Thursday, September 30, 2004

Words (without pictures) are just so easily misinterpreted
From Anomalous Data, as pointed out by Foolblog, an interesting little everyday story about reading, kids, and presentation of ideas without images.
here's the piece:

"It's OK. Don't think about it too much, and it will be OK"

Last night I went to a meeting at my eleven-year-old’s school. The purpose of the meeting was “curriculum night”. Basically, they explain the homework to you so you can help your child without confusing them.

Anyway, the teacher was talking about their current events unit, which as you might expect is primarily taken up with the election process right now.

The teacher told of an exercise wherein he read from both the Bush and Kerry websites. He read where each of the candidates stood on the main issues of the campaign. He didn’t say who was who…just “this is what candidate one says, this is what candidate two says”.

The kids made tally marks about each thing they agreed with from each candidate.

Then the kids voted on the issues.

Four kids voted for Bush. 26 kids voted for Kerry.

You have to realize the significance of this. We live in Eden Prairie, MN. George W Bush came to our high school and lauded it as a model for all school systems everywhere…presumably due to the fact that it is in a tremendously affluent and conservative suburb, and continues to pump out high-quality graduates despite being severely under-funded. (I can tell you how they do this in another article. But mostly, it has to do with teachers spending out-of-pocket for classroom supplies, parents donating supplies, a legion of parent volunteers in lieu of staff, and parents spending about as much time and energy teaching their kids at home as they do earning money at work, endless fundraisers, and an endless stream of nickel-and-dime fees that don’t seem like much individually, but add up to a lot over time...oh yeah, and deferring essential building maintenance for the past few years.)

At any rate, Eden Prairie has grown a crop of Bush/Cheney yard signs that rivals the corn crops of neighboring rural towns. This is Bush country, make no mistake about it…
…as illustrated by the fact that most of the kids who voted for John Kerry were greatly upset by it. They booed the results of their vote. They were upset that they had voted for the “wrong guy”.

Glancing around the classroom at the faces of the other parents, I could see that many of them were disturbed as well. What could have gone wrong? How had they failed their children? What did this mean?

The teacher went on to say that he assured the kids that the election was not yet over, and that there still might be many issues where they would agree with George W. Bush, and maybe when they tried again later, they would end up voting for him.
The parents looked relieved as well.
The gears that had begun to grind uncomfortably in their heads smoothed out and they relaxed.

We moved on to talk about other things, and everyone was happy.

Ah, yes. Seperate the "message" from the image and words get the ideas across.

Hooked on... Books.
From one of my favorite sites,Blogs of a Bookslut, an interesting piece on promotion of literature in the workplace. Seems, with the slow times normal to every profession, that up in British Columbia Vancouver hookers run book club. Next, we'll be seeing No Bucks, a living on the streets version of a coffee shop. Nothing like a good read with a cup of Joe.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Just a plug for a commercial free, free-spirited, eclectic music choie for your listening pleasure. WVUD, the University of Delaware's student/communtiy radio station, broadcasts out of Newark, Delaware at an underwhelming clip of 1,000 Watts. Listening radius is 30 miles, if the weather conditions are favorable. But, with an Internet connection you can listen to the programs at WVUD on the Net.

Shows (again, without any commercials) are varied. Folk programs, classical music, reggae, (sub continent)Indian music, comedy, New Age, blues, Old fogie, bluegrass, heavy metal ...All presented by a wide age range of student and community radio members. There is no master plan devised by a computer program as to what hasa to be played. The individual taste of each dj is what will turn you on (or off) to the music. There is freedom and, therefore, some unpredictable listening to be had. A partial list of programs and times are here.

Why the plug? Self-interest trying to drum up new ears. Along with 5-6 other folks (not students any longer), I dj a morning show each Sunday, Morning After, form 9:00 to 12:00. The six of us all have varying taste in music, but we all tend to listen to cd's and albums not readily available or listened to. Certainly not music found on most commercial stations. Elitist? No, we're just bored with the centrally controlled dreck available. Choices on my show run from blues to jazz to gospel to folk to r & r. Artists include Magic Slim, Wallace Coleman, Skerik, Cedar Walton, EST, Art Blakey, Monty Alexander, Billy Bragg, & Ozomatli. Somehow, it all dovetails together.

So, feeling in need of a boost on a Sunday @ 9:00 (until 12:00), give us a listen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

EVERY Vote Counts...I Guess Let's never say that the Democratic Party is one of exclusion. Go Here for more detailed info on the two smiling cats in this photo. I know it goes a while back, but Kerry's comments, when asked to explain this photo op, are classic.

Strange Bedfellow-ettes Politics does make strange bedfellows. How else do you explain Zell Miller and his Band of Hystrionics performing at the RNC. Style does have a say here, though. For Bedfellows and -ettes, a certain gardarobe should be available to make the juncture of happiness a guaranteed success. Look no further than Axis of Eve. THE Wear for THE Occassion, while still maintaining your political position. Thanks to Bixblog for the (written) piece on this site.

I'm not an Accountant
Remember back to the good old days of the Enron debacle? When we supposedly learned our lesson? When fine individuals like Kenneth Lay, Jeff Skilling, & Andrew Fastow were shocked (Shocked, I say!) that their competence, veracity, and integrity were questioned regarding the modern day financial Hindenburg explosion known as Enron. You knew you were witnessing men with cojones of King Kong proportion. When Mr. Skilling, under intense questioning from the Senate sub-committee regarding certain inexplicable chicaneries, exasperatingly exclaimed, "I am not an accountant (I am a human being!)", acknowledging head nods joggled nationwide. These guys acted as if they were an alien race. Perhaps lizards doused with radiation.

Why, of course. How could we expect the president of this fine company, whose success was based mainly on the fine art of juggling numbers, be expected to know the arcane art of corralling those numbers. No, they weren't the only money-laden hoodlums in that organization; there were quite a few. There had to be others, to pull off such a colossal auto da fe. You knew that there were a lot of other folks in that organization with the same limited accounting capacity. With the layoffs at Enron, where did they all go to? A minimal amount (2, I believe at this point) went to jail.
Perhaps others decided to take a vacation in Iraq, where money flowed even when the pipelines did not. From McSweeney's Daily Reason to Dispatch Bush, an excerpt of how we're exporting financial calamity..and funding it all ourselves. (Well, I mean that we, the taxpayers, are funding it).

DAY 110:

The provisional Iraqi government set up by the Bush administration cannot account for at least $8.8 billion given to Iraqi ministries, according to an audit by the inspector general of the Coalition Provisional Authority. The audit found that payrolls under CPA control contained thousands of ghost employees. In one instance, the CPA paid for 74,000 guards without validating that number; in another, 8,206 guards were listed on a payroll, but only 603 were known to exist.

In a letter sent to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, three Democratic senators wrote that "such enormous discrepancies raise very serious questions about potential fraud, waste and abuse." Another audit, released last month by the International Advisory and Monitoring Board, found no evidence of fraud but said that CPA oversight had been insufficient. Despite repeated requests, the monitoring board was given no access to U.S. audits of Halliburton contracts. And in June, the British Charity Christian Aid said that at least $20 billion had disappeared from banks administered by the CPA.(Note: Funny how the investigating unit, the CPA, is also short for Certified Public Accountant. Someone there at least has a sense of humor.

(Sources: Sue Pleming, "Senators Ask Where $8.8 Bln in Iraq Funds Went," Reuters, August 19, 2004. See article at: Emad Mekay, "'Staggering Amount' of Cash Missing in Iraq," Inter Press Service News Agency, August 21, 2004. See article at:

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Bringing the Anger Together
Tying up the loose ends with analysis, courtesy of Fool Blog, we'll all hopefully remember and preach to the uninformed what Nov. 2 really means. Check the links at Linking Fool Friday" Dubya is going for a re-election term; he can promise every kid a pony in their yard and every adult another tax rebate. The thing is, he doesn't have to deliver on anything. He can then fully follow the agenda set by the Oil Boys. This guy has been blessed too long with incredibly good luck and fortune. No more lucky horseshoes. Time for that to change.....

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

The timing was peculiar. Ex-Prez Clinton was in a NYC hospital awaiting quadruple heart by-pass surgery. His arteries were 80-90% blocked. It was assumed by most folks that is was due to that fine eating style that made him so loveable and common-people-ish. How did we observe this touchy event?
Well, we parked ourselves at a booth at Harold's New York Style Deli, located in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn in Edison, NJ, within spitting distance of the NJ Turnpike (That's Exit 10 to you buddy!!).

Harken back to that old Woody Allen Joke from "Annie Hall".

Two older Jewish women are talking about a restaurant in the Catskills that, in their experienced opinion, has gone downhill from their earlier memories.
JW # 1: "...and the food?!?!? It's so awful."
JW # 2: "Yes, and such small portions."

Turn that commentary 180 degrees and you have Harold's .

Having the patience of a 2 year old high on Pixie Stix colored sugar, I've never been to the Carnegie Deli in NYC; just could not put up with 1-2 hour wait for a seat. So, I'm not about to say that Harold's is the best deli ever, since I can't personally compare it to the supposed pantheon that is the CArnegie Deli.
Harold (Yes, there is a Harold and he greets you at the door with an expansive smile) has managed the Carnegie, so there is some historical gastronomical weight to his current domain. The service was attentive and quick, although the slim physiques of the wait staff was bizarre...especially when you compared them with the majority of the clientele. There are stairs and ramps in the restaurant to allow access to the different levels of the restaurant. The carpet on the ramps is noticeably worn, as compared to the carpet on the stairs. The chairs are sturdy (no need to worry about collapsing seating as demonstrated in "Shallow Hal) and are able to support a serious amount of weight. They are also engineered so that a quick 'n easy exit is possible so that you are not hindered from jogging to the self-proclaimed "Longest Pickle Bar in the World.

Small or Regular are not words bantered about here.

For the ego, it's a great place to go. Discussion of carbs, red meat, butter cakes, and sauces are confined to the main question, "How much more?". If you are in that weight zone where walking by, say, your average super model, is a trigger mechanism for a major depressive bout, then a visit here is chicken soup for your soul. Not only do they serve chicken soup (A tureen for each person), but the full figured folks eating there will make you feel skeltal.
The food? At our table we ordered roast beef, hot pastrami, chicken fingers (the size of chicken arms), french fries (only available in bushel size), tankards of lemonade and Coke, and a slice of 10 layer buttercream cake (One foot high...seriously). The juiciness of the meat was as plentiful as the quantity provided. The restaurant must go through as many grocery size paper bags as your normal Acme or A & P. The amount of food left over was considerable and we trudged out bloated but happy, paper bag full of meat and cake under each arm. My nephew, going through his Catholic Eddie Haskell stage in high school posed his rhetorical q. of the day, "Isn't Gluttony one of the Seven Sins?".
And it never tasted better.....

Don't believe me?!?! Here's some reviews to chew over.

Just Not Fair
It's got to be frustrating and simultaneously pleasureful for the Republicans and, specifically, for you, President Bush, to deal with Kerry. Put your memory into a go-kart and zooooom on back to junior high or even high school. There you are in class with the Kid who was talented both mentally and physically and who worked his tail off to use those talents. Unlike that kid, you were lacking somewhat in both. What you did possess was a talent for drawing in your fellow classmates who felt similarly challenged and humbled by this Kid. It's not that the Kid rubbed your face in his efforts and success; he didn't have to. Word got around.

What you learned was that your Word could get around as well, especially if your Word was vile, suggestive, dismissive, ridculing, and untrue. Your version of the Word somehow cancelled out all of the Kid's deeds. Logically, it all seemed ridiculous that this could happen. It must have been that "Human Nature" deal that makes detective novels and romance thrillers so popular. It was so much easier for folks to believe your Word over his Deeds. This version of the Word brought you your own success and pleasure. It was much easier to tear down then to build up.

Now that Kid is Kerry.
He graduated with honors from the same prestigous university that you scraped by through.
He served in Vietnam, gallantly, while you meandered between Texas & Alabama working on a secret project unbeknowenst to anyone but yourself. You even gave yourself medals for this project.
He takes occassional vacations, where he skis, snowboards, wind surfs, rides motorcycles while you take constant vacations chasing tumbleweeds and leaning on fenceposts.
He's worked successfully in the public prosecutor's office and has been elected 4 times to the US Senate while you somehow went through company failures like occassional hobbies.

So, it's all accumulated to where you can mock his successes, ignore your failures, opine on matters that you are clueless on, and stand a very good chance of being re-elected as the most powerful man on earth.

How we allow you to take advantage of us in this year's presidential campaign is a sad state of affairs. In 2000, it was shame on you for the election that was stolen. In 2004, it will be shame on us for the election we are giving to you.

On a more informative note, please check out the following article(s). From Harry's Place, a different (and candid, not candied) view of some of the participants in the RNC. Please read the comedian's bit carefully. This crowd is the beast we know lives underneath the White House, that's allowed out only when the kiddies are asleep.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Brilliant Move
Thinking some more about last night and (trying) to approach Zell Miller's performance from the cold soul of an assassin's point of view, I have to take my hat off to the Republican's gloves-off approach to their choice of keynote speaker.

What a sure-fire plan.

1) Gather all of the vitriol on one's opponent into one large beaker.
2) Recruit/entice a member of the opponent's group into your cabal.
3) Promise the turncoat an exquisite opportunity of prime performance. The spotlight will shine only on him.
4) Do not feed him for 2-3 days, to rile up all of his digestive juices.
5) Turn on the tele-prompters.
6) Push him out gently onto center stage.
7) Give him the beaker.
8) Turn up the mike.
9) Stand back behind the clothing curtain.

Only good can happen to your party.
1) If he stumbles as he speaks...well, he's a Democrat.
2) If he's viewed as a traitor....well, he's a Democrat.
3) If the speech is well-received...well, he's a Democrat and he knows Kerry and what's behind the scenes, etc.
4) If the speech is not well-recived..well, he's just a bitter Democrat who felt unappreciated by his party.
5) If he looks and sounds like a complete idiot...well, he's a Democrat. What did you expect?
6) If he comes off like William Jennings Bryant...well, aren't we Republicans Ab Fab.

The best the Democrats can hope for is instnat memory loss on the part of folks in the "Undecided" column. Any memory of Miller's perfomance will only do harm to Kerry's chances.

Frankly, "Manchurian Candidate", without the shooting, came to mind watching Zell Miller's robot-like performance. I was not watching a human being; I was seeing an automaton.

Hey!!! Look at MEEEEEEeeeeee!
With heartfelt apologies to the lemur constituency and the accordian playing voting block so dear to the mid-West vote-seekers, I borrow this picture as a visual for the mental anguish I suffered last night. How often do you see a lemur? How often do you see a street-side accordian player? How often do you see a combo of the two? Unless you are imbibing from an early hour each day or you are in need of having your prescription mix being tuned, I think I'm on safe ground stating that the accordian-playing lemur is a combo that is rarely seen.
Unless...of course, you are in NYC, where the extraordinary is the mundane, the galactic is the norm, and where Republicans are sequestered in a protective cocoon of 8 city blocks. There, you have grand size celebrities, like Gov. Schwartzenegger, proclaiming their televison induced conversion to the Republican way, via a broadcast that never happened (Lies and the Crappy Actor (but terrific Bodybuilder) Who Tells Them).
You have a comedy routine executed by Presidential daughters that has set back humour to the days of Nixon playing piano. Then to top it all off, we had Zell Miller, the senator, ex-governor, and practicing thespian delivering the RNC Keynote Speech. Gotta give it to the 'Pubs; gall (or chutzpah, since they're in NYC) in great quantities has been delivered at Madison Square Garden. All that's left is for the earth to start turning in reverse on its axis.
Mr. Miller, standing stiff, delivering stiff, smiling stiff, and....(well you get the idea) spoke with the venom usually associated only with Republicans. It's a shame he didn't bring his trusty pitch fork with him, because the compost was piling high around him. Everything about him was Republican, even his suit. No baggy ill-ironed off the rack special for this guy. Too bad that the political parties aren't like the Roman Catholic Church. If they were, you could have Pope Dashell excommunicating that heretic Miller. But instead, ol' Zell gets to have his cake in the Democratic party and eat it at the RNC in NYC.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

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