Since the car parked behind me today happened to belong to a PrAna person, and I haven't been in any condition to look for messages from the universe lately, I decided to take a shot. Prana is the sanskrit word for breath, the yogic chi, life force energy. We could use a little of that around here.
As it turns out, PrAna is also a clothing maker for the adventurous person who has no lumps. On the PrAna website you will find a video and some remarkable photographs, dating back to 1992, showing the fashions in action -- dozens of climbers, undoubtedly attired in PrAna, hanging by their fingernails. Too bad the photographs are so small. They do not do justice to the tension of the situations depicted.
Photo note: A metaphorophoto -- My Prana is stuck on a car window.
Have you noticed all the hoopla about The Church of the Latter Day Saints lately? A wise friend suggested that perhaps we, the American public, are being innured, rather, prepared, to clasp a centrist Mormon to our respective bosoms.
Mitt Romney, everyone's favorite Mormon politician, has been running for president ever since he was elected Governor of Massachusetts four years ago. His company, Bain, scooped up Clear Channel (famous for banning The Dixie Chicks) this month. How convenient to have his very own media outlet for the 2008 election. As you may know, Mormons are required by doctrine to be prepared.
Mitt, no doubt thinking of his future in politics, was savvy enough to limit himself to one wife, which is not the case with Warren Jeffs, husband of 90, father of 272, who has been on trial for two first degree felony charges of rape (and a little sodomy on the side). Jeffs is president and patriarch of The Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints.
A couple of days ago the depressed, gay, neoconservative , Andrew Sullivan, published a shot of Mormon underwear on his blog and caused quite a flap (forgive the expression) (P.S, he was scooped by yours truly in 2004}
Then there were last year's Mormon best sellers, Jon Krakauer's "Under the Banner of Heaven" a shocking true crime tale of Mormon murder, and Martha Beck's Leaving the Saints. Martha's dad, Hugh Nibley, a professor at Brigham Young, was the apologist for Mormonhood when The Book of Abraham Papyri, an important Mormon text, translated from the Egyptian by Joseph Smith, was discovered at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, retranslated, and proved to be a complete fraud. Dr. Nibley was very stressed by the situation, and he sexually abused his daughter, as patriarchs are sometimes known to do under duress..
On the lighter side, the big hit of the HBO season, the new "Deadwood", "Six Feet Under the Covers", "Big Love", is a noirish comedy about a polygamous family, now out on DVD. Even though the show is highly recommended by the intelligentsia, Mormons are not amused
I , personally, have nothing against polygamy. I can think of a number of dear and close personal friends with whom I'd gladly sisterwife. I do, however, detest a patriarchy. Number 9 on the list of the characteristics of fundamentalism is, "led by males". Oh well. I'd of course, want to do the blog, and distribute my alloted trysts among the more nubile.
When one is constantly sniffing, or rather, when one's nose has been running for close to a month, one might find oneself turning to drugs. The legal kind, of course, as in the
However, as the law of attraction would have it, Penn and Teller's video about The War on Drugs serendipitiously came to my attention.
If you're not into taking illicit drugs, try one of Ted's herbal remedies:
1) Add to 1/2 cup hot water: 2-3 cloves minced garlic, lemon,
honey, and as much cayenne pepper as you can handle. Drink it slowly. Repeat
every hour. [or serve over crisp romaine-- Dak]
2) 2 or 3 tablespoons chlorophyll in 8 oz. water, also every
hour or so.
Photo note: for lack of a more interesting subject, I shot the pills I take each morning which ostensibly support my immune system and keep me healthy, along with my Chinese tea, lemon and various medicine-like bottles for added interest. I find the Omega 3's particularly photogenic.
Linda Milazzo at Smirking Chimp thinks that admonitions against it are simply another neoconservative ploy. She writes:
If America and Americans are to be resurrected in the eyes of the world, proper investigation of the Bush administration is a Democratic mandate. If, as I believe, incontrovertible evidence of Bush and Cheney's high crimes and misdemeanors is uncovered, impeachment proceedings should go forth. Already, prior to any Congressional investigations taking place, volumes have been written delineating the impeachable crimes of Bush and Cheney. High level symposiums have been held. Dozens of Constitutional scholars have spoken, all convinced of their guilt....
But impeaching George W. Bush will be constructive for America and Americans. It will be educational. Americans will watch the proceedings and learn about the Constitution. They'll receive a long overdo lesson on the Constitutional responsibilities of their President, the balance of powers, and gain a clearer understanding of their own rights and freedoms. Americans will acquire an insight into proper governance to make them better stewards of their democracy.
America, the nation, will regain some of the moral authority diminished by Bush and Cheney. The rest of the world will know that America can distinguish between insignificant and substantial. Clinton was impeached for matters insignificant to his leadership of the nation. Bush will be impeached for matters so substantial that they caused the deaths of thousands and endangered the whole world.
Excellent points all.
Eternal Hope at Dailly Kos has provided us with specific Articles of Impeachment, and believes Cheney should be included in the process. I think we could all agree that he has been an active participant, nay, an equal evil doer in making the mess in which we find ourselves. In addition, Cheney has profited handsomely from this war, unlike the President, who has just handed his part of the war profits over to his dad for safekeeping. Impeaching W. without his Vice President, would simply allow neoconservative principles to proliferate like maggots on a corpse.
If Nancy P., in the spirit of bipartisanship, is reluctant to initiate impeachment personally, our fine Constitution offers alternatives. State legislatures can begin the process, or we can just do-it-ourselves, and even get some of those wickedly ominous "V" folk to serve the papers.
Really, the internet is just full of excellent resources
Photo note: One of those ubiquitous internal messages that the gas company writes to themselves all over the place.
As you can probably tell from the flower picture -- it's definitely been awhile since I published one of those --- I am still in weakened condition, spending my time abed, immersed in absorbing fiction, gripping autobiography and, intermittantly, forensic economics, thanks to Greg Palast
Pneumonia was ruled out yesterday with a chest x-ray. The working diagnosis, found at the end of the discharge summary sheet from the clinic, is bronchitis, provided along with a prescription for a killer antibiotic which I hesitate to take immediately, since this is thought to be viral. I am working on my lung chi with toning, for those of you who thought I had forsaken the woowoo.
You are, once again, left to amuse yourselves, and wonder why the morning glories are still blooming outside my door in November.
Photo note: The morning glories that are blooming outside my door in November.
When women work together, the results can be truly remarkable.
Photo note: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
the turkey is raw
the yams are unroasted
the stuffing in pans
shall continue untoasted
Thanksgiving is canceled
the hostess in bed
the guests are invited
to Chinese instead
A much better Thanksgiving Poem
Photo note: It was hard to find a cornicopia for the 940 pound pumpkin at Wilson's Farm. Love the admonition
Tis the day before Thanksgiving and there's lots to do. I'm feeling terrible again, and will wear a gas mask and gloves so as not to contaminate the turkey At times like these, I find myself wishing for a a sisterwife or two.
For those who aren't shopping and cooking, sit back in your rocking chair and listen to Keith Olbermann educating W. about Vietnam. Perhaps you could arrange to chop onions in front of the computer to help out.
Photo note: A graffiti on the wall of the snow board store. What, pray tell, does this have to do with anything? Although I hesitate to mention it, this is a picture of what my sinuses feel like today.. The color is especially perfect.
I know you are all eager to hear the end of the Tale of Ms. Bunny Do-Good . The beginning can be found here, here, and here, and involves the arrest of Matthew Shinnick in the lobby of the Bank of America, and Ms. Bunny Do-Good's attempt to speak the truth to power. Bear with me, while I create an indelible record in cyberspace.
When last we checked, Ms. Bunny had just had her letter of protest deep sixed by one Ms. Hudder, who turned out to be a real person after all, and not an android. Ms. Hudder evidently took Ms. Bunny's suggestion and forwarded her letter to a superior. Ms. Kathleen Stammers replied promptly, as follows:
Dear Ms. F, (Bunny Do-Good is a pseudonym)
Thank you for your inquiry dated 11/20/06 regarding Other. [doesn't that sentence scream canned? -Dak]
We are committed to providing you with the best banking experience
Our commitment is to provide the highest level of service possible.
These standards demand that we treat our customers and their requests
with understanding and respect.
We assure you that we have procedures in place to investigate reported
fraud incidents and counter measures to identify opportunities for
potential fraud. Actions will be taken to protect our customers
financial information. In the instance of confirmed fraud, we work with
authorities to prosecute those responsible.
With regards to Mr. Shinnick, in accordance with our fraud prevention
policies, the matter was appropriately escalated to law enforcement. It
was the decision of the San Francisco Police Department to detain and
arrest Mr. Shinnick, after they conducted their investigation. We
understand that this incident was very difficult for Mr. Shinnick;
however our greatest responsibility is to protect all of our customers
and to seek ways to make sure that other customers do not fall victim to
fraudulent financial schemes.
We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused you.
If we may be of further assistance, please contact us again by e-mail.
Thank you for choosing Bank of America, we appreciate your business.
Bank of America
Did you know? You can pay all your bills in minutes with Online Banking
with free, unlimited Bill Pay. Sign in to Online Banking and click on
the Bill Pay and e-Bills tab to get started paying bills today.
This message is in response to your recent request. If you are not the
addressee please contact us. Any reply to this e-mail will not be
secure; please do not respond with personal or confidential information
.Dear Ms. Stammers,
Thank you for answering my letter. It is heartening to know that there is a real
person at Bank of America to address my concerns.
I must say that I found the process of giving Bank of America feedback on this
matter most discouraging. Especially the message at the end of a convoluted trail on your website to which Ms. Hudder directed me, which reads -- "While we appreciate your input we regret that we cannot respond individually to feedback submitted here". As I wrote to Ms. Hudder, the implication is that "feedback" left in this location will go directly to the recycle bin.
As to the issue of Matthew Shinnick, although I appreciate its intent, your fraud prevention program does not make
me feel safer as a Bank of America customer, I have often asked my bank
(formerly Fleet/ Bank of Boston) to verify that a check I received was supported by
sufficient funds. I would hate to think that I might be arrested for such an
I am certain that your legal department has advised you on the matter of Mr.
Shinnick. In my opinion, those who mistakenly "escalate", even if they think
it is appropriate, bear some responsiblity for the consequences of their
On another subject entirely, I like the idea of being "greeted" when I enter a branch office. Unlike the greeting at Walmart, I find it actually saves time at the bank, and helps me to feel less like I'm dealing with a heartless corporate entity. No one likes that feeling.
Thank you again for your response.
I didn't clickie up my email, of course.
I did however stumble upon a site worth further exploration.
Photo note: Ms Bunny's nemesis, up close
Ah, 'tis a morning of protest.
On November 6, 2006, the good folk at We The People Foundation for Constitutional Education exercised their right to petition the government for redress of grievances (ignored many times). An individual member, dressed in a Guy Fawkes costume from the movie "V for Vendetta" , attempted to deliver petitions to several government offices, with varying degrees of difficulty. He alerted the powers that be that a hundred "V"s would return on November 14 to stage a silent protest in front of the White House. Scroll down for the visually effect.
Last night Howard Zinn spoke on WBUR's "World of Ideas". He reminded us that the government does not necessarily represent the people, and that the people, themselves, must find ways to speak for themselves..
Meanwhile, back here at the blog, I am personally confronting the corporatocracy.
I am writing let you know why I am withdrawing $$$$$$ from my Bank of America money market account.
I am joining with others who have withdrawn more that $50 million dollars from your institution in protest for your unspeakable treatment of Matthew Shinnick, and the corporate stance that has been taken toward him since his unwarranted arrest and detention. ( see story)
I am dismayed by the way a customer was treated on your premises, and by the fact that you don't seem to care about this. There are, understandably, underground bullies in every organization, who should be disciplined appropriately.
"From a public relations point of view, you are harming the reputation of the Bank of America by refusing to apologize and make appropriate financial reparations to Mr Shinnick . It leads me to believe that bullying is supported at an institutional level.
In the days before Google, an incident like this could be easily buried, but now it will be indelibly available online each time there is an internet search for Bank of America.
I urge you to take this to the highest level of your organization, and reexamine BOA's ethical stance in regard to this matter, as well as to bullying of all kinds, at every level of your organization.
Bank of America still has an opportunity to correct this situation, both internally, and with Mr. Shinnick. I urge you to do so.
I received a VERY prompt response which I have copied in its entirety:
Bank of America 11/19/06
Dear Ms. F,
Thank you for your inquiry dated 11/18/06 regarding Other. [the only category that seemed appropriate to check]
Ms. F., [nice personal touch] because your account security is our highest priority, we
are unable to process your request through unsecured e-mail. We are
only able to perform account maintenance or discuss confidential
information through a secure method of contact, one that requires you to
enter an Online ID and Passcode such as Online Banking. These methods
of contact allow us to verify that a request is from the account holder
and not an unauthorized attempt to change your account.
If you have access to Online Banking, please access your account on
Online Banking through our home page at www.bankofamerica.com and go to
the Customer Service tab to submit your request.
If you are not currently an Online Banking customer, please visit our
home page at www.bankofamerica.com to enroll in this free service today.
If you are unable to enroll on our Web site, please contact us at
1.800.432.1000 for enrollment assistance.
If you are outside the US please use the number listed above along with
the ATT Direct Access Code. For more details on ATT Direct Access Codes
and dialing protocols, please visit: www.usa.att.com/traveler/index.jsp
If we may be of further assistance, please contact us again by e-mail.
Thank you for choosing Bank of America.
Bank of America
Did you know? You can pay all your bills in minutes with Online Banking
with free, unlimited Bill Pay. Sign in to Online Banking and click on
the Bill Pay and e-Bills tab to get started paying bills today.
This message is in response to your recent request. If you are not the
addressee please contact us. Any reply to this e-mail will not be
secure; please do not respond with personal or confidential information.
Dear Miss Hudder.
If you are a a real person, you have my deepest sympathies It must be terrible to have a job that requires you to send a canned response letter that makes no sense, and then sign your own name to this correspondence. It is a name, by the way, that inspires confidence. I hope it's not real, for your sake.
I don't think you read my letter, which is understandable if you are an android. Clearly your organization has selected talking points with which to respond when a complaint arrives. I am left to assume that my feedback has been crushed in the recycle bin. It would have been more soothing, even if you had to lie, to tell me that you had passed my letter along to customer relations, or your supervisor. You might have taken it one step farther, and actually done so.
The avenue you suggested at the customer service tab, thanks me for my feedback (30 lines or less) and says quite explicitly "While we appreciate your input we regret that we cannot respond individually to feedback submitted here" . Small comfort to the dissatisfied customer. You might have given me the name of a person I could contact about this matter. Perhaps that job was eliminated in the merger. I am now left to my own devices
Hasn't anyone at the Bank of America heard this story?
"I once asked a LAME in Cairns if the tropical climate caused any peculiar aircraft maintenance problems.
He thought for a moment and said, "Yes, cockroaches, because they thrive in all the hidden recesses despite blazing heat on the ground and chilly temperatures in flight, and can really make a mess."
Then he told me a story about a businessman who woke up some years ago on an international flight only to find a giant cockroach crawling down his cheek. He was so revolted by this that he filled in a complaint form about the incident and sent it off.
Some weeks later a letter from the airline's Public Relations Manager landed on his desk. It was an outstanding example of the practitioner's art and convincingly explained the airline's strict precautions against such pests before admitting that, in very rare circumstances, bugs did get on board their airliners, but when they did so, it was always somebody else's fault; the unhygienic dumps they had to land at, or when they had to rely on contractors for servicing, or when carried aboard in passenger's hand luggage.
Then to show how repentant the airline was, the PR manager invited the business man to present his letter at check-in when next he flew, when he would be automatically upgraded to first class.
After carefully filing the letter, the business man crumpled up the envelope and pitched it into the waste paper basket. As it landed he noticed something inside it. So he retrieved the envelope and withdrew one of the ubiquitous Post-it notes used nowadays to write messages in every office around the globe and apparently enclosed in error by the PR Manager's secretary.
It was his instruction to her to, "Just send this jerk the standard cockroach letter.""
Bank of America needs one of those.
As long as I'm consulting. If someone seems to be registering a complaint when you go through your "other" email, it's probably not a good time to try to sell them something.
HERE'S WHAT THE CUSTOMER RELATIONS BOX AT BANK OF AMERICA, BURIED DEEP IN THE BOWELS OF THE WEBSITE, SAYS:
"While we appreciate your input we regret that we cannot respond individually to feedback submitted here. To send us a message & receive a response click here." [a place you have already been --Ms. Hudder's dead end department]
"Select a topic and provide your comments and suggestions in the text box below".
Topic: select one- acccounts and statements, credit card, enhancements, downloads, site navigation/design, payees, payments, site performance, transfers, view check deposit images, and the ubiquitious "other".
"Please Note: Approximately 30 text lines may be sent."
What is a girl to do if she cannot make her point in thirty lines? Put together her own Guy Fawkes costume? It would be ill advised to wear a mask into a bank, particularly one of this sort.
Those with greater wisdom would question spending any time at all on this icky project. I'll try to mind my own business from now on ---- if I am not further provoked by androids.
Photo note: Miss Bunny Do-Good, hanging by her own petard, is pursued by an android.
It's Sunday. Choices abound.
You can be outraged by the truth
You can gloat
You can think
You can feel hopeful about your pain
You can amuse yourself visually
you can meditate
just kidding ---you can meditate
You can meditate with children
You can meditate with pictures
You can just look at this picture
You can look at the picture knowing it is a chrome tombstone at Mt. Auburn Cemetery. reflecting autumn, and thnk about whether it is meant to be a doorway into other realities, given its location
Ted Haggard, the deposed, but wildly successful, Colorado evangelist said, in an interview with Richard Dawkins, that he modeled his church service after a rock concert. Lord knows, the big congregations have all the flashing lights and electronic equipment to produce them. This ought to appeal to adolescents (chronological and otherwise), and it does to some -- then they enroll at Liberty U.
However, this week there are two adolescent proselytization backfire stories in news -- the preacher teacher saving souls in a New Jersey classroom, and the horrifying story of a Polish exchange student who found that his host family were evangelical Christians, with high hopes for a Krakow mission
Although there is a yearning for social connection in contemporary society that evangelical congregations seem to be satisfying, the question remains whether social connection through organized religion is a positive influence on society in general.
On to more evangelical news.
Bush, showing his sincere interest in working across party lines, having lost 30% of evangelical votes in the midterms, has tempted them back into the fold with the person of Dr. Eric Keroack. The abstinence-only fanatic will be our new chief of family planning programs for the Department of Health and Human Services. Small consolation for losing James Inhofe.
So much for heterosexual evangelism. Evangelicals have been working on the primary prevention of homosexuality. [be sure to scroll]Jon Stewart, of course, has other ideas. Then there's the model of Christian compromise as practiced at the Cathedral of God in Dallas.
Had enough? Not quite? Me too.
Photo note: A distorted, truncated church
Yesterday I had a small surge of outrage watching the latest cellphone horror flick -- bullies tazing a "brown" student at the UCLA library. Remind me to learn to use the camera on my cellie for just such an occasion.
I've been meaning to transfer a wad from Bank of America to a money market fund that makes more than .00032 % a year. Bank of America not only provided me with inspiratiion to switch my funds in a timely manner, but also with a proper target for my vengeance toward bullies I am sorry to say that I am not past enjoying vengeance -- yet.
As you might have heard, Bank of America recently swallowed MBNA. Two dedicated employees composed a merger ode, hoping, perhaps, not to be part of the downsize that always accompanies these things. If they did lose their jobs, I think there's a market out there for their music Other odes to work on : One Hardware Store, One Stationary Store, One Florist, One Organic Market.
Perhaps you have somehow missed my poem on this subject.
Photo note: One leaf, many drips
I must admit all of us here at Dakota adore Nancy Pelosi. The thing we like best about her is that she voted against the invasion of Iraq. She doesn't seem to be in the service of the corporatocracy, but even if she is, she's a vast improvement.
As a clever, but forgotten (apologies), commentator reminded us last week. "She's one heartbeat and a steady electrical pulse away from the Presidency.". Mind you, this would also take care of the Hillary problem, since Nancy would be an incumbent in 2008.
When her microphone failed at a recent press conference, she asked reporters if she should wait for it to be fixed or just use her mother-of-five voice. What makes this hilarious is that she doesn't resemble anyone's mother you ever knew, unless you hung with the younger Vreelands.
We do not need to know what she wears, although we understand that she has to play the game -- just take a peak at Hillary and Laura. If you are monarch, you must drape yourself in ermine tails and tiaras, or your public will be disappointed . I do hope she leaves a few wrinkles and gets a white streak, so her youthfulness doesn't get androidy creepy like Goldie Hawn's .
But we trivialize, as is our tendency.
The more leftist, Paul Street of Znet woke us from our thrall. Our excitment was unexamined under the spell of the kind and beautiful Nancy, replacing the haggard Hastert. Street had some excelllent suggestions about what Nancy could be doing with her power -- this, excerpted from a larger piece entitled "Victory without Vision": Remember, Howard Dean did not play it safe and it turned out to be just what American people were craving.
THE LUNCH WE NEED
Now, here is how the lunch would go if the kind of American political rebellion this nation (and the world) needs had occurred. The next Speaker would arrive with at least four sharp steel knives – one for Bush, one for Dick Cheney, one for Darth Rove, and one for Rumsfeld (resignation is no reprieve).
She would ask the bubble president’s staff to provide live television footage of millions in American streets, including hundreds of thousands converging on the White House.
She would present Bush with a CD containing a petition containing 650,000 names calling for: his immediate resignation and that of Cheney; the installment of Pelosi as interim executive and the calling of an extraordinary new presidential election within three months; the immediate removal of U.S. military forces from Iraq and the setting up of an international peacekeeping force there; the development of a long-term plan for the payment of large-scale U.S. reparations to Iraq; and the rapid holding of a Constitutional Convention to pass a Democracy Amendment to institute the democratic restructuring of the U.S. electoral process.
It would be helpful if Pelosi could present Bush with a note of concurrence from top military officials and a mass petition from illegally deployed soldiers stationed in Iraq.
Bush, Cheney, Rumbo, and Rove would be told to choose between three options: (1) accept all of these conditions and voluntarily surrender to specially appointed federal authorities for corruption and war-crime trials conducted in cooperation with relevant international agencies; (2) immediate deportation of all of them and (if they wish) their loved ones (except Lynn Cheney, who will be kept for observation in a psychiatric clinic in an undisclosed location near the Mexican border) to Bush’s newly purchased estate in Paraguay (a nation accustomed to hosting war criminals), where they will be placed under internationally monitored house arrest supervised by the Organization of American States; (3) death by suicide, in the respectable Japanese tradition whereby failed tyrants admit and act on their shame through appropriate self-elimination.
Whichever option they choose, each of the deposed criminals will be required to make internationally televised apologies to the survivors of all people (American GIs and Iraqis alike) killed by “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
It's alot ot wish for.
A little jail time could have a positive effect on the distorted thinking of our administration. Jack Abramoff's seems to have found a certain humility, as evidenced by letter to his friends, written on incarceration eve. We have him to thank for behaving so outrageously that more of us had to wake up. Maybe he's coming along for the ride.
Maybe what Pelosi is planning will work too. Bizarre proof of her success reaching across party lines, is thatTom Delay publically supports her for Time Magazine's " Person of the Year". I hope this is positive.
We wish they would stop referring to her as a 66 year old grandmother. Would it be too disrespectful to say she's hot?
Photo note: Beautiful, succulent, fresh raspberries, perhaps a bit yellow.
Addendum: They're just jealous Glenn Greenwald watches them spin.
Senator Russ Feingold, who has had the courage to speak the truth over heaps of neoconservative distain during the 43rd Dynasty warns us that lame ducks can be dangerous.
In his radio chat on Saturday, the unhumbled George W. spoke with ominous undercurrent
One freedom that defines our way of life is the freedom to choose our leaders at the ballot box. We saw that freedom earlier this week, when millions of Americans went to the polls to cast their votes for a new Congress. Whatever your opinion of the outcome, all Americans can take pride in the example our democracy sets for the world by holding elections even in a time of war.” (emphasis added)
Oh, and Judith Miller, of yellow journalism and Chalabi kisskiss fame, is now feeling free to comment on civil liberties -- and reminding bloggers to watch their p's and q's. Maybe she's talking about Matt Drudge , Little Green Footballs or and not the blogs who exposed her sychofantasy, but I doubt it.
From the heartland we learn that
"A Republican-led legislative panel claims in a new report on illegal immigration that abortion is partly to blame because it is causing a shortage of American workers. The report from the state House Special Committee on Immigration Reform also claims 'liberal social welfare policies' have discouraged America."
Independent Joe Lieberman is considering coming out of the closet.
So let's all keep our eyes wide open, as we celebrate.
Photo note: A plethora of pumpkins looking cute, all in a row, lined up, past their prime, ready to rot.
It's been awhile since we through the uncanny valley, so we thought it miight be fun to peek in on the Toyko Robot Exhibition, look at a couple of girls, and consider the difference between the the canny and the uncanny, as well as presenting an uncanny birth for your perusal, which we found the uncanniest of all, particularly the movie at the very bottom.
Photo note: A Big Baby sculpture with uncanny aspects on the roof of the DeCordova Museum. Taken (stupidly) through a glass window, which accounts for at least some of the eeriness.
Since the Democrats triumphed in the midterm elections, and I still have a low grade, unexplained fever, after having suffered through strep throat and a ten day course of antibiotics (we're now working on the theory of mold allergy --exacerbated by dead leaves, moist autumn, no frost, old house, basement office and mushroom consumption), my thoughts, quite naturally, have turned to healthcare. Let's face it, like global warming, and the war in Iraq, the subject needs immediate attention.
On Thursday I went to the walk-in clinic (NOT the emergency room, mind you) of a local teaching hospital for another strep test. I don't have a primary care doctor because I'm a senseless and foolhardy person. I was told that the waiting room at the walk-in was filled with much more responsible citizens, ALL of whom had primary care doctors. They were sick, and could not wait three weeks to be seen, thus providing a perfect segue to our big Sunday read.
Paul Krugman and Robin Wells have written a most sensible piece in the New York Review of Books entitled"The Health Care Crisis And What to Do About It". which you are instructed to read in its entirety. If you can't bring yourself to do that, here's a tantalizing morsel to tempt you.
A mere shift of power from Republicans to Democrats would not, in itself, be enough to give us sensible health care reform. While Democrats would have written a less perverse drug bill [Medicare D drug coverage - Dak], it's not clear that they are ready to embrace a single-payer system. Even liberal economists and scholars at progressive think tanks tend to shy away from proposing a straightforward system of national health insurance. Instead, they propose fairly complex compromise plans. Typically, such plans try to achieve universal coverage by requiring everyone to buy health insurance, the way everyone is forced to buy car insurance, and deal with those who can't afford to purchase insurance through a system of subsidies. Proponents of such plans make a few arguments for their superiority to a single-payer system, mainly the (dubious) claim that single-payer would reduce medical innovation. But the main reason for not proposing single-payer is political fear: reformers believe that private insurers are too powerful to cut out of the loop, and that a single-payer plan would be too easily demonized by business and political propagandists as "big government."
The italics are mine.
With the nothing-short-of-miraculous turn of events here in the USofA, certain dishonest rapscallions are coming clean, getting it off their chests, taking the opportunity to fess up to the American People. It is astonishing that, as compulsive liars, they don't seem to think their admissions reflect negatively upon themselves. Why else would they be so criminally candid?
The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I'm going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don't think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, "Well, why have you been doing it?" Because the stakes are high. Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country's than the Democrat Party and liberalism does.
I believe my side is worthy of victory, and I believe it's much easier to reform things that are going wrong on my side from a position of strength. Now I'm liberated from having to constantly come in here every day and try to buck up a bunch of people who don't deserve it, to try to carry the water and make excuses for people who don't deserve it. I did not want to sit here and participate, willingly, in the victory of the libs, in the victory of the Democrat Party by sabotaging my own. But now with what has happened yesterday and today, it is an entirely liberating thing. If those in our party who are going to carry the day in the future -- both in Congress and the administration -- are going to choose a different path than what most of us believe, then that's liberating. I don't say this with any animosity about anybody, and I don't mean to make this too personal.
I'm not trying to tell you that this is about me. I'm just answering questions that I've had from people about how I feel. There have been a bunch of things going on in Congress, some of this legislation coming out of there that I have just cringed at, and it has been difficult coming in here, trying to make the case for it when the people who are supposedly in favor of it can't even make the case themselves -- and to have to come in here and try to do their jobs. I'm a radio guy! I understand what this program has become in America and I understand the leadership position it has. I was doing what I thought best, but at this point, people who don't deserve to have their water carried, or have themselves explained as they would like to say things but somehow aren't able to, I'm not under that kind of pressure. Am I making myself clear on this, Mr. Snerdley? (interruption)
No, I'm not lying. ... ...I Feel Liberated
All of us here at Dakota have great contempt for this kind of hypocrisy. Limbaugh has been mongering hate nationwide, whipping up terror, and infusing those who cannot, or will not, think for themselves with vicious thoughts for years. Now it turns out that he doesn't even believe what he sells. I hope his audience doesn't turn on him and rip out his fingernails, underwater, with pliers.
Of course, the other lying lizard, honored here, is our very own temporarily humbled Unifier, George W. Bush. Dan Froomkin, almost the only Presidential demonarchifier among media journalists, makes it a practice to notice untruth, especially the kind originating in the White House.
Because possibly the most startling aspect of a consequential press conference on a incredibly tumultuous day was Bush's repeated acknowledgment that things he said when he was campaigning were either no longer operative -- or were outright deceptions.
Most notably, it was just one week earlier that Bush had told wire-service reporters in an interview that he wanted Rumsfeld (and Vice President Cheney) to remain with him until the end of his presidency.
Here's how Bush tried to explain that yesterday:
"Associated Press reporter Terence] Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was, are you going to do something about Rumsfeld and the Vice President? And my answer was, they're going to stay on. And the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign. And so the only way to answer that question and to get you on to another question was to give you that answer."
It is quite telling that rather than duck the question -- which Bush is more than capable of doing -- Bush chose to lie instead.
But, amazingly enough, that wasn't the only example of Bush saying he didn't really mean what he was saying in the run-up to the election. Bush repeatedly -- and casually -- asserted that many of the major elements of his stump speech were, in fact, not to be taken seriously any longer.
Consider this passage in his introductory remarks:
"Amid this time of change, I have a message for those on the front lines. To our enemies: Do not be joyful. Do not confuse the workings of our democracy with a lack of will. Our nation is committed to bringing you to justice. Liberty and democracy are the source of America's strength, and liberty and democracy will lift up the hopes and desires of those you are trying to destroy.
"To the people of Iraq: Do not be fearful. As you take the difficult steps toward democracy and peace, America is going to stand with you. We know you want a better way of life, and now is the time to seize it.
"To our brave men and women in uniform: Don't be doubtful. America will always support you. Our nation is blessed to have men and women who volunteer to serve, and are willing to risk their own lives for the safety of our fellow citizens."
On the one hand, a noble and gracious and important assurance to the world of America's enduring values and determination. On other hand -- given the ferocious way that Campaigner Bush attacked Democrats as troop-hating terrorist-appeasing cowards -- an astonishing admission that he was just making that stuff up.
With Democrats watching him carefully, and their press conferences being televised for the first time in six years, W. may have to watch his lizard lip. He seems to have found a clever new way to supplement his income right under our noses.
Photo note: The spirit of the birch tree, shot today, raises an eyebrow skeptically.
a person can
sigh of relief
had his license
how are we
to hold him
for the devastation
he has wrought
on his rampage?
Photo note: Crocheted cowboy skewered on an antenna. Would that they were as ubiquitious as magnetic yellow ribbons. Let's all make one.
Here's a piece of good advice from USC professor Kathleen Reardon
First, never try to clean up someone else's mess when you can get him or her to do it. George Bush and Karl Rove and friends would like nothing better than to have the Democrats take responsibility for correcting the Iraq debacle, the obscene debt, the Katrina shame, and a host of atrocities perpetrated on America and the world. Were the Democrats to come in on their white chargers ready to restore America, to FIX the problems, they'd fall right into the hands of clever Republican strategists planning for 2008. There is only one group that should FIX the messes we're in right now both at home and around the world -- that is the Bush Administration.
If they're smart, they'll suggest the Democrats provide ways to fix all that's been broken. This is a political strategy not widely known, and so I'm sharing it now. When someone with an ounce of cleverness makes a terrible mess of things, they wisely welcome those with new power and invite their suggestions. These anxious-to-have a-say, often naïve, elated and optimistic, novice players usually fall into a trap. They provide options for recovery. The other side, knowing how deep a mess they're in, offers to implement these plans. The CATCH - they do so feebly and the result is failure. They get to say, "That's what the wanted us to do and we did it. We cooperated and their plan failed."
I'm not suggesting that George Bush fix everything he has been unable to fix so far. And I'm not suggesting Democrats shouldn't make extensive changes. I am, however, sharing a political quagmire potential for 2008 that the Democrats should carefully avoid. When you did not create a mess, you should do all you can to assure that those who did are visibly involved in the clean up -- reminding people of its creators. In fact, they, with the power and wisdom of their office, should be pushed to take the lead. Otherwise they'll surely trip you up all along the line. And guess who'll be pointing fingers and saying, "We told you they couldn't do it"? It's a handy trap but one easily avoided with some foresight and savvy political thinking.
Upstanding American citizen that I am, I was there at 7:15 AM, last in a line of 30 or so voters. I was pleased to have many good candidates for whom to cast my ballot. I was also pleased to have a ballot made of paper, that I took in hand, and marked, personally, with a black felt pen, like answers to the SATs.
After I marked my ballot, I recited my post-voting information (address and name) to the election officials, and walked up to the "machine". Since our ballots were double sided, I asked whether to feed it into the machine (which is something like a paper shredder that doesn't shred, or a fax) right side up or upside down. I was told the machine was broken, and asked to drop it into a slot on the side. This was fifteen minutes after the polls opened. I still (mostly) trust my state voting system, perhaps naively. Frankly, had I been anywhere else in the country, I would have made a scene. I now wish I had. at least, taken a photo of dropping my ballot into possible oblivion.
Photo note: One of America's secure ballot boxes
Paul Krugman's Excellent Election Eve Column is printed in its entirety for those who don't subscribe to the New York Times - just click the following
President Bush isn’t on the ballot tomorrow. But this election is, nonetheless, all about him. The question is whether voters will pry his fingers loose from at least some of the levers of power, thereby limiting the damage he can inflict in his two remaining years in office.
There are still some people urging Mr. Bush to change course. For example, a scathing editorial published today by The Military Times, which calls on Mr. Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld, declares that “this is not about the midterm elections.” But the editorial’s authors surely know better than that. Mr. Bush won’t fire Mr. Rumsfeld; he won’t change strategy in Iraq; he won’t change course at all, unless Congress forces him to.
At this point, nobody should have any illusions about Mr. Bush’s character. To put it bluntly, he’s an insecure bully who believes that owning up to a mistake, any mistake, would undermine his manhood — and who therefore lives in a dream world in which all of his policies are succeeding and all of his officials are doing a heckuva job. Just last week he declared himself “pleased with the progress we’re making” in Iraq.
In other words, he’s the sort of man who should never have been put in a position of authority, let alone been given the kind of unquestioned power, free from normal checks and balances, that he was granted after 9/11. But he was, alas, given that power, as well as a prolonged free ride from much of the news media.
The results have been predictably disastrous. The nightmare in Iraq is only part of the story. In time, the degradation of the federal government by rampant cronyism — almost every part of the executive branch I know anything about, from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has been FEMAfied — may come to be seen as an equally serious blow to America’s future.
And it should be a matter of intense national shame that Mr. Bush has quietly abandoned his fine promises to New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast.
The public, which rallied around Mr. Bush after 9/11 and was still prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt two years ago, seems to have figured most of this out. It’s too late to vote Mr. Bush out of office, but most Americans seem prepared to punish Mr. Bush’s party for his personal failings. This is in spite of a vicious campaign in which Mr. Bush has gone further than any previous president — even Richard Nixon — in attacking the patriotism of anyone who criticizes him or his policies.
That said, it’s still possible that the Republicans will hold on to both houses of Congress. The feeding frenzy over John Kerry’s botched joke showed that many people in the news media are still willing to be played like a fiddle. And if you think the timing of the Saddam verdict was coincidental, I’ve got a terrorist plot against the Brooklyn Bridge to sell you.
Moreover, the potential for vote suppression and/or outright electoral fraud remains substantial. And it will be very hard for the Democrats to take the Senate for the very simple reason that only one-third of Senate seats are on this ballot.
What if the Democrats do win? That doesn’t guarantee a change in policy.
The Constitution says that Congress and the White House are co-equal branches of government, but Mr. Bush and his people aren’t big on constitutional niceties. Even with a docile Republican majority controlling Congress, Mr. Bush has been in the habit of declaring that he has the right to disobey the law he has just signed, whether it’s a law prohibiting torture or a law requiring that he hire qualified people to run FEMA.
Just imagine, then, what he’ll do if faced with demands for information from, say, Congressional Democrats investigating war profiteering, which seems to have been rampant. Actually, we don’t have to imagine: a White House strategist has already told Time magazine that the administration plans a “cataclysmic fight to the death” if Democrats in Congress try to exercise their right to issue subpoenas — which is one heck of a metaphor, given Mr. Bush’s history of getting American service members trapped in cataclysmic fights where the deaths are anything but metaphors.
But here’s the thing: no matter how hard the Bush administration may try to ignore the constitutional division of power, Mr. Bush’s ability to make deadly mistakes has rested in part on G.O.P. control of Congress. That’s why many Americans, myself included, will breathe a lot easier if one-party rule ends tomorrow.
Thanks to the good folks a GoogleTube, HBO's "Hacking Democracy" is available to all of us who don't have/want cable TV.
It's long, but worth watching before you go to the polls tomorrow. Dont' let it stop you from going to the polls, just take your video camera and be prepared to spend the day.
Photo note: The American flag, hanging upside down by a thread. Shot, ironically, in Kennybunkport, Maine.
When will the psychological concept of projection become as well understood as the Freudian slip? If that ever comes to pass, smart people will stop attributing their most shameful internal impulses to others, especially in public, lest they expose their personal demons for all to analyze.
Let's stop attributing evil to others and take a hard look inside ourselves for the very things we would like to eradicate.
The recent case of The Reverend Ted Haggard is a perfect example. Richard Dawkins interviewed The Reverend for his BBC series "The Roots of All Evil" -- in the end of the clip, Reverend Ted asks Dawkins to leave the premises for calling his parishioners animals. Really?. That is not to say that evangelicals don't know how to have a littlefun.
Actually, Mike Jones, The Reverend's paramour, is quite impressive. In disclosing the hypocrisy of an evangelical Presidential advisor, he took the moral high ground. It couldn't have been easy, given the negative publicity that he's received. He was not encouraged to do this by any political group. He says that he wanted to support equal rights for gays in Colorado. Hopefully you can get the movie to play.
Photo note: The cross on the sewer -- a metaphorophoto
Don't have HBO? Me either. As an alternative, here's Amy Goodman's Democracy Now report which focuses on vote tampering and voter suppression -- zip through the first twelve minutes of news to get to the relevant parts. All of us here at Dakota, who consider ourselves to be on top of matters such as these, were appalled.
Goodman interviews Bev Harris from Black Box Voting, who recommends bringing a video camera to the polls, Wendy Weiser, the deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, who exposes the monumental obstacles that have been put in place for voter suppression, and Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, authors of "What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election" who expose the purging of registered voters by Diebold that took place in democratic precincts in Ohio, and other, equally fishy. manuvers that are happening now. They are convinced that Karl Rove is behind the fraud.
The voting machines on which 80% of the ballots in this country are cast or counted are all controlled by Republicans. Diebold is a Republican corporation, ES&S has Chuck Hagel as a principal, a senator from Nebraska. He's been elected twice on machines that he owns. We have a distinct aroma of a third world country bering manippulated by the CIA.
Sadly, this issue is only being called to our attention a few days before another crucial election. In November of 2003 Ira Glass of this American Life, aired an indepth report on on the diabolical Diebold. Where, oh where, were we, as more and more hackable machines have been put into place, and more and more methods of disenfranchising voters have been created?
Just in case you didn't hear it the first time. THE VOTING MACHINES ON WHICH 80% OF BALLOTS ARE CAST AND COUNTED ARE ALL CONTROLLED BY REPUBLICANS.
The wise voter will rush right out to buy, borrow or rent a video camera before showing up at the polls. Documentation of any difficulties and/or irregularities experienced or observed is crucial. In some states, plan to spend the entire day at the polls fighting for your right to cast a ballot, and being diverted and harassed. Here's a state-by-state map delineating what you need to know about e-voting in your area.
Photo note: Note the For Sale sign
I am sick sick sick of the media "following up" by blowing up the non story of John Kerry's "gaffe" -- for example, Cokie Roberts asked Duval Patrick about it in the Massachusetts gubernatorial debate last night. WHAT, pray tell, does this have to do with the price of chicken? Are we all taking our journalistic lead from Rush Limbaugh?
This is what John Kerry failed to say:
If you don't study you may end up in Iraq, and if you survive your first tour, you may be sent back multiple times, in which case you may be blown to smithereens or simply lose one or two limbs, or your cognitive function in the process.
Even if you return, seemingly unscathed, you may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which will cause you to feel empty, depressed, unable to concentrate, continually frightened, experience flashbacks of the deaths of your comrades, have nightmares, panic attacks, be prone to angry outbursts which will have a devastating effect on your family relationships and cause secondary trauma to your children. It will be hard to hold a job or go to school.
You will probably not receive adequate treatment for your physical or mental disablities because veteran's benefits have been cut back by the Bush administration.
If you are underprivileged, undereducated, undersocialized and have no prospects for the future, joining the armed forces hoping to play in a military rock band or get on-the-job training, may seem like a good alternative. But it isn't. You are being exploited by an administration who is willing to sacrifice your lives for their own immoral ends.
You may be bullied when you return and try ask legitimate questons of your Republican Senator.
During the regretful Vietnam War, there was a draft in place, so that if you flunked out of college you did indeed get sent to battle. We do not have a draft in place yet, but we might.
If you can't find it in your heart to study hard, you might try reading Doonesbury for inspiration.
Too long for a soundbite?
Cenk Uygur had the right idea when he suggested that
Anytime a reporter asked about Kerry's remarks, every Democrat should have started the sentence with the words, "Let me tell you who has to apologize to the troops, these Republicans in the administration and Congress for what they have done..."
Photo note: From the Deep Flag Collection. Rattier than ever.