Random Thoughts

Unfair and Unbalanced.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Just What

does that "Christian" pulp novel series Left Behind really mean?

This, for starters:

Sales figures aside, it is entirely possible that the Left Behind series is as important in our time and cultural context as was, say, Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom’s Cabin in its time, wherein Lincoln called it “the little book that started the big war.” The truth is that LaHaye is among the most influential religious writers America ever produced and is the most powerful fundamentalist in America today. He is the founder and first president of the eerily secretive Council for National Policy, which brings together leading evangelicals and other conservatives with right-wing billionaires willing to pay for a conservative religious revolution. He is far more influential than Billy Graham or Pat Robertson and was the man who inspired Jerry Falwell to launch the Moral Majority. He gave millions of dollars to Farwell’s Liberty University. He’s the man without whom Ronald Reagan would never have become governor of California and the man who grilled George W. Bush, then wiped the cocaine off George’s nose and gave him the official Christian fundie stamp of approval. He created the American Coalition for Traditional Values that has mobilized evangelical voters, putting neo-conservative wackjobs into political offices across the nation. In short, he is the Godfather of Soul, fundie style. When the man lays it down, his peeps doo dey duty.

Scratch LaHaye and you’ll find an honest-to-god surviving John Bircher. In the 1960s when LaHaye was a young up-and-coming Baptist preacher fresh out of Bob Jones University, he lectured on behalf of Republican Robert Welch’s John Birch Society. We are talking about a man who believed Dwight Eisenhower was an agent of the Communist Party taking orders from his brother, Milt Eisenhower. Along the way LaHaye extended his paranoid list of villains to include secular humanists who “are Satan’s agents hiding behind the Constitution.” And the only way to destroy them is to destroy their cover.


Speedy the Chihuahua won the Wichita Eagle's Holiday Pet Photo Contest. There are photos of other contestants at the link. (Wichita Eagle)
Democrats

are looking at the possibility of stretching the 2008 primary season, which could only mean good news.

Or not, because it is still front-loading the process when in fact the nominee shouldn't be known until June at the earliest.

In any case, as long as we have electronic voting machines, the chances they will take the White House are nil.
In More

good economic news, women in their seventies are heading back into the workforce in droves and will likely stay there until they die there.

No pensions, little Social Security, and lower lifetime wages all take a toll.

But it's good for business, so it is good news after all.
Can Blogs

make a difference in state elections?

The short answer is "not likely."
Next Monday

is the Tournament of Roses Parade, so it is time to link the Pasadena Star-News special section.

And here is the official website.


This Siberian husky that was found frozen on some railroad tracks has been put up for adoption today. (Jeffrey Hage, AP)
It's Also

time to take a look at the most overexposed celebrities of this past year.

Oprah and Pat Robertson made the list.


A tiny poodle, Miss Lizzie, survived eight days in the elements. She escaped from a rollover accident and was discovered yesterday.

It's amazing she lived:

The poodle was spotted and rescued by Union Pacific's LUW 49 crew thanks to a “missing dog” poster that the DellaSilvas had provided to a UP outpost. Mike Kessler, engineer with the Union Pacific's LUW 49 crew, said a rail crew first spotted the dog on Christmas Eve but didn't stop because they assumed she was dead. He said animals frequently lie in the tracks.

“Nine times out of 10, if they are on the track, they are dead,” Kessler said.

At least two other trains passed over the dog before the LUW 49 crew recognized Miss Lizzie from the poster and saw her weakly pop her head up as the train approached, Kessler said. The crew put the train into an emergency stop and went back to rescue the dog, lying cold and desperate on the railroad tracks. They warmed her up, dried her off, cleaned her up and placed her snugly in a work bag for a ride back home, Kessler said.

(Ross Andréson/Elko Daily Free Press)
Masherama.

Unfortunately for Californians, Arnold may not return to his hometown.
We Have

returned to the Gilded Age of yore, where our government is of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.
Democrats

are hoping to overcome the odds of a biased media and rigged machines and are targeting several states.
It's Time

to take a look at the most overhyped and underreported stories of 2005.

This is good:

Howard Dean. Now the Democratic National Committee head, Howard still shoots off his mouth (often accurately), and Republicans still get themselves all in a knot whenever he does. Get over it. He's a glorified party fundraiser now, not a public official. What he says about public policy does not matter.
As the World Turns.

Not only is Diebold being kicked out of a lot of states, but its namesake has also kicked off.

He was 79, and died of cancer of the esophagus.

To be fair, he sold the business to another outfit in 1991, long before electronic voting machines fucked up our entire democracy.
_____

A surfer who survived a shark attack tells his story.
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Tom Noe and his wife try to maintain a low profile in Florida despite being in the eye of the Coingate storm.
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More employers are asking their employees to lose weight and are offering incentives in doing so.

As if this is something people have true control over.

My school district has some kind of "wellness program" which requires employees to lose weight, quit smoking, and get their blood pressure down or, if they refuse, they have to pay a penalty of $40 a month.

Which I seriously doubt is legal, though other companies have similar programs.
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A Nigerian girl is recoving after a giant brain tumor was removed.

It was the size of a grapefruit.
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A creationism museum is set to open in 2007.
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The so-called "Sausage King" has died in prison.
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Debate still rages over the advisability of transracial adoptions.
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Meatloaf, that staple of the 1950s, still rules.
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Dawn Wells remembers the dismal sitcom that made her famous and remembers her costars:

“You and Bob Denver were close…” I started. She cuts me off and with traces of tear in her blue eyes; she talks about her life long friend.

“Bob was such a good friend and I miss him dearly,” Wells said. “He was a deeply private man and very intellectual. He really wanted to save the world. He was into growing his own garden and doing environmental good.”

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An Indian official quits over a sex scandal.
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Once on the brink of extinction, wolves have made a stunning comeback, thanks to federal protection. But now our dictatorship doesn't give a shit about protecting wildlife at all (it's too cumbersome for businesses, including ranchers, and besides, Jesus is coming back soon anyway, so why save them), there's a possibility the creatures could be wiped out. (National Park Service via LAT)


It has been dog days as of late for our dictator, but as noted in a post below, he hopes to reverse fortune next year, if not by legitimate means, by other means. In this picture, the First Couple can be seen walking their dogs from the airport to their ranch in Crawford, as they have embarked on yet another vacation. (Lawrence Jackson, AP)
Hurricanegate.

Now that the coastline is a mess, residents ponder how and whether to rebuild when their towns are uprooted.

Meanwhile, fraud has been alleged at Red Cross call centers.

No matter how horrid the tragedy, the con men and vultures are always around for the pickings.
It Seems Absurd,

but there is actually debate as to whether having pets is good for people.

Of course they are, provided people don't have allergies.

The big question is, of course, whether people are good for pets. That's not always the case.

Monday, December 26, 2005



The robin may be an endangered species in Michigan, as there are three bills proposed which would replace it as the state's bird with another. (David Oxford, AP via Detroit News)
Prenatal Testing

has helped to almost eliminate Tay-Sachs disease among American Jews.

Amazingly, Tay-Sachs, which got a lot of publicity in the past, has just 20 new cases reported annually.

Which is indeed good news:

Tay-Sachs is caused by the absence of Hex-A, a vital enzyme. Without it, fatty substances accumulate in the nerve cells of the brain, eventually destroying them. In its most common infantile form, the disease begins its damage in the womb, although children might appear to develop normally for months before they start to lose basic skills. No effective treatment exists.

About one in 250 people in the general population carries the Tay-Sachs gene, but among Jews in the United States, it's one of every 27, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute. Non-Jewish French-Canadians living near the St. Lawrence River and in the Cajun communities of Louisiana have a similar incidence of Tay-Sachs. Americans of Irish descent have a slightly lower but still elevated risk -- one study estimated it between one in 52 and one in 192.
Despite

criticism all around, our dictator seeks to win even more battles next year.
Here's

the Kurtz article in question.

Naturally an important story like this gets overlooked by yours truly today.

The scandal, of course, is papers easily giving in to the administration instead of doing their job.
It Appears

our dictatorship was further pressuring papers to not print stories it felt was "damaging" its phony war on terra.
I Also

have been watching my brother's DVD set of season one of that old television classic from the 1950s, Have Gun--Will Travel. I was very small, but I can remember when it first ran on television. It had seldom been syndicated after its initial run, no thanks in part to a lawsuit filed by some performer who looked like star Richard Boone and supposedly gave out business cards and claimed the writers stole his concept. The guy won in court, but he died before he could collect any money.

Boone had his greatest success on this show. It's also important to note even though it's not that important in the grand scheme of things, that Boone was a cousin of actor Randy Boone, who appeared in the 1960s television western, The Virginian, and unfortunately had as his cousin old White Buckskin Shoes himself, Pat Boone. Richard Boone's character, Paladin, was notable for having expensive tastes, having a better-than-average intellect, and having a big vocabulary which left people shaking their heads wondering what in the hell he was talking about.

It was an entertaining show, and I decided I was going to look at some episodes.
These pictures of Graystone Court, Medford, Oregon, were taken last year. I got these pictures from this site.










Sorry

I haven't been posting much today, but I have been running around town buying stuff on sale, eating lunch out, and getting some old pictures processed of my late brother-in-law and pictures my nephew and his wife took when they visited Burning Man in August.

This evening my brother and I went out and looked at Christmas lights in east Medford. There are some fabulous displays, actually better than the displays in Reno. Two neighborhoods are especially good: one group of houses on Cherry, and, even better the lights display on Graystone Court, as good a display as any in the country. The street also has an annual canned food drive. I had my brother record the light displays on video.

My other brother, Dave, has his house all lit up. However, it's too hard to get in and out of his place without going into a ditch, and I didn't want to risk ruining my sister's car by visiting him. I may get a chance to see him before I leave.

So it looks like I won't be blogging much if any at all tonight.
Just

as we note the death of prominent people, so, too should we note the weirdest stories of the year.

Not the weirdos of the year, just the weirdest stories of the year.
Only a Few Years Ago,

it seem the disease of polio was poised to be eradicated from this earth, going the way of smallpox, but then it appeared the effort is unraveling, but that is changing quickly:

"I don't think there's any question that it's going to succeed. The question is how long," said William T. Sergeant, a Rotary International official. "The countries that were reinfected -- they were places where we had stopped polio before, and we can stop it again."

A civic club with 33,000 chapters worldwide, Rotary is a co-leader of the eradication campaign, to which it has contributed $600 million and tens of thousands of volunteers.

"The risk now is Nigeria -- and losing the commitment in other countries. But we're confident now that Nigeria will get the job done," said David L. Heymann, chief of the polio eradication program at the World Health Organization, which is directing the initiative.


There is good reason why efforts to rid the world of polio is taking longer than ridding smallpox, which took just ten years:

The effort to eliminate polio has taken longer and proved harder than the eradication of smallpox, which took 10 years and ended in 1978. One of the main reasons is that most polio infections are not apparent, while smallpox causes a dramatic rash that makes identifying victims fairly easy.
It Was

another big year for obituary writers, though not as big as last year or in 1977, and the New York Times, the best place in the world for noting deaths of people worth noting and a few who aren't worth noting, reviews who died and who didn't.
Somebody

thinks it would be fun to track the life expectancy of slang terms such as catchphrases and fashionable words, which tells me this guy has a pretty dull life.

I have better things to do with my time, thank you.

But if you're bored, here is a list.
Same Shit,

different week.
It's Been

a year since the terrible tsunami in the Indian Ocean, killing well over 100,000 people, and a journalist recalls that terrible episode.

A woman victimized by the tsnuami tries to rebuild her life.
Masherama.

Vienna stripped Arnold's name for its stadium as protest against the governor's stand on the death penalty.
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Speaking of the death penalty, executions should increase in the state, thus renewing debate over the old issue.
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According to this article, we shouldn't be impressed with Tookie Williams's several Nobel Prize nominations. It seems they are pretty easy to get.
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California counties continue to proceed with rigged voting machines.

I might as well call them as I see them.
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The road to re-election is full of political land mines for the governor, and if he had any sense at all, he'd get the hell out of Sacramento for good.
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As the World Turns.

The idiot "teacher" who debunked Santa Claus in front of first graders gives her side of the story.

Note she is a substitute teacher. She was clearly out of bounds here, for she was to read the story and keep her fucking attitude to herself.

I hope she was sacked from the district that hired her.
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It's time to declare war against the war against the War Against Christmas.
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Is bigger better in my hometown area of Oregon's Rogue Valley?

I heard this same shit when I was growing up there in the 1960s and 1970s. Growth is well and good except for the fact the job opportunities are shit, thanks to a concerted effort to appeal to wealthy retirees from other states, namely California.
_____

Whatever in the hell drove Tennessee to put a tax on food?

That is such a blatant attack on poor and middle-income people I can't believe it.

Naturally, there's no income tax. After all, the rich need their money.
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The Alaska Daily News marks the one-year anniversary of a shipwreck.
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Enron is ending up costing a pretty penny.
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I

slept about 12 hours straight last night, so obviously I was tired.

Today I will be in and out of here. It's probably just as well I didn't drive out, for it is raining off and on up here in Medford.

I may take in looking at Christmas lights tonight after dark.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Since

I haven't slept much at all in two days, I am going to bag it early tonight.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Season's Greetings or whatever, everyone!
In Addition

to widespread corruption of political officials, Jackgate also includes allegations of murder of an associate of Abramoff's one-time friend, Michael Scanlon.
As the World Turns.

The reward for Toga's whereabouts has gone up.
_____

Obama may not be what he's cracked up to be, but expectations remain high.
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Despite or because she is a puppet for the neocons, Condi Rice is a popular choice to succeed our dictator when his term ends--if it ever does. This despite the fact she keeps saying she's not interested in the job. (J. Scott Applewhite, AP)
It Was

a Christmas Eve to remember. I headed out the door yesterday and drove to Doyle, California, when I decided to turn around and return to Reno. My thermostat was showing the car being a bit more hot than I cared to deal with. I think the altitude has something to do with it. I have driven on many times, but this time I just didn't want to risk it. So I took the dogs back with me to Reno.

However, I did take the bus and left at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. It was a long, long, long night, since I had to go to Sacramento to change buses, and I eventually made it in Medford 12 hours after I left. My sister picked me up and I stayed at her house; however, I didn't feel like going to bed. We ended up going to my nephew's house to open gifts and celebrate at 6 a.m. In short, I have hardly slept at all the past 48 hours.

My sister is letting me use her car this week. I plan to stay up here in Medford for about a week before I head back. I just hate leaving the dogs behind, though.

We had dinner in Grants Pass this afternoon. Elven and Carissa, the newlyweds I have posted pictures of a couple of months ago, headed back to Salem. I paid for their dinner tonight.

It's just as well I didn't drive up. The weather is turning crappy, with rain off and on. When I road the bus over Donner Summit yesterday, there was not much snow on the ground. The sunset, however, was magnificent.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

In a Couple

of minutes, I am heading out the door to travel to Oregon, and I hope I make it alive.

In the meantime, the dictator is using the time-honored practice of the Big Lie to justify his illegal spying.
I Thought

I'd add to my blogroll on "the other site" B-actress Mamie van Doren's political weblog.

She likes our dictator as much as I do:

This blog has noted for years that George the Lesser and his fascist handlers REALLY have one goal in mind: completing American's transition into a police state. He has used the 9/11 tragedy as an excuse to intrude into unimaginable areas of American's private lives. Now, following the New York Times revelations of spying on Americans, The Weiner is talking too much, making too many excuses, and generally looking guilty on television and in newspapers. Having had their dirty little secret dragged out into the light of day, Weenie and Cheenie and all the rest of the sorry bunch scumbags are tap dancing and invoking executive presidental power, trying to bullshit the public into submission with FEAR.

The more they talk, the more they prove a Carl Sandburg quote from Blackwood's Magazine in England: "A great war always creates more scoundrels than it kills."

But it does your heart good to see the Venal Little Shit get caught.

Friday, December 23, 2005

In Obituary News,

prominent dog musher and adventurer Norman Vaughan has died, four days after reaching his 100th birthday.

Until a few minutes ago, I had never heard of him, but I thought I'd note it anyway.

This is interesting:

At 84, Vaughan was still entering and completing the grueling 1,100-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome as the self-proclaimed "oldest and slowest" musher in the world.

At 89, he climbed a 10,320-foot Antarctic peak that Admiral Richard Byrd named in his honor 65 years earlier during their historic 1928-1930 South Pole expedition.
It's

time for a roundup of media reaction to the NYC transit workers strike.

Kurtz also went to Jack Anderson's funeral, which didn't get much coverage at all.

Kurtz Kount: Kurtz 21, C&P; 36.
For the week: Kurtz 72, C&P; 123.

Once again Kurtz will be off next week, which is a good thing as I plan to be going out of town myself starting tomorrow, assuming I can get the nail taken out of my tire.
The Booming Economy Casualty List for 12/16-12/23.

New home sales dropped in November.
As the World Turns.

I forgot all about mentioning this story about a daughter who is devastated by her dad's bones having gone on a Cooke's tour.

It has to be one of the sickest goddamned things I ever heard of, right down there with the baby penguin theft.
_____

Who the hell does he think he is, Jesus Christ?
_____

Monica Conyers, wife of the congressman, was involved in a barroom brawl, but reportedly she was defending herself against the other woman involved.
_____

White Nose, a cat who survived a shooting a month ago, was shot dead in a second incident.
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A porn actress, 20, is sought on a child rape charge.
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The new DVD set, The Harold Lloyd Collection, is another item I'll have to purchase.
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A school board member is upset a school newspaper reported on oral sex and wants to restrict what this and other student papers can do.
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It's CYA time for Senator Santorum.
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I

found this story hilarious:

Several large evangelical churches in Reno and Sparks will not conduct services on Christmas Day, which happens to fall on a Sunday this year.

Sparks Christian Fellowship, Reno Christian Fellowship, Grace Community Church, Cross Winds Assembly of God and The Rock Christian Community Church have decided to close on the day celebrated by Christians as the birthday of Jesus Christ.

The decision, which affects about 7,000 church members in the area, has raised local and national discussion on the holiday's true meaning.


Mind you, these are "evangelical" churches.
It Appears

our dictator's insistence he had a right to order warrantless wiretapping in this country has a challenge from Tom Daschle:

As Senate majority leader at the time, I helped negotiate that law with the White House counsel's office over two harried days. I can state categorically that the subject of warrantless wiretaps of American citizens never came up. I did not and never would have supported giving authority to the president for such wiretaps. I am also confident that the 98 senators who voted in favor of authorization of force against al Qaeda did not believe that they were also voting for warrantless domestic surveillance.


And this:

Just before the Senate acted on this compromise resolution, the White House sought one last change. Literally minutes before the Senate cast its vote, the administration sought to add the words "in the United States and" after "appropriate force" in the agreed-upon text. This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas -- where we all understood he wanted authority to act -- but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens. I could see no justification for Congress to accede to this extraordinary request for additional authority. I refused.
While Wall Street Executives

rake in millions in bonuses, the billionaire mayor of New York decries the transit workers in yet another example of class warfare in America.
The Fact

the Senate decided to slash social programs while previously giving obscene tax breaks to corporations and wealthy individuals is another instance of the class warfare being waged upon the American people by those supposedly representing them.