Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Biden takes on the Palinator

Do you remember the Grossinator? It was a handheld device designed to hurl childish insults at bystanders. Part of the fun was creating vulgar statements using four buttons, each of which had several sentence fragments associated with it.

Button #1 - You're like/It's time for/Let's all make/How about/I just love/I'm gonna make/There's nothing like
Button #2 - a big/a long/a revolting/a disgusting/a slimy/a foul/a horrible
Button #3 - gross/oozing/awful/wretched/stinky/
Button #4 - fart/burp/scab/m'booger/snot/barf/puke

After you'd chosen the words that would comprise your insult, a final button caused the Grossinator's growly voice to broadcast your lowbrow wit to all within earshot. If you didn't have an insult preference, the Grossinator combined the fragments on its own. Hearing the familiar words and phrases cobbled together in unexpected, sometimes nonsensical, fashion was most hilarious.

Sarah Palin's recent encounters with the media have been disastrous. So disastrous, in fact, that Saturday Night Live was able to parody her interview with Katie Couric using parts of the transcript verbatim! McCain's campaign handlers are holed up in Sedona with Palin this very minute trying to coach her for Thursday's debate. There is no chance that they can make her look well-informed. At best they can hope she doesn't say anything egregiously erroneous, or downright dangerous.

I think the safest plan would be to limit Palin's leeway in the debate. To keep her from wandering into parts unknown (by her), campaign strategists should carefully select words and phrases for her to memorize and combine as she saw fit. Even better, they could enlist Mattel to create the Palinator.

Button #1 - Senator McCain and I/Our administration/It's got to be about/My experience as
Button #2 - economy/healthcare reform/terrorism/taxes/
Button #3 - certainly does/ultimately/I dunno/you know/yeah
Button #4 - gotcha journalism/liberal elite/spending/the United States of America/Alaska

Notice that there are no words associated with abortion, birth control, evolution, war, religion, state troopers, lipstick, pigs, Russia, Wall Street, Bush Doctrine, United Nations, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, or special needs children.

I didn't actually put together any of the above fragments to make sure they made coherent sentences. But then the Palinator wouldn't, would it? It would simply say whatever it's been programmed to say.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Love Poem

It's so nice
to wake up in the morning
all alone
and not have to tell somebody
you love them
when you don't love them
any more.
--Richard Brautigan

You say you don't love me

as though it were a revelation. You say "I DON'T love you," as opposed to "I don't LOVE you." You make it sound like daisy petals sealed our fate.

Of course you don't love me, didn't love me. And I don't love you back.

Finally we're in the light with everyone who knew all along.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

George Saunders' gal, Sarah Palin

Excerpt from "My Gal" by George Saunders, one of my favorite funny but twisted authors.

"Explaining how she felt when John McCain offered her the Vice-Presidential spot, my Vice-Presidential candidate, Governor Sarah Palin, said something very profound: “I answered him ‘Yes’ because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can’t blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we’re on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can’t blink. So I didn’t blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.”

Isn’t that so true? I know that many times, in my life, while living it, someone would come up and, because of I had good readiness, in terms of how I was wired, when they asked that—whatever they asked—I would just not blink, because, knowing that, if I did blink, or even wink, that is weakness, therefore you can’t, you just don’t. You could, but no—you aren’t."

The article devolves into the usual George Saunders weirdness, but it's worth a few minutes, if for no other reason than to get a taste of Saunders himself!

Read the full article in The New Yorker online.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Death of a Democracy

From the Army Times:
Beginning Oct. 1 for 12 months, the 1st BCT will be under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command, as an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.

...this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one.

They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

“If we go in, we’re going in to help American citizens on American soil, to save lives, provide critical life support, help clear debris, restore normalcy and support whatever local agencies need us to do, so it’s kind of a different role,” said 1st BCT Commander, Roger Cloutier.

For the past 130 years, the Posse Comitatus Act, along with the Insurrection Act, has prohibited the government from using the U.S. military for domestic law enforcement. However, the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill allows the federal government to deploy the military here at home basically whenever they feel like it. This new "federal freedom" will most likely be used to limit our Constitutional liberties and suppress dissent.

Who's minding the store? How are these bills -- including one that throws out more than 100 years of American history with a single pocket veto -- passing without a whimper? Why don't we know? And why don't we care?

In the words of Willy Loman, "Attention must be paid!"


Friday, September 19, 2008

A breath of transcendental fresh air

In the woods too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, — no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.
Ralph Waldo Emerson ~ from Nature, 1836

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cheyenne Mountain State Park awaits

Cheyenne Mountain State ParkCheyenne Mountain State Park has everything a state park should have: 1600 acres of open space with more than 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, picnic areas (including a group picnic pavilion), camping sites (both RV-compatible and hike-in tent spots), a lovely visitors center, flora, fauna, and a whole lot of America the Beautiful. I went there the other day expecting to see plenty of weekend athletes; instead, except for a few construction workers and a handful of maintenance guys, I had the place pretty much to myself. What's up with that?

Here are a few possible reasons people are staying away:
1. No dogs on the trails
All I can say is YHGTBFKM. What pencil-pushing couch potato came up with this idea? This is Colorado Springs, Dog Fancy's choice as the most dog-friendly city in the country. People here love their dogs. People here not only walk their dogs daily, they hike their dogs daily. They love big athletic energetic dogs, and those dogs need 1600 acres of open space and 20 miles of hiking trails to be happy.

Park signs explain that the ban protects our precious pooches from predators and rattlesnakes. Well, if this is the case, why aren't they concerned about ME? And shouldn't pet owners be allowed to determine what risks they are willing to assume? Post a sign warning of potential dangers and leave it at that.

2. $6 day pass
I understand that state parks need to generate revenue, but couldn't there be some wiggle room here? An annual park pass is $60, which isn't
crazy expensive, but, still, there is something sort of offensive about having to cough up money to visit a park that's in our back yard. Especially when we have so many free trails nearby. Couldn't the park provide locals a discounted pass, or offer free entrance for walk-in traffic? In any case, they need to do something to make local day trippers feel welcome.

3. Campsites and most picnic areas are NOT OPEN yet
Despite the fact that the park opened in 2006, the park isn't very open. How is CMSP expecting to lure out-of-town visitors -- visitors with campers and tents and zillions of other outdoorsy choices -- when the park is basically unusable?

A park ranger told me that they hoped to open the park to campers at the end of September. He also said that they might have to scale back certain phases of the park's development plan because of budgetary concerns. Let me get this straight. CMSP missed the whole summer season, their entire annual revenue season, to focus on construction, and now they have to cut back construction because they have no money? The word mismanagement is on the tip of my tongue.

4. Zero community outreach
How many of you know anything about Cheyenne Mountain State Park? Do you know how to get there? Do you have a map of the trails? Do you
know that their visitors center is set up to host parties and wedding receptions? Do you know about the prairie-to-peak ecosystems unique to CMSP? I'm guessing you don't.

Yes, the park is short on funds and can't do big slick marketing campaigns. But until CMSP is open to the Airstream set, shouldn't they be targeting us locals? They could get the word out to thousands of Colorado Springs residents by having an inexpensive booth at Springspree, Pridefest, or the Diversity Fair. They could host an annual picnic at the park to draw in the community. They could set up tables outside high-traffic retailers, like the Girl Scouts do, and hawk shirts and hats, hand out information, and sell annual park passes. There is no shortage of open-space do-gooders willing to do the legwork.

Okay, bitchfest over. Now the plea. CMSP is a community jewel. A few noble souls fought the good fight against developers aimed at turning the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain into a sea of little boxes. Wide open space is a gift, better than Prozac, more fun than Mr. Biggs. It keeps us grounded. It keeps me sane. If budgetary pressures mount, we will see the state parceling off the park for sale. We'll see a cutback in hours, services and personnel, which will only make things more precarious.

So go! Go to the park. Skip the fast food lunch and pay the $6. Better yet, cough up $60 for an annual pass and go any time you please. When it opens for camping in a few weeks, do an overnight just for fun. It's a great way to enjoy camping without the usual hassles. Grill some steaks. Make s'mores. You can even bring Fido if you keep him off the trails.

This park needs local support to survive. It's a work-in-progress. Express yourself to the powers-that-be. Tell them what you like, and what you'd like to see changed. I think they'll listen. They want us there. So let's be there.
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Cheyenne Mountain State Park near NORAD
Cheyenne Mountain State Park wild turkeys
Cheyenne Mountain State Park wildflowers
Cheyenne Mountain State Park Visitors Center

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Irradiation proclaimed safe by FDA terrorists

Most of the food in the American diet is approved by the FDA for irradiation and chemo treatments. Our fresh produce and meat are subjected to these invasive procedures 1) to kill microorganisms and other pathogens 2) to arrest or delay the ripening process 3) to act as a pesticide 4) to prevent spoilage or sprouting. Although they don't say it explicitly, irradiation also masks serious sanitation problems in both farming and meat processing and provides greater immunity to the food industry executives who can claim that their products were "clean" when they left the facility.

The FDA has assured us over and over that the process of irradiation is completely safe. So safe, in fact, that consumers don't even need to know which foods are exposed to ionizing radiation.

I think the FDA should define its terms. What do they mean by safe? Irradiation works by breaking down molecules and creating free radicals. Sure, the free radicals kill some bacteria, but they also damage vitamins and fragile enzymes. The free radicals can combine with existing chemicals in the food, like pesticides, to form new chemicals, called unique radiolytic products (URPs). Some of these URPs are known toxins like benzene and formaldehyde, and others are unique to the irradiated foods. Since they are unique, I guess we can assume they are safe.

After the anthrax scare a few years back, the US Postal Service began irradiating our mail. Because there is no danger in irradiating anything, least of all the mail, they were surprised when postal employees began to experience headaches, nausea, eye irritation, lightheadedness, nose irritation, and chest or throat tightness when processing irradiated mail. The USPS hired an industrial hygiene consultant who found elevated levels of carbon monoxide, ozone, chlorine, and other volatile organic chemicals in the work area. The USPS called OSHA.

OSHA pseudo-scientists came in and performed a bunch of tests. They found the same URPs that the consultant had identified, and quite a few more. But instead of addressing the dangers of mail irradiation, OSHA made the following recommendations:

1) "Air out" the mail before processing.
2) Monitor facilities for high concentrations of toxic chemicals/gases and, if found, try a change in handling methods or provide additional ventilation.
3) Keep a log to track health problems related to handling or being exposed to irradiated mail. Have the log reviewed periodically by an occupational medicine physician to look for trends or areas requiring further evaluation. (like maybe increased cancer rates or other pesky statistics)
4) Recommend that employees experiencing eye irritation use over-the-counter eye drops as often as necessary to relieve symptoms. (don't worry about the underlying causes)

Can you believe it? OSHA sold the postal employees down the river so they could keep the irradiation-is-perfectly-safe lie going. I'm sure they weren't given much leeway by the unscrupulous ignorant bastards at the FDA.

Scientists have known for years that irradiation causes food to become vitamin deficient which leaves well-fed bodies starved for nutrition. Irradiation deactivates food enzymes which affects the digestion process, which affects absorption of nutrients, which affects every cell in the human body. Irradiation damages the very DNA of not only the food, but also the bacteria it's supposed to kill. This, in turn, leads to irradiation-resistant super germs that are far more dangerous to us than the original pathogens. Irradiated food contains toxic radiolytic products, aka poisons, which are ingested by you and me and everyone we know. Irradiation creates free radicals which are known to cause cell damage. The cell damage can manifest in innumerable ways, from premature aging to cancer to blindness.

The process of irradiation is safe? It's certainly not free of harm. I guess the FDA means that irradiation is safe from public scrutiny, safe from government accountability, safe from ethical study, safe from its own sad truth.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Plain

Someone forgot to tell Cindy McCain that the fashion word on Sarah's big night was "populist." Cin's half-peeled banana outfit was examined by the couture analysts at Vanity Fair and the numbers look like this:

Oscar de la Renta dress: $3,000

Chanel J12 White Ceramic Watch: $4,500

Three-carat diamond earrings: $280,000

Four-strand pearl necklace: $11,000–$25,000

Shoes, designer unknown, I'm thinking Manolos: $600

Total: about $300,000!

How long until Sarah Plain stops playing moose hunter/hockey mom/sexy librarian and starts sportin' some real duds? That would make the election season almost bearable.

info via Liza at culturekitchen

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

If it's not in his jeans, it's in his genes!

Men who cheat on women should not be held responsible. Why? According to a new Swedish study, there is a direct relationship between a man's DNA and his aptitude for monogamy. Infidelity is a genetic likelihood for certain men!

Two of every five men possess a gene variant that is linked to both marital discord and lack of emotional intimacy. Men with two copies of the variant have twice the risk of conjugal dysfunction than their male counterparts. The gene also seems predictive of whether men marry or just live with women without taking the leap.

I guess, in addition to relationship counseling and testing for STDs, we women should insist on DNA analysis before getting seriously involved with a genetic mutant. Will it be long before Merck comes up with an expensive drug to combat his natural predilections? Ask your doctor if Fidelistat is right for you.

I think the man should ask his wife instead. Or, worse, he should ask his girlfriend!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Autocracy Now!

There have been some really astounding Gestapo tactics playing out in St. Paul today. Preemptive raids, mass arrests, suspension of habeas corpus, and police brutality to name a few.

Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman was arrested and charged with obstruction of a legal process (ha) and two of her producers have felony riot charges pending. The three were manhandled by the police and sustained minor injuries.

The scariest thing? The police knew who they were arresting. They knew that they were being filmed. They knew that there was no crime being committed. And they did it anyway. Why? Because they have approval to shut down any and all dissent by whatever means.

It isn't their immediate bosses giving them carte blanche to tread on the Bill of Rights. The approval is coming from much higher up the chain of command.