Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tonight's final thoughts...

...have to do with the "delete your blog" button on my journal settings page. I've been staring at it, on and off, for the past couple of hours.

It is so tempting. One click of the mouse and all the painful memories, all the partial revelations of the turmoil inside me, would vanish.

If doing that could erase them from my mind, I would do it in a heartbeat, believe me. Would already have done it.

Some time ago, I resolved to post one final entry if I ever decided to shut down my journal. In it, I would name names, cite instances and finally reveal the complete story behind the situation I find myself in. I even wrote the whole thing out once, just in case I lost my nerve at the last moment.

Oddly enough, I lost my nerve in advance, and deleted that long, detailed screed instead of my journal. In a way, that's a shame; some people would have found parts of it most entertaining.

Now, I am at a bit of a crossroads. Writing here allows me a certain freedom to be candid, but I still have to indulge in a great deal of self-censorship to protect the guilty. That's just the way I am.

I admit I sometimes wish I could return hurt for hurt, cause others to experience the humiliation and pain they have sent my way. But I can't do it.

So what do I do? I am in a situation where it appears nothing I say or do can bring me the contentment I need, the joy that has been the object of my work and prayers for far too many years. Writing about my pain, frustration and disappointments is no doubt boring to the few people who read this journal, and does no good anyway.

There is no relief here, or anywhere.

Obviously, I have not clicked on the "delete" button yet. I make no promises for tomorrow.

"Climate change..." George Bush's clever euphemism for

Say it with me, George: global warming.

I'm not entirely convinced by the various doom-sayers who believe the Earth is headed for catastrophe because we have overdosed on making things that burn liquefied fossils and use other nasty products to keep ourselves warm and our lights lit.

But I'm not entirely unconvinced, either.

It strikes me that there are plenty of sensible things we should be doing to conserve our dwindling supply of natural resources anyway, and if that helps keep the icebergs from melting, so much the better. If pulling back a bit and becoming less dependent on oil, coal and things made from trees doesn't slow down the rising global temperatures -- and I'm not even convinced they are rising in an unnatural way -- it would still be an intelligent thing to do.

Which brings me to the lowest form of human life: politicians.

John Kerry keeps babbling self-righteously about the "Kyoto Accords," as if George Bush had torpedoed our last chance to Save the Planet all on his own. Which he didn't, since the Senate's vote against the "treaty" came during Bill Clinton's time in office.

But if the "Kyoto Accords" represent our "best hope," we are doomed anyway. While they would impose draconian rules meant to reduce "greenhouse gases" on us, gross polluters such as China and India would be exempt. Why? Because they are "developing nations," and we don't want to slow their march toward industrialization.

The hell we don't. China has many more coal-fired generating plants than we do, and is building more all the time. Major cities in China and India have air-pollution problems that make 1950s-era Los Angeles look like a springtime meadow. God only knows how much toxic waste those countries generate.

We pollute, too. But this particular plan, like almost everything the UN ever sponsors, puts the blame -- and the full bill for fixing the problem -- on us, while nations that are not only draining our money away but seem totally unconcerned about poisoning the environment get a free pass.

Another idiotic feature of the plan is a system of pollution "credits," which allow nations that pump more than their share of filth into the atmosphere to buy "points" from nations that don't. If they have the dough, they can keep on with their profligate ways until the supply of clean air runs out.

I dislike any government interference in our lives, and dislike it more when some agency beyond our borders lays down the rules.

Hence a personal dilemma: I despise the socialistic nanny-state ideas of the "liberal" wing of our government. When any of them want to enact laws "for our own good" (especially when some, like Kerry and even Al Gore, are conspicuous consumers of jet fuel and, in Kerry's case, gasoline for their SUVs and powerboats), I'm ready to lead the march to boot their "humanitarian" asses out of government.

By the same token, I do think we are draining the planet of resources at an unsustainable rate, and have, particularly since the modern era of micro-circuitry began, become an incredibly wasteful throw-away society. Some of the solutions are pretty simple, and wouldn't cause anyone too much discomfort. Others, like replacing gasoline with ethanol, are completely impractical.

But whatever we do has to be done by (and to) everyone. If we have to restrict industries that emit the most pollutants, so too do the Chinese, and the Indians, and everyone else in the world. If we have to pay more attention to recycling, so does everyone else.

Herein lies the basic fallacy in the way governments operate: they play favorites and rely on the Robin Hood principle of taking from the rich -- and the comfortable -- and giving to their favorite poor. In this respect, our government is no better than those of Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro.

And of course the politicians will be the last to cut back on air travel, scrap their gas-guzzling limos and SUVs or start taking broken electronic devices to a repair shop instead of reaching into the treasury and buying new ones.

Hell, I don't have any answers. Maybe expecting common sense from people used to being ordered around by politicians -- who, in all honesty, know little more about the subject than I do -- is unrealistic.

All I can say is that any solutions proposed by politicians and/or their pet scientists are probably wrong, and should not be trusted.

George Bush sticks foot in mouth...again...

...on Neil Cavuto's show on Fox News.

When asked whether he would consider pardons for Border Patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos -- who, as everyone but Bush and his lapdogs seem to know, were railroaded for trying to apprehend an illegal-alien drug smuggler -- Bush laid down the expected lame line about "if everyone knew the facts..." and waffled and weaseled in a manner so incoherent that even Cavuto, who must have some experience dealing with those of limited intelligence, couldn't understand him.

I have news for you, Mr "Decider:" your minions, probably operating under your direct orders, are the ones who twisted the story to please your pals in Mexico. Each day seems to bring new revelations of malfeasance on the part of the "Justice" Department and Department of Homeland "Security" in their pursuit of Compean and Ramos.

It is you, Mr "Decider," who decided illegal aliens are more important to you than American citizens. It is you, I am convinced, who ordered the campaign of systematic distortion, fabrication, evasion and outright lies that resulted in two Americans who were trying to uphold our laws being sent to prison for more than a decade each, just so your amigos in Mexico City wouldn't think you were wimping out on the open-borders agenda you love.

Anyone who has followed this case knows where the buck stops: it stops at your desk, Mr "Decider." If you were as rational as you claim, if you took your oath of office seriously, Compean and Ramos would be free men, and an illegal-alien drug smuggler, who is moreover a repeat offender, would be in prison and would never have been offered immunity from prosecution, a green card* and free medical care.

Having watched your pitiful performance after Hurricane Katrina and your equally incompetent handling of your "war on terror," I already know, as an increasing number of Americans do, that when you play "Decider," disaster follows.

And we know you have no shame. We know you will sacrifice Americans to further your own worthless dreams of personal grandeur, and will do so without a single thought for the lives you destroy.

If true justice still existed in this country, it is you, Mr "Decider," who would be spending much of your remaining life behind bars, along with all those who committed felonious acts (withholding of evidence, perjury and malicious prosecution among them) at your command.

At the very least, it is time for you to resign, Mr "Decider." But not before you order Compean and Ramos freed and order appropriate compensation for their ordeal.

You have done the impossible, Mr "Decider:" Until now, I have thought the worst presidents in modern history were Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. You have surpassed them both.

Therein lies your legacy.

* Supposedly, the Green Card was revoked after the illegal was caught trying to move another load of pot across the border. Supposedly.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I learn something new...

...every time I read stories from the North Korean News Agency.

I can't think of anything to add to this report:

Makgolli, Folk Drink of Korea
Pyongyang, January 30 (KCNA) -- The Korean people are fond of Makgolli (unrefined liquor), a folk drink. From olden times the Korean peasants have been used to gather together at break and lunch time and to relieve themselves from fatigue, drinking Makgolli.
Makgolli is made mainly with starch.
The boiled and cooled starch is mixed with malt and some boiled rice. The mixture is fermented for five-seven days at the temperature of 25-27 degrees centigrade and 75 percent of relative humidity. It is filtered out before drinking.
It contains alcohol below ten percent and a lot of nutritive elements including sugar.
It tastes sour and sweet and makes the drinkers exhilarant.
It is also applicable for disease treatment.
Makgolli made from the boiled root bark of Acanthopanax sessiliflorum and hulled adlay makes spleen, stomach and intestines healthy. And it is efficacious for treating such diseases as arthritis and neuralgia.

I could use something to make me feel "exhilarant," I must say....


...the rain is over...

...and so, thank God, is the day itself...

Call me ungrateful, but I refuse to be happy that the unknown disaster I feared this morning didn't happen.

I refuse to give thanks for nothing.

There's always tomorrow. But I don't want to think about that now.

Formless dread.

It begin with a burst of static on the radio this morning. Seconds later, a rumble of far-off thunder. Then, with increasing frequency, flashes in the darkening sky and pelting rain. For perhaps a half-hour, there was a real storm outside; as is typical for this area, it didn't last long.

Ordinary, I would revel in such weather. I've always loved thunderstorms, always loved rain. I'm one of those idiots who loves to stand outdoors to watch lightning and doesn't mind going for long walks in the rain.

Not today.

I felt somewhat disoriented when I woke up this morning. There was no chemical reason for this, no hangover from a night of heavy drinking (since I didn't have so much as a sip of alcohol last night). I didn't fall asleep listening to George Noory for once; perhaps the nightmares I experienced but can't recall imprinted some message in my mind. The first few chores of the morning -- feeding the cat, making coffee -- were performed in a kind of daze.

In any case, that formless feeling of impending disaster is with me today.

I know what could go wrong today, believe me. Almost everything bad that might happen has happened, at one time or another. I've made enough mistakes in a wide variety of ways to ensure extensive experience with disasters large and small.

This is different. Perhaps the amorphous fear is of a combination of unpleasant events, a veritable avalanche of bad things engulfing me all at once.

Whatever it might be, I'm not ready for it. I can't do anything more than sit here and wait for the ax to fall, have no energy or spare mental capacity to resist or cope.

My only hope is that nothing will happen. After all, on those days when I wake up feeling sure something good lies ahead, nothing happens.

Hoping for nothing is not a good feeling.

Monday, January 29, 2007

More on Compean and Ramos...

...from this story in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

I suggest you read it, but the nut of the story is contained in the story's lede:

The Department of Homeland Security's assertions that two El Paso Border Patrol agents knowingly shot an unarmed suspect appear to be countered by the department's own documents, the Daily Bulletin has learned.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told the Daily Bulletin on Wednesday that Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner has refused to deliver documents confirming his office's claims that Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean admitted they "were out to shoot Mexicans," and knowingly shot Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, a drug smuggler, in a border incident nearly two years ago.

There is much much more the story of the Bush administration's persecution of the two agents, who are now in federal prisons, but at a start, it would appear that the "Inspector General" of the so-called Department of Homeland Security -- which seems far more interested in the "security" of illegal-alien drug smugglers than U.S. citizens -- should be facing some serious jail time for perjury.

Sadly, the general public seems to have forgotten Compean and Ramos. A few people, including IVDB reporter Sara Carter and L.A.-area radio hosts John & Ken, have not.

I have not.

Until Compean and Ramos are free and are compensated for the kangaroo-court proceedings against them, and those who so zealously went after them at the behest of George Bush, the illegal aliens' best friend, are punished, I will not let this subject drop.

These people have no shame. They, and all the co-conspirators in Washington and Texas who aided and abetted this outrage, must be made to pay for their immoral -- and, it becomes increasingly clear, unlawful -- acts.

ADDED NOWHERE-NEAR PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: Here's another interesting tidbit showing the extent of the government's malfeasance in this case.

From what I hear, WordNet Daily's Jerome Corsi will be publishing more information this week that George Bush and his pro-illegal pals don't want revealed.

Historical marker...

Sunday, January 28, 2007


I saw this week's Gratuitous Cat twice: once while walking West...

And once while walking East...

Otherwise, it was a typical semi-winter day Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea....

PARENTHETICAL YOU-GOTTA-SEE-THIS THOUGHT: Joan, who is an extremely talented photographer and keeps a most entertaining journal, shot a photo today that bears an astonishing resemblance (minus kittycat) to my GCotW photos. She was a considerable distance from here, too. Go take a look....

Lunchtime... least for this squirrel in the park, who made a nice feast from some nuts someone left for him....


...and the rain was over practically before it began. Today is a shirt-sleeve day, temperature-wise.

To my delight -- and I love 'em, no matter what a certain Texan says -- there was a Fiat Nuova 500 parked a couple of blocks from my place...

To give you some idea of how tiny these li'l Fiats are, compare it to the Toyota Prius parked alongside, itself not exactly monstrous...

But I dig big stuff, too, and for some reason a parade of maybe a dozen Ford F-150 pickups from the 1950s and '60s were cruising by as I walked back from the park...

Not an entirely happy Sunday morning, but far from unpleasant....

Saturday, January 27, 2007

It's raining...

...even though this view, taken through my window -- and through the screen, as you can see -- doesn't show it. The latest word is that the damp weather -- it's not really rain by the standards of other places -- may last for three or four days.

It's not having the usual calming effect. Rainy nights are best enjoyed in a way denied me these days.

Just as bad (and probably not helped by my isolation), my mind is full of thoughts swirling around waiting to be cut loose.

Expect rants ahead....

Babbling about the screwed-up world sometimes sublimates the few basic things that are really bugging me. I hope it will again.

A change in the weather...

...which, for once, apparently involves the meteorologists getting it right.

The prediction was for rain by this evening and, sure enough, the clouds have rolled in again and one can see those gauzy curtains of rainfall to the West, over the ocean but slowly moving this way.

As of a few minutes ago, the rain hadn't reached the island, or this container ship...

It will be welcome when it arrives.

Any change would be welcome here.

Such optimism as I might about have had about anything positive happening has almost evaporated completely now.

At least if it rains, I can enjoy that. Infrequent as it is here, wet weather is refreshing.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I'm feeling sorry...

...for the poor bastard who thought he really loved Paris Hilton.

(I'm sure there must have been one.)

He thought her displays of skin were for him alone. If not the first to see everything she had to offer, he thought he'd be the last.

He couldn't know she'd get off on waving it in some other guy's face, in many thousands of other guys' faces.

He couldn't know she'd get some kind of kick out of making videos, so that every horny teenage male could see all she had to offer by searching the web.

He couldn't know that a sweet-faced woman with a little-girl's body would turn out to be willing to share her, well, assets with anyone who knows where to look.

I know some man out there fell for her, and fell hard, believed her lines about "love" and "devotion" and now rues the day he met her. Not all men are so crass as to participate in the kinds of behavior the "Paris Hilton Sex Tapes" -- which I confess I have not seen -- purport to contain.

PARENTHETICAL MALE-SUPPORTING-TYPE THOUGHT: A lot of people -- especially female people -- like to think men follow their procreative organs anywhere. It ain't so, and I could name names of other men who believe in those old-fashioned concepts of honor and fidelity, and who have suffered for it. The only reason I don't is that I don't want to embarrass them.

How do I know there was some poor fool who bought Ms Hilton's act? Because, in a very minor way, I have been there.

I have believed I was being offered that rare gift of love and devotion by a beautiful woman. I have seen the offer withdrawn in a singularly unpleasant way, and have been forced to learn that it was immediately offered to someone else.

Unlike those who have profited from exposing the maximum amount of Hilton skin, I have kept my own counsel, have withheld what some might consider proof of said female person's desire for me. And I always will.

Men are supposed to be the aggressors, the unprincipled exploiters, the vengeful, evil destroyers of relationships.

It ain't so.

More often than women think, we males are the ones who crave the basic, old-fashioned virtues. And live up to them. Never mind the brazen "Girls Gone wild" guys; they are an aberration.

All most men want to do is love, and be loved.

Does that surprise you, ladies? It shouldn't.

Monkey see...

...and so on.

While reading my bro's* journal, I noticed a reference to astrology, numerology, and similar stuff. I went to a psychic some 10-15 years ago, and the results were, well, odd. But that's a story for another time.

I did, however, feel compelled to trot on over to and see what my "number" is. And find out whether my number is "up," so to speak....

Here's the result:

Your Personality is 42/6

You radiate understanding and compassion. People sense your warmth and fairness. For this reason, you attract many people who are in need of comfort, including the disadvantaged. People tend to come to you to unload their burdens. You inspire confidence.

You have a fine sense of justice. You do everything in your power to keep the harmony and are even willing to sacrifice your personal desires for the good of others.

You can take this too far, however, sometimes playing the role of the martyr. You have to guard against being taken advantage of. You are not always a very good judge of character. You tend to see the best in others.

You also can become too involved in the lives of others, to your own detriment. (This aspect can be balanced by other numbers in your chart.)

You are hospitable and domestic. You love children and are a good parent. You are romantic, faithful and very protective.

You are artistic. You love music, flowers and gardening. You are a natural interior designer. You have an excellent sense of color and taste.

You are more concerned with the content of your personality than your appearance, which causes you to be less conscious of the style of your clothes. You are more interested in comfort and the utility of clothing than the statement it makes.

Six Personality Numbers are exceedingly generous. You are not particularly logical when it comes to finances.

You are very vulnerable to praise and criticism. You tend to worry a lot, causing stomach problems.

People see you as a maternal or paternal figure. They want to relax in your presence and unburden themselves. You are the safe port in the crowd.

I may be easily hoodwinked, but a lot of this seems to fit. Don't know about the "interior decorator" bit, though; My furniture choices -- such as they are, given no budget -- tend to be like what the "report" says about my clothes.

Can't help but notice the thing talks about me "giving" quite a bit, but is silent on me getting....

That's all I have for now. My stomach is hurting.

* different mothers, different fathers and different surnames, of course....

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Another day...

...on the voyage into irrelevancy.

For the first time in recent memory, I have not actually spoken directly to a human being for a period of 24 hours. I talked to voice-mail recorders, leaving messages that, while important to me, did not move anyone to actually return my calls.

I sent email messages, too, with the same result for each.

The world seems to have gotten along perfectly well without me today.

That's not exactly what I would call encouraging news.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Last Dinosaur

I wonder if the dinosaurs knew what was coming?

Did their dinosaur God warn them they were about to go, or simply pull the rug out from under their giant feet?

Did they have time to put their affairs in order, say goodbye to one another and find a comfortable place in which to face extinction?

Were they going about their business, munching placidly on the local vegetation when the end came, or were they all staring at the sky at a cataclysmic moment?

Did the dinosaurs have any clue that newer creatures, better suited to a changed environment, were going to take over their domain?

I wonder about these things. Especially when, as is so often true these days, I'm feeling a bit dinosaur-ish myself.

What a life. One day, you're nibbling on the high branches and thinking there aren't many fellow creatures bigger -- or better-suited to their environment -- than you; suddenly, you're on your way to becoming part of a puddle of petroleum. From master of all you survey to a short second life in the gas tank of an SUV or minivan.

Even given the limited cognitive powers of their tiny brains, it must have been frustrating as hell for the dinosaurs to sense those first indications that their kind was no longer needed, no longer had a place in the food chain.

They must have sensed it.

I do.

Some of my kind can apparently interact with the new breed that is taking over the world. I can't.

All I ever wanted to do was nibble at the vegetation and make -- or at least practice making -- little dinosaurs.

But the new breed -- those who know the tricks to get others to bring the food to them -- have no need of me. Neither, apparently, do any of the other new life-forms. I'm in their way, and they play by new rules which my tiny brain isn't flexible enough to allow me to adapt to.

Metaphorically, all I'm good for is a few miles'-worth of forward travel in their cars. After that, I'm hydrocarbons.

And when some well-intentioned scientist reconstructs me and puts me on display in a museum, the children of a few members of the new breed will stare, and perhaps fantasize about what life must have been like when creatures like me walked the Earth.

An exact, lifeless replica of me for the kiddies to gawk at will do me no more good than it did the dinosaurs. I'll still be fuel for their mothers' cars and airplanes, as they rush to cohabit with members of the new breed.

It's hell being a dinosaur. I know this.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What's really important... my cat...

I'm sick of it...

...and I'm going to do my damndest to ignore everything related to politics after tonight's fiascoes. Yes, more than one; George Bush babbled away about some hallucinations he has about the "state of the Union," and some worthless clown from the Democrats gave his equal-time "response."

What strikes me is that both sides have no clue about what's going on in the world outside our porous borders. Oh, they think they do, but it's clear that the process of moving people and money around as if they were pieces in a board game has softened their brains to the extent that they have no longer have any ability to separate their fantasies from reality.

And both sides, in a major change from the way things used to be, are convinced that it is the government's job to ensure that we are happy, healthy and successful. All they need is for us to give them more money and more power over our lives. Ever since the days of FDR, the Democrats have adhered to the philosophy that what's best for us is an all-giving, all-powerful government. After all, they know what we want and need, and are better able to understand and provide it than we are.

But now the Republicans, in the person of one George Bush, ne'er-do-well son of a mediocre president, are making the same ugly noises. At one time -- does anyone remember Barry Goldwater, God bless him? -- Republicans were the "less-government" party. Goldwater didn't see government's mission as being a kind of nursery-school teacher dealing with mildly stupid children as Democrats do; he appreciated the limits on governmental power as prescribed by the Constitution.

If he were alive today, Goldwater would have to find another political party to join. His is as dead as the Whigs or the Dixiecrats.

All those years of fat living and lack of serious oversight have turned the government into a bloated, corrupt mess. The ideologues outside the government who march in lockstep with their political parties' beliefs are simply enabling them.

We are in no position to take "democracy" to Iraq, which has shown little enthusiasm for the concept. Better we should work on restoring true democracy in this country.

In case you've forgotten, that means holding our elected officials directly responsible for adhering to the regulations and limits on power decreed by the Constitution, holding them directly responsible for doing what we want them to do, and holding them directly responsible for using the smallest possible percentage of our money to do what little they are supposed to do.

Screw it. We're doomed.

Bush faces one of his victims tonight.

No, I'm not talking about one the American soldiers killed or maimed as a result of his disastrous "war on terror," or any of those Americans whose lives have been damaged as a result of his foul "open-border" policies.

Tonight, as Bush lip-syncs his "State of the Union" speech, the wife of Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos will be in the audience as a guest of Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-CA).

Ramos, like agent Jose Compean, is currently in solitary confinement in a federal prison. Their crime: defending their country against illegal-alien drug smugglers at a time when George Bush will sacrifice anyone to keep his amigos South of the border happy.

An interesting new twist regarding the persecution of Ramos and Compean, one that illustrates the corruption of the Bush-controlled "Justice" Department and their desperation to find charges to throw at the two agents, can be read here.

In any case, Ms Ramos will be there watching tonight. I hope Bush is made aware of that, and at has enough basic decency left to feel guilty for destroying two American families just to advance his pathetic immigration agenda.

Since he has shown no remorse for any of his many other blunders, or for his outright incompetence, I'm not holding out any hope that Ms Ramo's presence will cause him as much as a second's discomfort.

But it should.

PARENTHETICAL UPDATE INCLUDING ONE-FINGER SALUTE TO GEORGE BUSH: Here's an interesting tidbit from his "State of the Union" speech: "Extending hope and opportunity in our country requires an immigration system worthy of America – with laws that are fair and borders that are secure. When laws and borders are routinely violated, this harms the interests of our country. To secure our border, we are doubling the size of the Border Patrol – and funding new infrastructure and technology.

Yet even with all these steps, we cannot fully secure the border unless we take pressure off the border – and that requires a temporary worker program. We should establish a legal and orderly path for foreign workers to enter our country to work on a temporary basis. As a result, they won’t have to try to sneak in – and that will leave border agents free to chase down drug smugglers, and criminals, and terrorists...[w]e need to uphold the great tradition of the melting pot that welcomes and assimilates new arrivals. And we need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country – without animosity and without amnesty."

George Bush is a lying, unprincipled shitweasel. I'd publicly kiss Nancy Pelosi's butt in public -- much as I despise her -- if she would introduce an impeachment resolution in Congress tomorrow.

I want a job like that!

Imagine you had a job where you could go to your boss and say, "in two years, I want to have another job, so I'm going to spend all my time trying to get it, and use your resources to help me. I won't have any time to do this job, but you need to keep paying me, too."

If you or I tried that, we'd be shown the door without further ado.

But for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and several other would-be presidents, it's "business" as usual.

Does anyone think about that? Apparently not.

It's bad enough that those who "do the people's business" spend half their time raising funds and campaigning for re-election to the offices they hold. But when the Presidential Bug bites, those infected drop all pretense of doing what we are supposedly paying them to do and become full-time, taxpayer-supported candidates. Welfare cases on a grand scale, so to speak.

It's clear something has to be done about this.

For starters, I suggest a semi-annual "performance review," which tells constituents exactly what these clowns accomplished during the previous six months.

After that, since we are paying their salaries (and paying for incredible perks), we have a right to demand that they show up at the office a minimum of 40 hours each week, 49 weeks a year. If it takes making the spoiled brats punch a time clock, so be it.

If anyone wants to run for higher office and campaign virtually full-time, make them resign their current office, just as someone in the private sector would have to do.

And, since political campaigning has become obscenely expensive and rife with corruption, let all would-be candidates have enough money to produce one booklet outlining their views, which would be distributed to all voters. Let them have, say, three televised debates with their opponents, and let them give speeches wherever they can go on their own nickel.

In fact, I suggest a simple new law: no one shall begin campaigning for any political office until 60 days prior to the election for that office.

Wait. I have a better idea: disqualify anyone who wants an elective office from holding it. Let's have a "draft" instead, and get some truly bright and accomplished people into government for single four-year terms. We can give them housing, food and clothes plus a small stipend. Just like the military.

And when their four years of service are over, they can go back to the real world.

Short entry...

...just to announce that I'm still alive, more or less.

In the last three days, I've written three articles, comprising a total of 6289 words. Two days before that, I finished a two-day stint on another piece, this one totaling out at 2556 words.

Them's a lot of words. Someday, they will bring me some money. Eventually.

So you'll forgive me for not having many left over to put here. Besides, my head feels as if a fire truck's siren is blasting directly into a spot just behind my eyes.

Tomorrow, not much to do, except do a little cleaning up and laundry. I do have a couple of articles waiting for me to get started on, but I think I'll wait a day or two before jumping back in.

I'm worded out.


Monday, January 22, 2007

When horoscopes attack...

...they can leave you scratching your head in puzzlement, as is true for today's little gem:

Aries Mar 21 - Apr 19
When it comes to love, experiencing the agony of defeat can be overwhelming, it's true. But are you so spooked you won't even get back in the game? Remind yourself that there are no winners or losers in love.


The first two sentences ring true enough, with the answer to the question posed in the second being, as of now, "yes."

I have no idea what the third sentence is supposed to mean. Is "love" some kind of stupid game like hacky-sack where the object is to make everyone happy without any real exertion or emotional involvement?

I don't think so.

The two times I have been involved with appeared to be genuine, abiding love, I felt like a winner. I think -- or at least hope -- the feeling was mutual. In the first instance, we both lost (but in a relatively non-painful way) when it was over. I didn't understand the extent of the loss until recently, but since it ended without rancor, I feel more regret than pain.

Not so in my more recent brush with the most fulfilling and potentially destructive emotion of all. When she pulled the plug, I lost. Big-time.

She did, too, but doesn't know it yet.

More than once, I've seen fine print under horoscopes that say something like "for entertainment purposes only." This one is far from entertaining. It's stupid. Anyone who believes "there are no winners or losers in love" is doomed to fail in love.

But then, I've failed, too. So I guess it all evens out no matter what you think.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

January 22

According to a psychologist interviewed for this story in the U.K. Sun newspaper*, January 22 is the most miserable day of the year.

...Dr Cliff Arnalls’ formula takes into account things like Christmas debt, fading memories of holidays, failing New Year resolutions and lack of daylight...

...Keep your chin up today with these thoughts: You’ll be closer to the HAPPIEST day of the year, June 23; we live longer than ever; money doesn’t always make you happy.

Dr Arnalls’ formula is 1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA, where W = Weather, D = Debt, d = Money due in January pay, T = Time since Christmas, Q = Time since failed quit attempt, M = General motivational levels and NA = The need to take action.

And he didn't even put X (= ****) and SC (= shitweasel clients) in his equation!

I think I'll just stay in bed all day with the covers pulled up over me.

A note to that superannuated ink-stained wretch, Just-James (or, as he is known in Sweden, "Yust-Yames"): I do read the stories, even before I look at the Page Three Girls. So there....

The Sunday-afternoon report... none too damn cheery, I'm afraid.

I'm trying to get the second version of the article I've been working on ready to ship to its editor. My original intention was write a new lede, swap a few paragraphs and be done with it.

Didn't work that way. I found that making both magazines happy means rewriting perhaps 60% of the story, and my heart's just not in it. And that just might have something to do with the continuing saga of the non-arriving checks....

After writing this morning's screed, I remembered something a reasonably bright friend of mine once said: "Paying attention to -- and participating in -- politics is for those who have no lives. If more people were getting laid regularly, there would be fewer politicians, and fewer people listening to them."

He was so right.

Maybe one day I'll lose interest in politics. Based on his analysis, that would be a glorious day for me.

Right now, my only interests involve faraway people, things and events.

Those poor Democrats

I feel sorry for them. I really do.

They are getting what they've howled about wanting for years; they're getting presidential candidates who "look like America."

The only problem: they're getting them all at once.

A black dude. A woman. A Hispanic.

PARENTHETICAL ALL-INCLUSIVE MUSINGS: So far, no Asians, Native Americans, gay men or lesbians have announced their candidacies, but the election season is still young....

How can you oppose Barack Obama? Hell, it'd be racist to diss him. Hillary? What's the matter with you, sexist creep? Don't you think women are good enough for the Big Job? As for Bill Richardson (a Hispanic name if ever I've seen one), we all know Hispanics -- including the ones here illegally -- are the flavor-of-the-month everywhere in D.C. these days, so he's gold.

Hillary's hit squad is already going after Obama, dredging up the tidbit that he attended a Muslim school in his youth. Add his middle name (Hussein) and he's doomed, but doesn't yet know it. And then there's his own admission of past cocaine use, which presents a real problem for the Democrats; after all, they were all over unproven allegations of George Bush's youthful enjoyment of blow back in 2000 like the proverbial cheap suit, yet now they have to say Obama's early taste for nose candy is irrelevant.

Hell, hypocrisy is nothing new to them anyway. They slammed Bush for being a former drunk, too, but that never stopped them from supporting Teddy Kennedy. Hell, Kennedy's midnight swim at Chappaquiddick didn't bother 'em, either.

And Hillary? Aside from being shrill, spiteful, vicious and insufferably self-righteous, she has more skeletons in her closet than a medical school. But, like Slick Willie, she has skated on all of them and, thanks to a fawning media, probably always will.

Richardson is a drone. An experienced drone, but a drone nonetheless. So far, he's avoided the kind of intense scrutiny that will surely be aimed at others -- mostly Republican others, thanks to the mainstream media's predilection for uncritical and over-the-top support of lefty candidates -- but if he has any deep, dark secrets, he'd be wise to hang it up now.

Yep. The Democrats got it bad, and that ain't good. With any luck, they will self-destruct and, from the ashes, begin looking for a new Barbara Jordan among their ranks who not only brings the superficial virtues to the table, but has the intelligence, character and personality to be a great leader.

The election of 2008 might be fun to watch. If, that is, it didn't portend major disaster for our country.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I guess it's official...

...that I am what's known as an "Old Fart." I wanted to avoid being slapped with that label, but what the fits.

I've been listening to all the babble from politicians recently (it's unavoidable), and it's really bringing me down. Barack Obama's running for president and there is no way in hell I would want to live in a country he presided over. Lest you think me racist, it's his wacko-lefty ideas (those few that are publicly known, since his career as a national office holder is so short) that disqualify him for me. Neither would I care to live in a country run by Hillary Whatever-the-pollsters-tell-her-to-use-for-a-last-name. Johns Kerry or Edwards? I'd sooner vote for Hugo Chavez. At least he's openly a socialist dictator.

That doesn't mean I see any Republicans worth heading to the voting booth for. I used to like John McCain, until he bent over for the illegals. Besides, I'm not sure all of his beliefs are so strongly rooted. The others? Sam (who?) Brownback, who sounds like another far-right loon? Other guys I've never heard of? Fuggeddaboutit.

The most distressing thing, at least to me, is this: previous generations (mainly the couple before mine) accomplished a hell of a lot. Among other things, they:

-- fought, and won a World War, and then rebuilt Europe and Japan;
-- built an interstate highway system;
-- made this country an industrial powerhouse;
-- had an economy that didn't require families to have both parents working just to stay afloat;
-- stared down Nikita the K, and eventually broke the back of the Red Menace;
-- went into space.

Don't bug me about the bad stuff, like racism. It was there, but an earlier end to it wouldn't have changed the very real accomplishments of those generations, would in fact have made things damn near perfect.

And what do the halfwits, shitweasels and various kinds of crooks in D. C. today have to show for themselves?

-- George Bush has sold us out to his Mexican pals;
-- George Bush has screwed up in the Middle East, big-time;
-- George Bush is about to propose a ludicrous "health-care" plan that will punish those fortunate enough to have it now, and do damn little for those who don't;
-- all the Democrats can say about the Middle East is: "Run!" which accomplishes nothing;
-- the Democrats' "health-care" ideas are socialist nightmares of government-run Robin Hood-ism;
-- both parties rant about "values" in their own ways, and whichever side wins will heavy-handedly impose their beliefs on everyone;
-- no one comes up with ideas and possible solutions to anything. Instead, they howl about the other sides' inept actions.

To sum it up: everyone in Washington today is so concerned about protecting their own turf that anything beneficial they do is strictly accidental. And all are so busy sucking up to their fatcat friends and preparing for the next election that they cannot manage to focus on anything but the issues that crop up each second.

The Brits have an old saying which goes, roughly, like this: "He who takes the Queen's shilling does the Queen's business." Or, as a well-known performer from the 1930s* once said, "he whose bread I eat, his songs I sing." Politicans, clearly, live in a world where this sage advice can be ignored.

Obviously, life was not ideal for previous generations. Nor were politicians of those days anything like selfless saints. But somehow they managed to tackle some major challenges without bleeding us dry, threatening the survival of our industrial base, wiping out Americans' jobs or opening the borders to a horde of illegals.

Of course the citizens were different then, as well. Even after FDR's best efforts to make them dependent on -- and beholden to -- his socialist nanny-state, most Americans still took pride in standing on their own two feet.

Not so today. Between LBJ, Jimmuh Carter, Bubba Clinton and the current crop of Democrat welfare-staters (and Bush seems to want, in the twilight of his political career, to emulate them), we have an ever-growing population that could not survive without government handouts. We have professional victims and protected classes, all fed from the tax trough.

God knows how these useless elected goons would deal with a real crisis. They -- president and congress alike -- totally blew the response to 9/11. An actual war would probably see our "leaders" running to the UN for "guidance," right before surrendering.

I believe we should deal with our own problems first, make sure our own people are comfortable, and do so with minimal governmental involvement. I believe we can and should tackle the major issues of the day, even though there is little political gain in doing so properly. I believe we should help our friends around the world, and stomp the daylights out of our enemies.

And I believe every politician in Washington should be removed from office and sent out to pick lettuce. I have no doubt there are plenty of good people who would serve us if given a chance.

Old-fashioned notions, each and every one.

All of which makes me an Old Fart.

* it might have been Al Jolson; I don't remember for sure.

It's Saturday...

...since my presence was required at the site of the weekly car show, I thought I'd snap a few pics for all y'all...

I always seem to take photos of the cars that interest me most -- mainly, the strange ones -- but I know at least one person who checks in here likes the exotic stuff, so here a few of the more la-di-da cars that were on display today.

PARENTHETICAL NOTE: These are pretty normal for this crowd. While the particular cars may change, there are always plenty of high-zoot rides to look at.

First, a Ferrari F40...

And an Aston Martin. This particular model brings back warm memories of a holiday spent with sweet R.B., where one of our "perks" was a similar Aston -- though that one was a convertible -- to pootle around in...

For those with major money to spend, this Bugatti Veyron fits the bill...

Or, for a little less, you could buy a Porsche Carrera GT...

Here are two of the six Ford GTs that showed up. A Ford dealer brought these, and was offering them at a cool 30K above the list price...

Of course I can't resist showing you one of my faves, this early-1950s English Ford "Anglia" van, transformed into a hot rod with a huge Chevy V8 stuffed under the hood....

Friday, January 19, 2007


To snitch (and alter) an old pilot's phrase, "any day you walk away from is a good one."

Well, I've almost walked away from today. It wasn't good.

Some of it was, I must admit. I wrote 2278 words for a client today, and I don't think the article's all that bad. That means all I have to do this weekend is rewrite the same piece for the other magazine -- with some substantial changes -- and grind out another 1000 words for another client.

It's a damn good thing I got most of the words pecked out before the mail showed up. No checks.

Frankly, that buggered my attitude completely, and it was all I could do to go through the piece and clean up some garbled syntax, replace a few fifty-cent words with the two-dollar variety, and ship the whole mess off to the editor.

I don't want to suffer for my art. I know some people think creativity is worth whatever it costs you in terms of a secure, halfway decent personal life, but those who say that usually have a steady income, and all the good stuff that goes with it, like a house with their name on the deed, a fridge full of food, and someone to share their life with.

Having done without those things for longer than I care to recall, I can tell you it's all bullcrap.

In my next life, I hope I'm an accountant. They make good dough, and get opposite-sex action more often than I do.

So tonight, it's just me and Mr J Beam once again....

A word to the wise..., they say, sufficient. I need six to get my message across, and here they are:

Stay the hell away from me today.

Woops. That's seven words. It's still early.

I managed to choke down some spinach souffle last night. Most of the portion, anyway; I gave some to the cat, who loves the stuff. Today, it's back to tea and water only.

Thanks to two clients -- both pay-on-publication types, who have screwed me over before by delaying publication (and therefore checks) on a whim -- I will be spending every waking moment this weekend sitting here writing or on the phone trying to orchestrate a photo shoot that keeps getting delayed. Except, that is, for tomorrow morning, when I have to spend a couple of hours away doing something I promised someone else.

You may be thinking "so what?" right about now. Since I have no money, and no life outside work, why shouldn't I keep on with it in hopes that one day someone will actually pay for the work they've commissioned?

Good point. Well, not really.

I am simply sick and tired of being pressured, bullshitted, betrayed and generally messed-with. I know, all too damn well, that those who have done and are doing the pressuring, bullshitting, betraying and messing-with won't be thinking about me this weekend. They all trust me to do my work, be civil, and not suddenly transform myself into an uncooperative, nasty, revenge-seeking monster.

Hence, the warning.

I am closer to that awful transformation than anyone could possibly know.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I should be writing...

...but I'm not.

Yeah, I'm writing here, but I have a 2500-word article due tomorrow and that's where my thoughts should be.

They're not.

Instead, I'm trying to convince my stomach to retain a cup of tea.

And I'm thinking about everything but the subject I'm supposed to be writing about, including (but not limited to): Cuba. Vicious Idaho predators. Corrupt politicians. My empty mailbox. People to whom I owe money. People who owe me money. Loneliness. Nausea.

This is not good.

Human arrogance

Few things irritate me as much as the belief many people hold that we humans have the right to trample roughshod over the earth, paving over open space and chopping down forests for our own comfort and killing other living things for no purpose other than the sheer "fun" of it.

One particularly egregious example showed up in the Los Angeles Times the other day:

Idaho's governor said he would support public hunts to kill all but 100 of the state's gray wolves after the U.S. government strips them of protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said he wanted hunters to kill about 550 gray wolves. The 100 surviving wolves would be the minimum before the animals could again be considered endangered.

"I'm prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself," Otter said during a rally of about 300 hunters.

I'm well aware that Idaho is home to some vicious, predatory animals. Geography has something to do with that, as does the relatively small human population. But I cannot imagine that the 450 gray wolves Otter (what a name for a hunter!) wants hunted down represent any great threat to anyone.

Yes, wolves have a long-established rep as killers. Some of the stories are, no doubt, true. But I have no doubt at all that various kinds of human stupidity are more to blame for such incidents than any desire on the wolves' part to randomly kill people.

There are times when hunting to thin down large herds of animals can be beneficial. Quick death by a bullet is preferable to slow starvation when herds grow too large for the land to support them. Somehow, I think the 550-wolf population in Idaho is in no danger of starvation.

Locally, there are crusades against much gentler animals going on all the time. Feral cats, raccoons, possums and skunks are all on the "kill list" of people whose trash cans full of uneaten food, gardens and yards have been invaded by the evil critters. One local city is considering an ordinance to ban feeding of feral cats; it has been alleged that another city (mine) has been spreading poison in some parks -- ostensibly to kill rats, which the cats do very well by themselves -- that has taken a number of animals.

I guess this is one of the attractions of Disneyland for people today: when one encounters an animal, it's really another human in costume. No fear, no poop, no overturned garbage cans, just cute things that smile at you.

I've never understood "sport" hunting or fishing. To go out into the woods and blast away to get a trophy to mount in your den seems incredibly stupid to me.

So, of course, "Butch" Otter's call to slaughter 450 gray wolves strikes me as the height of stupidity. I'm surprised he's willing to allow 100 of them to live; I doubt he would if there were no "endangered-species" laws.

Okay, so I'm biased. I've never been attacked by a wolf, have lost nothing to them, and so am perfectly happy to let them survive and thrive. The closest I've come to such animals was living in an area that was prowled by coyotes after dark. We could hear them in the canyon behind the house; we kept the household animals indoors at night, and never had a problem with them.

Shame on you, "Butch." As far as I'm concerned, the most dangerous predators in your state walk on two legs.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The End of America...

...came one hell of a lot closer today. George Bush and his bought-and-paid-for cronies got their way, and Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean surrendered to federal authorities in El Paso. They will be transported to prisons more than 1000 miles from their wives, children and families, who have spent more than $250,000 defending them against the Bush-controlled persecution.

Despite the outrage expressed by legal residents and citizens, Bush refuses to free the two men. One will be serving 11 years in prison, the other 12, without possibility of parole. Judge Kathleen Cardone, a Bush appointee, refused to allow them to remain free during the appeals process.

An interesting poll appeared on the website of the NBC-TV affiliate in San Diego:

Should the Border Patrol agents be pardoned?
Choice Percentage of 2175 Votes
Yes 97%
No 3%

In the meantime, Fox News reports this: "This is the worst betrayal of American defenders I have ever seen," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said of the president during an interview with WorldNetDaily soon after Cardone's ruling. "It's shameful this was done by someone who is in the Republican Party. He obviously thinks more about his agreements with Mexico than the lives of American people and backing up his defenders."

Rohrabacher, along with a slew of other lawmakers — including Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, have been pursuing last-ditch efforts to free Ramos and Compean. Petitions with more than 225,000 signatures were delivered to the White House Tuesday afternoon.

US Attorney Johnny Sutton released a statement full of lies and distortions to justify the persecution. The “facts” he mentions all came from the testimony of the drug dealing illegal, who just happened to be found and given immunity by our government to testify against the agents.

The best response to Sutton's lies can be found in this letter from Joe Loya, father-in-law of Ignacio Ramos.

There is speculation that Bush will let the two agents sit in prison for a year, and then pardon them. That might be the right thing to do if they had done something wrong, but to force two men who were upholding the laws of this nation – something Bush can’t be bothered to do – to endure what they and their families have already endured is criminal.

Yes, I said it, and I will say it again: George Bush is a criminal. So are Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Prosecutors Johnny Sutton and Debra Kanof, Judge Cardone and two turncoat Border Patrol agents, one a life-long friend of the illegal-alien drug smuggler who aided Bush's attack dogs in their quest to send a message to illegals and drug-runners that the borders are open.

You think that too harsh? Malicious prosecution is a crime; a felony, I believe. False imprisonment is a felony. Perjury is a felony. Failing to obey the oath of office you have taken (" defend the Constitution and uphold the laws of the United States...") is a symbolic crime, but surely worthy of removal from office.

Another Bush lapdog, Calif. Representative (and would-be '08 presidential candidate) Duncan Hunter, expressed outrage at the way Compean and Ramos are being railroaded but, during an interview, refused to criticize Bush and excused his inaction on the issue by saying Bush is "...busy with Iraq, 24/7."

We all know that's nonsense. Judging by the way the "War on Terror" is going, Bush has probably spent a good two or three minutes a week on it, learning the lines his speechwriters came up with in futile attempts to make his "plans" sound intelligible.

I have sent an email to Rep. Rohrbacher, asking him to introduce a motion in Congress to censure George Bush. Even though the motion would surely fail, given the lack of concern for American citizens in Washington these days, we would at learn who is on the side of Americans and who prefers to sacrifice their fellow citizens to the benefit of illegals and drug smugglers.

If there is ever a real, honest trial for Ramos and Compean, they will be acquitted and Bush and his toadies will be on their way to a federal pen.

And, if there is any justice, Ramos and Compean will receive, as a very small token of compensation, the $5 million our government will cheerfully give the illegal-alien drug smuggler when he sues us.

But there is no justice in 2007 America. Not for Americans, anyway.


Yes, I am. Can't keep food down, my body aches, and a gang of little men with jackhammers is breaking rocks in my head.

No germ, virus of other invader caused this. It's tension, plain and simple.

I wrote a long screed explaining the sources of the tension -- some beginning ten months ago, some before, some since -- but have deleted it.

There's no point.

The "cures" are far beyond my reach.

I need to get out into the chilly air for a while -- rain is again predicted, but I don't believe it -- to see if it will freeze up the jackhammer-men, or at least make them less energetic.

After that, I have work to do.

Why bother?

At the moment, I can't come up with a good reason.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Compean and Ramos update

I just heard an interview with an angry, frustrated Ted Poe, a Texas congressman who has been instrumental in the futile fight to get justice for Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos.

On the John and Ken Show, Poe said that the members of Congress who have been trying to get action have received one letter in reply, a short message from a low-level functionary in the "Justice" Department who says they will not be taking any action in this case.

They took plenty of action to railroad the two Border Patrol agents, though....

Since taking office, George Bush has pardoned 113 criminals, including five convicted of drug-related crimes. Apparently, the only people to whom he won't grant pardons are those who committed no crime.

Meanwhile, Bush's mouthpiece, the pompous Tony Snow, makes a joke out of the issue on each (rare) occasion it comes up in press conferences.

One has to wonder why the media, which takes such glee in blaming Bush for everything from the pitiful mess in Iraq to the bird flu, is remaining silent about Compean and Ramos. Equally silent are the big guns in Congress; apparently, Pelosi, Kennedy, Clinton, Kennedy, Obama and the rest of the "new deal" crowd can't be bothered. Neither can the Republican hotshots.

Illegals can take to the streets and demand "rights," and they are coddled by the unprincipled goons in Washington. Perhaps it is time for real American citizens and legal residents to take to the streets and demand our rights.

But first, we need to demand that the rights of two men who were trying to enforce the laws and protect their country are observed and protected.

Remember: you could be next.

Yet another update: The judge in the Compean-Ramos lynching -- clearly, she has been corrupted by Bush and his despicable gang as well -- has just denied the two agents' request to remain free on bail while their appeals continue.


...Border Patrol agents Jose Compean* and Ignacio Ramos will enter a federal prison to serve 11 and 12 years in prison for the "crime" of trying to take down an illegal-alien drug smuggler.

George Bush, Mexico's bought-and-paid-for lapdog in Washington, DC, has not responded to requests that he pardon the two agents. Those requests have included pleas from some members of Congress, and more than 250,000 citizens who have signed the petition posted by

Tomorrow will be a sad day for this nation. While a habitual offender who has repeatedly violated drug and immigration laws goes free, two dedicated Americans, who risked their lives to do the job they were asked to do, will be behind bars.

Why? Because George Bush wants it that way. There can be no doubt that this farce was orchestrated by the White House. A simple order to the Justice Department could have stopped the persecution, but no such order was given.

If Compean and Ramos are imprisoned tomorrow, I hope the quarter-million real Americans who have supported them will band together to begin an effort that will only end when Bush, those in the so-called "Justice" Department who railroaded the agents and all members of Congress who did not protest this travesty are removed from office in disgrace.

In the meantime, I hope you will join me in making some phone calls to let the true criminals in this story know how you feel:

The White House: 202-456-1414

Justice Department: 202-514-2001

Call both your Senators' offices, too.

I hold no illusions that this will help. Once those in power choose to side with drug-smuggling illegals against their own people, the corruption has settled in too deeply.

It is past time for those of us who care about our nation, who put the rule of law over political expediency, to find a way to take our country back from those who are willing and eager to sell us out.

None of us are safe from the evil that claimed Compean and Ramos. The next victim could be you. Or me.

* I have seen Compean's name spelled two different ways, and have used both. I believe this one is correct.

This is too damn much!

Okay, so I found an article in the New York Times that enrages me.

PARENTHETICAL RIGHT-WING NUTCASE THOUGHT: Hardly a day goes by when that rag doesn't infuriate me. I don't know how I missed this one -- it appeared five days ago -- but to me it shows how destructive the "it takes a village" mentality has become.

This particular story, which appeared under the headline New York Tries to Think Outside the Sandbox, lays out plans the liberal loons have for turning children into overweight, neurotic twerps, snotty little future NY Times subscribers who sit around doing nothing but looking down their noses at the dirty, healthy kids from other places. Just as their parents do.

Excerpts from the story about the way NYC is planning to reinvent playgrounds to make them safe and socially acceptable follow:

New York City, with its rich history of public playgrounds, is on the verge of a bold experiment in the way children play, one that could accelerate the trend away from monkey bars, swings and seesaws used by generations of city children.

And what will these marvelous "play areas" have? a playground near the South Street Seaport...will have trained “play workers” on hand to help children interact with features of the new playground: water, ramps, sand and specially designed objects meant to spur the imagination.

Ooh, ooh! "Play workers!" "Interaction!"

But wait, there's more! Based on child-development theories that children need to engage in social and fantasy play rather than just build physical skills, the project was conceived and is being designed at no charge by David Rockwell, famous for creating adult play spaces like the restaurants Nobu and Café Gray and the Mohegan Sun casino and resort. Yup, those are "adult play spaces," all right....

These wacko adults have ideas that certainly don't square with either my memories of childhood or current beliefs: behaviorists and others say planners could go even further to reflect more refined ideas about nurturing children... They also envision groups of children collaborating, for instance, loading containers with sand, hoisting them up with pulleys and then lowering them down to wagons waiting to be wheeled off to another part of the park.

Cripes. I guess they'd wet their pants if confronted with kids "collaborating" to play the kinds of games we played. You know, stuff where one of us might get a cut or a bruise or, worse, get some exercise. We didn't want "nurturing;" we wanted to have some rough-and-tumble fun.

But the planners and social wankers -- excuse me, "scientists" -- of New York City have it all figured out: “We’re creating as many opportunities as we can for collaborative play — thinking of imagination as important a muscle as running,” Mr. Rockwell said, as well as places that children can be in and manipulate as they wish, with the loose objects encouraging them “to understand that they can control their own environment.”

I have news for you jerks. Kids don't give a shit about "controlling their own environment." They want to play.

I don't know why the city doesn't just give each kid a freekin' computer game and sit 'em down in a corner somewhere.

If I had kids and lived in a town that encouraged idiocy like this, we'd be out of there on the next thing moving in any direction.

In the meantime, everyone involved with this, from Mayor Bloomberg to the would-be "play workers," should be barred by law from ever making any decisions involving children.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bits of this & that...

...from here & there, because I'm too tired to get my brain working for a rant or personal story....

According to this story in the Detroit Free Press, a lot of people better stay the hell away from Michigan, at least for now.

The story's lede tells it all: n a ruling sure to make philandering spouses squirm, Michigan's second-highest court says that anyone involved in an extramarital fling can be prosecuted for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

"We cannot help but question whether the Legislature actually intended the result we reach here today," Judge William Murphy wrote in November for a unanimous Court of Appeals panel, "but we are curtailed by the language of the statute from reaching any other conclusion."

"Technically," he added, "any time a person engages in sexual penetration in an adulterous relationship, he or she is guilty of CSC I," the most serious sexual assault charge in Michigan's criminal code.

I know some folks whose butts would be in a sling except for the fortuitous fact that they're not in Michigan....

In the meantime, Pravda reports that Paul McCartney's settlement with his soon to be ex-wife is the equivalent of giving her $7000 for every hour they were married.

The same newspaper advises that being gay in Russia is now, in their words, "faddish." The story quotes a gay man called "Pavel" as saying “I feel sorry for you girls. There’s only 6 men for 10 women in this country. One out of those six is a gay, another one is a drug addict, two more are alcoholics, and the last but one is a waste of space, an impotent. I guess you can figure out the rest."

But how can anyone think of sex when David Beckham is coming to Los Angeles to play for the local soccer team? Some say he's reluctantly giving in to wife Victoria's desire to live here, but I find that hard to believe considering that he will get $250 million over five years.

This strikes me as excessive. I doubt that our local soccer team (whatever it's called) has grossed that much money over its entire history. But what do I know?

A sad story from Northern California: a Vallejo man was seriously burned when his cell phone caught fire in his pocket, igniting, according to the L.A. Times, "his nylon and polyester clothes." Sounds suspiciously as if the man was wearing a leisure suit to me. But then, Vallejo is somewhat behind the times from what I remember of it....

Today's saddest story, however, concerns one Ken Barnes Jnr, of Newport Beach, California. Barnes cashed out all his assets and boat a sailboat, intending to sail around the world. His dream, ten years in the planning, came to an end after two months off the coast of Chile, when a storm dismasted his boat, wiped out its electrical system and filled the cabin with water. He activated his rescue beacon and was found several days later by a Chilean fishing vessel.

It doesn't sound as if he's planning to try again.

Why not?

Just keep throwin' them rocks at me, people. Why should today be any different?

I'm not, of course, talking about all y'all who are reading this. You have been remarkably kind and supportive when I whine, with the occasional gentle slap -- usually deserved -- administered when you think it necessary.

But I still long for a day when nothing happens to throw me off stride.

I was happily pecking away at an article this morning, running up the word count with wonderful similes and crystal-clear analysis, when I was advised that there is yet more trouble with the major last-minute deadline-buster story that will fill the rest of my week. The shipment of some components absolutely necessary for photography has been delayed; they were supposed to be sent out five days ago; only today did I find they won't be en route until Wednesday.

What this means: barring a miracle, publication of the story will have to be put off for a month.

What it also means is that my checks for the story (it is to be published in two different magazines) will be delayed a month. I can't afford that.

Dealing with this -- calls to find out what, if anything, can be done to make this work within the rapidly closing time window, exchanges of emails with various people, and the like -- not only consumed much of the morning, but also put me in a mood that, to say the least, is not conducive to imaginative writing.

Such is the world of freelancing....

One very mild and more than slightly ironic source of amusement came when I was checking the stats for this journal. I found that one reader arrived via a google search. And this is what the reader was looking for:

scribbs commercial loans

Hell's bells, I'm closer to needing loans than making any!

I'll bet that's one reader who went away mad.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Part Two: A life full of...

...blind leaps, mistakes and general dumbness.

I have to admit I didn't jump into the world of journalism completely unprepared. In fact, as far back as high school, I considered some kind of writing career, and, after a year as editor of the newspaper at the small-time college I (briefly) attended, I actually applied for some writing jobs, and made it all the way to the interview process for one.

PARENTHETICAL PUTTING-THINGS-IN-ORDER THOUGHT: This last year of college came during a slowdown in the film business. I was in my very early 20s, and not yet committed to animation as a profession. I was also considering music and (God help us all!) politics....

So I went to talk to a publisher about becoming editor of a small-town newspaper. Entry-level reporter's jobs didn't interest me; I was making much more in the film biz. While I waited outside his office, I had time to think: since this would still involve writing some stories, I would have to cover some human tragedies, something I found distasteful and felt myself ill-equipped to do. And, almost as bad, I leafed through a few back issues of the paper; the previous week's headline story dealt with the collapse of someone's driveway after a rainstorm.

Right on the spot, newspaper work stopped looking so interesting to me. This seemed a long, long way from the Big Time, and I was impatient. I left without being interviewed, and started another film job the next day.

When, years later, I met the magazine editor referred to in the earlier entry, we were discussing a subject in which I had been interested for as long as I could remember. Writing was not difficult for me, and neither was the research. Because I was something of a "fan," I already knew more about the specific story than most people.

By sheer good fortune, the magazine that published my first story was (then) one of the top publications in the field. That made it easy for me to call on editors of "lesser" magazines and say "when I'm through doing this story for -----, I might have time to do some stuff for you."

It worked.

There were certain things I didn't know in the early days that came along to haunt me later. First, I didn't realize that I was starting at a "peak" time for the business. I was offered virtually unlimited access to everything I needed, along with an abundance of trips to exotic locales. These things became more the exception than the rule as time went on and corporate budgets were squeezed.

PARENTHETICAL PAYING-THE-PRICE THOUGHT: My new "career" was also the final straw in my already-shaky marriage. The financial uncertainty of freelancing, the fact that I could go happily globe-trotting while the wife stayed home and one other related factor I can't mention made her decide to bail out while the bailing was good.

Worst of all, the rates paid when I began have not increased much when they have increased at all. As more magazines came under corporate ownership -- or, in a few cases, were acquired by cash-strapped and/or unscrupulous operators -- budgets were slashed, and payment policies changed, too. More and more magazines went over to the pay-on-publication system, which means waiting for three months or more to see any return for my work.

As the cost of living increased, I was forced to write more and more just to stay afloat, and faced more and more competition from new writers who were lured to the subject and who are either (a) independently wealthy enough to consider this a "hobby" or (b) had left another profession that gives them a pension to fall back on.

I tried for a few staff positions -- and am trying for one at this moment -- to get additional security and regular checks, but for one reason or another (sometimes my fault) none have worked out. Staff people might write as little as one story a month (or as many as four or five) while I have to turn around a minimum of five just to avoid monetary meltdown.

My real mistake was attempting to survive as a freelance writer. It is extremely difficult, perhaps too difficult for me. But I feel more or less stuck with it, as most employers are looking for younger, less-demanding staff people.

I've written a few articles outside my "specialty" -- which is fairly broad anyway -- and have had requests for more, but the pay offered in those niches is usually even lower than what I'm used to.

Books? Forget 'em. I've been offered several, and they are a huge financial crapshoot for the writer. Tom Clancy I ain't; my "style" doesn't lend itself to fiction.

Granted, "name" writers in several fields can command the big bucks, but for every headliner in a major publication, there are hundreds -- make that thousands -- of us just scraping by. And we have to prove ourselves all over again with each new article. One bad piece, and the offers start to vanish....

I won't say it's all been awful. Far from it. I've filled three passports with entry and exit stamps over the years, have plenty of wonderful memories, and have had experiences that -- if I may say so -- most people will never have. I'm happy about those things.

But, as I near my 57th birthday and consider where I am and what my future prospects are, it doesn't look so damn wonderful. What seemed a worthwhile risk when I was 46 now looks suspiciously like a wasted effort, no matter how much entertainment and information I've provided for others. I used to say I'd never retire because I loved the work; nowadays, I say that because I can't afford to.

When the fun and the rewards are more a matter of memories than present reality, it's hard not to think you've screwed up your life big-time.

Hate to end on a downer, but that's how it is.

Part One: A life full of...

...shall we say, questionable choices, all of which seemed perfectly sensible at the time.

PARENTHETICAL HESITANT, DISCLAIMER-TYPE THOUGHT: I don't like being too detailed about my life in this journal. For some reason, I worry that some ghost from the past might recognize me -- not that I'm well-known, because I'm not -- and embarrassment would ensue. But a few people have made noises about wanting to know more about me, so here is the first of an occasional stab at it....

I have had three "careers" in my life. None were related, none were the result of anything I learned in school. In fact, had I paid more attention in the classrooms, I might have done something else entirely. Like getting a real job and enjoying the material fruits of a more stable lifestyle.

It began with my wanting to take time off from school, and finding a job in the motion-picture business. I fell into the field of animated films and special effects. In those days, animated films were not the products of computers; they consisted of animators' drawings (transferred to transparent "cels") photographed in sequence to create "motion." It was a time-consuming process at every level.

My specific job -- though at times I did many other related jobs -- was to photograph the cels, using what were, in essence, motion-picture cameras mounted on large, structures. By moving the camera and/or the artwork in various ways, the operator added some of the "motion" to the finished film. It was a job that could be done, in basic form, by almost anyone. Or it could be a very complex, creative process.

I was good at it. I learned the tricks of the trade -- in large part because the business was then full of "old-timers" who passed their knowledge to me -- and became one of a relatively small number of people who were considered "experts."

Bad luck for me: the job paid damn well, so well that I abandoned any thoughts of going back to school and concentrated on establishing myself in "the biz."

But after doing this for a dozen years or so -- and enduring the business's seasonal slowdowns, the heavy overtime when schedules got tight and a thousand other ulcer-inducing factors -- computers began to intrude into the process. The "old ways" were beginning to fade out, and what had once been a labor-intensive creative process began to be entrusted to machines, and those who could program them.

At first, I went along with it. In the transitional stage, the old cameras were adapted to computer control. Since this didn't work all that well in the beginning, I would usually turn the computer "off" after the clients went home, and do the work the old-fashioned way. I was as fast as the machine, and more accurate.

But that stage didn't last. Computers did more and more, and I could see there was no future in what I was doing. Worse, I didn't (and still don't) even like computer-generated animation. There was something about the "old-school" product I felt was missing from the new stuff. But what I felt certainly didn't matter to anyone else. So: in with the new, out with the old.

And out with me.

I then went to work for a friend who was a real-estate appraiser. Once again, I learned quickly. In a short time, I was doing this guy's research for him and writing the narrative portions of his reports. Toward the end, I was doing the whole thing -- including setting values -- and he'd just put his name on it. We started doing some property-management work as well.

I didn't find this very fulfilling, but it was paying the bills. I might have stuck with it, but my employer was getting into some questionable situations -- this was about the time of the great "savings and loan" scandals, when some banks were failing and a lot of commercial buildings, apartments and the like were available if one knew how to get in on the "deals" -- with some fast-talking speculators.

We had a chance to develop some nice long-term situations that would have brought in plenty of money. I suggested we take the conservative approach, but he (and his new "partners") wanted to go for the quick in-and-out deals and pull lots of cash out right away. Which blew up in their faces.

It was at about this time that I met a magazine editor at a party. We got to be friends, and I suggested a story for his magazine. I have to admit I was not thinking of writing it myself (I just wanted to read what an "expert" might tell me about the subject), but he, quite naturally, assumed that I was proposing to write it.

He told me to give it a try. So I did. Three weeks later, I handed him the copy. He read it, changed not a word -- another editor called me to discuss changes, but decided to ignore the "style book" and let a few sentences that violated the rules stay as-is because she liked them -- and when it hit print, there were my words and my byline staring me in the face.

It was intoxicating.

Worse, just a few weeks after I turned it in, a nice check arrived in the mail. We hadn't discussed money (see how seriously I was taking this as a possible career?) and I was stunned at how much they paid.

I was hooked.

The rest, as they say, is history. Or, in this case, the subject for a later entry.

Invaluable advice...

...from Fat Freddy!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

From dream to reality... in: from my island kingdom to the ugly reality of work.

I have to admit the stories I must complete over the next week or so -- a 2000-2500 word piece promised for Monday, another (which must be written in two versions for two magazines) of similar length due as soon as I can get all the preliminary work done -- are, in themselves, not bringing me down at all. I had fun gathering data for them, and in ordinary conditions they'd be simple to write.

These are not "ordinary conditions." Or, to be more precise, they are ordinary, but seem to weigh on me a little more every day.

Simply put, work has become the sole focus of my life. When I'm not actively involved with it, one or more facets of it are affecting what I do. I worry when I'm not working (or don't have any stories nearing deadline), worry because the checks are coming in too slowly. I can't even play effectively, knowing whatever it costs to do something I enjoy will come out of my dwindling resources.

The end result is that I work sporadically, less effectively when I actually do force myself to concentrate and with less satisfaction gained when I final ship the end result to an editor.

PARENTHETICAL THOUGHT: I know a lot of people who are bugged by their jobs. I've been there myself in the past. But I gave up quite a bit -- job security, benefits, steady paychecks -- to do something I enjoy, so I'd like to think it was worth it. Right now, it's not.

So what's the cure? Fabulous Furry Freak Brother "Freewheelin' Franklin" once observed that dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope.

He was almost right. What I -- who seem to bear a more than passing resemblance to Freak Brother "Fat Freddy," right down to the orange-cat sidekick -- say is: love will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no love.

Right now, I have neither love nor money. Or dope, for that matter.

On Scribbler Island, Freak Bros. comix will be readily available. I may even put up statues to them....

Friday, January 12, 2007

Desperate times... for desperate measures!

According to a story you can read here, the Swedish "pirate" software-sharing site "The Pirate Bay" is planning to buy a self-contained "nation-state" in the North Sea on which to maintain its site in the face of many efforts by copyright-holders to shut it down.

Their goal is to buy "Sealand," a former U.K. defense platform which the story describes thusly: The "island" of Sealand, seven miles off the coast of southern England, was settled in 1967 by an English major, Paddy Roy Bates. Bates proclaimed Sealand a state, issuing passports and gold and silver Sealand dollars and declaring himself Prince Roy.

When the British Royal Navy tried to evict Prince Roy in 1968, a judge ruled that the platform was outside British territorial waters and therefore beyond government control.

The island is now being put up for sale by Prince Roy's son, Prince Michael, who styles himself head of state. A firm of Spanish estate agents has valued the island at £504 million (about 7 billion kronor), although Prince Michael told The Times of London that it is hard to gauge how much it will fetch in reality.

Please understand that I have no interest in getting into a bidding war with "The Pirate Bay," even though I have a few kronor left over from a trip to Sweden about 18 months ago....

But the audacity of the concept fires my imagination. Since life has grown intolerable for me Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea, why not establish sovereignty over some little rock sticking out of the South Pacific (or in the Caribbean) and set up my own nation?

King Scribbler I. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think? Far better than, say, "President For Life," no?

Besides, I intend to establish a benevolent dictatorship, not some oppress-the-people scene like so many dictators who have come before. In fact, with the exception of a few minor fees to ensure that I am able to live in the style to which I would dearly love to become accustomed -- and it's more modest than you think -- the general population in the Kingdom of Scribbler wouldn't even know I'm there.

PARENTHETICAL CAVEAT-TYPE THOUGHT: They'd sure as hell know on holidays, which would be mandated roughly 183 times yearly. I would demand that I be allowed to lead all parades so "my people" could throw flowers, hand over bottles of single-malt, and generally revere me.

I would offer asylum to some of the world's better malcontents. For example, if my brother can't get his "Drop Out Nation" up and running, he'll be welcome in the Kingdom of Scribbler. Others are already on the list for automatic citizenship as soon as I get my flag planted.

Though tempted, I won't adopt the old rule of "Jus Primae Noctis." I promise.

There will be only one law in this land, one I have cribbed from the medical profession: "first, do no harm." Anyone who violates it will be put on a boat for, say, North Korea.

I'm tempted to make nudity a subsidiary law of the land as well. We'll see. I'll make my final decision based on who applies for citizenship. In any case, it would be mandatory only for those specifically chosen for the honor by King Scribbler I.

The only issue I have yet to decide is whether Scribbler Island will declare war on the U.S.A. in order to attract the vast sums that nation lavishes on defeated lands.

If anyone wishes to apply for a passport, please let me know. For most of those who read this, it'll be a process of almost immediate approval. Only one person I know will have to go to extra lengths to prove herself worthy of admission....