December 2005 Archives
December 30, 2005
I'll be back in action sometime after the New Year.
There's just a lot on my mind that I'm just not inclined to share right now. I thought I was. But I changed my mind.
That's all passive-aggressive-blog-bullshit, I know.
But just humor me.
It's been a rough month. Year. Decade. Life.
I'm hoping for a renewed sense of vigor -- a new lease on sassiness -- a zealous zest-infused 2006.
Be safe. Have fun. Don't trifle.
And have a Happy New Year!
December 22, 2005
St. Louis has a very pretty new glossy magazine to enjoy this holiday season. Face Control's website is still under construction -- so you'll have to trust me on this one or get off your butt and go pick up a copy. The cover is all silvery-cuteness and the content is unexpectedly fancy and stylish.
Anyway, the reason I mention them is that they devote three pages to this funny little cell phone handset from Hulger. This is how the company describes their design motivation:
Why is new always better?It almost makes me want to have a cell phone - and an AC/DC t-shirt, for that matter.
Why is smaller more desirable?
Why is technology so soulless?
Why should it not be fun & beautiful & individual?
Why must it always look forwards, never backwards?
Hulger has come to answer these questions. Maybe it is not so practical. But when everybody has the same thing, the same phone, the same teeny tiny silver shiny box, you have something different. Mobile phones have always looked like they have come straight out of Star Trek - Hulger wants to know why? Don't get me wrong, Star Trek is a good look - tight black trousers, wide shiny belt - circa 2010 - NICE. But it's only one look & I bet even Spock yearns to jump into a pair of ripped jeans & sweat stained AC/DC t-shirt now & then.
December 21, 2005
Your friends at the St. Louis Board of Elections made a decision to award a $2.2 million dollar contract to Diebold Elections Systems. Your election system has been entrusted to a company that's been getting quite a lot of press lately!
Let's review for a moment, shall we?
1. Diebold is being sued by their investors for making all sorts of fraudulent claims. There's two - that's right, two - class action lawsuits pending which allege that Diebold lied about its technological abilities in order to inflate its stock value and for making false financial and technological performance statements.
2. Diebold's systems are, apparently, easily hacked and votes can be altered without leaving a trace. That's why some counties in Florida just dropped their contract with Diebold.
3. If we turn our attention to the west -- the entire state of California has refused to recertify Diebold's voting machines. Apparently, Diebold did not provide its programming code for testing "to an independent testing authority, which is required for federal certification." Whoops!
4. Oh, and the fella who once ran the Ohio-based company said that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes" to George Bush in 2004, which... well.... happened. I'm sure all those allegations of improper vote counting in Ohio and Georgia had nothing to do with his resignation last week.
5. Oh! Let's not forget that a whistle-blower at Diebold once said: "In my opinion, Diebold's election system is one of the greatest threats our democracy has ever known....."
6. Diebold's endless stream of election fuck-ups in Maryland is detailed here.
7. The Government Accounting Office's September 2005 report also lists numerous problems with Diebold's technology.
I guess the three folks who made the decision to choose Diebold in a closed-door meeting kew better than the GAO, a couple of states, an insider, a computer expert and the company's investors.
What a bunch of winners! At least -- that's what the official ballot count from Diebold says!
I just wanted to also pass along a letter (below) from a reader who expresses an opinion that I'm sure many of you share.
You can pass along your thoughts to the winners at the Board of Elections here: http://stlcin.missouri.org/index/contactelect.cfm?ID=36
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I am writing to convey my disgust with your decision to award a contract to Diebold Election Systems.
This firm is run by right wing extremists with close ties to the criminal Bush administration.
I will now never vote again in this city that I've spent the last 10 years in with ANY confidence that my vote will actually mean anything.
It is inexcusable that people in your position would not simply do a news search of past articles on this corrupt firm. You would find a staggering amount of documented cases where their systems either failed or were suspected by large swaths of voters of being internally hacked to revise votes. The CEO of Diebold even assurred a GOP crowd that he would "deliver" the state of Ohio to Bush in 2004. This incident alone should disqualify Diebold from ever selling voting machines.
Perception is just as important as reality. You may think these systems won't fail under your watch, but if a third of the voting population has no confidence in the machines, what kind of representative vote will result? I for one am unsure if I'll even bother voting in the future because of this and I know many, many other voters who feel the same way.
By this vote, I'm afraid that you have traded democracy to save a few bucks on the best bid.
December 19, 2005
While some of us were getting our coochie-coo on Saturday, some of us were dealing with whooping cough and researching SalSoul recordings of Charo.
We all do what we have to do to get by on Christmas. In Charo's world that meant asking: Mamacita - ¿Donde Esta Santa Claus?
Thanks to Kelly (get better soon, doll) for this lovely little treat, available by clicking here.
Cochie. Coochie. Ho. Ho. Ho. Hack. Hack. Whoop! Whoop!
It's all for the baby Jesus.....
December 18, 2005
Some of us wore our panties last night....some of did not, or never do, for that matter.
Some of us had dollar bills shoved into our bosoms....and some of us shoved our tongues into any number of openings.
That's just a way we say goodbye to old friends and hello to new reasons to go get that penicillin bottle refilled.
True to form, an Angry Black Bitch got drunk and I got frisky.
It was my job to determine who was naughty and who was nice, after all. And a particular naughty bald-headed twenty-five year old was real, real nice..... But given that that is my life, and given that I'm prone to find a Dolly Parton song in every encounter, let me just say this:
He was fine and dandy -- Lord I found a hard, handy X-Mess.
After a bit of harmless fun up at the night club, I sent him back home to whomever it was he wanted to cheat on last night,
I may be many things, but I don't have much of a hankerin' for carrying on with some fella that could have a pissed off husband (or wife) at home. My Santa suit ain't made outta Kevlar, honey.
It was a silly-ass night out with some dear friends, truth be told. It's just that after next weekend, one of those friends is not gonna be around...not here at least.
Good luck, Celene!
We'll miss you.
December 16, 2005
My much beloved and darlingest of darling downstairs neighbors is saying adios to St. Louis and hello to the Big Apple at the end of the month!
Some of us kids are meeting up at two of our two favorite watering holes Saturday night to say goodbye to the sensational Celene Aguilar!
Party time starts about 10ish:
Saturday, December 16, 2005
Grandma's Politician's Club and Lounge and Such
(Remember the rule: "No Drugs. No Hustlers. No Plastic."
4170 Manchester -- St. Louis, MO 63110
...later on our asses will stroll on down to:
AMP - 4199 Manchester -- for a double dose of fun!
December 8, 2005
I have been trying to be cheery (really....truly...honestly) but this...this....this just makes me want to cry!!!!
Hello friends and neighbors...Please note, the Thurman Cafe is named after a street and bears no relation to me.
It is with a heavy and disappointed heart that I inform you all of the immediate closing of Thurman Cafe. We will cease to operate as of close of business this evening. We have truly tried everything that we can think of....and are frankly out of time, ideas and quite honestly money. With each passing day the meager and increasingly declining sales figures have launched us further and further into debt...all of this with the "slow season" just around the corner.
The intent behind our every action was to create a community cafe that would "pull together" and continue to grow the Shaw neighborhood, much like our mission and experience at Hartford. Unfortunately that dream was unable to be realized. Our love and expertise is in the community cafe/coffeeshop industry, and it was apparent immediately that the neighborhood was in search of something else.
To those who have supported us from day one, I say thank you for your investment, time and consideration. I cannot express to you how truly sorry and sad I am to have to send this e-mail...as an independent business partner, community developer, hopeless non-profit do-gooder and as a resident of the Shaw neighborhood.
Thank you for your time and have a happy and safe holiday season.
Hartford Community Cafe & Coffee Roasters
What is relative is this:
Where the FUCK am I supposed to eat?
Where the FUCK am I supposed to get my coffee?
Where the FUCK am I supposed to access the internet for free?
It's all about me, up here at robthurman.com but tonight...tonight my heart goes out to my neighbors who gave me some happy months, some great food, some awesome coffee and my 'hood some hope.
They'll be missed.
I dunno about you, but if I were about to give a speech about HIV/AIDS -- I wouldn't want the background image to look like a cherry...or a sperm...but that clearly wasn't a deterrent for Dubya last week, who offered these words in his address on World AIDS Day:
...America still sees an estimated 40,000 new infections each year. This is not inevitable -- and it's not acceptable. HIV/AIDS remains a special concern in the gay community, which has effectively fought this disease for decades through education and prevention. And the demographics of this disease continue to change. AIDS is increasingly found among women and minorities. Nearly half of the new infections are found in the African-American community.Twenty years into this pandemic, 20 million people dead and 40 million people currently infected and millions more affected by this disease and we're still determining a "routine" for testing?
We're determined to make voluntary HIV testing a routine part of health care in America -- so people can know the truth about their status, tell others, and get the treatment they need.
And what? I'm supposed to give a shout out -- a *whoopeee* -- because the president can use the words "gay" and "effectively" in the same sentence?
All I know, that as a gay, I can't effectively get married or serve my country effectively in the military - but I can effectively manage what?
Educated and preventable fucking?
I guess that's what it boils down to, in the end (no bun-pun intended). As this article points out"...the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will endure a cut of more than $500 million its 2006 budget, while abstinence programs have seen a four-fold increase in the past five years."
Talk about untouched cherries and sperm just floating out in space...
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Today, I opened up an e-mail from the terribly effective Thought Nuggets. She'd passed along an image from France that was used last year in an HIV prevention campaign.
It struck me as profoundly sad -- to see a great power so clearly ill.
The symbolism is not lost to me...and it's a reminder to me to follow my own health care routine.
It's time to go get tested.
December 7, 2005
Today, your friends at the United States Supreme Court issued a severe and costly verdict against a disabled, diabetic former postal worker living in public housing in Seattle.
You see, the Bush Administration sued James Lockhart to collect the $77,000 he owes for student loans. Mister Lockhart, who also suffers from heart disease, contends that he can not afford to pay back the debt and the legal beagles representing the U.S. government argued that the $874 Lockhart receives each month from Social Security should be garnished to pay back the debt. They sued to take 15% from his check each month. That means he’ll have to live on $742.90 a month or about $9,000 a year, which clocks in about $500 less than the current U.S. definition of poverty.
Well…our pals in the Supreme Court sided with Dubya's attorneys today. Ole Sandy Day O'Connor wrote the decision against Mr. Lockhart and ordered that the percentage will be seized. Just an FYI -- Sandy’s base salary was about $200,000 last year and that doesn’t include her book deals and speaking engagement fees. Justice may be blind – but I’m sure she ain’t ever been broke. Or sick, for that matter.
You might also be interested to know that one of the American Bar Association’s top priorities is increasing judicial compensation. I guess being a judge just ain’t what it used to be – but neither is being a disabled former civil servant either, I guess.
December 6, 2005
One of the easiest things a Southerner can do is kill a chicken and jump to conclusions. Conclusions come much easier to me, I must confess -- chickens don't come when called. In fact, they kinda run from ya when you come at 'em holding a hatchet. Ya just can't hate 'em for not having a hankerin' for becoming Sunday dinner, but when the choice in front of you is a chicken's life or the rath of your hungry grandmother's hickory switch, you can choke a chicken (literally) pretty damn quick.
This morning, for instance, I read that Tyson Foods, the nation's largest supplier of meat products is engaging in evangelical practices that...well...freak me the fuck out. According to AdAge.com:
What started out as the internal manifestation of Tyson's mission statement -- a set of core values that includes "striving to be a faith-friendly company…and to honor God…" -- has over the last few years morphed into placing 128 part-time chaplains in 78 plants across the country and, now, the external marketing initiative to play a part in mealtime prayer.
You see, in addition to adding spiritual guidance to their employee benefit plan, our friends at Tyson have created a Prayer Book that you can download for free or order one online here. The books are attractive and feature a variety of God-affirming blessings that various folks from various cultures utter before they chow down on any number of roast-beast buffets. This is from the opening remarks from Mister John Tyson
...at Tyson Foods, one of our Core Values is 'to strive to honor God and be respectful of each other, our customers, and other stakeholders'...
Now I don't know about you, but someone from Tyson holding a stake kinda reminds me a bit too much of Vlad the Impaler...
I'll admit, upfront, as someone who enjoys a plate of hot wings every now and then, the bone I have to pick with Tyson isn't about what they do (which would be hypocritical) - it's about how they do what they do (which leaves me a little bit of wiggle room to get my snark on.)
You see, kids - Tyson Foods has a history that's a little more complicated than PETA's website, Tortured by Tyson, would suggest. The company donated enough food after Hurricane Katrina struck to feed a million people and has made a $10 million commitment to one of the nation's most well-respected anti-hunger/anti-poverty organizations.
They've been all-cooped-up with our pal, Bill Clinton - and there were numerous allegations, indictments, trials and criminal investigations associated with the Arkansas based company and our beloved Bubba. They also have been accused of union busting - which was detailed in an episode of NOW on PBS.
Don't get all giddy before you read that, my dear. As was reported a few weeks ago, the former meatpackers union local president "who led a yearlong strike against Tyson Foods Inc. was sentenced to six months in prison for embezzling more than $30,000 in union funds".
If only it were easy to make villains of big industry. If only the folks who were fighting the good fight for living wages didn't act like self-serving assholes sometimes.
It is interesting to note that earlier last month, the Supreme Court, led by our old pal John Roberts sided with labor unions in a class action lawsuit against Tyson Foods. You can read more about that here, but it…um…boils down to this: workers weren't getting paid while they were suiting-up for their chicken killing jobs. And now Tyson has to shell out $7.3 million in past wages.
Sorry for all the chicken references, but this is Tyson we're talking about, after all.
So, here's the..um…rub (sorry!)…Tyson portrays itself as a good and Godly company and despite its rather checkered history, one is left feeling, well, undecided. To a point.Back in 2003, Joseph C. Hough, president of the Union Theological Seminary chatted with Bill Moyers about what folks say -- like, "I'm all graced by Christ's love and you should be, too - dammit!" and how they act. While Hough's comments were about politicians, I think the same principles can be applied to business.
"I'm getting tired of people claiming they're carrying the banner of my religious tradition when they're doing everything possible to undercut it. And that's what's happening in this country right now, " says Hough, "The policies of this country are disadvantaging poor people every day of our lives."
We'll have to see how it all pans out…it's a big risk Tyson is taking by getting their God on in a mass-market/public relations ploy that borders on creepy, almost hypocritical over-zealousness.
As for me, I feel like chicken tonight.
December 5, 2005
Below are some photos from a gala this past Friday that honored one of the owners of the Fox Theatre and featured a performance of Wicked. In case you're not a gay, or could give a shit about show tunes, Wicked is the musical about the Land of Oz, told from the Wicked Witch of the West's perspective.
I provided some graphic design assistance to the event planners and scored a couple of tickets to the event in exchange -- which was a pretty fair trade, as far as I was concerned -- the tickets started at $1,000/person. The usual suspects were there: the mayor, a former mayor, a bevy of socialites, the usual hangers-on and the captains of industry. Oh! And me....and an Angry Black Bitch. I dunno if I felt outta place or right at home....or maybe both, at the same time. Oh, Toto, indeed!
The event started off with a sassy little cocktail party in the lobby of the Fox and then moved up the Grand Staircase for an amazing dinner in the Fox Club. The place is a beautiful Byzantine labyrinth and about 300 of us were tucked into private nooks for hob-knobbing and wine-snobbing. The Diet Coke....superb!
The food was outta-sight and then we eased on down to the flipping front row of the theatre to watch a performance of Wicked. The costumes were unbelievable: so many corsets and bustles and gleaming, hard muscles. Let me tell ya this, flying monkeys: scary -- fellas in flying monkey costumes: hot as hell....
It was, I must say, one of the most swankified things I've ever been able to do in my life.
It's just very weird - going to a party like that, wearing a twelve dollar suit from Goodwill. For most of last week, I had $.80 in my bank account, was eating $.89 boxes of Macaroni and Cheese for days on end and I'm still riding my bike everyday -- and Lord, it's getting cold outside.
That's just my life -- it's like I'm some broke-ass gadfly standing at the off-ramp of the social highway, decked out to the nines, holding a sign that reads, "Will work for a fabulous entree and primo seats...."
Don't get me wrong -- it was fun to go. But I can tell ya, two thousand dollars for a dinner and a show seems more far-fetched than a green witch and a world somewhere over the rainbow.