Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Beware The Worm

Imagine that you were with a sex partner who happened to have a new, previously unknown strain of a sexually transmitted disease. Say this strain was so advanced that it had tiny little hands with which it could surreptitiously remove your condom right in mid-thrust. It could then go about doing its dirty work. What is worse, even though specialists are aware of the existence of this new strain, they aren't really sure what its long-range effect will be. Maybe it will make you permanently sterile, or possibly turn you into a sex addict, after which, after you have infected dozens of others, it might make you totally and permanently impotent. Maybe it would, much like AIDS, shut down your bodies defenses against all other known and unknown diseases, viruses, and bacteria.

Then, it might steal your passwords and your banking information.

Okay, that's not going to happen, but then again, I guess you know I'm not really talking about a venereal disease, right? Actually, I'm talking about Conflicker, the computer worm virus that experts say might well affect at least twelve million computers tomorrow, April Fool's Day. No one knows who made it, no one knows what it might do, and no one knows what to do about it. It knows how to prevent computers from downloading software meant to combat it.

If you happen across this post tonight, or tomorrow, you should really read this article from the New York Daily News.

Me, I'm not going to be on the Internet tomorrow, and maybe not even on my computer at all. Who knows, if this thing is programmed to attack on April 1st, maybe the simple avoidance of the internet on that day might render it completely useless.

In other words, for once, abstinence might well be the only proper form of protection.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Rumblings And Eruptions

Even though I was and still am a strong supporter of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, I decided almost immediately after the election that I was not going to allow this blog to degenerate into a support site for Sarah Palin or any other politician.

In fact, I don't, unlike Lemuel Calhoun from Hillbilly White Trash even advocate that Palin run for President until 2016 unless things get so rotten over the course of the next two or three years almost any Republican could win in 2012, which at this stage would seem by no means improbable.

Still, I have to weight in every now and then, and recent events seem to scream out that this should be one of those times. Many Democratic activists and other such types would probably be inclined to snatch Sarah Palin up, along with her entire family, and toss them unceremoniously into the open, smoldering caldera of Mount Redoubt, while many Republicans might well be of a mind to view the recent eruptions of the volcano as some kind of heavenly sign that Sarah is indeed the annointed one. I have an attraction to that sort of symbolism, especially since Redoubt began its eruptions just two days following Oestra and coincided with the retrograde movements of Venus as it finally entered its conjunction phase with the Sun. As tempting as it is to view that as some kind of potential omen, I will try to keep things a bit more down to earth here.

Then again, this is a pagan owned and operated blog, so don't hold me to that too strongly, especially since the rumblings from Palin's opponents seem almost integrally tied to the hot, smoldering ash that has spewed fifty thousand miles into the sky, threatening the immediate environs and even the relatively nearby city of Anchorage.

Nor would I be the first to draw significance from this event. Note the following comment on the Huffington Post from Mojoman-

Governor Palin has issued an emergency order: All residents of Wasilla are required to mark the doorposts of their homes with Turkey blood. The Lord will then pass over their houses, Wasilla will be saved and Palin will be on teevee nonstop between now and the Rapture.

Of course, some of Palin's moves are questionable and worthy of criticism, and as such I would be the first to admit that I don't agree with her on every issue, such as her probable stance on embryonic stem cells, something I am going to go out on a limb and assume she is opposed to, or at least is opposed to federal funding of such research projects.

There is also something to be said for the concerns of the Inuit population of Alaska over her recent Attorney General appointment, who questions the constitutionality of federal laws giving priority to "native American" fishing and hunting rights. It doesn't really help his cause-or Palin's-that he recently referred to gays as "degenerates".

Somewhat more trivial is the recent ethics complaint against her, revolving around her appearance at a recent event during which she wore a shirt that featured the logo of husband Todd's snowmobile team, which according to blogger Celtic Diva amounts to a conflict of interest. Palin responded to this and a slew of similarly ludicrous ethics complaints.

The Alaska governor said last week she's accumulated more than half a million dollars for her defense against various complaints and may be forced to create a legal defense fund

"Yes, I wore Arctic Cat snow gear at an outdoor event, because it was cold outside, and by the way, today, I am wearing clothes bearing the names of Alaska artists, and a Glennallen Panthers basketball hoodie," Palin said in Tuesday's release. "I am a walking billboard for the team's fundraiser! Should I expect to see an ethics charge for wearing these, or the Carhartts I wear to many public events?"

Evidently, according to Celtic Diva, she should, regardless of whether there was or was not a quid pro quo involved in Palin's actions, because the Palin family benefits financially from the company.

Yet, it is not only Democrats who are giving Palin grief, but in fact the Republican Party, both the national party and those within her own state's legislatures, the latter of which are up in arms over Palin's stated intent to refuse as much as one-third of the promised federal stimulus package. From the Miami Herald article-

The scrap comes as the governor and legislative leaders are increasingly at odds over the federal stimulus funds. Palin announced last week that she was not accepting nearly a third of the money. But leading legislators seem to want nearly all of it, with Anchorage Republican Rep. Mike Hawker saying they are finding very few strings attached to the money.

Yeah, I'm sure they do. Evidently, the problem here is one of missed communications, at least on the surface. The real problem is, they just want the money, she would prefer to pass on some parts of it. Whatever the reasons, for good or bad, it is threatening a split in the state party between the legislative Republicans and the Governor, but then again that's nothing new. I've always told anybody who would listen that Palin is not an in-the-tank Republican apparatchik. It was mainly her own party she had to fight in reforming the Alaska state government. She certainly raised more than a few eyebrows when she took on the oil companies that had for years been so used to having the Alaska state legislature in its deep pockets. Kind of makes a logo on a shirt and a loudmouthed AG seem kind of trivial to me, however undeniably problematic they might be on a political level.

Yet, Palin would be well-advised to not fall into the trap of listening to the national Republican Party, when they accuse her of surrounding herself with a "Junior Varsity" team. In fact, if McCain had listened to Palin's team instead of other way around, the eelction might have turned out considerably different. The Christian Science Monitor probably put it best-

Right. Why would she surround herself with people who helped her topple an incumbent governor during the Republican primary two and a half years ago, then best a popular former two-time governor in the general election to become the youngest governor in the history of the state, not to mention the first female to have the job.

The best thing Sarah Palin could do, in my opinion, is resist whatever pressure she might face to fall in line with Republican strategists and national party leaders, who almost seem determined to insure a permanent minority status for their party. Well, why wouldn't they? There are perks that go with minority status, along with very limited responsibility.

Sarah Palin doesn't need to fall in line behind the expectations and manipulations of the National Republican Party. The National Republican Party needs to fall in line behind her. I'm afraid that its just too unrealistic to expect that is possible in a mere four years. By the time eight years comes and goes, however, it might well be the only chance the conservative movement has of resurrecting itself from the ashes as a relevant political entity.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Please Heal Our Earth

Earth Hour? Oh yeah, it was a big success, and because there was reportedly such a large degree of participation throughout all parts of the world by so many people (a good many of whom were politicians and businesses looking to make a good impression) suddenly we have a "mandate".

Hasn't there already been an "Earth Day" for a while? I guess "Earth Month" is next, and of course don't forget "Earth Week".

Hey, I know, what about Earth Minute? Everybody just take one deep breath and hold it for a full minute, all at the same time. That's a whole minute with no carbon dioxide emissions from human lungs. Think of our earth and its survival, people.

I might have an even better idea though, one that would accomplish more towards healing the earth than all the carbon reduction attempts you ever could or would make.

I call it "Earth Second". That's where all you harebrained fanatics buy a gun while you can still do so legally, store one bullet in the chamber, and then, at the same precise second, blow your fucking brains out and leave the rest of us alone. There goes your carbon footprints, assholes.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Here Comes The Sun

I don't know about anybody else, but I sure need this. I suspect a lot of us do.

And with that-Happy (Belated) Oestra

Oestra-All Things Being Equal

In a mud hut lives an heiress
Parked outside is her sedan
She has roses
Made from gemstones that
She sewed inside her garden

A Great Horned Owl her caretaker
A gelding horse her fool
With fireflies she beckons me
My whore needs wool
(Patrick Kelley)

These last four days have realy been hell, which explains why I've been so late getting this latest series of Sabbat posts published, but I am nothing if not determined-even with family problems, illness, and computer glitches. The amazing thing is that I got it finished when I did, considering the number of posts I actually ended up doing. And to think, just three or four days ago I was thinking I would be lucky to come up with four or five. Then, the deluge.

I don't know how it just so happened that I drew such a fitting card as The Lovers. Much more fitting for Beltane, to be sure, but still a good fit for Oestra, particularly this one, what with Venus in retrograde and in-at the time of the solstice-squared the Moon and Mars and coming into conjunction with the Sun which is squared with Pluto. Actually, by now, the Sun and Venus sre in conjunction, though not a perfect conjunction.

The Lovers doesn't necessarily pertain to marriage and romance of course. It can, and seeing as Oestra is a fertility based Sabbat, more so than most of the other ones, with its implications of sexuality, and longing, and the urge to plant seeds-or "sew wild oats" as the case may be. But its more than that. Fertility can be also about the acquisition or the drive to acquire abundance and prosperity. Of course back in the day, agricultural pursuits were the major source of prosperity, before the advent of trade through sea travel and mining, to mention just two of many later yet now ancient developments.

And, of course, a large family was seen as a boon. Now, of course, such a situation presents more challenges than ever before. And this is also inherent in the card of The Lovers. It's not all lover, roses, and sunshine. It implies a period of testing, a testing of faith for one, of loyalty for another, and of hope and trust.

I'm afraid we will all for the most part see great periods of such testing in the days and weeks-and months-ahead of us. May we all get through them and emerge stronger than ever.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Geraldine-Oestra Video

It's all about growing up, you know.

Oestra Drink-Peaches And Cream

Well, unfortunately, I got caught up in so many different things over the weekend and the preceding three or four days I just was unable to get this posted in time for the Sabbat, which is a perfect occasion for it, as it can be seen as the symbolic meeting of winter and spring. The good thing is, you can enjoy this drink on any occasion. I know that because I happen to have invented it, and so far as I know its unique.

It's also quite simple to prepare. Just take three scoops of ice cream and pour over this three jiggers of peach schnapps. The drink is perfect at that, but if you prefer you can blend the two ingredients together and add a garnish of a cinnamon stick or fresh fruit slices to your taste. A dash of grenadine can also be used.

Food of the gods, indeed.

Get Your Free Whores Here

Jane's Addiction has just announced their up-coming tour with Nine Inch Nails and Street Sweeper. You can get all of the details on this Ninja 2009 website, where by the way you can also download a bunch of great songs by all three of the bands-all for free.

Yeah, I know the title of this post is lame-o, but you know I made you look. I just wish all the news that came out over the Oestra Sabbat could be this cool. Now, without further ado-

New Births Off The Charts

When it rains it pours, and these days we must be having a semen storm, or an ovary flood, or something. Recent birth records have finally eclipsed the previous known record set during the baby boom, when so many kids were born because soldiers returning from overseas duty during World War II were so happy to see their wives and girlfriends. That's understandable, but what have so many people got to be so happy about today? I know I should try to shine a positive light on things here, in that the Oestra season is supposed to be a fertility festival, but from the looks of things, lack of fertility is not the problem. Unfortunately, it might well be adding to the many problems we have. What fool in their right mind wants to have kids under the current set of world economic conditions and outlook? Is it just that people are that damned careless and unthinking?

Well, I guess that's a good part of it, and it becomes more comprehensible when you consider that a large part of the new birth parents are teenagers, the mothers in particular being unwed mothers. Yes, that sad statistic is once more on the rise.

As for Oestra and the idea of fertility rites, there's something to be said for viewing fertility not in the sense so much of procreation but first of building a prosperous life. An over-abundance of new births during harsh economic conditions kind of defeats the purpose of aiming first for prosperity, and then building a life that might include a family, one assured of at least some degree of security and stability. In fact, this is pouring gasoline on the fire. Welcome to life in the twenty-first century. Oh, by the way, you owe about twenty-billion dollars-if you're lucky.

I do think its incumbent on us all to be a little more responsible in our actions, and to try to encourage greater forethought and self-discipline. Its not all about what feels good at the moment.

It Must Be A Bitch Being So Damned Infallible

I think the Pope might want to think about staying home more. It seems like every time he goes anywhere and opens his mouth, disaster follows. This usually amounts to PR problems and doesn't involve death, but this time, during his visit to Angola, he managed to inspire a riot which left several people dead and injured, two of them teenage girls.

In the meantime, he managed to undermine those, including many in his own church, who are promoting condom use in Africa as a means of combating AIDS, by proclaiming that condoms might actually be a contributing factor to AIDS. In doing so he discouraged their use. He capped this off with a warning about the dangers of animism, witchcraft, and other forms of superstition.

Look, no one should be surprised by this, as the Catholic Church is by rights a two-thousand year old incarnation of one or more much older Roman fertility cults it basically supplanted, albeit with more spiritual trappings. What was the purpose of these ancient fertility cults? Of course, they encouraged population growth at a time when this was vital. Yes, it has evolved over time into more outwardly civil and modern trappings, but it is still obvious that the Pope isn't going to encourage the practice of sex without an emphasis on procreation, and he certainly isn't going to encourage birth control, AIDS be damned. Nor is he going to preside over such a profound change in Church policy as to turn it into something that is diametrically opposed to such an important part of its historical existence and spiritual meaning.

The witchcraft thing is a little trickier. In Angola, and other parts of Africa, thousands of people, including children, have been beaten, tortured, dispossessed, and even murdered, due to accusations of witchcraft. It is a big problem there, and the Pope with his words may have unintentionally contributed to it. He of course considers all kinds of witchcraft and paganism hedonistic at best, and malign superstition at worse, so when he specifies malign witchcraft, you can be pretty sure he is meaning all of its forms as it might exist in Africa, where the practice and belief is widespread and so inculcated in the popular mind and culture.

Recently, a robbery was foiled in Nigeria in which the driver of the getaway car attempted to evade the police by supposedly transforming himself into a goat-this according to the official Lagos police report. See what I mean?

The Pope means well, and to a great extent is a positive influence on people's lives, but the Catholic Church is not some infallible spiritually based organization that can do no wrong, nor is the Pope infallible. If this was the case, what does he need with advisers and PR people to begin with? No, the Church is just another powerful organization made up of people who are by no means, by the way, united in all matters, and which can and has been sadly wrong on many occasion. That is just as true today as at any time.

The irony is, in a way the Pope was right. We would be much better off if we limited sexual activity to the confines of marriage. If everyone did that, AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases would not be an issue, nor would out-of-wedlock births. People shouldn't get too outraged that the Pope is promoting his beliefs and those of the religion of which he is the head. It's really quite simple. If you don't believe in the Pope or what he says or his church, then use the damned condoms. His opinion shouldn't matter to you anyway. If you do believe in him, and follow his teachings, then do so in all regards, because if you pick and choose what sounds palatable and discard the rest because its inconvenient or distasteful, then you are playing Russian roulette.

Granted, somebody does need to talk to the Pope about choosing his words more carefully and making sure the full meaning of what he says is clear. If only he wasn't so damned infallible.

Snuggle Bunny

Since Easter is coming up soon, and was really derived from the original Oestra-or to be more precise, it was based on the various spring fertility cult festivals on which the modern Oestra was also based-I thought this video would be-well, cute.

Not to mention you can dance to it.

Oestra Power Animal Twins

It seems like Polar Bears always end up in the picture somewhere during the last few Sabbats, and well, here we go again. This time, though, you get two for one.

A set of twins, actually, born in an animal park in The Netherlands. Twin births are probably very unusual for a polar bear mother, even one who gives birth within a relatively stable, comfortable, secure, and controlled environment.

Something For Your Cat

Since I'm on an animal kick here, I thought I'd just throw out there that I made a pretty interesting discovery with cats. If you want to do something that will get your cat to play-even an older cat-buy a bag of soft peppermint. Not the sticks, or the hard discs, but the kind of barrel shaped pieces that are soft, and come individually wrapped. I don't know whether its the scent or the red-and-white striped colors, but my cat goes wild over them. I tend to think its mostly the scent, because after she tears the paper open she seems more attracted to the empty wrapper than she does the loose peppermint candy. I have to take it away from here as I'm afraid she'll swallow it. She's play with the loose candy, but not as much, because she doesn't like to pick it up in her mouth due to the strong and to her doubtless overpowering taste.

But, for what its worth, it works as good or better than catnip or anything else I've ever found.

The Iditarod

I have mixed feelings about the Iditarod. I'm not a touchy feely kind of guy when it comes to animal activism, but on the other hand, I tend to have more sympathy for animals than I do for most people. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but there it is. Animals tend to not get a vote on what goes on. People can vote with their wallets, their feet, or their opinions. None of the five dogs that died during this years race were asked, "hey, do you feel up to running it this year, buddy?" Granted, they are checked out thoroughly, and are well cared for throughout the year, but there have been something like one hundred seventy dogs that have died since this thing started like thirty-five years ago or thereabouts.

I don't want to ban the race, or do anything to lessen the excitement, but surely there's something that can be done. Use more dogs, maybe?

Anyway, congratulation to Lance MacKey, who has now already won this years race, his third straight. By the way, it might also help if they would declare the race over after there is a declared winner and all the other top prize winners have finished.

Turn The Page

Lindsay Lohan is one of those celebrity pop tarts I would like to, you know, well, fuck. When I found out she had a girlfriend, it made me want to find a cure for lesbianism. Funny how the mind works. I see Lohan as a wild, tempestuous, impulsive woman with loads or raw talent, but seriously lacking in drive, ambition, and self-discipline. Her girlfriend Samantha Ronson on the other hand I see as a probably relatively mediocre talent with overweening ambition and drive, but nothing else going for her but connections. Her step-father is former Rolling Stones and Foreigner band member Mick Taylor. I saw their relationship as a disaster in the making, and when they got into their latest row, I thought, well this is the end of it, until I figured out Ronson may have just been trying to keep Lohan from screwing up by driving intoxicated on a suspended license.

Now, come to find out, she has turned to none other than Steven Baldwin for aid and support in hopes of finding a secure environment in order to get herself together and her life back on track. Why is this important and what does it have to do with Oestra? Well, it isn't, and it doesn't, except it's always good when somebody seriously wants to get their shit together. Good luck to her.

Get Down In It

I was going to just include a Jane's Addiction video for this Ostra series of posts, but this is just too good to not include something by all three of the bands that are offering free downloads-including Nine Inch Nails.

Equinox Tourists Over London

I'm not much of a believer in visitors from other galaxies, dimensions, etc., but since this picture was taken so close to Oestra, I thought it warranted inclusion in this series. The photographer claims he didn't see the objects when he first took the picture, they just showed there after the photo was developed. Which of course begs the question, just what in the hell was he photographing.

Free Street Sweeper

Get yer free downloads and tour dates here

Gateway Policy To Common Sense

Here's a riddle-Who stops to shake hands with a saluting soldier, derides the skills of Special Olympics bowlers on late night network television, mistakes windows for doors, bumps his head on helicopter doors, insults the Brit Prime Minister and is so mellow he gives the wrong speech during a meeting with an international leader just cos the other guy did?

Why that would be the same guy who has decided to relax national policy on medical marijuana, of course. Who else?
Happy Oestre indeed. Although this does make me wonder just what Michelle is planting in that White House garden, I have to say this is a good thing in my opinion. With this decision, the US becomes just a little bit less fascist, at least in regards to this Obama Administration policy. About high time too.

To celebrate, why not check out some Bad Obama Paintings? Or, maybe just smoke some pot. For medicinal purposes, of course.

Working That Soil

Now I like this. I always had mixed feelings about this lady, but this is pretty slick, growing her own garden on the White House lawn. What better example to set? She might be an all right First Lady after all. I bet she can smoke a mean blunt too. Oh, wait a minute-a garden? Hey, anyway, its a time-honored spring tradition, no matter what she's growing there.


Since Sonia Belle used to live somewhere on Tonga, which just a few days ago experienced a massive volcanic eruption, and since this happened so close to Oestra, and Sonia says she never heard of Jimmy Buffett, this seemed fitting. Sonia might well be a natural born parrot head anyway.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hey I Got Something Here You Just Got To Read

Some good news for Kentucky's recent economic woes is the recent report that a deal is in the works to try to attract movie production companies to the Bluegrass State by way of tax and other incentives. Now that might well qualify as a harbinger of good things to come to coincide with the advent of spring. Who knows where it will lead? Maybe they'll do a movie in Kentucky, about Kentucky, and I might try out for the part of the conservative Republican who's always bitching and going on about family values. Or maybe instead I might get the role of the Blue Dog Democrat who decides to lower the ol' tax boom on smokers and the tobacco industry after his party, including his politically entrenched family, has spent decades helping the tobacco industry make Kentuckians-and Americans-addicted to tobacco products. Or maybe I'll even get to play the role of one of these newfangled liberal Democrats who will probably ruin the whole damn thing by thinking Kentucky should be able to tax the movie industry just a half a percentage point less than California. Or maybe I'll just play the role of one of the many local yokels you won't be able to stand to be around once they get a glimpse of some second-rate starlet smiling in his or her general direction.

I think I might be cut out for the industry, as I have all kinds of great ideas. Since it has recently been announced that the go-ahead and planning for the sequel to the Iron Man movie is now in the works, I'll just give my take on that.

Scarlet Johannson has been tapped to play the role of Natasha, the Black Widow, originally a villainous Soviet era spy, who later deserted the Soviet Union, reformed, and became a heroine.

Johannson's pick has caused grea consternation among comic book movie enthusiasts, and I see their point. Johannson is not Russian, and there are plenty of Russians who could play the role, depending of course on availability. Many seem to think that Scarlet's pick for the role was a simple matter of "T&A consideration, and that the actress is really not cut out for the role. Some have even suggested she will probably learn her Russian accent from the character of Natasha in the old Bullwinkle cartoons. Personally, I'm inclined to believe she could handle the role, but at the same time, I see their point. Why not pick a qualified Russian actress?

My pick-Olga Kurylenko, who played the obligatory Bond girl in Quantum Of Solace. According to Sonia Belle, she was accused by a Russian communist group of treason for her part in that film. Of course, these are the same nuts who want the Russian government to put up statues of the various women in Vladimir Lenin's life. Were Marvel to tap Kurylenko for the part, it just seems that it would be fitting and proper, and I am sure she could do the role justice.

And with this post, I think I've figured out the perfect role for me if that movie industry ever does make it to Kentucky. I'll play the geek carrying a manuscript everybody runs away from.

The Proper Way To Conduct Oneself

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra conductor Paavo Jarvi appeared as scheduled at Music Hall on Friday night, deciding he wouldn't let his recent drunk driving arrest deter him from celebrating the rites of spring in his own inimitable way. As seen in the following video, it's never a good idea to sleep in your car with the stereo playing at a busy city intersection-even if you do happen to be a world renowned conductor.

It's also never a good sign when the first fellow performer one of your patrons compares you to is Britney Spears. Be that as it may-

Jarvi led the CSO during a concert Friday at Music Hall. Concert-goers interviewed at the event had mixed reactions to his arrest.

“With Britney Spears, you might expect something like this,’’ said Bernice Robinson, longtime CSO subscriber from Mount Adams. “He’s not a moral leader, but he’s a public figure. It was foolish. For somebody in his position, he should not have risked getting into the car, even if he only had one glass of wine. But we still love him!”

Unfortunately, I was unable to find a suitable recent video of the CSO under Paavo's direction. Evidently he does a pretty wicked Shostakovich.

Witches My Ass

I hate to talk about shit like this, on a day like today of all days, but it just wouldn’t be right to not say something about this tragic and disgusting story out of Covington Kentucky. Make no mistake about it, the closest these clowns have ever come to witchcraft and vampirism is in their sick imaginations, but that won’t keep most people from drawing the conclusion that these are “typical” pagan types. After all, they all engaged in vampire role-playing games, claimed to practice witchcraft, and promoted themselves as such, evidently, on their MySpace pages (which I haven’t checked out yet, assuming they’re still up).

Well, what happened was, for whatever reason, the fourteen year-old girl, who was living alone while her mother was incarcerated, lured Travis White to some place, some where, where he was jumped, beaten and stabbed to death, the girl having claimed to the others, at least two of whom with which she was intimate, that Travis tried to rape her. They ended up killing him, then dumping his body between the railroad tracks and a garage. The story unraveled pretty quickly after the body was discovered just two days after his murder. From Kentucky.com-

Travis White was beaten with a two-foot wrench, a hammer, a baseball bat and a knife that broke while he was being stabbed 29 times.

A day after the beating, David Thompson II, 18, and Dale Eastman, 19, helped roll the body in a red carpet, tape it and stuff it in a garbage can, McGuffey said. Thompson and Eastman are both charged with tampering with physical evidence.
The lookout while the defendants wheeled the can to nearby train tracks was Amber Goerler, McGuffey said. White's decomposed body was found a week later between the railroad tracks and a garage at Jess 'N' Sons Towing on Shaler Street.
All the defendants knew each other through vampire role-playing games, McGuffey said. They wrote about the games on their MySpace social networking pages.

Some of the defendants are claiming they were coerced into hiding the body and were afraid not to go along, while two of the defendants were the ones who actually committed the murder. The fourteen year old whore claims she thought they were just going to beat him. One of the other defendants claims they threatened his grandmother. Another seems to have just happened along right in the middle of it, after which she was compelled to act as lookout while the body was hidden. Yeah, what the fuck ever.

Frankly, I hope they fry all their asses, including the fourteen-year-old. Since they claim to be witches, burning their asses at the stake would not be inappropriate in this case.

Travis White was only seventeen years old himself. The two main defendants were twenty-six and twenty-one. The thought of what kind of hell this poor kid went through just tears me to pieces. Come to think about it, I would be all right if they did that to these creeps too. These people make the fictitious vampire cult of the novel I published on this blog a while back look almost civil by comparison, though the comparison is chillingly remarkable, even more so than the earlier vampire cult of a decade ago on whom they were actually based.

This is the main reason I don’t have one problem whatsoever with staying in the broom closet. I’m surprised they didn’t wait until Oestra to pull this shit. Then again, they probably wouldn't have a fucking clue what Oestra is, if the truth was known.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Somethings Gotta Give

Spring brings out the best in us all, as well as the lust where it seems to be lacking, and apparently country music star LeeAnn Rimes is no exception. Happy Oestra to you, LeeAnn, don't be blue.

One thing that might serve to mark the onset of this spring, besides the usual warming and increased hours of daylight, is the geological manifestations in the form of earthquakes and volcanoes. Alaska has had rumblings from one of their active volcanoes, and for a while it looked like it was about to blow. The alert level was just recently lowered to yellow, but no sooner did it appear as though that was over with, then a major eruption occurred on the ocean floor just off Tonga, which also experienced a major earthquake, one well over seven on the Richter scale, while the aforementioned volcano has destroyed every living thing in its immediate vicinity. Nature can indeed be a harsh mistress. However, much like the Phoenix, the affected areas of Tonga will benefit from the increased fertility from the nutrient rich soil and, once it cools, life will spring forth abundantly. So has it ever been.

Redneck Love

Monday, March 16, 2009

RIP Ron Silver

I'm saddened to hear of the death of actor Ron Silver. This was a guy who proved you don't necessarily have to be an utter brain dead fucking moron in order to be a liberal, and if that wasn't enough, he even proved that, as highly unlikely as it might seem, you don't even have to be a brain dead fucking moron to be a liberal Hollywood activist. Yep, Silver was as liberal as they ever came. Despite this, he appeared at the Republican convention in 2004, where he announced that he was a "9/11 Republican". Declaring that he could always work on his pet issues at any time, he went on to say regarding the War On Terror that, to paraphrase, "if we don't get this right, nothing else will matter."

Whether he was right or wrong about his stance is not even the point. The point is, he stood out as a liberal true believer who proved beyond all doubt that it is possible to put aside ones preconceived notions and prejudices and think independently, right or wrong. We don't have to follow the herd and jump through hoops at the command of our would-be lords and masters.

He also proved that there is a great deal of merit to the charge that Hollywood is so unfairly dominated by liberal politics, by asserting that even he, a multi-award winning and nominated actor, with numerous Emmy's and Tony's to his credit, lost some work due to his recent political stance. Yet, he soldiered on, determined not to have his voice shut out of the debate, until he finally succumbed this last Sunday to esophageal cancer-something which I am certain a great many liberal turds will take a great deal of delight in.

If I were a believer in the literal existence of the gods and goddesses, I would be tempted to believe they took him up to be with them. He was just too unique to stay in this fucked up world.

I think I might actually light a candle for him tonight.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kings-The Book Was Better

NBC has taken a dumb idea and turned it into an absolutely stupid one. The whole idea of setting the Biblical Book of Kings in the modern world isn't really what I'm talking about either. That is actually a brilliant idea. The dumb part is in trying to make what by all rights should be a violent, even a bloodthirsty story, into one that might be a bit more palatable to modern sensibilities.

Ian MacShane is wasted in this garbage. For one thing, he doesn't fit the role. If they really wanted to create a modern King Saul, they should have somebody who is at the very least six-foot-six, and present him as an utter barbarian with maybe the thinnest veneer of civilization. That was King Saul. This modern version, King Silas, cooks breakfast for his family, for God's sake. I suppose I shouldn't be too rough on him. He did manage to order an assassination of one of his more upstart courtiers in the pilot episode, so maybe there's some hope for him. By and large, though, while he does present a regal appearance, he is just too polished in the modern sense of the word.

The David of the story is played by Chris Egan, who is particularly ill-suited for what should be such a compelling role. One hopes he will grow into it, but so far, the only authenticity he brings to the role is that he seems to be as much out of his depth in this part as the original boy shepherd must have been in the court of the original insane tyrant who, while in the depths of melancholy, was known to suddenly hurl his javelin for no apparent reason at anybody who presented a conspicuous target-usually David, whom he suspected of disloyalty.

The Goliath in the story, the one who turned our modern David into the hero who earns the King's favor (by saving the life of his captive soldier son, "Jack") is not actually a giant fierce warrior, but a tank, which he dispatched with a grenade strapped to a wrench. What a waste! Is this the best modern adaptation of the story these writers could come up with? It seemed like something they just did to get it out of the way as soon as possible.

The King has a daughter as well, who is advocating for some kind of nationalized health care. When David takes it upon himself-in the course of his first press conference in his official rewarded capacity of military press spokesperson, no less-to utter words of support for the daughter's pet project, I knew right then and there, this show was doomed to suffer a dismal fate, that of an unfortunate mediocrity. Seriously, nobody would take it upon themselves to do such a thing in an official capacity, especially over an issue that is not even a part of their official job description. The whole thing was an absurd cap on what was already an exercise in banality.

The concept of the show has promise. Well, it had it. I think that promise has been shot to hell with this first ill-advised episode, which made the show seem more like its trying to be Dynasty with vaguely Biblical trappings than an actual modern take on an ancient Biblical epic.

It's a shame too. In the original version, King Saul sunk deeper and deeper into the depths of madness, and it would be interesting to see how MacShane, who is actually a fine actor, would translate that story. Unfortunately, I don't think it will ever make it that far.

Nor do I think there is any danger of rewards being offered, or granted, for every enemy combatants foreskin which is taken in combat. And therein lies the problem with this show. It's bitten off more than it can chew, and it just doesn't have the heart to stay that faithful to the original source material. As such, why even go there to begin with?

Friday, March 13, 2009

What Madoff Made Off With-Who Will "Get It"??

I dunno, don't sound like much of a deal to me, a guilty plea on all eleven charges in return for a one-hundred fifty year sentence total-a life sentence, if you want to call that life. So yes, Bernard Madoff has or will in a sense pay for his crimes, having lost everything he ever worked for, i.e. swindled from his investors. It is by no means clear yet whether his wife will keep her home and roughly one hundred million plus dollars that is allegedly her own personal estate. This could figure into the deal at some future date, but that doesn't seem likely. She will probably have to account for the origins of her fortune, and will likely be able to do so satisfactorily. If this was a part of the deal, chances are we would know by now, wouldn't we?

So therefore, what led Madoff to make this deal? Why would the government make the deal, for that matter? They had him dead to rights, he had no defense to speak of, and even to this day claims he acted alone. Perhaps there is something going on in the background of which we are not being informed, but there again, at least officially, we have to take this at face value.

Only that's just impossible. I'm sorry, but somebody knows where Madoff has his money, a great lot if not most of it-if not all of it. I think somebody in the prosecutor's office is now in the sole possession of a certain set of secret bank account codes. As for Madoff, don't expect to see this guy doing hard labor. Don't expect any really big names to surface as co-conspirators. In fact, don't expect anybody else to surface.

And yes, do expect Madoff's wife to keep her holdings.

There is a chance, of course, that a great lot of the money will be returned to those from whom it was stolen. All but, say, about ten billion dollars of it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Abe's Tomb-A Movie Of Dubious Merritt

Judging by the number of people in the entourage of Dayton Ohio author and independent film director Carl Merritt, it's almost as if he rounded up all his nightclub buddies and associates one night and said, "hey, gang, let's make a movie". Unfortunately, the movie does absolutely nothing to dispel that image.

Yet, is that really such a bad thing? Abe's Tomb is one of those movies that might well finally steal the dubious title of "The Worse Movie Of All Time" from the generally agreed-upon title holder, Plan Nine From Outer Space by Ed Wood. Maybe we need those kinds of films, the kind of movies that, as the old cliche' goes, are so bad they're good, and become cult classics in their own right. The kind of thing that gets played at drunken frat boy type parties, movies where the plot, characters, dialogue, action-well, hell everything is so damned contrived, pointless, irrelevant, corny, cliche' ridden, wooden, and obviously staged-and the acting so bad-that what is meant to be a horror film, in this case, almost always turns out to be hilarious. And I'm not talking dark comedy here.

Briefly, the plot of Abe's Tomb revolves around a scheme by a group of vampires determined to destroy mankind and usher in a new vampire nation. The only hope for the hapless humans is an evil entity who happens to be the lone being who can foil their evil plot. One of the stars of this mess is Amanda Fire (not the British porn actress of the same name, but an aspiring Dayton Ohio model and actress), who plays the queen of the evil vampires-I think her name is actually Vampra, for God's sake-and who seems to have vanished from the face the earth shortly after the film was made, judging by the last time her website seems to have been updated. I don't think I can blame her much for that move.

You don't really have to take it from me how bad this thing is either. Carl Merritt has obligingly provided the following YouTube trailer-a full three and a half minutes-which will tell you more about the film than I could ever come close to doing. The trailer ends with a promotional dialogue by Amanda and one of the other female stars of this exercise in-hell, I don't even know how to end this sentence.

Just watch the trailer. The irony is, this thing might over time end up making Carl Merritt a millionaire many times over. Just not for the reason he intended.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The British Music Racket Is Off The Charts

Did you ever wonder what it would really be like if workers suddenly controlled the means of production? Well, we haven’t gotten to anywhere near that point yet, but a story out of Britain might give a fair indication of what might happen, as this would be a case of a workers organization influencing law.

The Performing Rights Society for Music has made it next to impossible to enjoy music in Britain without paying some kind of fee. If you own a pub with a jukebox, you pay a fee. If you own any kind of business, you pay a fee if you play music. If you walk down the sidewalk and sing, whistle, or hum a tune by any of their member artists, then yes, technically speaking, you might well owe a fee, depending on who hears you and reports the “offense”.

It should come as no surprise, then, that one file-sharing service, Pandora, recently banned listeners from the UK. Now, Google has followed suit and banned UK listeners from YouTube music videos. PRS is incensed, of course, and so released this statement-

PRS for Music is outraged on behalf of consumers and songwriters that Google has chosen to close down access to music videos on YouTube in the UK.
Google has told us they are taking this step because they wish to pay significantly less than at present to the writers of the music on which their service relies, despite the massive increase in YouTube viewing.
This action has been taken without any consultation with PRS for Music and in the middle of negotiations between the two parties. PRS for Music has not requested Google to do this and urges them to reconsider their decision as a matter of urgency.
Steve Porter CEO PRS for Music said "We were shocked and disappointed to receive a call late this afternoon informing us of Google's drastic action which we believe only punishes British consumers and the songwriters whose interests we protect and represent."
Google had revenues of $5.7bn in the last quarter of 2008.

The lesson from this should be, when you act like a dick, sooner or later, somewhere down the line, somebody is going to act like a dick right back at you. Google’s 5.7 billion dollar revenues are irrelevant. They didn’t mind paying the fee until the PRS jacked it up. Now they’ve priced themselves out of two markets.
And if you think this is unfair, consider the following-

PRS recently filed a complaint against a police station in Lancashire England for playing its stereo “too loud”. The point being that by doing so it crossed the line from private listening enjoyment into the realm of “public performance”, and thus by right of law, owed fees.

Any British performer that supports this nonsense doesn’t deserve to have their music heard by the general public. The problem is, I seriously doubt they have a choice, and I am also of a mind that the total amount of money this shabby organization takes in winds up for the most part with the company, with the performers seeing relatively little of it. Regardless of how much the performers themselves make, even this is actually irrelevant. This is an obvious shakedown. Jesse Jackson should intern for these people, as even he might actually learn something.

Never mind the reality that if I play music at my home, business, or just sing a tune out on the street, that would amount to a kind of promotional event, judging by these jackasses criterion. So in the event I ever go to Britain, or if things ever get that way here, I wonder what my chances might be of drawing advertising fees from these pricks. Don’t laugh, it makes as much sense as their current public performance fees policies. Actually, it makes a good deal more sense, since nobody is likely to pay me one red dime for singing a song while walking down the sidewalk, or for blasting my car speakers as I drive down the road. There is a fairly good chance, however, that I might inadvertently influence somebody to buy a damn recording.

Police Stupidity

Ever since police departments started issuing tasers to their officers in an effort to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries resulting from firearms, it was probably inevitable that a great many departments would have any number of jackasses who want to act like Captain Kirk taking down a savage Klingon.

But this is just a little much.

Granted, this sixty-seven year old grandmother probably shouldn't be allowed to drive, seeing as she almost ran into a school bus, and her license should probably be suspended for trying to elude pursuing officers, but was there really any need to taser her? All she did was ignore the officers commands to stop when she got out of the car as she continued walking away. It's not like she jumped out with a weapon bearing down in their direction. Is it remotely possible this old woman has a hearing problem?

I think there's possibly an explanation for this though that goes beyond the simple prospect of some jackass with a shiny new toy. The police today are probably afraid to treat any one person from any given group-even someone who is obviously elderly and relatively infirm-differently than they would, say, a 240 pound, six-foot four inch muscle-bound thug with a carload of drugs and a semi-automatic weapon.

Can't we just agree that it's probably best to wait and see if there is any real danger posed to the officers or to by-standers before we start shooting voltage, or failing that, that the perpetrator might have a reasonable chance of eluding the police if drastic measures aren't taken? I don't think this old woman was going to get very far.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Placebo Effect

Now that Obama has reversed the Bush ban on federal funding of stem cell research, and Congress is poised to enact a law authorizing funds for that purpose, what does it really mean? Will it actually accomplish anything? I an very wary of government involvement in anything, and while Obama's pledge to insure the highest of ethical standards sounds reassuring, what that probably means in reality is just a more burdensome government presence in the research labs. I sometimes seriously wonder if there would ever have been a cure for polio or chicken pox if the federal government had been involved, or for that matter if even penicillin would have been developed to its true potential. I honestly doubt it.

At the same time, even if there are cures discovered and radical new treatments developed as a result of this decision and the research it engenders, I think people are fooling themselves if they think these will not come without a higher price than they realize.

Since the decision was announced, stock in stem cell research firms have shot up, one of the few bright spots in a very dismal and, dare I say, depressive stock market. It shouldn't take a world class economics expert to understand that people invest in stock in the hopes of making profits, and that profits arise from firm minimum prices. Yes, the infusion of government cash in the way of grants is supposed to ameliorate that phenomenon somewhat, but you can rest assured the market will most assuredly act to encourage a moderating effect, and the government will help by insisting on the highest and most rigid standards. Translation-don't expect any miracle cures overnight and don't expect the government to absorb the entirety of the expense when they do finally come about.

In the long run, I doubt that this will amount to much. The science is almost at a point right now where a person can set aside his own stem cells for the purpose of finding designer cures and treatments, including but not limited to not only repairing severely damaged limbs and organs, but potentially even growing new replacement ones. That could well be the wave of future, but there is a problem with that. How can one depend on a steady infusion of cash from such a dependable cure? Cures are forever, but symptoms pay a lot of salaries.

In the meantime, frozen stem cells might become a new growth industry, with the profits taken in by clinics from eggs and semen sold for research purposes surpassing their dubiously gotten gains from the Octomoms of the world. In fact, this might well save the in vitrio fertilization industry, which is obviously in serious need of regulation if anything is.

As for the ethical standards, I leave you with this excerpt from the Reuters article.

But DeGette and Castle, a Delaware Republican, said they would not take on the Dickey-Wicker amendment, which prevents the use of federal funds to actually extract the stem cells from human embryos.

"I think the Dickey-Wicker decision perhaps could be done later," Castle said.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Chaos, Out Of Order

The church shooting today that left a Baptist preacher dead was just the latest in a series of church shootings, that have occurred over the last several months, but so far in this case the name of the gunman, now in the hospital from a self-inflicted knife wound to his throat, has not been released. It's believed though that he lived in an upscale neighborhood, though it is unknown whether he actually knew the preacher he killed.

What is remarkable about this story is how the congregants reacted. The first shot from the gunman struck the preacher's upraised Bible, resulting in shards of paper spraying out in all directions, giving the appearance of what one witness described as flying confetti. He and others went on to say they thought it was some kind of skit. An assistant pastor at the church said he heard what sounded like firecrackers.

People's minds react in strange ways when confronted by the unexpected. It's hard to wrap your mind around the proposition that somebody could just casually stride up the aisle in a church, during a service, and shoot the preacher point blank. But that's what happened, and when it became obvious what was going on, several of the parishioners in attendance tackled the gunman, resulting in two of them receiving non-life threatening stab wounds, which resulted in one of them being hospitalized.

I'm going to guess this has something to do with a job loss and possible home foreclosure, and he might have heard something from this minister to make him think he was unsympathetic to his plight. A marital break-up is also a possibility. I'm not trying to play a game of blame the victim for any of this, but the point is, there is going to be a lot of this going on over the next couple of years, or at least over the course of this one. There are a lot of people in jams, and when people get desperate, they do crazy things. A lot of times they might well subconsciously seek out a symbolic target. I'm going to be interested in seeing how this plays out and exactly what its all about.

Like I said, people's minds work in strange ways when faced with bizarre and tragic events. I find myself hoping the preacher was messing with the guys wife or was up to something similarly shady, because otherwise, its nothing but a senseless, seemingly random atrocity that makes no sense whatsoever. But, unfortunately, a great lot of the time things like this happens, that's precisely what it is.

Senseless and random. We want to have an explanation for everything. It's just in our natures, but oftentimes the chaotic nature of these kinds of events just defy rationality whether we like it or not.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

To The Last Drop

It’s made with the highest-quality, ethically sourced 100% arabica beans. The magic is in a proprietary, all-natural process that we spent years perfecting. We microgrind the coffee in a way that preserves all of their essential oils and flavor. No other coffee company takes this step, and it makes all the difference.

After closing down several stores and scaling down future store openings in the face of declining profits, Starbucks has now come up with what seems to be a desperate plan to stop the bleeding. They are now going to be selling breakfast sandwiches and instant coffee.

In the meantime, they deny there are plans to sell franchises of the Starbucks brand as they recently did with their other chain, Seattle's Best, on the grounds that they want to retain control of the company's image and brand. I guess they are hoping they won't end up going down with the ship, but something tells me they still haven't quite acclimated to the idea of being the rats that desert it on its way down. If they go down, they are going to go down fighting until the bitter end.

There has even been what seems to be a socialist inspired suggestion that the company might allow for some form of worker control, but I don't see that going anywhere soon, even though the company is getting desperate for answers and the employees are starting to lose patience.

Still, who knows? By the time its all over with, they might turn the company mascot into a live-action cartoon television marketing character like Ronald MacDonald.

I just think this is a sure indication of how grim the overall economy has become. Here we have a company that made a success story out of selling what is basically coffee based beverages, for four dollars and more a cup, about to go under. So, what do they turn to? Instant coffee, a beverage that acquired popularity with people too busy to either take the time to perk that morning coffee at home or to stop for a cup to go at the local diner.

Instant coffee, for a dollar a buck-at Starbucks. The real irony is pretty obvious if you've ever priced a eight ounce jar of instant coffee in comparison to say a 32 ounce can of regular brand name coffee such as Folgers or Maxwell House. Believe me, the regular coffee is far and away your better value. Yet, Starbucks claims their instant coffee is just as good as the regular coffee. Some people who tested it seem to like it, with one woman actually claiming the instant coffee was better because it wasn't quite as strong.

Seeing as how manufacturing instant coffee is a tedious and expensive process, and seeing as how the rise in demand is likely to push the price upwards, I just don't think this is a very good long-term strategy.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Dice Man Goeth

Sunday, March 1st, 2009, was the debut of the latest season of Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice, in which Donald Trump, allegedly genius billionaire businessman, fired the one and only reason I was half way thinking of giving the show a chance.

Of course, I guess you could say Trump had valid reasons when he fired Andrew Dice Clay.

The Diceman was playing for the charity known as Standup For Kids. Evidently, he took exception to his Brooklyn pals seeing him on the tube baking cupcakes in a funny little baker's hat. Clay has his values, after all. As seen in the following clip, image is everything to him.

Now if Trump had focused the contest on, say, who could make the best prank phone calls, Andrew Dice Clay would have probably won hands down.

Monday, March 02, 2009

What Kind Of Gun I Am

I am a: Glock Model 22 in 40 cal
Firearms Training
What kind of handgun are YOU?

Surprisingly, I seem to be the same kind of gun as Lemuel Calhoun from Hillbilly White Trash, from whom I got this. Seeing as how he is a gun expert, and I'm most assuredly not one, I guess that's good.

Well, after answering that I would prefer to go to the opera than the races (assuming this meant NASCAR races-if it meant thoroughbred races, that would be different story), I would think I would have ended up something like a Derringer or whatever. I really figured I would nail something off the wall when I answered that I would prefer to be stranded on a desert island with Martha Stewart as opposed to Paris Hilton (though this would be for what should be obviously practical reasons). Maybe one of those old-fashioned muskets or ball and powder loads circa Daniel Boone.

Then again, my answers were so all over the map, I'm kind of surprised they have a gun that would suit my personality at all. I guess I might strike some as the Saturday Night Special type, or maybe even a cap gun or bb gun. Now that would have been embarrasing.

A Turd In A Candy Wrapper Is Still A Turd

In order for a business to succeed and prosper long-term, it has to provide a service which people want or need, it must do so at a competitive price, and it must by all means provide quality merchandise and service. It must stand by its product, and honor the good faith investments of its customers. It still might fail due to a variety of factors, but those businesses with the most successful business models tend to be the most adaptable.

Why then are so many newspapers going under? Could it be they are trying to be all things to all people? That might arguably work with a very limited type of commodity, but for the most part, targeted marketing is king.

General Motors learned early in its history that, in addition to assuring quality product, they were obliged to reach out to various segments of the population if they were going to thrive. Thus, they produced three different models. The Chevrolet was geared toward the working class. Pontiac was designed to be the automobile of choice for the middle class and upwardly mobile. The Cadillac was considered a rich man's car.

Guess which one has now been discontinued? And so it goes. These are hard times, and a business that doesn't adapt will likely go the way of the Saber-toothed tiger. Without a steady supply of Mastodon on which to feed, his most striking features becomes not only obsolete, they are rendered impractical.

But you don't just do something for the sake of doing something. The e-reader proposal is meant to save newspapers from extinction by marketing modern technology, but I think its proponents are missing the point. The problem isn't the delivery system, it's the product meant for consumption.

There is a reason why Bill O'Reilly reined so long as the number one cable news analyst, and why Rush Limbaugh is still the number one radio broadcaster, while people like Brit Hume and other hard news-focused analysts are relegated to the much lower rated afternoon and early evening hours. The reason for the popularity of the pundits is only partially to do with conservative politics, and this is especially true of O'Reilly, who is actually not all that conservative on a good many issues. In fact, he is on balance quite moderate, certainly in comparison to Limbaugh.

What is it, then? I hold that it is due to the fact that you know exactly where they stand on any given issue, and they don't pretend to be objective about anything. Objectivity, after all, while a worthy goal for which to aim, is nearly impossible to achieve. Fairness is somewhat more attainable, if but in small doses.

Remember, newspapers by nature in origin were always partisan. It was only over the last century that the innovation of objectivity in hard news was adopted as a business model, but by its nature it was always doomed to a limited shelf life.

Niche marketing will be the new order of the day, and it will be the business model which will achieve the longest lasting success. The old underground papers of the past are going to be the major success stories of tomorrow. They will thrive in print. They might even do a respectable business by way of e-reader.

The newspaper business is not dying. It's just experiencing growth pains. It went through a period of puberty when it decided it should "grow up" and act more adult, and in the process it became a commodity produced in a sterilized environment which betrayed few signs of intelligent life, which was found more often than not, ironically, in the pages of the editorial sections. Even the "hard-hitting investigative reports", what few there were, seemed to betray a bias. They still do.

That's why newspapers are doomed to thrive only as niche markets. Yes, this means they will produce limited profits, individually. By definition, niche markets cater to a limited audience. By the way, this audience will mostly be comprised of adults. Few if any newspapers are read by high-school and grade-school children, and so another way for the newspaper industry to pull itself up by its bootstraps might be to discontinue this canard that they are a "family newspaper". Families don't read newspapers. People read newspapers. Another one of life's ironies is doubtless that a loosening up of the censorship standards of language and expression would actually increase readership among the young.

For a reporter to declare, "During a raucous meeting at City Hall, Mr. Jones cursed the mayor in foul language which we can not print here and threatened violence on his person", is asking for trouble.

For a reporter to say, "During a raucous meeting at City Hall, Mr. Jones called the mayor a 'stupid motherfucking son-of-a-bitch' and threatened to 'kick your ass from one end of this god damned hall to the other'", is something else-it is actually reporting the news.

See the difference? In the first example, unless you are personally involved or know or are related to Mr. Jones or the Mayor, you are unlikely to care enough to read on. In the second case, you want to read on to see what happened.

Unfortunately, newspapers are still mired in the sensibilities of a by-gone era. This, in addition to the thinly disguised bias masquerading behind a veneer of objectivity in hard news coverage, is why so many papers are in trouble, and even the New York Times is barely hanging on for dear life.

The wave of the future is the old underground papers, like Cincinnati's City Beat.

When the old dinosaurs finally fall by the wayside, they will be there to take up the slack.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Where To From Here

The tea party protest pictured here in Lansing Michigan was just one of many that transpired Friday across the nation. Inspired by the rant of Rick Santelli on CNBC, a grassroots organization opposed to the wave of spending by the Democratic Congress and the stimulus program of Barak Obama, in addition to the bailout package, have converged in cities across the nation to engage in peaceful protests.

To get that last point across, one site advertising a tea party in Los Angeles listed the following advice-

“Few simple rules, :

NO: breaking the law (e.g., loitering, vandalism)
NO: violence (physical or verbal)

JUST: good cheer & a positive sense of public engagement & a smile.”

All of which begs the point-do they even get the point of what the original tea party was all about? Can you imagine the original participants of the Boston Tea Party taking seriously any admonitions from officials to refrain from dumping tea on the grounds that it is bad for the environment, and might even discolor the water? Of course not. Yet, this was precisely what happened in Iowa.Granted, this is a young movement, and might well grow into something big over time, and I would be the last to encourage violence or destruction of property, which actually would be counterproductive. In fact, the resultant higher prices on goods would possibly result in even more money in the coffers of the federal government.

Like children, the movement should grow, but also mature, and work toward not destruction, but simply to affect prices in the opposite direction. It's actually quite simple.


Unfortunately, that is a hard lesson for children to learn, to say nothing of putting it into practice. Still, I'm afraid that all of us are going to have to make some serious sacrifices in the way we live if we really expect to affect needed change. A few hundred or thousand people here and there engaging in a symbolic act of dumping tea while chanting slogans and waving signs is all well and good, but like all protests, it must be followed with decisive action. Let's call it, well, fiscal discipline?
/>All of us are going to have to make some serious sacrifices in the way we live if we really expect to affect needed change. Otherwise this protest movement, like so many others, will just be hijacked by a few loud-mouths who will in the end accomplish nothing but serve to rally some people to a cause that in the long run will be seen as one chasing a fantasy, but willing to do nothing to really change anything.

Beware The Evil Leprechaun

Gold might be more stable and secure now than it was in 1980, but just be sure you know what you're doing, regardless of the hype. Gold will probably be a safe investment over the next four years, for the simple fact we are going to experience sluggish economy recovery beginning at the end of this year, or the beginning of the next one. Since the dollar is going through a period of devaluation, gold is king once more, until the next period of significant economic recovery-again, more than likely not until roughly four years from now.

And then-

Translation-there will probably be a massive sell-off as folks diversify their investments once more. Watch the stock market closely over the next couple of years. A good rule of thumb is, once the Dow inches back above or close to the 9000 mark, that might be the best time to diversify while you still have a chance to increase your profit margins.

And incidentally, you should plan on diversifying soon. This is actually a good time to buy stocks, at least theoretically, as most of the more dependable stocks would seem to have no place to go but up. Still, take it slow for now. By the time the year is over with, there could well be more big name companies that tank, and one sudden disruption in any given number of areas could see many of them could evaporate overnight.

And by all means, buy some gold-a moderate amount. Don't imagine for one minute its going to remain at current prices, or rise even higher, and stay put. You might think you've got a pot of gold now, but if you aren't careful you could end up holding an empty bag.

Also, when buying gold, look to things like Canadian Maple Leafs, South African Kruggerands, and other such issues that remain stable in price. They don't rise in price with the gold market, but neither do they crash. Thus, they are a safe investment.

Personally, I wouldn't touch a gold fund with a ten foot pole. The current line is that gold is far undervalued since the 1980 debacle and allowing for current rates of inflation, it has a ways to go yet to catch up to its true value. That sounds reasonable, but then they try to sell you the song-and-dance that once it gets to that level it will stay there.

It will stay there until the next major sell-off, and then it will go down, maybe not as low as it has been typcically over the last three decades, but low enough that if you have a lot of money tied up in it you could lose your shirt.

Still now, for sure it is a good investment, like all things, in moderate measure.