From the Mouths of Babes

. Monday, June 30

True story.  This just happened:

A boy stops in front of a television showing Obama speaking, and just stares.  And stares. "What are you doing?" his mother asks, and the boy stares for a few moments more.

"I just figured out where Osama bin Laden is, and why they haven't been able to find him," he says.  "He shaved his head and his beard and is now running for president of the US!"

Searching for a photo of bin Laden, I found the photo and this article: Race, Perception and the Institutionalization of Networks.

It appears that the boy isn't the only one who has noticed the similarities...

America Falling Like Rome?

. Sunday, June 29

The Commentator asks today, "Is The American Empire In Decline?" This has prompted quite an informative discussion about America's possible fall from power with a comparison to the collapse of the Roman Empire. Follow me there and share your thoughts.

When Covert Isn't Covert Anymore


This morning, there's a Reuters article about an article in The New Yorker called "U.S. escalating covert operations against Iran: report". According to the Reuters article, Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker cited a source that is familiar with a "highly classified Presidential Finding signed by Bush" which outlines a $400 million expansion of covert operations with the goal of destabilizing Iranian leadership. Many of the covert activities are non specific, which has raised congressional concerns. The goal appears to revolve around supporting opposition, raising tensions, and providing the excuse for militarily intervention.

I question the motives behind this "news" hitting the international wires now. Is it a ploy to unnerve Iran? If so, is it fact or fiction? Hard to tell since the facts are not verifiable. One thing's for sure: It is no longer "covert."

Microsoft - Gates = ?

. Friday, June 27

Today, Bill Gates will retire. He is the man many love to hate, yet he has put computers on desks around the world. Sure, there have been flops along the way; but no man has been as responsible for a major cultural change, for pushing us into the Information Age, as he has. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if the whole IT sector comes to a screeching halt. That will be sad indeed.

Baby Boomers the Most Unhappy Generation

. Wednesday, June 25

The Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends survey released today has revealed what may be no big surprise to Baby Boomers between the ages of 44 and 65. They are "tired, overworked, strapped, bummed out and don't expect to get a break." They are less likely to get a raise, less likely to live comfortably in retirement, and less likely to feel others will have any better of a life than they do.

Look ahead Boomers: Retired people are the happiest!

It Wasn't a Lost Tribe After All

. Tuesday, June 24

Yahoo reports this morning that they have been had, along with all the rest of the news outlets.

OK, yes, this photo is of a tribe on the Brazilian-Puruvian border, but now the photographer, José Carlos Meirelles, has come clean. This particular tribe has been known since 1910. The purpose behind releasing the photo and the false "lost" claim was to "call attention to the dangers the logging industry may have on the group."

Sounds like PETA...

George Carlin, 1937 - 2008

. Monday, June 23

George Carlin, one of the most influential comics in history, passed away yesterday of heart failure. He is best known for his routine, "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television," which prompted the 1978 Supreme Court ruling allowing sanctions on TV stations that broadcast offensive language while children would be awake. Those words are still not said on TV. He summed it up well when he said:

"The whole problem with this idea of obscenity and indecency, and all of these things — bad language and whatever — it's all caused by one basic thing, and that is: religious superstition," Carlin told the AP in a 2004 interview. "There's an idea that the human body is somehow evil and bad and there are parts of it that are especially evil and bad, and we should be ashamed. Fear, guilt and shame are built into the attitude toward sex and the body. ... It's reflected in these prohibitions and these taboos that we have."

Rest in peace, George. Your clarity will be missed.

(Promo photo from

Transparent Bush

. Saturday, June 21

An AP article today, Bush says Democrats keep blocking his energy plans, implies just how transparent his selfish motives are in the current oil crisis.

Today, the reason we have high gas prices is because Democrats are blocking Bush's wish to release restrictions on coastal drilling and on any federal lands, including the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. His words of wisdom:

"This is a difficult time for many American families," Bush said. "Rising gasoline prices and economic uncertainty can affect everything from what food parents put on the table to where they can go on vacation."

Not only is he clueless on what Americans are truly concerned about, but he is stomping his foot like a spoiled brat when he's told that oil companies already hold leases on 68 million acres of federal lands outside the ban areas that they have never bothered to develop. He wants to ease current restrictions on refining and open up the harvesting of oil shale in Colorado. And, of course, Alaska is on the list.

"I ask them to reconsider their positions," he said. "If congressional leaders leave for the Fourth of July recess without taking action, they will need to explain why $4-a-gallon gasoline is not enough incentive for them to act."

Herein lies the transparency. Bush and his cohort Cheney are oil men. Both know that the industry is as short-sighted as it gets, which is the reason the US - and hence the rest of the world - is in this mess today. Always looking for astronomical profit margins for today, the industry put all its eggs in one basket by depending solely on imported crude. It's much less expensive than buying the equipment, drilling, and paying US wages. Not only that, it takes years to put into motion new drilling, according to the industry itself.

The shame lies in that, once again, it's Big Business that runs the politics, and the Middle East has a death grip on America's balls. Driven only by profit margin, all decisions revolve around the good of the oil industry, not the good of the oil industry's consumers - the American public.

Since Bush is about to leave office, and even though he'll retain his presidential salary until the day he dies, he needs to break down the barriers that stand in the way of his short-sidedness and next year's business for him and his cohorts.

It's the same short-sighted way he's run this country for the last 8 years. Now he's just a little too obvious that he's paving his own road at the expense of the rest of us.

Inbox: Blogger Wishlist Contest from BloggerBuster

. Friday, June 20

Blogger Buster Competition Announcement

Blogger Buster has announced a new competition for Blogger bloggers. (If you don't use Blogger to create your blog, you might want to skip reading this. I won't mind.) The purpose of the contest is to collect a list of the features you'd like to see in Blogger that will improve your blogging experience. For instance, Amanda of Blogger Buster starts with adding a comment form right beneath the posts and a better selection of templates to use. Clicking on the graphic above will take you to a full explanation of the contest.

I've used Blogger Buster extensively for the tips and tricks on modifying the Blogger templates I chose for both A Bumpy Path and eyebald. One of the very first modifications I made was showing a portion of my post with a "continue" link on the front page of my blogs. I agree with Amanda that this should be a standard feature.

I also agree that having a comment form right on the post page would encourage much more comments, as trying to find the comment link, then going to a page that does not match in look and feel can be daunting for many blog readers.

I would like to see the ability to create static pages that are not considered and treated as posts. An About, Contact, and Archive page with the ability to link to these pages from the header would save a lot of manual tweak time.

It would also help to have a ready-made archive page with editable regions for additional explanations.

I would really, really like the option to post an image at the size of the uploaded image. Small, medium and large just doesn't cut it for me. Add a little note about the size of the content region if you have to, just give me the option to present my images in the orginal size!

I like Blogger. Finding workarounds to use the features I like in other blogging platforms is not a big deal for me since I am comfortable editing XML, HTML and CSS, but I doubt many others are. I really like that my posts show up in Google searches almost immediately. It is that reason alone that has kept me from migrating to another blogging service.

The Eternal Enema

. Thursday, June 19

In Mashuk Akva-Term Sanatorium in the town of Zheleznovodsk, Russian Caucasus Mountains region, there is now an 800 pound bronze monument to the enema. It is a symbol of the region known for its mineral springs water enemas that are routinely given for all sorts of digestive complaints. They plan to use the monument as a model for future awards to medical doctors.

I say it should be given to all politicians.

The Race Card is Getting Old

. Monday, June 16

I am officially calling for a new deck of cards. The one that's being used over and over is old, too old to deal from any longer. You see, the issues that surround all of us right now have nothing to do with race; yet be prepared, that's all we're going to hear about for the next five months.

I hate to be the one to break the news to you, Obama. But, as long as black people are a minority, there are fewer black fathers than white fathers who shirk the responsibilities of fatherhood. There are far more poor white than poor black. Why should this be about race? Is race the card you think will carry you into the White House?

Perhaps the race card is the only card up Obama's sleeve for his campaign. The articles about his speech in a new and different church serve up the same thing. The Washington Post quoted Obama as saying, "too many black fathers are missing from too many lives and too many homes"

CNN takes the issue farther, highlighting more of the overall attitude of this presidential contenter:

"We can't simply write these problems off to past injustices," Obama said Sunday. "Those injustices are real. There's a reason our families are in disrepair ... but we can't keep using that as an excuse."
Listen up, Obama. I am no more responsible for my father's actions than I am for my great-great-great grandfather's. This whole country is populated with immigrants in one way or another, and everyone deserves to be represented, not just black people. If you happen to get elected in November, you had better serve all of us.

You see, I will vote for a person capable of doing the job, not just a black man. It is way past time for a new deck of cards.

It's Not Stimulus, It's Inflation!

. Friday, June 13

Yesterday, the story was that retail sales jumped in May due to the economic stimulus package. Today, the story is "Inflation rate jumps by biggest amount in 6 months:"

The Labor Department reported Friday that consumer prices rose by 0.6 percent last month, the biggest one-month increase since last November, as gasoline costs surged by 5.7 percent. Food prices, which have also been rising sharply, were up 0.3 percent as the cost of beef and bakery products showed big gains.
Seems like this is a far more plausible explanation for the gain in retail than that measly stimulus check. Of course we had to spend more; everything costs more. If I had gotten $6,000 instead of $600, I might've actually bought something I wanted instead of something I needed.

They really think we're not able to figure this out! Duh!

Stimulating Stimulus?

. Thursday, June 12

Blowin' sunshine up the ol' wazoo...

That's the first thing I thought when I saw the headline, "Retail sales jump by largest amount in 6 months" this morning. This "major boost" of 1%, they say, is a direct result of the economic stimulus package.

I bought food and a tank of gas with mine. Nice boost, eh?

Churches Burn Harry Potter at the Stake

. Wednesday, June 11

I figured times were hard and people were having a tough time dealing with the stress, but I didn't think we were to the point where we'd be jumping off bridges and skyscrapers like what happened back in the Depression. Seems I'm wrong. Seems like the nuts are breaking out of the peanut butter jar! This time, they are "repenting" by burning evil pornography along with ...Harry Potter books!

Saturday, in a town called Shreveport, four ministers got together to hold a book burning "revival" that was supposed to reach out to the people of their city. Why is this necessary? Well, they say, look at all the recent natural disasters, a sign that we need to wake up. Oh, and they're pissed that Harry Potter can be taught in schools, but not the Bible.

"As I tore the pages, I felt a generational curse of immorality and perversion breaking off my family," Adriane Banks said. "I felt it."

But to put Harry Potter in the same category as pornography is a leap of logic that is way beyond reason. It is just plain bizarre. To do so is evidence that, not only have they not read any of the Harry Potter books, but they missed the point of the Bible as well.

Why use the reasoning that the stories within the Bible are plausible when the imaginary character of Harry Potter is not? Harry Potter isn't about magic; magic is only the setting of a child growing up moralled and idealistic despite the challenges of his harsh world.

"We have a supernatural enemy, and we need to be unified to fight."

Seems to me like they could use a few lessons from Harry Potter instead of burning him at the stake. It's no wonder that the earth is all out of whack with fundamentalists like this running around. They read the letters and miss the message.

Not to mention that it would be interesting to see just how many of their parishoners have girly magazines stashed under their matress.

My point: Effective leaders do not lead by force, by imposing their ideals and values or by threats. They lead by positive example and encouragement.

Inbox: Owning Gun Decreases Crime

. Monday, June 9

Years ago, I lived in Wyoming where, at the time, it was legal to carry a concealed weapon. Everyone seemed to have a gun, though most left the sidearm in their vehicle or at home. In the year that I lived there, there was no crime, and only one gun-related incident: a suicide.

People Kill People

"Guns don't kill people, people do." Think about it. This is a logical argument. A gun is an inanimate object until picked up by a human hand.

Think more about it, and all the dramatic, traumatic incidents involving one person shooting another could have been prevented with intervention, as it is most likely that there were missed warning signs.

In My Inbox Today

The argument that supports the trend of less crime if everyone owns a gun came to my Inbox today in the form of a letter from a retired serviceman:

By Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunken guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed. People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society. A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.

Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level. The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.

When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone. The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation...and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.

Take another look at the issue of gun control. It could save your life and the lives of many others.

Inbox: This Sums it Up

. Sunday, June 8

Triple Crown at Stake - and Lost

. Saturday, June 7

The Triple Crown's final leg runs today, and it hasn't been won since Affirmed took the crown 30 years ago. With fatal injuries tarnishing the sport of late, the rallying, feel-good power of the potential history-making event is muted. Casino Drive was scratched because of a stone bruise, and Big Brown seems to have little competition today. We'll have to see how it goes.

Update: Big Brown did not win the Belmont. He came in last.


. Friday, June 6

"Stagflation occurs when stalling growth accompanies rising prices," says Tim Paradis, AP Business Writer. Oil up, jobs down, the dollar dives and investors scurry for safety.

It's not a supply and demand thing with oil, it's more that Israel is getting pissed at Iran. And through it all, "something is going to come along to deflate this commodity bubble and put the stock market back on track."

Is that just a tad bit of sunshine peeking through the clouds? Where's the barf bag?

Obama Democratic Nominee?

. Thursday, June 5

I'll tell you right now, that Obama won the nomination scares the crap out of me.

It took the media picking up on his preacher's wild and crazy ideas for him to finally drop out of that particular church? 20 years of brainwashing won't disappear by November. So, how does all that insane preaching effect his leadership style? Are you willing to take a chance?

Then, we have the issue about his lack of respect during the Pledge of Allegiance (wasn't it?). Any member of our military would've snapped his hand up and on his heart for him, if any had been close. Do you want a man to lead a country he can't respect? Showing up with a flag lapel pin won't make up for that blunder.

I hear he is quite the speaker, able to whip a crowd into a frenzy. So was Hitler. Seems he has young people in his pocket. So did Charles Manson, Jim Jones and David Karesh. Is the entire country ready to become members of the Obama Cult? Pass out the kool-aid.

The pitiful part of the whole danged mess is that everyone is so unhappy with Bush, and by association the Republican party, that it would surprise me if McCain was elected president instead of Obama.

Oh, good grief!

If McCain is elected, that brings up a whole different bunch of questions. But, I'll save that for another post.