Friday, August 31, 2007

Snow Falls, Perino In as WH Press Flack (Photo)

Nominally Italian White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino will be fielding soft-ball questions from the front row for real after Tony Snow steps down in two weeks, reports the liberal media.

President Bush made the announcement earlier today, calling Perino "a smart, capable person who is able to spell out the issues of the day in a way that people listening on TV can understand." That, and a viewer may soon find himself getting an erection during a Q & A about arms shipments to India.

You Too!?!


Good article in today's Salon.com for those looking to rehash a decade of conservative Republican's thrust from their closets. No need for me to editorialize on the hypocracy of the homophobic GOP; Salon took care of that. Funny, just another chapter in a fairly broad-based multi-faceted implosion of the GOP.

How cool, watching Tom Delay defend Larry Craig.

Sign of the times.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Announcing Fred Thompson's Latest Announcement Regarding His Planned Announcement

The always reliable Politico reports that actor-turned-lobbyist Fred Thompson will hold a conference call with supporters today to announce his intention to ... wait till next week, September 6, to formally announce his candidacy for president of the United States.

Dude, hurry up already: If I have to endure The Note's collage of nerdish inside-the-beltway jokes one more goddamn day in order to track your campaign plans, I'm gonna have a computer malpunction.

***
Fred-dendum: Crappy WaPo blog floats the idea(r) Thompson may officially announce next Wednesday on Leno -- provided he can actually sit through Jay's monologue. Am I right, people??

Anglicans Hate Gays; Find Future in Kenya.

Proclaiming the future at hand, two Anglican prelates went to Nairobi, Kenya to see how people rocking the 21st century Bronze Age rock with Christ. Standing before an altar of pig femurs thatched together with the sinews of a ceremonially sacrificed ox, American Bishop William Murdoch's voice was as outsized as his 4th century papal hat and cape in the Byzantine settings of the Kenyan Cathedral.

"The Church of Kenya proclaims the true word of God in the modern world, and we join our Kenyan brothers in this fight against Homosexuality, the greatest challenge facing God's People," said Bishop William Murdoch in receiving his charge. The congregation wailed in response; though it remains unknown whether cries were of support or due to the rapacious spread of leprosy, AIDS, typhoid, poverty, cholera, over-population, a stagnant economy, fetid water or intermittent warfare that plague Kenya. "The Lord loves all of us, but is pained by our inner evil. When the night finds us soaked in cold sweat, dreaming about the tender, supple rump of a certain 20-something athletic neighbor that jogs past the parsonage every morning at 7:41 sharp, I say to you, truly, this is the work of Satan. Men of Christ, Fuck only Your Wife. Thus sayeth the Lord."

After the ceremony, Bishop Murdoch led a procession of arm (and stump) waving throngs through the winding streets of Nairobi. The faithful scrambled to lay palms over the cratered streets, pushing bullet-pocked cars and rotted corpses from the path of the new Bishop's feet. Basking in the Honor of his new charge and rich reception by the City's faithful, Murdoch thanked the Church of Kenya. "Here in God's City, we have seen the future," proclaimed Murdoch. "Here in the Holy City of Nairobi, is born the future American Church!"

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

PA Roads and Transit on Verge of Collapse. Harrisburg and DC Spurn the DN


Monday, 9 AM, North Negley Avenue in 'Sliberty. The 71A Negley lurched to my stop with a groan and a belch of black soot. Lacking an alternative or a premonition of what awaited me, I stuffed myself in with the suits and students in the aisle of the bus.

PAT's most trafficked route doesn't meet any ride-gold standard. Its hot, shitty, uncomfortable and unreliable. Like a life-raft, or a passenger plane spiraling towards the earth, the 71A is a true exercise in democracy. Everyone, rich or poor, is subject to an equal fate; for the 71A, that is the intolerable misery of proximity. By the time the 71A reached South Negley at Center Ave, it was turning down people waiting for the bus. Judging by how pissed off the abandoned looked, I assume they really didn't realize that being late for work/school might be a fair trade off. Had it not been for the impenetrable barrier of cramped sweating flesh between me and the door, I would have gladly fled the 71A Purgatory and walked.

Over-funded bloated luxury liner service my ass.

Like the 71A, a collapsing bridge is an exercise in democratic equality. Failing infrastructure is an equal opportunity killer. The Post Gazette reports that 12% of PA's bridges, including 18% of Allegheny County's bridges, need replaced. On PennDOT's short list for replacement, the sub-bridge of steel netting that prevents falling hunks of the Greefield Bridge from crushing unsuspecting drivers on the Parkway East. Apparently it's overburdened.

On Sunday, Jon Delano chatted with John Peterson (R-Bumpkin PA) and Mike Doyle (D-Crony PA) about the transit problem. Peterson repeated the mantra of the spineless politician... we shouldn't have to pay for anything. Doyle showed an amazing capacity for thought, asking John for an alternative plan. None exists.

Check out the video, hop on the bus, and hang yourself from a bridge.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Free Streaming Music... while it lasts

A friend of mine turned me onto www.deezer.com, which appears to offer a huge catalog of free streaming music. The playback works snappily for me.

So, enjoy it while it lasts. This French site appears to be a bit, shall we say, "illegal," but that doesn't mean you can't listen to a few tunes while the lawyers/governments work out their differences. And it's not like you don't have your own illegal copies of a lot of this music stored locally anyways. You big thief!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Porn: Jeri Kehn Thompson


Back to basics, folks. Things you libertines really care about: buxom beauties and Fred Thompson jokes.

In this single post, I deliver you both.

Here is a photo of old man Thompson's hot, young trophy wife (remember our dear Friday Porn hottie, Kristin Georgi?). To clarify, Jeri's not a lawyer. But her husband is!

Mine Disaster in China Kills 200+

172 Chinese mine workers died in a rapidly flooding pit of mud and soot, joining 2,000 of their colleagues killed by mine disasters in China since January. If the six year average is any barometer, another 3,000 - 4,000 Chinese mine workers will die by Christmas. From the WaPo:

With each disaster here, an anger has flared among miners and their families, flowing from a sentiment that they have been left to cope for themselves -- to endure their 14-hour days underground, to get by on paltry salaries and, from time to time, to lose their loved ones in accidents that everyone laments but no one seems to stop.
Such are the words not only of China's carbon killing fields, but of American history books and old miner's lore. China's worker's paradise might outlaw independent unions, but similar attempts to ban unions by Victorian Industrialists sparked bloody 'wildcat strikes' that often degenerated into full-scale warfare. When looking death in the face becomes part of a daily routine, a soldier's gun yields no worse fate than a collapsing mine.

Hey Hu, what's "Molly Maguire" in Chinese?

Local Music: Steve Goldberg


Still fairly unknown, but sure to be famous someday is local musician Steve Goldberg. He has a talented pop rock band with influences from The Beatles, The Decemberists, Neutral Milk Hotel, the Beach Boys, and other bands with intricate melodies and harmonies. Steve's band is rock 'n roll, but he also has deep knowledge of classical guitar, jazz, and blues - very nimble fingers on the fretboard.

The band just finished their east coast tour and I have heard is headed out west in the fall. You can download many of his songs directly from his website. If you like the samples, which are full songs not clips, there's also a link off the site to buy an album.

I heartily recommend Summer's Ending, a bittersweet bildungsroman, particularly the French horn part.

Steve's music is light and airy, but also sometimes has a rocky crunch to it, the same sort of dichotomy you see in another of Steve's influences, Weezer. Look for his music to mature and get better in the coming years - his talent on the guitar is waiting for his life experiences to catch up I think.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vietnam, Iraq, and our Foolish Empire


The outcome will be the same. I just hope we get out sooner than later.

To all the veterans of America's many misguided and troubled wars, I salute you, and I pity you for suffering the brunt of the worst policy disasters in American history. You (and your Iraqi brothers) suffer death, maiming, and despair because the richest people in our country think they are emperors of the earth and speak to God himself. The rest of us still have a less burdensome, but still atrocious cross to bear.

"The United States also paid a high political cost for the Vietnam War. It weakened public faith in government, and in the honesty and competence of its leaders. Indeed, skepticism, if not cynicism, and a high degree of suspicion of and distrust toward authority of all kind characterized the views of an increasing number of Americans in the wake of the war."

GO FOR THE THROAT

Pittsburghers no longer drive to Cleveland to pick up that Southwest Airlines fare. The Post Gazette reports that the low cost carriers entering the Pittsburgh market have substantially driven down the cost of doing business in the 'burgh.

Corporate Nationalism, be it national (France) or regional (Pittsburgh) aint never good, regardless of what the Soviets at the Post Gazette say. Team Forester / Flaherty's sweetheart deal (circa 1990) with then US Air at Pgh Int'l was as braindead as France's wrangling over Airbus. US Air, spawn of local Allegheny Airways, gave Pittsburgh a few thousand jobs and direct flights to Frankfurt, Germany. For this, team Forester / Flaherty gave US Air a monopoly on Pittsburgh International. No surprise that it once cost $300 roundtrip from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, and $350 from Philadelphia to London.

Getting boned hard in the ass only to watch your date walk out with Charlotte is enough to leave anyone smarting. I'm glad the region finally realized that US Airways thinks about as much of Pittsburgh as we now do of them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Who Foots the Bill

Property taxes are as arcane and dated as collecting a grist tax at the local grain mill; but alas, what's the alternative? David K Levdansky (Drunk- Forward Tahnship) proposed the standard mix of higher income and sales taxes last week. STOP taxing our properties would do something similar, except it would shift the burden away from property and onto income taxes or hidden nuisance taxes. Imagine that: Gramma pays property taxes, but would rather Sonny pick up the tab.

Shifting the burden has become increasingly unpalatable as the excesses of our government spending become more obvious. Turns out we can't afford to pay for the highways we have, let alone new ones that duplicate existing roads. Turns out we can't afford the extravagance of suburban sprawl and the massive duplication of services it demands. We also can't afford the massive corporate welfare give-aways moving companies like Westinghouse from Monroeville to Cranberry.

But how better to conceal these little items, one at a time, in things like Realty Transfer Taxes, or Cell Phone Taxes, or water bottle taxes. Pennsylvania will spend $27.5 Billion this year on lots of shit. Some of it we need, some we probably don't (legislative WAM money). Either way, the average Pennsylvanian will spend about $2,300 in taxes per person, or 5% of their income. Throw in local taxes, and we're drowning in infrastructure we can't afford.

For Republicans; move out of fucking Cranberry and Peters Township, you drive past 12 half-empty schools on your 45 mile commute to work on $4 billion worth of highways. For the Democrat's lack of enthusiasm; your cities rot because you bankroll bums that do little more than convert beer into piss. Time to set some social expectations.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Alabama With Caribou

Yeah, yeah: We all know how effed up the South can be – concentrated poverty; literacy rates low enough to make Uzbekistan blush; down-homey racism and homophobia. But, Jesus Christ, Alaska is trying really hard to be the newest shit-splat capital of the United States, doesn’t it seem?

Which leads me to Ted “Series of Tubes” Stevens, the Senate’s longest-serving member. This completely undistinguished individual has presided over one of the most fraudulent transfers of wealth in United States history; namely, taking tax dollars from real states (like mine) and giving them to oil-soaked pretend states (like Alaska). As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Stevens spent more than six years larding every major spending bill he could with worthless pork-barrel programs designed to help a handful of privileged voters in his boring, quasi-Canadian home state.

Bridge to Nowhere, ANWR drilling, the strategic gooney bird reserve – each of these (fine, maybe not that last bit) represents the latest kind of corrupt government boondoggle which has accomplished little besides two things: the surveilling of the entire Alaskan congressional delegation by federal and state authorities, and deepening the rift between conservatives and Republicans in the rest of the country.

I am loath to close. Senator Ted Stevens does not deserve a hero’s welcome home. Please, for the sake of your reputation, Alaska, throw this grifting old fool under the bus. For years you’ve been wasting money like a New Yorker at a bagel sale and it’s getting embarrassing. Vote him out in 2008.

Tax Bottled Water

This is probably a good idea, and I hope it catches on. We tax cigarettes heavily because it is non-smokers who end up footing the bill when smokers head to the hospital, and because cigarettes harm the people around the smokers as well.

The same is true of bottled water. Those who choose to drink endless bottles of water are greedily consuming their fellow citizens oil supply (because the plastics take oil and also because companies ship these bottles of water all over the country). Moreover, they are contributing to the production of billions of plastics bottles that will essentially last forever and pollute our already over-polluted planet.

So, as long as we're going to tax someone, lets tax the a-holes.

The topic of bottled water is a favorite of mine. There's nothing wrong with tap water people - you have been tricked by PepsiCo yet again.

Republicans: The Anti-Science Party



Since I know not all Republicans are bad, this is how some of them must feel. Even if they believe in small government and extremely free markets (which are pretty good ideas), it must be tough to have to lock hands with people who don't believe in evolution, who think homosexuality is a choice and a sin, who want to curtail stem cell research, and who hypocritically espouse "family values."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Barack Obama Floats Serious Transparency Reforms

Though I'm voting for whichever Democraic candidate gets the nod, outside of a serious independent bid, hats off to Barack Obama for floating some serious measures to help add transparency to the federal government.

Going past the weak political quote the AP writer lead with, the actual reforms would constitute a big step in reforming our government and leveraging the internet for some good. These would help restore my faith in the government, which has been shrouded in secrecy for the last 6.5 years, with Dick Cheney even inventing his own stamp of secrecy.

Barack's ideas to seek more feedback from the people are good, but the transparency measures are the meat:

*Posting meetings between lobbyists and bureaucrats online
*Issuing an executive order in support of the FIA act

Mayview Closes, Insane Sent to the Ghetto


The Commonwealth announced today that Mayview State Hospital is closing, following a court-ordered directive to treat patients in a 'community setting.' The court argues that the patients have inalienable 'individual rights' that are violated by imprisonment in Mayview. A little clarification: 'Individuals with rights' means people incapable of wiping their own ass without eating the toilet paper. 'Community setting,' means the ghetto.

The theory is everyone has rights, and state mental institutions went out of fashion after 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.' But the practice of 'individual rights' in the cuckoo's nest hatches one big cluster-f**k. The 200+ patients left at Mayview aren't on their way to Pleasant Hills to live next door to the Cleavers. They're being packed off to public housing projects, or are being entrusted, Section 8 Voucher in hand, to the capable care of your friendly neighborhood slumlord.

In the ghetto, good people nimbly navigate the minefield of threats and dangers inherent in the Law of the Street. They survive based on their caginess, their faith & their family... and they don't always survive. History shows that those not up to the Ghetto challenge are low hanging fruit. When Mayview disgorged 2,000 some residents to the freedom of the ghetto in the 1980's, rape and murder savaged the former patients. Some were found freezing in the winter. Some living in piles of their own shit.

But where 'individual rights' has a perverse reality, so does the jingo 'Freedom isn't Free.'

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sailing Stones Update: YouTube Contradicts Eggheads, You be the Judge

Surfing the net today, I found this video that purports that it is actually an ice lake that moves the "Sailing Stones." In the last post, the Darn News, piggy-backing on Wikipedia, cited some high-falutin' scientists who wrote pages and pages about how wind could move 700 pound rocks. But a moving picture is worth a bunch of erudite words.

Wind or water? You and these guys be the judge.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Monday Science: Sailing Stones

What can move 700-pound rocks across a flat desert? If you said "Jews in ancient Egypt," that's not the answer we're looking for. In fact, the "Sailing Stones" of Death Valley are propelled by wind force across the sand, basically huge, heavy tumbleweeds. So if you are ever camping in Death Valley, or parking in your shiny SUV, beware of tumbling rocks. The picture comes as an unrequested courtesy of a fellow on Flickr. For more information on the Sailing Stones, you can also have a look at this wikipedia article.

The movements of these rocks were apparently mysterious enough for some eggheads to do a bit of research into the subject, and they concluded that it's the wind, though to this day, no one has seen the damn things move:

It is the conclusion of this research project that wind acting alone on a saturated, but not necessarily frozen playa surface is responsible for sliding rock activity. Saturation may be achieved after local precipitation events and/or as a result of ground water discharge through springs. The proliferation of cyanobacteria and the deposition of a fine clay film assist the process by establishing a remarkably low-friction surface. It is further concluded that rotating winds are likely contributors to the dislodging and incipient traction of rocks on the playa. Airflow is greatly influenced by the Racetrack’s elevation, flatness and surrounding terrain configuration, which results in a great degree of sliding activity toward the north and the northeast. However, until researchers actually observe the rocks in action, the cause still remains controversial.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Does it really make me a crazy liberal...

Does it make me irrational or crazy that I fear our government, that I think our democracy has slid halfway into fascism, and that the principles that once guided our government are so much dust in the wind?

Our government incites fear in us with color-coded warnings, warns us to beware of brown people, and stages a security theater in our airports. We are told that to not support a war is un-American and to criticize our leadership is at best unpatriotic and at worst treasonous.

Now, I don't subscribe to theories about insider jobs around 9-11 or any sort of anarchist ideology, but I do recognize propaganda and fascism when I see it. Here's another echo of our quickly crumbling empire and the destruction of freedom. The U.S. government is body-cavity searching female, British journalists:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1231089,00.html

Friday, August 03, 2007

Urbs et Terra


Fat Phil English doesn't like to pay for stuff. Put it in context; hates Southwest Airline's policy of charging Fat Phil extra when his extra folds fold over his neighbor's arm rest, but loves Mickie D's dollar menu. (Biggie size that bitch, sez Fat Phil English). You'd think a fat man like Fat Phil English would appreciate the concept of a strong bridge, or public transit systems with no surcharge for his wandering panis. But up in the wilds of Pennsylvania, Fat Phil is just representing his constituency; and his constituency don't like no tollin roads neither.

Fat Phil's northern tier, the badlands surrounding I 80, feel no obligation to pay for the ribbon of highway bisecting their shitty little hamlets. They feel very strongly that such things should be free, and if they aint free, someone else should pay for them. Of course, as all debates in Pennsylvania, this is framed as a challenge to their 'economic viability.'

We city slickers of course disagree. The economic argument sounds absurd. If tolls were such an economic disincentive, then why is Carlisle, PA booming as a transit hub on a toll road? The fact that Williamsport isn't on the short-list of Fortune 500 relocation destinations has nothing to do with I-80 being free. It just so happens that traffic en-route to NYC or Chicago may find the verdant blur outside their windshield appealing, but ultimately think it better to spend their cash a little further down the line. Turns out that population centers attract capital in a globalized economy because companies ultimately need educated workforces, available supply chains, and other infrastructure provided only by larger cities. In short, Muncie is no longer economically viable.

Populism may be effective, as a lacky of Rick Santorum would well know, but such strategies are shortsighted and lazy. Thank you, Fat Phil English, for showing that fat lazy populism has a fat lazy face.