Friday, December 31, 2010

New Mexico in the news

Tail end of storms blast some Western states
By CATHERINE TSAI, Associated Press
31 Dec 2010
DENVER – Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico struggled against the tail end of storms New Year's Eve that left more westerly states recovering from a wintertime onslaught of snow, rain and bitter wind.
Major highways were also shut down in parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Nevada.

Forecasters were predicting more of the same in eastern parts of Wyoming and New Mexico.
New Mexico State police Thursday were discouraging drivers from traveling east of Albuquerque. An 80 mile stretch of Interstate 40 from Moriarty to Santa Rosa was closed for about five hours but reopened before midnight. Still, a temporary shelter is in place in Moriarty for stranded travelers.
Albuquerque got a few snow flurries.
Current temperature: 17°F.

... I'm thinking maybe tomorrow the dog needs to wear a sweater for her walk!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

me & The Mahatma (part deux)

Okay, I'm in the supermarket - Smith's, to be exact.
My basket contains milk, cheese (sharp cheddar), cottage cheese, Wheat Thins, brocolli, cauliflower, frozen pot pies (3), frozen pizza (2), paper towel, toilet paper, tall kitchen trash bags, Cheerios, Special K, and Kraft macaroni & cheese.
17 items.
I get in the express lane, "15 items or less".

The clerk refers me to another lane, for having more than 15 items.
Do you know who I am???

I'm The Mahatma!
I'm visiting my sister in New Jersey.
At the airport, at the TSA checkpoint, I strip down to my Speedos.
I beep when I go through the scanner.
Oh, yeah. I forgot about the tungsten nano-tube penile implant.
Do you know who I am?
I'm The Mahatma!

I go out with friends for a minor celebration - my AIDS test came back negative.
(The tungsten nano-tube penile implants really WORK!)
There are, what? Maybe 3 or 4 of us imbibing Guinness at local bar.
So, I'm not thinking too much when I get behind the wheel... then BANG! - within a block of my favorite bar I'm pulled over by some cop:
Have you been drinking, sir?
I guess I should be grateful that I've got Internet access here in the local jail.
Could be worse.
I could've been cut from American Idol.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Number Of Uninsured Americans Soars To Over 50 Million
Even after so-called "health care reform", we are STILL the only developed country in the world without some form of UNIVERSAL health insurance!

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Hah!" to you Al Gore! - so much for Global Warming

East Coast storm strands travelers, vexes drivers

Summer snow, floods in weird Australia weather

More severe weather adds to travel woes in Europe

Vikings-Eagles snowed out; moved to Tuesday night

... free association...

for no reason whatsoever

hmm... i think i appreciate the basic sentiment...

from facebook friend:
Don't make any resolutions for 2011. Instead, make some powerful new choices for yourself. Choose wellness instead of resolving to lose weight or quit smoking. Choose financial health instead of resolving to get out of debt. Choose being connected instead of resolving to spend more time with family or helping others more. Making powerful choices creates opportunities to live in new ways. Make 2011 a truly new year.
... not quite sure i can get into the 'power of positive thinking' aspect, but other than that this seems like not-too-bad advice.

Friday, December 24, 2010

'tis the season... Tom Lehrer: "A Chistmas Carol"

'tis the season

A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Ultra-condensed by Samuel Stoddard and David J. Parker
Ebenzer Scrooge: Bah, humbug. You'll work thirty-eight hours on Christmas Day, keep the heat at five degrees, and like it.

Ghost of Jacob Marley: Ebenezer Scrooge, three ghosts of Christmas will come and tell you you're mean.

Three Ghosts of Christmas: You're mean.

Ebenezer Scrooge: At last, I have seen the light. Let's dance in the streets. Have some money.
Best wishes to you & yours this season, & in the New Year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who'd a-thunk?

Senate votes to end ban on openly gay troops
65-31, in the Senate.
Cloture passed 63-33.
Almost unbelievable.

As noted before, I don't usually concern myself with LGBT issues, but repeal of DADT is remarkable!

Congrats to our Congress - House & Senate - and to the unflagging efforts of the LGBT community!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

As promised: G&S

Savoynet production of The Gondoliers, recorded live at the International Gilbert & Sullivan festival in 2010.
... on the duties of a king:

Note 1: The subservient role adopted by the King of Barataria well suits our current Leader.
But the privilege and pleasure
That we treasure beyond measure
Is to run on little errands for the Ministers of State.
Note 2 (less political): When writing The Gondoliers, Gilbert was full up to his eyebrows with the attitude of his principle players. He wrote the libretto with 2 tenors, 2 baritones, 2 sopranos, and 2 altos - not giving pride of place to either in any pair, thumbing his nose at what had become in his mind the much UNdeserved reputation of his players.
[Gilbert was not a particularly pleasant gentleman - very litigious, seeing slight towards him at every turn. His widow was said to have remarked, "Oh, yes, life has been much more enjoyable as Sir William Gilbert’s widow than ever it was as Mr. Gilbert’s wife!"]

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Mahatma and me

For the past several weeks I've sensed the presence of another person within me. This started shortly before the election.
It's a difficult sensation to describe. At apparently random moments I've felt compelled to learn everything there is to know about Modigliani, or Islamic mathematics in the 13th century, or bee-keeping. These are not areas of research to which I would normally be drawn. And feeling compelled to learn everything there is to know has not translated into actually learning everything there is to know about these topics. A quick visit to Wikipedia always satisfies me... or, rather, always satisfies the urge that only a few moments before had seemed so overwhelming.

I don't think my behavior has changed, but my attitude towards this behavior has. When pouring a rye whiskey, for example, I no longer execute the action thinking, "Boy, this'll taste good - I really need this drink!", but rather, "This sacrament will strengthen me." Lighting a cigarette is no longer simply a concession to a horrible nicotine addiction, but participation in a ritualistic herbal sacrifice to placate the gods of agriculture.

Just who or what this second spirit inhabiting my body is eluded me, till about a week ago.
Then, at 11:17 a.m., Monday, 6 December 2010, it hit me.
My body has been inhabited by The Mahatma, the Great Soul that once inspired Gandhi.

The signs were subtle, the revelation stark and sudden.
First there were the dreams. For these past several weeks I've been dreaming in Sanskrit, which I don't understand and which has made my dreams even more baffling than usual. I doubt Mohandas Gandhi knew Sanskrit (his mother tongue was Hindi), but I'm pretty sure The Mahatma understands Sanskrit fluently. (I do wish The Mahatma would share this fluency with me! - dreaming in incomprehensible Sanskrit is more than a little disconcerting!)
Then there's my recent, again sudden, compulsion to spin.
No, not spin as in 'twirl around', but spin as in 'make thread'. I've constructed a crude spinning wheel from a bicycle wheel. (Those of you who know my mechanical abilities can imagine the less-than-satisfactory device I've constructed.)
I've been hitting local craft fairs in search of combed wool. Tho' I'm pretty sure Gandhi spun flax, not wool, nevertheless this compulsion to spin is easily attributable to The Mahatma.
(I note that the 'thread' I've so-far produced is more like yarn... and even calling it 'yarn' is a bit of a stretch.)

Note: I'm NOT claiming to be Gandhi, reincarnate! - Such a claim would be delusional, warranting my commitment to ye local mental hospital.
No, all I'm claiming is that The Mahatma has temporarily inhabited my body.
I'm guessing The Mahatma has been transmigrating since Gandhi's death, just to see what's out there.
In my case, I'm guessing my lack of religious convictions provided an acceptable receptacle.
That and my bad habits - alluded to above: I drink & I smoke.
I'm guessing that after 78 years inhabiting Gandhi, The Mahatma is looking for something other than strict asceticism, just for the experience.
Who knows what other bodies The Mahatma has inhabited since Gandhi's death - it's been over 60 years. Maybe I'm the first. (You know, 'one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day'... )

I don't know quite how to address this second person inhabiting my body.
'It' seems too impersonal, and I'm afraid to offend by choosing either 'he' or 'she'.
I'd ask The Mahatma, but I haven't yet figured out how to communicate with it/him/her.

My reluctance to confront contemporary U.S. politics may be attributable, at least in part, to The Mahatma's presence.
On the bright side, this presence induces me to expand my world-view to encompass more than just politics, to include, for example, bee-keeping.

Some might view this circumstance as an affliction, others as a blessing.
Me? I'm just taking it one day at a time.

Meanwhile, I've got to get back to my spinning.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

At last!

... my primary machine is back in service!

... unfortunately, just about EVERYTHING needs to be re-installed.
It took about 1.5 hrs to figure out correct settings for the printer.
Then I discovered basic tools (MS Word, MS Excel) were missing.

On the bright side: the thing is a WHOLE LOT faster than the back-up machine!!!

I'm guessing I'll have most of what I use up and running in another week or so.

p.s. Thanks to folks for comments regarding recent somewhat pessimistic post!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Solely in the interest of preserving a presence...

Confession - said to be good for the soul -:
Since the recent election I've lost interest in politics.
... or, perhaps more accurately, I've despaired of politics.

For the next two years we will experience nothing but gridlock, or - worse still - our glorious leader (for whom I voted) will continually capitulate... before negotiations even start!

Loyal readers: anticipate, look forward to, enjoy - Tom Lehrer, Gilbert & Sullivan, H.L. Mencken...
... these are likely my brilliant contributions to contemporary political discourse.

Till then: thanks to you.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Once upon a time...

... in a galaxy far, far away...

My first real paying job (a summer job, but it DID pay) was coding FORTRAN... using Hollerith cards.

Type up the program & data cards. Submit to computer center. Come back next day to pick up print-out of results.

I'm remembering this as I try to deal with my VERY SLOW back-up computer while primary computer is in the shop for rebuild.
This dinosaur likely has 10 times the computing power of the air-conditioned mainframe on which those FORTRAN jobs ran. The mainframe consumed a VERY LARGE air-conditioned room.

For what it's worth: I made extra $$$ in graduate school as a key-punch guy. Typing programs on Hollerith cards. I was pretty proficient.

Just for fun: Hollerith cards (aka, "IBM cards") were sized the way they were 'cuz this was the size of a 1900 U.S. dollar bill. The automated equipment existed to handle dollar bills, so when IBM got into the computing business they wisely decided to size the punch-cards so's existing equipment could handle 'em.

(All this said: I'm still amazingly frustrated with my VERY SLOW backup computer!)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

From "Mysterious Man..."

This following poem is composed entirely of actual quotes from George W. Bush.
Make the Pie Higher

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen
And uncertainty
And potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the internet
Become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish
Can coexist.

Families is where our nation finds hope
Where our wings take dream.
Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher!
Make the pie higher!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Augghhh!!! - a statement from W with which I can agree

"I think we agree, the past is over."
George W. Bush

hmm... likely to be non-communicative for a while...

... hardware/software issues.
For unknown reasons, my machine no longer recognizes my scanner.
I'll be taking machine in for fix manana.
(I suspect a registry issue, but have no idea how this might have happened.)

In the meantime, if you don't hear from me for a day or so, at least I have an excuse!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


... I had the temperament for prolonged polemic!
Sadly, these brief epigrams are about all I can manage.

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Mexico in the news (sigh)

Swastika case another race issue for NM town
By TIM KORTE, Associated Press
29 Nov 2010
FARMINGTON, N.M. – Three friends had just finished their shifts at a McDonald's when prosecutors say they carried out a gruesome attack on a customer: They allegedly shaped a coat hanger into a swastika, placed it on a heated stove and branded the symbol on the arm of the mentally disabled Navajo man.

Federal pay freeze???

Citing deficit, Obama freezing federal worker pay
If only he were kidding.
But I checked the calendar - Wednesday is 1 December, not 1 April.

... so Obama plans to give one large chunk of consumers less expendable income in the new year. Less income => less spending => less demand => less production => less hiring => less spending...
... you get the idea.

Just a reminder: 10-year treasuries are now yielding 2.66%, and folks are lining up to buy 'em.
The U.S. Government, if it so chose, could borrow lots of money at very low interest.
... But, for some reason, this is not the plan.

p.s. and that "citing deficit" bit is just bizarre! - why has our Democratic administration bought into GOP myths???
(Recall: GOP Congress voted tax cuts & TWO off-budget wars!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

If you've got a spare 10 minutes...

... maybe you could write a letter to Senator John McCain to thank him for foisting Sarah Palin on us.
Senator John McCain
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone: (202) 224-2235

The Lobo's football season has mercifully ended

TCU 66, UNM 17.
... and, no: TCU wasn't trying to run up the score.
Believe it or not, 'twas UNM's defense that kept it this close! - They recovered two fumbles, whence derived 14 points. (... other than these two brief flashes the defense was hapless.)

I'll likely not be around in the year 2409 to witness coach Locksley's 400th win.

Class warfare. Classes? Both $$$ & Govt

This'll be a none-too-coherent post, based on rage more than logic.
Yes, I am becoming a class warrior.

When the Wizards of Wall Street take down the economy, are bailed out by MY government, and proceed to reap ungodly profits, then
- YES! I am a class warrior.

Why does the financial system exist? What is its purpose?
In theory - this is Milton Friedman's theory, the theory of pure capitalism - the financial system exists to provide capital for businesses.
It creates $$$ with which we all benefit. Businesses get the $$$ they need to grow and to hire. We - labor - benefit from this largesse. We are employed. Sure, the bosses get most of the $$$, but we all get some!
The Wizards of Wall Street provide the mechanism whereby we are all paid.
A rising tide lifts all boats.

Today? The Wizards of Wall Street are reaping ungodly profits ...
... BUT: the rest of us aren't doing so well.
Unemployment hovers just below 10%.
Businesses are reaping profits, but they're not hiring us.
They're sitting on more $$$ than they can productively spend.

Meanwhile the 'borrow and spend' folks - the GOP, happy to fund two wars off-budget - are soon to be in power.
Kill Social Security. Kill Medicare.
Let us devolve into the starving useless peasants we all are.
Oh - and let the folks who reap the greatest rewards from our magnificent system pay the least for that privilege! - tax the rich? Never.
After all, they create jobs for the rest of us! ... nevermind that they're sitting on more $$$ than they can spend right now, and that giving 'em even more $$$ is extremely unlikely to do anything to help you & me - it's the principle that matters: rich folks - our betters - deserve everything we give 'em!

Is this class warfare?
You bet.

In the meantime, in the name of 'security' we are subjected to humiliating searches at airports...
... while our 'betters' - our rulers, our 'elite' governors - are exempted from this humiliation.

The very-well-paid chattering class tells us that 'socialism' and evil unions are to blame for our crisis.
They - the very-well-paid chattering class - are paid well by the very folks who benefit from the current crisis.
Somehow they've managed to convince a significant proportion of 'we the people' that 'socialism' and evil unions are to blame for our current predicament.
I don't know how they managed this.

I'd like to shake every Tea Party member by the lapels.
'Are you nuts?'

If 'socialism' means MY GOVERNMENT protecting me from the ruthless,unbridled rampages of predatory capitalists, then YES!
- I am a socialist.

AND: if I have to submit to humiliating security screens to travel, then my ELECTED representatives ought also have to subject themselves to the same inconvenience!
I am NOT a terrorist. If you want to search me, GET A WARRANT!

A Tale of Two Countries

North Korea warns region is on brink of war
North Korea has at least three political classes:
The Leader & his entourage, all of whom seem to live fairly decent lives: decent food, clothing, housing.

The Army: from all reports, more-or-less well-fed, well-housed.

Everyone else: Escapees report being surprised that dogs in China are better fed than people in North Korea. The vast masses exist only to serve the State. The State keeps 'em alive on barely subsistence wages only to serve.

In the U.S.?
TSA: Some Gov't Officials To Skip Airport Security
TSA: Gov't Officials With Security Details Don't Have To Go Through Airport X-rays, Pat-downs
CBS News, 23 Nov 2010
AP) WASHINGTON (AP) - Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.
Yep - GOVERNMENT officials here in the U.S. are exempted from demeaning TSA procedures.
The rest of us - those of us kept alive barely, on subsistence wages to serve the State - are all assumed to be terrorists!
- Guilty until proven Innocent.

Tho' the Constitution guarantees that "No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States", effective nobility is granted to "senior U.S. officials" by our government! - They're above us, not subject to the daily inconveniences, intrusions, and embarrassments with which the rest of us - the lowly masses - must contend.

... and what happened to:
Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
[emphasis added]

Just for fun: tell me again, why are we there?

Sadly, this references recent TRUE story!

Tell me again: WHY are we still in Afghanistan????

The holiday is over, but...

... that 'giving thanks' bit is still relevant.
Just a suggestion: among the myriad tasks you tackle each day, find time to give thanks for family, friends, and your unwarranted good fortune!
... and for 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'.

... and just in case you question that bit about 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness', well... DO something!

aside: 'tis not often i give advice or admonishment.
please forgive me this brief interlude.

Boise State 31, Nevada 34 (OT)

Boise State's dream of Nat'l Championship contention dies, dramatically.
'Twas a fine football game!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

... just another Thanksgiving tradition

For the past many years, my bro-in-law's brother & I have had a friendly wager on Thanksgiving, on the Dallas Cowboys game.
This year I won... but it was iffy there for a while!

For what it's worth: I've been a non-Cowboys fan since the mid-'60s of the last century. Jerry Rhome played for the University of Tulsa in 1963/4 - setting all sorts of NCAA passing records at the time. He was drafted by the Cowboys in 1965... and sat on the bench behind Don Meredith & Craig Morton. I've never forgiven the Cowboys. I don't always have a favorite NFL team, but I ALWAYS cheer for whatever team is playing Dallas!

Putting things in perspective (humor)

A TV spot for The Simpsons:
Bart: This is the worst day of my life!
Homer: The worst day of your life so far.
... on the bright side, that "so far" bit displays hope!

Happy Thanksgiving - redux

Among the myriad things for which I'm thankful are the many virtual friends this blog has brought forth.
'Tis a joy to 'connect with' folks whom I've never met.

Again: hoping you all enjoy a happy Thanksgiving with family & friends!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Continuing what is now a 4-year-old tradition:
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
It's secular - religious overtones are secondary.
It's American - the rest of world goes on happily without us.

Most of all, for me the basic premise - giving thanks - is a good thing. Yes, I am thankful for my family, for my undeserved good-fortune in life, for friends.
As mentioned in previous years, most of my family & extended family is in town. None of us started out here - we all just ended up here. I've 3 sisters. 2 of 'em are in town, with their husbands. My mom is in town. My wife's folks are in town. Her sister & bro-in-law are in town. A sister's sister-in-law is in town. Our kids are in town. My daughter-in-law's folks are in town. We added a nephew this year.

Usually, some one family hosts a huge Thanksgiving spread.

This year, no.
Wife's folks are celebrating privately - my father-in-law has advanced gastrointestinal stromal tumor... a very aggressive cancer.
One brother-in-law (a sister's husband) just started heavy duty chemotherapy - they're also celebrating privately.
Another sister is celebrating more quietly with husband, son, and sister-in-law... just for the fun of it.

That leaves my wife's sister, bro-in-law, their daughters, and assorted siblings of bro-in-law; our daughter, son & daughter-in-law, & son's in-laws; and son's friends we've known since 1993, when they were students at New Mexico Tech.
Anyway - these 'kids', Scott & Beth, are hosting the large get-together this year... tho', as noted above, it'll be somewhat smaller this year than in years past.

Given the family medical soap-opera, I'm just thankful we're all alive to celebrate with loved ones - even if not all under one roof.

Happy Thanksgiving, with friends & family!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nothing much to say...

"If a person can't communicate, the very least he can do is to SHUT UP!"
- Tom Lehrer
Instead of trying to be brilliant, let me just point you to the folks in My Blog List on right-hand side-bar.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Back on the campaign trail!

As previously stated: successful Congressional campaigns don't end - they morph immediately into re-election campaigns.
For the past few hours I've been laboriously transferring precinct-level election numbers from a NM Sec'y of State website to a campaign spreadsheet - approximately 300 records (others had worked on this before I got it).

1. The NM Sec'y of State website is a nicely designed GUI, which unfortunately allows access to results only one precinct at a time. After the 2008 elections the campaign provided me a CD with MS ACCESS database containing results. I'm certain a similar MS ACCESS DB underlies the nice GUI - I just wish the NM Sec'y of State would make this database accessible directly on the website!
(In 2008 they charged a fair amount of $$$ for the CD - this money-making arrangement likely discourages 'em from providing the database via web.)

2. Observation regarding short-term memory: transferring numbers from NM Sec'y of State website to campaign spreadsheet was not easy COPY/PASTE, but required typing numbers into cells. To remember the numbers, I recited them aloud. I'm pretty much convinced that reciting the numbers aloud is what enabled me to complete the task: an audial cue needed to enhance memory.

3. I'd promised the campaign task-completion by Thanksgiving. After looking at the NM Sec'y of State website for the first time this evening I guessed this would be MUCH more time-consuming than I'd imagined, and that I'd be unlikely to meet the Thanksgiving deadline. As it turned out, the task - though extremely tedious - didn't consume more than three hours.
The joys of political activism!!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just for fun

Included in the cooking directions for Van de Kamp's Beer Battered Fillets:
Remove fish from plastic pouch before cooking.
Darn! I knew I was doing something wrong!

Oh, good: I'm not alone

From Distributorcap over at The Reaction:
Living with our collective heads in sand
It has been awfully difficult to get motivated to write anything -- the lunatics have truly taken over the asylum and it really does seem that things are collapsing at a alarming rate.

The more I see what is going on the more I believe we're toast as a nation. Forget for a minute the morons in Congress running the country -- we are witnessing a huge increase in illiteracy, we are falling behind third world nations in education, our health care system is the most expensive and the most unavailable on the planet, there is not a whiff of moral compass left in our leaders, political courage is extinct, and innovation is more about how much money can be made and not how we can better society. What would be considered inhumane, spiteful, or uncharitable in any other rationale and free society, is seen as patriotic and character-building here. Our national leaders are entrenched in placing politics (and their own power) well-above national security and societal well-being -- and then are hailed by the media as "men and women of honor." Finally, if you even attempt to address the problems or call out what our weaknesses are, you are labeled (and cursed) as unpatriotic and anti-American.
... There's more, but this captures the idea (and says it much better than I could have!)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bad day at Black Rock...

Okay - the title is a bit too melodramatic, but it's been an exhausting week on the medical front, culminating in cancer center doc calling the wife last night to advise her to go to emergency room immediately or risk death by morning.
She declined the invitation, and woke up this morning.

Meanwhile, I was a nervous wreck. She probably didn't appreciate me waking her every 30 minutes to make sure she was still alive.

The blood analysis leading to the "or you'll be dead by morning" advice appears to have been tainted - today's bloodwork looked just fine (well, as 'fine' as hers ever looks!).
BUT: as soon as she was hooked up to the 'blood oxygen' gauge this morning, it alarmed. (A clothespin-like device on a finger is the 'hook-up' to the gauge.)
She's now on oxygen: an oxygen condenser for home use + five tanks for outside-the-house mobility.
We're both hoping this is a temporary expedient, and that minor surgery next Wednesday to implant a drain in her abdomen takes care of most problems.
I believe I've mentioned this before: abdominal fluid makes her look like she'll be delivering twins in December. This fluid accumulation, in addition to making her feel bloated, is exerting pressure on her diaphram, making breathing a chore.

Just in case it ever comes up in conversation: Cancer SUCKS!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My dream

Sarah Palin thinks she could beat Obama in 2012
PLEASE, Sarah! Take the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012!!!

Helping the GOP: agenda item for 112th Congress

The incoming 112th Congress has a lot on its plate - defunding Medicare, killing the EPA, establishing 0% tax-rate for millionaires.

It may be easier for them if they start with something small - to achieve a victory quickly.
I have a suggestion: calendar reform. Or, more accurately, calendar nomenclature reform.
The current days-of-the-week are all named for pagan gods.
Sunday - from Old English Sunnandæg, "Sun's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the Sun as a deity.

Monday - from Old English mōnandæg, "Moon's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the Moon as a deity.

Tuesday - from Old English Tiwesdæg, "Tiw's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the Proto-Germanic god Tîwaz, or Týr in Norse, a god of war and law.

Wednesday - from Old English Wōdnesdæg, "Woden's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the Anglo-Saxon death-deity, Woden.

Thursday - from the Old English Þunresdæg, "Thunor's Day", reflecting pagan worship of thunder as a deity.

Friday - from the Old English frīgedæg, "Frige's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the Germanic love goddess Frigg or Freyja.

Saturday - from the Old English Sæternesdæg, "Saturn's Day", reflecting pagan worship of the planet Saturn as a deity.
That's right: all our weekdays are named for pagan deities. The use of this nomenclature insidiously, subconsciously, and demonically teaches all of us to worship pagan gods!
"TGIF" is in fact a prayer for unholy, extra-marital sex! - literally!!!

The days of the week must be renamed to reflect America's Christian culture!
Here are some suggestions:
"Sunday" is easy: simply rename it Sonday, for The Son!

Monday through Thursday? - Rename these in honor of the Evangelists:
Marksday, Matthewsday, Lukesday, Johnsday
Friday & Saturday? Rename them to honor the greatest Apostles:
Paulsday and Petersday
(Note: I suggest "Petersday" to replace "Saturday" because Peter was the Apostle to the Jews, and Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath.)
In addition to ridding American culture of an insidious - and demonic - invitation to worship pagan gods, enacting this reform would be economically stimulative: EVERYONE would be compelled to buy a new calendar! The calendar-making companies would get a LOT of extra, non-seasonal business. Not only every PERSON, but every ORGANIZATION (company, charity, etc.) that distributes "free" calendars would be compelled to buy and distribute new calendars! The economic stimulus resulting from these purchases would help lift us out of recession, and contribute to full employment!

If the GOP-led 112th Congress tackled this burning issue FIRST, I believe they'd enjoy success for the rest of the term.

Monday, November 15, 2010

re: previous post

Everybody dies
Old Testament trivia:
Who are the only two people named in the Old Testament who didn't die?
(This is sort of 'divinity school 101 humor').
[... actually, I had - and took advantage of - the opportunity to rebuke my pastor for getting one of these wrong in a sermon... ]
Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
[Genesis 5:24, New American Standard Bible]

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
[2 Kings 2:11, New International Bible]
Enoch & Elijah: neither died.

Security vs Privacy

Yes, please look at me naked!
Scanners and pat-downs upset airline passengers
For what it's worth: I believe that airline security, if properly enforced, was sufficient to prevent 9/11. Box-cutters were illegal BEFORE 9/11 - and routine security scans ought to have detected 'em!

The more invasive screenings to which we are now subjected are pointless.

Related: 'twasn't any "lack of information" that enabled 9/11, 'twas failure to correctly interpret available information.
"Connecting the dots" is a LOT easier with FEWER dots.
If your senses are overwhelmed by dots, you'll see nothing but dots.

... on the other hand: maybe there's $$$ to be made by me posting my 'full-body scan' images someplace on the web.
I doubt it.
(Those of you who've seen my body - clothed or naked - will understand my doubts.)

a thought for the day

Everybody dies.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Two headlines, juxtaposed:
Spanish priest arrested over '21,000 child porn images'

Catholic bishops: More exorcists needed

Just for fun

Historians Admit To Inventing Ancient Greeks
The Onion
October 7, 2010 | ISSUE 46•40
Scholars apologize for attributing Western democracy to a make-believe civilization.
WASHINGTON—A group of leading historians held a press conference Monday at the National Geographic Society to announce they had "entirely fabricated" ancient Greece, a culture long thought to be the intellectual basis of Western civilization.

The group acknowledged that the idea of a sophisticated, flourishing society existing in Greece more than two millennia ago was a complete fiction created by a team of some two dozen historians, anthropologists, and classicists who worked nonstop between 1971 and 1974 to forge "Greek" documents and artifacts.

"Honestly, we never meant for things to go this far," said Professor Gene Haddlebury, who has offered to resign his position as chair of Hellenic Studies at Georgetown University. "We were young and trying to advance our careers, so we just started making things up: Homer, Aristotle, Socrates, Hippocrates, the lever and fulcrum, rhetoric, ethics, all the different kinds of columns—everything."

Friday, November 12, 2010

Well, that was fun - parts 1 & 2

Well, that was fun!
Part 1 (facetious): What a fun way to spend Friday afternoon - unexpectedly at the UNM Cancer Center! On the bright side, the "patient advocate" was superb - getting Teresa into x-ray, coordinating physician assistant & physician consultations.
... AND: we came away with prescriptions to treat her most obvious symptom - severe abdominal distension! (She looks like she's due to deliver twins in December.)
PLUS: a follow-up appointment has been scheduled to see if the meds are working (and, if they're not, to determine next steps - possibly more invasive treatment).

Well, that was fun!
Part 2 (really - that was FUN!): I attended the "Opera and Broadway Open Mic Night" at The Village Coffee Roaster (519 Central NW) with a former colleague this evening. The former colleague - a statistician and USMC reservist (loyal readers have seen some of his pictures from Afghanistan) - was in town on business.
We'd not seen each other in about 3 years, so a get-together was mandatory. When I suggested attending open mic night (and hinted that his presence might inspire me to sing) he jumped at the chance... and suggested I sing Gilbert & Sullivan. So - off we went tonight for an evening of 'culture'. Both of us enjoyed the experience, and, as promised, I sang G&S: "When the Night Wind Howls" from Ruddigore.

Friend's comments:
1) It's somewhat depressing to see all these amazingly talented folks perform, and realize that our culture provides 'em no $$$ reward.
2) It's somewhat depressing to note that in a city the size of Albuquerque this event draws only ~50 audience members.
3) The Master of Ceremonies does a great job with his entertaining running commentary.

Note: "Opera and Broadway Open Mic Night" is a weekly event.
Every Friday, 7-9 p.m., at The Village Coffee Roaster (just east of 6th & Central, on the north side of Central).
It's free (but donations are solicited and accepted).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dog toys

We have a dog - a border terrier. (If you've seen There's Something About Mary, the dog in that movie was a border terrier. In fact, even if you've NOT seen the movie, it still featured a border terrier.)

Anyway, we provide Goldie with toys. Many of these are stuffed things that squeak when chomped on in just the right way. Almost all enjoy a similar life-cycle:
1) for about a week Goldie is delighted to chomp on 'em to make 'em squeak, and tosses 'em in the air.
2) after that first week, she goes for the kill: ripping the toy to shreds, going for the 'heart' - the plastic squeaky thing.
3) after stuffing has been distributed throughout the house, and the heart has been successfully extracted, she plays with the remaining rag for about 3 days.
Then it's time for another toy.

I'm beginning to suspect that this is how we humans work, too.
We find fun toys - either real physical toys, or simply fun discussion topics.
We play with 'em for a week or so.
Then we go for the heart - ripping it out, and leaving stuffing strewn all over the place.
Once the toy is officially 'dead', we keep playing with the rag for another few days... then find ourselves another toy.

... at least, that's a pretty good description of how I move from topic to topic on this blog!!!
(I'm thinking about this as I pick up the shredded innards of the latest toy, strewn throughout the house.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The saga continues... (update)

Ambulance just carted wife off to emergency room.
No - it's not a life-threatening emergency, this was just the most expeditious way to get her into treatment for severe pain & abdominal distension following most recent chemo.

I'm being a bad husband - staying home.

update (9 nov): Wife was admitted to hospital last night, with suspected but as yet undetermined abdominal infection. Currently on IV antibiotics, anti-nausea stuff, and pain-killers. Given the timing, this seems to be yet another chemo-induced malady. She's feeling better today, and with any luck will be home tomorrow, at which time I'll start paying more attention to news & politics.

p.s. I laughed out loud at Norma's comment!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Public service announcement

"Contrary to popular belief, seagulls don't really explode if they eat Alka-Seltzer."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

UNM 34, Wyoming 31

Sigh. Locksley got a victory.

And to be honest: freshman QB Stump Godfrey looked pretty good, as did sophomore tight end Lucas Reed.

Buffoon welcomes a new follower!

PENolan: welcome to the neighborhood!

Friday, November 5, 2010

How do you eat an elephant?

Here's a link to very slightly edited text of David Walters post from Feb 2009, "One Bite at a Time", detailing some very specific actions that might be taken to re-vitalize Oklahoma's Democratic Party. I've omitted some of the OK-specific names, and reformatted some of it - but have not otherwise messed with the text.
One Bite at a Time
I'm not sure how much translates to other states, but the basic ideas all seem sound.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

completely pointless personal notes

loyal reader & commenter nameless cynic rebuked me for my issues with capitalization. i note only that i grew up reading don marquis's archy & mehitabel, the love letters typed by the cockroach archy to his unrequited love, the cat mehitabel. as a cockroach jumping from key to key on the typewriter keyboard, archy couldn't hold down the shift key - so all his epistles were entirely lower-case. i've adopted this style from time to time...
... in addition to which, holding down the shift key simply takes too much energy.

joe paterno is approaching his 400th career victory as head football coach at penn state.
this is his 45th season. that's about 8.9 victories/season.
unm's current football head coach, mike locksley, is on track to reach his 400th victory in the year 2676. i won't care. i'll be dead. so will he.
to date he's on track for 0.6 victories/year.
supposing he pulls out one win in the next 4 games, that's 1 victory/year... which means he'll get to 400 career wins in the year... 2408.
['in the long run we are all dead', john maynard keynes]
$750k/year. nice work if you can get it.

"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."
-H.L. Mencken

on the bright side...

$$$ are important, but $$$ ain't everything!
Angle, O'Donnell, Fiorina, Whitman, Paladino - all spent tons of $$$... their own & others'. They lost.
Yeah, SCOTUS's disastrous Citizens United decision made a difference - BUT: it wasn't ALL the difference.

One other 'bright side' (personal opinion): Will I miss Blanche Lincoln?
Some brilliant pundits blame Bill Halter's primary challenge.
I blame Blanche Lincoln. She dissed the Dem core. She went out of her way to diss her Senate Dem colleagues.
Yeah, we now have to live with Boozman for six years, but at least we KNOW he's not for us.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

As promised: Reflections on the Elections [cleaned up]

[Note: a couple of readers have suggested I clean up original post, to include such things as proper capitalization, and perhaps omit at least some of the ellipses ('...'). Here's the result.]

After I got home Tuesday night from DPNM 'election night watch party' (which happily was a victory party for NM1 & Heinrich), I had a note waiting for me in my email in-box from Bold Progressives. (I don't remember signing up for this site, but probably did in some moment of weakness.)

Anyway, the email asked for my thoughts.
"What are you thinking right now? Seriously, we'd like to know."

So, at 1:00 a.m. I clicked the link and answered the questions as best I could at 1:00 a.m., with more than a little booze under my belt.
Sadly, I didn't keep a copy of my responses, but what follows represents an 'enhanced' (and improved) memory.

Question #1: In general, what are you thinking tonight?
My response (again, "improved"):
I'm thinking that Dems need to learn two basic political skills:
1) Communication
2) Organization

1) Communication skills
Democrats had (and have) by far the better story to tell, the better solutions to propose, but somehow failed to communicate either the story or the solutions.

In part I attribute this failure to our 'sophistication'; to our tendency to intellectualize everything, to think things through, to see the world in grey, not in black & white. BUT - even when the issues ARE black & white, we fail. For example:
GDP = consumption + govt spending + investment +(exports - imports).

Consumption: consumers have no money, and are hoarding what $$$ they do have.
They're NOT spending.

Investment? - Businesses are sitting on wads of $$$, sequestering it; they are NOT investing; and those few that seek to invest are stymied by banks that AREN'T LENDING.

Balance of trade? We're importing more than we're exporting.

What's left?
GOVERNMENT SPENDING to stimulate demand & grow GDP!!!
... but somehow we got sucked into a discussion about the deficit!... even though it's now cheaper for the federal government to borrow than at any time in past 30 years!!! Some investors are in fact PAYING FOR THE PRIVILEGE to lend the federal government $$$!!!
How'd that happen???

We - Dems, progressives, sane people - failed again & again to effectively COMMUNICATE our ideas, our solutions. Furthermore, we failed to effectively rip to shreds the 'arguments' and positions of our opponents.
Over and over. Repeatedly.

To some extent this began at the top, with President Obama.
He who communicated so brilliantly and effectively during the campaign, but has utterly failed to communicate effectively as president.
BUT: we are all guilty.

On the other hand, we simply ridiculed & mocked the GOP's mindless sloganeering, without ever thinking that mindless sloganeering works!
WE ought to get good at mindless sloganeering. But we're too pure, too honest, to intellectual to even try.

[This not said Tuesday night; it represents an after-thought] We're also really lousy at branding/labeling. W's "Clean Skies Act" gutted the EPA, but it was well-named.

When we decided to attack health INSURANCE reform, we mis-labeled it health CARE reform (incidentally allowing the loyal opposition to call it ObamaCARE. Quite a catchy perjorative term; much more catchy than ObamaINSURANCE). The bill itself didn't touch health CARE - it was all about reforming how we provide health INSURANCE. Branding this as health INSURANCE reform would have focused on everyone's bad guys - the insurance industry. Instead, we made it about health CARE.
Branding/labeling is an important communications skill we need to learn.

2) Organization skills
As Dems, we're all absurdly proud of our free-thinking, "I'm not a joiner", lone-wolf approach to politics. I'm as guilty as anyone. Buffoon has fewer than two dozen regular readers, but still I pride myself on doing my part in our great democracy by spewing my drivel on a more-or-less regular basis. Other blogs (including those mentioned on right-hand sidebar) are more effective.
BUT: we somehow disdain formal 'organization'. As a result we are overtaken every news cycle by astro-turf Tea Partiers.

The on-the-ground organization contributing to Obama's election was left to wither.

DNC, DSCC & DCCC are the Catholic Church of politics: centralized, entrenched organizations whose real interest is preserving the status quo.

If we continue to be only a community of passionate bloggers - some with very large readership, others with close to none - we'll continue to fail.
Organization is key - getting people - just folks - to ACT!
Often and routinely. If someone among us can figure out how to motivate folks to ACT, often and routinely, we'll have a prayer moving forward.
Otherwise, it's all just mental masturbation - feels good, but is, in the end, fruitless.
Question #2: What do you think the progressive movement should do next? As in, immediately...
My response (very dimly remembered):
Well - let's address the deficiencies noted above.

Someone - likely, many someones - in our community must have expertise in rhetoric (the art of argumentation for the purpose of persuasion). Let's enlist their help to teach the rest of us how to do it.

Again: Surely some few folks among we liberal/progressives have organization skills! Who are they? How much would they charge?

Finally: we oughta be working with business. Yes, I'm serious. The big $$$ are found in biz community (particularly after disastrous and WRONG SCOTUS Citizens United decision).
Let's figure out how to lobby 'em to convince 'em that govt regulation is IN THEIR BEST INTEREST! (Again: I'm serious. Really. I believe a strong case can be made that govt regulation REALLY IS in big business's best interest. See, e.g., Rules of the Road.)
Question #3: Do you think Pres. Obama and congressional Dems should fight harder for progressive policies or seek middle ground with Republicans? (Please elaborate.)
My response (again, from vague memory, and elaborated/improved):
Middle ground with Republicans??? You're kidding, right?

Time and again President Obama sought compromise (as a means, not an end).
Time and again he's been rebuked.
I'm not crazy about the phrase, but it seems appropriate: time to man up!!!

Our elected representatives (a dying breed) have no clue how to NEGOTIATE! - another basic political skill. We give away the farm before we get to the table (Baucus: "public option is not on the table"). We give away the North Forty afterwards in exchange for vague promises, never fulfilled.

Again: I'm betting there are more than a few someones among the liberal/progressive ranks who KNOW how to negotiate. Let's employ 'em! - sell the Congressional & Senate Democratic caucuses some training classes! (Heck, if nothing else, it'll be economically stimulative, employing private contractors!)
[note: 'compromise' and 'bipartisanship' are means, NOT ends!]

If President Obama decides his best course is to continue current course he ought not count on a second term.
The so-called loyal opposition are convinced he's a pansy. After all, he gives away the farm before negotiations have started.
If he wants to get anything done in next two years, well - now's the time to play hardball.
So - that's close to how I answered the questions Tuesday night, at 1:00 a.m., after much alcohol and some celebration for NM1 Heinrich win.

What would I add today? Limbaugh & Beck.

We need to study 'em.
How do they garner their huge audiences? - they ENTERTAIN!
(This goes to 'communication skills' theme above.)
We've got a couple of folks on our side with same skills: Stewart & Colbert.
BUT: they don't have huge radio audiences.
Air America failed - it was too wonkish.
You - we - need to keep folks' attention. You keep folks' attention by ENTERTAINING.

If you want to contribute your two cents, here are a couple of links:
Progressive Change Campaign Committee

2010: What are you thinking?

p.s. my initial responses included links to Private Buffoon and al Qaeda in Albuquerque (blatant self-promotion).
And, oh yeah! - NM1 is still in the D category: Congrats to Martin Heinrich!!!

p.p.s. in response to this post loyal reader tedthecat sent me a password protected link to an article by former Oklahoma governor David Walters in which he proposed some fairly specific actions to re-vitalize Oklahoma's Democratic party.
Here's the link:
... and here's email addy to request a password:
The title of the article is "One Bite at a Time" (as in "How do you eat an elephant?") It's a long read, but worth it for the specific ACTIONS proposed.
Update: here's a more accessible link. One Bite at a Time

in the meantime...

Tom Degan over at The Rant sums thing up nicely:
"The Rant" by Tom Degan: Was This a Great Country or What?... Still it has to be conceded that the Democrats got exactly what they deserved on Election Day 2010. So many of them have spent the last two years running like frightened rats from the legacy of their party. Most of them refused to embrace the ideals of traditional liberalism - or even explain them - to their clueless constituency. In fact they ran from those ideals.

more later...

I'll join the chorus of post-election analysts... a little later.
(I've a piano lesson this afternoon, and choir practice this evening. I'll be taking advantage of these intellectually stimulating activities to let brain process the few random political thoughts now simmering... perhaps I'll even write something brilliant!)

i guess it's not ALL bad news...

The McRib Returns
For those among you who think a processed-pork sandwich is just this side of heaven, McD's has answered your prayer!

doom & gloom on election night [update]

2 years of Boehner.
6 years of Rand Paul.

Two years ago I was crowing about NM's entirely Democratic Congressional delegation... and governor.
No longer.
NM2 - down south - went back to the reactionary Steve Pearce.
Our new governor? Republican Susana Martinez (54% - 46% over Dem Diane Denish).

On the bright side: Heinrich (D) won re-election in NM1!
With 95% of precincts reporting: Heinrich 52%, Barela 48%.
[note: it took Barela FOREVER to concede!]

update (1:47 a.m.):
percentages cited above are holding with 99% of precincts reporting

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

achievement for the day

... i made pumpkin pie... from a pumpkin!
actually, i made 2 pies: 1.5 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin per pie.

this is exactly the 2nd time i've used this fannie farmer recipe.
the first time was in 1974.

cooked (steamed), mashed pumpkin; cinnamon; cloves; ginger; sugar; evaporated milk; whole milk; eggs.

... and calling this 'achievement for the day' is not quite accurate.
i cooked the pumpkin on sunday; mashed it on monday... then discovered i didn't have cinnamon or evaporated milk.
off to the store today.
(the implied hiatuses can be attributed - without too much prevarication - to games 4&5 of world series.)

final products are now cooling on the kitchen counter.

fun sign...

... from another math guy:

i'd have represented '1/3' as a fraction, not as a repeating decimal.
(... makes the 'rational' bit a little more explicit...)

Monday, November 1, 2010


The only way to derail the 'tea-party express' is to VOTE!
If you've voted already (absentee, early voting), good for you!!!

If you're waiting to stand in line with your neighbors at your local polling place on election day (my choice), take a friend with you... better yet, take 2 or 3 friends with you!

Me? I LIKE standing in line with my neighbors on election day.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

GOTV: no, the kids prob'ly won't appreciate it

Here's what I'm taping to every piece of Halloween candy:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just for fun...

... yeah, I know: current crop of Dems is less than inspiring...
BUT: they're a whole lot better than GOP alternatives!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

If someone PAID YOU to borrow money...

... would you?
Inflation Bonds Are Sold With Negative Yield for First Time
Published: October 25, 2010
Inflation-protected securities sold at negative yields for the first time ever on Monday as traders anticipate that the Federal Reserve will start a new round of asset purchases.

Analysts said that asset purchases by the Fed would lead to a higher inflation rate and a positive return on the bonds.

The $10 billion auction of the five-year bonds sold at a negative yield of 0.550 percent, according to the Treasury Department.
What economist do you know that's worried about INFLATION???

So, right now, at the moment: The U.S. can BORROW MONEY for NEGATIVE YIELD! People are PAYING for the privilege of loaning the U.S. $$$ for five years!

... tell me again, why is the deficit an issue?
Why is "borrow and spend liberal" such a horrid epithet?

YES!!! - TODAY what we OUGHT to be doing is borrowing - injecting $$$ into the economy to stimulate DEMAND!!!
This is how you END RECESSIONS!!!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back on the campaign trail

Another mass mailing this a.m.

... again, this one prominently featured W & Barela... in a Heinrich ad!

On the bright side: last Friday we received a Barela mailing (my wife is a registered Republican!). The Barela mailing prominently featured a pic of Heinrich!

I'm not quite sure what the brilliant political consultants are trying to accomplish, but a quick glance at Heinrich mailings leave one with distinct impression they are pro-Barela, and quick glance at Barela mailing leaves one with distinct impression it is pro-Heinrich!

If I were in charge: every Heinrich ad would prominently feature Heinrich!

political blogs as political pamphlets

I'm re-reading The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Bernard Bailyn, 1967). Bailyn's first chapter is devoted to consideration of his primary sources: political pamphlets published from 1750 to 1780.

He notes that...
It was in this form -- as pamphlets -- that much of the most important and characteristics writing of the American Revolution appeared. For the Revolutionary generation, as for its predecessors back to the early sixteenth century, the pamphlet had peculiar virtues as a medium of communication. Then, as now, it was seen that the pamphlet allowed one to do things that were not possible in any other form.
This characterization suggests that today's political pamphlets take the form of political blogs, like Private Buffoon and much better-known ones.

Seems I'm not the only blogger to have noticed this, or to cite Bailyn.
Pamphleteers and Web Sites, on Dan Bricklin's Website pretty much captures everything I'd set out to say in this post!

In particular, he includes the same passage from Orwell (quoted by Bailyn) I'd intended as my centerpiece:
The pamphlet [George Orwell, a modern pamphleteer, has written] is a one-man show. One has complete freedom of expression, including, if one chooses, the freedom to be scurrilous, abusive, and seditious; or, on the other hand, to be more detailed, serious and "high-brow" than is ever possible in a newspaper or in most kinds of periodicals...
It's fun to realize that political blogs, like Private Buffoon (and those mentioned in right-hand sidebar!), can trace their ancestry to America's Revolutionary period! - a decent pedigree!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

SDSU: 30, UNM: 20

UNM season record to date: 0-7
Since head coach Locksley ($750K/yr) took over: 1-18.

On the bright side: Locksley has made someone's list of "coaches most likely to be fired before end of season".
(Nope - I don't recall whose list this is.)

teaching history

full disclosure: I've never taught history.
I've no formal background in history.
What follows are simply reflections on history as perceived by a non-historian.

In high school one of the history texts (sorry, can't recall title or author) remarked that Socrates would feel more at home if transported to Benjamin Franklin's Philadelphia than would Franklin if transported to Philadelphia today.
Socrates' Athens was lit by fire. Transportation? - walking and horse.
Franklin's Philadelphia? Lit by fire. Transportation? walking and horse.

The dominant technology for most of pre-history? Chipped flint.

The dominant technology for most of written history? Primitive metallurgy - copper, bronze, iron. Wars waged with spears, slings, arrows... and their larger brothers: catapults and trebuchets.
No one ventured much more than 20 or 30 miles from his birthplace during his entire life.
Your life pretty much mimicked your parents'.
Most of us were close-to-starving peasants, praying that the crop would come in.
Praying that rain came in summer & spring... and NOT in the fall!
"Hand-to-mouth" meant just that.
Technological innovation was unknown.
A Roman aristocrat lived in pretty much the same world as a medieval peasant - both relied on this year's harvest.
Famine and starvation were common.

That festering wound? - forget it, it'll kill you.
No antibiotics.
In the best of all possible worlds you could afford the services of a surgeon who could, without benefit of anesthesia, amputate the affected limb.

Ships were driven by wind.

Indoor plumbing? No.

Diseases were believed to be caused by 'miasmas' - bad airs.
Bleeding by leeches was a prevalent therapy in post-Revolutionary America.

By contrast - IN MY LIFETIME!
-Computers have evolved from huge heat-generating contraptions requiring large air-conditioned rooms to devices you can hold in your hand.
- travel by airplane is no longer a luxury, but common.
- vaccines have all but eliminated most early-childhood diseases.

Slightly more that 100 years ago the dominant forms of transportation were still walking & horses.
The first fully electrified public building? - The Savoy Theater in London, mid-1880s - 130 years ago.

The pace of technological innovation today would be incomprehensible to our not-so-distant ancestors. We live in a very different physical world. Electricity lights our homes. Fireplaces are decorative. Automobiles and airplanes allow us to travel the globe.

How does a high school history teacher communicate these basic facts to his/her students? How can a 15-yr-old be induced to recognize the very different physical world in which his not-so-distant ancestors lived?

On the bright side: the PEOPLE living way back when weren't all that different from us. All were motivated by faith, love, greed, lust, ambition, patriotism, hatred, and fear.
The OTHER has always been despised and feared.

decisions made easy...

SF just defeated the Phillies for NL pennant.
Had the Phillies won, I'd be waiting for game 7 of NLCS.
With SF the winner, I'll very definitely be cheering for the Rangers in World Series.

a perverse teachable moment

Cholera outbreak creeps closer to Haiti's capital
With cholera in the news, I'll take the opportunity to mention the earliest use of statistical graphics in epidemiology: Dr. John Snow's map of water wells in London during the cholera outbreak in 1854. Snow plotted on a street grid, 1) the location of cholera cases, and 2) the location of public water wells. From this simple graph he deduced that all cholera cases derived from folks who got their water from a single well.
His work is widely regarded as beginning of scientific epidemiology and public health.

Here's his map:

Until Snow's study, cholera was attributed to 'miasmas' (literally, "bad airs").
As a result of his pioneering work during the 1854 Broad Street cholera epidemic, it was finally recognized that cholera was a water-borne disease, spread by contaminated water.

In Snow's own words:
On proceeding to the spot, I found that nearly all the deaths had taken place within a short distance of the [Broad Street] pump. There were only ten deaths in houses situated decidedly nearer to another street-pump. In five of these cases the families of the deceased persons informed me that they always sent to the pump in Broad Street, as they preferred the water to that of the pumps which were nearer. In three other cases, the deceased were children who went to school near the pump in Broad Street...
With regard to the deaths occurring in the locality belonging to the pump, there were 61 instances in which I was informed that the deceased persons used to drink the pump water from Broad Street, either constantly or occasionally...

The result of the inquiry, then, is, that there has been no particular outbreak or prevalence of cholera in this part of London except among the persons who were in the habit of drinking the water of the above-mentioned pump well.

I had an interview with the Board of Guardians of St James's parish, on the evening of the 7th inst [Sept 7], and represented the above circumstances to them. In consequence of what I said, the handle of the pump was removed on the following day.

—John Snow, letter to the editor of the Medical Times and Gazette

Someone else has noticed!

Obama Blasts Republican Economic Policies: GOP 'Snake Oil' Could Jeopardize Economy
For quite some time I've been suggesting that the GOP are economic snake oil salesmen.
It's nice to see this narrative picked up by Obama!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a couple of math 'funs'

Fun #1: Back in the day I was a professional statistician. Every once in a while it became necessary for me to numerically (via computer) evaluate integrals. I picked up a book to help, Asymptotic Expansions of Integrals:
"The prerequisites for such a course are minimal. Indeed, we feel that any student having a good background in advanced calculus, differential equations, and complex variables can adquately handle the contents."
Some folks' concept of 'minimal' does not quite coincide with my own!

Fun #2: 16.
16 = 2^(2^2) = (2^2)^2,
with '^' representing exponentiation (e.g., 2^3 = 2*2*2 = 8; 3^2 = 3*3 = 9).
'2' is the ONLY integer satisfying this associative property of exponentiation!
[3^(3^3) does NOT equal (3^3)^3]
I've got a proof if anyone's interested.

Fun #2 was realized when host of "Opera and Broadway Open Mic Night" suggested 1607 was the year that opera was first performed.
1607 is a good year: 1607 is prime. 7 is prime. 16 satisfies the remarkable exponentiation identity stated above.
Number Theory really is fun!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


End of the Earth Postponed

Sorting mail

Sorting/dispositioning mail was really easy today: just about everything was political, making its way to trash immediately!

I'm betting USPS will be much happier on 3 Nov!

MLB championship series

Full disclosure: as soon as Tampa Bay was eliminated I all but lost interest in post-season.
Now I'm just cheering for whichever team is playing the Yankees.
Rangers are now up 3-1 in best-of-7.

In the NL, I have some very mild enthusiasm for Phillie... (and for no particular reason really wanted San Diego to take NL West, so I'm less than enthusiastic about San Fran.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"Modern U.S. President": G&S reference

Thanks to sometime reader & FB friend for this one!

It's a miracle!

UNM football team didn't lose yesterday!
... then again, they didn't play yesterday.

Both LA Times and ESPN have named UNM #1 worst college football team in the country.
The coach continues to earn $750,000 per year.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back on the campaign trail

light posting next several days: I'll be spending computer time correcting addresses in donor database for Heinrich campaign.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What's more enjoyable than national politics? [update]

... College football!

My college football team preferences have about as much success as my political preferences, but at least I understand the rules... and the rules are enforced!

... and tomorrow I get to watch professional football! The NFL!!!
Oh boy!
On the bright side, I have "skin in the game": I'm in a "loser's league".
Pick a team to lose. If my pick loses, I get to play again next week.
Last person standing wins the pot.
I've two picks left (I started out with 4): Tennessee & Tampa Bay.
As soon as I'm eliminated (I've lasted longer this year than previously), I'll lose all interest in NFL... well, except I'll keep on routing for whoever is playing Dallas.

update: my NFL season is now over - both my picks won!
... on the bright side, Tennessee beat Dallas in Dallas!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

It has come to my attention...

... that there's an election coming up in a few weeks.


(pointless) reflection on NLDS [oops!]

No team has ever come back from 3-0 deficit in best-of-5 series.

- Rays down 2-0 to Rangers; Twins down 2-0 to Yankees

- Reds down 2-0 to Phillies; Braves down 2-0 to Giants

Four elimination games upcoming.

oops!: tedthecat points out that the Braves are not 1-1 against the Giants.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

(pointless) reflection on ALDS

... no team has ever come back from 3-0 deficit in best-of-5 series.

overdue snark

Back in June I started tracking Arizona sports performance... just to see (for fun) effect of SB1070.

Here's the latest: ARIZONA Diamondbacks (MLB, National League)
- 65-97 (.401)
- last in their division

Sadly, not worst in majors... not even worst in National League.

... BUT: still, for those who might believe in karma - Arizona sports ain't doin' all that great after passage of SB1070!

lame excuses

yeah, well... i've been silent for a few days.
here are few lame excuses:
- too much to say, too little time.
- med stuff to deal with.
- just lazy i guess.
- hey! - i'm working on the campaign!

Too much to say, too little time:
Cheap Debt for Corporations Fails to Spur Economy
Published: October 3, 2010
As many households and small businesses are being turned away by bank loan officers, large corporations are borrowing vast sums of money for next to nothing — simply because they can.
The development presents something of a chicken-and-egg situation: Corporations keep saving, waiting for the economy to perk up — but the economy is unlikely to perk up if corporations keep saving.

This situation underscores the limits of Washington policy makers’ power to stimulate the economy. The Federal Reserve has held official interest rates near zero for almost two years, which allows corporations to sell bonds with only slightly higher returns — even below 1 percent. But most companies are not doing what the easy monetary policy was intended to get them to do: invest and create jobs.

The Fed’s low rates have in fact hurt many Americans, especially retirees whose incomes from savings have fallen substantially. Big companies like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo and I.B.M. seem to have been among the major beneficiaries.

“They are benefiting themselves by borrowing and keeping this cash, but it is not benefiting the economy yet,” said Dana Saporta, an economist at Credit Suisse in New York.

American corporations have been saving more money since the financial collapse of 2008. But a recent rush of blue-chip bond offerings — including a $4.75 billion deal last month by Microsoft, one of the richest companies in the world — has put even more money in their coffers.

Corporations now sit atop a combined $1.6 trillion of cash, a figure equal to slightly more than 6 percent of their total assets. In the first quarter of this year it was 6.2 percent of assets, the highest level since 1964, when it was 6.4 percent.

When will they start spending that money — in particular, by hiring?

That is part of what has become the great question of this long, jobless recovery: When will corporate America start to feel confident enough to put its cash to work, building factories and putting some of the nation’s 14.9 million unemployed to work?
Tell me again how TAX CUTS for corporations will be stimulative?
They're SITTING ON tons of $$$ - BUT NOT HIRING.

Just as a reminder: 10-year T-bills now sitting at 2.52%... we - the U.S. Govt - can borrow money cheaper now than any time in the past 20 years!
So, tell me: why is borrowing $$$ to spend on JOB-CREATING STIMULUS (see, e.g., New Deal) a bad idea???
... oh, yeah - I forgot: the GOP controls the dialog
"Compassionate Conservatism"

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Yep -
1. fire fighters on the scene...
2. ... BUT: folks haven't paid their dues...

This is what GOP's America looks like!!!
Med stuff: wife has been scanned every day so far this week - oncologist appt tomorrow to determine next steps.

Just lazy: okay, I'm a slacker!

Campaign: Miracle of miracles - the campaign gave me some database work to do!
... so I've been doin' it!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I thought we'd OUTLAWED this behavior!

CIA Escalates in Pakistan
Pentagon Diverts Drones From Afghanistan to Bolster U.S. Campaign Next Door
WSJ, 2 Oct 2010
WASHINGTON—The U.S. military is secretly diverting aerial drones and weaponry from the Afghan battlefront to significantly expand the CIA's campaign against militants in their Pakistani havens.
... like, back in the '70s of the last century, didn't we pass legislation prohibiting CIA from overt acts of war???

... or is my memory just faulty???

p.s. What, I wonder, would be U.S. response if Mexico unleashed predator drones to take out suspected drug kingpins in Arizona?

Ripping off someone else's post

From Atrios:
All Just Players At The Casino

I don't pay as much attention to the world of CNBC and satellites as much as I used to, but I'm still struck by how much people in that world actually believe "investors" know things.
[emphasis added]
Now - truth to tell - I've NEVER paid attention to CNBC, BUT - yes, it is striking that professional commentators continue to pretend that "investors" know things!
If nothing else, you'd think that past few years would provide sufficient evidence that investors resemble a herd of wildebeests, not rational players!

Suggestion for DNC

Subject: National ad campaign

Use this vid to clearly illustrate GOP obstructionism:

Back on the campaign trail

Helped with a mailing yesterday - sticking mailing labels on glossy large postcards.
Sad to say, the postcard itself left something to be desired: prominently featured pic of opponent (John Barela), Palin, McCain... and maybe Boehner.
Basic message: "Vote AGAINST the GOP"... as opposed to "Vote FOR Heinrich".
This is not an inspiring message... and it took fairly close reading to even get this message - at first glance it looks for all the world like a pro-GOP flier!

... sigh: another Christine O'Donnell post

Far from damaging O'Donnell's candidacy, I suspect that revelations that she "dabbled" in witchcraft, Buddhism, and Hare Krishna can be spun to her benefit:
Her current fervently fundie Christianity can be taken as evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit and the saving grace of G-d.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Just for fun...

Not ONE signer of the Declaration of Independence believed in Darwin's theory of evolution!

Not ONE member of the Constitutional Convention in 1787 believed in Darwin's theory of evolution!

Headline for the ages

Manure Management - One of Today's Answers
[source unknown]

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Brilliant advice to someone - anyone - with more ambition than I:
Sell Dems a class in marketing/messaging
Dems have far BETTER narratives than the GOP.
Economy? Cite Krugman.
Everything else? - cite the Constitution.

Somehow Dems just don't get this.

Again: there's $$$ to be made SELLING a very basic marketing class to DNC, DSCC, DCCC - just put together a few PowerPoint slides telling 'em how to SELL their policies.
It's not that hard.

... and, oh yeah: THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT!!!

... maybe I'm too pessimistic...

In response to previous post, one commenter suggested I've been too taken in by media narrative...
... and in a slightly different context, a correspondent has suggested that he is somewhat more optimistic than I, predicting that
1) most of the Tea Party candidates lose,
2) Dem’s remain in control of both houses,
3) all three of our current local NM congressmen remain
(My reply hinted that I was somewhat less sanguine than he, and suggested that I expected him to endorse existence of Santa Claus & the Easter Bunny... he didn't object.)

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Private Buffoon welcomes Jake Skyles at CrazyBone as a loyal reader!

Hey - thanks, Jake!
Welcome to the neighborhood!!!

Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends and Influence People
I'm pretty sure we ain't doin' it:
Pakistan halts NATO supplies to Afghanistan

Dozens of NATO oil tankers attacked in Pakistan
Great! - we've pissed off our erstwhile Pakistani allies!

Please, someone! ANYONE!
Tell me why we're still in Afghanistan!!!

I'm pretty sure I've said this already... BUT...

... just in case.

Yes - current crop of Dems are less-than-desirable...
... BUT: they're a WHOLE HELLUVA LOT BETTER than GOP alternatives!

VOTE on Tuesday, 2 November 2010!!!

this is just fun...

Okay, I really tried to stay silent regarding Christine O'Donnell's Senate candicacy... but this is just too much fun.

First, from Think Progess:
O’Donnell So Fervently Pro-Truth That She Wouldn’t Lie To Nazis Asking If She Were Hiding Jews In Her Home
Yep - O'Donnell is so committed to the truth that she'd have given up Jews to the Nazis!

... BUT: she's more than happy to LIE about her academic credentials (via TPM):
Claremont Institute Tells TPM O'Donnell's 2002 Resume Listed Oxford University
... for those of you who haven't been paying attention, TWO "professional networking" websites in O'Donnell's name have included references to her completing courses at Oxford (England) and Claremont Graduate University(California). Neither claim is true. In 2006 she claimed an undergraduate degree from Fairleigh Dickinson - also not true.
[She WAS awarded bachelor's degree from Fairleigh Dickinson in September of this year... after 1) paying tuition, and 2) completing a required course.]

Ordinarily the peccadilloes of politician's don't engage me all that much... but in this case:
Yes, she'd give up Jews to the Nazis so's not to abuse her truth-telling conscience!


She's more than happy to LIE about her academic credentials in pursuit of political ambition.
Go figure.


AP sources: Emanuel leaving White House on Friday
I'm not a student of WH "chiefs of staff", but I'm of the opinion that Emanuel has been THE WORST WH Chief of Staff EVER!
... at least I can cite Obama's failure to vigorously pursue his stated campaign objectives as evidence.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

apologies to loyal readers...

... i've just been somewhat less-than-motivated to post.
(upcoming election and anticipated results are simply too depressing...)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

just for grins...

UNM: 10, UNLV: 45.

The 4th straight humiliating loss of the season.

The UNM coach, Mike Locksley, is paid $750K/year.
(... oh, yeah: he was 1-11 last season!)

Must be sort of the like the 'wizards of Wall Street' - performance is immaterial to compensation.
Just show up, you'll get your $$$.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My preferred Dem alternative to the GOP's "Pledge"

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
[note: I claim no originality for this alternative!]

Thursday, September 23, 2010


From TPM:
House Dems Also Punt On Upper-Income Bush Tax Cuts
"Dems punt".

... Dems fold, Dems cave...
When will it end?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Angle Suggests Free Market Could Solve Pre-Existing Conditions Coverage

Everybody: LAUGH OUT LOUD!!!

First: yeah, the 'free market' did wonders BEFORE passage of watered-down health insurance reform.

Second: Anytime ANYONE cites the "miracle of the market" - LAUGH OUT LOUD!
Keep it up.

New Mexico in the news

Chimps' future prompts debate over NM primate lab

The Base's Hissy Fit

From the ever-wonderful Tom Degan over at The Rant:
"The Rant" by Tom Degan: The Base's Hissy Fit
As one of my occasional readers once pointed out:
"The perfect is the enemy of the good."
And as my very favorite military commander said:
"A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied ten minutes later."
[Gen. George S. Patton]
Yeah - current crop of Dems aren't all that great...
... BUT!!!
BUT: they're ALL a whole helluva lot better than the GOP alternative!!!

So: VOTE in November!
Don't stay home in protest.

Elections really DO matter.


Why do we fail?

Why does the GOP obstruct?

Why are we progressives frustrated?

Why do Dems fail to lead?

Why does our President fail to lead?

We are, all of us, deeply, profoundly afraid.
We all - even the so-called 'loyal opposition' - all of us see the bright future...
BUT: we are afraid to take a first step.
The unknown fearful ocean confronts us.
What lies beyond the horizon is evil and fearful.
We have accustomed ourselves to fear.

What if we fail? What if... ???

We are - all of us - deeply, profoundly, AFRAID.
We fear the future.
We fear each other.
We fear ourselves.
We fear hell.
We fear heaven.

There is no other explanation for our failure.
We are afraid.
We fear.

Is that all there is?

Bette Midler's in-studio performance of the Lieber & Stoller/Peggy Lee classic.

too hard or too easy?

i'm not sure if progressive blogging is getting too hard or too easy.

too hard? - just way too much wing-nuttery to keep track of... o'donnell, angle, miller, paul... + so-called 'mainstream' GOP (McConnell, McCain, Boehner)... all of 'em going for party over country.

too easy? - see above.
daily doses of disgusting behavior from so-called 'loyal opposition'.
where to start?

me? - i've taken the easy path: ignore it all.
far, far easier to worry about deficiencies of English language!

have a nice day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

just curious

I think of English as a rich language, with words and constructions derived from lots of languages...

... so how come the best English can do for adult romantic involvements is "girlfriend" and "boyfriend"???
It's simply absurd that my retired friend, a UNM professor, is constrained to call his significant other his "girlfriend".
It is simply absurd that my adult friend's male significant other must be called her "boyfriend".

"Girlfriend" and "Boyfriend" are well-suited as descriptors of high school romances... but NOT of adult relationships!
Can't English do better?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Smart Secrecy vs Stupid Secrecy

This is just fun, from Wings Over Iraq:
I'm speechless
Can you spell "paranoia"?

just for fun (G&S)

Our neighbors are currently in Australia, where they've tickets to Opera Australia's production of The Pirates of Penzance. Here's a vid from the production:

The Pirates of the Caribbean/Johnny Depp influence is sort of fun... and offers the promise that G&S will continue to be relevant well into their second century!

someone else's eloquent summary of current affairs

Friend Nance over at Mature Landscaping has this to say (all of which strikes me as obvious, and leaves me convinced that our esteemed leaders are either blind or evil.):
Mature Landscaping: What's Right On What's Wrong

Just a reminder...

... from friend Woody over at Well-Armed Lamb:
The Well-Armed Lamb: X : You Are Here

Some H.L. Mencken quotations

In previous post I referenced
"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."
Turns out this is a paraphrase of an H.L. Mencken quotation:
“No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”
The same website that provides this reference also includes the following pertinent H.L. Mencken quotations:
“Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

“Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration - courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth.”

“Evangelical Christianity, as everyone knows, is founded upon hate, as the Christianity of Christ was founded upon love.”

“It is a sin to believe evil of others, but it is seldom a mistake.”

“The average man doesn't want to be free. He wants to be safe.”

“We must respect the other fellow's religion,but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”

“The truth that survives is simply the lie that is pleasantest to believe.”

“Old age ain't no place for sissies.”

“The plain truth is that I am not a fair man, and don't want to hear both sides.”

“To expect defeat is nine-tenths of defeat itself.”

- [aside: this could be the Dems' motto!]

“Complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers.”

“The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.”

“The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.”

“Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”

“I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.”

“Imagine the Creator as a stand up comedian - and at once the world becomes explicable.”

“The kind of man who wants government to adopt and enforce his ideas is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic.”

“The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.”

“If you want peace, work for justice.”

“Men become civilized not in proportion to their willingness to believe but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.”
... okay, there are a lot more, but I'm getting tired...

... based on these nuggets I might just seek out a volume of Mencken's writings!