Saturday, November 11, 2006

Just Thinking

Paula is 5 shots down going into the final round in Alabama today.

Maybe it's me (it probably is) but I don't get this whole Borat thing. I understand that it's hip to do comedy that makes people look like jackasses - and even name the TV shows and movies such - but really, if this is the most creative thing we as a society can conjure, maybe it's time to go back to scrawling on the cave wall.

Of course, owing to my credo of not seeing movies alone, I haven't seen this one. However, I will quote Tom Smothers, who once said, "I'm an American - I don't have to see something to know it's stupid."

Earlier this week, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb introduced his new clothing line, called Super Five. That's OK, I guess, but during the news conferences that preceeded it, he said that the reason he was doing it was to "look out for his future" and take care of his family.
The guy is in the middle of a 12-year contract that pays him $112 million dollars. $112 Million. So, I'm expected to believe that he couldn't take care of his family without this cheezy clothing line? And people wonder why there is a disconnect between athletes and the fans.

While preparing Saturday's dinner, I came to the grim realization that I purchased creamed corn on my last shopping trip. I can't read a can. Why would anyone do something as stupid as creaming corn? Or buying it?

TBS showed "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" on Saturday. November 11. Soon, we'll have to listen to news stories about how the Christmas shopping season is either a disappointment or a raging success. Shopping season? It starts on Hallowe'en now, and used to start the day after Thanksgiving. How long before we're seeing Christmas sales on Labor Day?

I'm a fan of Lance Armstrong, but now that he's doing commercials for Bristol Myers-Squibb, I think it kind of cheapens his "beating cancer" experience, although I'm sure it does not cheapen either his bank account or the coffers of his charity.

Although I don't regularly watch Keith Olberman on the TV, I did go to MSNBCs web site and call up one of his editorials. It reminded me of a Paul McCartney song from his old solo days, where one four-minute song would contain so many musical thoughts that a lesser songwriter would have made into one song, but Paul (being Paul) turned it into a work of art. Keith gives out a lot of thoughts that a lesser thinker would turn into a week's worth of commentary.

If everyone in the recording industry cared about their work as much as Fiona Apple does ... what a wonderful world it would be.
Upon receiving an MTV Award in 1997, Apple announced that "this world is bullshit." You go, girl.

There's a lot of hand-wringing going on around here with the demise of the Sands Casino in Atlantic City. One customer will miss his trips there, and the $1,000 he would spend gambling. Lost in the equation is the fact that someone has $1,000 to piss away on such things. I'd like to have such problems. Here's an idea: Find 10 people and give them each a hundred bucks. Ultimately, you'll feel better - and they will, too.

So, it turns out that Pastor Ted Haggard is a big scumbag. Go figure. Face it, we're just big lumps of protoplasm wandering around, with all the temptations and faults that everyone has. To prop someone up on a pedestal and make them bigger than the rest of us only lets the door open for disappointment. Rely on yourself, blame yourself for your lot in life and stop thinking that you are any better or worse than the person next to you.
We'll all be better off.

Randall Balmer, a Barnard College historian of American religion, said megachurches are so wrapped up with their pastor that New Life inevitably has hard times ahead. Without any creed or denominational identity for the church to cling to, attendance will eventually drop by half or more, he predicted.

"You have a kind of cult of personality that confuses the faith with a particular individual," said Balmer, author of "Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America." "I just think it's very difficult to recover from this sort of thing."

Saturday Six v.1

A little known subset to the immensely popular Thursday Thirteen, I present the Saturday Six.

Six Things That Control Your World, Over Which You Have No Influence

1. Big Oil - No kidding. Did you put gas in your car this summer? Since then, the price has dropped about a dollar a gallon and I haven't heard about any big new discoveries or any wide-scale drilling projects. Price manipulation. Ya think?
Besides, so many things are made from petroleum, that to escape its influence would mean living in a cave - which would eliminate #2 and #3...

2. Television - Playoff and big-time sports start at ridiculous hours for those of us here in the Eastern time zone, advertising is invasive, we are persuaded to buy products we do not want or need and the cost of cable is outrageous. For those of us in restricted environments (condominiumns) who are stuck with either cable or rabbit ears, what else are we to do?

3. Microsoft - I'm trying to use my computer, but I cannot, because I have that little yellow shield in the toolbar telling me that I have new updates to install. Ignoring it, the shield has decided on its own to install the updates. Then, intrusively, it presents this little pop-up every ten minutes warning me that the computer will restart automatically unless I instruct otherwise. It's like having a kid in the back seat asking "Are we there yet?" every ten minutes. Have you seen this lately?

Microsoft: Controlling your life longer than you can remember.

4. Your Emotions - Like the prision colony at French Guiana, there is no escape. Any efforts to stifle them are fruitless. Desire is the best reason and biggest excuse for anything we do. "Because I want to" is controlled by our emotions, and fight them as we may, they exert great moral gravitational pull on us. We are taught from an early age (by religion or our guilt-induced upbringing) to "control your emotions", which is about as difficult as controlling anything else on this list.

5. Money - The key link to desire and the rest of our angst-riddled existence is the power of money. Otherwise, we would live in a world of barter, and what fun would that be? Lots, right?

There's always someone on #2 using #4 to get you to spend more on something you didn't have yesterday and won't need tomorrow. Usually, we got along fine without whatever it was, but we are told that we need it, want it and cannot live without it.

6. Time - There isn't enough of it, and try as we might to "save" time with devices and other such nonsense advertised on #2, all they really do is separate us from #5 and usually wind up costing us more #1 running around looking for it. Face it folks, there is only so much time, and each new thing we add to our lives (like Blogging) only takes up more of it.

Ask yourself if you really have more time to spend on the things you want to do, even though our lives are supposed to be easier with all of our new technology. If you ask me (and you didn't) our lives are more complicated than ever, and the more time we spend fighting our emotions, earning money, playing on the computer, driving our asses around and watching 200 cable channels; the more complex our lives become.

It never stops.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Thursday Thirteen v.9

Thirteen Cool Things About Lawrence, Kansas

1. Google Earth has a default position when started up that is centered exactly on the town of Lawrence (specifically, on an apartment building lying between Compton Square and Regency Place). This may be verified by running the software and zooming in from the default start position without rotating the virtual globe at all. This location was set by Brian McClendon, a 1986 graduate of the University of Kansas and now a director of engineering at Google.

2. In the 1983 TV movie The Day After, Lawrence was ravaged by fallout from detonations of nearby Soviet nuclear bombs, including one which destroyed Kansas City, Missouri.

3. Lawrence was also destroyed in the 2006 TV Series Jericho.

Editor's note: TV hates Lawrence, Kansas.

4. There are three separate tunnel systems underneath Massachusetts Street, as well as an extensive steam-tunnel network underneath the University of Kansas, which includes tunnels designed as nuclear attack shelters.

5. The inventor of basketball, James Naismith, was the first basketball coach at the University of Kansas and was the only KU coach with a losing record.

6. In the television show Supernatural, the main characters were born in Lawrence; several scenes from the pilot (and one whole episode) were set in Lawrence.

7. Well-known singer-songwriter Josh Ritter wrote a song called "Lawrence, Kansas."

8. Some exterior shots for the CBS series Jericho were filmed in Lawrence. In the seventh episode of the series, it is mentioned that Lawrence was destroyed by a nuclear blast.

9. Lawrence holds the distinction of having been the site of operation for the state's first railroad in 1871 and the city where the state's first telephone was installed in 1877.

10. While Kansas may be a heavily Republican state, Lawrence is reliably Democrat. Douglas County, where Lawrence is located, was one of only two counties in Kansas whose majority voted for John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election. Douglas County has supported the Democratic candidate the past four presidential elections.

11. The New York Times called Lawrence "the most vital music scene between Chicago and Denver" in a travel column on February 25, 2005, and Rolling Stone named Lawrence one of the "best lil' college towns" in the country in their August 11, 2005 issue.

12. Poet, author, and counterculture figure William S. Burroughs moved to Lawrence in 1983 and died there at age 83, from complications following a heart attack, on August 2, 1997.

13. Notable natives and residents: Hugh Beaumont (Leave it to Beaver); Jim Thorpe; Jim Ryun; actor Don Johnson; Bob Dole; Erin Brockovich; Wilt Chamberlin; baseball author Bill James and Paul Pierce from the Boston Celtics.

Watch Out: Snails Ahead

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) -- Ravenous giant snails that emerge from the ground by night are thriving on the tropical island of Barbados, destroying crops and prompting calls for the government to eliminate them.
This is officially "The World's Slowest Invasion".
Easiest job in Barbados: Catch the snails. I think we may have found something for Donald Rumsfeld to do.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

A Lovely Couple

Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (L), expected to be elected Speaker of the House in the aftermath of the midterm elections, shares a laugh with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Capitol Hill the day after Democrats took control of the House for the first time in 12 years, in Washington November 8, 2006.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

In January, Nancy Pelosi will become the first female Speaker in the history of the Congress. She would also be third in line to the presidency, after President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

She even has her own YouTube channel.

It's raining like Hell today in New Jersey, but the sun is shining somewhere.

I think it's in California.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Almost Every Vote Counts

WASHINGTON - Federal poll watchers will be in 22 states Tuesday, safeguarding against fraud or discrimination in election districts marked by tight races, large numbers of minority voters and faulty ballot machines.

Justice Department monitors and observers are being assigned to Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which has been dogged by problems with computerized touch-screen voting machines. They will be in Bergen County, N.J., a must-win prize for both candidates in the state's Senate race. And they will watching more than a dozen counties nationwide where polls are on American Indian reservations and in big cities dominated by black voters.

In all, the Justice Department is sending an estimated 850 poll watchers to 69 cities and counties - what officials on Monday called an unprecedented number, and twice as many during the 2002 congressional midterm elections.

I'm not sure if I should feel good about the Justice Department doing this, or ashamed that they have to.

I'll just let you read this, from the BBC News, on your own. It makes me proud that we are the focal point of election corruption, while we are supposed to be bringing fear-sponsored peace to other parts of the world.It reminds me of a quote from Seinfeld, when Newman and Kramer were playing Risk, and trying to cheat each other. When asked what they were doing, Jerry replied, "It's a game of world domination,being played by two people who can barely run their own lives."
And which two people could I be referring to?

Meanwhile, in Colorado:

These paid political advertisements are provided by the Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative Committee, SAFER Colorado. The group got a referendum on the state ballot legalizing marijuana and ran ads in newspapers Saturday, Nov. 4, 2006 targeting President Bush for allegedly challenging his father to fight while drunk and Cheney for allegedly shooting a friend after drinking.

If you want to check out what's going on around the country, NPR has a nice map showing key races around the country - in the traditional red and blue colors of the season.

All 435 House seats, 33 Senate seats and 36 governorships are at stake in Tuesday's voting, with Democrats needing to pick up 15 House seats and six Senate seats to seize control of both houses of Congress for the first time since 1994. About 50 contested House races and 10 Senate races are the chief battleground.

So, get out and vote. With any luck, your vote will be counted accurately, instead of the way it usually is.