December 28, 2008

Atlanta International Gets It Right.

So after indignity upon indignity heaped upon me at BWI, it was with some trepidation that I faced my four hour layover in Atlanta. I haven't had to change planes here in at least ten years, and the last time was a mad dash across the concourse.

Atlanta's changed since then.

Now I'm sipping on great coffee,listening to some live jazz piano, tapped into FREE WiFi at a station set up so I can plug in while doing just that. This is what a modern airport should be like.

My only mistake was grabbing dinner in Concourse A, because I wasn't sure what I'd find all the way over on Concourse E. But Concourse E is much newer, and there's more seating, and it's easier to get in and out of. And did I mention the laptop stations?

My flight down was smooth enough: there was a four year old boy about two rows ahead of me; as the plane reached take-off speed, he voiced the same thought I always have right then:


Now the piano is plinking out "Dancin' Queen" so some 6-year-old kids can dance to it.

No, it ain't home, but it beats Baltimore all to hell.

5 reasons BWI sucks.

So my flight was delayed until 2:00. In the four hours I have been stuck here, I've come to loath Baltimore Washington International Airport. They are one big huge consumer rip-off machine.

And what's with that logo? Is that the Capital Dome with a crack in it? What statement are they making with that - "we broke democracy?"

So here are the five reasons why BWI sucks:

  1. No free WiFi. Cincinnati had free WiFi. Cedar Rapids had free WiFi.
  2. The first place I tried to log in offered two choices: T-Mobile, and Boingo. T-mobile was cheaper, so I bought a day pass. Then I moved to the other side of the airport, where my flight is. No T-Mobile, only Boingo.
  3. So I bought an hour on Boingo. I wasted 10% of my battery signing up for it, and they made me install software. Fucking Boingo. They suck. T-Mobile was only a buck more for the entire day, and I didn't need extra software.
  4. No place to plug in my laptop at the gate my flight was leaving from - I had to go halfway back on the concourse to power up.
  5. No cashback at vendors with a debit card purchase. That means if I want to get cash for a cab, I will have to pay through the nose for airport ATM fees.

Fuck you, BWI!! Next time, I'll drive.

Homeward Bound

I'm returning from my Christmas holiday with my mother.  The weather in Delaware has actually been pretty warm, and overall I had a nice stay.

They dropped me at BWI this morning, and I discovered that my flight is delayed an hour.  Oh boy!  An extra hour to sit in an airport.  We could have gotten up at a decent hour and had a liesurely breakfast. On the plus side, it means that I will only be spending 30 minutes in Atlanta.

The rat-bastards running the airport don't have free WiFi.  But with THREE hours to kill instead of TWO, I'll shell out the money.  I'll bitch about it, though.

At least I'll be travelling faster than this guy:
This is an un-married Amish man; if you look closely, you'll see that his bicycle does not have pedals.  It's really a big scooter.  Pedals aren't allowed; wheels are OK, but not "wheel upon wheel."

How do I know he's unmarried?  The lack of facial hair.

My mother is surrounded by the Amish, and has a very friendly relationship with her neighbors; they traded baked goods and books, they quilt together, and my mother even occasionally helps them run errands. One of her neighbors dropped off a pie and a Christmas card while I was there; she had her youngest child in the same kind of baby carraige my sister used for my niece, all blue nylon and plastic wheels.

My mother's kitchen cabinets are all Amish-built, as is her kitchen table.

It's a far cry from Fort Lauderdale, let's leave it at that.

I'll be home tonight, and I'll stumble into the life that was interrupted by a cat bite a week ago; I had intended to do laundry and a few other things in the time between my discovery of the red streaks and departing for the airport two days later.  No complaints - I'm around to do them.

December 27, 2008

My Mommy Loves Me.

She made me gluten-free banana muffins.  This was AFTER the batch of gluten-free tollhouse cookies that I'm still working on.

gluten free muffins

I fly home on Sunday; I might escape punching a new hole in my belt.

December 26, 2008

Ho, Ho-de-lee ho!

The best way to get grounded in the holiday spirit is from the feet up. These are my maniacal Christmas socks, blazing cheerily through cold mornings since 1982.


December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from 1966 - and Happy Chanuka

This is my great-uncle Bob Kerr, making the wreath for the door of my grandparent's house in Haddon Heights.  It was his particular skill, and he made everyone a wreath every year.

This time of year, he always smelled of oil, cigar smoke, and pine.

Christmas - well, the holiday season in general - is a time to remember your family, and gather with them if you can.  We've had a lot of great Christmases in my family, and my neices and nephew have added chanuka to our celebrations.

In my adjusted holiday schedule, a lot of files I meant to have with me were left behind; but here's a chanuka image of sorts, of a more recent vintage.


Whatever your faith, have a happy holiday season.

And stay away from strange cats.

December 24, 2008

Cat Scratch Fever

This is how I spent my forty-fifth birthday.

The "incident" actually started the day before my birthday; I was petting the neighbor's cat, something I've done a dozen times or so. He would purr like a garbage disposal, basking in the attention for awhile. Then he'd either leap up and run away, or he'd nip at me, without actually touching me.

You can see this coming, can't you?

This time, he bit me. A good solid, penetrating, chomp. I yelled and flung him off me, and he turned and looked at me like


I went in; not too bad: one little puncture that was bleeding pretty well, and some bruising. I washed it off real good, and irrigated it with hydrogen peroxide. And then I more or less didn't pay any more attention to it. Last time I would pet that ingrateful cat, I muttered, and went on with my day.

The next morning - it's my birthday! I made coffee, and then my mother called to wish me a happy, we chatted. Plans? Breakfast, then Christmas shopping! Maybe I'd hook up with some friends for dinner, later.

After breakfast, I stepped into the shower, and then I saw my wrist: an angry red welt under the bite, and red streaks running up my arm.


I'd taken advanced First Aid; I knew that red streaks up the arm are very, very, bad!

I checked my insurance; the urgent care center around the corner is on the plan. They are also closed. I look at the red streaks. Emergency room. I got dressed, grabbed a book, and headed to the ER. (Why the book? Have you never been to the ER?)

Broward General isn't far, maybe a half-mile. I was getting just the beginning of a chill. Or was that psychomatic? I found a parking spot, walked in, filled out a form, and sat down. My name was called. I hadn't been there ten minutes.

The triage nurse clucked when she saw my arm. She called over a doctor.

"What do you think," she asked, "can I fast-track him?"

"I would. Is there a lot of pain yet? Any chills? No? Flex the fingers....good. Fast track him!"

The nurse smiled at me. "You're in. He's the chief. Have a seat, and we'll call you shortly!"

They take me in about fifteen minutes later, and I'm shivering in the early stages of septicemia.

A young doctor came into to look at the wound. He asked for my history, I gave it. He looked at me and said "You do realize that we will have to admit you to treat this, right?" I confessed that by this time, I was not surprised. "OK, then."

They gave me a robe, they drew some blood. I gave a history again. Dr. Lam came in to look. I gave the history again, she looked very stern. She felt the swollen area. "Can you feel that?" I nodded. "But I can feel the swelling when I move my hand," I replied.

"Hmmm," she pondered me. "We might need a surgical consult."

It was at this point I began to think either I was in much worse shape than I thought, or Dr. Lam liked to scare people. Well, tough. I was too sick to become scared. Chatter chatter chatter went my teeth, as I stared back at her, "OK."

"If the bacteria has colonized the tendons, surgical reconstruction is called for," she informed me.

"Yeah, that would suck," I replied through my chattering teeth. She shot me a disapproving look, and left the room. I guess I wasn't following the script.

Awhile later, an x-ray technician came in, and took me away to xray my infected arm.

As he put me back in the exam room bed, shivering, he said "Let me go get you a blanket!"


About an hour later (might have been less, but it was all shivers and chattering teeth by then), she came back.

"WHEN were you bitten? This morning?"

"No," I explained patiently, "YESTERDAY morning. I didn't notice how bad it was until THIS morning."

"Sit up, I need to listen to your lungs!"

I sat up, took a shivering breath. Then another. And one more. And again.

"OK, lie back down. We're preparing a room for you now. Someone will come for you in a bit."

I nodded my thanks.

About 20 minutes later, two technicians rolled an xray machine. "We need to shoot a film of your chest."

"You do?" I asked. They confirmed my name. They did. And then they did.

I was wheeled upstairs by 5pm, and hooked up to the first of many, many IV drips.

Dr L's assistant, Dr. Ruiz came up for an assessment. She told me the course of treatment, and said she was sending up an

infectitious diseases specialist, and the aforementioned hand surgeon.

Dr. S came up about a half hour later. He examined the wound, asked some pointed questions about the cat, and told me that

this was all pretty normal for a cat bite. They were giving me a broad spectrum anti-biotic until my blood results came back. If things went well, they might be able to release me the next day.

Things didn't go well. Feverish all night, and a splitting headache.

Dr. R checked in, I was still feverish. She asked about the hand specialist, and I replied that I hadn't seen them yet. Dr. S came in; the progress on the arm seemed to please him. "Good thing you came in when you did: it could have been very bad!"

He wanted to run some more tests, and by the way, they were keeping me until tomorrow at least.

"I have a 10:30 am flight!" I said. "Any chance I can be out in time?"

"10:30? That might be a little tight. You should get a later flight." He looked very doubtful.

I spent the rest of the day feverish, and struggling with a splitting headache. They gave me Tylenol. They gave me darvocet.

My fever broke. My headache stayed. After dinner, I had chills again, and my head was throbbing. Slight fever again. Argh. I managed to change the times on my flight. I can't sleep: I'm worried about getting out. I pulled the IV out, so it had to be replaced. More darcvocet. Head pounds, thud thud thud.

Now I'm beginning to doubt they'll let me out; I keep demanding pain killers, I'm feverish and sweaty. And I'm beginning to consider that even if they let me out, maybe I shouldn't get on a plane. I felt like hell.

And somewhere about then, it occurred to me that I've had this headache before. When I went most of a weekend without coffee.

But I'd HAD coffee. It wasn't very good coffee. On the other hand, what evidence did I have that it was regular coffee?

My cat-scratch fever-ridden throbbing brain finally forged a coherent theory:
People who are trying to avoid stimulants will suffer more harm from getting caffeine in their coffee than withholding caffeine from people who are on no such restriction, therefore, it's safer to simply serve decaf to everyone than to send out both kinds of coffee to patients.

So the headache had nothing to do with my raging infection.

When the morning shift nurse came in, I asked about getting REAL coffee, and explained my theory.

"Oh! Well, we just made a fresh pot of the real thing out at the nurses' station, I'll bring you a cup!" And she did.

And just like that, the headache was gone. I could think clearly again. Fever gone.

They released me at noon. By 2:00 pm, I was on my way to the airport.

Fucking cat.

December 17, 2008

The View on Wall Street

Received in email, I had to share:

Back in 1929, a lot of stock brokers jumped out of their office windows when they realized the extent of the losses of their firms and their clients. A lot of people pitied those poor stock brokers.

That was then, this is now:

December 14, 2008

Reflections in Ice

Every time I read the news about the ice storm in New England, I suffer a thrill of deja vu.

You see, 35 years ago, I lived in Connecticut when a devastating ice storm hit. Of course, at the time, I was ten years old and it didn't seem "devastating" at all to the kid who had just moved to the wilds of Connecticut from the South Jersey suburbs. First of all, it meant no school. Second of all, it was beautiful.

The world had turned to crystal overnight. The picture above doesn't quite capture it: Weston, Connecticut was maybe a little more rural, or maybe Godfrey Road East was simply too well shaded for the road surface to melt: for several days, at least, the combination of sand and snow made it appear we lived on a dirt road.

Ah. This one does it: this could be the top of the hill above our driveway. Right down to the fallen branches and trees.

We had already had about six inches of snow on the ground, and the ice made a crust on top of that. It was just almost strong enough to bear my weight; I remember trying to slide across the glazed surface. I'd put my booted foot out, and gently try to slide and then CRUNCH! I'd break through.

I remember the toboggan went down the hill like a rocket. The old Radio Flyer sleds would punch through the ice and stop dead. But once my mother realized that we wouldn't have power to run the water pump for at least a week, she curtailed our out-door playtime. She didn't want us to get too ripe. Although what she actually said at the time was "I don't want you getting your snow suit all wet when there's no way to dry it!!"

I grumbled about the two fire places we were keeping going. "What if we run out of wood?" she replied. Now, of course, I'd know to reply "then we're gonna die so I might as well spend my last day sledding!" But I was younger, then.

The house had two fire places, one at either end of the house, in keeping with the Colonial design that was all the rave back then. But the house only LOOKED colonial; it had been built just before we moved in. And true to the America of the pre-OPEC oil crisis, it lacked adequate insulation.

Only the living room was really comfortable; the family room at the other end of the house was built over the garage, and there was no insulation in the floor. And with the cathedral ceiling it was always a tough room to heat up in the winter. It did allow the christmas trees to get taller every year; I think the last one was about 12' tall. But that was later.

It was our first winter in Connecticut. We'd moved just before Thanksgiving, and a lot of our stuff was still in boxes in the basements. We had firewood for the fireplaces, and Dad went out and got some more somewhere; the little cluster of stores that comprised the center of town were open without power, selling emergency supplies to folks like us. We had a lot of canned goods, and obviously, refrigeration wasn't a problem.

But we wouldn't be cooking on the electric range. On one of his first forays out of the house, Dad picked up a case of Sterno. We might have had a few cans already in for chafing dishes: my folks liked entertaining back in the day. Mom would keep a kettle close to the fire in the family room fireplace (which was next to the kitchen), and put it over the Sterno can for a final heating up. Breakfast was cold cereal and hot chocolate, lunch was sandwiches and soup, and so was dinner.

A lot of our neighbors went to stay "in town," which meant they went to Westport or even Norwalk, to stay in a hotel. Or with family who had power.

As I said, we'd just moved in, and we didn't know a lot of people in town yet. Add to that the fact that we'd just paid for a major move and a new house, and Christmas just weeks away, heading into town and paying for a hotel simply wasn't an option. This turned out to be a Very Good Thing.

You see, the people who fled their dark homes for hotels in town just packed up and drove away. Very few of them thought to drain all the water out of their houses, first. That might've been OK for a weekend, even a long weekend. But over the course of a week, their houses reached the ambient temperature of 25 degrees Fahrenheit - several critical degrees below zero. The water in the pipes froze, and water expands when it freezes, and the result was the complete destruction of 80% of the plumbing in town, including the radiant hot water heating used in most of the homes then. A town of 8,000 had damages around $20 million all told: pipes, fixtures, floors and walls all had to be replaced.

On day five, the phones were back up and a family from church who lived in town offered to let us stay at their home. Hot baths for all! Television! On day six, our power was back on and we went home.

There was never any sense of urgency in my parents; they simply took stock of the situation, came up with a plan, and acted. I suppose that's why I did so well in the aftermath of Katrina and Wilma; I'd been through that. You figure out what you have, discover what you need, figure out where to get it, and move on.

But my thoughts are with those people hunkering down for another cold night in a land turned treacherously beautiful by the hand of nature. I've been there.

Toys for Boys: The Cadillac of Golf Carts

Or literally, a golf cart that looks like a Caddy. Taken at the WinterFest boat parade.


No, I don't know what the bungee cord is for. Probably just to keep people from sitting in it.

December 13, 2008

Homeless Santa

He didn't have a bell, he didn't even have a proper bucket, but he was out there collecting from the folks attending the WinterFest boat parade.  More accurately, he was sitting there, with a coffee can in front of him.  That's a beer bottle sticking out  of it: I'm not sure if it was donated, or acquired with donations.

Homeless Santa 2

I don't think he's actually homeless; those are awfully nice sneakers for someone living on the street; on the other hand, maybe he really is Santa, and I failed a test.

Fucking homeless Santa; it's entrapment, I say.

December 12, 2008

December 7, 2008

Sunday Jazzz Brunch

The monthly Jazz Brunch is in full swing here in Fort Lauderdale. It's a gorgeous day to be out along the river. This is the view from the Broward Center steps:

December 5, 2008

November 28, 2008

Why Henry Louis Gomez doesn't get invited.

I don't read Babalu, as a rule. Every now and then, I follow some snippet, and end reading some bit of nonsense or other that the nutcases that write the blog treat as divine providence. Like the time they reported Fidel was dead. Or was that the other time they reported Fidel was dead? I can't keep track.

South Florida Daily Blog does read Babalu; other than this quirk, he's a nice guy, a decent man, and pretty open-minded. But he keeps reading it, and of course, because he's a nice, decent, and fair-minded guy, he can't help but notice that the folks at Babalu make Fox New look, well, actually fair and balanced by comparison. You'd have to be blind (or Babalu's target demographic) not to see that these guys are just a wee bit judgemental, and prone to attacking first, and eventually beating up anyone who asks questions later.

This morning, for instance, SFDB couldn't help noticing that Babalu has done something of an about face, but have never actually admitted that they were wrong in the first place; wrong in their assumptions, and wrong in the way they reacted based on those wrong assumptions.

Like the way the reacted to Yoani Sanchez, for instance.

Yoani is a Cuban blogger - one who is still living in Cuba. She was one of the finalists for the Deutsche Welle International Weblog Awards.
In addition to a slew of other obstacles in her way, Sanchez can't even post her own entries to the blog. Instead she is forced to e-mail them to friends outside of Cuba in order for her words to go online. Despite the challenges she has to overcome, she's managed to keep in contact with her readers and create a huge international community around her work.
That's a pretty impressive accomplishment for someone under the thumb of one of the world's greatest oppressive dictatorships. And you'd think that such a brave individual would immediately be lauded for her work. Certainly, the Deutsche Welle people do, and so does SFDB.

But SFDB did remember that Babalu - who now features her posts regularly - had quite a negative reaction to her, initially; this is Babalu's reaction to a post Yoanie wrote about her son's school experiences:
I'm sorry, but I have to question the character of a women who would purposely return her child to be indoctrinated, to learn to be "like che." Because it was too hard on her husband, and she couldn't bear family separation? Well they are all together, in Cuba. The price? Her son, because now he belongs to castro, inc.
SFDB does point out that Babalu has changed their position. But despite a tendency to go off half-cocked and put stories of dubious integrity, the right-wing nutcases fine conservative bloggers at Babalu never seem to question their own often-flawed first reaction to anything.

And that's when Henry Louis Gomez started spewing.
When we first became aware of Yoani, through articles in the Wall Street Journal and the Miami Herald, many of us had a lot of questions. It was natural for us to have a lot of questions, after all this was something new, a Cuban in Cuba who was somehow being permitted to voice her opinion in ways others have generally not been permitted to.
Oh. I see. You were asking questions to gain insight and understanding, you say.
...but I have to question the character of a women who...
So much for that. But maybe he's referring to some of the other insightful commentary made by Babalu's readers, who were following Ziva's lead:
This woman is so full of it... It's obvious this woman is a tool of the inteligence aparatus.

I find it interesting though, that she and her family had no problem with the "revolution," in fact they believed in it, until it began hurting them during the "special period."
And I suppose Henry wants us to believe that it is in the spirit of a free exchange of ideas in our American democracy when he writes things like this:
In this world there are people that are so small-minded, so hate filled and so stupid that they are beyond description.
I figure that this is the part where Henry is talking to himself. Remember, all SFDB did was go back, and find what Babalu originally posted. And Babalu's reaction is anything but the sheepish, "gosh, you caught us - we were so wrong" that any intellectually honest debater would respond with. No, Henry has no interest in elevated debate:
today a genuine pig of a person has decided to go back in the Babalu archives and retrieve comments from Babalu contributors and commenters from the period during which we were trying to assess who Yoani is and what she is about.
Why, you'd think that SFDB wrote the material and planted it, from the way Henry's reacting. All SFDB did was point out that Babalu once had a very different opinion; and he even pointed out that their opinion had changed:
To be fair, babalu has since embraced Sanchez and features her posts regularly.
To which Henry spasmadically retorts:
That's fine, the comments are there and they are public record. But just as we are responsible for the questioning statements we made at that point in time, we are also responsible for all the other statements we've made in support ever since. For the record, this blog is 100% behind Yoani Sanchez and the incredible job she's done reporting the reality of Cuba today...
Good for you, Henry. But the point SFDB makes is a valid one: YOU, and your fellow contributors, do not ever give the benefit of the doubt. You start out by questioning the integrity of those you do not know or agree with, and if they don't come around to your narrow-minded views quickly, you resort to the extremely childish practice of name-calling. To whit:
The pig of which I speak lives and works among Cuban-Americans yet he shows such little understanding of those around him. He hides behind internet anonymity to try to destroy people and things rather than build them up.
Henry, the reality is that the one who is behaving like a "pig" and demonstrating "little understanding" and trying to "destroy people and things rather than building them up" would be, well, YOU.

It's great that Babalu has come around on the matter of Yoani Sanchez. But Henry, you treated her the same way, initially, that you treat everyone; with suspicion and malice. And it's not malicious to point that out; being held accountable for your actions is part and parcel of living in a democracy.

And I also have to refute your description of SFDB as a "lonesome loser." The South Florida Blogosphere throws frequent parties, and SFDB is at the top of the invite list, and is a popular guest at the parties.

We don't invite you because, frankly, we're afraid you'll spit in the punch. And can you honestly say you wouldn't, if you knew SFDB was going to drink it?

November 27, 2008


I came over to Fort Myers yesterday. My dad asked about gluten-free stuffing and dessert (since I have Celiac and can't eat things with wheat.) I told him not to worry about it, I'd bring those items.

And then I realized that the health-food market in Fort Myers carried a lot more product than Whole Foods, so I decided I'd cross the state and get my goodies there.

Alas, no one told me that Ada's is facing bankruptcy. The store was nearly devoid of GF foods, or at least the stuff I'd want for a Thanksgiving dinner.

So no GF pumpkin pie for the ol' Maniac this year.

I have a job, and recently was promoted. My car is paid for. I have family to spend the day with. And I'm healthy.

So I'm thankful, and I hope that you find things to give thanks for this year, too.

November 23, 2008

Wellshire Farms is trying to kill me.

No, this is not a paranoid rant; some of the largest merchants of ready-to-eat foods are selling food that is deadly to millions of Americans.

The Sun-Sentinel is carrying a Chicago Tribune story that reports some major American food vendors are selling products that are supposed to be free of allergens, but aren't. The consequences of that can be - and have been - fatal.

One of the companies out to kill people recklessly lax in their labeling is Wellshire Farms. There are actually lot more in the Tribune story, but I've actually bought Wellshire Farms products, and failed to connect my resultant reaction eating their product because, after all, it was clearly labeled "gluten-free."
Pridemore recalled how she bought Wellshire Kids' dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, made by New Jersey-based Wellshire Farms, because the item specifically claimed to be gluten free. She also found the same claim on the Wellshire Farms Web site.

After her son had the severe reaction to the nuggets, she took some to his allergist, who ran tests, including gently rubbing a nugget on the boy's arm to see if it would cause a small welt. It did, and the allergist concluded the nuggets were to blame for his full-blown reaction.

...she sent the remainder of the nuggets in her freezer to the Nebraska lab.

The results showed high amounts of gluten.
Like any of us, she contacted the USDA. But it turns out that they're out to kill indifferent to the plight of those of us with allergies, too,.
she e-mailed a copy of the findings to the USDA and reminded Maxwell that the product advertises itself as gluten free.

The investigator wrote back that the government had "archived your complaint." The investigation went no further, according to Pridemore. She also e-mailed the test results to Wellshire Farms. The company, she said, never responded.
You might be wondering why Pridemore had the product tested herself: well, she was told to:
In an e-mail in January, (agency investigator Michael) Maxwell indicated to Pridemore that in light of that inspection report and the fact that no other consumer had complained, no action would be taken. "You may want to have the product tested," he wrote, according to a copy of the e-mail exchange.
And did the USDA then contact the company to have them explain the test results?
USDA spokeswoman Amanda Eamich said one reason it did not ask Wellshire Farms to recall the chicken bites is because the agency did not trust the consumers' testing results.
So, the USDA instructs the victims to seek their own test results, and then ignores them out of hand. That sounds like complicit negligence, to me.

To be fair, it's possible that Pridemore's sample was contaminated after it was open in her kitchen. I know that it couldn't happen in MY kitchen, because, as a celiac, I don't keep any gluten-bearing items in the house. That would be pretty stupid, wouldn't it? I mean, the stuff's like arsenic to me, why would I keep it around? But that's me, and I don't know about Pridemore's kitchen.

Luckily for us, the Tribune, being a responsible journal, was similarly willing to believe that maybe Pridemore's sample was contaminated.
The Tribune recently bought two samples of the chicken nuggets and sent them to the same Nebraska lab. Both tested positive for gluten--including a sample from an unopened box.

The nuggets, said Steve Taylor, the lab's director and a leading allergy expert, "are not safe for people with wheat allergies or celiac disease," often characterized by chronic abdominal pain.
I guess Pridemore isn't stupid, either. Wish we could say the same for the USDA.

The Tribune found that two other "gluten-free" Wellshire products with high amounts of gluten in them. They informed the company of their results:
Wellshire Farms owner Louis Colameco said his products are safe. But he said that in light of the two consumer complaints and recent moves by regulators to tighten "gluten-free" rules, he halted production of the three Wellshire Kids' products in June.

He said he has not recalled the Wellshire Kids products still on store shelves because he believes they are in compliance with federal regulations.
So, even though you know that the products are labeled gluten-free when they are clearly not, even though you have several complaints of children winding up in the emergency room, this murderous clod you think it's OK to leave the products out and available for other children to be sent into anaphylaxis after eating the falsely labeled products. Thanks, Louis. Club any kittens to death recently?

Maybe, Mr.Colameco, you did not knowingly - or even actually - violate the letter of the law. But you've violently gang-raped the hell out of the spirit of it, haven't you? The intent of the law is clear; to help people with severe food allergies find foods that are safe to eat. Your products are NOT safe for people with severe allergies to eat. It should be obvious to any decent human being that these products should be pulled immediately before some other small child bites into his dinner and suddenly finds his esophagus clamping shut and his blood pressure plummets so fast that he can't even call for help as he suffocates in front of his loved ones.

You're a real prince, Louis.

November 19, 2008

St Lucie County School Board: F-

I've written about Wendy Portillo before. She's the teacher who humiliated a five-year old autistic boy in front of his classmates, back in May 2008.

A month later, I followed up on the story. By this time, we had access to the police report, and it wasn't pretty. According to her statement to police, she told the rest of the class that she would protect them from Alex Barton "like a mother bear defending its cubs."

And what did she report he was doing to warrant this? Throwing crayons and hiding under his desk.

In September, I looked into the story again. And I found Portillo was still employed by the St. Lucie County School District. Basically, they were dragging their feet.

So here it is November, and the St. Lucie County School District has finally taken action in the case: they suspended Portillo for a year, and then she will placed on a yearly contract.
Board members acted on a recommendation by Superintendent of Schools Michael Lannon, who also recommended that Portillo be put on an annual contract -- Portillo had been tenured -- and plans to ask the state Board of Education to revoke her teaching certificate for one year.
That is actually a demotion: Portillo had tenure before traumatizing one of her students.
Lannon wrote Portillo a letter stating that her actions "caused community and, in fact, worldwide outrage and condemnation."
That is true, but what about the damage she did to Alex Barton and his classmates? Does a year suspension and a loss of status make up for the damage she's done?
Lannon cited as mitigating circumstances Portillo's positive evaluations by five different principals during 12 years of teaching in St. Lucie County schools.
That's all well and good. But frankly, that shouldn't count in this at all. What if she had thrown him over her knee and given him a whuppin', or sexually abused Barton? Would we look at past performance to mitigate the damage she's done? I certainly hope not!

Lannon wrote a letter to Portillo, explaining his actions:
"Causing 5- and 6-year-old peers to pass judgment on one of their own, to state the reasons for their 'vote' and then to act on the outcome is a true failure to apply professional judgment at best," Lannon wrote. "Very often we, as teachers, provide the safest and most protective environment many children have. We cannot abandon that duty."
Of course, Portillo is completely unrepentant, and her lawyer informed the school board that they intend to contest the recommendation with the Division of Adminstrative Hearings.

Alex Barton has never returned to school; he is now in a home-schooling program. While I normally have nothing against home-schooling, it's not conducive to helping a child with mild autism learn to cope with the world. His mother certainly isn't satisfied:
"This woman needs to be fired," she said. "There is no reason for someone with that mentality to be around children. I think nothing less than her being terminated needs to happen."
The Bartons have informed the School District that they intend to file suit against the district, and legal experts generally concur that the case has merit.

According to TCPalm:
Jack Scott, director of the Florida Atlantic University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, called the board’s action “a slap on the wrist.”

Scott said the board’s action shows the system dealing with students’ rights is not strong. There might be an undue concern for teachers’ employment rights, he said.
The sad part is that School District has not only failed Alex, but it's continuing to fail its students:

Port St. Lucie autistic student's parents say son abused at Oak Hammock K-8
The parents of an autistic boy claim in a lawsuit filed this week against the St. Lucie County School District their then-7-year-old was battered and abused by his behavior analyst at Oak Hammock K-8.

The St. Lucie County School Board either didn't conduct an investigation or didn't conduct a meaningful or thorough investigation, even though employees knew of the incident, the 18-page complaint says.
St. Lucie County obviously isn't a place to send your kids to school. And with weak-willed adminstrators and school board members, it's unlikely to improve any time soon.

Grab Your Ankles; You're Still Being Screwed.

Last week, I discussed some of the problems with the deal being made to purchase contaminated farm land from US Sugar in Bend Over: They're Not Done Screwing You.

Well, I wasn't kidding.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that the very first bid by the state of $1.75 billion was $400 million to high to start with.
...the New York financial firm Duff & Phelps - hired to render a "fairness" opinion on the proposal - estimated the combined value of U.S. Sugar's land, facilities and equipment at a maximum of $1.3 billion.
And remember, this doesn't include the money we'll be spending the remove all the toxic chemicals left behind.

November 17, 2008

Spirit Airlines: Still No Customer Service Worth Mentioning.

Yet another customer screwed over by Spirit Airlines.
I bought tickets on June 19 to leave that same night at 11:20 p.m. I was at the airport waiting at 8 p.m. and asked a supervisor to confirm that my plane left at 11:20. He assured me it did. As soon as I arrived at the gate, the plane was backing up and the person at the gate told me I was too late.

The person at the counter said he could reimburse the money, then he went into the office and never returned. I spoke to a Spirit representative who said she could fix things, but I have not heard back from anyone.
That's when the victim unhappy customer contacted Action Line. Well, actually, there was a bit of a gap:
We contacted Spirit on Oct. 22. After five e-mails and a few phone calls, Misty Pinson, a Spirit spokeswoman, e-mailed us and told us that your issue had been resolved.
For those of you who can count (which apparently excludes every employee of Spirit), that's four months that Spirit held onto that money.

On the bright side, at least the plane didn't sit on the tarmac hours past its take-off time.

They did, eventually, refund the money. They even threw in a $100 travel voucher. Yeah, THAT's an incentive. Save a hundred bucks off a next flight that doesn't take off, leaving you stranded on the tarmac for hours while Spirit sells you drinks at full costs, all because the flight crew had reached their work limits for the day.
But remember Spirit's Motto, as stated by their CEO, Ben Baldanza:
"Let him tell the world how bad we are. He's never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny."
Of course, it's not much of a savings if you're buying a ticket that doesn't actually get you to your destination, is it?

I have a great new slogan for Spirit:
"When you absolutely, positively don't need to get anywhere in a timely manner, or even at all."

November 16, 2008

PSC Assists FPL in Customer Rip-Off. Again.

I'm not sure which pisses me off more: FPL claiming it's not responsible for costs incurred by its own mistake, or that the Public Service Commission is letting them get away with it.

Back in 2006, an FPL sub-contractor drilled a one-eighth inch hole in a pressurized pipe in its Turkey Point nuclear power plant. The damage necessitated a five-day shutdown of the plant for repairs, at a cost of about 6.2 million dollars.

FPL claims that it should not have to pay for the damages, because they followed all the rules required of them for the work that was being done, and in allowing the sub-contractor access to the plant. Just because FPL hired him, and FPL vetted him, and he was doing workf for FPL, they argue that it doesn't follow that they should be resoponsible for the fact that this worker, with a questionable history of criminal charges, damaged their plant.

Such a move is not suprising from a company that collected monies from customers to fund alternative energy plants, but instead spent it on marketing. FPL seems to have a healthy sideline in bilking its customers.

But then there's the Public Service Commission.

Most of us probably think that the PSC is there to protect consumers - aka "the public" - against abuses by the various utilities we are forced to do business with.

And we would be wrong.

Here's the PSC's actual mission statement:
To facilitate the efficient provision of safe and reliable utility services at fair prices.
And just in case you missed the fact this mission statement says nothing about consumers, here's the very first goal they pursue in fullfilling their mission:
To the extent possible, streamline regulatory requirements to provide an open, accessible and efficient regulatory process that is fair and unbiased.

In other words, the PSC's primary purpose is not to protect the consumer, but to remove legislative roadblocks that might impede the utility.

That's not to say that watching over consumer interests isn't in the purview of the PSC; it is. It just happens to be its least priority, according the PSC's own website.

In any other field, if a company hired a contractor to do work on their site, and that contractor damaged the company's facilities, the company would have to cover repair out of its profits. Look at it this way: if you hired a guy to work on your roof, and in the process he knocked out a window, would you think it reasonable to ask your employer to pay to replace the window for you?

But this is hardly the first time that the PSC has sided with FPL against the public's welfare.

Hundreds of thousands of Floridians were without power following Katrina and Wilma, when category 2 winds knocked down rotting poles and excessive overgrowth that had grown around the lines, winds well below the survival threshold mandated for power lines.

And yet, the PSC signed off on FPL's request to lower the pruning schedule from every three years to every SIX! Since trees in sub-tropical South Florida can double their volume in TWO years, THREE years wasn't even fully adequate, but made fiscal sense. But a six year cycle is simply unacceptable. Unless, of course, you're on the PSC.

To add insult to injury, FPL also wanted to be reimbursed for lost revenue. Hundreds of thousands of its customers sat in the dark for days, and some of us went without power for a week or more. The PSC seems to have overlooked that a company should only be paid for the product it delivers, not for the product it can't deliver due to its own negligence. So FPL had record profits during a period when it not only had to replace a significant amount of its infrastructure, but a significant number of its customers went without any power at all!

November 14, 2008

Bend Over: They're Not Done Screwing You.

As you know, a lot of your tax money is going to bail out the pinheads on Wall Street who assured you they knew how to handle your money for you.  And a lot more is going to go to pinheads who believed that they could use debt as collateral to incur more debt.

Now, US Sugar is getting a sweet deal from the state of Florida.  Having spent most of the last century growing crops on what was once the heart of Florida's ecosystem, the ground is now contaminated to the point where it's deadly to wildlife. 
The soil shows varying concentrations of copper, selenium, DDT and other agrochemicals -- which could complicate and increase the cost of constructing massive reservoirs and pollution treatment marshes envisioned to replace fields in the future.
So they're selling the land to the State at market value, and the State of Florida - and you and I - will get stuck with the bill for removing thousands of tons of toxic chemicals that US Sugar is leaving behind.
(District Executive Director Carol) Wehle said the state wasn't letting U.S. Sugar off the hook for cleanup costs. It was standard district practice, she said, to absorb the cost of cleaning land to meet the tougher standards required for natural systems.
So, you're not 'letting them off the hook" so much as you're "sticking the taxpayers with the cost of the cleanup," is that it?

I wonder if she said it with a straight face?

Sun-Sentinel: It's Pitifully Bad.

The headline proclaims one thing, the story tells us something completely different.

Mystery Solved! Great!  We now know what kind of bone it really is:
Not human, according to sheriff's spokesman Mike Jachles.
So what kind of bone is it?
Investigators are still trying to determine where the bone could have come from.
What?  But I thought the mystery was solved!  How is it "solved" if you still don't know what it's from?  This "mystery" isn't solved at all! 


Toilet brings down plane.

Broward's "Big Brother" attempt gets Black Eye. For now...

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Broward County's plan to become the legendary "Big Brother" as foretold by George Orwell is on hold - for now.

Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion wants to pass a law forcing every business in the county to invest in security cameras covering the exterior of their properties, completely at the expense of the business owner.

This is government intrusion at its worst. It's even worse than the bone-headed law forcing every gas station to have a back up generator.

Eggelletion claims that the cameras would help prevent crime; the only way that can happen is if the cameras are being monitored by a living person, and that's very, very expensive.

Some county officials have suggested that a surveillance system for a "small" shopping center could cost "more than $11,000." I'm sure they are quite right. I'm sure it will cost a lot more.

Remember, you can't simply talk about installation: that system has to be maintained. Someone has to check the recordings periodically, and the recordings have to be stored for some period of time.

The biggest complaint: not one study has been offered to show that such a system will have any effect on crime whatsoever. As far as anyone knows, cameras will be as effective in preventing crime as car alarms are in preventing car theft. (Speaking of which, I wish my neighbor would shut off his car alarm, it's been going off for an hour!)

Eggelletion is recklessly spending other people's money at a time when the economy is slowing down. Retail sales across the board are plummeting, and this bonehead wants to force a major investment down their throats.
"They are saying to the public that they want their money, but they aren't concerned about their safety." Eggelletion said.
Actually, Joe, they haven't said that at all. A lot of these stores have security guards on their sites. They have cameras inside their stores.

Like most people in Broward County, Joe, they assume that the Sheriff's Department is patrolling our streets. But apparently, Joe, you are so unconcerned about public safety that you are trying to make the private sector responsible for it. A case of passing the buck, is how I see it.

Government should be careful about what gets mandated: rather than force struggling businesses to make a dubious investment during one of the worst economic crises in out history, you should create an incentive program: tax breaks, insurance discounts, and so on. With this kind of approach, everyone benefits.

November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

For this veteran's day, CNN tells us about David DeJonge. His mission: photograph the final survivors of "The War to End All Wars."

There are only 10 known living veterans of World War I.

90 years after the fact, it's amazing that there's any left, but a handful of centenarians hold on. It was their sacrifice that spurred the creation of this National Holiday we call Veteran's Day.

Here is the poem most associated with this day of remembrance;

In Flanders Fields
By: Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD

Canadian Army

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

November 8, 2008

Some Cowardly Guy you may recall, I took SCG to task for his cowardly actions taken to keep people from pointing out that basically every point he made in that post was either a lie or a completely stupid argument for a grown-up to make.

His response came in A Note To My Readers, wherein he responds, in so many words:

I have a very diverse following. I average about a thousand hits a day. Many liberals read my blog, because I have many liberal views. Many conservatives read my blog, because I have some very conservative views. Atheists read my blog, and born again Christians. Libertarians too. Hell, I think even librarians read my blog!

Thus, it is inevitable that from time to time, someone is going to be pissed at me. Occasionally, I shut off comments when I just don’t care to see comments from whatever particular group is pissed at me that day. This pisses people off more, and because they can’t comment on my post, they write on their blogs how horrible and despicable it is for me to write what I believe and then shut comments off! The nerve of me!

This time, he did leave the comments on, and I left him a few. I let him know how disappointed I was that he'd told so many lies in the earlier post. And then he shut off the comments after re-posting the more egregious of his lies.
CL Jahn, I have not lied. What I wrote was what I found to be the truth, along with my opinion. If you think it is a lie, and you think I am a liar and a hypocrite guess what? I couldn’t give a rat’s ass.
Of course, he did lie. He asserts that Obama's " every associate, friend and mentor is a radical communist or flaming socialist." Not "Obama sat on a board with one guy," or "this guy who John McCain gave $480,000 to, once held a fundraiser for Obama." No, SCG would have you believe that this respected US Senator, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard, who was an editor for the prestigious Harvard Law Review, who worked for a church based community organization, and taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School, doesn't know a single American who isn't either a commie or a pinko.
We are just going to have to disagree on this. I stand behind every single thing I said. You believe what you want to, and so will I.
This belies the fact that this isn't about belief. If SCG believes that McCain is simply the better candidate, he could simply have said just that. Bu instead, he trotted out the same tired lies that have been thoroughly debunked over the last few months.
You have never, ever, given any evidence to me, except for a link to Snopes
...other than all these articles I've posted over the last month or so. Don't forget those. I kept saying "I've written on this, it's on my blog." You barely let people respond to your wild libel now, should I really expect you to let me re-post my entire blog into your comment section?
Obama shared an office with him, and served on a board with him, and started his political career in his living room.
Uh, no. Obama didn't share an office with Ayers, and his political career had nothing to do with Ayers. They were both invited to serve on the same board by a Republican. Fella named Annenberg. You might have heard of him, he funded the campaigns of the last four Republican presidents.
ACORN. I suppose you think this group didn’t commit voter fraud, and isn’t a radical left-wing organization? Or are you going to deny that Obama worked for them years ago, and supported them and their goals?
No, and Yes.

ACORN didn't commit voter fraud. Someone has to actually have tried voting when they were not eligible for voting fraud to occur. Since ACORN didn't try voting on the falsisfied registrations, they did not committ voter fraud. In fact, they have committed no crime at all. Whoever filled out the forms did; but once those forms are filled in, ACORN was required BY LAW to turn them over to the local Elections board. And when they turned them over as required by law, the informed the elections board that there were falsified documents in the collection. No laws were broken by ACORN.

Second, Obama "didn't work for" ACORN. Obama represented them in a class action lawsuit against the State of Michigan. Obama was part of a team, and ACORN was one of a dozen or so claimants. In other words, he wasn't employed or retained by ACORN. He was employed by the law firm that ACORN and several other groups retained for counsel.

There is no evidence that Obama directly supported ACORN or its cause, but John McCain actually DID.
Rashid Khalidi - Arab American Action Network (AAAN) founder, pro-Palestinian activist with PLO terrorist connections; and a friend and adviser to Obama in the past. You going to tell me he isn’t a radical?
Are you referring to this Rashid Khalidi?

If Rashid Khalidi is what you say, why did John McCain give him nearly a half million dollars? And if Khalidi is what you say, why aren't you demanding that McCain be removed from office?

If Khalidi is what you say, then McCain committed treason. Me, I don't think McCain is the kind of guy to commit treason. But I guess you do. So I guess you're not only a liar, but a hypocrite as well. How the cranky have fallen!
Sam Graham-Felsen - the official paid blogger for the Obama campaign is a proud Marxist, flies the Communist party flag, and has written articles for a Socialist magazine. You going to tell me this isn’t true?
He doesn't "fly the Communist Party Flag," he displays one that he picked up as a souvenir from a trip to the Soviet Union. He has written articles for a socialist magazine, and many other magazines. That doesn't prove, or even indicate, that he's a marxist or a socialist. In fact, the only place where anyone is saying this is in radical right-wing crackpot blogs.
Leftist liberals are the most intolerant group of people on the entire planet!!!
But I haven't posted some throroughy debunked lies and turned off my comments. Unless a person is posting outright libel, I let dissenting views be posted.
But God help me if I exercise my God given and constitutionally protected free speech right and say something negative
Actually, you LIED. Different than simply "saying something negative." You lied, you defended the lies, you lied again, and true to form, you cut off the discussion rather than own up to the facts.
I have heard you are spending all your time trashing me.
Is it "trashing you" to point out that you have been less than honest with your readers? Is it "trashing you" to compare what you've said to the actual truth?

I don't think I've spent any time at all "trashing" you. Up until this tantrum of yours, I've been a fan. No, I didn't "trash" you. You've trashed yourself. I took a few minutes to point it out, that's all.

And since this is the second of two posts about you, I hardly think that qualifies as "all my time." I have two other blogs and a full time job.

But I'll always make room to denounce a liar or two. It's a shame that you've become one of them.

November 5, 2008

Now That It's Done...

Something that occurred to me awhile ago, but I didn't want to say anything in case in garnered mis-placed sympathy, is that McCain is too smart to have selected Palin as his running mate. Out of a field of highly-qualified candidates, he chose the one least likely to help him.

Unless, of course, she was supposed to help him lose the election.

What if, and this is a big 'what if,' but what if McCain also realized that America really needed a regime change?

What if John McCain, in a subtle manner, made choices throughout the election designed to turn people away? What if he also embraced Obama's vision of change, and nurtured it the only way available to him?

Food for thought, yes?
Notice which direction he's pointing: Coincidence?

November 4, 2008

A last refrain as I go to bed

This is Harry Chapin singing, "What Made America Famous."

It's the last verse that resonates for me, tonight;

I went to sleep with the hope that made America famous.
I had the kind of a dream that maybe they're still trying to teach in school.
Of the America that made America famous...and
Of the people who just might understand
That how together yes we can
Create a country better than
The one we have made of this land,
We have a choice to make each man
Who dares to dream, reaching out his hand
A prophet or just a crazy God damn
Dreamer of a fool - yes a crazy fool

And here's the entire song: enjoy!

My God, It's Real.

I am listening to John McCain concede the election.

We won.  We really won.

So Eric, here's my happy dance.

November 3, 2008

Since SCG's turned chicken..

...and turned off comments so no one can respond to his gibbering hysterical posting of nonsense and innuendo, I'm forced to write a blog entry.

If he'd let me leave a comment, I'd've just said "Chill, dude.  You're way overreacting."  But since I have to do a whole frickin' blog entry, I'm going to nitpick his paranoid delusion to death and beat him with the corpse.

Do you really want a President named Hussein?

Are you shitting me?  This is a reason?  50 years ago his father named his son after his grandfather, who in turn was named for the grandson of the prophet Mohamed, and now you're seriously offering that up as reason not to vote for someone?  Dude. When did you turn into a drooling idiot?  Please explain how you can think even for a second that this is an argument with an ounce of merit.

Do you really want a guy whose every associate, friend and mentor is a radical communist or flaming socialist?

Again, it's hard to credit this as the result of someone who previously didn't show any signs of being an idiot.  SCG, unless you have a list proving that EVERY associate actually falls into these categories - which I doubt you do - you've just told one of the biggest whopping fibs of your life, and you should be totally ashamed of yourself.  Especially since one of the only two you actually can name actually have stronger ties to John McCain.

So this one I throw back in your face: Do YOU, SCG, really plan on voting for John McCain knowing that he has raised $448,000 for Rashid Khalidi? Chew on that one, buddy.

A man who due to his friends and associates, would never, ever, pass a background check to work in the federal government!?

And you can supply actual evidence of this?  I mean, you have a document from the civil service, signed by someone in the Human Resources department making such a statement about Obama?  No? No.  All you have is the one opinion piece from Fox News that got picked up by all the other deseparate conservative nutcases.  It's a lie, SCG.  A stinking lie.  And you're telling it.  Shame on you.  You know better.  You KNOW you know better.  You've become the kind of mindless reactionary you hate.  Congratulations!

Experience? None. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

SO he was churned out of a clone factory last week?  He's got experience: he's got more experience than a certain Republican from Illinois who became President.  That's right, Obama has more time in public office than Abraham Lincoln.

Responsibility? He hardly ever voted, and when he did, he cast the most liberal votes in the senate! Even more so than Kennedy!

Which is quite a trick, seeing as how Ted Kennedy has been in the Senate for 46 years.

And here's another shocker for you: most of us voting for Obama are liberals.  We like it that he votes liberal.  Kinda stupid to talk us out of it using that as a reason, doncha think?

He sat in the racist hate filled church for 20 years.

And left it.  McCain also listened to a hate-mongering racist preacher: does this mean you're voting for Nader?

Honesty? He is a liar, like every politician.

Like John McCain, then.  So in terms of honest, it's a wash.  Why bring it up?

Patriotism? He never served in the military, he voted against the
troops, he purposely doesn’t wear an American flag pin,

I didn't serve in the Military, either.  If you are questioning my patriotism, I'll gladly meet somewhere so I can beat the snot out of you.  I'm sure I'll have company.  Hope you're not one of the 40 million Americans without health insurance.

...and he sat in a
America hating church for 20 years.

Which he left. If you can show me some action by Obama, outside of this association, that clearly demonstrates that he "hates america," put it out there.  But simply parroting this very tired idoicy is, well, tiresome and idiotic.

I have to say, it's very disappointing to see Some Cranky Guy lapse into a drooling lunatic like this: wild and unsupported accusations, hearsay, paranoid delusions: it's sad.

Dude, screaming paranoia won't make your case, and neither will repeating the same drivel that has largely been discredited as having any factual merit at all.

The problem is that the OTHER GUY is WORSE.

Let me tell you about John McCain:

- he's in terrible health; I have no confidence that he will live out his term,
- he's selected a candidate who's a complete idiot as a running mate.  Sorry, not in THIS lifetime.  If he'd picked someone, you know, GOOD, you might be able to make a case.  But Palin's a deal breaker.  NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.
- he's shown signs of decaying mental functions; he's easily confused, and easily pissed off.  Sure, it's the pressure.  But the job is pressure, and he can't hold on to his cool worth spit.
- he's violated his own code of ethics and embarked on exactly the kind of sleazy campaign that cost the election in 2000
- he's been in lockstep with the current administration, which has brought us the brink of the end of our standing as the world's last superpower.
- for every "association" you've tried to tie to Obama, it's turned out that McCain has a closer or stronger association with that same person or party.
- he's suggesting that people losing their homes to foreclosure should be living in State-owned homes: that's a hundred times more socialist than anything Obama has ever done.

And then, honestly, ask yourself if this socialist politician should be the leader of the Free World.

The only people who think that Obama is remotely socialist are raving right-wing conservatives.  REAL liberals - which you don't find in the US - find him to be what he actually is: centrist.  Being more liberal than a rabid right-wing nutcase doesn't make him a socialist, and people who aren't insanely hysterical realize that.

So grow up.  And see someone: you need therapy.  Seriously, you're starting to sound like one of those Babalu assholes.

The GOP: Comedy of Jack-Asses

Just when you think the GOP can't get any more pathetic, a story like this comes out.

Robert Fox, brother-in-law to Republican Rep. Chris Cannon of Utah, tried to get an Oxford University professor to prove William Ayers penned at least a part of an Obama biography.
(Prof. Peter) Millican said he took a preliminary look and found the charges that Ayers had had a hand in ghostwriting Obama's book “very implausible.” A deal was agreed for "more detailed research," the paper said, but when Millican "said the results had to be made public, even if no link to Ayers was proved, interest waned."
No surprise there: the Republican Party is notoriously uninterested in the truth.

November 2, 2008

Sarah: the First Amendment is Intended to Protect US from YOU.

For weeks, she's been peddling the same completely debunked lies about Senator Obama's "associations" with people and organizations that actually have much stronger ties to Senator McCain, her running mate.

I thought it was the height of embarrasment. It was like listening to Don Rumsfeld swear that there were weapons of mass destruction, to the point where he even told reporters "If it weren't classified, I could put my finger on the map for you." (Hey, Rummy; maybe you should have put your finger on the map of the people looking for those weapons of mass destruction. We've controlled Iraq for what - five years? - and somehow they've never turned up.)

Rummy was caught lying, and so has Palin. The pathetic thing is, that even with the lies revealed, she keeps repeating them over and over, as if repitition will make them suddenly be true. Alas, the WMD didn't spring into being for Rummy, Cheney, et. al, and the only thing to materialize for the McCain campaign is the fact that McCain gave money to Ayres and Khalid, and spoke on behalf of ACORN.

But now Palin has a novel defense: by repeatedly exposing her lies, she claims that the media is violating her freedom of speech.

Here's what she said in an interview on WMAL:
"If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations, then I don't know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media."
It's appalling to think that Sarah Palin actually thinks that we're stupid enough to swallow this whopper. It's actually TWO LIES in one.

First, if you make claims about the opposition, you have to have the facts in place to back them up. When someone comes up with facts that contradict you, and report them, that's called responsible journalism. Sarah Palin has been lying. The media - and anyone willing to do a very small amount of research - discovered that she's either greatly exagerrated or outright lied about Obama's association, and utterly ignored the much strong connections her running mate actually has with ACORN, William Ayers, and Al Khayid.

Second, the First Amendment is designed specifically to protect the PRESS from THE GOVERNMENT. It is actually impossible for "the media" to violate Palin's 'Free Speech Rights" merely by excersing their own.

For the record, here is the First Amendment in its entirety, as it appears in a document that Palin has apparently never bothered to read:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

And Sarah? While you have the right to say anything you like, you do not have the right to not be contradicted. In fact, the right of the media to expose you as a rotten liar is the express purpose of the First Amendment.

I submit that telling lies about your opponent's associations is in fact "negative campaigning." And I also submit that having those lies exposed is not a violation of the liar's rights, but a responsible exercising of their rights by the media.

October 31, 2008

Halloween, Indeed.

So, I come back from seeing a play, and when I opened the gate, I see a black cat sitting in the middle of the walkway. He came right up to me for a scritch. No collar, he's very skinny, but no fleas or anything. He followed me up to my door, maiowing. He looked into my apartment, but made no move to come in (although he did peer in). I scritched him some more, then went inside. I peeked out, he was still there.

So I fed him. He launched right into the tuna. Very hungry cat. He came back for a scritch, then sat with his back to the building, looking out. He seems to be waiting for someone, although no one in the building has a cat.

I said good night, and he looked mildly disappointed.

I have no idea if he'll be there in the morning: the people at either end of the building have dogs.

Happy halloween!

John McCain: Just call him "Tovarisch!"

According to CNN:
At the first stop on the tour, McCain touted his plan to use a portion of the $700 billion financial bailout package passed by Congress to buy up the mortgages of distressed homeowners so they can "stay in their homes."
"That's the American dream, and I'm going to protect it," McCain told supporters in Hanoverton, Ohio. "This administration isn't doing enough."
OK, first he's mad that Obama isn't using federal handouts to run for President, and now he wants to put Americans into state-owned homes.

And he's calling Obama a socialist?

I thought it was an accident that the Republicans are the "red" party; turns out they really are the Red Party!

Privyet, Tovarisch McCain!

October 30, 2008

Isn't it Ironic?

John McCain has made a career of fighting against unnecessary government funding. He has long tried to get rid of "pork barrel spending," where federal dollars are spent on projects that benefit only a few people.

So I find it ironic that he is accusing Barack Obama of not taking federal money to fund his campaign. The affront of it: Obama has found willing citizens to give him money to run for president, instead of taking a government handout!

I'm not saying that McCain is wrong about Obama's promise. He's right. Obama did say that he would use public financing, which would have severely limited his campaign budget. It's unlikely he'd be in the lead if he'd followed through on that promise.

McCain, on the other hand, DID apply for funding, and he's already exceeded the spending limits it imposed. Or maybe he withdrew from the program that he also promised to use; that's what his lawyers are saying, anyway.

In other words, McCain also promised to use public funding, actually applied for and was accepted, and now doesn't want to be limited by the rules that were imposed upon that acceptance.

McCain is accusing Obama of not getting involved in the program that he, McCain, is trying to get out of.

Obama Rally; pictures from Pablo

My friend Pablo Urquilla was at the Obama rally at the BankAtlantic center yesterday-

- and he wasn't alone.

A Musical Interlude

October 29, 2008

Literary Corner: A Poem by John Cleese

Ode to Sean Hannity
by John Cleese

Aping urbanity
Oozing with vanity
Plump as a manatee
Faking humanity
Journalistic calamity
Intellectual inanity
Fox Noise insanity
You’re a profanity

October 27, 2008


That's what the weather is.  It was a perfect morning to ride my bicycle into work along the New River, so that's what I did. 

Riding home tonight, the air was alive with the songs of birds: it seems that they are celebrating the weather, too.  Everytime I turned a corner, I could hear another chorus.

Sorry, no pictures, nothing witty.  It's just a gorgeous day, and I hope you have had time to stop and smell the flowers while listening to the birds.

October 26, 2008

Geek to geek: why I gave up iGoogle

As those of you who read this blog know, I really totally despise one of the changes Google made to their customizable homepage, iGoogle; the sidebar. It's the stupidest addition ever made to anything anywhere.

For reasons unexplained and unexplainable, some pin-headed moron at Google decided that it wasn't enough that we could SEE everything on our homepage, this dweeb decided we need to have a constantly displayed LIST of everything on our homepage taking up a sizable percentage of the left hand side of the screen.

Now, I don't know about you, but I read LEFT to RIGHT. That means everytime I start a new line, my eyes dart back to the left, where I see again the list of things on the page including the thing I just finished reading. It's distracting to the point that I actually get nauseous trying to use the "improved" iGoogle.

No stranger to software (having been a beta-tester on the early precursors of Mozilla and Firefox), I dug around and found two solutions; one that let me use the GOOD version of iGoogle, and the other that broke it so I didn't have to look at the fricking sidebar, but didn't display the other tabs of goodies.

And after a couple of days, I realized something: Google would see that I was still using iGoogle, even though I have been complaining bitterly about it. In fact, because of the work-arounds, the most experienced users who are the target demographic for iGoogle will continue using it.

And being a too-big-to-give-a-crap corporation, Google will see that there is no reason to fix the vomitous mess they've made of iGoogle. "Fuck'em," their president and CEO will say. "They're still using it, so it can't be worth the effort."

The only way Google will fix its mistake is if it sees a decline in traffic.

Here's a way to make them listen:
  1. do not use iGoogle, period, until Google fixes the sidebar issue. They pay attention to webtraffic.
  2. As often as it occurs to you, search Google with variants of "how to remove iGoogle sidebar." If that search string becomes the #1 search on Google, it will touch them where they live.
In the meantime, slug through MyYahoo or NetVibes or ProtoPage.