Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

There are any number of similar webpages - this one's from HuffPost:
Memorial Day: How To Get Involved
The meaning behind Memorial Day is often overshadowed by excitement for weekend vacations, barbecues and beach days. This year, take time to honor the men and women that have lost their lives serving in the armed forces.
Ways to get involved:
• Honor fallen heroes by volunteering at a veterans cemetery on Memorial Day or any time of year. Volunteers can give cemetery tours, help with maintenance, raise and lower flags and more. Use the National Cemetery Administration website to find a volunteer opportunity near you.
[note: Santa Fe National Cemetery is the nearest to Buffoon.]

• Attend a Memorial Day parade. Search the U.S. Memorial Day Parade Directory to find an event in your community.

• The American Red Cross is asking volunteers to honor Memorial Day by giving blood to save American lives. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit the Red Cross website to make an appointment to donate.
[note: in central NM, United Blood Services handles blood donations - not the Red Cross!]

• Bring a smile to the faces of deployed troops around the world by sending them a USO Care Package. Each care package is $25.

In memory of...


Phil Hutton was in the class ahead of mine in high school: Tulsa Central HS class of 1969.
We were in French class together for two years.
He was the Band Major of Tulsa Central High School's marching band, and held a brown belt in karate.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army upon graduation, and was killed in Viet Nam 31 Aug 1970.
He was 19 years old.
Home of Record: Tulsa, OK
Date of birth: 10/18/1950
Service: Army of the United States
Grade at loss: E4
Rank: Sergeant
Note: Posthumous Promotion as indicated
ID No: 448521944
MOS: 11B20: Infantryman
Length Service: **
Start Tour: 10/14/1969
Incident Date: 08/31/1970
Casualty Date: 08/31/1970
Age at Loss: 19
Location: Long Khanh Province, South Vietnam
Remains: Body recovered
Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright
Casualty Reason: Ground casualty
Casualty Detail: Gun or small arms fire
URL: /
ON THE WALL Panel 07W Line 027

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Just for fun: Medal of Honor (Memorial Day: part the third)

The President of the United States
in the name of
The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor


Rank and Organization: Private, Company B, 47th Ohio Infantry. Place and Date: At Vicksburg, Miss., 3 May 1863. Entered Service At: Adrian, Mich. Born: 11 October 1841, Monroe County, Mich. Date Of Issue: 12 September 1911.

Citation: Was one of a party that volunteered and attempted to run the enemy's batteries with a steam tug and 2 barges loaded with subsistence stores.
No - I don't know if Peter Sype is one of my ancestors... BUT: my son's name is Peter.

This has been a "just for fun" Memorial Day post.

Memorial Day... part deux

My USMC bud is back in the States - with his folks in Maryland.
There'll be no more "notes from all over" on Buffoon featuring excerpts from his weekly reports.

Memorial Day for me, then, will in part honor his service, and give thanks for his safe return.

Will MSM pick this up?

From HuffPost:
What Have we Bought for $1 Trillion?
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Congresswoman from Illinois
Posted: May 28, 2010 05:37 PM
As of 10:06 on Sunday, May 30th, we will have spent $1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What, indeed, have we bought with $1,000,000,000,000?

not a surprise...

... but disappointing:
After another failure, BP scrambles to stem leak
By BEN NUCKOLS, Associated Press Writer
30 May 2010
ROBERT, La. – With BP declaring failure in its latest attempt to plug the uncontrolled gusher feeding the worst

oil spill in U.S. history, the company is turning to yet another mix of risky undersea robot maneuvers and longshot odds to keep crude from flowing into the Gulf.

Six weeks after the catastrophe began,

oil giant BP PLC is still casting about for at least a temporary fix to the spewing well underneath the Gulf of Mexico that's fouling beaches, wildlife and marshland.

Maybe BP oughta think about sponsoring a contest - the premise being that the best way to generate good ideas is to generate a LOT of ideas.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Did you know...

... that I had an illicit affair with Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN) in 2005?
... and that both of were married to others at the time?

No? Neither did I!
... but I may be publishing the down-and-dirty details in October!

Memorial Day: Monday

... and yes, it marks the beginning of non-astronomical summer, and is a great excuse to get together with family and friends for picnics & barbecues... but...
It's a national holiday for a reason.
Take a few moments to remember all those who have given their lives in service to our country.

More later.

a poorly-remembered bumper sticker

The world would be a better place if education were fully funded,
and the Pentagon had to hold bake-sales!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

final show

Once Upon a Theatre's last performance of the Spring, 2010 season was today. I was "Honest lawman, Sheriff Fearless!".
Final performance of "Dirty Work at Clean Water Creek" presented to 4th- and 5th-graders at Navajo Elementary School here in Albuquerque.

Key learning: 4th- and 5th-grade audiences are DELIGHTFUL!
... heck, even the mid-school audiences - 6th- thru 8th-grade - were appreciative... tho' way too cool to "Boo, Hiss", and "Applaud, Cheer"! - as required by melodrama!

This was my first PAYING acting gig.
24 shows.
4th- thru 8th-grade.

The point? Introducing school kids to LIVE THEATER!
There are worse goals in this world.

flashback to a '70s variety show

nope: i don't remember the show.
But I do remember Cass Elliot & Andy Williams dueling it out!
Andy Williams:
"It's only words
And words, are all I have
To take your heart away."

"Words of love, so soft and tender,
Won't win a girl's heart anymore."
... so I'm thinking about this when I read:
Obama On Spill: We're In Charge
"The American people should know that from the moment the disaster began, the federal government has been in charge of the response effort," he said. "BP is responsible for this horrific disaster and we will hold them fully accountable."
Yeah, W SAID great things, too.

Will Obama deliver?

... ooh, ooh,... i found the YouTube:

Done deal in the House!

U.S. House approves 'DADT' repeal
By William Douglas and David Lightman | McClatchy Newspapers
27 May 2010
WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted 234 to 194 Thursday night to repeal the military's 17-year-old policy that prohibits gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the nation's armed forces.

just another self-referencing post

earlier this evening i wrote:
What's surprised me about repeal of DADT is how quickly the majority of my fellow citizens have come 'round to the point of view, "Who cares about someone else's sexual orientation?"
I'm pretty sure most of my GLBT friends & acquaintances wouldn't agree with the adverb, "quickly".

But in context:
- 1952 (the year I was born): Alan Turing - founder of theoretical computer science, leader of British code-breakers during WWII - was convicted of "gross indecency" and forced to undergo hormone therapy... he committed suicide in 1954.
- Vietnam era & the draft: one way to avoid being drafted was to assert your homosexuality.

Today? - in my lifetime: openly gay soldiers can serve honorably in the U.S. military.

... It's that "in my lifetime" bit that underlies the adjective, "quickly".

I note that back when gainfully employed, my employer - a Fortune 100 company - actively promoted acceptance of GLBT employees, and sponsored an internal GLBT employee group.

My very first on-stage theatrical experience - 1995, ACLOA/MTS's production of G&S The Pirates of Penzance - was marred only by the presence of a militantly anti-gay contingent in the cast. Most of us wouldn't have noticed - 'twas the militantly anti-gay contingent that made sexual-orientation an issue.
I've not encountered this since. Particularly in theater it makes very little sense to make an issue of sexual-orientation.
Folks have learned. For all I know, many of my cast-mate's still harbor militantly anti-gay sentiments... but they don't act on those sentiments during the show!
(akin to latent racism in the '60s military cited by TPM reader VJ...)

Sexual-orientation just doesn't matter in most everyday situations.
... and most of my fellow citizens now recognize this fact.

From 2002 made-for-TV biopic of Bill Porter, Door to door:
God created us all, Shelly. He doesn't make mistakes.
When this sentiment makes its way into a commercial TV show, things are looking up!

Virtual relationships

Since the advent of easy email, I've been continually amazed at the responsiveness of total strangers to requests for information.
When I want to find best source of info I not infrequently try to find some academic expert, and ask her or him for advice - and folks almost always reply!
(Sorting thru tons of Google results can be daunting, and if I really don't know anything - a frequent occurence - I've not the ability to separate wheat from chaff.)

Occasionally these brief interactions - or ones like them - develop into protracted exchanges, lasting years.

Every once in a while I get to meet these folks in person - always a delight!
Most of the time the relationship remains 'virtual'.

Just a couple of folks with some - usually limited - common interest... and some time on their hands.

Oops! - I forgot...

I must be gettin' old: I forgot "The anniversary that only I celebrate: W's War College Speech, 24 May 2004".

W's "five steps in our plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom":
1. hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government.
2. help establish the stability and security in Iraq that democracy requires.
still waiting... how many dead in car-bombs this year???
3. continue rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure.
??? - has anyone heard how many hours of electricity Baghdad has these days?
... how 'bout water & sewage?
4. encourage more international support.
... is ANYONE other than U.S. now engaged with Iraq? Oh, wait - China has a big contract to refurbish oil fields!
Anyone else???
5. move toward free, national elections that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people.
... and recent elections even suggest relatively smooth transition of administrations!
2 out of 5... six years later!

And let's not forget W's proposed gift to the Iraqi people!
"America will fund the construction of a modern, maximum security prison."

Diligent readers will recall the fate of this promise.
Report: Empty Prison in Iraq a $40M 'Failure'
US watchdogs: Empty prison in Iraq 'monument' to waste and contractor shortcomings
Ah, yes! - W's gift to the Iraqi people: "a monument to waste".

Eventually the U.S. will simply walk out of Iraq.
All hell may break loose, or not.
Whatever - it'll no longer be OUR problem.

Why not today?

Note: the really fun thing about observing this anniversary is that all I have to do it copy/paste from preceding year's post!

DADT & Social Psych 101

From TPM reader VJ:
Zero Tolerance
In 1960 when your dad and I were in the Army blacks had only been integrated in the services for 12 years.
Sounds like a long time, but there were members of the "old" Army -- from WW2 and the South mostly -- who had never gotten used to it. -- even after 12 years and they made it clear when no blacks were present and after a few beers.

But -- big but -- they smiled, sucked it up and never dared showed any open dislike for their black comrades. To do so meant to face serious discipline. And the blacks wouldn't put up with it anyway.

I foresee a parallel situation when DADT gets implemented. Career people won't risk it with openly hostile behavior.
There's a construct in social psychology called "attitude": what does a person believe, how does he/she rationalize this belief, and what behavior derives from this belief.
Attitudes are embedded in a social milieu. They are learned and practiced in society.
They aren't in-born.

Tons of research reveals the easiest way to change attitudes is to change behavior.
Logical, well-reasoned argument doesn't work.
Appeals to emotion, empathy, sympathy... don't work.
Get a person to change his behavior, and his beliefs and rationalizations will follow.

The Civil Rights fights of the '60s provide many excellent examples.
White folks went from "Hell, no, I won't serve niggers!" to "Of course we serve blacks!" in a fairly short time - based on legally-enforced behavioral changes.
[see, e.g., Chuck Colson: "Get 'em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow."]

VJ's TPM comment reinforces this.

What's surprised me about repeal of DADT is how quickly the majority of my fellow citizens have come 'round to the point of view, "Who cares about someone else's sexual orientation?"
It's helped that conservative military types have started stating the obvious: Gays have been serving in America's armed forces forever! - They just couldn't be open about it!

Repeal of DADT passed Senate Armed Services Committee today.
House vote today.

... oh, yeah: just for fun: the crazy conservative religious right now spouting nonsense about Hitler's homosexuality, disease-tainted blood flowing through the military, and imminent onset of fellatio-rapes in barracks... well, these are the same folks who justified slavery and Jim Crow laws on a Biblical basis: Blacks, as sons of Ham, were destined by G-d for eternal servitude:
Hamitic is an historical term for the peoples supposedly descended from Noah's son Ham, paralleling Semitic and Japhetic.
The term Hamitic originally referred to the peoples believed to have been descended from the biblical Ham, one of the Sons of Noah. When Ham dishonors his father, Noah pronounces a curse on him, stating that the descendents of his son Canaan will be "servants of servants".

[Wikipedia, Hamitici]

MTS wish-list: spring cleaning, anyone?

Here's a list of stuff MTS needs.
Note: MTS is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, so donations are tax-deductible!
Be sure to include your name and
address with all donations.

Clothing Racks
Hangers, especially skirt and plastic
Clothes Steamer
Coats: Fur and Dress
All Accessories
Hoop Slips
Laundry Baskets
Large Plastic Bins
Plastic Drawer Units
Sewing Supplies: thread, notions, zippers, buttons, fringe, etc
Wig Heads
Tools of all kinds
Screws and other hardware (hinges, doorknobs, etc)
Building Supplies
Extension cords and power strips
File Cabinet
Folding Tables and Chairs
Here's the physical address:
6427 Linn Street, NE
Albuquerque, NM

[Linn is one block north of Central, east of San Pedro NE]
... and here's the mailing address:
Musical Theatre Southwest
P.O. Box 81052
Albuquerque, NM 87198

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Personal news: a personal update

Yesterday I posted about MTS warehouse fire which destroyed 50 years of costumes, props, set pieces...

This loss has pretty much overwhelmed me.
I'm thinking energy that went into blogging might be going into helping MTS rebuild.

note: ABQ's loss gets noticed. From
Albuquerque's Major Civic Theatre Loses History in Warehouse Fire

Buffoon's financial predictions (... or, "Yes, I'm psychic")

Back on 3 Jan, Buffoon published this:
When to sell
note: this financial advice is FREE OF CHARGE... and worth every penny!

Earlier I tried to call a bottom - and didn't do too badly.

Now I'm trying to call a peak.
My best bet?
- DJIA between 10.7K & 11.75K.
... splitting the difference ~11K.

Implication: hold on for just a bit longer.
[note: NO prediction regarding TIMING will be attempted.]
How'd I do?

Here's DJIA for past 6 months:

Note: high = 11.205K on 27 April 2010... pretty close to dead-center of my range!
(dead center = 11.225K)

Now: if I'd just start ACTING on my financial brilliance!

Oh, good: someone else noticed (... or, "Yes, I'm psychic!") [update]

[Update: here's the link to Rachel - That was then, and this is then]
Tonight Rachel ran a piece on the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster... and pointed out that 30 years ago there was a massive blow-out on an off-shore rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
She highlighted that the technologies used back then are the same ones being tried today to get the blow-out under control.

Alert readers may recall this post from 3 May:
Hmmm... just wondering
Oil spills DO happen.
No - they're not daily events, but the risk is huge (risk = probability x $$$).
... so, why haven't oil companies invested in research to deal with oil spills???
As far as I can tell, the same technologies are used today as were being used 30 years ago.
Yep: I'm psychic!

Again: if you want to know what folks'll be discussing next week, read Buffoon today!

Repost - but worth it

"I've looked at life from both sides now,
From win and lose, and still somehow
It's life's illusions i recall.
I really don't know life at all."

Getting crude

BP: We're bringing oil to American shores

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Any bets?

5 weeks of gushing oil: 'Top kill' plug readied
Anyone want to give me odds on "'Top kill' plug" working???

This after...
So, why didn't they use this one first?
BP confident latest try to capture oil will work
What is this? The third try? The fourth?

Why am I somewhat less-than-confident?

... then there's still this question:
an excellent question!
Month after oil spill, why is BP still in charge?
Stop the madness!


Albuquerque's premier musical theater company suffered a huge property loss today: the Musical Theatre Southwest warehouse burned to the ground.
Every costume, every prop, every set piece: gone.
(on the bright side, such as it is: no one was injured.)

Please: if you've any spare $$$, if anyone approaches you for $$$... give to rebuild MTS!
MTS has been thru the years one of the jewels of ABQ's cultural establishment.

Musical Theatre Southwest
PO Box 81052
Albuquerque, NM 87198

This is getting fun!

Republican candidates for NM Governor & Lt. Governor are competing fiercely in TV ads - each accusing the others of being too liberal!
It's a joy to watch!

[note: this is essentially the same primary message articulated by Steve Pearce against Heather Wilson for NM Senate GOP nominee in 2008. It worked like a charm - Pearce got the Republican nomination... then got TROUNCED by Dem. Udall in the general!]

I shoulda known better...

... i've touched on this before.

I got another call from Bill Halter's campaign today, requesting $$$.
If I could afford it I'd give him more $$$.
... but I can't.

On the bright side: I'm glad I gave him small $$$ way back when... even if his campaign keeps pestering me.

This is the guy I voted for?

Troops to the Mexican border: Obama to send 1,200
... couple this with Afghan 'troop withdrawal strategy', and 'standing up' to BP... and I'm wondering: other than being a nice guy, what does Obama bring to the Presidency? (see also, Jimmy Carter)

There's a lot of crazy out there today...

... it'll take me a while to sort through today's headlines to figure out to which I've the energy to respond.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reason for hope, or a cruel hoax?

From HuffPost:
Obama's War Supplemental: Recent Reports Strengthen The Case Against It
[emphasis added]
... from USMC bud's latest letter:
I had to move out of our tent today. For the first time in 5.5 months, I will have a roof over my head. From inside, I'd have no clue I wasn't at Quantico - this building may actually be nicer. Mind you, that's a problem. When you're building permanent structures, you're in the wrong war.
[emphasis added]
... and then there's this from McClatchy:
McChrystal calls Marjah a 'bleeding ulcer' in Afghan campaign
Permanent structures, "War Supplementals", and "bleeding ulcers"... sounds a lot like a disaster from which we've no inclination to extricate ourselves.
Where's Nixon when you need him? Declare victory & get out - NOW!

... oh, yeah: Stop the Madness!!!

Notes from all over...

My USMC bud writes, in letter from Camp Leatherneck dated 17 May:
Yesterday was unbelievable. We had an enormous fire here, but I am without computers at the moment, so I can't see if this made the news, or even read any internal reports. Trust me, it was big. I assume we will have some lessons learned about storing old tires in the fuel farm, or whatever happened. About an hour into the storm, the dust storm from Hell blew in. This is not leading me to favor Helmand province over Ouray County long term.
Here's a pic, from

[Marines battle fire aboard Camp Leatherneck]

For what it's worth: this WAS covered by CNN International:
Fire and Sand Storm at Camp Leatherneck Afghanistan

... wasn't something like this someone's slogan?

"If he can't handle Rachel Maddow, how's he gonna handle al Qaeda?"

Eating their own

GOP tries to upend NC campaign backed by tea party
I'm thinkin' I oughta send Tim D'Annunzio some $$$ - he's the so-called "tea party" GOP candidate for NC-8 congressional seat.

He's in a run-off with establishment candidate, Harold Johnson... 22 June.
(FYI: D'Annunzio got a higher % of votes than Johnson in the 4 May primary!)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

2nd link to this post...

... first one just included the link... but just in case you hadn't the inclination to follow the link, here's the full post from friend Woody:
The Well-Armed Lamb: The Perils of "Libertarianism"/Conservative Values
According to GOPologist/lickspittle/toady, WaPo's David Weigle today, "Paul believes, as many conservatives believe, that the government should ban bias in all of its institutions but cannot intervene in the policies of private businesses."

Which would be an unexceptional position, if those businesses would simply disconnect from the ALL public services which make it possible for them to function in racist/discriminatory fashion: hiways/streets, police/fire protection, water lines, etc--to which ALL the people make some contribution.

[emphasis added]
Again: why is no one else making this point?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

futurology: brief reflections on popular culture

I'm watching a 1966 "Batman" movie (Adam West as Batman, Burt Ward as Robin, Cesar Romero as The Joker, Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, Julie Newmar as Catwoman).
... anyway...

... the movie features high-falutin' computers, all with blinking lights.

I am reminded thereby of Star Trek & Lt. Uhura. "Computer, speak to me..."

Voice recognition was widely anticipated.
Hasn't really happened.
... 'tho GPS devices DO talk to us!

BUT: not one of these popular-culture future-looking shows anticipated hand-held devices with more computing power than what was back in the '60s a supercomputer!
iPods? iPhones? iPads? GPS? - nope, not a bit of 'em!
(... tho' I suppose Star Trek's Tricorders came sort of close.)

Nope - computers were all envisaged as huge machines, with blinking lights...
The notions of personal computing & networks weren't even vaguely anticipated, let alone handheld devices linked via a powerful network, supported by communications satellites.

Today's science news?:
A step to artificial life: Manmade DNA powers cell
My bet? Whatever revolutionary devices/inventions are today anticipated as a result of this achievement will bear little resemblance to the reality 10, 20, or 30 years hence!

We're just not that imaginative a species!

personal stuff

Mother-in-law & daughter showed up this morning to help put kitchen back together.
(Yes: this was STILL not completed!)

... anyway: after about 3 hrs work, they had it pretty much done!

Daughter even cleared off the dining room table - our repository for this-that-and-t'other items.

The public areas of the house are now more-or-less picked-up.
Now to clean!

("Public areas" = kitchen, den, dining room, living room, entry hall; non-public areas = office & sewing room, which are both still a disaster!)

Why is no one else making this point?

The inherent dishonesty of libertarian policy, from friend Woody:
The Well-Armed Lamb: The Perils of "Libertarianism"/Conservative Values

Friday, May 21, 2010

c&l bounce

153 visitors today!

note: in past couple of months, 'buffoon' has gone from routine dozen, to routine two dozen, to 30, to 40-or-so visitors/day.
i keep waiting for exponential growth - hasn't happened.

BUT: i'm very grateful to mike over at c&l for his every-once-in-a-while promotion of 'buffoon'!

great verb: "tame"!

GOP officials ponder how to help, and tame, Paul
Sorry, folks: he's yours!

Me? I'm giddy that the GOP has turned itself into the Tea Party movement!
(note: don't blame me - you did it to yourselves!)
Now - live with the electoral results!

in 30 yrs i'll be dead, so why should i care?

Texas board adopts new social studies curriculum
For a while there it seemed there was hope that Texas's School Board would come around.

In the best of all possible worlds: Capitalist publishers will ignore their largest market and continue to publish LEGITIMATE history.

... I'm not holding my breath.

an excellent question!

Month after oil spill, why is BP still in charge?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Personal observations (mostly 'good news')

Observation 1:
Politics, religion, and life are NOT co-extensive!
I maintain friendships with folks whose politics I despise, and who view me as a hell-bound heathen.
These accidents somehow don't prevent us from valuing one another as people.

Observation 2:
Major League Baseball Interleague play sucks! - I'm NOT a fan of the recent tradition of AL & NL playing against each other in mid-season.
Let's keep the game pure!

He's given an inch... will he go a mile?

(full disclosure: I've voted for Libertarian candidates!)
Rand Paul comments about civil rights stir controversy
By Krissah Thompson and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 21, 2010
... "Let me be clear: I support the Civil Rights Act because I overwhelmingly agree with the intent of the legislation, which was to stop discrimination in the public sphere and halt the abhorrent practice of segregation and Jim Crow laws," he [Rand Paul] said.
"I think that there was an overriding problem in the South so big that it did require federal intervention in the '60s..."

[emphasis added]
So - the Libertarian candidate acknowledges that there can be "overriding" problems which require "federal intervention".

My advice to all (free of charge, and worth every penny!): press him on this point.
How far is he willing to go in his acknowledgement that "overriding problems" require "federal intervention"???
What, for him, would constitute an "overriding problem"?

This is a HUGE opening in the debate! - YES!!! - once you acknowledge the federal government's obligation to act to correct a gross injustice in ANY sphere, you've pretty much bought the farm!

A bumper-sticker

I child-proofed my home
but they still get in!

Happy "World Metrology Day"!

(thanks to Rachel for clueing me in!)

Today is World Metrology Day!

How do you measure something... anything?
If you were to measure it again, would you get the same answer?
If someone else were to measure it, would they get the same answer?
Is the yardstick in your kitchen calibrated the same as the yardstick in your garage?
Does your bathroom scale weigh you the same as your mom's? Which is right?
What does "right" mean???

The World Metrology Day poster 2010 shows a photo of the Great Belt east bridge (Storebæltsbroen), Denmark.
Each of the east bridge’s 55 prefabricated 48-metre, 500-ton bridge sections were measured in detail in order to adjust the four hangers which carry the section, to ensure the correct tension.
The measured, and expected, deviations from the theoretical measurements required a hanger adjustment of ± 30 mm.
The adjustment of each hanger pin was determined to an accuracy of ± 1 mm.
A wide network of contractors and subcontractors from 10 European countries were involved in building the bridge 1988 - 1997.
Reliable and verified measurements were essential in this huge and complex collaboration.

Brief history of immigration policy: Revolution to Republic

Just for fun.
One of the indictments brought against George III in the Declaration of Independence:
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
George III was inhibiting immigration - and this was viewed as a BAD THING!

Twenty (20) years later? The Alien Acts!
Naturalization Act of 1798
The Naturalization Act, passed by Congress on June 18, 1798, increased the amount of time necessary for immigrants to become naturalized citizens in the United States from five to fourteen years. Although it was passed under the guise of protecting national security, most historians conclude it was really intended to decrease the number of voters who disagreed with the Federalist political party. At the time, most immigrants (namely Irish and French) supported Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans, the political opponents of the Federalists. This act was repealed in 1802.
followed by An Act Concerning Aliens:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That it shall be lawful for the President of the United States at any time during the continuance of this act, to order all such aliens as he shall judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States, or shall have reasonable grounds to suspect are concerned in any treasonable or secret machinations against the government thereof, to depart out of the territory of the United States, within such time as shall be expressed in such order, which order shall be served on such alien by delivering him a copy thereof, or leaving his usual abode, and returned to the office of the Secretary of State, by the marshal or other person to whom the same shall be directed.
[note: that's ONE sentence!]
The Federalists were terrified of the masses rising up to assert their republican rights, as embodied in the Declaration of Independence.

John Adams, Alexander Hamilton: they trusted not the mob!
The example of the French Revolution, with its republican excesses (aka, The Terror), convinced 'em that French sympathizers - including the nascent Republicans (led by Jefferson & Madison) - would destroy our young Republic.

We've been here before... in fact, we started out here: Xenophobia is not new to our American republic.
Neither is the Tea Party!

We've survived so far.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

the 20% opposition

Following yesterday's KY GOP primary results I wrote that I took Rand Paul's victory as a good sign - that his Senate candidacy would drive away sane Republicans (perhaps mythical creatures), and alienate independents.

Upon reflection?... well, I've no good reason to change this assessment.
In fact, I'm hoping that Palin will make many, many trips to Kentucky in support of Rand Paul.
I figure that a candidate who bases his campaign on an appeal to 20% of the electorate doesn't have a chance in November.

No - sane Republicans aren't going to vote for the Democratic candidate.
They'll stay home.

Again: a Republican candidate that bases his campaign on an appeal to 20% of the electorate can only be good news for Dems!

following a long tradition...

... yep, I'm gonna post my email to Rep. Heinrich, Senators Udall & Bingaman, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and Speaker Pelosi!
Today it's BP.
Yesterday it was Goldman-Sachs.

Whenever ANYONE utters the noun-phrase, "industry self-regulation": LAUGH OUT LOUD!

This noun-phrase ought be greeted with more than the now-trite snicker accompanying the noun-phrase, "Military Intelligence".

There IS such a thing as "industry self-regulation".
It is equivalent to "NO REGULATION"!!!

If this be socialism, so be it.
Socialism is GOOD!
Socialism protects you and me from the rapacious predation of unbridled capitalists!

(For what it's worth: it may not win you many votes, but could you bring yourself to utter the term "socialism" often?
In the first place, this will help defuse the right-wing's insistence on equating 'socialism' with evil.
In the second place, "socialism" is GOOD!
"Socialism" - at least as understood by the GOP - protects you and me from the rapacious predations of unbridled capitalists!
... Maybe ask your GOP colleagues if they really want to return to the Dickensian 19th century of unbridled capitalism - child labor; amputated fingers, hands, and limbs; 14-hr, 7-day work-weeks.
Ask 'em about the Triangle Shirt-Waist fire... )

Links on right-hand navigation bar will take you to contact forms!

A gentle reminder: laugh out loud

Now it's BP.
Yesterday it was Goldman-Sachs.

Whenever ANYONE utters the noun-phrase, "industry self-regulation": LAUGH OUT LOUD!

This noun-phrase ought be greeted with more than the now-trite snicker accompanying the noun-phrase, "Military Intelligence".

There IS such a thing as "industry self-regulation".
It is equivalent to "NO REGULATION"!!!

If this be socialism, so be it.
Socialism is GOOD!
Socialism protects you and me from the rapacious predation of unbridled capitalists!

What the...???

From HuffPost:
BP, Coast Guard Officers Block Journalists From Filming Oil-Covered Beach (VIDEO)
... When CBS tried to film a beach with heavy oil on the shore in South Pass, Louisiana, a boat of BP contractors, and two Coast Guard officers, told them to turn around, or be arrested.

"This is BP's rules, it's not ours," someone aboard the boat said. Coast Guard officials told CBS that they're looking into it.
"BP's rules"???

I don't know if the beach was public or private.
AND I acknowledge that govt has a right to keep folks away when imminent danger threatens.

BUT: keeping news crew off a beach because "these are BP's rules"???
What the fuck?!?

Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

reading tea leaves

Last night Rachel told us that specific election results didn't matter so much as harbingers of November general election as would TURN-OUT.

So, here are some numbers:
PA (99% reporting):
Senate Rep voters: 816,292
Senate Dem voters: 1,043,037

Governor Rep voters: 848,589
Governor Dem voters: 1,016,405
Okay - looks like PA shows more enthusiasm among Dems... at least based on absolute turn-out.
(It'd be nice to know absolute numbers as % of registered voters, but quick search has not turned up voter registration data.)

KY (119 of 120 precincts reporting):
Senate Rep voters: 351,927
Senate Dem voters: 520,412
Again - in only state-wide election, Dems outperform GOP in absolute turn-out.
(... and again, it'd be nice to know % relative to registered voters.)

Sen Rep voters (82% precincts reporting): 123,431 (=133,968 prorated to 89% reporting)

Sen Dem voters (89% precincts reporting): 310,741
Again, Dem absolute turn-out eclipses GOP - by a decent margin.

So - IF primary voter turnout is predictive of turnout in general elections, these three nationally-prominent contests bode well for Dems come November.

... IF...

Our far-flung correspndents

From my USMC bud in Afghanistan:
Things the military is good at
If you get wounded in battle, the military will pull out all the stops to get you into surgery in minutes. There are helicopters all over the place waiting to take off (actually, they are Army Blackhawks just down the row from here) and take you to surgeons who are standing by. Yes, this is extremely costly, as the helicopters and surgeons have very low utilization. But at least the Marines in the field really are confident that if something happens, they won’t bleed to death waiting for help.

When the worst does happen, you would be amazed at the reverence and sensitivity with which this is handled. It starts immediately at the scene, proceeds through solemn transfer ceremonies here at Leatherneck (where the deceased are moved to larger planes), and continues to Dover and through final burial. I once recommended the HBO movie Taking Chance, which portrays all of this very accurately.

[Above] is a memorial to SSgt James Cawley, F 2/23, killed in action in the vicinity of Al Fajr, Iraq, in March 2003.

just for fun

As I said on the Senate floor on July 28, 2003, "much of the debate over global warming is predicated on fear, rather than science." I called the threat of catastrophic global warming the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."
[Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-OK) press release, 4 Jan 2005; emphasis added]
Today's science headline?
Greenland Rising Rapidly as Ice Melts
– Tue May 18, 3:50 pm ET
The ice is melting so fast in Greenland that the giant island is rising noticeably as the weight is lifted. In some spots, the land is rising 1 inch per year.
Worth a watch:
TED: Michael Specter -- The danger of science denial
[courtesy Woody over at The Well-Armed Lamb]

"Lincoln, Halter go to overtime in Ark. Senate race"

A run-off?
hmmm... I'd have preferred an outright Halter victory here... if only 'cuz then I wouldn't be getting quite so many "Give more $$$ to Halter" phone solicitations.

I honestly don't know if Lincoln is the evil witch I believe her to be, but her stance on healthcare reform just pissed me off!
If you're gonna caucus with Senate Dems, support 'em on major, party-defining legislation!

Could Halter win in November? Well - he HAS won state-wide office before!

"Specter loses in PA"

Again, I'm hoping this good news... but am reluctant to wager $$$ on November!

This "good news" theory: no honest Dem really believed Specter's conversion, and would be a less than enthusiastic voter come November. Perhaps Sestak will prove an inspirational candidate, attracting not only Dem base but Independents come November.

"Paul wins in KY"

I'm hoping this is good news... but not sure I want to bet any $$$ on November just yet.

"Good news" theory: pseudo-teabaggers, full-time "libertarians" will drive away the non-crazy wing of GOP, together with whatever Independents Kentucky might house.
This is the "NY-23" theory.
[note: I put "libertarians" in quotes 'cuz I'm not sure the younger Paul understands exactly what Libertarians really stand for!]

Oh, good: a modern-day dynasty in the making

Bristol Palin to hit speakers' circuit

Primaries today: OR, AR, KY, PA...

... I'll start paying attention this evening.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Uh-oh! - I may agree with Palin!

Sarah Palin: 'We're All Arizonans Now'
... but probably NOT in quite the way she means it!

My sentiment is something more along the lines of...
""THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

[First they came...]
So this time around, LET'S SPEAK UP!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Just for grins

... how come Condi's sexual orientation was never called into question???

Thursday, May 13, 2010

From a FB friend

"Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be killed."
~G.K. Chesterton

Worth a read


What a surprise!

AP IMPACT: US drug war has met none of its goals
By MARTHA MENDOZA, Associated Press Writer
13 May 2010
MEXICO CITY – After 40 years, the United States' war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.
Well, I suppose it IS a surprise that this is considered "news"!

Meanwhile, from my USMC bud in Afghanistan...
First, a news item
Mysterious Blight Destroys Afghan Poppy Harvest
Richard Oppel
May 12, 2010
Up to one-third of Afghanistan’s poppy harvest this spring has been destroyed by a mysterious disease, according to estimates revealed Wednesday by United Nations officials, potentially complicating the American and NATO military offensives this summer in the country’s opium-producing heartland.
Then his wry comment:
I wonder if 10 months from now the Marines will be applying fungicide to help save the poppy crop…
Ah, yes! ... and this is the supposed "good" war!

What if she were? ... so what???

Elena Kagan's Not Gay, Friends And Allies Say

from a not-so-farflung correspondent

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You'd think I'd learn

A month or so ago I sent small $$$ to Bill Halter (Dem primary opponent of Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas)... so now I get phone calls from Halter campaign wanting more $$$.

Yes - I should have anticipated this.
No, I didn't.

People who write better than I do

"The Rant" by Tom Degan: Oil Spills and B Movies

Thought for the day

"... Work consists of whatever a body is OBLIGED to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do."
- Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The "Shaggy" defense

No - I'd not heard of this till tonight, from Chris Hayes subbing for Rachel... but still...
"I just work here!"
Tell me again, what exactly was Mr. Fuld's job?
... and WHY was he getting paid many millions of dollars???

[For those of you old enough to remember the TV series Hogan's Heroes, I'll call this the "Sgt. Schultz defense":
For what it's worth, this defense was pioneered by Ken Lay, Enron's CEO.]
Yes, this is shameless reposting...

Forget Fuld.
Today it was BP's CEO, Lamar McKay, blaming TransOcean.
TransOcean's CEO, Steven Newman, blaming BP & Halliburton.
... and Halliburton's president, Tim Probert, blaming BP.

Tell me again: why do these titans get to take credit for success but not for failure???


just for fun

From a NYT theater review:
Billed as "an outrageous new comedy," this crass, charmless vehicle aims for contemporary farce, but plays like an episode of "How I Met Your Mother" that would be killed in the writers' room.
Bob Clines' direction is so mechanical that you start to watch for the actors' lips moving as they count beats while (literally, at times) tripping over one another on Robert Andrew Kovach's sterile set.
Sometimes it's just fun to read well-written insults.

Monday, May 10, 2010

and speaking of 'mothers'

a contest

Oil spill swells to 4M gallons; fixes days off yet
Contest: how would YOU stop the oil?

- the winner ought submit his/her suggestion to BP for real $$$.
... me? I'm just offering a competition!

i collect playing cards

Tea Party Sells ‘America’s Most Wanted’ Playing Cards With Pictures Of Federal Lawmakers
... think I'll order me a deck!

Just in case you, too, collect playing cards:
Tea Party Playing Cards

meanwhile, over there...

In Iraq's bloodiest day of 2010, attacks kill 100
How many were killed in domestic violence during Saddam's reign?

Do the Iraqis celebrate W's birthday as a national holiday?
Why not???

this should be fun!

Obama taps Kagan to give court historic 3rd female
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer
10 May 2010... Less excited, Republican senators said they would give the nomination a long, hard look in potentially contentious summertime confirmation hearings.
"... a long, hard look..." Yeah, I can imagine... or maybe I can't.

How many ways will the Senate GOP find to say, "No"???

... has Kagan ever pronounced herself a "wise feminista"?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Oops - I forgot...

40 years ago last Tues: 4 May 1970...
... but it's never to late for CSNY:

Best news of the year!

Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke

... but I'll still keep taking the "control your cholesterol" tablets!

to all you mothers out there:

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

semi pointless

Let me express my gratitude to and appreciation for
FaceBook friends
Buffoon followers
Random email correspondents
... and, oh yeah - flesh-and-blood friends!
I ccntinue to be mildly amused by all my correspondents!
... and I am thankful! - otherwise it would just be petty politics, day after day.

Mature Landscaping: Poisoning Pigeons In The Park

I'm not the only Tom Lehrer fan out there!
Mature Landscaping: Poisoning Pigeons In The Park

Favorite quotations

"Shut up," he explained.
[Ring Lardner, The Young Immigrants]
Slightly longer:
I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did.
I said I didn't know.

[Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi]
(The second one has come in useful on more than one occasion!)

Mom's birthday today!

93 years, and still feisty!

My oldest sister is hosting the celebration.
I'll be bringing homemade ice cream - french vanilla & raspberry sherbet.
(the french vanilla requires egg yolks; the sherbet requires egg whites... it's a nice two-fer).

... which reminds me: i need to start the ice cream!
till later!

This is probably good advice!

Never go to war without your trombone or tuba.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Our far-flung correspondents: topological observations

Again from my USMC bud.
Speaking of smoking dope, remember how I brought nice things back from Senegal and Korea? Well, this isn’t Senegal or Korea. I did, however, locate the most geometrically complex objects in Afghanistan that aren’t obviously used for smoking dope. Careful observers will note that all objects pictured have the same topology. At their present rate of development, I expect the Afghans to discover the ‘bagel’ or ‘tea cup’ topology in approximately 7000 years.
For what it's worth (not much): the objects pictured (rock, cup, saucer) are all topologically equivalent to a sphere. Imagine you have a lump of clay which you've molded into a ball. Without tearing, ripping, or poking a hole in it, you can transform that ball into any of the shapes shown. The 'bagel' or 'tea-cup' object has a hole - the hole in the bagel, the hole made by the handle of the teacup. Bagels and teacups are topologically equivalent objects.

In recent news: A Russian mathematician, Grigori Perelman, was awarded a Fields Medal for proving that a topological property of 3-dimensional spheres extends to 4-dimensional spheres (the Poincare Conjecture... with Perelman's proof, no longer a conjecture, but a theorem). (Strangely, that this property extended to 5- and higher-dimensional spheres was the easier problem.) This guy turned down the medal. On 18 March 2010, Perelman was awarded a Millennium Prize ($1M) for solving the problem. He turned down the award.

Our far-flung correspondents: one sabbatical ago

My USMC bud frequently includes a "One Sabbatical Ago" feature in his weekly reports.
One Sabbatical Ago (May, 2003) he was deployed on Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This week's feature includes the following, for which I can legitimately claim some credit: I sent him the tabloid he's reading!
Side trip to Babylon. Not only was it cool to see where Jesus grew up (... don’t bother to check the actual Bible), but I got to go to the stadium where Saddam fed Christians to lions – and read about Saddam feeding Christians to lions.

Our far-flung correspondents

From my USMC bud in Afghanistan:
I’ve taken essentially the same picture after the first big wind storm in each base camp I’ve visited in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and now Afghanistan (in Iraq, I only visited dirt). Eventually, even Marines learn to stake down their Porta-Potties. On this day, 12 of the 13 on my usual running route were blown down, with the last one blocked by 2 that had already fallen.
The blue & white objects at right are two of the cans that we live in, unassembled.
Speaking of storms, we just had the worst dust storm I have ever experienced. Unfortunately, it was at night, so I couldn’t take a picture. This is one from back in my Dwyer days. Cameras now have special modes for sunsets, fireworks, pets, etc. I need one with ‘dust storm’ mode. This storm looked like the world was ending, but the photo is unimpressive.
Entirely theoretical question: if you can’t navigate 150’ to the bathroom because there is 2 foot visibility, both for you and everyone else, is it okay…well, never mind.
Everyone else wanted a picture of the end of the world as well, but nobody I know got a good shot of it. Oh, and the world survived, but it got really dusty.

Game on!

A previous post references a FaceBook comment which noted:
"If there were any truth to the idea that a particular name can guarantee a particular character trait for the child — or vice versa — most people would be named Vaguely Dissatisfied. Or Kinda Bitter."
I suggested that "Mildly Amused" would be another popular name.

TedTheCat joined the game, suggesting:
Happily Apathetic.
Quietly Resigned.
Proudly Ignorant.
If you'd like to join the game, please do!

The Golden Age

I am currently reading Gordon S. Wood's Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, and trying desperately - and futilely - to discern the civility that surely must have permeated all political discussions in our early Constitutional Republic.

No - even without formal political parties, the debates in 1792 were as rancorous as those today. The personal calumnies unleashed by one side against leaders of the other were, if anything, far more devastating and demeaning than anything seen today... even on Fox News!

... and one does come away with the sense that, for all his priggish prickliness, Washington was the only man who could have steered the ship of state in these first tumultuous years.
His reputation for virtue was acknowledged by all.
This seems to be only thing distinguishing those days from this: the reputation of the president (if not of the presidency - which one faction viewed with great suspicion).

shameless blogging

From Buffon follower JC's FaceBook posting:
This appeals to the curmudgeon in me. Except I am not old enough to be a curmudgeon, and hope never to be so old! "If there were any truth to the idea that a particular name can guarantee a particular character trait for the child — or vice versa — most people would be named Vaguely Dissatisfied. Or Kinda Bitter."
I pointed out that "curmudgeon" has more to do with attitude than age, and confessed pride in being a curmudgeon.

... and I think "Mildly Amused" would be in the top five most popular names!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Re-runs: the Republican fight song

Thanks to HS friend Ed for posting this on Facebook.
Yeah - I've posted it before, but it's just too good!

Groucho Marx (Prof. Quincy Adams Wagstaff), Horse Feathers, 1932.

Free advice for DNC (worth every penny!): acquire the rights to this clip to use in national ad campaign in October!

[... or maybe Rep. Cantor's (R-VA) now moribund policy group, the National Council for a New America, could use it in their effort to re-brand the GOP!]

Times Square bombing & bomber...

Loyal readers may have noticed my silence regarding the failed Times Square bombing and subsequent apprehension of the alleged perpetrator.

Our national media's coverage of terrorist events has been less than stellar.
In the days immediately following events all sorts of stuff gets published as "fact".
Recall the over-hyped news conference announcing the JFK airport plot a few years ago - you'd have believed the plotters were only minutes away from successfully unleashing an inferno on Long Island. 'Twasn't true.

The case of Faisal Shahzad is no less fluid, and no more credible.
"He's a lone wolf"... "No, he's in league with Pakistani Taliban"... "No, Pakistani Taliban disavow him"... "No, he's a convert to Catholicism abused by priest as a child"...
(Well - actually I've not seen that last one... but wait a couple of days!)

So - until the hysteria dies down and some real facts start emerging, I'll remain silent.

... I WILL note that Mr. Shahzad was Mirandized and is still talking.
Yes - criminal investigations really can proceed and be effecive within the rule of law... no matter what John McCain might say to the contrary.

Hmmm... something else going on?

Stocks plunge; Dow has record drop, then recovers
By TIM PARADIS, AP Business Writer
6 May 2010
NEW YORK – The stock market had one of its most turbulent days in history as the Dow Jones industrials fell to a loss of almost 1,000 points in less than half an hour on fears that Greece's debt problems could halt the global economic recovery.

The market's plunge came less than 90 minutes before the end of trading. The Dow's drop was its largest loss ever during the course of a trading day, but it recovered to a loss of 347 at the close. All the major indexes lost more than 3 percent.

There were reports that the sudden drop was caused by a trader who mistyped an order to sell a large block of stock. The drop in that stock's price was enough to trigger "sell" orders across the market.

[emphasis added]
Hmmm... Rachel tonight reported that several stocks fell to $0/share... while others sky-rocketed (e.g., from ~$35/share to $100,000/share).

So far no one is talking about a cyber-attack on NYSE.
Why not? ... or am I just being paranoid???

Does this look like normal activity to you???

Nature news

World's biggest beaver dam discovered in northern Canada
by Michel Comte and Jacques Lemieux
– Wed May 5, 2010
OTTAWA (AFP) – A Canadian ecologist has discovered the world's largest beaver dam in a remote area of northern Alberta, an animal-made structure so large it is visible from space.

Researcher Jean Thie said Wednesday he used satellite imagery and Google Earth software to locate the dam, which is about 850 metres (2,800 feet) long on the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Park

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Buffoon welcomes a new follower

Though she did comment
I don't know if I should read your blog if I'm going to get this angry.... jeez!!!
Well, nevertheless...Welcome to the neighborhood! Delighted to have you!!!

Oh, yeah: Happy Cinco de Mayo!

eBay currency index

The eBay item I was using to track USD/GBP conversion rate has been sold!

note 1:
Euro hits 14-month low vs dollar near $1.28
note 2:
Universal Currency Converter gives USD/GBP as 1.00 USD = 0.662346 GBP
Last time I checked my eBay index (9 Nov 2009), it was 1.000 USD = 0.602085666 GBP.

Thanks to TedTheCat for this

"bp: We're bringing oil to American shores."
Order info: DespairWear, $15.95.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It's not about them; it's about US!

From C&L:
McCain: Constitution shouldn't apply to brown US citizens
"Don't give this guy his Miranda rights until we find out what it's all about," McCain added.
Why don't Republicans recognize that the Bill of Rights isn't about the bad guys - it's about US! - It's OUR statement of what OUR legitimate government can and can't get away with.
It has nothing to do with the supposed badness of the accused, or the evil intent he harbored.
It has EVERYTHING to do with what we as citizens of an enlightened Republic expect of our government!

nope, this isn't from The Onion either

When I first saw this on FaceBook, I thought it was from The Onion.
Wrong again!
FOX News reports Mr. Rogers is evil
I seldom (never?) watch Fox News, and rely on KO & blogosphere to alert me to these items.

Monday, May 3, 2010

non-snark, non-political: if you've a few spare $$$

American Red Cross Responds to Historic Southern Floods
People can send a $10 donation to help those affected by disasters across the country by texting ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999
WASHINGTON, Monday, May 03, 2010 — The American Red Cross has opened more than two dozen shelters in response to a powerful weather system that generated tornadoes and caused severe flooding across the South.

As of Monday morning, the Red Cross and its partners had 28 shelters open across the South, including Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee. Tennessee was particularly hard hit, with some areas in the state receiving as much as a foot of rain, leading to numerous road closures and forcing evacuations. Nearly 1,000 Tennesseans stayed at a shelter on Sunday night.
"American Red Cross disaster relief services are free, a donated gift of the American people."

ARC Disaster Relief Fund.

Tell me about that infrastructure thing again

Boston works through 3rd day without drinking water
By Scott Malone and Ross Kerber Scott Malone And Ross Kerber
– Mon May 3, 2010
BOSTON (Reuters) – More than 2 million Boston area residents faced their third day without drinkable tap water on Monday, with many commuters having to start their workweek without their customary cup of coffee or tea.

Authorities said they had repaired a leak in a 10-foot (3 meter) pipe that had triggered the emergency, but told residents and businesses of Boston and most surrounding communities they should continue to boil water before drinking it.


The pipe in Weston, Massachusetts, a suburb about 15 miles west of Boston, burst on Saturday, initially pouring millions of gallons (liters) of potable water into the Charles River. Authorities drew on emergency water supplies, including local ponds, prompting the order to boil water.
Note: this was NOT the result of terrorist attack - just decaying, deteriorating BASIC infrastructure.
BORING infrastructure - a water main... that happened to supply Boston!

Roads, bridges, water mains, power lines & transformers... these aren't glamorous.
No politician is likely to want his name on a water main.
BUT: given a choice between a fancy, high-tech stealth fighter and a water main, I know where I'd put my $$$!

If you're into disaster movies...

TPM and HuffPost both have some pretty cool pix & vids of oil-rig disaster & ensuing oil spill.


Oil Spill TRIPLED In Size In 3 Days (VIDEO)

Fire In The Gulf: New Pictures Of The Deepwater Horizon
I'm betting there's $$$ to be made if you've got any brilliant - or even not so brilliant - ideas about how to deal with this mess.

The demi-god Greenspan

From HuffPost:
Greenspan Wanted Housing-Bubble Dissent Kept Secret
Ryan Grim
3 May 2010
As top Federal Reserve officials debated whether there was a housing bubble and what to do about it, then-Chairman Alan Greenspan argued that the dissent should be kept secret so that the Fed wouldn't lose control of the debate to people less well-informed than themselves.

"We run the risk, by laying out the pros and cons of a particular argument, of inducing people to join in on the debate, and in this regard it is possible to lose control of a process that only we fully understand," Greenspan said, according to the transcripts of a March 2004 meeting.

[emphasis added]
Can you say hubris???... and DANGEROUS hubris to boot: yes - let's restrict debate to the folks in this room - it woud be a bad thing to let any other ideas or opinions influence our unquestioning and unquestioned superhuman understanding.

Treatises have been written about this phenomenon - it's called GroupThink.
It is ALWAYS dangerous, and frequently disastrous (see, e.g., Bay of Pigs).

Note to policy-makers: if your boss EVER suggests stifling debate because only YOU are sufficiently well-informed to hold a valid opinion... well, that's when it's time to run to your nearest friendly reporter - even if you risk 'compromising' national security.
[I put 'compromising' in quotes because in reality it's the GroupThink bunker mentality that is the real threat to national security, NOT open debate!]

Snide aside: I don't think the demigod Greenspan knows what the term "fully understand" really means!

Hmmm... just wondering

Oil spills DO happen.
No - they're not daily events, but the risk is huge (risk = probability x $$$).
... so, why haven't oil companies invested in research to deal with oil spills???
As far as I can tell, the same technologies are used today as were being used 30 years ago.

not cast... sigh [addendum]

Hi Tillery will be Charlemagne in Landmark Musicals upcoming production of Pippin. 9 July - 1 Aug.
Info: 505-453-8844

addendum: i ought to find a different hobby. this acting thing pretty much requires rejection more than 50% of the time...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Pippin" audition today...

I sang "O, Isis und Osiris" from The Magic Flute... in German.

It worked. I got a call-back... for Charlemagne.
[note: I sang the song considerably faster than the YouTube!]

The call-back song is "War is a Science":

The lyrics feature this quite appropriate sentiment:
And if the fates feel frivolous
And all our plans they smother
Well suppose this war does shrivel us
There'll always be another!

It's a wonder Republicans reproduce!

From Think Progress:
Cuccinelli channels John Ashcroft, censors Roman goddess’ clothing on the Virginia seal.
The seal depicts the Roman goddess Virtus, or virtue, wearing a blue tunic draped over one shoulder, her left breast exposed. But on the new lapel pins Cuccinelli recently handed out to his staff, Virtus’ bosom is covered by an armored breastplate.
Here's the extremely realistic, life-like image in question:

I note that a Republican DA in Wisconsin recently...
In a thinly-veiled threat, a Wisconsin District Attorney warned school administrators and teachers that teaching comprehensive sex education — required by state law — could lead to their prosecution.

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin legislature passed a law requiring any public schools teaching sex education to provide comprehensive sex ed; that is, they must include information about contraception and disease prevention in case a teen decides to become (or already is) sexually active.

Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth, an evangelical Christian, took offense at this requirement. He sent a letter to school districts in his county recommending that they withdraw from the entire human development curriculum, explaining that teachers who give specific information about the use of contraceptives to students while knowing that the students are sexually active can be criminally prosecuted for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The school districts could also have civil liability.
What's with the GOP and sex???

Now, if we could just get 'em to dive in!

Lawyers flock to Gulf Coast for oil spill lawsuits
Why aren't lawyers an endangered species? I mean, they're "flocking" the Gulf Coast... couldn't we convince 'em to jump into the oil?

... just being snarky

Deadly tornadoes strike Arkansas
Officials: At least 5 dead in Tenn. flooding
... and again today:
Gulf oil spill swiftly balloons, could move east
I note that the states in question are all in what was once known as the Bible Belt.

Has the Reverend Robertson been paying attention?
Has he any explanation for G-d's wrath? - particularly, G-d's wrath visited upon these staunchly Baptist states???

Meanwhile, Dover, Pennsylvania - they who "rejected" G-d from their city - have yet to be visited by a natural disaster.

[hmmm... maybe G-d is upset with Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, & Alabama because they all voted for McCain in 2008. If this be the case, Florida ought be spared from oil-spill disaster. (note: this is a testable hypothesis!)]

A sense of doom...

Gulf oil spill swiftly balloons, could move east
By ALLEN G. BREED and SETH BORENSTEIN, Associated Press Writers
1 May 2010
VENICE, La. – A sense of doom settled over the American coastline from Louisiana to Florida on Saturday as a massive oil slick spewing from a ruptured well kept growing, and experts warned that an uncontrolled gusher could create a nightmare scenario if the Gulf Stream carries it toward the Atlantic.
Yes - this event may result in us as a nation re-thinking our energy policy... for all the wrong reasons.

Still, re-thinking our energy policy for ANY reason doesn't sound too bad.

I missed the Kentucky Derby