeping track of the dreary crime statistics of the city, this one pretty well tells the story.

Assuming the residents of Baltimore are not engaged in some bizarre endeavor to see their city crowned the next murder capitol of the world, something seriously is amiss. The city has fallen apart. I could conceivably point to an unhealthy alignment of the stars and, using this explanation, draw a correlation to the way the Ravens fell apart after their 2000 Superbowl win, but I seriously doubt that has much to do with anything.

A better idea might-mind you, just might-involve taking a good look at the way the elected and appointed leaders of the city run it. I have an idea Baltimore might prove a textbook case of how NOT to run a major American city.

Do I really have to point out that the Democratic Party has had a lock-more like a death grip, it seems-on running the city since at least the time of the Civil War? Somebody might want to point out to them they have a record that Robert Mugabe would probably find appalling, but I somehow doubt anything will change, unless and until Baltimore residents finally demand accountability-but I wouldn’t hold my breath for that to happen either.

Whether the problem is one of policy, of lax enforcement, or just plain incompetence, or some combination of these and other factors, it is unlikely to change. Baltimore residents may not want that title of murder capitol, but the majority of them, at least, might well deserve it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Supreme Court Gives Us Heller

Special note-you can download the Supreme Court's Heller Decision in pdf format from the Scotus blog here.

The best thing about the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality, or lack thereof, of the Washington DC ban on handguns in private homes, is that it conceivably puts to rest, for all time (hopefully) any prospect of lawsuits, class action or otherwise, against legitimate gun and firearms manufacturers.

This has been the last great white hope, though an understated one, of the pro-gun control movement. If a series of successful lawsuits against gun manufacturers produced a flurry of substantial damages awarded litigants at their expense, one of two things would result-

*Manufacturers would be forced into bankruptcy, and conceivably out of business

*At the very least, the resultant expense involved in the purchasing of any kind of firearm would be so prohibitive none but the upper middle classes and above could hope to afford them.

This decision demolishes that potential, or at least so significantly weakens it that any such lawsuit must now meet a considerably higher-much higher-burden of proof. For with this ruling, the Supreme Court has made it clear, gun ownership is one that puts the onus of responsibility on the gun owner, which is exactly where that responsibility belongs.

Put another way, if a private citizen who legally owns a firearm, misuses or abuses his right to own that firearm, he can as always be prosecuted, and perhaps held civilly liable-but not the manufacturer who produced the abused weapon, nor the dealer who in good faith sold the weapon to the private citizen.

This isn’t over yet, of course. There will be a flurry of lawsuits yet to come, some advisable, others not so much. I suggest gun rights advocates pick their fights wisely, the current political climate being as it is. It is one thing to challenge draconian laws forbidding the ownership of a handgun for the purposes of self-defense, either in a private home or for that matter in public housing (where many perfectly law-abiding citizens might have no other recourse than to live surrounded by human vermin).

It is something else all together to insist on a radical insistence that college and university campuses allow the carrying of handguns and the issuing of concealed carry laws on a first come, first serve basis, with little if any regulation or oversight. After all, remember that most colleges and universities are public property.

I consider myself a gun rights advocate and am in general agreement with the philosophy as a whole. However, there are certain factors when it comes to allowing gun ownership among university students, that all gun control advocates need to realize. Not among the least of these are-get ready for it, because it might be hard to take, but-

Most college students are fucking morons. Think about it. Of all the students that actually attend university, what percentage of them graduate? Moreover, within both groups-graduate and non-graduate-what percentage is actually sane enough to trust with as much as a sharp object, let alone something with the destructive capacity of your average gun. Think about this seriously for a minute, and drop the political equation. Would you trust your fourteen-year-old virgin daughter with a carload of drunken frat boys? Would you trust her with them even if they weren’t drunk? If you lived next door to them, would you go off for a week with a fully stocked liquor cabinet in full view and know in your heart of hearts that you would return the following week to find it undisturbed?

There are economic considerations as well. Unfortunately, most parents will be averse to sending their darlings to a university campus where the right of college students to carry guns to and from classrooms is a given.

I say unfortunately, because I am by no means against the idea of limited gun rights on university campuses, I just think it should be regulated and monitored accordingly. The implementation of certain requirements would contribute to a positive, safe atmosphere, hopefully with a minimum of problems.

* Restrict gun ownership to students twenty-one years of age or older. We do this in licensing drivers and in selling liquor, and now cigarettes. Why not do the same with guns? Yes, I recognize that the right to keep and bear arms is a constitutional right. So is the right to vote. There are reasons you don’t see many twelve year old kids going to the polling place to exercise that right, chief among them being it is a non-existent right as far as they are concerned. As far as I‘m concerned, they should limit it to twenty-one year old persons as well, unlikely though this is to occur. Still, the point is, anyone under twenty one, as a general rule, are rightfully considered sufficiently lacking in maturity as to justify limiting their rights until they reach a certain age. This would be a sterling example of such.

*Again, universities are public, not private, enterprises, and it is more than appropriate to insist that any person who applies for a concealed carry permit pass some kind of reasonable competency requirements, beginning with the requirement to maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average, or a 2.0 at the very least.

*Applicants for gun ownership and/or conceal carry permits must maintain a good record on campus and in the community. No, this does not mean the individual in question has to be the class president, dorm monitor, or a member of the social and/or academic elite. It just means they have to stay out of trouble. After all, eighty percent of the time, if you know of somebody’s existence, there is probably a reason for it-and not necessarily a good reason. It is more than sufficient that the individual regularly attend class, refrain from unnecessary fighting, sexual harassment, or any other inappropriate behavior, and otherwise get along reasonably well with his fellow students and the faculty and staff of the university in question. I mean, come on-this ain’t rocket science here. But, just in case-

*The student should have a regular, on-going relationship with his appointed counselor, or academic adviser, etc. After all, their training is such as to enable them supposedly to spot potential problem areas of potential concern.

*The student should have to take gun safety and training courses at their own expense, and demonstrate proficiency with firearms. Such training, conducted by qualified and licensed instructors, could begin at any age upon enrollment.

*Any confirmed problems or offenses can and should result in revocation of the license, particularly if the individual displays an on-going predisposition to such behavior.

As I said, this is just one of the many issues that are soon to arise from the recent ruling. There will be myriads of others, I’m sure, that I will touch on from time to time.

For now, I will just say that, here in America at least, an individual should be responsible for his own defense and the defense of his family. Isn’t that the way it should be? Who in God's name wants to trust the police to protect them from criminals-especially if you happen to live in an area where crime is more frequent that it should be, and where the quality of law-enforcement is dubious at best. Do you really want to wait ten years, or as more than likely the case, forever, before the police receive training sufficient to protect all it’s citizens, adequately and, by the way, equally, and to do so in a timely manner? Are you waiting for the invention of the Star Trek teleportation device in the meantime? I hate to say it, but you might as well be. Even in the best-case scenario, can the police arrive to your house (assuming you have the opportunity to call them) as quickly as you can empty your forty-five into the skull of a home invader and potential rapist/murderer?

The plain fact is that in order to encourage the atmosphere most conducive to the development, protection, and continuation of a relatively peaceful society, with limited violence and criminal oppression, there must be a mechanism whereby law-abiding citizens arm themselves for their own defense, and that of their families, homes, and businesses. That ideal is indisputable, and should not be open for debate. Some of the other things we can tinker with, I concede that much, and the idea of armed university students is profound enough in its potential implications that it calls for discussion-for open, reasonable dialogue, hopefully free of political pandering and demagoguery on both sides.

Remember, my fellow Second Amendment supporters, while a right is a right is a right, it also carries with it a grave responsibility, one that, if not recognized and even nurtured, is tantamount to inviting a situation where that right is held up to unreasonable scrutiny, and potentially lost forever.

Put another way, time does not stand still. Ask the dinosaurs.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tension Between Obama And The Clintons? Nothing Ten Million Dollars Won't Cure

Of course Hillary Clinton will agree to support Obama's candidacy. Of course she will be willing to campaign for him. Of course, Bill will help as well. After all, Obama has asked his finance team to help Hillary Clinton pay off ten million dollars of her campaign debt.

Of course, he probably can't legally redirect money from his campaign to pay these debts, so if you're an Obama supporter, expect to receive, sometime soon, a request for a contribution specifically for this purpose.

And here you thought politics was a cutthroat business. See how quickly people of good will can come together-when the price is right.

The Democratic Party is just now on the verge of an actual "Kumbaya" moment. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Don Imus The Gelding Whinnies Again

Radio talk show host Don Imus is in the process of learning a bitter lesson, not only about race relations, but all areas of human relations. That lesson-the longer you kiss people’s asses, the more likely they are to shit all over you.

Here is his latest faux paus, a statement concerning the latest arrest of Dallas Cowboys cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, the sixth such run-in with the law Jones has faced-

During a conversation about Jones' run-ins with the law, Imus asked, "What color is he?" Sports announcer Warner Wolf said Jones — formerly known as Pacman — is "African-American." Imus responded: "There you go. Now we know."

So, you can take this two ways-

*The law is targeting Jones for racial reasons
*Jones, being black, is an obvious troublemaker

Imus obviously meant the first, but the PC crowd, intent on reading the other definition into his remarks-whether they really believe that’s what he meant or not, by the way-have started yet another controversy. As for Imus, his response to the accusations is almost as sickening, if not more.

"What people should be outraged about is that they arrest blacks for no reason," Imus said Tuesday. "I mean, there's no reason to arrest this kid six times. Maybe he did something once, but everyone does something once."

No reason to arrest “this kid” (a professional football player) six times? Well, there might have been a reason. There might have been six of them, you fucking old fool.

A pretty good indication of Jones's character might be his own response to the controversy-

"I'm truly upset about the comments," Jones said. "Obviously Mr. Imus has problems with African-Americans. I'm upset, and I hope the station he works for handles it accordingly. I will pray for him."

So, I am sure, will Al Sharpton, who has "not yet decided" what he's going to do about this.

What the fuck ever.

Here’s real the problem with Don Imus. He started out in the early seventies, with a cutting edge, take no prisoners approach to radio and, as one of the original shock jocks, built an audience based on skewering the establishment, which at that time was more or less relatively conservative. As he got older, the establishment became first more liberal, and then more mixed. To be sure, he has tried to stay relevant, and so keep his head above water, by going after such liberal luminaries as Ted Kennedy. Some of his comments pertaining to Chappaquiddick are in fact sadistically hilarious.

Nor has he been unfairly brutal to conservatives, in my opinion. He has, throughout his career, been an equal opportunity offender. This was true up until the time he crossed paths with Al Sharpton, who handed Imus his hat and his ass, but never quite relinquished his balls. Imus has never recovered, nor is he likely to do so.

In effect, Imus passed up a golden opportunity. He could have easily landed a spot on XM or on Sirius, at that time two separate entities, and used this as a vehicle to tear into the race baiting, racial hustling monolith run by the Sharptons, the Jackson, and others of their ilk, and his ratings would have been through the roof. He could have skewered the corporations, politicians, and other apologists who have enabled these two-bit con artists. He would have been controversial, of course, but Imus is used to nothing if not controversy.

So, why didn’t he do that? Does anybody really believe for a minute that he honestly, sincerely believes he was in the wrong, and that he feels compelled to make amends? Nonsense! The true reason is his attachment to the celebrity and the persona of a man who hobnobs with the great and the near great of politics and journalism, who would quickly turn their backs on him if he didn’t toe the line. In other words, this is a textbook case of a man selling his soul for all the world to see-or rather to hear, which is fortunate. To see it would be to see an old mangled, bloody and bruised wreck of a man, dismembered and scattered along the road to perdition. Hearing it is quite enough, thank you, if you can even stomach that much.

If Don Imus was a real man of integrity, he would stand up for himself and blast the Sharptons and Jacksons, and all their enablers, and do so with no apologies. He could easily find a format if he just had to start out on nothing but a web site and podcast. He would soon enough find another more traditional format, either on satellite radio or cable television, or both. His audience would quickly grow to much more than what it is now, and very likely to greater numbers eventually than he has ever enjoyed. Nor would he have to depend on Klan types for an audience. You don’t have to wear white robes and pointy little cone hats, or a swastika, to be profoundly sick of the race based and for that matter the myriads of other forms of political correctness that has turned American discourse into an exercise in walking on egg shells.

If he did stand up for himself, then he might one day finally be able to wear his grapefruit sized asshole like a badge of honor. Instead, unfortunately, he’s just going to do what all old cowboys eventually do, fade into the sunset and soon be quickly forgotten, while the herd just keeps grazing on in their abject stupidity.

Monday, June 23, 2008

River Sweep

This coming Saturday will be the annual River Sweep. Bands of volunteers will gather on both sides and the entire length of the Ohio River, from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to Cairo Illinois, in order to clean the banks of garbage and debris. This usually results in the removal of tons of refuse. Overall, it has been a fairly successful volunteer initiative, conducted by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, and involving "public organizations, civic groups, recreational clubs, and the general public".

I wonder what percentage of that trash and debris is made up of dead fish. Maybe they should put two and two together and realize there is a reason they are dead, and it amounts to the same reason they would not be any safer to eat if they were alive.

But, you have to start somewhere, and this is as good a place as any. So come on, folks. Do your part. Be involved. Contribute to an improved quality of life. It's your Ohio River.

Speaking of civic mindedness, this might be a good week to skip the weekly body dump. If there's just no way out, a good rule of thumb is that a metal drum or barrel will likely keep them down longer than a simple weighted chain and pocket full of rocks.

Remember-if we all pull together, we can make a difference.

"Yes We Can".

Friday, June 20, 2008

Easy To Be Hard

There was a recent flap over campaign aids for Barak Obama not allowing two Muslim women wearing the hajib to set behind Obama while he was on the stage giving a speech. Obama later apologized to the women. He actually apologized to one of them directly, in person, and sent his sincere regrets to the other, expressing that his campaign was about bringing people together, and that he did not condone any kind of disrespect or exclusion of any minority races or religions. Apparently, the campaign workers involved were reprimanded.

Personally, I don't think Obama should be too hard on the campaign workers for not wanting the two Muslim women to sit behind Obama while he was on stage.

They were probably just afraid that things would get blown up out of all proportion.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

But Ugly Goes Straight To The Bone

I find a good many areas of agreement with this article from the Christian Science Monitor. In fact, I've been sick for a good long time of hearing about how I should appreciate certain actresses because of their supposedly overwhelming beauty. In fact, it has the opposite affect on me from the original intent. I find myself not so subconsciously looking for their flaws. Some examples of this would be J-Lo. I got so sick of hearing about that bitch, every time I hear her name mentioned, my mind runs to Jello and I immediately think all right, what's so fucking sexy about that? Instead of seeing her as a sexy woman, I think about how goofy her fucking idiot nickname makes her sound, and I start to actually see her in that context.

Without going into a long list of obvious examples, and for that matter not so obvious ones, when I see certain actresses, the first thing I think of is, "okay, how bad does their fucking pussies stink after they've been fucked for about the thousandth fucking time in a year?

There's one bitch, she used to play Ally MacBeal and now she's on Brothers And Sisters and she's married to Harrison Ford. Give me a minute and I'll try to think of her name, as of this second all I can think of is "what's so fucking hot about that goddamnned anorexic bitch?" Take a good look at this ho, her lower left lip dangles like she's had a stroke. Is she sexy? Okay, if you fucking say so.

Then there's another woman whose name I won't mention who is supposed to be drop dead gorgeous. I would run from the bitch if she got to within arms reach of me. She looks like Satan jacked off and shot a wad of steaming, shit-stinking cum out of his dick, formed it into the shape of a woman, and said, "and men shalt call thee beautiful."

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

The whole point of the article is that Hollywood actors and actresses are chosen more for their looks than they are for actual talent. I guess the feeling is they'll grow into it. Not that beautiful women or handsome men can't be talented, of course, but if they aren't sexy or "hot", they don't have a shot, it seems-not in today's market.

It affects all areas of popular culture, including even music. Now there's a bunch of brothers who are taking the music scene by storm, not because they are good, because they are "cute". If they weren't you would never hear the little turds names mentioned, but since they are, suddenly they're "the new Beatles"? Give me a fucking break.

Me, I'm fucking sick of it. Of course, it will never change, because it's promoted by people who make a profit out of promoting various fashion trends and diet fads, and like the sheep they are, people swallow the schpiel hook, line, and sinker.

And what's so fucking sexy about those goody fucking twins anyway? Damn, I can't think of their names either. Okay, the Olsen twins, it just occurred to me.

Yeah, guys, they've been legal for a few years now, whoop de doo. Hell, if those two weren't famous they'd be seen as just another couple of skinny crack hos and nobody would give a shit if they were legal or not.

Tom Paine

Here is an interesting and well-written article on the life of Thomas Paine and his contribution to the cause of American rebels in the Revolutionary War, from the socialist blog Renegade Eye.

Paine was a great man who was shabbily treated, of which there is no doubt. A long article, but since Ren followed my good and seconded advice to increase the size of his font, well worth your time.

Survivor-Blog Wars

I’ve got this germ of an idea, but don’t know how to go about getting it off the ground. It’s based on the reality series, Survivor, only this is “Survivor: Blog Wars”. It works something like this. A group of one hundred bloggers have a contest in which, every week or month, we all vote for our favorite blog posts, with the understanding we have to vote for somebody else’s blog post, not our own.

Voting ends by a specified date, at which point the blog or blog post with no votes at all, or the least amount of votes, is “blogged off”. The only problem with this scenario is, the more blogs there are the more likely this is to result in massive blog off, at least initially. The original one hundred blogs might well be whittled down to ten or less pretty quickly, which will thus discourage further participation.

Here’s the best way possible to do this. If this is sounding like I just made this up while in the process of typing this post, you would be right, by the way, but here it goes.

What if I started a separate specific blog with a link to participating bloggers on it’s own blogroll, and each week presented a post made up of links to the participating bloggers posts which they themselves contribute to the contest, along with a brief summary of the post.

Not only they, but anybody reading the blog, would then be eligible to vote for the best blog of the month. Voting would be on going over the course of that month, and the winning post announced at the end of the week immediately preceding the next round.

Each blog removed from the main blogroll would remain linked on the site, but on a separate “blogroll of losers”, though I might and probably will call it something less demeaning.

What I am thinking of doing is having the comments page moderated as a means of controlling spam if not eliminating it, but on the other hand, I want to encourage public discussion of posts as well. So, what I could also do is set up a vote by polling procedure where the poll is listed on the sidebar, or at the end of each monthly post. Yep, I just made that up off the top of my head again. Ain’t brainstorming fun?

If anybody is interested in participating, let me know by way of this post. If I don’t get at least twenty interested participants, I’ll probably just forget the whole thing. I just have to figure out a way to facilitate my receiving the posts folks want linked for consideration, as well as their homepage urls for the blogrolls, and we’re good to go.

As a rule, there will be no limitations or qualifications as to the kinds of blogs represented or the types of posts submitted for consideration. I think you’ve all got enough sense to know that if you’re doing a mommy blog or a what I had for breakfast today type of thing, most people aren’t going to be too interested, so I’ll trust you to not want to embarrass yourselves. Of course, if I suddenly find the site overwhelmed by robot submissions to spam sites I’ll definitely put my foot down and, if I ever find you, up your ass.

As for what you win if you win, that depends on how actively participants as a group promote the site. The overriding goal should be to attract more visitors to your own site. Of course this is going on the assumption that the reason you blog is at least in part to reach an audience for your writing. Look at it from this perspective-if we succeed in gaining a respectably large amount of readers, then we all “win”.

Anyway, let me know, and I’ll try to see what I can do with what limited time I can spare. Actually, I am hoping my major contribution time wise will be however long it takes to set the site up and get it running, though it will also take some time to copy and paste the various urls at the beginning of each month and reset the sidebar poll, each of which will just be one monthly chore. If it works it will be worth it, but the only drawback is, if it is successful, I might have to set firm limits on the number of participants unless I can find somebody I can take as a partner whom I know I can depend on to take up the slack. But, we’ll worry about that eventuality when and if the time comes.

As for the categories-

Occult and Supernatural
Popular Culture and Entertainment
Science and Technology
True Crime
Adult Relationships
News-Local, Regional, State, National, World
Human Interest
Pornography (non-spam)
Fine Arts

Feel free to infer that this is not necessarily a complete list, and don’t feel left out if you aren’t included. Like I said, I’ll take anything but something that is obvious spam.

Of course, it goes without saying that this is going to be one contest, not a series of different contests pertaining to separate specific categories. You might feel dismayed to see your thoughtful, well-written post on the power of prayer outvoted in favor of a post about the latest antics of Paris Hilton. In the event this occurs, don’t take it hard-just try harder and understand that, the more readers the site attracts, the more potential readers you might draw who might well be interested in what you have to say.

One other thing-if you want to submit a link to a post that is dependent on YouTube, that’s fine, but I am only including the link to the post on your site. I will not include the actual YouTube link, and the same rule applies to other secondary links.

Also, it would be a practical impossibility to seek to impose limits on the number of votes each person can cast. I could conceivably do it, using some kind of system such as SiteMeter or Statcounter, but it would be far too time consuming. No system is perfect, and I doubt this will be a serious problem anyway, unless spambots become involved, and if they do I could probably detect that from the nature of the sites receiving the votes-which I would have probably already excluded anyway.

Finally, the winner of each year-yes, I just now decided that this will be a year long contest-will be crowned as a winner in a third separate blogroll, to be joined by future winners. The preceding year’s main blogroll of currently participating contestants would then be cleared for the next group of participants. All of the non-winners of each year would then take their place on the loser’s blogroll-which, if this idea works, will become pretty damned extensive over time. Of course, contestants from past years would also be eligible for the next year’s contest-including any winner from previous years.

If this is all confusing, remember I made all of this up as I typed. Anyway, I’m looking forward to your input. This could, if it gets adequate interest, participation, and promotion, be a good way to attract readership to blogs that might otherwise have a hard time attracting readers due to the constant barrage of bullshit that chokes out worthwhile sites like weeds in a flower garden.

Time To Outlaw Broadway Show Tunes

Mr. Sulu is heading for Uranus, but hell, that might be a good thing. Who has more experience at spotting Klingons? He's so all fired up and ready to go warp speed ahead, he and his partner were among the first to sign up to go where-well, where quite a few men have gone before, but now it's legal-at least in California.

Frankly, I like the idea of having gay neighbors. I have gay neighbors, in fact. Thanks to them two, roughly one half of the heterosexual marriages where I live have ended in the tragedy of divorce. Just imagine what it would be like if they were actually legally married.

That's not possible in Kentucky, though, so my fucked up marriage lasted twice as long as it should have had to.

Come on, Kentucky, get with it. I need some decent chess opponents and don't know where to turn to, and even if I did, I would be afraid to even go there. So, if you really want to outlaw something, and help me out at the same time, just criminalize Broadway show tunes, and the natural order of the universe will be restored to an even keel in a way that will be fair to all concerned.

After all, show tunes has typically been the only sure fire way of spotting gay folks. In today's world, they are no longer needed, thank God. Now, if it's that important to know about your friend's, relatives, or your neighbor's sexuality, just park outside the neighborhood antique mall and wait. If you see him go inside more than once in a month's time, then you'll know the truth-

He's gay, Jim.

Still, for now, any potential gay chess opponent has my number. They know that if they get in a bind and I'm ready to checkmate, all they have to do is put on "The Sound Of Music" and my game is shot to hell.

This shit just has to stop.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Who Can Replace Doc Savage?

I'm expecting Tom Brokaw to take over on a temporary basis, much as it says in this article. After that, it's anyone's guess. The thing about Tim Russert was, while he was good at getting interviews with important people on the topical, important issues of the day, he didn't do that by playing real hardball. Though that is his reputation, it is more PR than fact.

Tim Russert was not actually a journalist, he was a lawyer and a political acolyte, an assistant to late Democratic New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan. He had a love for politics and a deep understanding of the way the game was played that made him an invaluable asset as an analyst. But, at the same time, he approached the political realm from exactly that perspective. It was a game. Russert loved the horse race.

In fact, I always held that he was as responsible for the rise of John McCain in this year's primary season as any other single person-including McCain. He and McCain were friends, and I think this fact might have affected his objectivity. I'm actually quite sure it did.

Yeah, he threw a few "hardballs" in his interviews. What most people don't realize is, for the most part his guests saw them coming, and this was by design. Yet, for the most part we brought the schpiel, and so Russert, beginning in 1991, became the longest running anchor of the longest running television program in history-a program he propelled to a consistent rating of number one. It became more than a show, it became a brand.

So, where to go from here for NBC? They did not lose just an hour long television news show anchor. They also lost a friend, a boss, and the Washington Bureau Chief who probably worked himself into an early grave for them, and did so with a smile on his face. It will be next to impossible to replace him on so many different levels.

Replacing Russert would be comparable to killing off Doc Savage and trying to replace him with only one of his five assistants, any one of whom would be highly capable, yet severely limited by comparison. It's going to take some time to phase into an acceptable format, and even then, it's unlikely to soar to the same heights.

I suggest they reach out in an entirely new direction, find someone who is a relative unknown, perhaps a top-notch regional news anchor or interviewer, someone with whom they can make a brand new start, with a fresh new face.

A real investigative journalist would be a nice change of pace, someone who does ask the hard questions and won't accept the easy answers, but at the same time isn't all that enamored of the politicians he interviews.

That was Russert's main flaw. He assumed too easily that most politicians are more than just hacks. He saw them as basically honest, well-meaning if sometimes flawed would-be public servants who had the good of the country in mind more than their own self-aggrandizement.

Perhaps this came about because he wasn't really directly involved in politics long enough to get a good whiff of the rot. He left it while still mesmerized by the exterior shine of the veneer, and his own naturally gregarious and personable nature made his enthusiasm infectious.

Whatever the case, I do feel a great deal of sympathy toward Russert's father, wife, and, especially, his son, with whom he was very close. The love and respect of these and so many others who knew him well, might well be his greatest and longest lasting legacy.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The War We Are Losing

One thing that has been greatly downplayed over the last few days is the recent prison escape in Kandahar Afghanistan of 892 prisoners-389 of them Taliban, the rest common criminals.

This was the result of what appears to be an Al-Queda operation, an offensive aimed at breaking out the prisoners. An account follows-

In Friday's incident, the militants used suicide truck bombs loaded with about two tons of explosives to blast holes in the mud brick walls of the Soviet-era prison, a Taliban spokesman said.

A gun and rocket battle between the militants and prison guards lasted several hours and ended with dozens of militants rushing inside on motorcycles to free all prisoners inside, the Taliban spokesman said.

Nine guards, seven prisoners and one civilian were killed in the attack, according to Ahmad Wal Karzai.

I have an idea this is viewed, by the US government and our media, as a potential propaganda victory for Al-Queda and the Taliban, which is why you hear very little, if anything at all, about it. Propaganda for them of course means our government looks like the asses they are.

Of course, we should know about it anyway. That is allegedly one of the things that separate us from our enemies. Nevertheless, you have to hunt for the information, it seems. You never even hear anything about it on the NBC Nightly News, despite the fact that Tom Brokaw is currently stationed in Afghanistan, and over the last week has broadcast his network evening news program from there. I guess he might have casually mentioned this event, but if he did, I must have blinked.

If I had not checked Google News, I might never have found the preceding CNN link, nor, for that matter, heard or read anything about the breakout until possibly weeks or months later.

To make matters worse, we are unlikely to recapture the most dangerous of these former prisoners. For the most part, they made their way into areas either controlled by the Taliban, or sympathetic to them, or otherwise too rugged or inaccessible.

It all reads like something out of an American war film, maybe yet another Seven Against Thebes derivative. If American troops had performed the exact same thing, we would soon have a film about the exploits of “The Kandahar Brigade.” The Taliban have proven themselves rugged, brave, and, despite how you might feel about their seventh century savagery, tactically proficient. From an objective viewpoint, they are worthwhile foes, at least deserving of grudging respect as dedicated warriors, the type we should take more seriously than I fear we sometimes do.

Unfortunately, we are making a mess of this war effort. While all of this is going on, we are engaged in a policy of burning the opium crop while trying to phase the Afghan farmers into farming crops that are not nearly as profitable to them. In the meantime, many of them sell their own daughters in order to pay off the debt they have incurred to the opium drug lords. I am speaking here about the so-called “opium brides”, many of whom are under ten years old.

Naturally, the farmers and their families blame us for their predicament. The irony is, we could easily purchase the crops in a way that would be cost effective compared to what we are doing now. We could do this on an ongoing basis, and since the crop would be ours, we could do then whatever we want with it-including burn it just as we now are, only we could burn more of it, faster and cheaper with less resistance, and far more effectively.

We could contribute to the economy of the country in this way, and do so at a far cheaper and less controversial way. The farmers would be happy with us, the drug lords left without a base, the Taliban and Al-Queda without a recruitment tool, and it would be far easier and far less expensive to establish peace and prosperity in the region. In the meantime we could phase them into growing other crops more gradually, peacefully, effectively-and do you know what?

It’s a waste of time to even think along these lines, because let’s face it-whether it is run by Democrats or Republicans-we have a stupid fucking government, and we are getting exactly what we pay for. The sad thing is, we have a limited and very sorry supply to choose from, and so we are obliged to pay through the nose for a product that is very mediocre at best.

When we first entered the war in Afghanistan, the rightness of our cause was evident to anybody with an IQ in the triple digits. Few wars we have engaged in have been as justified, and almost none of them more so. From the moment we quickly dislodged the Taliban government, even though they quickly formed an insurgency, the war has been ours to lose.

Well, we are losing it.

Not Guilty-R Kelly

R. Kelly, pictured above, was recently acquitted in a Chicago court of all 14 counts of child pornography after a jury deliberation of seven and a half hours at the end of a trial that took six and a half years.

It's not so much the prosecution didn't prove their case. The motherfuckers didn't have a case to prove. Kelly's goddaughter, whom they claimed to be the "victim" videotaped with Kelly having sex in a grainy video in which neither party could be positively identified, refused to cooperate with the prosecution, and claimed she was not the girl in the tape. Had it been her, she would have been thirteen years old at the time the tape was made.

There were other weaknesses and inconsistencies in the prosecution case, so much to the point it is a travesty of justice that it was even brought to court to begin with. Therefore, the entire prosecution team will be shot at sunrise tomorrow.

Not really, just wishful thinking on my part. I believe they should fry. Seriously, they should at least have to foot the bill for the entirety of the court expense, including-especially-Kelly's court expenses. Something like that would make over-zealous prosecutors think twice before charging somebody with a crime unless they have a legitimate case, which this was not.

A lot of different factors went into the jury's ultimate decision to absolve Kelly of guilt on all counts. One thing rumored to be a factor was the recent sighting of an R. Kelly lookalike known as Black Buffalo Bob, pictured below.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Irish Save Ireland-And, Oh, By The Way, Europe

Ireland was the only country out of the 27 nation membership of the EU to actually afford it's citizens the opportunity to vote directly, yes or no, on ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, an abomination that would have nevertheless imposed a ruling regime on the people, including all those other citizens of all those other European nations who amazingly did not get the opportunity to vote on the issue.

A fifty-three percent turnout rate among Irish voters resulted in defeat for the measure by a vote of 53.4 percent to 46.6 percent. Now, Europe is in a tailspin. Well, more accurately, the Belgians, French, Germans, and British are, calling its rejection a disaster from which the treaty's prospects might never recover. I hope they are right.

Angela Merkel and Gordon Brown are on the ropes, and as for French President Sarkozy, his take on the matter is telling-and chilling.

Sources close to Mr Sarkozy said there were only two solutions: for the
Irish to vote again, or for an as yet undefined legal mechanism to bind
Ireland to EU institutions if Ireland does not ratify the treaty.

So if worse comes to worse they'll just impose it on the Irish-and all the rest of Europe-whether the people want it or not.

I still want to know why the fuck the US supports these fucktards to the point we do? Why, because they are white, and because America is a country of mostly "European" descent. Uh, who gives a flying fuck about that? I know I could fucking care less about it. How are they any fucking better than the numerous dictatorial Arab regimes we're always fucking bellyaching about? How are they any better than Sadam Hussein, or Valdimir Putin, or Ahmadinijahd.

Oh, yeah, I forgot, the Europeans are "democracies". Uh huh, the Soviet Union was a group of "Republics" too.

In fact, we can leave them to Putin as far as I'm concerned. Or, since they want to take in the Turks, Pakistanis and Algerians, etc., to the point that they flood over the continent and take all the jobs Europeans won't do-the roughly one third that don't fill up the welfare rolls, that is-so be it! Let's see how that fucking shit works out for them.

Get a load of this "analysis" from The Guardian-

The no vote was boosted by concerns over sovereignty, possible tax
harmonisation, neutrality, and fears that the treaty could erode
Ireland's abortion ban, all issues that analysts say are fatuous

Yeah, you reckon? Oh, and "fatuous" according to whose criteria? And who are these "analysts" anyway?

What do the Irish themselves have to say?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, they said FUCK YOU, EU, WE SAY NO!!!!

Good for them! Somebody else actually had the gall to complain about how the Irish were ingrates, as they had benefited more from the EU than just about any other member nation.

Oh well-dose be da breaks, suckers.

Strangely, the media here seems to be ignoring this issue. Of course, they are all for the most part Europhiles anyway, and this is an embarrassment, obviously.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jump The Shark

Like television way back in the early days-and some would say still today-the internet is a vast wasteland. Actually, it is even more so. Out of the entirety of blogs and web sites, let’s face it-the vast majority are fucking crap. You have to weed through all the chaff to find the worthwhile. However, they are there, and you will stumble across a true gem from time to time.

For those who do like television, I have found such a one, called Jump The Shark. The premise is simple enough. The site invites readers to vote on various ways television shows have “jumped the shark”, a term signifying when a television show did something so totally preposterous it never recovered from the fallout generated by the show’s angered or embarrassed fans. The phrase “Jump the shark”, of course, refers to an episode of the seventies hit “Happy Days” in which the “Fonz” literally jumped a shark on his motorcycle in a contrived stunt meant to build up the show’s once mighty ratings, by this point dangerously sagging.

In addition, readers can post on the site their thoughts and ideas about any show they wish. In fact, the site has a long and comprehensive list of almost every television show ever aired, and almost every one I’ve seen so far seems to have an active thread to which anyone can post. What is more, you can do so without going through the hassle of filling out yet another annoying on-line form.

The discussion, in some cases debate, is for the most part thoughtful, compelling, and for that matter, fun-so much so you don’t even mind the occasional goofball.

Whether you are an addicted television couch potato, a moderate though regular watcher and fan of certain programs, or just an advocate for the kinds of programming television is capable of producing, and should produce, you will enjoy this site.

Television studio executives, show producers, directors, screenwriters, and actors-in fact, anyone involved in the television business-should consider this site must reading.

They might actually learn a few things.

Somebody Needs To Go Back To Spy School

It's pretty bad when an intelligence agent leaves classified documents on a train.

Luckily a passenger found them and handed them over to the BBC, otherwise I wouldn't have anything to blog about this morning. The files were pertaining to Al-Queda, and Iraq security, but purportedly posed no threat to British security.

Hah! What fucking security! This ain't the first time this has happened, the British government has lost documents containing personal information on hundreds of thousands of British citizens and government employees-yet they are wanting to impose a national ID card on it's citizens.

By the way, the file in this case was actually marked "Top Secret". Isn't that kind of stupid to begin with? Isn't that just asking for trouble? Why not call it something like "Advanced Calculus For Dummies" and write it in some kind of stupid fucking code, just on the off-chance that Agent Smart might get so engrossed in his shoe-phone conversation he inadvertently forgets he's carrying state secrets on public transportation?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Great American Tomato Scare

Read this sentence carefully-

The Wal-Mart SuperCenter in Kettering was selling fresh Roma tomatoes
in bulk as usual, though the FDA has cleared Romas from certain states
from suspicion of contamination.

Note the word bulk. Why do I have this strange idea that the purchase of certain kinds of tomatoes at a cheap price was affecting sales of certain other varieties that sell typically at a more expensive price per pound?

This would be a normal market adjustment involving customers in a troubled economy stretching their purchasing power to what little extent they are able.

There would be two ways of dealing with this phenomenon from a marketing perspective. One would be to sell the other varieties at a cheaper price, and so at a loss. The other would be to dream up some way to increase demand for the other varieties in a way that would justify raising the price on the pretext of inadequate supply to meet that new demand.

Voila, you have an artificial scare, inspired by an outbreak of salmonella poisoning which may or may not have actually originated from tomatoes, or may have only originated from tomatoes in part. Such outbreaks may in fact be natural and completely within normally occurring ranges. Who really knows for sure?

According to this report, there have been something like 145 cases stretched out over a range of sixteen states, from east to west coast. Is that really that big a deal-really?

Keep in mind, tomato season is just now starting to arrive. Talk about suspicious timing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sixty percent of Ohio Republicans Like The Future Democrat Vice-President

That's pretty much how I have to read this poll related to the approval ratings of Ohio Democratic Governor Ted Strickland, who is also approved by 67 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents. His lowest approval is among black Ohioans at 47 percent approval, and may be based on his past support for Hillary Clinton. His approval rating among whites overall, regardless of party affiliation, is 63 percent.

If Obama picks this guy as his running mate, he will probably win Ohio. And, if he wins Ohio, he will probably win the election.

Strickland's overall approval rating amongst all Ohioan adults is 61 percent.

The Little Smurf From Cleveland Is At It Again

Kucinich tried and failed last year to initiate impeachment proceedings against Vice-President Dick Cheney, a move Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wanted tabled, and which Republican Minority Leader John Boehner wanted brought to the floor for debate as a means of embarrassing Democrats.

Evidently blessed with no sense of shame or of irony, Kucinich is trying again, this time to introduce articles of impeachment against President Bush- (C-Span pdf here)-even though he is well aware that, in the words of Speaker of The House Nancy Pelosi, impeachment is "off the table."

This is nothing but smart politics on her part, as she realizes the majority of Americans do not want to go through yet another round of impeachment hearings that would more than likely produce the same results as the last time (against Bill Clinton) against a President who has less than a year left in office anyway. To say nothing of the fact that even if successful we would just be stuck with Cheney for the duration anyway.

On top of that, this would be the very thing guaranteed to mobilize the right wing into support behind Republican presumptive nominee John McCain, even though to a large extent they dislike the candidate. In fact a good many of them hate him, to the point they will vote against him or stay home on election day. For Kucinich to bring this up now, if the House leadership agrees to take it up, might well change their minds.

What could he possibly be thinking? Has he been a Vegan for so long his brains have turned into oatmeal? Since he claims to have seen a UFO, could it be that his mind is being manipulated by some cosmic force from another galaxy-like his wife, perhaps?

Then, on the other hand, I got to thinking-maybe this is what Kucinich wants. Forget about Hilary Clinton working behind the scenes to insure Obama loses the election so she can try again in 2012. Maybe this is exactly what Kucinich is doing, trying to derail Obama so he can have a clear road to another attempt himself four years later.

After all, Kucinich has to know that, if Obama wins the Presdency, he doesn't even have the chance of a snowball in hell of becoming President in 2012.

If, on the other hand, Obama loses this year-then by God, he will have that chance.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Senator Franken

Wow, I sure have changed a lot over the last three years since I wrote this post in which I said I generally agree with Al Franken's politics. I have an idea that if I had taken the time to think about what I was saying, I would not have said that, but certainly I've grown even more conservative since that time.

I still, though, wouldn't mind seeing Al as President. What I really would like to see is just him running for President. Can you imagine John McCain running for re-election at the age of seventy-six against Al Franken. Franken would push McCain's buttons in a way guaranteed to cause an eruption of that vaunted temper.

Well, if Franken wins his race this year in Minnesota against incumbent Norm Coleman, whose seat is considered vulnerable, then he would have been in the Senate four years by the time the 2012 presidential election comes around. He would have to be considered a potential vice-presidential running mate at least, if not actually head the top of the ticket. Can anybody think of a better attack dog than Franken as VP running mate?

I wouldn't really like to see him as President now, but by the same token, it would still be cool to see him give that preview of his first State of The Union Address on Saturday Night Live.

Of course, he has his work cut out for him. A lot of people in Minnesota consider him too controversial to win a general election, and though Coleman is vulnerable, he is still the slight favorite as of now. A lot of people are concerned about Franken's ability to interact with Senators whom he has attacked in the past. And then there's the matter of some of his bawdier humor, such as a past Playboy article which detailed some kind of sexual activity with robots.

Therefore, to reassure voters, Franken is trying to do something he's just not used to doing-act dignified and respectful. I guess he figures the funny stuff can come later.

Crime Spree In Tokyo

This guy named Kato went on a crime spree yesterday in Akihibara- a district of Tokyo known as the hub of the comic book sub-culture-and posted several warnings on internet forums that he would do so, on different occasions.

Well,he did just what he said he would do. He drove his truck into the middle of a crowd, got out and proceeded down the street on foot, stabbing everyone he come across. Seven people died as a result, as of the last count, before the police finally overpowered him.

One of the things he claimed he was upset about, outside of the fact that his life was just crappy in general, was that he could not seem to make friends.

I have an idea that a tone of voice that translates roughly as "It's all I can do to keep from slashing you into two thousand unrecognizable strips of bloody flesh", would tend to have a negative effect on one's social interactions.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Swingtown-The Series

Brent Bozell is at it again. No sooner has the new CBS series “Swingtown” premiered than he has invented a reason to dislike it. From his article in Human Events-

Marriage is a necessary cornerstone of a civilized society. Crumble that building block and the waves of instability can be felt like tremors foreshadowing an earthquake. Sift through the wreckage of the collapsed mariage, and all too often, you'll find the broken bodies of children. It's never fails to be heartbreaking.

And here I thought I had a problem with typos. For one thing, marriages in general aren’t much of a cornerstone when a large portion of them are built on shaky ground-or quicksand. Having said that, of course marriage is, or should be, an important element of society-but what does that have to do with “Swingtown”?

His point seems to be that-

Notice that Hollywood producers openly proclaim they're "culturally subversive" with a smile, that each new frontier of taste they shatter is "groundbreaking." But the ground that's being broken here is the family — a foundation of hope and love that proves itself in devoted daily consistency and self-sacrifice. That formula doesn't make for sassy programming in the plastic world of television, I know, but it works in the real world.

So, in one fell swoop, with the introduction of this one summer replacement series, CBS is going to break the American family? Do they pay this guy by the word? If so, you would think he would put a little more thought into them.

I liked the series, or more accurately, the pilot episode. If it is going in the direction that it seems to be going, I hardly think there is cause for alarm. To sum it up as best I can-the Millers, a suburban Chicago family, have moved up and into a better, higher class neighborhood, whereupon almost immediately they meet their neighbors, the Deckers-a childless couple, it seems-who target them for a swing relationship. The Millers agree to the proposal a little quicker than might seem realistic, but hey-why beat around the bush? This is the swinging seventies, when women, and couples, were sexually liberated and eager and willing to experiment. The show in fact opens during the 1976 bicentennial, and the Millers leave their old suburban home in the middle of a wholesome outdoor family friendly neighborhood barbecue, and head smack dab into what passes for an American version of a Roman orgy.

The old neighbors follow behind. The man seems to have an unstated though barely disguised attraction for Mrs. Miller, while the clueless wife is your typical nice but old-fashioned homemaker who hasn’t quite coped with her rapid advance into middle age. She does not want to lose the Millers, and she and her husband end up tagging along to the new neighbor’s bash.

The husband finds his way outside to where Mrs. Miller waits for the coming fireworks. The wife starts looking for the husband, whereupon the hostess coyly directs her to the basement, where she walks in on the middle of an orgy. One man is swarmed by a bevy of young women and tells the woman, “why don’t you kick off your shoes, mom, and join the party?”

She leaves in a huff, finds her husband, and drags him away, demanding the Miller’s leave with them. The Millers, of course, do not intend to do any such thing, and at the end of the show, the Millers are alone with their new neighbors and, while Mr. Miller gives Mrs. Miller a foot massage, the new neighbor, an airline pilot, makes ready to enter the cockpit by way of her shoulders.

So, the show’s stage is set, but where is it going? It would be a mistake to assume that this pilot episode is the entirety of the show’s premise in a nutshell, because there are dark currents at work in this series. The Millers have two children. One of them, the daughter (who looks like she could actually be the daughter of the actress who plays Mrs. Miller, though she is not) is an academically intelligent high school student who smokes marijuana and has regular sex with her unambitious boyfriend. She also seems to have an attraction to one of her teachers-who in turn seems to be stalking her.

Their youngest child, a son of about thirteen or thereabouts, has discovered a young girl has been living in his bedroom prior to their arrival. She is the daughter of another of the Miller’s new neighbors, a woman who only seems to think about where her next cocaine buzz is coming from-with the exception of when she is trying to get enough aluminum foil to cover her windows at night. Her daughter obviously hates her and, it seems, pretty much everybody else.

The show is peppered throughout with seventies styles and references, and heartily seasoned with a soundtrack of seventies songs. The show titles for the most part seem to be named after seventies songs. For example, one of the future episodes is titled “Hello It’s Me”. I say for the most part, because I can’t recall ever hearing of a song from the seventies (or from any other era) with the title “Swingus Interruptus”.

I enjoyed the show, and will be watching it, as will others-perhaps a good many of them. Personally, I am going to be particularly interested in just what direction it does take. It may be a show about swingers, but I have an idea it is not all going to be one big long, wild, joy-filled ride of abandon with no consequences. There will be-and should be-an accurate and realistic portrayal of the consequences of engaging in debauched behavior as a pattern, with no precautions or evident moderation.

If it does this in a realistic manor, the Brent Bozzells and other such naysayers will then have no legitimate complaints. Of course, that probably won't stop them.

Big Brown-What Went Wrong

He didn't just lose. He came in dead last, and this was the horse everyone was sure would be the first triple crown winner in thirty years. Instead, a filly by the name Ka Tara won the race, and everybody is wondering what the hell happened.

Was his hoof a problem, or was it the fact that he had not been able to train due to the hoof, which had a slight crack? Was it the heat, the humidity, the fact that the Belmont is the longest of the three triple crown races? Was it a combination of some or even all of these factors?

For that matter, is it possible that the horse has a recently developing yet heretofore unknown health problem? Possibly, he might have just had a bad day.

I personally think I know what went wrong. The horse had the misfortune of drawing the number one starting position, which put him on the inside track, against the rails, which he is not used to running. Remember, he has not been in that many races, and what few he has run, he is used to being surrounded, and running pretty much in the post position he has drawn, adjusting his position gradually throughout his races.

This was new to him, and then the jockey compounded the horses confusion by jockeying for a better position in mid-race-something else the horse was not used to. Chances are he could have adapted and won the race at his inside position if the jockey had kept him there, or at least had not tried to move him out so early. He should have at least placed or showed.

This is noted as an intelligent horse, which sounds good, but in horse terms, it can be a problem. When he caught on to the jockey trying to put him in a different place, it confused him. He wondered, "what the hell is going on here?" He interpreted the attempted jockeying for a different position as a problem, and it disoriented him even worse than he might have ordinarily been. To the jockey's credit, once he saw the horse was disoriented and might be having a problem, he didn't push him, fearing there might have been a health reason for the lackluster performance.

I feel bad for the horse more than anything. This is one hell of a horse, and I still think he is the best of this field, and the best of this season. I fully expect him to win the Breeder's Cup, and another race he will run before that one. Afterwards he will be put out to stud, and will still make a lot of money for his owner, based on the Kentucky Derby and Preakness wins.

Triple Crown champions don't come along every day, in fact, they are a rarity. It's just too bad that the most promising aspirant for the honor in a long time may have lost out due to the bad luck of drawing a shitty post position.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Rumblings Before The Eruption

I read the recent Vanity Fair article about Bill Clinton written by Todd Purdum, the husband of former Clinton White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, not really expecting much. Surprisingly, this turned out to be the best article I've read in a long time, and one of the best I've ever read that I can remember off hand.

Going by current media reports, you would assume it deals primarily with Clinton's friendship and rumored affair with actress Gina Gershon, pictured above. This in fact is only a small facet of the article, which is actually about Clinton and his life and post presidential activities and associations in general. There is an appreciable amount of speculation, but even this is based on observation, and there are a lot of hard facts in the piece as well. I recommend the article highly.

As for Miss Gershon, here is a link to a website which has a series of pictures of the actress, including the one above. Evidently Miss Gershon will put just about anything in her mouth.

Boo Hoo Hoo Obama Loves Da Fucking Jews Blues

Obama loves dose fucking Joooos he sed so rite here in dis here AIPAC speech and looky dere he even let him take his pichure with dem Jews.

No he don't not really love dose fucking Jews he just be pretending to love dose Jews but him just be playing politics he really love dose fucking Arabs becuz an Arab guy made speeches for him and stuff so dere but shit maybe he does love dose fucking Jews or he wouldn't have sed he loves dopse fucking Jews but he did.

John McCain loves dose Jews so much him wants to bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran and Obama don't wanna bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran so fuck dat mudderfucker dat proves he don't really love dose fucking Jews I mean dose nice Jews.

Joe Liebermann hims a Jew and Obama don't love dat fucking Jew either because him supporded dat dere Ned Lamont so dere mudderfuckers dat proves he don't love dem Jews and dat Jew Joe Lieberman don't like him eider but him won't admit it becus of Ned Lamont but say becus Obama don't really love dem fucking Jews I mean dose good Jews like Joe Lieberman.

Obama is a librul so dat proves rite dere he dont love dem fucking Jews I mean dose good Jews

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Jumping The Gun

I may have done it big time with this post about Scott McClellans book about George W. Bush.

My initial reaction might best be summed up as-"Wow! He ought to know. Maybe a lot of the crap about Bush and Cheney is right after all. Why would McClellan lie about it?"

Well, come to find out, he might have done just that, in order to sell a book he found impossible to sell as originally proposed.

Mr. Beamish The Kakistocrat, who writes the blog The Crank Files sent me a number of links, the first of which I initially ignored. After all, this is a guy prone to making such statements as "The DemoKKKratic Party has been intent on destroying the US Constitution from the beginning. They hate Americans and want to fill mass graves with as many of them as they can."

So one might forgive my skepticism. However, he then sent me a link I could not ignore, and once I read this link detailing how McClellans book proposal changed and evolved when placed under the tutelage of a George Soros publisher, I went back and read the first link, which offers an additional bit of information on how the non-fiction book publishing world works.

The most important link, however, might be this one I found early in the comments section of the newsbusters link. It is a Rasmussin Reports article written by Bob Novak, who reminds us that the real leaker in the Valerie Plame affair was not Karl Rove, or Scooter Libby, or Dick Cheney, or any of the war hawks connected with the White House. It was, in fact, Richard Armitage, the Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell-a man who was in fact not in the inner circle of Iraq War supporters, and who was in fact an opponent of the war.

According to Novak, McClellan all but ignores Armitage's contribution to the case, such as it is, and concentrates on the now generally discredited charges against Rove, as though it were 2004 all over again and the truth never came out

This assertion by Novak was the eye-opener, because I have known for some time about Armitage's role as the primary leaker of Valerie Plame's name. For McClellan to ignore or vastly downplay this in the book tells you all you need to know.

In other words, this is not necessarily a book to read if you want to know the truth, it is a political hatchet job by an associate of left-wing George Soros, utilizing the credentials of a former Whtie House staffer to assume the mantle of legitimacy in attacking the White House, and by extension the Republican Party-or at least the national security wing of the party and their Iraq War and domestic security agenda.

Actually, just like laws against slander and libel should be rigidly enforced against private citizens, the same should apply to political libel and slander against politicians-including during the course of campaigns and in campaign ads. That would go a long way toward assuring people aren't deceived by this kind of thing.

Not should it be necessary for Rove to file charges, assuming he is truly inncoent of any wrongdoing. The press has a responsibility to tell the truth. Any outlet that engages in outright deception in order to further first one political agenda or another is doing a grave disservice to the American people, and they need to be deprived of their press credentials, at the very least.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Radu-Epilogue (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)

Links to all previous chapters follows this epilogue
Radu-Epilogue (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)
6pages approximate
Phelps barreled through the Virginia countryside. Only a few months had passed since the last time he was through here, but it seemed like more than a decade-like another lifetime, in fact. Every mile he drove in the old van brought back yet another painful memory. Although he knew that it was only the mountains and forests of southwestern Virginia through which he traversed, in many ways it seemed like some kind of primeval forest, unseen or untouched by any human eyes or hands.

When he got to the final road, the first change since his last journey through the area was immediately apparent. Someone had paved and widened the formerly narrow gravel road that led to the old Leighton Farm. In fact, there was a sign, identifying it as Leighton Road, while an arrow pointed in the direction of the Martin and Louise Krovelescu Orphanage.

He was almost there, but knew he had to hurry, before the children returned from their weekend excursion to Washington DC.

“What exactly are we supposed to find out here?” Cruiser Dietrich asked him. “This had better be good, Phelps. I’m too old to be out this far from civilization.”

“Have you heard any word from Carter yet, or from his wife and kid?” Phelps replied.

“I already told you no,” Cruiser replied glumly.

“That’s what we’re supposed to find. That was really a bad idea sending them out here, pretending to want to adopt a kid, and it was especially stupid for them to take their own kid along to make it look good. I don’t know why in the hell I agreed to that.”

“It was a good plan,” Cruiser replied defensively. “If there was anything that warranted looking into”-

“Which you didn’t think there was, or you would never have sent the three of them out here, admit it,” Phelps said. “Look, there it is. Damn, that place looks like it could hold fifty kids, at least.”

“According to Carter, they come and go,” Cruiser said. “There’s something like thirty-seven there now.”

“We need to find some of the kids that have been adopted out,” Phelps mused. “If we can get into their records, and find some of them, maybe we can find out what’s going on in there. After what I went through, I know that place isn’t just another run of the mill orphanage and adoption center. So far, three people that have tried to adopt kids from the place have turned up dead. Guess where the bulk of their estate went?”

Cruiser could not hide the level of concern he felt at the implications of Phelps’s comment.

“I know it’s suspicious, but”-

“All three of them had some of these kids staying with them on a trial basis,” Phelps continued. “All three of them were widowers, with lots of money-powerful individuals with positions of authority in Washington. For God’s sake, one of them was a Deputy Undersecretary of the Treasury. He was in the picture of health, yet he falls over dead from a heart attack? Come on.”

Phelps pulled up a respectable distance from the newly constructed mansion, and opened the door to the van. As he got out, he looked toward Dietrich.

“Well, are you coming?”

Dietrich moaned and, deciding he did not want to be alone out here, he reluctantly opened his door and stepped out of the van, as Phelps began shooting pictures of the property and the house.

“We’d better hurry,” Dietrich said. “If we get caught, you know it’s breaking and entering, right?”

“If we get caught, that will be the least of our worries.”

Suddenly, both men stopped in their tracks as they heard in the distance the voice of an apparently young girl calling to someone.

“Cynthia!” she shouted, several times.

“Jesus, somebody’s here,” Dietrich said, almost relieved that now there would be no possibility of realistically going through with this foolhardy scheme.

“Can we help you?” a girlish voice addressed them, whereupon they turned to see the bizarre sight of a half-dressed teenage girl, who proceeded to introduce herself as Elena. As she did so, several others joined her, including some young boys.

Phelps was beside himself with worry, but Dietrich managed to spit out an obvious excuse, one he had planed and rehearsed for the last several days for just such an occasion.

“Well, hello, young lady,” he said. “We are newspaper reporters, and we are here to do a story on you, and on your orphanage.”

“Are Mikhail and Nadia expecting you?” she asked, whereupon several of the other children whispered furtively at each other while casting suspicious glances in the direction of the obviously unwelcome intruders.

“You mean the caretakers?” Dietrich asked. “Well, no, we never seem to be able to get a hold of them, unfortunately.”

“We sure have had a lot of visitors lately,” Elena said. “You don’t know about the cop, do you?”

“The cop-what cop?” Phelps asked.

“Oh, it’s not important, Phelps,” Cruiser said. “Here, young lady, you seem to have something on your mouth.”

As he said this, Dietrich reached out with a napkin he just procured from the pocket of his blazer and, before Eleana could react, he wiped her mouth.

She jerked back slightly as she mumbled a thank you, while Phelps looked on in amazement.

“How about a picture of you guys?” he asked.

“We’re not allowed to talk to strangers nor have our pictures taken,” the boy named Eitan responded. “You’ll have to get permission from Nadia for that, or Mikhail. Shall we tell them you are here?”

The two men both reacted with silence, unsure of how to respond, when a man suddenly rounded the corner, a man whom Phelps recognized, yet was surprised to see at this place.

“Well, I was wondering when the two of you would get here,” Detective Anderson said. “I just had a nice long talk with the caretakers of the orphanage. Nice little place here.”

“We have to go inside and clean up for dinner,” Elena said. “If you need anything else, just talk to Elena and Mikhail.”

With that, the children turned and made their way toward the house, as Phelps, looking around the corner, noted the presence of the Land Rover and the menacing eyes of its driver, Mercury Morris, who gazed upon the three visitors with malicious intensity.

“I’m glad your boss told me what the two of you were up to,” Frank said to Phelps. “You’re barking up the wrong tree, I’m afraid. There’s nothing out here. It seems to be just what it’s supposed to be-an orphanage, and actually a pretty damn good one.”

“There’s nothing out here, huh?” Phelps said. “What about Gordie Carter, and his wife and son? We sent Gordie here to look into this place three days ago, and we haven’t heard from him since. He and his family have vanished, and no one knows where they are. Explain that one.”

Frank Anderson looked at Phelps in seeming amazement.

“You are kidding me, right?” he asked.

Before Phelps could respond, two figures made their way towards them from out of the woods. To the horror of both Phelps and Dietrich, one of the children was Danny Carter-the son of the missing undercover tabloid news reporter.

“Danny, what are you doing here?” Dietrich asked.

“Mr. Dietrich-it’s good to see you again. Didn’t you know? Mom and dad have moved to Bolivia, and they left me here. They gave me up for adoption.”

“Oh-my God,” Phelps said after a moment of stunned silence.

“Danny, are you sure?” Dietrich asked. “I’m sorry, but I”-

“Oh, I don’t mind,” Danny said. “I love it here. I have a lot of friends, and we have a lot of fun here. We learn a lot of cool things, too.”

“Thats-that’s real good, Danny,” Cruiser replied.

“Well, we’ve got to be going,” he said, as he and the young girl who stood by his side turned to walk off back into the house. Danny walked inside, but the girl stopped at the door, and watched them quizzically.

“Something’s definitely not right here,” Dietrich said.

Anderson, however, was firm.

“Look, I’ve had the Department look into this place. There is absolutely nothing out of the way here, as far as we can tell. I’ve been out here for more than five hours now, and frankly, it would trickle me to death if all orphanages were as well run as this one is. They have a well-rounded educational curriculum-state accredited, by the way-and they seem to exercise appropriate discipline when needed. They take field trips to Washington and other places on a regular basis. From what I’ve gathered, the kids live a balanced, well-rounded life. Hell, they even grow their own food here, and sell some of it in the nearby town. They are happy, happier than any kids I’ve seen in other places, and in fact seem better adjusted than most kids living in two parent families.”

“And you came to this conclusion on the basis of a five hour visit?” Dietrich replied. “Detective, I understand your reluctance, but I know Gordon Carter, and his wife. They would never go off to a place like Bolivia, with no word to anyone, and just leave their only kid in an orphanage, one which their only familiarity with is as a place I sent them to investigate-on pretty disturbing grounds at that.”

“Maybe they would if the kid is on drugs,” Anderson said plainly. “As for Bolivia, maybe that’s just what they told him. As for these charges you’re investigating, you can take my word for it-you’re wasting your time.”

“What about Mercury Morris?” Phelps demanded. “What’s that punk doing out here? Do you consider a former Seventeenth Pulse member and accused murderer and terrorist bomber an appropriate guardian?”

“No, but then again, the operative word, as you said, is ‘former’. So far as I know, he’s their driver. He runs errands, takes them to the doctor when necessary, and takes them on field trips. As far as this other stuff you‘re accusing them of, if you can come up with something concrete, I will gladly listen. In the meantime, there is nothing I can do. I am sorry.”

He stood there silently, giving them a chance to respond while hoping what he said sunk in and anchored to some level of inner acceptance, but neither of the men replied.

“Okay, I have to go,” he concluded. “I’ve been here long enough. Naturally, I’ll keep up with them from time to time, and I’m always open to new information. Honestly, though, gentlemen, I’ve been in this business for more than thirty years now, and I think I can promise you that you are definitely barking up the wrong tree.”

“Very well, Detective Anderson,” Dietrich replied. “Maybe you are right.”

“Goodbye, then,” Anderson said, whereupon he turned to walk toward his vehicle. In disgust, Phelps turned toward his van, only to see the unnerving site of the big black vulture perched on a branch above where he parked the van. It was staring at him knowingly, as though peering inside his soul.

“Where in the hell did that thing come from?” Cruiser asked as he stepped up to the side of Phelps.

Phelps remembered the first time he saw the bird, feeding off the carcass of a dead cow, on a remote part of this property.

“How do you know it’s the same one?” Cruiser asked.

“Believe me, it’s the same one,” he replied as they were suddenly joined by the young girl they had earlier seen with Danny Carter, and who had watched them curiously from the doorway of the house.

“Hello, how are you two doing?” she asked.

Cruiser looked at the girl in heightened awareness that she, of all of the children they had seen, seemed different somehow-perhaps even special. Moreover, something about her was unnervingly familiar.

“Hello, young lady-what is your name, if I might ask?” Cruiser asked.

“Grace Rodescu,” came the reply, and as Cruiser and Phelps looked at each other in shocked awareness, Lieutenant Frank Anderson went driving by them. Grace with a smile cheerfully waved her hand in his direction. She turned back toward the two, but focused her attention on Phelps.

“Have you found what you’re looking for?” she asked.

“I think so,” Phelps replied gravely.

“I’m sorry you had such a hard time there,” she said. “Everything worked out fine in the long run though, huh?”

Phelps didn’t know quite how to respond, and could not hide his obvious shock.

“Well, it’s about time for dinner, so I have to go join the others. I do hope the two of you will come see me again.”

She smiled winsomely at the pair, and then turned and bounded off toward the house.

“I don’t believe this for a minute,” Cruiser said.

“Yes, you do,” Phelps replied. “Come on-let’s get the hell out of here.”

They climbed inside the van as the vulture made its way now toward the roof of the house, from whence it perched and gazed in their direction. As Phelps started up the van, Cruiser extracted the napkin from his blazer pocket.

“What was that all about?” he asked.

“I’m almost sure this is blood, and some gore,” he said. “I’m going to have it tested, and if it turns out to be what I think it is, Anderson will have to listen. If he doesn’t, somebody will.”

“I wouldn’t count on that if I were you,” Phelps replied as he pulled out onto the little narrow road. He wanted to get away from there as quickly as he could. As he drove, the vulture followed above them, but suddenly veered off to the left, and toward a clearing in the thick woods, where the two bodies waited.

Cynthia dove down onto the closest body, the one of the man, and hungrily tore into his rotting corpse. She was hungry, and this afternoon, she would dine well.
Links to Previous Chapters
Part One
Prologue and Chapters I-X
Part Two
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV
Chapter XXXVI
Chapter XXXVII
Chapter XXXIX
Chapter XXXX
Chapter XXXXI
Chapter XXXXII
Chapter XXXXIV
Chapter XXXXV
Chapter XXXXVI

Sunday, June 01, 2008

One For The Road

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you pull out in front of the wrong driver, after which guards have to restrain you from going over into the offending driver’s assigned pit stop at the Indianapolis 500 and giving the entire team pure hell.

Unfortunately, Danica Patrick will have to wait another year to see the culminations of her dreams, as the first ever woman Indy driver, in becoming the first ever woman Indy winner. I hope she makes it, not only because she is a woman but, sexist that I am, because she is just so goddamn drop dead gorgeous.

She needs to keep her sense of perspective, though. She is already a groundbreaker and pioneer, and there is always next year.