August 29, 2014

A thing or two

Last night I watched a White Sox game. I enjoy listening to Hawk Harrelson, one of their sportscasters. He says the oddest things. After watching a hitter take a swing in last night's game, he said, "He got a little bit o' Joe Mauer lookalike to him, don't he?" He has such a backwoods way about him. Do I think it's largely put on? Yup. But I still like the guy.

As for other matters, I can't find the energy to blog lately because the world looks so dreadful. I mean, what is there to say? "Man the lifeboats!" seems appropriate. But it's hardly uplifting. And I like to uplift you guys.

But seriously, an eight-year-old girl shoots an instructor in the head with an Uzi that he put in her hands after setting it on "fully automatic" -- and the media can only say this is "starting a conversation" about kids and guns?!! A conversation? Yeah, between the rational and the braindead.

And that's the thing. The world is running amok and everything is getting worse by the minute. Worst of all, there is no smart, charismatic leader to point the way forward - not here or anywhere else. And please don't tell me Hillary will make things better. She won't.

Welcome to planet Earth, run by hairless monkeys who've lost their way. May the Flying Spaghetti Monster have mercy on us all.

August 27, 2014

Open letter to a demon

To: L. Diablo

Dear L,

Thanks for commenting on my blog post the other day. That was swell! I really appreciate the fact that you took a break from your demonic duties to write to me. I mean, how many demons would do such a thing? You're special.

Today, I just want you to know that I'm not angry at you or any of the demons who infest my home. I say this because it's finally hot and humid here -- and I know it's you guys who've been keeping the heat at bay for me. For almost the entire summer, you kept NY cool.

But I also know that you do important work here on Earth. It's you and your demon pals who keep the religious gits at bay and prevent them from going totally postal on everybody. I'm sure that takes up a lot of your time. The fact that you still managed to cool NY this summer is, well, it's downright impressive.

So I want you to know that I'll happily put up with a few days (or even weeks) of hazy, hot and humid weather. And I'll do it with a smile. It's my way of saying thanks to you and all the other demons who make life so nice for us humans. Stay well and don't forget me.

Keith O'Connor

PS: Do you know B.L. Zebub? I've heard he's cool, too. Okay, later.

None o' them new-fangled gadgets for me. No siree.

Although I love computers and everything they bring to the world, and though I consider it fun to perform maintenance tasks on a motorcycle, I detest most machines. Give me software; you keep the hardware.

Fax machines? I skipped them entirely, never deigning to actually use one. In baseball, they often say a hitter "spits on" a pitch. It means he thinks the pitch is garbage and ignores it. Well, I spit on fax machines.

I also hate washers, dryers, cars and most other machines. And I especially hate toaster ovens. Spawn of the devil! How dare they make me turn dials and settings? It's way too complicated and it sucks at toasting bread.

So I got me one o' them toasters. Yup, an old-timey toaster. It's great! I can't get over it: you just put the bread in and push down on a thing -- and moments later, toast pops out. It's a miracle!

I put the old toaster oven, which was only used by visitors to my house, in a pile of stuff I intended to throw out. But then a friend stopped by and he wanted it. So it found a home. (In case you're wondering, someone bought the damn thing for me. They were obviously possessed by demons.)

Now life is grand, what with my new toaster and all. Mmmm-mmmm-mmmmm. Crunchy.

Is there any kind of machinery you've avoided since it appeared on the scene? Seriously, fax machines?! Ugh.


Joe Jervis reports that the Vatican yanked that evil guy's diplomatic immunity. I'll believe this when I see the guy in a Dominican prison. Still, if the pope didn't do this he would become a cartoon. I mean, this is basic. Your representative sexually abuses kids; you yank his immunity and turn him over to the authorities. They've done the yanking, now let's see if they do the turning over.

Kate Bush, again

I love Kate Bush. Her songs are unusual, brave and shocking. That's my kind of gal. Apparently, she's ba-ack. In fact, she recently performed in a knock-em-dead show.

The NY Times story recounts her presentation of one of my favorite Bush songs, "Under Ice". Here's their description and then I'll post the video (for the third time). It's an unearthly song that really gets to me.
Then she performed entire halves of records — the conceptual, interwoven-story parts. First was Side 2 of the album “Hounds of Love”: the seven songs collectively titled “The Ninth Wave,” with a central character trapped under ice, and possibly returning to her family as a ghost. It’s like a soundtrack to a disjointed film, and here the theater took over; for a stretch the vocalists sang against surround-sound backing tracks. There were actors with fish-skeleton heads, a rescue crew in life jackets. A film of an astronomer with a telescope calling the Coast Guard to report a sinking ship, with dialogue written by Mr. Mitchell. Another film of Ms. Bush singing face up in the cold water. An apparatus with flashing lights and sound — a rescue helicopter — descended from the ceiling. And in the second section of the story, Ms. Bush-as-ghost suddenly appeared in a living room set aslant, as if sinking into the floor, to visit her partner and son.
Here's the song. It's very short. Play it loud.

I'll bet her show is great. BTW, that's a fan video. Good job!

August 26, 2014

This is pretty cool

From an AP story:
Neo-Nazis rallying in the Swedish city of Norrkoping have been greeted by the theme song from "Schindler's List" ringing from the bells of city hall.

Local government spokesman Ulf Mossberg said city officials decided the tune from Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning Holocaust drama was an appropriate way to demonstrate the city's belief in "the equal value of all people."

He said the bells of the clock tower played the song before and after a political rally Tuesday by the Party of the Swedes, a small extremist group that wants to stop immigration and reserve Swedish citizenship for people with "Western genetic and cultural heritage."
I love it. What is it about those northern countries? How come they get it? Could it be the lack of religion? I think so. If you don't waste time thinking about nonexistent super-creatures, you're able to focus on the meaningful aspects of life.

August 25, 2014

She'll make a great prez

Westhampton Beach, New York (CNN) – Hillary Clinton, who has yet to comment about the protests over the death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, ignored questions about the incident on Sunday.

After signing more than 700 books at Books & Books in Westhampton Beach, Clinton was asked by two reporters for her reaction to the controversy.

Clinton ignored both questions and left the bookstore.
A brave, brave lady. I'm sure she'll lead the country well.

August 24, 2014

Pope Francis does same old thing with child abuser

You thought Pope Francis would do better, didn't you? But when a papal nuncio (a papal ambassador) made a habit of sexually abusing boys in the Dominican Republic, the pope whisked him out of the country and brought him back to the Vatican. In other words, Jozef Wesolowski, the nuncio, will not be prosecuted for his crimes in the country where they took place. Same old, same old.
But far from settling the matter, the Vatican has stirred an outcry because it helped Mr. Wesolowski avoid criminal prosecution and a possible jail sentence in the Dominican Republic. Acting against its own guidelines for handling abuse cases, the church failed to inform the local authorities of the evidence against him, secretly recalled him to Rome last year before he could be investigated, and then invoked diplomatic immunity for Mr. Wesolowski so that he could not face trial in the Dominican Republic.
This is not what we expected from Francis the Good. It's more like the stylings of Benedict the Bad. And though there will be a "trial" at the Vatican, it seems the nuncio isn't suffering at all.
A Dominican bishop, Victor Masalles, visiting Rome in late June, said in a Twitter message that he was surprised to see Mr. Wesolowski “strolling the Via della Scrofa,” in the city’s picturesque ancient center. He added, “The silence of the Church has hurt the people of God.”
And of course, this unseemly affair is not viewed positively by the Catholic population in the Dominican Republic.
“The people used to say, ‘I want my child to go to a Catholic church,’ ” said the Rev. Rogelio Cruz, a Catholic priest here. “Now they say, ‘No child of mine is ever going to a Catholic church.’ ”
Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. But this interlude is just more of the same. Why can't the church turn their priests in for crimes? In light of the history of such crimes by church members, this is unacceptable. Why can't this church do the right thing?

Roman Catholicism. Same as it ever was. 

August 23, 2014

Nazi eyeglasses finally fade into oblivion

For nearly 20 years, the industry that makes eyeglasses seemed to be Nazi-controlled. Think back to yesteryear and recall how there was only one shape for eyeglasses: thin rectangles. Before the Nazi ultimatum came down, eyeglasses came in an assortment of shapes. But "not no more," as some of my local friends would say.

I remember going into eyeglass stores and looking around at all the nearly identical rectangular glasses. That's all there was. In exasperation, I'd trot over to the proprietor and ask, "Uh, do you have any other eyeglass shapes, any retro-glasses, maybe in a storeroom in back?" Nuh-uh. Only the Nazi glasses.

But finally, the tide turned. These days, you'll find all sorts of eyeglasses when you visit an optometrist. SF Gate has a photo feature today, showing the various frames used by "hipsters" (a term I detest).

We finally broke free and I have no clue why it took so long. Personally, I felt the rigid reliance on a thin, rectangular shape was imposed by artistically-challenged heterosexual designers. I also had a suspicion that they knew these frames were an awful idea and launched them as a prank. Surely, no one thought they were attractive. How they must have laughed!

Anyway, live and breathe. Go buy new glasses if you're still wearing the thin, ugly kind. You're allowed to, now. Hooray!

It's hard to believe this Sinatra interview is real

Seriously, this is old Blue Eyes? The following is allegedly from an interview with Sinatra in Playboy:
There are things about organized religion which I resent. Christ is revered as the Prince of Peace, but more blood has been shed in His name than any other figure in history. You show me one step forward in the name of religion and I’ll show you a hundred retrogressions. Remember, they were men of God who destroyed the educational treasures at Alexandria, who perpetrated the Inquisition in Spain, who burned the witches at Salem. Over 25,000 organized religions flourish on this planet, but the followers of each think all the others are miserably misguided and probably evil as well. In India they worship white cows, monkeys and a dip in the Ganges. The Moslems accept slavery and prepare for Allah, who promises wine and revirginated women. And witch doctors aren’t just in Africa. If you look in the L.A. papers of a Sunday morning, you’ll see the local variety advertising their wares like suits with two pairs of pants.
That's Sinatra talking? It sounds more like an atheist blogger. I find this almost unbelievable but apparently these really are Frank Sinatra's words. If so, he was a lot smarter and better educated than the world knew. There's much more at Jerry Coyne's web site. Go read it. You'll be glad you did.

August 21, 2014

Linda Harvey, vicious anti-gay wingnut

Linda Harvey is one the worst anti-gay bigots in America - and that's saying a lot, given the competition. I bumped into this at Right Wing Watch a couple of days ago. Whoo-ee, Harvey sure does hate gay pride.
Harvey: “We need to go to our city councils and stop these parades. I think they are a blight on the community, they communicate exactly the wrong message: that homosexuality and gender change is totally fine, that it’s a big joke, because there are men dressed in feather boas, lipstick and heels in these parades, this is such a raw message to our children especially. My opinion is gay pride parades ought to be banned and we have every reason to do so, there is no redeeming social value, that’s my belief.”
Tch, tch. She sure is touchy. You have to wonder what happened to her as a child. She's so damaged. Well, I think normal kids, both straight and gay, would enjoy watching a gay pride march and would, if anything, feel relieved at seeing "men dressed in feather boas, lipstick and heels in these parades". The message is that all the restrictive sexual norms that adults are so eager to implant in the minds of young people are just nonsense. And that's a good, healthy message.

When you're a kid, you often get a terrible reaction from adults if you step out of line with gender norms. If you're a little girl who hates makeup and likes baseball, or a little boy who likes to play with dolls and enjoys wearing mommy's clothes, you're out of luck. At least, that's what authoritarian parents, school officials and religious leaders would have you believe.

But suddenly, there you are at a gay pride march and you see Dykes on Bikes and drag queens and androgynous people of all sorts. This is refreshing, it's good and healthy. And kids, even if they're stuck with cavemen for parents, probably see a glint of hope. The message is "Hey, you can be what you want to be!" It's like a breath of fresh air.

Linda Harvey is an American monster. She proves this each time she opens her mouth. Google her for a minute or two and you'll realize she's the last person from whom you should take child-rearing advice. This has always been the only rule for parents: Just have fun with your kids and love them and let them be who they are.

I swear, I wish all these ignorant bigots would just disappear, perhaps in their longed-for Rapture. Fine with me as long as they leave. In the meantime, at least Right Wing Watch keeps an eye on them for us. Thank goodness for the internet. May it remain open and free forever.

Having a great doctor is so important

When I lived in Manhattan, I had the best docs in the world. But then I moved to upstate New York, where hardly any doctors are even competent, never mind good.

For over a decade of living up here in the hinterlands, I went to dreadful doctors. My primary, may he rest in the ground, was such a bigot. He absolutely could not see me for who I was. After all, I'm gay and I've got a lot of tattoos. Therefore I'm a drug fiend. Case closed. No amount of acting normal, nice and rational served to change his opinion of me.

I would even say to him, now and then, check my medical records. I haven't asked you for one pain drug in the entire ten years I've been going to you. Didn't matter; I was a drug fiend. I finally quit him, but unfortunately I stayed with the same medical practice (for insurance reasons). As I tried this and that doctor at the facility, it became clear that my original doctor had poisoned their minds against me. I was a drug fiend and that's all there was to it.

I hate pain drugs and avoid them like the plague. Ever since I got sober, I've enjoyed such mental clarity. To lose it even for a day is unthinkable to me. When doctors offer me such medications, I just say, "No, I'll be fine." Mind you, if I was in intolerable pain, I'd ask for some. But that hasn't happened.

Although I'm still with the same medical practice, I now go to a completely different facility. The doctors there are so good! And every one of them sees me, not a specter dreamed up by looking at my tattoos.

What makes me write this is that I've received such good care in the past year or so. I love my primary, and all the specialists he's sent me to have been terrific.

Gay people, even those with tattoos, may be normal, nice people. This is something my old doctors couldn't get through their skulls. (I imagine people of color, and even women, get the same nonsense from white, arrogant, male idiots with an MD after their name. It's not just me.)

Anyway, it's just great to be getting appropriate, kindly care. Finally. Have you ever had a problem like this because of a doctor's inaccurate perception of you as a person?

PS: The tattoo thing is huge. One specialist I was sent to years ago never looked me in the eye during an entire visit. It was obvious that to him, I was trash. A friend once told me that what makes having a lot of tattoos weird is that strangers see you and immediately think they know the story of your life. Ahem. You don't. And you're nitwits.

Myopia will end Catholicism's reign

The Catholic church never sees the big picture. They close adoption agencies rather than help gay families adopt children. They insist on celibacy for priests despite the huge priestly pedophilia scandal. And this goes on and on. They just love to focus on nothing, while losing everything. Today's news fits this profile perfectly.
A Catholic diocese in Ohio is discouraging its schools from participating in the ice bucket challenge to benefit the ALS Association, citing its funding of research involving embryonic stem cells.

In a letter sent Tuesday to its 113 schools, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's superintendent of Catholic schools says the research being funded is "in direct conflict with Catholic teaching."
Yes...the all-American Ice Bucket Challenge, loved by all, has become a new occasion of sin for the sin-obsessed Catholic church. Because what's important here? Helping people to overcome a crippling and often fatal disease? Or obsessing about the meaning of stem cells in relation to the non-existent Catholic god? Obviously, the latter! Who cares if sick people won't be helped? Who cares that some diseases cripple people? That doesn't matter, only sin matters.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that causes paralysis and almost certain death.
But who cares? Helping out might make the baby Jesus cry. So remember, kids, the church says you should just shudder as you pass such people in the street. Whatever you do, don't help!

To the inevitable sticklers who would cry foul at my characterization of this churchly move: yes, the church also said a sensible thing:
The superintendent told the schools that students and staff can still do the ice bucket challenge, but any funds raised should be given to organizations that combat ALS without embryonic stem cell research.
But let us harken back to the beginning of this article. The church is "discouraging its schools from participating in the ice bucket challenge to benefit the ALS Association". That's the headline and it's the only thing the schools will hear: no ice bucket challenges, kiddies. They're sinful!!! 

PS: It's also very Catholic to say one thing and an opposing thing at the same time. That's what makes Catholicism so grand, doncha know. They like to confuse their rank and file. Mission accomplished!

August 20, 2014

The word "till"

Okay, I have to admit this is a decidedly minor post. But the word "till" bothers me. When I look it up, I'm told it's fine to use this spelling in the phrase "shop till you drop". But I just can't do it.

A till is the tray in a cash register. On the other hand, the use cited above is a bastardization (to my mind) of "until". And if you're going to use it that way, it seems to me it should say, for instance, "shop 'til you drop". It's a shortening of a standard word, and the way we show missing letters is to use an apostrophe in their place. Like "top o' the morning to you".

I feel so strongly about this that in Xmas Carol, I avoided the word entirely and spelled out "until" in full. It's not like I'm a super stickler for this sort of thing (well, okay, I am) but I couldn't use "till" in any of my writing. (Here on the blog, I would. Blogs don't really matter. They're kind of like gathered emails, not formal at all.)

I know you didn't need to hear about this but I wanted to tell you anyway. So there.

FFF is the way forward for bloggers

Hey, bloggers. What say we try something new?

Let's establish a new rule. From now on, the fifth Friday of any month will be a Fact-Free Friday. On such days, bloggers are free to report any crazy thing they want to. There's no need for facts here.

For instance, a blogger could post a headline that says "Pope blasts off into space, leaving church behind".  The lede could be: "I'm sick of Earth, I'm sick of God, and dog knows I'm sick of the goddamn Curia!" the pope said as he spat at a photographer on the tarmac. Those close to the scene say the pope farted before entering the rocket ship. He did not say "excuse me".

Or maybe we could post the following on Fact-Free Friday:

Hillary Clinton says she will not vacate the Electoral Toilet Seat since that would allow someone else to sit down. "I'm going to remain right here on this esteemed bowl through Election Day," the presumed candidate opined from her stall.

Oh, wait. That's not a joke story; it's real. Never mind.

Seriously, we could have fun with this - but only if huge numbers of bloggers do it. And remember, it's not often that we have five Fridays in a month. That would make it extra-special.

What would you post on your blog if today was a Fact-Free Friday?

August 19, 2014

NY is having a Hell of a good summer. But why?

If you live in New York state, I'm willing to bet you're very happy with the summer that landed on your doorstep this year. It's been so nice here, it's unbelievable. This summer, there have been only four days where the temperature hit 90 degrees! And by and large, the humidity that usually plagues New York hasn't arrived. It's been beautiful.

But why is this happening? I was thinking about this last night when it suddenly hit me: I may have caused this glorious weather!

Stay with me here. In May of 2013, I invited demons into my home. I did this because in all the horror movies I've seen, when ghosts or demons are present, the room gets cold. I figured if I invited demons into my house, they'd keep the place cool during the summer. And it worked!

But what if this act of kindness so moved the demons that they responded in a huge way? What if they extended the coolness to an area hundreds of miles around my house? This would explain the incursion of the polar vortex last winter, and the cool summer we're having this year. Maybe the cold is the result of a passel of demons saying "Thanks, Keith".

Think about it. It makes sense. And maybe this means we should all invite demons into our homes. Perhaps demons are grossly misunderstood. They may be kind, cuddly creatures who were unjustly maligned by religious fools for millenia. Just imagine how terrible they'd feel, what with being so sweet and all, and yet having to withstand overwhelming hatred from religious people.

We must right this wrong. Today, right this second, stop what you're doing. Go to the center of the room, look down to Hell and say, "Demons! Come unto me and mine! Haunt my home! Live with me!"

Let's begin this grand experiment and then report the results on this blog. Good times are ahead if we just give ourselves, our homes and our lives to demons! That's the message, kiddies. Go for it.

Image: Wikipedia Commons

Kluwe's classy move

I figure y'all know about Chris Kluwe, so I won't offer an introduction. Here's the latest great thing he did. (And remember, he's a straight guy.)
Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe says he's reached a settlement with the team to avert a threatened lawsuit over his release.

Kluwe had accused the Vikings of cutting him over his activism on gay rights issues. He said Tuesday that the Vikings have agreed to donate to several nonprofits to help raise awareness in professional sports about LGBT issues. Those include the Matthew Shepard Foundation and a charity run by openly gay retired NFL player Wade Davis.

Kluwe says he'll get no money in the settlement.
See, that's the thing with Kluwe: it's not all about him. How refreshing. Chris Kluwe is definitely one of my heroes. How can I not love a straight guy who advocates for gays in the football world? Watta guy!

August 17, 2014

G.A.G.E. - I am Mike Brown

I love this song. It's the first, and surely not the last, song to come out of the horror in Ferguson. Good work, guys.

PS: If you're the kind of nitwit who is disturbed by "naughty" words, don't listen to it.

August 16, 2014

Merry Saturday

Life is getting in my way today so I'll just leave you with this link. I know you're itchin' to read something. So g'wan.

August 15, 2014

Something's happening in Ferguson

The confrontation between the police and the community in Ferguson is a significant event in American history. This moment will not be forgotten.

A small, white-staffed police force decided that it was a big, bad army at war. This confusion was easy to come by since Congress spent $44 billion (I think that's the figure I heard on the national news last night) buying military weapons from the Pentagon and giving them willy-nilly to police forces around the country. Bad idea. As Digby regularly points out, you know how boys are with their toys. They want to play with them. And so they pointed high-power weaponry at the community of Ferguson, at people who were demonstrating against the violence of the police force. The irony is startling.

When the police started shooting at peaceful hippies on the Kent State campus in the 1960s, the world was stunned. We didn't have social media in those days, but a great song by Buffalo Springfield memorialized the moment. I trust today's artists are working on a killer protest song about Ferguson. It's needed.

And I also trust that the image of police officers playing the role of military men fighting a nonexistent war on the streets of an American city is burned into the memories of all Americans. This cannot be allowed. Our country is not a military zone. Cities and towns don't need tanks and mighty firepower to respond to citizens who are protesting the violent actions of police officers. Or if they do, this ain't America anymore.

Everybody look what's going down. This is a sad moment in our history.

August 14, 2014

Speaking of Crow

I didn't have time to append a Crow story to my recent post that showed his image alongside a blue heron (it's a few posts below this one). But now I do have the time, so here you go.

Crow, for the uninitiated, is my friend in the yard. He's a male crow who has a mate and two offspring. The four travel in loose circles together and I feed them every day. Lotsa peanuts. Crows (and just about every other creature that passes through my yard) adore peanuts. I guess I've been feeding him for about three or four years. I'm sure he still murders innocent little birds for food, but he sure does enjoy those peanuts. Gotta have a balanced diet, you know. And crows are predators. I can't blame him for his murderous ways. It's just what crows do.

Anyway, when I leave the house, Crow often follows me. As soon as I exit the door, he flies overhead in a big, showy swoop and calls down to me. He follows me as I walk, flying to the nearest tree. And all the while, he caws sweet nothings to me. This goes on for as long as I'm out there, including for 20-minute walks. Crow always stays by my side. (This amazes my sister, who walks with me.)

Recently, Crow added something to his repertoire. The new trick involves his knowledge of when I'm heading for the mailbox. I guess the time of day tells him that. The mailbox is a ways from my house, so the cawing and his habit of visiting nearby trees goes on for a bit. But here's the new behavior. He flies to the mailbox when I'm still 100 yards away, and sits on the ground at the end of the driveway, right beside the mailbox. His body is pointed my way and he simply stares at me.

When I get close, Crow flies away. Even after years of me being nice to him, he doesn't fully trust me. He'd never let me get too close. Nor does he let me take his photo (very often, anyway). If you point a device at wild animals, they all seem to think it's a gun. I've seen this behavior from many species. You can look at them, but don't point anything at them. They're not stupid, despite what people think. They seem to suspect that any human device is a gun. I assume they've had extensive experience with humans shooting at them.

Crow's antics are cute. I assume he does these things to recognize me for all my help. In his crow head, he thinks this is an appropriate way to say thanks. And I guess it is, since I enjoy it very much.

Animals are so much smarter than we think. It kills me that people don't get that.

What Israel could have done

Instead of bombing hospitals, elementary schools and UN shelters designated as safe sites for families and children, Israel could have done this:

Take a detailed overhead photo of Palestinian territory. Number the buildings, starting with "1" and continuing in order with the building next to that, then the building next to that, etc. Then send this detailed map to the Palestinians and say the buildings will be destroyed, one after another, in order, on an hourly (or daily or whatever) schedule. They could send the start time for the process to the Palestinian leaders.

With such a plan, every person in those buildings could have evacuated to a safe location before they were struck. There would be no deaths, yet Israel could literally destroy all of the buildings in Gaza, leaving none standing at the conclusion of their campaign -- if Hamas rockets continued to be fired at Israel.

Do you think they ever considered such a bloodless plan? It would accomplish their aims just as well. Instead, they went with the plan we all saw in action, the one that killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians, most of whom were women and children.

Seriously, why does Israel never choose the bloodless option? I think I know the answer.

What's with the "alleged"?

On NY news stations, each time they refer to the murder of Eric Garner by NYPD officers, they say he was killed by an "alleged choke hold".

"Alleged"? We've all seen the video of him being taken down by the use of a choke hold applied by an NYPD officer. You see this clearly in the picture above. And the medical examiner has said this was a homicide caused by a choke hold.

So what's with the alleged? I swear, this drives me nuts. Everyone can see the obvious...except the news broadcasters? This use of the word "alleged" by the media is inaccurate and cowardly.

It seems the media is letting us down again. Surprise, surprise.

August 13, 2014

Life on the pond

I love living next to a large pond. It attracts so much wildlife. Here's an image I shot this morning. It's a blue heron who often visits the pond, and as a special bonus, he's accompanied by my friend Crow (who is upset that I ran out of peanuts today; a trip to the store will fix that).

Pond life. It's fabulous. When we move, I will miss this friendly body of water.

(Click image for larger version.)

NY governor Andrew Cuomo is a monster

This takes the cake:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked off a two-day visit to Israel on Wednesday, where he expressed "total solidarity" with the country over the monthlong war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
And by "total solidarity", it's clear that Cuomo means it's great that Israel killed kids, knowingly and repeatedly, with eyes wide open. That's totally okay in Cuomo's eyes and he wants Israel to know this with certainty. I can think of one other monster must have been very pleased to hear this.
Later Wednesday, Cuomo met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who praised Cuomo and the American government for "standing on the right side of the moral divide."
Indeed. Let's take a gander at that "moral divide", shall we?
More than 1,900 Palestinians have been killed in the fighting, Palestinian and UN officials say. Israel says 64 of its soldiers and three civilians have been killed in the war, which began July 8.

Cuomo's office said the governor and his delegation would not visit Palestinian territories or meet Palestinian officials during the 30-hour trip, despite a personal invitation by the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations to experience "all sides of the conflict, not just one."
Nice, Cuomo, really nice. Folks, this is how megalomania works. It's all about Cuomo's future electoral success. Meeting with the Palestinians wasn't going to help Andrew Cuomo's career, so the hell with the Palestinian kids. What's a couple of thousand deaths in Gaza? No biggie.

Israel is a monster. Cuomo is a monster. It's lovely that they got together to have a drink over the dead bodies.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the creation of Israel was a nice idea but it has a location problem. So let's toss the people out of Utah and give that state to Israel. It would hold all the current Israelis with ease and it would be a fabulous destination for American Jews. And no one would bomb them. It's a win-win thing. They could even use those ridiculous LDS temples as religious gathering places. They're certainly not being put to any good use now.

And there would be peace in the middle east -- or at least, there would be no Jews dying there.

Noses useful after all

Who knew?

Recently, my breathing problems led me to an allergy doctor. I'd been avoiding them for decades because I had a horrible reaction to an allergy shot many moons ago. I ended up in the hospital, looking like Frankenstein. So much for priming the system to accept allergens. I never went back.

All my life, my nose has been a useless ornament on my face. It was good to hang glasses on, mind you. But after I started wearing contacts, even that benefit was gone. (Full disclosure: after I stopped smoking I did occasionally sniff through it to see what things smelled like. But only a trickle of air came in.) So I tossed my nose aside for all time and breathed through my mouth. It worked well, so I really didn't care.

But this new allergy doctor did the unexpected. She gave me a steroid nasal spray that brought my nose back to functionality. You can breathe through them! Who knew? It's kinda fun to feel all that air whooshing directly into your head.

I keep being surprised by its functionality. Last night I had the shock of my life when, as I lay in bed trying to go to sleep, I noticed that my mouth was closed. It seems you can actually breathe through noses when you're sleeping! I can't get over it. This is totally cool.

So it seems that noses are useful after all. Now I have to work on my lungs. I used a HEPA filter air purifier in the bedroom last night and lo and behold, I didn't cough and wheeze all night. Again, who knew this was possible?

I'm now looking for other body parts that may be functional, though unused. I figure my survey will be complete in a week or two. I'll get back to you at that time.

But seriously, noses are useful! I still can't get over it. Today I'm going to look for new things to do with my nose. Hmmmmmm.

August 12, 2014

Robin Williams' passing

I suspect every manic-depressive views Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters and George Carlin as brothers-in-arms. It's obvious we fought the same demons.

My manic-depressive cycle still gives me problems but they're easy to live with because I'm one of the lucky ones. Medication works for me. I love my life and enjoy every day, but it wasn't always that way. I had years of horror. Mind you, I'm not saying I no longer suffer from mania or depression, but it's so much better than before the drugs.

People who don't suffer from bi-polar disorder (another name for it) don't really understand the stress it places on a person.  And the three men I mention were not only manic-depressive (I'm not sure all three copped to this in their lives, but it's so obvious to me that I call it what it is) -- they were also super-creative geniuses. That adds a lotta coal to the fire. Plus, they lived their lives in the public eye: again, a major stressor.

Sure, it's fun when you're manic. It's wild fun. In fact, there's nothing like it (except using methedrine). When we saw Robin Williams on stage, we always saw a manic fellow. I don't think anyone reading this would deny that this is the case. In fact, I doubt you can be that "quick on your feet" without mania.

But the energy of mania comes from a finite source: the person's own reserves. I'm sure this is why manic-depressives devolve into a depressed state afterwards. You cannot run your body's engine at 200 mph constantly. You run out of steam at some point. And then you fall off the manic high and tumble into the depths of depression. It's your body's coping mechanism. It needs time to recharge -- and it doesn't feel good at all.

Slipping from mania into depression is exactly like coming down from speed. Those of you who have experienced this, know how depressed you can feel when you're coming down. It's a nightmare. So it's easy for me to understand how a creative genius whose career virtually required that he be manic 24/7 could choose to kill himself.

What a loss. I loved this man, as many of you did. But don't blame him for committing suicide. It's a rough way to live.

Please know that I'm not making any comparison between my life and the life of Robin Williams (or Jonathan Winters and George Carlin). I'm not a creative genius; they were/are (JW is still alive I stand corrected. He died too). Consider, if you will, the tired face of George Carlin just before his death, and the similar visage of Jonathan Winters in his latter years. Exhaustion: that's what I see. And it's coupled with depression. In a sense, physics did them in. You cannot be "high" (i.e., manic) all the time. The crash was always coming, for all three of them.

That's what I think happened to this fine man. I'll miss him. Just thought I'd offer my perspective on it. What a loss.

Hippie epilogue

After telling readers that I was once a hippie and have decided to return to my hippie ways, I feel I must make two things perfectly clear:

1. I always thought tie-dye was ugly. One must have standards.

2. I never once said the word "groovy" during my days as a hippie. Far out, huh?

August 11, 2014

Useless, actually

The word "actually" is so overused. The truth is that it rarely adds anything to a sentence -- except an extra word. But people stick it into their sentences anyway. It seems they can't help themselves.
"The fire department is searching for the actual cause of the fire." 
How is that different from saying they're searching for the cause of the fire?

What is the solution? Actually, I don't know.

I'm going back to being a hippie

I often think about the 1960s. If you lived through that wondrous era, I'm sure you think about it, too. It was too big and way too colorful to forget. I'm glad I was a part of it.

One of the things I sometimes wonder is why kids aren't doing the same thing today: quitting school, abandoning society and running off to have fun. There are a lot of answers to this question. For one thing, the internet exists now and it causes people to fall into small, segmented "social" groups. And when kids want to see the world, all they have to do is push a button and there it is. That can kill your urge to explore, as in first-person exploration -- living through an experience instead of watching someone else have the experience in a video. Video's fun but it ain't life.

And of course, a huge reason for the original birth of hippies was marijuana, which was new to us back then. It was the releaser, the thing that set us free. It's still around and from what I hear, kids are enthusiastically taking it up again. But they're not talking about cosmic reality when they get high; they're not searching for meaning or trying to "expand their mind". They're just gettin' high, with no goal in sight. Expanding consciousness? That's so tired. Cosmic consciousness died in the early 1970s.

But the biggest thing that's missing now is naivete. We hippies didn't know one damn thing about the world. That's why we were always saying "Wow!" -- because everything came as news to us. We were the opposite of jaded. You'll never get that now. Everyone's "been there, done that". (Or at least they think they've been there and done that. More likely, they just saw a video about it and adopted the "experience" as their own.)

These are the reasons why hippies dispersed to the winds. We were, and then we weren't. Our time ended. Or so we thought.

But the world is too boring, again. Just listen to talking-head TV if you doubt me. Bor-ing. And the United States has gotten much, much uglier in the intervening years. In the 1960s, no one celebrated torture. That's an "advance" we only recently achieved. And opportunity, everpresent in the 1960s, is over and done with. Forget about earning what your parents earned and buying a house. That ship has sailed.

I think that, more than anything, the lack of empathy in the current batch of money-mad Americans will be a driving factor in the creation of a new generation of hippies. As in the original hippie days, there's little reason to stick around, to live in the squares' world and suffer under their nitwit rules. Perhaps it's once again time to tune out and go our own way. Maybe kids will become hippies again, despite their lack of naivete, and they will rise up and create their own society. We do this on the internet but I suspect we'll have to do it in real life, too. We need to separate ourselves from the pinheads.

After all, what benefit is there to remaining with the status quo? I know it's a bit of a pipe dream, but I'm hoping hippie will rise again. And to this end, I've hauled out all my old, beaded jewelry and I'm wearing it every day. I even got a new pendant: a blue rhinestone peace symbol. Heck, no one talks about peace anymore. It's time to raise the banner anew. Hail peace!

Since we're not seeking nirvana this time, I figure our slogan should be: Tune out, drop out and play. There's no hope out there; we'll just have to make our own.

Had any hippie urges lately? Give in to them. G'wan, it's fun. (I know some of you still have your hippie duds in the closet. Haul 'em out and put 'em on!)

August 10, 2014

Who knew?

I was very surprised to read this bit of advice about cleaning sponges. What surprised me is that I've never heard it before:
For example, it’s obviously important to clean your sink and counters regularly, but what you clean them with makes a difference.

“Make sure you are not doing it with a dirty sponge. So often our sponges harbor all kinds of bacteria. The best way to take care of that: you can microwave it in 30 second intervals or so until it smells good,” said McCraken.
Such a simple thing. Why isn't this shouted from house-tops all across America? I mean, it's so easy and sensible. Anyway, we'll all do this now that we know about it. Right?

Dave Beegle

This song is great music for when you're just puttering around. As regular readers know, I'm a sucker for a good guitar player. Beegle is certainly that. I love this guy.

So if you're puttering around today, perhaps trying to get over your latest allergy attack (as I am), give it a listen. The song is "Sandy's Painting". (I assume the painting mentioned in the title is what we see as the backdrop in this video. And it's a horsie!)

August 6, 2014

The future affects the present

There have been hints of this phenomenon in quantum research for some time. But apparently it is now accepted. Think about this, kids: the future can affect the present. In other words, time isn't what we always thought it was - an inexorable machine, moving from the past toward the future. Sometimes, there are detours.
Aharonov turned Einstein's question around and asked, "Why does God play dice?" He found that Nature gains something very beautiful and exciting with this indeterminism: the present is not only affected by the past but it is also affected by the future. That is, the future (also known as post-selection) can come back to the present (like in the movie "Back to the Future"). So quantum mechanics does not pick out an arrow of time, it works just as well from past to future as from future to past. The quantum world links the future with the past in subtle and significant ways; and in dramatic contrast to everything previously known about time.
This is huge. It's like a whole new corner of quantum mechanics appeared from out the blue. I love it.

August 2, 2014

Hitchhiking robot traverses Canada

I'm still feeling poorly, so no serious blogging from me. In the meantime, I enjoyed this story and I think you will, too. G'day.