Sunday, December 20, 2009

Who Knew?

Here’s a mildly interesting line from an obituary which appears in a local paper:

“He was preceded in death by many who knew and loved him.”

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Words, Words,Words 12/10/09

Ya gotta love ‘em, our idioms.  You can’t really turn off a light; you can move a switch to the off position.

“Pre-sale” by now is ubiquitous, although it’s nonsense.  There’s another one which is not quite so widespread, but only because, one supposes, there’s not that frequent an opportunity to use it.  Henry Chu of the Los Angeles Times delves into his easy phrases in “Epilogue to tale of novelist’s success” and trots out this curiosity:  “untimely death.”

Untimely death,” eh?

One wonders exactly what a timely death would be, and who would decide upon the timeliness of it.

At least it isn’t used quite as often as pre-sale.  It’s almost as much fun, though.

Just wonderin’.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Fun Words

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There’s an ad running on LOGO which touts the benefits of the “Shake Weight.”  One shakes the weighted object much like one would shake a martini, but with both hands.  It’s supposed to assist in firming up the upper under arm muscles.


What’s fun is the use of a new “technique” called dynamic inertia.  

Dynamic inertia.

A wonderful oxymoron for a mere $19.99.


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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fun moments

Fleeting:  the scene in one of the Jurassic Park movies where the camera captured the passenger mirror reflecting a dinosaur’s eye with the warning:  Objects are closer…

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Here a monk, there a monk, everywhere a monk, monk

Apropos of absolutely very little, The Muckroom over at Townhalldotcom features an anti-choice article which uses a Benedictine order as a platform.

The article references an ad by the monastery which queries “Got Monks?”

My parents, Dear Gentle Reader(s), for reasons which I never questioned, when discussing…um…privates with my brothers and myself, referred to the penis as a monk.

How many times I heard some variation of “Wash your monk,” “Did you wash your monk?” “Be sure to…” is lost to the ages; but it was at least once a day until I was old enough, and trained well enough, not to have to be asked or reminded.

I’d never seen the Benedictine ad (which was designed as a recruiting tool—no pun intended—for the Order), but the answer to the question is “No.” 

Plural penises?  Ridiculous.

Reasoning out parental euphemisms?  Impossible.

Writing about Monks/monks?  Quite fun, actually.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ya gotta love…

…the Orbitz commercial with the hovercraft (is that what they call those things which fly over land?) guy greeting “The” 

Perfectly captures the American problem with plurals of names ending in the “s” or “z” sounds.

On the other hand, American Express and BBCAmerica show and have their names associated with an ad for Jamaica—possibly the most homophobic country in the Western Hemisphere.

Ah, well.

With joy comes sorrow.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

From Whence?

Well, Dear Gentle Reader(s), it didn’t take the nay-sayers much time to toss their little water balloons at President Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.

One of the many amusements attendant on their usual divertissements, is the way they use the language.

Take this example, from the on-line presentation of TNRfrom whence it comes.

Even though cited as used by Graham Greene, from whence is redundant.  It’s more “green” to say “whence it comes” since the definition of whence includes from.

Save ink, bytes, paper, and energy.  Learn the nuances of the language.  It’s patriotic.

Oh, and congrats to President Obama for the Prize and for the very nice speech at the White House Rose Garden this morning.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Good luck with that

It seems, Dear Gentle Reader(s), that there is some faith in the eventual success of NATO (read: U.S.) bringing some sort of democratized stability to Afghanistan.

The New York Times reports that British authorities have returned some 2,000 artifacts of Afghanistan’s history to Afghanistan’s National Museum.

Now, if Britain will step up and help NATO (see supra) secure the political situation in Afghanistan so those treasures will be safeguarded against a Taliban return to power, all will be truly well.

Yeah.  Well…

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Final moments of a bar

How much pleasure there is in eking out the last little bit of use of a bar of soap!


At least 5 or 6 more hand washings, don’t you think?


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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

So, What is “is”?

Ah, Dear Gentle Reader(s), who will ever forget the immortal words of the President when he said, “It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is…”

Now we have a new phrase to contemplate.  Because of what a judge felt was some prosecutorial misconduct, she ordered a new trial for a defendant.  The prosecution is arguing that the judge should not grant a new trial because the testimony of the witness whose testimony was involved in the brouhaha was “truthful, but inaccurate.”

It’s a federal case.  The title of the article cited reads “Prosecutors defend false testimony as 'truthful, but inaccurate'.”  It’s fun to read.

Truthful but inaccurate.

Well, that lets the Bush administration off the hook for a great many supposed ills.  “What I said in court was truthful, your Honor, but a tad inaccurate.”  “When I spoke of weapons of mass destruction, I was being truthful, but inaccurate.”

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Here a Czar, there a Czar…

Of all the inanities of the right wing blather, nothing makes less sense than the “czar”-ing of the Obama administration.

Google search indicates that possibly Nixon was the first person to use the word—unofficially. 

It’s just a shortcut way of talking about a person’s responsibilities.  Yet the right wing blathosphere would have us believe that there’s a Russian cabal running the country out of the West Wing.

Nutty people.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

This cannot be good

First Amendment’s protection of “free” speech is poised to allow the false metaphorical “Fire!!!!” in a crowded theatre to become, for the first time, protected.

How a corporation came to be regarded as an entity entitled to the same protections as human beings is a mystery to all who aren’t minions of mega-profits, but there it is.

And here, from the website of The National Law Journal, is the first whiff of the possible demise of politics as we know it:

After an extraordinary 90 minutes of oral argument in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, it seemed likely that the [Supreme] Court, swayed by arguments in favor of First Amendment rights for corporations, was ready to embark on a new course that critics say could unleash a flood of corporate wealth into elections that are already awash in more regulated kinds of campaign spending.

If “We, the people” have been guaranteed that our voices will be heard in the halls of government, we are about to lose much of whatever influence our voices may have to the virtually unlimited treasuries of corporations, whose money equals speech in the eyes of the Supreme Court.

Shhhhh, Dear Gentle Reader(s).  Practice being quiet.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

O Afghanistan

All of a sudden, there is a spate of political pundits focusing on the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, and what they are saying isn’t pretty.

On September 1, George F Will offered “Time to get out of Afghanistan” in The Washington Post.

Today, September 6, Thomas L. Friedman offers “From baby-sitting to adoption” and Nicholas D. Kristof “The Afghanistan abyss” in The New York Times.

Friedman and Kristof are both progressives, Will isn’t.

Friedman and Kristof suggest debate and caution regarding increasing American troop levels.  Will suggests off-shore military involvement.

Iraq is/was a war of “choice.”  Is Afghanistan a war of futility?

How does President Obama deal with the unintended consequences of Charlie Wilson’s War?

Trust, but verify.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Ohh, Wasp! Wherefore thy sting?

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Um, here’s one for you, Dear Gentle Reader(s).  Back on August 22, NPR broadcast an item, “Orchids: 'Inflatable Love Dolls Of The Floral Kingdom.'”  Basically it discussed the way certain orchids trick unsuspecting bees into a pollination tryst.

Down in the story occurs this referring to a certain type of wasp which also is fooled by an orchid: 

"having sex with anything that moves, on balance, is a good reproductive strategy for males." A male wasp that's overly picky about its mates will end up leaving less offspring than a male that goes off and has sex with anything that looks like a wasp.

“…anything that moves…”


Sounds like some people I’ve known.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Oligarhy? And this guy’s influential?!?

Glen Beck needs help.

Here’s a link to a You Tube video taken from his newscast of last Thursday. 

Watch closely—well, not really; don’t watch if you don’t want to—to see Mr Beck make a fool of himself on national television, and think about how easily it would’ve been to prevent that moment if only he’d had some intelligent backup from his assistants, and editors, and the Fox directors, and just about anyone else who is working behind the scenes.

Watch Beck cleverly come up with the word du jour for his telecast.

And then weep for the right wing who hail this guy as an intellectual hero.

Weep for the rest of us, too.   We have collectively fallen so far.  Thank SCOTUS for their 2000 interference.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

50 years?

The BLT (blog of Legal Times) tells us that retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter has put a hold on his papers for 50 years.

That means the machinations of the Rehnquist Court during the time of the 2000 Bush v Gore deliberations will not be available to most people who cared—like those whose relatives died in Iraq.

Say it ain’t so, Dave.

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Friday, August 21, 2009


It is, Dear Gentle Reader(s), ubiqitous.

One might think the Republican right might be the only group of people who would rather snipe and cavil than enter into a serious discussion about matters of import.


For an example of how the right wing Tory (ooops, Conservative) Party of the U.K. thinks, just trundle over to the website of The Spectator.  Much smoke and quip, little substance.

Read, for a sentence or two, you won’t need more, the article entitled “If the NHS is ‘fair’, give me unfairness any day.”  It’s written by one James Delingpole, possibly a leading quipster for the Spectator stable.  He’s not quite WFBuckley supercilious, but he comes close.

Ah those conservatives.  As dependable as the rising sun.  But infinitely of less worth.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Would you pull the switch?

A bit of a controversy, Dear Gentle Reader(s), has arisen over the death penalty, and it comes from recent writings by two members of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s the original link.  It’s a New York Times article referring to a recent Court decision to hear a death penalty case.

Here are two interesting viewpoints:

1) “The substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death,” Justice [John Paul] Stevens wrote in a concurrence joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, “clearly provides an adequate justification for holding an evidentiary hearing.”

2) “This court has never held,” Justice [Antonin] Scalia wrote, “that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.”

While the first example seems a given; the second seems somehow illogical. 

Don’t we all, by now, understand that “a full and fair trial” is more of a goal to which we might aspire but might never know if we have attained? 

Full?  Has every last iota of evidence been offered and considered?  Fair?  Is the prosecution interested in Justice or conviction rate?  Is the defense interested in Justice or manipulating the system?

If Justice Scalia’s statement is correct, and the Constitution does not forbid the execution of a person in the situation described by him, ought it so to do?

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Sunday, August 09, 2009


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Nagasaki, Japan, August 9, 1945.  Estimated 39,000 instant deaths.  2nd atomic bomb attack on an enemy city.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

A must read

Hie thee, Dear Gentle Reader(s), over to Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish to be enriched a submission by one of his readers.

It’s a response to one of Sullivan’s entries in which he asks “Is your bubble bursting?” a reference to the dismay some progressives are evincing about the slowness of Mr. Obama’s progressive campaign agenda.

The unnamed reader explains, quite accurately, the right wing populism now sweeping the country. 

If you’ve ever wondered about those people, this writer nails ‘em.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009


Remember, Dear Gentle Reader(s), that today is Hiroshima Day—64 years ago the atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

A pause for reflection is in order.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Deja vu—all over again. Alas.

The news today, in part, deals with the “confessions” and show trial of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s dissidents. 

The world has seen these confessions and trials before.

There’s a new book out, The Stalin Epigram, by Robert Littell which depicts the Soviet judicial system in the 1930s, especially the way torture, “confessions,” and show trials were used to cleanse the system of dissidents.

One wonders, Dear Gentle Reader(s), how the religious leaders in Iran cannot see the parallels between their treatment of their countrymen and the way Stalin treated his countrymen during his regime.

There is a difference in magnitude, but not in historical similarity.

Trust, but verify.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Boko Haram—More widespread than you’d think?

The phrase, Dear Gentle Reader(s), means, in effect, education is sinful.  Well, that’s one way to interpret it.  Go here for a more detailed and, probably, more accurate discussion.

It’s a name given to a particular Islamist cult in Africa currently wreaking havoc in Nigeria.

The cult is more interested in “Western” education, to be sure, but too many religionists are leery of modernizing education for their potential adherents.

In California, fundamentalist Christians helped to destroy a move for more creative thinking in the 1990s; in Afghanistan and Pakistan the Taliban and other Islamists destroy girls’ schools; text books from Saudi Arabia often seem lodged in the 7th century.

The war against terror won’t be won in the military battlefield; it needs must be won in the classroom.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Note to self:  Suggest to nieces and nephews they put a clause in their wills for their grandchildren that there be established a national holiday on November 14, 2139, in honor of the master rapscallion of greed, Bernie Madoff, who would’ve been released from prison on that day, had he lived out his sentence.

Have a good B.M. Day, everyone!

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Sunday, July 12, 2009


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A dilemma, Dear Gentle Reader(s) has descended.

It seems one was ensconced in a dentist’s chair, preparing for a routine replacement of a rather superficial filling (one not requiring extensive drilling) when one responded to a packing of string under the gum area with a wince.

“Too much pain?”

“Um, well, I feel it.”

“OK.  Let me give you another shot.”

“Thank you.”

Skip ahead four weeks.

“Explanation of Dental Benefits” from MetLife:  “For benefit determination purposes, procedure D9110 is not a covered dental expense since it is considered a part of procedure D23 91 and benefits are not separately payable for this procedure.”

“Hmmm,” one hmmms.  “What is D9110?  Dunno.  Let’s look.”  Referring to the procedure code at the top of the page, D9110 is…Wait for it…Emergency Relief of Pain.*

So one didn’t get enough “relief of pain” from the first shot, and the second shot cost $100!

Perhaps one ought to seek the services of a different dentist.


Too bad, though.  It was a pleasant 2 year relationship.

*Hence, ERP

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Friday, July 10, 2009


There is a law school, Dear Gentle Reader(s), which goes by the name of Ave Maria School of Law, that is currently engaged in a wrongful termination law suit and, in so doing, is raising some interesting diction (in the sense of word choice) issues.

You can read about it on  the web site of The National Law Journal.

What is most interesting is this:  [Ave Maria School of Law] is trying to declare law professors as ministers to avoid a wrongful termination suit from proceeding.

The professors aren’t ordained, but somehow they’re ministers because they work for a religious institution.

Word games—the bane of logic.

Fun times.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Enough, Already!!!

Dear Gentle Reader(s), how much more do we have to know about Governor Palin?  Better, has anyone read anything, anything at all, new about her in the past month or so?

There can’t be very much interest in her political future.  Except for extremists in the right wing of the electorate—and there aren’t enough votes there for her to be a serious contender—no one seriously considers her a “contender.”

There might still be enough of a concern for people to begin to ask serious questions of Senator McCain, i.e., “What on earth were you thinking?”  Other than that, let the woman do whatever she wants to do. 

It’s time for the punditry to let go.  We’ve already paid enough attention to that particular train wreck.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Eye-rolling Smiley

Sometimes, Dear Gentle Reader(s), it’s so easy, that one thinks an effort is hardly worthwhile.

Case in point—over at the Townhalldotcom Muckroom, Bill O’Reilly’s column starts with this titbit:  “In fact, we are becoming a nation of braying sheep…”

Ah, Bill-o—to use the Hallowed Keith’s word—, sheep, my boyo, don’t bray, they bleat.  Jackasses bray.

Either way, though, Bill-o’s covered.

Happy Fourth, America.  Remember the troops.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lest the Natives Be Restless….

Interesting take on the Iranian protests, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is noted in today’s The Washington Post.

It seems the regimes of China, Cuba, and Burma have been trying to keep the news about the Iranians’ protest away from the people of those benighted countries.

Never let it be said that petitioning the government is futile.  Sometimes the gain is not immediately observable.

It’s always good to see thugs become nervous.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sly Puss

Today, Dear Gentle Reader(s), let us salute a man with a sense of humor, and a sly one at that.

Our hero’s name is Daniel Politi, and he writes a summary of leading newspapers’ front pages for Slate Magazine.  His wit is on view with today’s* subject line:  “Iran's Guardian Council: Election Was Kosher.”

It’s like the first sip of a very cold, very dry Bombay martini, eh wot?

To Daniel Politi—today’s funniest person in the worrrrrrld!

*Posted Tuesday, June 23, 2009, at 6:33 AM ET

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Hie to another place for a different view

Transparency, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is the catch word du jour, so one must strive for as much of it as possible.

As a follow up to yesterday’s post encouraging you to visit Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish, today there’s encouragement for you to visit The New Republic’s online site to read Marty Peretz’s take on the Iranian elections. 

Peretz holds that the elections were, indeed, valid because of the widespread support of the vast numbers of poor people out in the smaller towns and villages.  (Interesting to note that Hugo Chavez’s government was one of the first to congratulate Ahmadinejad.  Poverty has a voice which is too often neglected by politicians.  Otherwise Hugo would be a footnote rather than whatever he is now.)

Of course, note, too, that Sullivan’s coverage is just short of live—tweeters tweeting and cell phone videos in real time--while the Peretz comment is based on public polling which occurred some two or three weeks ago.

Stay tuned.

Keep reading.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hie thee to Andrew’s place

Andrew Sullivan is doing yeoman’s work publishing reports out of Iran.

Get over to his website, The Daily Dish, for up to the minute tweets.

Yea, Sullivan!

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Muckroom Follies—Desperately Seeking…Something

Alas, Dear Gentle Reader(s), the editors and commentators over at Townhall’s Muckroom are not having a good year.

The racism card isn’t working, the gender card isn’t working, the anti-same sex marriage card is losing its trumping ability.  So what’s a desperate pundit to do?

Grab onto the nearest puff of smoke, it seems.

The June 5 Muckroom email has these two entries: 

1.  Linda Chavez has this lede--“The diversity crowd doesn't really believe in diversity. In fact, what they're really aiming for is conformity of opinion.”  This, DGR(s), from a spokesperson from the party which is going through a period of expelling what some call RINOs (Republican In Name Only) from the party.  If that isn’t aiming for conformity of opinion, nothing is.

2.  Under the title of “MTV’s Shock and Fraud,” Brent Bozell works himself into a lather over the “Bruno-buttock-Eminem” joke.  When a representative of MTV says, “That's all anyone wants to talk about, so let's get it out of the way. They rehearsed it at dress and yes, it went as far as it did on the live show then,” Bozell fulminates “Can you believe the chutzpah of MTV, disparaging the media they're shamelessly exploiting, that "all anyone wants to talk about" is that they'd manufacture this new low, this shock-jock-strap plot?”

It is to laugh, then to sigh, then to worry.  The paucity of legitimacy of the right has never before been so easily observed.  With serious decisions being made and the right wing commentariat floundering, we could be in danger of making mistakes without the vision of all parties concerned with the big picture.

Get serious, Muckroom denizens.

A loyal opposition isn’t worthy if there’s nothing to which one is opposed.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Get a room, George!

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Here’s a rather intriguing lede, Dear Gentle Reader(s), from George Will’s contribution to  “Epiphanies are a dime a dozen among congressional Democrats as they discover urgent new reasons to experience the almost erotic pleasure of commandeering other people's money.”

One has to wonder, just how can Will make the declarative statement that there is an “almost erotic pleasure” in taking charge of the money paid into the government’s treasury by taxpayers?  How does he know there is a near-erotic pleasure to taxing?  What sort of foreplay gets ol’ George going? 

Maybe it’s a case of wishful projection?  (“I love money!  I loooovvvve money!  Gimme!!!  Oooh.  Ahhhh. Ummm…”)

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ah, Truth or Truthiness

There is, Dear Gentle Reader(s), a full page ad in today’s The Desert Sun* (Palm Springs/Coachella Valley) which gives credit to Representative Mary Bono for her vote in favor of the recently passed energy plan.

It’s a wonder of circumspection in part, and in something else in small part.

“Leading businesses and moderate conservation groups” is the lead phrasing.  The catch word there is “moderate.”  No tree huggers, folks.  Circumspection.

The second para begins with “Despite enormous pressure to toe the Washington line…”  Key word—Washington.  The pressure didn’t come from Washington.  Whatever that is.  It came from the Republican party.  Something else.  Fudging?

Bono-Mack (her married name) voted outside of the Republican caucus.  The ad nimbly sidesteps that fact.  This is, after all, a bastion of Republican thinking (Prop Hate, er, 8 passed easily in the area).

Republican pressure becomes Washington pressure.  OK.  That’s doable.

*May 30, 2009, A14

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Facts? We don’ need no stinkin’ facts!

Of all the claims which the pro-Prop 8 folks present, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is one made by Andrew Pugno a spokesperson for  Speaking on Public Radio’s Air Talk on May 27, 2009, he said this, “Marriage predates government.”

Really?  Any proof of that?  Certainly not in any anthropological study can that statement be substantiated. 

It went something like this (OK, my conjecture, but it certainly makes more sense than his):  First came mating; Second came family—with someone making decisions (and that process could have been shared); Third came tribe—with someone making decisions for several families—one of which was controlling the mating processes); Fourth came some dissatisfaction with decisions which went against some common practices (Whadda mean, we can’t eat pork?); Fifth came superstition to use as a tool against the dissatisfaction (Because It told me to tell you not to do that); Sixth came the refinement of superstition into religion. 

Perhaps a bit fanciful, but that’s the lineage according to the anthropological studies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Government, rudimentary, to be sure, existed prior to marriage because until government came into existence, what we call marriage today was coupling for the purpose of propagating the species.  Cultural differences between tribes came later, but “government” arose out of need to protect the tribe.

For certain, “Marriage predates government,” stated with such certainty by Pugno, is at best a virtual fib.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009


Ah, Dear Gentle Reader(s), sometimes they make it so easy.

Take, for instance, today’s Townhalldotcom muckroom.  There’s a piece by Linda Chavez titled “When in Doubt, Blame Bush.”  It contains this softball, “you have to wonder what [President Obama] would do without George W. Bush to kick around.”


Nope.  Not really.

Perhaps eal with the economy?  Health care?  Greening power?  Securing Afghanistan?  Modernizing Islam?  Third World poverty?  Inner city poverty?

How many more examples would you think Chavez needs?

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

A dollar 98? A dollar 400?

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Does one suppose, Dear Gentle Reader(s), that the seller of this car learned to write cost numbers somewhere other  than here in the U.S.?


IN case it seems fuzzy, that is a period after the 1.

What fun!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Could’ve, Would of, Shoulda (“Ve” are watching!)

George Pelecanos, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is the newest “old” writer of note to cross this desk.  One down, one in progress, a few to go.  The reason for this post isn’t George so much as his editor and some other editor of years past which let the –of pass as indicator of character instead of insisting on ‘ve.

The writer, naturally, tries for some sort of verisimilitude while writing dialogue.  Even the perfect sentences of Jane Austen take on “color” when delivering language of certain characters.

The use of could of, however, is suspect as a genuine replication of non-standard articulation.  The f and the v are both fricatives.  They are produced by passing air between the upper front teeth and the bottom lip, the difference is that the v uses a sound from the larynx along with the friction of air.

Thus, the author who uses could of might as well be using could’ve.  The resulting sound is exactly the same—of has the pronunciation of ‘ve no matter the education of the speaker.  The more precise effect of character indication would be achieved, if articulation is to be used as an indication of character, by the use of coulda—or its almost as popular variation—could-a.

In Pelecano’s case, the editor of The Big Blowdown allowed, on page 289, a “could of" in mid-page and then, a couple of (coupla?) lines down, a “could’ve.”  Hedging a bet?  Indifference?  Not paying attention to speech patterns? 

Somebody got paid nice bucks to edit the book, not to mention the author’s royalty.  That’s good money in exchange for…what?  This error cannot be let pass unchallenged.  Therefore, aspiring authors and editors, be warned:  The “ve” patrol is on alert.

(OK, so this is a nit.  In these times, though, focusing on a nit or two is a valuable tool in averting meltdown.)

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Hopeful Step to the Trash Heap of History

Thoreau’s confinement in a New England jail resulted in a nice little epigram—the body might be jailed, but thought, once uttered, cannot be recalled or squelched.

Which brings us, torturously, to the current debate, Dear Gentle Reader(s), of the Matthew Shepard Act, which purports to punish certain acts as “hate crimes.”  It is surely foolish to try to criminalize hate, but that really isn’t the primary purpose of hate crimes  legislation, is it?

What such legislation does is to foster a discussion about the genesis of hate, at least as regards certain social situations.  How long has it been since there was a white on black killing where the perpetrator escaped justice?  Or since the perpetrator was able to claim a “Twinkie defense?”  Or a homosexual panic defense?

The more we speak of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, the more light is shone on these topics, and the less it is possible for bias to develop into a murderous rage.

What we need is more thought, and more people willing to speak their thoughts.  At some point in the near future the hate crime laws will be erased from the books.  That erasure is another “consummation devoutly to be wished.”

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Friday, April 24, 2009

America’s Soul Is the Soul of All of Us

If, Dear Gentle Reader(s), you are one of those who is divided about whether or not the justice system of The United States should initiate and pursue possible war crimes of some previous administration personnel, then hie thee to Paul Krugman’s piece in today’s The New York Times.  It should go a long way toward helping your make up your mind.

Krugman falls definitely on the side of justice moving forward.

…America is more than a collection of policies. We are, or at least we used to be, a nation of moral ideals. In the past, our government has sometimes done an imperfect job of upholding those ideals. But never before have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for. “This government does not torture people,” declared former President Bush, but it did, and all the world knows it.

In the name of our “moral ideals,” the investigation of the previous administration’s activities must be allowed to go forward.  We owe it to ourselves, to our history, and to our future.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Juvenilia Revived

Oh my, Dear Gentle Reader(s), it seems those embarrassing moments of “in-the-know” from one’s youth which result in red-faced giggles never really fade into oblivion.

Take, for instance, the current reich-wing spate of “tea parties” being held to protest taxing plans of the Obama administration. 

Add a smidgen of…(ahem)…”adult” entertainment information, namely the use of “tea bag” as a metaphor for…(ahem #2)…scrotum.

Then mix with a headline from the Townhall(dot)com email advertisement which reads “Your Tea Bag Might Be on TV April 15th!” and you have a very successful recipe for an episode of smirks, titters, and tee-hees.  “Really?!!?  Will there be tea baggers and tea bagging?  On TV?  Whee!  We’ve come a long way, baby!”

Thanks, Townhalldotcom.  I needed that fun fitlet.


*Set your imagination loose.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

We are everywhere

The TV show, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is Southland on NBC.  The scene is between two police cars, one a cruiser on patrol, the other a vice squad sedan.  There’s a man sitting in the back of the vice car.  A disbelieving cop in the cruiser is saying, “There’re signs every two feet;” the LAPD has a park under surveillance.  How could a guy get arrested?  There are signs and warnings all over the place.  But there sits the unhappy fellow.

The penultimate scene is in a bar, and the fellow in the cruiser is saying, “I had a shitty day.  I got arrested.”  Unnoticed a few feet away, the cop who couldn’t believe someone would be stupid enough to get arrested in a park which was known to be patrolled by LAPD says, “I had a shitty day, too.”  (It was a tough patrol.)

No mention of the fellow from the park’s infringement, just a reference to the arrest.  No particular overt signs in the bar, but you’d have to be blind, DGR(s), not to know that the officer and the fellow from the park have something in common.

“We are everywhere” is a slogan du decade (or more).  Is it such a truism that there’s no longer any need to “spell out” the officer’s dating habits?  Or is NBC a participant in the “great conspiracy,” the “great agenda,” about which the fundies keep bleating?

Stay tuned.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Dowd’s Seduction?

It might not last long, Dear Gentle Reader(s), so you’d best hie thee over to The New York Times’ presentation of Maureen Dowd’s paean to President Obama in today’s Op-Ed section.

Dowd has made a 180 degree turn since the days of Obambi.  Doubtless she will eventually steer a more centrist course, Mr. Obama can’t help but stumble in her eyes at some point, but right now it’s “killer smile” time—that European trip has turned into a seductive coup.

Celebrate with me.

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Thursday, April 02, 2009


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A couple of years ago, a brother sent me a wonderful Christmas gift:  he’d made a contribution to the group which buys milk cows for distribution to the poor  in poverty stricken areas of the world.

This year a teaching colleague of mine gave me a wonderful birthday gift:  she’d made a contribution to Doctors Without Borders which will provide 250 people with antibiotics to fight bacterial infections.

Not to belittle gift-giving on special occasions, but isn’t there a time when we, as adults, would really profit more from donations to worthy charities than we would from candy or flowers or…?

Thinking good thoughts and helping the less fortunate are wonderful ways to celebrate a memorable moment.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

One (more perfect) Art

I lost a duffel bag in a dream.

What happens to an object lost in a dream?

Elizabeth Bishop’s lost city or keys

Are somewhere, really.

But that love she might one day have lost—

Where is that?

And a duffel in a dream—

Where is that?

How does one find such?

Where to look?

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Sunday, March 29, 2009


Getting closer, Dear Gentle Reader(s), to that stage.
While walking this morning, and having my usual internal review of yesterday's discussions, I noticed a certain amount of arm movement which didn't comport with the usual swing associated with a good walking pace.
What distracted me from my musing was my right hand, fisted, assailing the space directly in front of me.
Hmmm...I'd been remembering a strong point I'd made...perhaps I was adding a little physical emphasis to the words?
Have I become one of those seniors walking the neighborhood muttering and gesticulating?
I dunno. Maybe.
When dogs start barking and children throwing rocks, I'll stay home.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

What? Another first?!? (About time!)

For the first time ever, it’s being touted, Dear Gentle Reader(s), that a sitting president will be making an appearance on a late-night television program.

President Obama visits with Jay Leno tonight and makes history.  Why this is the first time for such an appearance somewhat begs credulity.

One becomes so accustomed to seeing a sitting president on The News Hour, Mr. Obama just last week, and on the Sunday talk shows on occasion, that it beggars the mind to discover no one has visited with either Letterman or Leno, not to mention going back to Mr. Paar or Mr. J.Fred Muggs.

Visiting with the late-night crowd seems such a sure-fire way to gain some public empathy.  Mr. Nixon might have been a bit of a cold fish, but chatting with Mr. Carson might’ve helped gain a little sympathy.  And if Mr. Clinton had gone on Letterman, we might’ve had a better shot at getting health care through the Congress in 1994—Harry and Louise (and the AARP) aside.

Finally, the boob tube is being used to a significant degree as a teaching tool.

This is a first from which we will all gain.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Double the tax

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There’s a danger, Dear Gentle Reader(s), in using mnemonics for math problems, especially the advanced mathematics required for affixing the proper amount of tip to a restaurant bill.

For years here in California, it was easy to tip the customary 15%.  The state sales tax was 7 1/2%, so one only had to double the tax to be home free.

Then the tip rose to a new custom—20%.  Well, that’s OK, too.  One simply has to double the first single digit of a bill under $100, or double the first two digits of a bill under $1000.  (One doesn’t entertain the thought of a bill over $1000, does one?  Not this one.)

Recently a problem arose with the combination of the partial mnemonic double the and gin (Bombay martini—not Sapphire) followed by wine (house red) at dinner.  The thought process went something like this:

Let’s see.  The bill is $98.00.  Double the 9 for $18.  What?  Um, no.  I don’t need a doggie bag.  Where was I?  Tip.  Let’s see.  $18 doubled is $36.  Easy.  Tote it up.  Sign it.  There.  Ready to go.

Something dawned the next morning.  (let’s see…four fingers minus three toes plus one nostril…hmmm…uh-oh!)

Let that be a lesson to me, DGR(s). 

Pass the bill to someone else.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tone Deaf

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Isn’t it a bit perplexing, Dear Gentle Reader(s), to read the story following the headline in today’s The New York Times?  After all, “A.I.G. Planning Huge Bonuses After $170 Billion Bailout” isn’t exactly what one would expect for a lede in these dire financial times.

Yet, there it is in all the spectacular tone deafness of one Edward M. Liddy, appointed by the government to run the company.

For wonderment try this for the wrong word:

Liddy wrote, “We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury.”

What, one ponders, might constitute “the best and the brightest talent.”  What makes the bonuses even more problematic is this paragraph:

The bonuses will be paid to executives at A.I.G.’s financial products division, the unit that wrote trillions of dollars’ worth of credit-default swaps that protected investors from defaults on bonds backed in many cases by subprime mortgages.

In other words, DGR(s), the “best and brightest” which Liddy wishes to reward and retain are those who got us into this mess in the first place.

Then, too, there was a negotiation which resulted in some of these bonuses being paid, and that negotiation cripples the effort to reduce, much less withdraw, the bonuses.

It’s almost as though the best and brightest are the lawyers who did the negotiations for the alleged best and brightest of A.I.G.’s financial products division. 

Contracted bonuses  which have to be given to people who made the wrong decision. 

God bless America.  (And God give Mr. Liddy a better ear for language.)

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Que? What? Huh?

Alas, Dear Gentle Reader(s), there is confusion in the air over at The New York Times.

Today’s issue of the NYTimes features an opinion article written by the witty Maureen Dowd titled “Should Michelle Cover Up?” and subtitled in the online email teaser, “Let's face it: The only bracing symbol of American strength right now is the image of Michelle Obama's sculpted biceps.”

Snark?  The combined email info blended into the reputation of Dowd for eviscerating the foibles of the political class could lead a reader to think, indeed, “Snap!”—if not “Snark!”

Ah, but then, DGR(s), reading the piece clarifies, perhaps, Dowd’s intent.  She quotes colleague David Brooks, ““She’s made her point.  Now she should put away Thunder and Lightning.”  (Brooks named her bicepts?!?)  And she re-tells of a Republican’s comment about Ms Obama’s dress at the recent speech to Congress, “Babe.”

Finally, Dowd further quotes Brooks, “Washington is sensually avoidant. The wonks here like brains. She should not be known for her physical presence, for one body part.”  Sometimes I think half the reason Obama ran for president is so Michelle would have a platform to show off her biceps.” 

My.  Bicepts are “sensual.”  And the inspirational presidency was spawned by a desire to show off those lusty bicepts.  Who knew?  (This information makes The Mikado’s erotic elbow seem tame.)

The question to ponder is whether Dowd was being snarky towards Ms Obama or to Mr Brooks.  Her sensuality or  his ungracious, though private—Dowd and Brooks were sharing a taxi at the time—thoughts.

Perhaps the answer could be found in the final lines of Dowd’s column:

Michelle has soared every day, expanding the job to show us what can be accomplished by a generous spirit, a confident nature and a well-disciplined body.

I also have no doubt she can talk cap-and-trade with ease and panache.

Hmmm.  Ball’s in your court, Davie boy.  (But you might start by not trusting a columnist who has a penchant for sharp wit.)

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Theology—When Logic and Clarity Lose

There is, Dear Gentle Reader(s), in The New York Times today, a wonderful example of how, when need runs up against religious mythology, logic and clarity get lost in the conflict.

In an article about the success of a bank in Michigan to serve Moslem customers, appears this paragraph:

To distill and simplify some complicated theological and financial concepts, the basis of Islamic finance is Shariah’s forbidding of “riba,” which can be variously translated as usury or interest. Mortgage alternatives, which are the most popular financial product for Islamic consumers in the United States, essentially add what would have been the monthly interest into the purchase price of a home.

So, essentially, in order to “comply” with the stricture against usury/interest, the bank’s president needed

On the religious side…to appoint a board of Shariah scholars to certify the mortgage alternatives as “halal,” or religiously permissible. On the secular flank, he put months into persuading both state banking officials and his own board of the new products’ legitimacy.

The “interest” doesn’t appear, one must conclude, in the monthly statement, but it exists in the payment.  As long as it isn’t called interest, it isn’t interest—except it is—and it’s OK to make the payment. 

One looks askance.

If mere humans aren’t fooled by this word-legerdemain, how much doubt can there be that an all-knowing Being would be fooled?

Alas.  Logic?  Clarity?  Victims of theology.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Un mot

Here, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is a little mental health break: 

Thus speaketh Upton Sinclair:

it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it

Just a little extrapolation and we have the rationale behind the past 28 years of middle class support for the Republican Party’s trickle up financial strategy.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Tale of Ruth

No, Dear Gentle Reader(s), this is not a tale from the Bible.  Unless, of course, you might be an avid fan of the Los Angeles Times.

Test your credulity with this lead-in: 

Ruth Madoff, wife of accused Ponzi scheme operator Bernie Madoff, is trying to persuade a judge that more than $62 million of her assets are "unrelated" to her husband's alleged $50-billion fraud.

How’d you do?

Yeah.  I, also.  Especially when one remembers that ruth means, compassion for the misery of someone else, and remorse.


Lotsa ruth in this story.

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Giving Credit

Remember the snarkiness, Dear Gentle Reader(s), of the recent election cycle?  If you want a reminder, simply zip over to the Townhall muckroom.  Snarky is de rigueur, but occasionally someone slips up and writes a pithy headline.

Today the headline for Paul Jacob’s column is worth contemplating.  Remember the Maginot -- or, don't shoot the dog is worth remembering and applying to just about every situation in life.  The Maginot Line was supposed to prevent a German invasion into France.  It stretched all along the French-German border.  It might’ve worked, but we’ll never know.  German troops invaded France through Belgium.  They went around the northern end of the Line.  (For an interesting step into the history of the Maginot Line, go here, DGR(s).)

The lesson of the Maginot Line is not to let a single factor act as a barrier against a perceived threat.  And the lesson of Jacob’s title is we all have to have some sort of barking dog to alert us to danger.  Constant vigilance is necessary.

Of course the Muckroom doesn’t stray too far from its chosen path of snark.  There’s always some bit of inanity to counter the wisdom.  Kevin McCullough’s column carries the title Obama as Hitler.

What a nice, thoughtful bunch.  On occasion.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Ad Hominem? (Ad Nauseam!)

Today, Dear Gentle Reader(s), on KCRW’s “Left, Right & Center,” Tony Blankley held forth that arguing ad hominem meant “…using humans rather than ideas…”  (At 11:37)


I thought it meant arguing against the person’s character rather than the person’s contention.  Since none of the other panelists corrected him, one wonders.  (Of course, there might be the possibility the other panelists didn’t want to embarrass Blankley.  After all, he did work for Gingrich, and does work for the Moonie newspaper, Washington Times.  Why embarrass him any further, eh?)

Have a nit or two?

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Brachytherapy 2.15.09 Dreamscape

There are a couple of physical side effects, Dear Gentle Reader(s), of Brachytherapy, which are rather indelicate, and which will not be addressed here.

A psychological side effect, among which there might be many, but hard to recognize in the general give and take of daily living in the human psyche, manifested itself last night in a dream.

The side effect manifested itself thus:  The dreamer is reading a letter to an advice column which included the fact that the letter writer was having trouble “sustaining genitalia.”

Now the libido of the brachytherapy patient is adversely affected by 1) radiation seeds killing off the bad, as well, presumably, some good, cells; 2) Flowmax and Finasteride contribute to this libidinous deterioration because of a particular major physical side effect.

What a surprise to discover that the sub consciousness is affected to the degree that diction—choice of word—is also thrown into some disarray. 

After all, how can one not sustain genitalia?  Even if you lop it off or plug it up, it’s there.  Isn’t it?  At least in the genetic make-up?

Such ponderous thoughts which visit in the wee hours of the morning.  

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Um…since we’re brainstorming…

Way back when, Dear Gentle Reader(s), U.S. taxpayers were allowed to deduct some of the interest on our credit card debt from our Federal taxes.

Once many of us discovered that deduction had been repealed, we began to pay off the charges monthly.  Some of us haven’t paid more than five or ten dollars in interest on those debts since. 

Perhaps we might be able to see our way to running up a credit card bill a couple of times a year if we were once again able to deduct at least part of the interest charges.  That might assist in stopping the downward spiral of sales in the U.S.

Or not.

Just sayin’.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Brachytherapy 2.11.09

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One year anniversary of the procedure.  Cooking on simmer and fading.  Changed from flomax to finasteride.  Libido 99% gone.

So far so good.  Still breathing.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Preaching to the choir

Doubtless, Dear Gentle Reader(s), we are of a similar political bent.  That being established, you might wonder why there is so much of a political nature here.  Perhaps it’s because there’s a hope that a comment or a phrase will enlighten or might be useful in a discussion with someone who holds a differing view.


It’s a wonder that some people who are opposed to the current stimulus/spending bills currently under discussion in Washington, D.C., keep repeating phrases like, “This program doesn’t stimulate,” especially when discussing educational stimuli.

Spending stimulates.  Of course it does.  When education funding is increased the money flows into the economy in many ways—teachers’ salaries, aides’ salaries, increased supplies, which gives us more--much more spending.

For instance, just consider the number of workers it takes to get a single Ticonderoga pencil into the hands of a 3rd grader:  The miner who retrieved the mineral (not to mention the prospector who found the lode), the truck driver who drive the graphite to the factory, the woodsman who harvested the tree; the electrician who strung the power wire to the factory, the factory worker who ran the machine which crimped the metal which holds the rubber eraser, the box manufacturer who produced the container in which the pencils were shipped (more truckers) to the warehouse (forklift operator), and you get the drift.

If money is put into a tangible product, there is spending.

Tax cuts may or may not end up “spent.”  Much of it goes into savings, which eventually will go into the production economy, but not as quickly as will money spent on tangibles.

Sometimes the opponents of the President’s plan just don’t exhibit an encompassing view. 

You, DGR(s), on the other hand, are enlightened.  Go forth.  Spread the good word.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Salty Dog Courage

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Dear Gentle Reader(s), this posting probably wouldn’t be happening without the courage supplied by a salty dog.

The Phelps bong picture brouhaha is silly.

Smoking marijuana is a rite of passage observed by many and disregarded by many. 

One thing for sure, it is a font for hypocrisy.  The marijuana laws are silly and totally ineffective except for an excuse to jail some troublemakers.

Smoking marijuana is not a “gateway” to harsher drugs except for, possibly, people who are predisposed to harsher drugs anyway.

My experience with marijuana was that it made me far more cautious, and it slowed my reflexes down.  If driving, I’d stop for a stop sign a half block before I reached the corner.  I drove at 1/2 the speed limit.  I giggled a lot.  I had severe happenings of Attention Deficit Disorder—in the middle of passionate “making out,” I’d turn aside and snooze for a few minutes.  I ate cookies as if there were no tomorrow.

I grew out of the phase.



Yea, NOML!

(See what alcohol does to your logic?)

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

TWCable Lost Money?

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The New York Times reports this afternoon that Time Warner Cable announced it “lost $8.2 billion in the fourth quarter and would lay off 1,200 people.”


But, Dear Gentle Reader(s), TWC charges a lot of money for its services.  I have the stripped down digital card version (NO HBO, etc.), and my bill is $66.06. 

Remember those stories of creative accounting used in movie studios?

Just musin’.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009


Here’s another bit of evidence in the B-16 (the Prada Pope) file for you, Dear Gentle Reader(s).  It comes from today’s print edition of the Los Angeles Times.

New bishop tied Katrina to sin
An Austrian pastor who has been quoted as saying Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for sin in New Orleans is being promoted to the rank of bishop.
The Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI had tapped the Rev. Gerhard Wagner, 54, to be auxiliary bishop in Linz, Austria. It did not mention the reported remarks about Katrina.

And it was just last week that Benny re-instated an excommunicated bishop who is a Holocaust denier.  What a guy.

John XXIII is twirling in his grave; Andrew Sullivan has one more obstacle to hurdle (he refuses to join the ranks of recovering Catholics).

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Republicans call for tax cuts. Surprised?

Ah, Dear Gentle Reader(s), the joy of politics lies in the small print.

Today the Los Angeles Times gives us a little more insight into the “class warfare” which the Republican Party so often bewails. 

It’s a classic case of misdirection.  The class war is over, and you and I, DGR(s) have lost.

This last week the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted, each and every one of them, for more tax cuts.

That insight in the LAT is this:

The average tax rate paid by the richest 400 Americans fell by a third to 17.2% through the first six years of the Bush administration, and their average income doubled to $263.3 million, new data show.

Was your tax rate reduced by 1/3 and did your income double during the first six years of the Bush administration?

Thought not.

Welcome to awareness, fellow losers in the class war.

The Republican Party is not so interested in preventing a redistribution of wealth as long as that redistribution is trickle up.


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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Agnostics All

Here’s a quote from a recent posting by Andrew Sullivan:

What the defenders of the Flying Spaghetti Monster thesis' commensurability with actual theism fail to recognize is that belief in God generally doesn't have anything so "concrete" as its substance. It's not the particulars of God -- the "invisible man in the sky" imagery and such -- that matter.  In some sense these particulars aren't the content of theist belief at all; it's the "consequences" of God -- moral compunction, cultural taboo, social phenomena that amount to a de facto eschatology, etc. -- that actually constitute theism. And when measured by adherence to behaviors consistent with this belief, atheism suddenly appears much rarer. 

And that, Dear Gentle Reader(s), is what I’ve been trying to formulate into words both respectful and logical.  The “particulars” of the monotheist religions of the desert are truly irrelevant.  What is important is the social contract, the “consequences.”  “Do unto others” is far more important than a virgin birth or a resurrection or a single anthropomorphic deity.

When that basic reality becomes dominant in religious thought and seminaries, the world will be better off.

Unfortunately, researching the answer to a religious cui bono indicates that the power/money behind the current religious thinking will not cede anything to logic or the betterment of the planet’s occupants.

There’s one current theological dictum with which all can agree:  Man cannot grasp the reality of the godhead.  And since that reality extends far beyond an anthropomorphic supreme being, we’re all agnostics.  We simply don’t know because we can’t know.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Rottweiler Snarls; The Rottweiler Whimpers

Poor Pope Benedict—he simply can’t win for losing.

Benedict XVI, (B-16), welcomes back into the fold of the Roman Catholic bishoparchy an outspoken Holocaust denier then says he doesn’t agree with the guy’s anti-Semitism.  Sounds like a version of “hate the sin, love the sinner.”

Pope John XXIII convened Vatican II which was designed to “modernize” the Catholic Church; B-16 seems determined to roll back VatII as much as possible. 

B-16’s actions speak louder than his words.

One wonders if the Prada Pope will be welcomed by John in the Conclave in the Sky.

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