January 2006 Archives
January 31, 2006
News to me: U.S. tax dollars spent on foreign psychological warfare is increasingly finding its way into U.S. media. Whoops!
"...information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP (psychological operations) increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience, and vice-versa..."- - - - - -
"PSYOP messages disseminated to any audience except individual decision-makers — and perhaps even then — will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public."
This article on new technology being deployed in Iraq -- Pain Ray, Sonic Blaster, Laser Dazzler - All in On reminded me of those Godzilla movies from back-in-the-day.
Thing is, instead of blasting gigantic reptiles with lasers, the military's Active Denial System (mounted on the vehicle pictured above) repels large crowds of people by microwaving them:
Traveling at the speed of light, the energy reaches the subject and penetrates less than 1/64 of an inch into the skin, quickly heating up the skin's surface. The 95-GHz energy penetrates 1/64 inch into the skin and produces an intense burning sensation that stops when the transmitter is switched off or when the individual moves out of the beam. Within seconds, an individual feels an intense heating sensation...
Yowsa! Set your phasers for stun, Scotty!
And...um....this is totally real, kids! The Air Force Research Laboratory is working on projects like this and others, including force field technology.
So...we have wire taps, psychological warfare "accidentally" informing the American public, microwave crowd zappers and...um...I'm supposed to feel safe?
Gimme a fire-breathing lizard any day.
January 30, 2006
Well...the AP sure fixed that problem!
(see previous entry)
Confusing times, indeed.
Of course, that's just an error (blame it on the intern) -- but sometimes the veiled victims of kidnapping are Iraqi ladies - held captive by the U.S. Army!
It's more than I can understand these days, kids.
Who is a Democrat?
Who is a Republican?
Who is smoking?
Who is weeping?
Who is a journalist?
Who is a soldier?
Who is a hostage?
Who is an enemy combatant?
Who the hell knows anymore?
News to me: Rupert Murdoch's News America sells advertising and promotional display space at more than 35,000 U.S. retail stores and businesses. You can read the full story here (requires free registration).
Interesting to note:
Industry executives and financial reports indicate News America holds a roughly 90% market share of its in-store media categories.It doesn't end on store shelves, either. News America controls about 50% of the newspaper insert market, too. Yes, half the time -- you can thank Rupert Murdoch for all those coupons for bathroom cleaner in your Sunday newspaper. He works hard, so you don't have to...
Under the terms of the deals it has been selling, marketers pay News America for media and a minimum production expense for in-store ads across multiple four-week cycles whether or not they use the space or services, according to the documents. In weeks they choose not to use the space, competitors can be blocked from using it.
Still - some folks like to work, especially the 4,000 folks at this Michigan-based company, which is Murdoch's biggest rival in the newspaper insert business.
Earlier this year, they filed a suit against Murdoch alleging "illegal and anti-competitive tactics." Shocker!
We'll just have to wait and see how it all turns out.
Wonder if Fox News will cover the story?
January 27, 2006
Oh, the troubled youth of today.
Getting into fights. Spitting. Hitting. Beating each other up. Busting windshields.
And these are children from Clayton and Ladue - two of St. Louis' wealthiest suburbs.
Things are truly so bad that one of the area's most exclusive, private Catholic schools is going to implement mandatory drug testing.
So will someone, once again, please tell me why St. Louis' public schools are so bad - so unsafe - when we've reached the point where private schools are testing kids to make sure they're not junkies, drug addicts or bad influences?
I find no joy in reading that kids are behaving like assholes but it is surprising - especially in this city - that they're covering the misdeeds of the socially and financially fortunate.
A group of black girls get into a fight up on the North side and S.W.A.T. teams are deployed. It leads the evening news...with girls jerking their necks, talking about why come the fight started in the first place. It led the news for days!
To the best of my knowledge, I saw no reports that 50-70 suburban drunk students got into a fight in November. And today, I'm just reading about how the "community" just held a lasagna dinner to "work things out." C'mon, y'all...they're just kids...they're just a little wound-tight...worried about that entrance exam for Harvard.
Students have brought spitting, punching and stand-clearing brawls to some games. Hockey games - not sponsored by the schools - have been especially violent.I have three words for this kind of thinking: White People Bullshit
Players fought at a hockey game last year, students said; a girl got spit on at the football game this year, a boy got punched, a windshield was broken.
Then came the school's club hockey match this past December, held at the Webster Groves rink as usual. Between 500 and 600 people filled the stands, police said. Students said many were drunk.
With just minutes left in the game, the stands erupted.
Two Webster Groves police officers rushed in. But by then, 50 to 70 students were fighting, according to the police report. Between 100 and 120 students encircled one group.
January 26, 2006
1. Authorization -- evidence for or token of authorization
2. Guarantee, Security
3. Grounded justification
4. Confirmation, Proof
5. A document giving authority to do something
6. A precept or writ issued by a competent magistrate authorizing an officer to make an arrest, a seizure, or a search or to do other acts incident to the administration of justice
The absence of the above qualities
"The program's legal, it's designed to protect civil liberties, and it's necessary. But I want to make sure that people understand that if the attempt to write law makes this program -- is likely to expose the nature of the program, I'll resist it." George W. Bush, President of the United States.
WAR AND LESS
Maybe it's just me being me - but I see some contradictions in the President's logic.
It offends me that our government has created a program to monitor the actions of citizens in this country without issuing a warrant.
It offends me that an estimated 53% of my fellow citizens are willing to accept warantless surveillance of their lives because - why? They're afraid of "the enemy". You chicken-shit cowards.
It offends me that tens of thousands of people are dead, that this country is steeped in a bloody war, that the reason for this war was truly warrantless, that the information that justified this war was false and misleading.
And you know what?
We get what we got in this life. We get what we got when folks don't give a shit. We get what we got when justice is blinded, but allowed to listen to whatever our government decides. We get what we got when words like warrantless lose their meaning and are replaced by, " Because I said so. Trust me."
Well, trust is earned and it is fostered by agreeing to a set of rules and abiding by them. The loss of trust can lead to many things from disappointment to disillusionment to disgust. It can, quite naturally, also lead to fear.
So I guess what I'm wondering these days is who and what are we supposed to trust?
Is it really in God we trust up here in America? Or is it that we just distrust each other more?
Are your fears for real? Are they grounded? Are they reasoned? Are they warranted?
Fuck - I dunno.
I don't what that word means anymore.
January 25, 2006
I've been humming Hughes' Corporation all day -- I got one of their records last night as a birthday gift....
So I'd like to know where you got the notion?
Back in the day, Hugh Heffner's corporation got the notion to open numerous Playboy Clubs across the world. St. Louis’ opened in 1962 and was the fourth such venture in an enterprise that’s documented here. Last night, I ventured out to City Grille and Brewhaus, which has opened in the Hugh’s former digs and spent my birthday basking in shades-of-bunnies-past.
Not because of the scantily-clad ladies.
Not because of playboys and highballs.
No...not so much.
It all started out, you see, with enchiladas. And it usually does, me being me and all.
My pal Ali knew I wasn't all-too-keen on celebrating this year's birthday, so she'd invited me over to her place for a low-key evening of salsa, chesse, refried beans, guacamole - oh, hell! I don't know - I don't cook!
But then...then I got to thinking, which, I'll admit, is usually half the problem.
I wanted something small and intimate - but not too small and intimate. And by that I mean this: I wanted an excuse to buy an outfit, but I didn’t want a big to-do. Just a few folks. And I wanted to go someplace I’ve never been. Someplace, some world that I’ve peeked into, but never quite experienced. So, the new restaurant in the old Playboy Club it was.
Instead of enchiladas we had fried sweet potatoes with a maple-ginger dipping sauce and a tour of the gut-rehab taking place in the club’s old Penthouse and Playroom!
It was a perfect evening.- - - - - -
It's been said that the things a society leaves behind are the things that matter least to them. A lot of things that archaeologists dig up are the everyday items of everyday life that have been left behind.
It always frustrated me that the Playboy Club was relegated to the trash bin of St. Louis architecture. Kinda sad - considering that at one point in history, this building was the embodiment of suave sophistication. Granted, its history is also steeped in extreme sexism - but there's something about the use of space in this building that I've always admired when I’ve peeked inside.
Every room is a vista unto a vista unto a vista. The space is organized on a multitude of levels. It incorporated wooden chandeliers, a free floating space-age disco lounge and a patio that evokes Barbara Parkins, powdered noses (in more ways than one) and something naively suggestive.
It's old - but new to me. It's modern - but it's dated. It's futuristic playboy - and it's chauvinist pig. It's the past – but what is its future?
Maybe that's why I had so much fun last night. All the shit I think about all the time is made manifest up in one little building near the corner of Lindell and Vandeventer.
I wish the new owners well and for those of y'all who do drink, you might be
interested to know this:
City Grille and Brewhaus
3914 Lindell Blvd. St. Louis, Missouri, 63108
Fridays and Saturdays All You Can Drink
10PM - Midnight for $12
(9-12 if you drink their custom brews for the first hour)
The food is good, too – if you’re looking for standard American fare in a location that’s far from standard. They’re talking about mixing up the menu, to which I say
Rock the boat.....
Just don't tip the boat over, y'all!
|Me and a Bitch.|
Friends and Murals.
|Upstairs and Such.|
|Hugh's Copper Kitchen.|
|Some gay always has to trifle -- even in the Playboy penthouse.
|In the ladies toilet - a ledge - for....um....pocketbooks?|
|Lots of ledges in the ladies room.
Where's Kate Moss?
|This back-lit glass/painted mural was originally upstairs in the penthouse.|
|Roberta Flack. Quiet Fire.
Best. Album. Ever.
|Where have all the backlit-bunnie's gone?|
|The light fixtures.|
|Down the stairs she goes!|
|This metal work was added when the building was a diamond exchange.|
|Floating above the first floor is this space-age loungey area.|
|Visions of Jeri Hall in a coked-out stupor come to mind.|
|Seek and ye shall find.....|
|It was the best birthday I've had this year!|
January 23, 2006
In a few minutes, my ass will be 35 years old. That being the case, I have spent this last evening being 34 reading selected works from German philosophers, munching on a pan of brownies, accompanied by a whole pot of coffee, a half-a-pack of cigarettes, all-the-while watching Addams Family Values outta the corner of my one good eye.
Here’s some quotes I’ve been pondering - taken, of course, from some dreary Deutschlander dudes and a duo of disturbingly direct dames:
-- Oh, what lies there are in kisses.
-- You cannot feed the hungry on statistics.
-- Anyone who despises himself will still respect himself as a despiser.
-- There are no facts, only interpretations.
-- I don't want to hurt anybody. I don't enjoy hurting anybody. I don't like guns or bombs or electric chairs, but sometimes people just won't listen and so I have to use persuasion, and slides.
-- God will forgive me; it's his job.
-- You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, and you will play golf, and eat hot h'ors d'ourves. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said do not trust the pilgrims...
-- Whatever tears one may shed, in the end one always blows one's nose.
In other words, my head hurts, my heart aches, my spirit is lively and I gotta kick-ass buzz on top of it all.
For some reason, I have not found this birthday to be particularly joyous. I normally celebrate every day of my birthday week in grand style, but for some reason, I can’t find much to be happy about today.
I take that back – I talked to my mother earlier, who made me laugh when she said, “Robbie, I do not understand why a man wearing a black suit would wear a blue tie and a brown hat.” Me, neither, mom...me neither.
There’s a whole lot about this life I just don’t grasp sometimes. Maybe that’s why I turn to compulsive Googling, chocolate, coffee and cigarettes on days like these. Knowing (statistically speaking) that I’m half-way through my life, one would think that I might approach my impending birthday with a renewed sense of self-disciple rather than vituperative vigor, but you know what?
Tomorrow, my ass is gonna have soul food for lunch and then I’m heading on over to the recently rehabbed Playboy Club (under new management and sadly, sans-bunnies) for dinner. Gimme some grease and some cornbread, followed up with an evening drenched in nostalgia and just slightly risqué impropriety.
It’s craven. It’s self-indulgent. It’s borderline self-destructive!!!!
Fuck it...not really.
These days, my ass will not be staying out too late – I gotta work on Wednesday. The only sauce I’ll be hitting will be on some smothered chicken (if it's on the menu). And if I eat too much at lunch, I’ll probably just have a salad and some cottage cheese for dinner.
To quote a certain Angry Black Bitch: Fuck it! Fuck it! Fuck it all again!
Maybe that’s what’s making me oh-so-surly today. Somedays, I miss a Bitch's nine-to-five company. Some days, I just miss my youth. Even when I feel the need to carry-on, the will to carry-through seems much more important. With increasing frequency, I’m finding myself understanding what ABB told me a long time ago that excuses for bad behavior are just that…excuses.
Is your glass half full of excuses, half full of regrets, Rob Thurman?
Or is it, truth-be-told - mostly full of Brita, with a dash of Metamucil, just to keep things regular?
Getting old sucks, kids – but it sure beats the alternative. And by that I don’t mean death, I mean Joan Rivers.
Happy birthday to me, I guess. And goodnight to you, too.
I gotta get to bed.
Lord knows I won’t be worth a shit tomorrow if I don’t get some rest and my fiber tonight.
January 22, 2006
After watching Brokeback Mountain, reading a gazillion reviews and observing blogging backlash particularly against those who disliked this film, I’ve been wondering, do people act with deliberate & considered consciousness? Or do most folks just spend their lives trying to conform to other people's real (or imagined) expectations -- and in doing so, expect others to act the same way?
You see, in thinking about this movie, I dunno who I feel more sorry for: the cowboy who allowed shame and fear to keep him from being with the fella he loved, the cowpoke looking for a longterm roll in the gay hay, the unhappy women married to these down-low-living closet cases, or the herd of sheep lead up the mountain to feed and then down the mountain to slaughter. You see, my gay ass took to heart another movie about love and hill tops many, many years ago. I paid attention to the words uttered by a strict-ass sister, especially those about climbing every mountain. I knew then, as I know now, that a
Swish Swiss Mister can make a lonely goatherd happy, too.
Still, I wish I could go out and interview some sheep on this matter, but Dolly (God rest her soul) and her ilk aren’t inclined to offer up much in the feedback department. They’re much more likely to be served up with mint-jelly sauce on the side.
For those of you who are inclined to ponder issues and situations, I’d like to point you to the work of Rob Willer, who’s completing his Ph.D. in Sociology at Cornell University. This fella is doing some fascinating research on why folks are, at times, trifling assholes (my word choice, not his):
This spring we completed two studies…that show for the first time that individuals respond to social pressure not only by conforming to a norm they privately oppose, but by pressuring others to do so as well. In the context of a wine-tasting, participants not only fell in line with a group norm to praise a certain wine, but also sanctioned a lone deviant who correctly identified the wine is identical to the others.That’s nice, huh? Expose the truth, only to be sanctioned, scolded and punished for it...
This finding suggests an important implication – that groups and even entire populations can become trapped in behavioral patterns that nearly everyone privately dislikes. We are currently running further studies that test a related claim that individuals who are insecure about the legitimacy of their group membership are the strictest enforcers of group norms, especially in times of inter-group conflict.Since we’re on the issue of insecurity, let’s examine another study Mr. Willer conducted which asked men (and women) a series of questions – followed up by an assessment of whether these answers were “masculine” or “feminine”. It’s no surprise, that while the ladies weren’t all that upset by their assessments:
Compared to men given masculinity-confirming feedback, men given feedback threatening their masculinity expressed greater homophobia, greater support for the Iraq war, and greater interest in purchasing a sport utility vehicle (SUV)…Since I grew up on a farm and spent most of my early life surrounded by farmhands, I coulda told all y’all that a sheep isn’t nearly as predictable as a man whose masculinity is threatened. It’s sad, really – how quickly men (gay or straight) will turn to assholism whenever they’re threatened or challenged. They’ll also turn to the most-convenient piece of ass when left alone three months in the wilderness…but that takes all the romance out of the story, now doesn’t it? God forbid those fine-looking men just had sex with each other ‘coz they could.
Speaking of which, this article on sheep and Brokeback Mountain caught my eye earlier this week:
And for decades, it turns out, homosexual sheep have been a financial drain on their frustrated breeders. About 8 percent of rams are interested only in other rams, says Charles Roselli, a professor of physiology and pharmacology at Oregon Health and Science University.
Guess gay sheep don’t sire more lambs for lamb stew now, do they?
It’s a sad truth – that high atop every proverbial Brokeback Mountain, gay cowboys and randy rams will always have to deal with folks who feel the need to control how one gets down and gets off. Other people are always going to be a problem in such matters – because how you live your life serves other people’s (and society’s) purposes in addition to your own.
The question this movie (and so many stories like it) poses is do you dare break free of other people’s expectations?
Do you dare chase your own dreams even if other people think they’re nightmares?
Is Jake Gyllenhaal really a bottom?
Do you struggle to find your own voice within the incessant bleating of the herd?
Or do you simply baaah-baaah-fuckity-baaah-baaah…all the way home?
I don't know your life and I can’t answer those questions for anybody other than my own damn self.
High on a hill, atop Broke-Ass Mountain, I know I look good in my vintage Stetson and I’ll keep on yodeling out, honey…
Layee odl, layee odl, lay-ee-ooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
Maybe all I'll ever hear back is an echo - but the way I see it, one lonely voice is better than two singing somebody else's notion of how you should be leading your life, singing somebody else's love song.
If there's one lesson to be learned from this movie, it's that your life, much like Brokeback Mountain, won't have a sequel.
January 19, 2006
Hey, kids! And by kids I mean grown persons - not actual children, let's just be clear.
So, our illustrious leadership has taken to subpoenaing and now suing Goggle so that the government can search:
a broad range of material from [Google's] databases, including a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period.
Dubya's cronies are alleging that this is the best to prove that children can be subjected to online smut -- the rationale:
The government contends it needs the data to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches as part of an effort to revive an Internet child protection law.
This child protection law, The Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule can be reviewed at the Federal Trade Commission's Website. It lays out ground rules for how businesses are supposed to create barriers against children interacting with smut and from signing up for “adults only” entertainment.
If you look at the rules established by this legislation, you'll notice:
The term "child" means an individual under the age of 13.
May I ask a question?
Is it really Google's responsibility to make sure children under the age of 13 cannot watch or experience online porn?
I dunno about you – but I don’t expect Google to baby-sit. It ain’t Google’s fault that this country is overrun by piss-poor parenting, lousy teacher supervision and a commodity mentality that looks at children as nothing more than the next-wave of cell phone customers, who’ll be sporting some Diesel Jeans.
In the interest of protecting the children, the Federal Trade Commission opened up the Kidz Privacy website. Kidz. That’s real cute, huh? That’s a great way to learn-em...
This site has information and resources and downloadable files that explain how to keep your kids from looking at smut.
The real kicker? The “Adults Only” section isn't.
If the government is, indeed, in the business of policing and protecting our children at risk, it seems to me that an "Adult's Only" section might actually utilize the technology they are trying to legislate.
Granted this "Adults Only" section contains no offensive material - but what is offensive is lame-ass legislation that doesn't do a damn thing to truly protect kids. I'd like to know, does Dubya really think that legislation, alone, is going to prevent child sexual abuse?
Now, look - I ain't got no Goddamned problem with preventing pedophiles from destroying some children’s lives. But does seizing Google's records really do such a thing? If they wanna know what makes pedophiles tick, why doesn't Dubya just pick up the phone and call our old pal the Pope?
Talk about an institution that protects and shields child abusers.
If you wanna know why your seven year old knows all about John Holmes, you might want to ask yourself where you were when that happened in the first place.
Give me a break. If this country wants to really do something to advance the quality of children's lives, get our asses out of Iraq, put some money into quality education and take the mouse of a child's hand. Put a paint brush, a trumpet or a basketball there instead.
There are, I might remind you, a number of activities in which children under the age of 13 can participate that are healthy and educational.
Googling, unsupervised, is probably not one of them.
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January 17, 2006
I find it troubling that Time, NewsWeek and BusinessWeek have fired reporters covering international news and are reducing or closing their foreign bureaus.
...staff reductions at Time and Newsweek and the outright closure of BusinessWeek's international print edition will almost certainly reduce the amount of news and analysis of global affairs.I suppose that's true. After all, I seriously doubt that editors are gonna come right-out and say, "Hey, kids! We're offering less international analysis." Folks will just go along, not knowing what they don't know. Kinda like this report out today: FBI Missed Internal Signs of Espionage. But Lord knows, we'll keep America safe and strong with warantless and illegal wiretaps!
Time Inc. has cut a total of more than 100 senior staff members in recent weeks and the international layoffs have included cutting bureau chiefs for Beijing, Seoul, Jerusalem and Moscow, and it has announced there would be layoffs in the London newsroom.
Yet Jim Gaines, a former managing editor of Time magazine, said that staff cutbacks and reduced coverage do not necessarily mean fewer readers.
"Editorial quality can suffer from a cutback, but that does not necessarily mean you lose readers," Gaines said.
I guess in time, Time will just keep slapping up more stories about...oh...I dunno...the impact of drunk skiing -- or maybe invest some of those dollars into producing quality titles like Yachting, Yachting Monthly or Yachting World. And, hey -- I got nothing against y'all yachters or skiers -- I'm just questioning their priorities. Wanna pick on somebody else - you can go review the whole list of titles that Time Inc. publishes here.
This kinda reminds me of all this hub-bub I've been hearing about the HDTV. Apparently, these new-fangled televisions will allow you to experience television in a "whole new way."
Is that kinda like the whole new way you experience shitting the first time you take too many laxatives?
Hmmm...it seems to me that shit is still shit -- whether it's highly defined or not.
And whether you're out on the poop deck, or taking a moment alone in your bathroom, coverage of shit hitting the fan overseas is gonna get a little bit harder to find -- at least from three major news magazines.
And with that - I am finished talking about boats and shit this week.
I don't know how to swim -- and I'm tired of wading.
January 16, 2006
I'd like to share a few things I'm likely to be thinking about this week. It's not all bad news, trust. Bikini beauties and a few moments with Lindsey Wagner balance-out the bullshit.
2. The Annual Report on American Journalism contains few surprises, yet raises many concerns:
People have long considered the press sensational, rude, pushy, and callous. But in the last 17 years, they have also come to see the press as less professional, less moral, more inaccurate, and less caring about the interests of the country. Consider just a few statistical changes between 1985 and 2002.3. I'm re-reading this paper which elaborates how the U.S. media fucked us all with Weapons of Mass Destruction (and Iraq) in the first place. It details how
-- The number of Americans who thought news organizations were highly professional declined from 72% to 49%.
-- The number who thought news organizations were moral fell from 54% to 39%.
-- Those who felt news organizations tried to cover up their mistakes rose from 13% to 67%.
-- The number who thought the press got the facts straight fell from 55% to 35%.
-- Those who thought news organizations were biased politically rose from 45% to 59%.
In other words, Americans do not resent the sense of professional ethics or the aspirations or independence of the press. Rather, they feel journalism is not living up to those goals. They increasingly think the press as a whole is motivated by money and individual journalists by personal ambition.
...established operating principles of the American media make it easier for the incumbent President, whoever that might be, to dominate news coverage by setting the terms of public discussion. Journalistic standards that are meant to ensure objectivity and guard against political bias had the effect of insulating the president from informed critical scrutiny. That effect was compounded during the latter periods under review by the media’s inclination to amplify what was considered to be patriotic sentiment. As a result, the American media did not play the role of checking and balancing the exercise of power that the standard theory of democracy requires.4. Even though there are now 40 million more households with TV sets in America, 6 million more people watched The Bionic Woman in 1975 than watched 60 Minutes this season.
5. Impeach his ass!
...now that President Bush has thrown down the gauntlet and virtually dared Congress to stop him from violating the law, nothing less is necessary to protect our constitutional system and preserve our democracy.
January 15, 2006
First Lady Laura Bush has zipped off to Africa to congratulate Liberian President Elect Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who takes office tomorrow as the country's (and the continent’s) first elected female president.
Mrs. Bush was, of course, asked a few questions about that whole warrantless wiretapping issue that’s been up on the news lately and offered this little pearl:
"I think the American people expect the United States government and the president to do what they can to make sure there's not an attack by foreign terrorists."Actually, Laura, as an American person, I expect the government and the president to obey the Constitution...but that’s not what has me fired up today. Although I do believe this whole NSA business reeks of illegal, intrusive abuse by the federal government, I don’t expect ethical, reasoned considerations from the current
Case in point -- when asked about the criticism of the president’s abstinence-only program in combating HIV/AIDS in Africa, Lady Laura said,
"I really have always been a little bit irritated by criticism of abstinence because abstinence is absolutely, 100 percent effective in fighting a sexually transmittable disease. When girls are not empowered, girls are vulnerable, and their chances of being able to negotiate their sexual life with their partners and to make their partner chose a condom are very low."Her First Lady-ness uttered those words in Ghana today, before trekking off to Liberia. Now, I dunno about you, but if I were going to jump in a plane, fly across the ocean, represent this country and start running my mouth about issues that affect women (and girls) in another country, I might choose to know what the hell I’m talking about.
So, let’s talk about just how empowered the ladies are in Ghana and Liberia.
Let’s look at what UNICEF has to say about the sexual lives of women in Ghana:
38% of women (15-24 years) have comprehensive knowledge of HIV
33% used a condom in their last high risk sexual encounter
46% of the women are literate
25% of these women have access to contraceptives
40% of women in Ghana are forced into married as children
And between 5-7% have been subjected to genital mutilation
Hey, Lady! It doesn’t exactly read like Girl Power has swept the country.
50% of women living in rural Liberia “between the ages of eight and eighteen had undergone this procedure.”That number, by the way, comes from the State Department (thanks, Condi) And UNICEF reports that 58% of young girls in rural areas are forced into marriage, that 39% of the women are literate and that a whopping 10% know about contraceptives.
It occurs to me that uneducated women, forced into marriage with mutilated genitals probably don’t have much say in negotiating their sexual lives. Even if these women knew what condoms were, what they did or how to use them, the issue of HIV/AIDS would not be fully addressed. Just look here, at this country -- the holy lands of Texas rank fifth highest in teen pregnancy rates.
No doubt, the social and political impact of a Liberian female presidency may shift public thinking about hacking-off a young woman’s clitoris. The Justice Department did report that the Liberian civil war seemed to reduce the number of occurrences, but “keep your clitoris, still catch the clap” – isn’t my idea for public health policy.
Public health policy should not be based on some lame-ass-holy-roller-save-your-cherry-for-Jesus mentality. It does not and will not work.
It doesn’t work because people (and I mean everyone on this planet) want to have sex.
People like to fuck – and as long as ignorance, shame, fear and stupidity cloud education and knowledge of this most basic instinct, we’re screwed (pun intended).
You know what, your Ladyship -- I wish to God that when assholes like yourself talk about empowering women, you would focus on the hell and squalor of everyday poverty that so many women face – not only in Africa, but everywhere across this world.
I wish for once, prissy-assed conservative Christians like yourself would stop taking this supposed moral high road on women's rights because you’re leaving women uneducated in the process. You're leaving women physically and emotionally mutilated. You're leaving women to lead desperate, shitty lives. You're leaving them to die.
That’s not my idea of 100% effective.
That’s 100% hypocritical, truly immoral bullshit.
January 12, 2006
I read a version of this story today and I wanted to ask all y'all - what would you do?
- - - -
It's a lovely day and...really...all you want to do is get away from it all. So you jump on your bike, grab your laptop, your camera and head on down to the wi-fi hotspot on the riverfront.
You've got some photos to take, some entries to write and something scenic to admire. So, there you are, smoking your cigarette, reading your latest, clever little entry, feeling happy and smug, sipping your Americano (there's a floating Starbucks upstream) and ***suddenly*** you hear a cry for help.
Egads! What's happening?
So, you look beyond your flat panel and you see someone is in the water, splashing about - arms flailing - in desperate need.
Trouble is...you never learned to swim.
Do you simply sit there, watching someone drown? Do you call for help? Do you take a picture? Do you Google drowning? Or do you close up your super stylish Powerbook and walk away, determined that someday soon -- you'll take swimming lessons. You'll blog about all this later, of course...it was such a dramatic experience, after all.
Let's suppose that you do, indeed, know how to swim -- or perhaps you don't, but you simply have to do something -- so you make your way to the water's edge. Once you get there, you notice that upstream, there's more people thrashing about, drowning, in need of help. The current is swift, so they're headed you way.
At this moment you can count the number of people that need to be saved, you can call for help or you could just try to start saving people.
Perhaps you take one more moment and notice that there's a man on the floating Starbucks pushing people off the boat and into the water.
Do you save the drowning, or is it their own damn fault for not knowing how to swim? Do you stop the man from pushing folks off the boat? Do you try to prevent more people from going near that man or near that Starbucks? Or do you do nothing?
Seriously....what would you do?
January 9, 2006
Capital Eye breaks down how kinda-hunky, totally-corrupt Jack Abramoff spent oodles of cash to influence politicans in D.C.
While it's no surprise to see that Abramoff, a staunch Republican, doled out $12,500 to Kit Bond; $8,500 to Roy Blunt; $3,000 to Jim Talent, you might be surprised to see that our pal, Democrat Dick Gephardt (Rep. from 1977-2005), received (at the very least) $12,000 from the embattled lobbyist.
This, of course, isn't new news -- it was reported waaaaaay back in June in the Washington Post.
It is interesting to note this tid-bit was finally picked-up last week in St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Jo Mannies' blog.
It's also interesting to note that the leaders of Missouri's Democratic party issued yet another dumb-ass comment, this one in regards to Abramoff's $3,000 donation to Missouri Senator Jim Talent:
Missouri voters need to ask themselves, what kind of senator is so weak that they would take money from such a corrupt lobbyist and his client?Apparently a 14-term-serving Democrat would, you nit-wits!
January 6, 2006
Jefferson County's State Senator (and former State Representative), Bill Alter sure is having fun in Jefferson City. In addition to wanting to change the definition of "peace disturbance" to include barking dogs, Mister Alter wants to outlaw refrigerated beer sales, as well.
"The only reason why beer would need to be cold is so that it can be consumed right away," Alter, who has been a police offer [sic] for more than 20 years, said Thursday.Bill, I hate to tell ya, but making laws that appeal only to ten year olds, -- well that's not my idea of representative democracy! And sir, the best piece of legislation you can offer, after nearly a decade in public service, is keeping beer warm?
He said the idea came from a fifth-grade student in Jefferson County who was participating in a program to teach elementary students about state government... "I thought it had the best chance at getting legislative attention," said Alter, R-High Ridge. "Plus, I think it's a good idea whether or not other people do."
Now, I'm sure that Mister Alter is a fine, fine man. His website shows just how much he not only wrestles with the enormity of the issues facing our fair state but also how much he wrestles with the English language!
Let's take a peek, shall we?
EDUCATIONAll this talk of "passing" and "seniors" is morbid stuff, indeed!
We inherited a great nation. So must our children. No nation, whatever the size of its armed forces or economy, can sustain greatness unless it educates its children. Cities, suburbs and rural communities all have schools where young minds are left unengaged, good teachers left unsupported, standards left unused.
I want to talk with you about the elderly – about the challenges they face and the contribution the [sic] have made. They are our parents, and our grandparents, our neighbors, coworkers and friends, passing through a stage of life that awaits each of us --- some sooner than others.
ECONOMYYou heard someone say that Missouri is the Show Me State? How weird!!!! And can you really be absent without leave while you're turning a deaf ear? And Bill, I'm sure you know a little something about methamphetamine since the Jefferson County Sheriff testified that your county "leads the nation in the number of meth labs" last March!
As a small business owner, I know first-hand that Government does not create wealth or the jobs of the future. These are created by the hard work and determination of individuals.
I’ve saved the worst for last. I heard someone say that Missouri is the show me state, and we are asking for other state to help through this problem we are facing called METH. The state legislature has been AWOL on this issue turned a deaf ear to this problem. We must not follow, but lead on this issue. As a law enforcement office in Jefferson County I know first handed.
My heart goes out to y'all -- but you're all a bunch of cranked-out junkies! How about showing me some rehab or treatment facilities or some decent education and prevention efforts?
PRO FAMILY, PRO WORKER, PRO LIFEI'm an Autumn, by the way.
The foundation for the future must continue to be our values. In Jefferson County, we value hard work and honest wages. We value our families and the strength we all draw from them. And, we value the sanctity of life. By committing to the protection of the unborn, we demonstrate our commitment to life in all its seasons.
CONCLUSTION [sic]ConclusTion?????? Well, golly, Wilbur! I know I can make a typo or two, but geez - I was not running for Senate with EDUCATION as a platform issue.
I believe Jefferson County is on the brink of greatness. The hard-working, conservative values of our people have brought us to this point and will build an even stronger future for our children and grandchildren.
I guess Bill's got other, bigger issues to worry about...
Like whether or not folks in Jefferson County can pick up a 6-pack on their way to their family reunion of God-fearing, abortion-hating meth dealers.
Talk about a disturbance of the peace!
January 5, 2006
A few weeks ago, I downloaded some files from The Missouri Ethics Commission. While it's not the easiest system to navigate, you can find all sorts of interesting info about who's donating how much to which person's campaign.
Just for fun (and yes, sadly, this is what I do for fun these days) I thought I’d take a look at who donated money to support our fearless Governor in the last election cycle.
Well, as it turns out -- Matt Blunt ( Missouri Governor/Husband of Bunny Blunt) received $1,125 from the Volunteer PAC of Nashville, TN in October, 2004. That's the Political Action Committee Bill Frist runs. You might have heard of it lately, since Jack Abramoff just copped a plea to coercing, bribing and influencing federal policy by donating money to Volunteer PAC, along with other organizations. I dunno about you, but I think Abramoff is kinda sexy, in that former-wrestler turned asshole neo-con kinda way. Maybe the Rock will play him in the made-for-tv-movie?
Oh, well....I digress...I guess all this just goes to show how money, power influence and steroids are peddled in Washington D.C., and even here in the less-than-fair Midwest..
Let's take a sample gander at some other donors, shall we?
Southern Belle Dairy - $1,000
These fine folks are being sued by the Department of Justice for price-gouging and artificially fixing prices for milk served to children in public schools. Why this Ohio based company is interested in a Missouri governor’s race (and mistreating younglings for profit) is beyond me.
Speaking of Ohio...
Rep. Michael Oxley (OH) - $1,000
This fine fellow "offered to ease up on his investigation of the mutual fund industry if the industry replaced its top lobbyist, a Democrat, with a Republican" and there's been no response to whether he, himself, is gonna give back the $2,000 contribution Abramoff made to him back-in-the-day.
Let’s travel south to another Republican strong-hold and pay a visit to…
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL) - $1,000
Ms. Ros-Lehtinen's claim to fame may be that she's all for giving supermodels "their own immigration category" and her ass scored a free trip to Malaysia around the same time the U.S. began changing its political and trade policy with Malaysia, which was **whoooooo...here it is** around the same time that Jack Abramoff "...was indirectly paid by the government of Malaysia."
Turning our attention back home…while I found no connection to Jackie-boy with this local company, it is staggering to review the contributions made to Blunt's campaign made by local juggernaut:
Emerson Electric – in the tens of thousands of dollars!
From a cursory glance, Blunt received $250 from Emerson, which doesn’t look that bad until you start looking at these other funds, tucked away in various financial forms:
Emerson’s Missouri Responsible Fund - $1200
Ridge Tool (a subsidiary of Emerson Electric) - $2400
Copeland Corp (another subsidiary of Emerson Electric) - $2400
Closet Maid ( yet a subsidiary of Emerson Electric) - $2400
David & Betty Farrell (Emerson Electric Board of Directors) - $2400
Albert Suter (Emerson Electric Board of Directors) - $2400
Charles & Joanne Knight (Emerson Electric Board of Directors) - $2000
Robert Cox (Emerson Electric Board of Directors) - $500
Oh, Emerson also gave hundreds of thousands nationally, too...and only, as far as I can tell, to Republicans.
I’m sure there’s more to discover, I just got tired of cross-checking Emerson's vast array of holdings -- and what's listed above reeks of shadiness, as far as I’m concerned.
Speaking of which, even little-ole Springfield, Missouri, has it's share of businesses doing business as other businesses doing business. Take for example,
James E. Cologna, CPA who represents (and I assume owns) these businesses:
Class Act Management - $1200
C+S Marshfield Doing Business As Marshfield McDonald’s - $1200
Rogersville McDonalds - $1200
Buffalo McDonalds - $1200
G & J Development - $1200
and the local franchise owner, Ron Saverin, along with David, Jessica, Justin and Matthew Saverin - $7200.
Saverin also owns Castle Hill Holdings, with $50 million in local restaurant assets and numerous variations of the name ( at $1200 a pop) ...so who knows how much he actually donated...tens…hundreds of thousands of dollars to Blunt and others?
It just goes on and on, truth be told, adding up (eventually) to millions of dollars of influence-peddling and bullshit parading itself as an investment in the democratic process. Not just here in Missouri - but everywhere.
At first, I wondered "Is this all some Right Wing conspiracy?"
And you know what?
I don't think so.
I just think it's a sad example of what's wrong with America. A few people have a helluva lot of money and can go through numerous channels to make sure their candidate wins. It's not just the Right -- it's also those on the Left. That doesn't make it any better, as far as I'm concerned.
And while all these records are safeguarded by the Ethics Commission, I question just how ethical our current political system is anymore.
And to think we were once upset by dangling chads...and to think I'll never be able to enjoy a Frosty in this town again.
Here's where I found the numbers I quoted, so have at it -- go get your Nancy Drew on -- and if you can connect the dots to even more political bullshit, please leave me a comment!
Blunt's Financial File 1
Blunt's Financial File 2
Blunt's Financial File 3
Blunt's Financial File 4
Blunt's Financial File 5
Blunt's Financial File 6
Blunt's Financial File 7
Blunt's Financial File 8
Blunt's Financial File 9
January 2, 2006
New Year's Day is the one day of the year where you're actually encouraged to dream-up wildly unimaginable life-altering resolutions.
It can be a very exciting day -- filled with affirmations of substantive change. Some folks even go to the trouble to create lists of things they want to accomplish or behaviors they wish to change. Of course, may people will resolve to quit smoking, stop drinking, start exercising and so forth, to which I say:
See, I decided to take a different approach to New Year’s Day. I took yesterday to delight in my fucked up life, to relish in the big-ole-complicated mess that is my existence. I smoked cigarettes, I watched hours of TV, I read tabloids, I ate lots of food, I watched porn and ate candy. I even pissed off a dear friend, which I didn't mean to -- but does the intention really matter, when the outcome is undesirable? I will resolve to try to do less of that, of course. I may be a fuck-up in many, many ways – but hurting someone I care about isn’t a trait I admire in myself or wish to actively pursue.
Speaking of which, I also did a few good things on the first day of this new year. I didn't yell at anybody. I cleaned my house. I fed my cat. I paid a bill. I amused myself by thinking I could be a rockabilly homo, post-punk crime-fighter with kick-ass super-ninja fighting skills and even took pictures of myself living out my dream, as well!
I thought about the wonderful lady whose flowers I designed for her New Year's Eve wedding and the marvelous evening I had with her and some very dear friends.
But mostly what I did was think about how I need to learn to accept that certain things will always be problematic for me. I will always struggle with my weight, with eating, with drinking, with smoking, with loving, with hoping, with sadness and with grief.
I will have some days that are complicated and fucked up and miserable and so-horribly-awful that I will act like an asshole rather than deal with the issue at hand. I will be sneaky and mischievous and gossipy. I will act like it’s the end of the world when it’s not and though I will do my best to be self-aware, I will unknowingly upset people from time to time.
I will struggle with regret and guilt and I will fight like hell to find some hope. I will hate being single, love being single, hate being lonely and be grateful for those moments when I feel that the only person who has an expectation of me is me...and my cat.
I will feel unloved, unlucky, unhappy and unimpressed.
I will also be snarky and clever and funny and sometimes sexy ( I hope ).
I will continue to ride my bike.
There’s all sorts of things I could imagine for myself this year – but that’s not my resolution for 2006. I think I’ll just be content to be a rockabilly homo, post-punk crime-fighter with kick-ass super-ninja fighting skills who’ll continue to keep taking photos of himself when the mood strikes.
So here’s to more good days (and fewer bad ones).
Have a happy 2006, y’all.