Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year 2010 in Review (Part The Second):

Worst move of the year: Unstoppable. I’m well aware that my view of this movie—which was “inspired by true events”—may have been biased by my being so familiar with the rather mundane “true events” that “inspired” this movie, but Hollyweird really stretched the limits with this one. I know that most movies require you to suspend your disbelief to a certain extent, but if they’re going to make a claim like that, they should at least try to make it a little more believable.

Movie I’m glad I never saw: 2-way tie between The Book of Eli and The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3. Seriously. From what I’ve heard, at the rate Denzel Washington is going, he’s going to be racing Nicholas Cage to the direct-to-video market. What is wrong with him?!
Runner-up: The Losers. Not one legitimate movie critic, nor anyone I’ve talked to, has had anything good to say about this movie. Chris Evans is slated to be Captain America in an upcoming movie, and he apparently has his work cut out for him after this movie.

Movie I wish I’d seen: The Expendables. From what I’ve heard, this attempt by a group of D-listers to resurrect their careers while at the same time poking fun at themselves wasn’t half bad. I hope to catch it on DVD at some point.

Movie surprise of the Year: RED. In this year of reality TV, Hollywood scandals, and effects-heavy, plot-light movies, it was nice to see a group of old school Hollywood actors put on an acting clinic. The plot was a little weak, but the star power made up for it. And seeing Helen Mirren manning a .50-caliber heavy Machine gun was priceless!

Favorite TV show of the year: “The Good Wife”. I was pleasantly surprised by this show in its first season, and it’s only gotten better its sophomore year. Julianna Margulies belongs in front of a TV camera, and the supporting cast is every bit as good as she is.
Runner-up: “The Good Guys”. This show began as a summer season bit of fun, and it has become a regular part of Fox’s Friday lineup. It’s funny, well-written, and, most importantly, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Plus, Brad Whitford’s molesterstache alone makes me laugh more than anything else!

Most disappointing TV show of the year: “Outlaws”. I’ve been a fan of Jimmy Smits ever since his “L.A. Law” days, so frankly I was VERY disappointed with his latest effort. Seriously. He was really phoning it in. Apparently, so was everyone else, since the show died a quick and deserved death.
Runner-up: “Blue Bloods”. I really think they should have spent a little less on actors and more on writers. The quality actors in this show do the best they can with what they’ve been given, which is probably why the show is still on, but it’s still a pretty weak effort.

Most dreaded TV show return: “V”. A TV show inspired by a flop from 2 decades ago, and its sole claim to fame is the clip of Morena Baccarin blinking her ridiculously long lashes in time to the final stanza of Muse’s “Uprising” in one of the show’s promos. I managed to make it through one episode, and that’s an hour of my life I wish I had back.
Runner-up: “Desperate Housewives”. Don’t even get me started.

And with that, I say goodbye to 2010 and hello to 2011. I wish all 3 readers of this blog a safe, happy, and prosperous New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The year 2010 in review (Part The First):

Well, folks, we once again find ourselves near the end of another year, so it is again time for my traditional (sort of) year in review.

Please remember that all things listed here are strictly my opinion. If you disagree with anything said here, well, then start your own blog! Let’s start with the obvious:

Best moment of the year: The entire week of my trip to Hawai’i. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed any week more in my entire life. For more details, see my blog posts from Late February and early March of 2010.
Runner up: Seeing my dad celebrate his 80th birthday. This year officially begins his 9th decade walking the earth.

Worst moment of the year: Returning from the Hawai’i trip to find my car buried under 6 inches of snow. Believe me when I say it was a sobering return to reality.
Runner up: Watching six people in my office lose their jobs to budget cuts 2 weeks before Christmas. I’m just glad I wasn’t one of them.

Most anticipated event of the New Year: My next tropical vacation! More details perhaps later.
Least anticipated event of the New Year: Coming BACK from my next vacation!

Most Significant news event of the year: The BP oil spill. Not only the spill, but also the clumsy and crass way they handled it. I now drive past BP stations when I need gas. I will for a long time.
Runner-up: The Mid-term elections. Once again, the American public at large proved that it is collectively as dumb as a bag of hammers. After only two years, the voters decided to return to power the same dumb asses who got us into this mess in the first place. Sheesh! If I could afford it, I would move to Canada.

Best Sports moment of the year (11/27/2010): OSU 37, Michigan 7. After 7 years this is getting to be routine...
Runner up (1/1/2010): OSU 26, Oregon 17. ‘Nuff said.

Worst sports moment of the year: Two words: Wisconsin. Game.
Runner up: Seeing the Toledo Walleye get crushed 6-0 in their home opener on the same night as the above game.

My Oscar predictions (without actually knowing who and what will be nominated yet):
Best Picture: The Social Network. A dark horse, I know, but Hollywood seems to like the underdogs lately.
Best Director: The Coen Brothers for True Grit. Fighting the legacy of John Wayne’s only Oscar-winning film could NOT have been easy.
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges, for True Grit, dammit! See above for the reason why.

That’s as far out on the limb as I’m going to go without knowing the nominees yet.

Best Movie of the Year: Tron: Legacy. Given the depth of my hardcore geek love for the original—which was cutting edge back then but today looks like a bunch of stick figure drawings compared to the new movie—it would have been impossible not to like this new one. It was well worth waiting almost 30 years for the sequel.
Runner up: True Grit. I’m well aware that I not only saw two movies within a week of each other, but that they both starred Jeff Bridges, and that they also could not have been more different from each other if they tried to be. Bridges would have a lock on his second Best Actor award in as many years if those idiotic Academy voters didn’t have such a fetish for English Actors (Damn you, Colin Firth!). Seriously. Just because you speak with a British accent does NOT make you a good actor (Jason Statham, I’m looking in your direction here!)

Part 2 tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The End of Kodakchrome

December 30th will see the closing of Dwayne's Photolab in Kansas. This will be the sad end of an era.

You see, Dwayne's is the last remaining photo lab that still processes and develops Kodakchrome 35mm film.

I happened to learn about this thanks to a story on CBS's Sunday Morning TV show. It showed the lament of a professional photographer about what he would be losing with the disappearance of Kodakchrome.

You see, Kodakchrome was manufactured by only one company (Kodak, obviously). They alone manufactured the film, along with the chemicals necessary to process and develop it. They have announced that as of December 30th of this year, they won't manufacture the film or the chemicals needed to process it any more. It's simply not economically feasible for them to do so in this age of digital photography.

Kodakchrome was a VERY high quality film. It is responsible for many of the most well-known photographs that still exist today, including the world-famous Afghan Girl portrait that appeared on the cover of National Geographic and that is recognizable to nearly everyone in the modern world once they see it (It was also used to duplicate the same photograph by the same photographer nearly 20 years after he took the original picture).

In today's age of digital photography, actual film has largely gone the way of the steam engine and the horse and buggy. Today, when nearly every cellphone possesses a built-in digital camera, and when modern digital cameras can capture images that appear to the naked eye to be every bit as sharp as film pictures, it is no longer economically feasible to mass produce chemical film. Digital pictures cannot yet capture the detail that film can. Usually, however, this does not matter, since the untrained eye cannot tell the difference.

Nor are companies like Kodak in any danger of failing, since they have embraced the digital age. I myself own a Kodak digital camera.

But an important era has come to an end with the end of Kodakchrome. I hope that the many pictures preserved in the various photo albums in my parents' house are durable, because they will never be able to be accurately duplicated. And that is a shame.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It'll Never Happen Ag...WHOA!

A few months ago, I posted this entry about a fluke happening wherein I flipped an envelope at an open paper box and it landed balanced on the edge.

Well, a few days ago, something similar and just as amazing happened:


Yes folks, that is a piece of paper balanced on the edge of the same box. It's held in place solely by the friction of that one corner against the inside edge of the box. Nothing more than a light puff of air would have been sufficient to knock it one way or another. But right then, it remained where it was for several minutes.

I swear I'm not making this up! I challenge you to try and get a piece of regular 8 1/2 X 11 paper to balance on the edge of a box that way. I'm starting to think I should video myself every time I flip a piece of paper or an envelope at my recycling box...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

You Go Girls!

Ha, you Huskies! Mush!

Last night, the UCONN women's basketball team won its 89th game in a row.

They've long since passed any other women's team in that category. But what made it significant was that they now hold the record for the most consecutive wins by any college team in any sport, by either sex. They beat out the UCLA Bruins of the late 60's and early 70's, who were coached by the "legendary" John Wooden.

The Huskies are coached by Geno Auriemma, who, in my opinion, now deserves his own "legendary" status.

In a way, the success of this team feeds on itself. The dominance they have shown in the last few years allows them to pick and choose the best players.

Some will claim that it's much easier to coach a women's team than a men's, if for no other reason than the lure of the pros does not call to the great women basketball players the same way it calls to the men. And while this may be true, it is also true that this simply means that there is a larger pool of athletes available for the teams to draw from. In other words, a much more level playing field.

From now on, every game the Huskies win until their next loss is simply setting a new record. And I say, keep up the good work.

And if it keeps bringing attention to the importance of women's sports, I say, more power to them.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My "Where Were You When" Story

Tonight CBS played a repeat of the Blue Bloods episode "what you See". The episode shows the fictional NYPD of the show hunting a potential Car bomber. After the situation is defused, the police commissioner, played by Tom Selleck, wonders aloud to himself "Where were you on September 11th?"

I can't imagine anyone who was aware enough to remember what happened that day ever forgetting where they were, or what they were doing. I've never talked to anyone I work with who doesn't have their own story about that day.

This is mine.

I work in the payroll department of my office at the time. It was pay week. Our department was working hard to get payroll completed.

Around 9 a.m., rumors began to filter. A plane had hit the World Trade Center.

A private plane, I thought. Trivial, I thought. An accident.

A T.V. was located. We tuned it in. We saw the Towers smoking. Heavily.

No big deal, I thought. They'll get those fires out in no time.

We continued to watch. We watched as the fires continued to burn. We watched as the towers collapsed.

We were stunned.

Most of us returned to our desks in a state of collective shock. I sat back down at my desk and started entering payroll data automatically. I couldn't think of anything else to do. The rest of us felt pretty much the same way.

An hour or so later, the boss called. He'd been attending a conference out of town. He told us to close the office and go home.

But payroll had to go out. So my supervisor and I volunteered to stay. As the only two single people in our department, it made sense. We worked furiously, entered the necessary data (with several nervous glances out the window of our building--who knew if we were the next target?), and then got the hell out of there.

I spent the rest of the day at home, watching the news coverage of the incident. Around dusk, I walked outside to watch the evening sky. I've never heard the city be so quiet. I also saw many of my neighbors outside, watching the skies. I saw many American flags hanging from their houses, more than I'd ever seen on any National Holiday.

We heard a jet engine overhead. We all looked up and saw an Air National Guard F-16 streak across the sky. We all felt a little better seeing it.

When it grew dark, we went back inside.

Everyone's life changed that day. Everyone had a new "Where Were You When" story.

I fully realize that it's morbid to bring that up at this time of year. But I wanted to make sure everyone remembers what happened then. And why we should all be extra grateful for the things we still have.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Holidays

You're fired.

That's the message sent to six of my co-workers last Friday.

I have to believe that there is a special ring of hell reserved for a boss who fires people during the Christmas/Holiday season.

Seriously. What prompts someone to do that?

To those few folks who have the tenacity to weave their way through the past 7+ years of this blog, and who work at my office and are in upper management, and who are displeased by what has been said above, and who may actually read this entry, then let me say this: Try to fire me and you will be sued so fast you won't know what hit you. And trust me when I say that I know where all the bodies are buried. Work in the same office for nearly 15 years and it happens.

Friday, November 26, 2010

TSA: Bringing New Meaning to "The Friendly Skies"

TSA: Feeling more booty than R. Kelly
TSA: We're making air travel a "touching" experience.
TSA: All your secrets are safe with ALL of us
TSA: Big Bertha is watching (and getting ready to do more!)
TSA: Bend Over and touch your toes...
TSA: Increasing Cancer rates Exponentially since 2010
TSA: We've seen it, and we know you're lying about your length.

In case you were wondering, those a few suggestions I have for the new motto for the TSA. Some came from other sources, some I came up with myself. What do you think?

People seem to fall into two camps: Those that think the new TSA security procedures are a great idea, and those that think we are now many steps closer to 1984 and Big Brother.

I definitely fall into the second camp.

I agree that we have to do what we can to keep bombs off of airplanes, but I think the resources of the government should be more devoted to finding and stopping people like the so-called "underwear bomber" before they even get near an airport, and to removing the root causes of terrorism in the first place. Mostly this means ending our dependence on foreign oil, much of which comes from the Middle East, and the money we pour into that volatile region only serves to place more money in the hands of the people who fund people like the underwear bomber.

It also means putting an end to the ham-handed way in which American foreign policy trends in that region, our typical ready-fire-aim approach that we as a country are so famous for lately in our never-ending thirst for oil.

By the way, of the people I have talked to, by an overwhelming majority the ones that have no problem with the new security procedures are the ones who do NOT have pending air travel plans. That's the difference between them and me--I DO plan to fly in the next couple of months. And now the hassle that has become the airport security line has gotten that much bigger.

Oh, and in case you were planning to wear one of the shirts linked to above to an airport security checkpoint any time soon, take my advice: Don't! It's just common sense.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Madness of King Friday

This Friday after Thanksgiving, millions of Americans will rush to stores to take advantage of the retailers' advertising tricks that convince them that they are getting great deals on items already marked up more than 200% above their usual prices.

Most will crowd around store entrances at 3, 4, or 5 a.m. to take advantage of "special sales" that are only available "until noon". Many will be there much earlier.

You may or may not recall the so-called "Black Friday" incident that happened a couple of years ago, where people were trampled after storming the partially opened gates of an early opening store.

You may also wonder what kind of psychosis grips people that convinces them that bargains can only be obtained on one single shopping day that occurs the day after Thanksgiving. When the retail season lasts easily more than a month after that. With multitudes of discounts to follow.

It's also shocking that this massive amount of holiday spending is expected after millions of unemployed people will lose their benefits thanks to the Repuglicans. And they will spend money they don't have to spend.

I weep for the dying IQ of this nation.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

12 Angry Men

Last post, I opined on the latest retelling of Clash of the Titans.

Today, at the library (where I find the majority of my DVD's), I found 12 Angry Men. The original version, starring Henry Fonda.

Also starring E.G. Marshall, Ed Begley (Senior), a VERY young Jack Klugman (you may remember him as Qunicy M.E., the original CSI), and other actors that no one remembers.

This movie was shot 99% in a single room, on a budget of $350,000 1957 dollars (I'll let you try to find out how much that is today). There are also no female actors credited in this movie, although in the opening credits you can hear and see a crying woman who is uncredited.

This movie was also based on a play originally written for television. It's been performed as a play all over this country. I'm not ashamed to admit that I performed a bit part in a local amateur production of it (as the Jury Room guard, who has maybe 4 lines in the play. I got this part because I was able to obtain a local Sheriff's uniform at no cost).

But I digress. My point is that this movie, which was nominated for at least 3 Academy Awards, was shot on a shoestring budget, with only one "big name" actor, with almost no special effects (a thunderstorm occurs about halfway through the movie), managed to be a major box office hit, one that is still watched today. The President's first nominee to the Supreme Court cited this movie as the inspiration for her entry into the legal system.

Ask yourselves if the same thing will still be said 50 years after the latest release of Clash of the Titans.

I seriously doubt it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Clash of the Titans

I recently stumbled across the latest retelling of this old legend of the life of Perseus, the supposed son of Zeus who became the founder of what would become Persia. You may remember it as this year's 3-D blockbuster Clash of the Titans.

The latest rash of movies celebrating the Greek Gods has gotten me to wondering: Why are these folks so heavily worshiped?

Seriously. The Greeks were eventually destroyed by the Romans. When you think about the planets, think of their names: The largest planet is named Jupiter, not Zeus. Venus, not Aphrodite. Mercury, not Hermes. Mars, not Ares. The only Greek named to survive are Uranus and Neptune, named only after telescopes finally became powerful enough to identify them as planets instead of stars, when "modern" history was finally beginning to sort out ancient history to distinguish enough the contributions made by both the Roman and Greek civilizations.

It still persists today, though. Remember the Saturn line of automobiles?

People love to romanticize ancient legends. Even this country's own brief history has produced its own share of legendary characters--think Paul Bunyan, John Henry, etc.

We may never know the real story of what happened to these ancient--or not so ancient--legends. But their stories will continue to entertain generations to come.

If they fudge the fact a bit, so be it. Most of the time, it's still a good story.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

Also known as the BATF.

A while ago, a former co-worker of mine asked why it is necessary for this government agency to exist.

He (yes, typically, it was a he. And, naturally, he was a Repuglican) wondered why the need for a government agency existed to control 3 things that were all legal.

I've given it some thought since then.

It didn't take too long.

You see, Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, three things that are completely legal, have annually accounted, directly or indirectly, for a total of nearly half a million American deaths every year. And they have done that by being used EXACTLY the way they were intended to be used.

It only makes sense that these three things should be under strict government control. And that there should be an agency that regulates that control. And of many more "legal" things. But in today's anti-government society, it will probably never happen.

This past election, the tsunami of Republicans that were swept into office were mostly elected by promising less government intrusion into the affairs of citizens. At a time when government, under the increasing influence of corporations, is ignoring the rights of citizens in favor of the rights of corporations, and when we can expect the newly elected Republican Congress to vote lock, stock, and barrel with what the corporations elected them to do, we can ill afford less government regulation.

Regulation by the government is the only way ordinary citizens can survive against the tyranny of big business. The sooner we all realize that, the safer we will all be.

If you ask me, there are a LOT of other legal things, substances, or actions that regularly kill hundreds of thousands of people that need their own controlling agencies and that will forever lack them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hollyweird Does it Again--The Results (Sort of)

A couple of posts ago, I blogged on the Hollyweird movie treatment of the "Crazy Eights" runaway train that opened today--Unstoppable.

I lamented how overblown it looked to me. Seriously. They've taken a mediocre news story and made it into a major Hollyweird event.

Our local paper--not to put too fine a point on it--lambasted the movie.

But are they really being fair? Am I?

I couldn't help noticing the references to the real-life incident that inspired the movie in the review. And, running on the same day and in the same section of the paper, is this story. Written by separate people of course, but either they were both at the same critics' screening or the reporter consulted the reviewer. Either way, there is no way that the critic's opinion could not have been biased by knowing what happened in the real event that "inspired" the movie. And is there not a possibility that the review was colored by that opinion?

By the way, in case you were wondering, the picture in that second story does not show a train rolling down a paved road. Rail crossings in rural areas often cross roads at odd angles, and are often VERY poorly marked--but that is a subject for another time.

And I have to admit that my own enjoyment of the movie would be diminished by knowing how un-exciting the "true events" were.

So I really want to know if I'm being fair.

So I put it to you, the three people who read this blog. If anyone who stumbles across this blog entry sees or has seen this movie, I invite you to post what you thought of it in the comments.

I realize there is little chance of that happening, but a man can dream.

Meanwhile, I may wait for the movie to come out on video...

Update (7/11/11) The Toledo Blade updated their website some time after I posted this entry. Links no longer are valid. Sorry.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I'm VERY Disappointed

Why, you may ask.

Well, I am on the e-mail mailing lists of numerous Progressive organizations, including MoveOn.org, Credo, and Presente.

(In case you're wondering about why me, a person as white as Tom Sawyer's fence is on the mailing list of a latino advocacy group, rest assured I've been asking myself that same question for quite a while now.)

And not once have I received an e-mail from any of these "liberal" organizations requesting me to sign a petition in support of suspended MSNBC news commentator Keith Olbermann.

Understand that these are organizations that start petition drives when someone sneezes near a Democratic Congressman, petitions that demand Distributing Vitamin C to everyone in the progressive Caucus.

But now, when one of the most vocal opponents of the continuous wright wing noise machine is suspended for daring to show support for candidates that he happens to like, these organizations are strangely silent.

Now is NOT the time to be silent! After the Republicans received their well-deserved electoral beatings in '06 and '08, they got back on track by being as loud and raucous as they possibly could. They did not cower in the corner. They fought back hard and heavy.

It's time for us to return the favor. And do it LOUDLY!

F$#@ing Up YouTube

It can't possibly have escaped the notice of the 3 readers of this blog that I include a LOT of Youtube videos on this blog, despite my well-stated hatred of Google, which owns Youtube.

The only explanation for this is that there is simply no other alternative.

Youtube has managed to capture the type of Web monopoly that no one else can claim credit for: if you want to find a popular video, go to Youtube. And while you're there, they will analyze your choices and try to figure out what type of person you are.

So I try to screw up their profiling machines as much as possible.

I search for Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road"

Then I search for Carrie Underwood's "Jesus take the Wheel"

Then I search for Half-Life 2

Then I search for Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take it"

Then I search for a Star Trek episode I like.

Then I search for something that is totally random.

By this point, with any luck, the Youtube profile computers are so f#$^ed up trying to figure out who I am that they are frying themselves. I figure at this point that they must think I am a fundamentalist Christian, moonshine-smuggling, pot-growing, Hair-Metal-band-loving, NRA member. Don't think about that combination too long or your brain will break!

Dear Google: Please feel free to bite me.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Hollyweird Does it Again

Yes, folks, once again the folks at Hollyweird have conspired to take a somewhat boring true story and inflate it into a massive major movie event.

You see, about nine years ago, a freight train towed by an EMD SD40-2 Diesel engine, the very same engine that is featured as the "hero" in the upcoming movie Unstoppable, departed a train yard near my home city of Toledo towing a long freight train with no one at the controls, for reasons which I won't get into here.

The train rumbled nearly 70 miles south down the train tracks of Northwest Ohio, crossing dozens of RR crossings without blowing its horn. This track was mostly straight and level (check any terrain map of the Midwest and you'll find that that isn't unusual). Since this engine type has a maximum speed of about 60 MPH at the most, there was little danger of it becoming a runaway missile that would plow into a Pennsylvania city, spreading a toxic cloud that would kill thousands.

A crew of ordinary engineers latched another engine onto the back of this runaway and managed to slow it down enough that another engineer was able to grab a handrail of the runaway engine and board it, then apply the brakes and stop the train. No major Metropolitan areas, trainloads of children, or anyone else was endangered.

Only until Hollyweird got ahold of the story.

I'll probably go to see the film anyway. Tony Scott does not direct films that do not entertain. But my entertainment will be diminished because I know the true story about what happened. Because what really happened started about 2 miles from my house.

The only person who looked like a fool in this whole endeavor was the State Trooper who tried to shoot a hole in the engine's fuel tank with an anti-personnel shotgun. He might as well have tried to stop a charging Rhino with a slingshot.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I am in Awe

Of the phenomenon that is Jon Stewart.

Yesterday, I watched in amazement the three hour "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" that Stewart and company were able to organize in just a couple of months. I watched as several well-known entertainment personalities lent their time and talent to this massive, incredible undertaking. I gazed in wonder as the camera panned over a National mall filled shoulder to shoulder with people, from the monument to the Capitol building. (Seriously. There were easily a hundred thousand people there.) I watched the wonderfully funny banter between Stewart and his "conservative" counterpart Stephen Colbert. And I cringed as I heard Stewart try to sing.

(Piece of advice, Jon: Don't quit your night job!)

And then I watched in awe as Stewart gave a funny, insightful, intelligent, touching, and at times awe-inspiring speech to the assembled masses that touched me deeply. Rather than spoil it by trying to remember what he said, here is a transcript:

And now I thought we might have a moment, however brief, for some sincerity. If that's okay - I know that there are boundaries for a comedian / pundit / talker guy, and I'm sure that I'll find out tomorrow how I have violated them.


So, uh, what exactly was this? I can't control what people think this was: I can only tell you my intentions.

This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear--they are, and we do.

But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus, and not be enemies. But unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke.

The country's 24-hour, political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the dangerous, unexpected flaming ants epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

There are terrorists, and racists, and Stalinists, and theocrats, but those are titles that must be earned! You must have the resume! Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Party-ers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult--not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.

The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker--and, perhaps, eczema. And yet... I feel good. Strangely, calmly, good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us, through a funhouse mirror--and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist, and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead, and an ass shaped like a month-old pumpkin, and one eyeball.

So why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle, to a pumpkin-assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable--why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution, and homophobes who see no one's humanity but their own?

We hear every damned day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it's a shame that we can't work together to get things done. The truth is, we do! We work together to get things done every damned day! The only place we don't is here (in Washington) or on cable TV!

But Americans don't live here, or on cable TV. Where we live, our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done--not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.

Most Americans don't live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often something they do not want to do! But they do it. Impossible things, every day, that are only made possible through the little, reasonable compromises we all make.

(Points to video screen, showing video of cars in traffic.) Look on the screen. This is where we are, this is who we are. These cars. That's a schoolteacher who probably think his taxes are too high, he's going to work. There's another car, a woman with two small kids, can't really think about anything else right now... A lady's in the NRA, loves Oprah. There's another car, an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car's a Latino carpenter; another car, a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan.

But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief, and principles they hold dear--often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers'. And yet, these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze, one by one, into a mile-long, 30-foot-wide tunnel, carved underneath a mighty river.

And they do it, concession by concession: you go, then I'll go. You go, then I'll go. You go, then I'll go. 'Oh my God--is that an NRA sticker on your car?' 'Is that an Obama sticker on your car?' It's okay--you go, then I go.

And sure, at some point, there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder, and cuts in at the last minute. But that individual is rare, and he is scorned, and he is not hired as an analyst!

Because we know, instinctively, as a people, that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light, we have to work together. And the truth is there will always be darkness, and sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn't the promised land.

Sometimes, it's just New Jersey. But we do it anyway. Together.

If you wanna know why I'm here and what I want from you, I can only assure you this: You have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted. Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. And to see you here today, and the kind of people that you are, has restored mine. Thank you.


And here's a video of it. Take 12 minutes out of your life and watch. You won't be disappointed:

It may not be quite the equal of MLK's "I Have a Dream", but it's right up there.

I pray that Stewart confines his activities to his TV show, and is not tempted by the lure of politics. He could never do the what he does best as a politician.

And to those "news" organizations that forbade their reporters or correspondents from attending the rally (for fear they might be called "liberal"), may I say, "PHBLLLLTTT!"

That goes double for you, NPR! You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

These People Will Be Voting

And if they get the candidates they want, then God help this country.



I weep for the dying IQ of this nation.

I beg you, the three readers of this blog, to please, please, PLEASE vote for ANYONE but the TEA party candidates. We cannot afford to have these people leading this country.

Echoing the Voices of Others

Taken word for word from The Daily Kos
(Just trying to make sure enough people hear this!)

Questions:

1. What was the average monthly private sector job growth in 2008, the final year of the Bush presidency, and what has it been so far in 2010?

2. What was the Federal deficit for the last fiscal year of the Bush presidency, and what was it for the first full fiscal year of the Obama presidency?

3. What was the stock market at on the last day of the Bush presidency? What is it at today?

4. Which party's candidate for speaker will campaign this weekend with a Nazi reenactor who dressed up in a SS uniform?

Answers:

1. In 2008, we lost an average of 317,250 private sector jobs per month. In 2010, we have gained an average of 95,888 private sector jobs per month. (Source) That's a difference of nearly five million jobs between Bush's last year in office and President Obama's second year.

2. In FY2009, which began on September 1, 2008 and represents the Bush Administration's final budget, the budget deficit was $1.416 trillion. In FY2010, the first budget of the Obama Administration, the budget deficit was $1.291 trillion, a decline of $125 billion. (Source) Yes, that means President Obama has cut the deficit -- there's a long way to go, but we're in better shape now than we were under Bush and the GOP.

3. On Bush's final day in office, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 closed at 7,949, 1,440, and 805, respectively. Today, as of 10:15AM Pacific, they are at 11,108, 2,512, and 1,183. That means since President Obama took office, the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 have increased 40%, 74%, and 47%, respectively.

4. The Republican Party, whose candidate for speaker, John Boehner, will campaign with Nazi re-enactor Rich Iott this weekend. If you need an explanation why this is offensive, you are a lost cause.

The moral of the story is this: if you vote Republican, I hope you enjoy Election Day -- because you're not going to like what comes next.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Apologize?!

It has come to the attention of the country that the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas has been reported as having sent a voicemail to Anita Hill asking her to apologize for her testimony during his Senate confirmation hearings.

I hardly know where to begin.

In terms of intelligent ideas, I'd like to list a few that ranked higher than that:

"Let's return to our base of occupation by marching in a straight column down a clearly marked road, with plenty of cover for firing positions down either side of that road, after every rebel in the country we occupy has been informed of where we will be marching!"

"Let's charge straight into the teeth of a massed army of artillery, rifles, and small arms after we've been here for 3 days and have alerted our enemies to exactly where we will be attacking next."

"Let's fill a giant cylindrical shaped balloon with an extremely explosive gas, cover the outside of that balloon with the same material that future generations will know is an ideal component for solid rocket boosters, and then fly that balloon into a region that is know for experiencing electrical storms."

By the way, if any of the 3 readers of this blog have missed the historical references I cited above, then you are not nearly as clever as I have given you credit for. You are invited to explain otherwise in the comments.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We Love Marcy!

Marcy Kaptur, the opponent of Rich Iott, aka Der Fuhrer, has been running ads featuring a World War II veteran praising her accomplishments in bringing benefits to WW2 vets and ensuring the WW2 memorial came into existence.

This, after pictures surfaced of Mr. Iott posing for pictures and smiling in a Waffen SS uniform.

Subtle as a sledehammer.

Marcy Kaptur has been good to Northwest Ohio over the past several years. And I was insulted when this TEA party hack tried to unseat her. This SOB who is about as qualified to hold high political office as Woody Woodpecker.

I hope you get beaten 90 to 10, Mr. Iott. It is ridiculous to think that anyone with a reasonable modicum of intelligence would ever vote for you. The only reason you will get any votes at all is that there are a LOT of stupid people in this world.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Very Disappointing

I happened to be on IMDB.com a few minutes ago and I saw the returns of movies over the weekend:

Jackass 3-(D): $50 million
RED: $22.5 million.

I don't know what is more disappointing: The fact that enough people in this country are fans of the Jackass franchise to spawn not one, not two, but THREE movies, or the fact that this 3rd Jackass movie managed to out-perform a very funny, very clever movie starring 2 Academy Award winning actors by a factor of more than 2 to 1 at the box office.

I've said it before and I'll continue to say it again, as many times as it takes: I weep for the dying IQ of this nation.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Type A Positive

That's my blood type, folks.

I don't think I'm giving away too much personal information by telling you, the three readers of this blog, that information.

I am a regular whole blood donor. And as of this morning, I have voluntarily donated 72 pints of whole blood. For those keeping score, that's 9 gallons of whole blood donated over the course of the last nearly 20 years.

There's not a lot of things in my life that I am too proud of, but that's one of them.

72 pints means I've helped save the lives of as few as 72 people, and as many as 216 (each pint of whole blood can save from 1 to 3 people. By the law of averages, that's 2 people per pint. Not too shabby.)

Also please remember that the average adult human body contains approximately 6 pints of blood. So I have now donated the equivalent of 12 times my total blood supply.

I was also once what the American Red Cross calls a "CMV Hero", meaning my blood did not contain the antibodies formed when you contract what is called Cytomegalovirus. This is a virus that causes a mild fever in any normal healthy person, but can cause severe danger to persons with compromised immune systems, like premature infants, transplant patients, or cancer victims (like my mom was, God rest her soul), for example. I don't know if I still am one (most people never even realize they get this illness, since it is so mild in any normal, healthy person) but it gave me a good feeling when I learned it. It still does, to some extent.

I encourage anyone reading this to become a volunteer blood donor. It only takes about an hour out of a normal day. The process is completely safe. And it really doesn't hurt as much as everyone thinks. Of course, if you donate as often as I do, you tend to develop scar tissue on your vein, which makes it hurt more than normal.

But that is a small price to pay. And you get a good feeling when you realize how easy it can be to save someone's life. Believe me, I know.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Right in Rich Iott's Face!

When der Fuhrer sez, "Ve iz de master race!"
Ve "Heil" (thplbtt), "Heil" (thplbtt), right in Der Fuhrer's face!

Yes folks, the immortal words of Spike Jones. (the original).

Why, you may ask, am I quoting Spike Jones?

Well, it seems that Rich Iott, Repuglican candidate for Ohio's 9th congressional district, has been photographed numerous times wearing the uniform of a Waffen SS officer, which he apparently donned repeatedly to re-enact WW2 battles.

I hardly know where to begin.

First of all, I have yet to understand the appeal of re-enacting war battles. World War 2 was a massive cataclysm that engulfed nearly the entire world in death and destruction. It saw the deployment of one of the most destructive weapons ever conceived by man. It saw the rise to power of a vicious and cruel dictator who oversaw the deaths of over six million innocent people. And now, a Repuglican candidate for THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES has been revealed to have regularly donned the uniform of one of that madman's most loyal footsoldiers in the name of "reliving history".

If his opponent, Marcy Kaptur, had any sense, she would simply sit back and let the media pick this man clean to the bone. She hasn't done this yet. I hope she will. Soon.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Mr Kasich Goes to Hollywood

The Ohio gubernatorial race currently stands between incumbent Governor Ted Strickland and challenger John Kasich.

Kasich has, for reasons passing understanding, held a commanding lead in every poll for months now. He has done this by accusing Strickland of allowing hundreds of thousands of Ohio jobs to be lost under his watch. Never mind the fact that these jobs were lost due to policies enacted under George W. Bush and a Republican Congress--Policies which plunged this country--and the world--into a recession the likes of which has not been seen since the Great Depression.

And never mind the fact that Kasich left his job in Congress to go to work for Lehman Brothers. You may recall what happened to them.

Now Kasich is back in Ohio, saying that his Wall Street experience is exactly what Ohio needs to pull itself out of its economic slump. How in the hell is this man polling above single digits?!

I realize that there is a general backlash against all Democrats after people found out that the mess created by Duhbya and his cronies couldn't be fixed overnight. I don't know why that surprised anyone. It took FDR eight years of massive government spending on Federal programs to lift this country out of the depths of the Great Depression.

Now, in Kasich's latest commercial, he has a paid Hollywood actor posing as an out-of-work steelworker accusing Strickland of costing Ohio its steel jobs. Now bear in mind that this is an industry decimated by cheap imports and hopelessly outdated manufacturing techniques. But that's not the point. Kasich apparently was unable to find a real steelworker to speak out for him, so he resorted to a paid actor (and not a very good one at that--maybe that's why he thought people wouldn't catch on).

Governor Strickland has spent the last 4 years trying desperately to hold this state together with both hands. I was proud to have voted for him. I will be proud to do so again.

As for you, Mr. Kasich, go back to Wall Street and see how many more banks you can run into the ground.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Can Someone Please Explain?

As of the writing of this entry, the latest polls show that the voters are prepared to elect a minimum of 48 Repuglicans to the Senate, with God knows how many Congressmen.

I have to ask: Why?!!

A Repuglican Congress, led by Duhbya as its cheerleader, enacted the policies that have planted our economy in the position it is in today.

And now people want to go BACK to those same policies?!

To blame is the Supreme Court, (under the unwise leadership of a Chief Justice who is so stupid he couldn't remember the words to the Presidential Oath of Office) which decided that corporations are citizens, with all the free speech protections therein. Wholly supporting that decision are the Neo-cons who equate money with free speech, and who think labor unions have equal spending power with corporations.

This election will see Repuglicans win 9 out of every 10 offices that they run for, after being fully bought and paid for by their corporate sponsors. Mark my words.

The most long-term damage that the Presidency of George W. Bush created can be summed up in 3 words: Roberts and Alito.

Welcome to government of the Corporation, by the Corporation, and for the Corporation.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

You Don't Mess With Brutus

Last Saturday, Ohio University played Ohio State University at football. It was a typical matchup of a perennial powerhouse against a sacrificial lamb that almost always happens in pre-conference play in college football. The result was predictable--Ohio State won the game 43-7, with Ohio's only offensive touchdown occurring well into the 4th quarter when OSU had sent its deep backups into the game.

What was NOT typical, however, was the behavior of OU's Mascot: The Bobcat.

Before the start of the game, as the two teams were running onto the field, OSU, led by its mascot, Brutus, witnessed the Bobcat tackle Brutus not once, but twice, and wrestle him to the ground.

It's become a popular viral video. And everyone outside of Ohio may have enjoyed a good laugh about it.

But not here in Ohio. And not us Buckeye fans.

You see, this person in the bobcat mascot costume may have thought it was funny to tackle Brutus. And he (or she) may have thought they might have scored some fan points for doing so. But I have a message for this person: There are 100 Buckeye fans to every Bobcat fan!! And we don't like what you did!

You deserved to lose your status as Ohio's mascot. I got your mascot battle right here, bitch!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

1000 Ways to Die

I was surfing the web today, and I stumbled across the SpikeTV Network series "1000 Ways to Die".

This is, apparently, a half-hour series dedicated to displaying methods by which people across these United States have met their demise in quite spectacularly stupid ways.

Attention readers: If you try to find these videos on-line, you should be warned that the depictions of these deaths is about as graphic as you're going to find on non-pay-Cable.

I personally think this show should be renamed "1000 ways to earn a Darwin Award.

And I seriously think that TV has really gone too far. The show I watched featured, just to name a few, the graphic demonstration of a man accidentally blowing the bottom of his jaw off, the decapitation of a couple after accidentally hooking their tongues together via tongue piercings, and a man tripping and accidentally driving a meat hook through his throat.

I will NOT link to this episode. If you really want to see it, then go to the SpikeTV link above and find it.

I realize that the Spike network is an attempt to hook male viewers by glorifying all things male, but I fail to see why the producers of this show think men like me can be entertained by watching depictions of gruesome deaths.

If I wanted to see that, I would watch Saving Private Ryan again. By the way, if anyone missed the message of that movie, it was that war is nothing more than a way to cause the brutal deaths of thousands, and that it is something that should be avoided at all costs. If you can think of another interpretation, please let me know.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Have a Particular Interest

Any of the 3 regular readers of this blog know that earlier this year I spent a glorious week of vacation in Hawai'i. I've never had a more pleasurable experience. I was in a state of bliss from the moment I exited the Honolulu airport in February and immediately stripped down to a t-shirt and threw my winter coat into the trunk of the rental car. I even had no problem riding a public transit bus back to our hotel after returning said rental car. I'm a veteran of the public bus.

So I had a particular interest in this week's premiere of Hawai'i 5-0. I wanted to make sure that they treated the state fairly as I knew it.

This isn't the first time a TV show or movie has used Hawai'i as a substitute for a tropical wilderness. I can't begin to count the number of times it has been represented as Africa. The TV show Lost was filmed nearly in its entirety there. And I have no problem with it. Hawai'i is, in its current state, basically a third-world country masquerading as a United State. Most of the state is dominated by tropical wilderness. And it is pretty much entirely at the mercy of mainland exports--including tourists--for its livelihood.

Despite all this, the citizens there have adapted. They have perfected the art of extracting dollars from tourists. They are not alone in the practice of this art.

I might also point out that they have managed to produce a United States President. Despite the claims made by the Tea party, Barack Obama was born there. The number of states that can claim their place as the birthright of an American President is pretty small. Bravo, Hawai'i, for joining the club.

I'm about 16 years away from retiring. I hope to revisit your state on my retirement trip. And I love any show that has a chance of making you more prosperous. Maybe things will be cheaper the next time I visit.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Death to Marco's!

There is a local Pizza chain named Marco's Pizza. I have ordered from them many times. Hell, I WORKED for them for a couple of years way back when.

I've been satisfactorially served by them every time I placed an order.

Until last Friday.

I called in an order for 2 small pizzas with sausage and extra cheese. The coupon for which was in my possession. I figured I'd eat a few pieces out of one pie, and bag the rest up for future consumption. I do that a lot.

I picked the pizzas up on my way home from work. I neglected to open the boxes to check them, as I almost always do. When I got home, the pizzas had no sausage. Boneheads.

I took them back. The store insisted that I had ordered only pizzas with cheeses. I was forced to wait 15 minutes while they remade them. I was not offered a refund, a discount, or even a coupon sheet.

I have eaten the last Marco's pizza I will ever eat. And I encourage the 3 readers of this blog to never order from Marco's, if it ever becomes available in your area.

One of the most common axioms of business is that it costs 6 times as much to replace a regular customer as it does to keep a regular customer. Good job, Marco's. And good luck replacing me.

Or anyone else I tell this story to...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No "Yanks" for Delaware!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Republican Nominee for the open Senate seat from Delaware:



As near as I can tell, she hasn't changed much in the last 20 years. (In case you were wondering, the title of this post is my attempt at helping her choose a campaign slogan. Think she'll like it?)

Seriously, folks, the inmates are running the asylum.

The NRSC has announced that they will NOT be supporting her run, financially or otherwise. Basically they are saying to the Tea Party lunatics that got this woman the nomination: You cooked this rancid meat. Now eat it! We're putting our resources behind someone who actually has a chance of winning.

I have a gut feeling that all of these T.P. (pun intended) folks are going to get a rude wake-up call come November. And it's going to hurt. A lot.

But suppose they don't. Suppose every T.P. backed candidate (and there are a lot of them) wins? What do these folks think is going to happen? Do they think the corporate lobbyists won't immediately start whispering in their ears? Do they honestly think that they will operate any differently from the ones who are there now? I think that they will actually be more vulnerable to influence from corporate lobbyists, since, from what I've seen, these T.P. candidates are mostly utterly unqualified to hold the elected offices they aspire to. After all, how can they help but not be? Look how unqualified to hold high office the leader of the T.P. is.

(*cough* Sarah Palin *Cough)

By the way, I have a question for Christine O'Donnell: You believe the bible forbids masturbation. How, exactly, would you enforce a ban on same?

The mind boggles...

UPDATE (9/16): The NRSC has caved to the T.P. and announced that it will support her candidacy, to the tune of at least $42,000, and several prominent Repuglicans have announced that they support her candidacy. The T.P. says squeal like a pig, Elephant, you Squeal!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Utterly Ridiculous

It is ridiculous. Ridiculous. RIDICULOUS, I say. The fact that a crazy Florida preacher with a congregation of 50 people can virtually take the world hostage and hold it to his whims.

The mere fact that he managed to manipulate world events simply by merely threatening to burn a book publicly is simply astonishing. It has invited comments from the President, a three-star general, the United Nations, and various other notables from around the country, and, indeed, around the globe.

And it is entirely the fault of the society we live in today. This society, with its social networking sites, Youtube, and 24 hour cable news. 20 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago, if this lunatic had announced his intention to publicly burn the Qu’ran, more than likely the reaction of the few folks who were around to hear him at the time would’ve probably been, “Meh. Who gives a shit?”

But not in today’s world. A world where rumors can spread all over the world via text message with a speed that would make a wildfire green with envy. Where anyone with a camera phone and a Youtube account can be an instant internet celebrity. Where tens of thousands spread gossip around the globe via Twitter within seconds. And where the cable news outlets, desperate to fill 24 hours a day of programming, latch onto any juicy story they find from these sources and inflate its prominence into something hundreds of times more than it ever should be.

This...creature...in Florida made a simple threat. And through the power of the internet, he was able to hijack the agenda of an entire nation. And we’re all to blame for it. We let this exploding genie out of the bottle. And now we have to live with it.

I’m not saying it’s entirely a bad thing. The internet, and, by extension, Youtube, text messaging, and Twitter, has many useful functions, on a societal, governmental, economic, and humanitarian level. But for every useful function you can think of, you can probably think of at least 10, 100, or even 1000 harmful ones. I’m not sure that’s an acceptable trade-off.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A REALLY Bad Idea

So. Apparently some evangelical church in Florida has announced its intent to hold a Qu'ran burning day this Saturday on the anniversary of September 11th.

This, on the list of stupid ideas, ranks right up there with leaping out of airplane without a parachute, tying a side of beef to yourself and jumping into a shark tank, and jumping rope while walking through a minefield.

Of course, if this happens, the media will be there to cover the whole event, in the name of ratin--er, I mean, "keeping the public informed".

Of course, these people have every right to burn as many copies of the Qu'ran as they want to. Although they might want to think about what Jesus would think of their desecration of the word of God in the name of religion.

I am not a Muslim. I never have been, and I never will be. But one out of every 6 people in this world is. And I would imagine that the majority of them would be offended to see the symbol of their religion burned publicly in front of the world's media.

So I have this to say to the "Reverend" Terry Jones: How would you feel if you saw someone burning a bible?

I would also say this: You have the right to free speech. But you do not have the right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater. And while that may not be what you are planning to do, our American military personnel are deployed in not just one but two crowded theaters right now: Afghanistan and Iraq. And what you are planning to do is the equivalent of tossing a Molotov cocktail into the front row of both of those theaters.

You are also playing right into the hands of the very people who inspired those who flew planes into buildings nine years ago, and on the very anniversary of it.

So why do it? Are you really that convinced that it's a good idea? And how were you convinced of this? Seriously?

I will wait for your answer.

And I have this to say to the national media: STOP COVERING THIS!!! You are just adding fuel to the fire! I realize that you have to fill a 24 hour news channel with something, but the only way to stop people from saying and doing things that are objectionable is to stop paying attention to them.

Monday, September 06, 2010

I Would Buy This

It seems that a startup company based in Seattle has come up with easily installed, do-it-yourself Solar Panels that can be purchase for an average of $700 dollars each.

Think about that for a minute. For the cost of a home appliance you can buy a solar panel that you can install that will hang over a window, or a door, like an awning, with a cord that you can plug into any outlet of your home. And it will feed the power it generates back into the electrical grid.

And this is not a system that you have to spend $20,000 on and hire a team of experts to install--this is a system that (presumably) you can install yourself using step-by-step instructions and basic hand tools. And you will recoup the cost of it in four years or less. AND, most importantly, the system is portable, meaning that if you move, you can take it with you.

A few years ago, my neighbor went to the expense and trouble of having solar panels installed on his roof. He uses them to heat his water. It never made any sense to me to do the same, since the 200+ foot tall Oak tree in my neighbor's back yard blocks the sun from shining on my house for most of the early day and a goodly portion of the early afternoon (something I am very grateful for in the Summer). But for most of the afternoon and evening, the front of my house is in direct sunlight. 2 or 3 of these panels would, I think, reduce my electric bills considerably. I even have the perfect location for them.

And I might actually be able to use my front porch for a change.

So if this company is a success (and I see no reason for them not to be, other than corporate greed), I hope they will soon offer their products for sale at my local hardware store.

I'll be one of the first in line to buy them.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

It's An Outrage

The new division format for the Big Ten (now up to 12 teams) was announced today. As per usual in college football these days, the almighty dollar has prevailed.

You see, in order to secure more money for itself, the Big Ten TV network has ensured not only that it will have a Big Ten championship game to broadcast, but that there will be a chance that there could be a second OSU-Michigan game.

You see, OSU and Michigan will be placed in separate divisions, and, although they will still meet in the last regular season game, there is also a chance that they could meet in the championship game that follows.

The thinking behind this, of course, is that since the rivalry between UM and OSU has been voted as the greatest rivalry in college football, and that the ratings for their annual game are always spectacular (ABC broadcasts it every year nationwide), then what could bring in more money other than a second meeting between the two?

Of course, the "thinking" behind this is flawed. The last few years notwithstanding, "the game" has often decided the Big Ten champion. It's been the source of thousands of bets, monetary or otherwise. It was the showcase for one of the most storied rivalries in college football, one that one can be described to any fan using only 3 words: Woody versus Bo. It's a rivalry that really brought college sports into the limelight as a valuable source of income for many schools.

But that has really become the problem. College football has steadily become less and less about getting kids the education they need and more and more about making money hand over fist. It is money that is the reason College football sticks with a bowl system that grows more ridiculous every year (there is now about one bowl for every 3 division 1A teams) and rarely leaves anyone happy with the result (By my count, the Bowl Championship series has worked exactly once--when undefeated OSU played undefeated Miami in 2003). And it is money that is the reason the Big Ten is setting up a system wherein OSU and UM could meet twice within the span of 3 weeks or less.

I realize that it is hard for any university to have a profitable football program. The costs associated with fielding a football team every week of the season are astronomical even for the largest schools. And every dollar that the schools must pump into athletic scholarships deprives them of one less dollar to provide scholarships for non-athletes who may be far more deserving of it.

But allowing money considerations to diminish the greatest rivalry in college football history, a rivalry that has included such legendary names as Howard Cassidy, Archie Griffin, Art Schlichter, Rex Kern, Desmond Howard, Deion Sanders, and Eddie George, just to name a few, is an outrage and an insult to the millions of fans (myself included) who voted that same rivalry the greatest one in college football.

If colleges were serious about keeping their costs down, they would demand that the NFL fund the scholarships for all Division 1A players. It is only fair, considering that the NCAA football system is really nothing more than a free minor league system for the NFL. Not only would this help them keep costs down, it would also help more students attend college.

Which would help everyone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Don't Have to Try

This afternoon, I walked into the middle of a conversation between some of my co-workers. I caught the last snippet of conversation (paraphrased):

Co-worker #1: I think people who try to make other people look stupid are insecure themselves.
Co-worker #2: You mean people like Eric (me) here.

Now, of course this was said jokingly, and I took it in the playful spirit in which it was intended. But it set me thinking.

Because, you see, in this day and age, no one has to make someone else look stupid. They are doing a fine job of it all by themselves.

Hell, there are entire TV shows dedicated to showing people making themselves look stupid. From Amazing Rac to Wipeout. From Jersey Shore to Jackass. Seriously. Who watches a show entitled Jackass?! Well, for starters, I think the title of the show is a pretty fair indicator of the show's main audience. Oh, and if you are a fan of Jackass, then you are forbidden from ever reading this blog again. Then again, you're probably illiterate, so you can't read it anyway. The mere fact that a 3-D movie sequel to Jackass is soon to be released makes me fear for the future of this country. Then again, the number of things that make me fear for the future of this country may be too numerous to count at this point.

So no, I don't have to try to make people feel stupid. Nor do I. But it is occasionally amusing to see people who are ready, willing, and able to do it to themselves.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Playing Right Into Their Hands

It would seem that all the frenzy that has been stirred up over the proposed building of an Islamic community center a few blocks from NY's ground zero has apparently played right into the hands of Islamic extremists.

In a course of events that should come as no surprise to any sane, rational, intelligent person, it would seem that the furor and protests being stirred up by the radical right over the proposed community center is being cited by an extremist Imam as a textbook case of America's intolerance toward the Muslim faith.

And really, can you think of anything that is currently being said or done that is doing anything to discourage that?

Sadly, we seem to be growing short on our supply of sane, rational, intelligent people.

I feel that it is germane at this point to quote the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Take a careful look at the first right enumerated in the first sentence. Pay close attention to the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Freedom of religion--the right of every citizen of this country to worship as he or she sees fit--is the first right enumerated in the bill of rights, listed before such monumental freedoms as freedom of the press or speech. Most of our founding fathers had firsthand experience with the tyranny that could arise when the state decided to establish a religion for itself, and they wanted to make sure that such tyranny could never happen here.

That is why it makes me shudder to see the way the religious wright is so easily able to co-opt the political agenda in this country. And why I can't help but think that our founding fathers must be spinning in their graves when they see it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Up in (Fiery) Arms

Apparently there is a fuss being raised over the video released for the latest song by Eminem entitled "Love the Way You Lie".

Now, since I truly hate people who rush to judgment over something before they have seen/read/listened to/etc. it, I went on-line and watched the video. Note: I will NOT link to it here. I ain't your damn search engine. Go to YouTube and search "Eminem Rihanna".

So I watched it. And may I say pairing "heroin guy" from "Lost" (I came to refer to the characters on the show by my nicknames for them since they seemed to get killed with such regularity and it was hard to keep track) with Megan Fox may be one of the more unusual on-screen couplings I've seen. And I have to say that this may also be the best type of role for Megan Fox i.e. one that she doesn't actually have to recite any lines spoken aloud, and can rely on her ability to look scorchingly hot rather than her acting talent (or lack thereof). Although her performance still seemed badly acted and forced...

But back to the video. The video shows shots of what one assumes to be a typical white trash couple fighting, making up, fighting again, making up again, and then (presumably) one or both of them dying in a house fire one of them set. It's very "The Burning Bed"-like.

Some people, it seems, are up in arms over this. They seem to think it glorifies domestic violence. They seem to think it glorifies alcohol-fueled fights. They seem to think it glorifies using homicide as a solution to domestic violence.

I seem to think these people are idiots.

Wake up you morons! It's a music video. Nothing more. And may I also say that this video glorifies neither domestic violence or homicide. And anyone who says otherwise has obviously never seen it. That's all I'm going to say on the matter.

Except to say this: What is it with the pairing of rappers with regular singers? First there's Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg, and now Rihanna and Eminem? What's next? Run DMC and Aerosmith?

Oh wait. That's already happened...

(By the way, Steven Tyler is one seriously ugly person. I'm guessing his daughter thanks God every day she didn't get her looks from him...)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

He Said it Better Than I Could, Continued



Well said, my friend.

(Note: I tried to embed the official MSNBC video, but it never seemed to work. Hmm...)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bravo, Mr. President

President Obama has given a speech defending the planned building of an Islamic community center near the area where the World Trade Center once stood. And he gave this speech despite overwhelming criticism of the idea.

It is a move that will make him more unpopular. And it is a wagonload of fresh meat thrown to the conservative blowhards that have been screaming about him from the day he took the oath of office.

It is also a move that gives me a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, this President might finally be willing, in some small way, to start sticking to his principles.

This country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. It is the first right enumerated in the first amendment of the Bill of Rights (Look it up). And like it or not, there are over a billion Muslims in this world. And the vast majority of them are good, decent people who were appalled by the attacks of September 11th. Millions of Muslims live and work in this country. They defend it every day in the armed forces, the police, and the fire departments of our country. And they know that while the monsters who flew those planes into the WTC, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania may have claimed to be Muslims, they were about as far removed from the true Muslim faith as an anthill is from Mount Everest.

Look, the group that proposes the building of this mosque is dedicated to improving relations between Islamic countries and the west. And I can't think of any better way to do that than to ensure that there is a place where people can learn the true meaning of the Muslim faith mere blocks away from where people who were an abomination of that faith committed a horrific act against our country.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Something You Think Is a Joke

You see pictures posted on the internet that look like this:



You think they are jokes.

But they really aren't:



If you have any doubts, please read the news report here.


I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that news of incidents like these come from the South...

Yeah, I said it. Get over it. Or secede. Ask your ancestors how well that worked out.

Jet F@#& You!

I doubt that anyone in the world right now has not heard of the Jet Blue flight attendant who, after being struck on the head by luggage being taken from an overhead bin, cursed out the passenger who did it on the P.A., grabbed a beer, opened an emergency exit from the plane, popped the emergency slide, and, well, quit his job rather emphatically.

I've flown on my share of airplanes. I've watched many times as my planes arrived at their gates and 3/4ths of the passengers in them immediately stand, fill the aisle(s), and grab everything they've stowed in the overhead bins and expect to get off the plane within the next five seconds. I've been hit by more than a few bags dumped unceremoniously on the seats below them. News flash folks: It ain't gonna happen! Pressures have to be equalized. Jetways have to be docked and leveled. And the luggage bins have to be unloaded so that transferring luggage can be moved to planes that may be on the other side of the airport before they take off. Believe me when I say that they don't always succeed. These are the things that demand the priority of the ground crews.

I realize that people are lauding this man as an oppressed hero of the put-upon flying class. But please stop to consider for a minute just how many problems his actions caused.

Also consider what might have happened if this man had tried something while the plane was in the air...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Teen Choice Awards

So. Apparently the Teen Choice awards were handed out last night. Or so I’ve heard. As you’ve probably guessed, I wasn’t exactly glued to my TV watching them.

But, as far as I can determine, these would seem to be roughly the equivalent of the poor man’s People’s Choice awards. Now, don’t get me wrong: I have great respect for the People’s Choice awards. They tend to represent the views of the general public at large, rather than the views of a bunch of snobbish movie critics and other Hollyweird types. Typically, the movies nominated for Best Movie on the People’s
Choice list tend to out-earn their counterparts on the Academy Awards list by an average of five to one. And, while you occasionally see an occasional blockbuster from an Oscar winner, this tends to be the exception, rather than the rule. The most obvious reason for this is that the People’s Choice awards are based on polls of the American Public at large, while the Oscars are based on votes from a select group of Hollywood elites, who generally tend to believe their tastes are far, far above those of “ordinary Americans”

But when I hear about the Teen Choice awards, I am given cause to stop and ponder. Like the PC’s, the TC’s are awarded based on the results of an on-line poll. And, while I have never voted in this poll, I have to believe that not a whole lot of care is taken to ensure that only the votes of people between the ages of 13 and 19 are counted in this poll. After all, we’re talking about an internet poll. And if there is one thing that is universally true about the internet everywhere, it’s
that it allows for total anonymity. I’m sure that if I had taken leave of my senses and decided to cast a vote in this poll, there would have been nothing to stop me from doing so. Hell, I’m almost tempted to cast a vote in the next poll just for laughs. Almost.

So the TC’s are really nothing more than just a lighter version of the PC’s. Another excuse for Hollyweird to throw another ridiculous party and show themselves off in fashions most ordinary Americans wouldn’t be caught dead wearing.

The awards themselves, of course, are nothing more than negotiating tools the stars who won them can use to wring a few more millions out of the Hollyweird brass when they are negotiating the salaries for their next movie, or their next TV role, or their next album. Oh, and the awards are a joke: They are shaped like surfboards. REAL surfboards. 6-foot tall SURFBOARDS!

This years big winner in the movies category was, naturally, the latest Twilight movie. After all, how could millions of hormone-crazed teens (and probably more than a few internet predators pretending to be hormone-crazed teens) NOT vote for a movie starring, apparently, 3 of the most beautiful young people in Hollywood.

An aside: I managed to last through about 20 minutes of the first Twilight movie a few months ago. Then, I turned it off. And spent the next ten minutes looking for an ice pick or other suitably long, thin, sharp object that I could jam into my head in order to permanently lobotomize the part of my brain that carried the memory of that anal excretion of a movie. Fortunately, I soon gave up on my search and simply drank a heroic amount of alcohol. It helped, for no other reason than it killed enough brain cells to dim the memory. The movie sucked, is what I’m saying, in case you didn’t get it.

So the TC’s have now come and gone. Hollywood has patted itself on the back again. And I have to believe that no one outside of Hollywood gives a rat’s ass. I sure don’t.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Once Upon a Time

I have only been in one serious relationship with a woman. Please be advised that when I say "serious relationship", I mean one that lasts more than 2 months.

She was a co-worker. I know that office relationships are doomed the day they start. But we fit well together. We were both reserved, both non-committal, and both working in jobs that we didn't enjoy. But this was a good relationship. Due to circumstances outside our control, however, we both knew that it couldn't last. And no, before you ask, it wasn't because we were having an extramarital affair. Sheesh! You people have dirty minds. But it was fulfilling for both of us while it lasted.

I live in Toledo, Ohio. It is one of the worst cities in America for a single person to live. This is a town that consists of either people who are married, or people who move here after they get married. For reasons passing understanding.

I have hit middle age as a single with a vengeance. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will probably live my life that way. This is due to a combination of factors including, but not limited to, my age, my external appearance, and my overall negative disposition towards others.

If things ever happen to change that, well, then that will happen.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

I Don't do Facebook

I do not have a facebook page.

I do not have a twitter account.

I do not use myspace.

I, apparently unlike millions of others desperate for their share of the 15 minutes of fame, do not crave attention like a crack user seeking a rock. This is the only way I can think of to describe these millions of facebook, twitter, and myspace users who lust for as many online friends as they can get their cyberspace hands on. Never mind the fact that most of these users will never actually have face-to-face contact with the people they connect with electronically--it is also highly unlikely that any of these people will also actually carry out an actual verbal communication with any of their so-called cyberfriends.

This, my friends, is the biggest part of my problem with these services. These so-called "social networks" are actually doing the opposite of what they may have been originally intended to do: They are discouraging the development of basic social skills.

Add on to this that it is a known fact that these services are often trolled by predators, sexual and otherwise, looking for vulnerable victims. Victims, I might add, who are not exactly making themselves hard to find. The amount of information some of these people are willing to share about their lives makes me shudder.

I have actually become quite surprised with myself that I write this blog. I've been doing this for more than six years now, and there have been times when, quite frankly, I have shared some of my more intimate thoughts with the 3 people who read it.

An aside: I often refer to "the 3 readers of this blog" in many posts. I have no idea the actual readership. I've gotten comments every now and then. Its existence is not advertised anywhere but in my e-mail signatures.

It is important to remember, however, that I don't write in this blog for attention. I write it so that my personal thoughts, experiences, and opinions will be available somewhere other than in my own head. Over the past 6+ years, I have written some things here that I am, at various times, proud of, scared of, ashamed of, and, quite frankly, confused by. But this is what I have written. I will never delete anything, rewrite anything, or do anything other than make minor grammatical edits to anything I have written or will write here.

So now, climbing off my soapbox...

Let me conclude this post with a little story: I have heard that there is a program available on facebook that allows you to plant, cultivate, and harvest "virtual vegetables". I have no idea if this is true. But if it is, let me ask this of the people who spend time doing this: Have you ever pondered turning off your computer, going outside, tilling some dirt in a garden plot, planting real vegetables, harvesting them, and making yourself a nice dish?

I grow tomatoes every summer. I enjoy using them to make my homemade spaghetti sauce. Try it sometime. It's really delicious!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The TEA Party

The so-called Tax Enough Already party has just expelled its leader for apparently calling the NAACP a racist organization.

I'll give you a few minutes to let the irony of that statement sink in.

These Tea Party folks really, really hate it when the government takes their money and uses it for frivolous things as paying people their social security benefits, keeping the country's infrastructure intact, making sure the armed forces are paid, and cleaning up the mess created by a massive underwater oil spill. Of course, they have no problem when these things happen under a Republican administration. Or when said administration spends billions it can't afford to invade, conquer, and occupy another country.

To the members of the Tea Party, let me say this: You are a bunch of useless hypocrites. You are all a bunch of fat white racist twits who not only can't stand that a Democrat resides in the White House, but that he is also black.

To the Southern Tea party members: The South lost the war. Get over it. Someone always loses a war. If you don't want that someone to be you, then you shouldn't start wars in the first place. And yes, you DID start it. Check the history books. The Southern states seceded, and they fired on Fort Sumter first, which is the battle that started the civil war.

To the Northern Tea party members: Your ancestors are spinning in their graves. They fought and died to free an entire class of people being held in soul-destroying servitude. And now, a century and a half later, when one of their descendants holds the highest office in the land, you associate yourselves with people who are no better than those who once wore white robes and pointy hats and burned churches in the name of God! How can you possibly be proud of that?!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Is This the Definition of Irony?



Think about it for a second: A picture of a Polaroid camera taken with the very instrument that basically made it obsolete--the digital camera phone.

By the way? $10 for a camera that no one can use because hardly anyone can find film for it any more. Maybe if they paid me $10, I might take it off their hands.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Drain it Out

The three regular readers of this blog know that I recently spent a week on vacation in the beautiful state of Hawai'i. And in the course of that visit I took a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial, where I found the name of a deceased sailor who had the same initials as mine.

For those of you that have never visited the memorial (I will assume that's everyone) you should know that a tiny trickle of oil still leaks from the remains of the ship constantly. It's considered to be the tears of the dead, or possibly the ashes of the fallen,

But I recently saw a documentary about the sunken ship. And it seems that the small oil leak from the sunken fuel oil bunker has the potential to become something much worse. It seems that after nearly 70 years of lying sunken in 70 feet of salt water and 20 feet of mud, there is the possibility that this leaking oil can become a deluge.

I know that there is considerable reluctance to desecrate the underwater tomb of 1177 dead sailors, but let me say this: I really don't think they will mind if we sink a hose into their tomb and try to prevent a major biological disaster.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Harvey Pekar (October 8th, 1939-July 12th, 2010)

Those apparently in the know in the world of underground comics are mourning the death of Harvey Pekar. If you have no idea who I'm talking about, I'm not surprised. He was the author of the underground comic book series American Splendor.

This series was unique in that it did not feature an heroic crime fighter or an avenging vigilante of some sort. No, it simply featured Harvey. Being, well, Harvey. Every day. It was his life as he knew it. What made it interesting was that this guy had a life that was, shall we say, less than interesting. He lived alone. He worked as a file clerk at a V.A. hospital. He collected Jazz records. He got mad at people. A LOT.

But people were eating this comic up. Maybe it was because they were sardonically funny. Maybe it was just because people liked to read them and think to themselves, "Hey, my life may be bad, but at least I'm better off than that guy.

But these comics made Harvey's life better. He met his future wife because she was a fan. He appeared on David Letterman many times (until he got tired of being Letterman's punching bag and told him off on national TV). And then, a few years ago, an HBO movie was made about his life.

Now, HBO doesn't make very much that's bad (Although I really didn't get the point of Entourage. Seriously. It's a series about an actor and his three hanger-on friends who go around Hollyweird trying to get laid all the time. And they made a series about this?!)

But I digress. HBO usually makes quality films, is what I'm saying. And I'd been wanting to see this film ever since I read this review a few years ago.

(By the way, he's not really naked. Trust me when I say you should be thankful for that)

So I resolved that the first time I found the film in the library I would check it out. So I did a couple of years ago. And I took it home and didn't watch it. I do that a lot. Mostly because I'm usually too busy watching my West Wing DVD's.

But this past Saturday, I found it again. It might have been fate trying to tell me something. So I checked it out, and took it home where it would probably not be watched again.

But then I read today about Harvey's death. So the first thing I did when I got home was watch the movie.

It's brilliant. Paul Giamatti plays Harvey spot on. And the way you know this is that the real Harvey Pekar narrates the film. And even acts in it a little. And most of the film's scenes were taken from Harvey's comic books, and since they are basically about his life, any movie taken from these books can't help but be pretty accurate.

But perhaps what makes the movie even more poignant now is the fact that I knew as I was watching it that the person being portrayed is now dead. At one point in the movie, while undergoing treatments for cancer, Harvey asks his wife if, since he is a guy who writes about himself (I'm paraphrasing) in a comic book, when he dies, will his character go on living, or will he just fade away?

I have never read any of the American Splendor comic books. And, since I'm sure that with Pekar's death the price of back issues will inflate exponentially, I probably never will.

But I salute you Harvey Pekar. Somehow you managed to take a dull and meaningless life and turn it into something better simply by doing the one thing you were apparently very good at: Telling people about your life.

You are my idol.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The First of 2 Envelopes

I've been pondering lately the current Administration's efforts to dig this country out of the mess it was left in by the previous administration and congress. Most of these efforts have been partially effective at best. And with the Gulf oil spill only making matters worse, this Administration may never accomplish a tenth of what it hoped to accomplish.

I am reminded of a story I was once told about a new Russian premier. I'm sure the story isn't true, and I don't remember exactly how it went, but here is the gist:

The premier of the Russian government resigned in disgrace after his country suffered a major crisis. On his first day on the job, the newly appointed premier walked into his new office. On his cleaned off desk, he found 2 envelopes left for him by his predecessor. On one of them was written, "Open this envelope the first time something goes horribly wrong. The second envelope said "open this envelope the second time something goes horribly wrong.

So, not too long after he took office, something went horribly wrong. The premier opened the envelope. In it was a single piece of paper on which was written, "blame it all on me". The premier followed the advice. And he thanked his lucky stars that the man who came before him had been so smart.

A few months later, something else went horribly wrong. The premier opened the second envelope, hoping to find another way out. In the envelope was a second piece of paper. On it was written simply, "Time for you to prepare two envelopes.


I don't know how much longer Obama can keep reading the piece of paper from the first envelope.