Saturday, April 10, 2010

We're idiots ...

In an unusual last-minute edit that has drawn flak from the White House and science educators, a federal advisory committee omitted data on Americans' knowledge of evolution and the big bang from a key report. The data shows that Americans are far less likely than the rest of the world to accept that humans evolved from earlier species and that the universe began with a big bang.


We were once the most educated nation on the planet. We are now an assemblage of morons and mystics.

Can't wait until my EU citizenship comes through.

Great thanks to Chris for the link.

"We Kicked The Crackers' Asses Day"

Since we're being forced to remember the Confederacy this month, let's remember where the Civil War ended. The final ass kicking was handed to the secesh in Virginia. Be sure to tell all the tourists about that, McDonnell.

I propose that April 9 be designated an annual National Holiday called "We Kicked The Crackers' Asses Day" or "They Started It And We Ended It Day" or maybe "Those Fucking Traitors Should Thank Their Lucky Stars We Didn't Kill 'Em All Like We Should Have Day".

Surrender at Appomattox, 1865

With his army surrounded, his men weak and exhausted, Robert E. Lee realized there was little choice but to consider the surrender of his Army to General Grant. After a series of notes between the two leaders, they agreed to meet on April 9, 1865, at the house of Wilmer McLean in the village of Appomattox Courthouse. The meeting lasted approximately two and one-half hours and at its conclusion the bloodliest conflict in the nation's history neared its end.

Prelude to Surrender

On April 3, Richmond fell to Union troops as Robert E. Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia in retreat to the West pursued by Grant and the Army of the Potomac. A running battle ensued as each Army moved farther to the West in an effort to out flank, or prevent being out flanked by the enemy. Finally, on April 7, General Grant initiated a series of dispatches leading to a meeting between the two commanders.

Note to Secesh Who Won't Let It Die: That was 145 years ago. You were wrong to begin with, you never stood a chance, you started the war anyway, and you lost. Get the fuck over it. Our biggest mistake is letting you peckerwoods fly that goddam slave flag. If it was up to me, the US Army, the same one that kicked your cracker ass, perhaps in nice blue "Fuck You Johnny Reb, We're Here To Do It Again You Bastards" uniforms, would be sent to tear that despicable rag to shreds wherever they found it, including motorcycle and pickup truck paint jobs and tattoos.

It was inevitable that The South would rise again. Shit floats. Perhaps we need to flush it again.

A tip o' the Brain to Mrs. G who gave me the 'National Holiday' idea.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

Woody Guthrie & Emmylou Harris ~ "Hobo's Lullaby"

Thanks to jasabet2.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Palin and Bachmann are a lesbian couple and somehow they spawned ... Ozzy?

The Psycho Sisters in 2012

Thanks to Jed & Barb at Kos


There are always good 'toons at YubaNet along with news of general interest and some of particular interest to my neck of the woods.

Here's a couple. This one's funny:

Click to embiggen

This one's not at all funny:

Doubleplus Ungood Palinspeak


In an academically rich yet entertaining post, linguist John McWhorter explains what exactly it is about Sarah Palin’s speaking abilities that gives some people pause:

Social scientists and historians could probably spend lifetimes studying how a woman barely capable of stringing together a noun and a verb — let alone possessing meaningful understanding of the complex issues facing us — is also such a remarkably skilled politician as to stake out as her own territory the entire landscape of troubled and dreary right-wing America.

From McWhorter. Worth a read.

It’s not quite Bushspeak, which, with the likes of “I know what it’s like to put food on my family,” was replete with flagrantly misplaced words with a frequency that made for guesses, not completely in jest, that he might suffer from a mild form of Wernicke’s aphasia, interfering with matching word shapes to meanings. (Bush the father wasn’t much better in this regard—there just wasn’t an internet to make collecting the slips and spreading them around so easy.)

Rather, Palin is given to meandering phraseology of a kind suggesting someone more commenting on impressions as they enter and leave her head rather than constructing insights about them. Or at least, insights that go beyond the bare-bones essentials of human cognition — an entity (i.e. something) and a predicate (i.e. something about it).

The easy score is to flag this speech style as a sign of moronism. [..]

Yep. Sure is. Next case...

Palinspeak is a flashlight panning over thoughts, rather than thoughts given light via considered expression. [...]

A flashlight with a dim bulb and low batteries panning over not much thought. It works for her given her audience. A strong light on her thoughts would reveal a vast wasteland into which she happily leads others for money. The difference between her and the Pied Piper is that she wants the rats to take over Hamelin. And if they don't pay her, she'll leave the children there and just make them as stupid as their parents.

FauxNews poll finds Americans favor ‘IRS’ over ‘Tea Party’

Don't worry. F**Noise will no doubt protect their viewers from this startling news by suppressing the results of their own poll. Heh.

Raw Story, lotsa links.

After months upon months of enthusiastic, cheer-leading coverage of any rally that involved tea, tea bagging or tea partying, the Fox News network has miraculously disproved itself by producing a new poll that finds Americans think more highly of the Internal Revenue Service than they do the vocal conservative minority.

Note to the teabaggers (there must be some of you who can read well enough to slowly read this): If the IRS is more popular than you are, you should shoot yourself.

There are some other poll results from this and other polls that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but buried way down the piece is this jewel:

Because of her recent speech to the 67th annual Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America expo (which received rather bitter reviews), Palin was offered $25,000 by Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws to give a short pep talk to their group. ​"There's no reason why former Governor Palin should reject our offer," a spokesman jokingly said, citing how much safer cannabis is than alcohol.

One possible reason why she'd decline: according to The New York Times, Palin charges up to $100,000 per appearance -- something that even tea partiers have chided her for and a fee the alcohol purveyors presumably paid.

Though she did not address any issues specific to the wine and spirits industries, Palin did emphasize one term in particular during her speech to the conference. According to Tom Wark's wine blog, she was all about "deregulation" in a fuzzy, non-specific sense: likely the wrong theme to employ while speaking to a room of professionals who serve an industry that strongly supports special regulations springing from the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, which Palin would now appear to be against, just on general principle.

Trailer Trash Barbie hasn't got a fuckin' clue about anything other than gullible people will pay to hear her shit, nor does she have much in the way of 'principles', but she sure has a big screechy mouth and at a hunnert large a time she'll do whatever you want, sailor.

The Double Down Death Bomb

Mark Morford is on today about the most disgusting fast food yet.

Behold, the KFC Double Down sandwich. It is, if you really want to know, two slabs of fried chicken intersliced with two pieces of bacon, two slabs of cheese, and the Colonel's "special sauce." It comes in the form of a sandwich, with the fried chicken where the bread used to be. It's sort of hilarious. It's sort of perfect. And then it'll probably make you vomit.

I like fried chicken, bacon, and cheese, but not like that. Yuck.

Of course, it's sort of a foregone conclusion, a rigged game. This vile meatwich is crammed like a grenade with sodium, sugar, fat and chemicals. Ergo, the testers, presumably people with taste buds devastated by years of cramming similar compost into their guts, thought it was pure nirvana. And then their colons exploded.

I love a good fast food burger once in a while, but I haven't eaten any KFC for years, ever since I found out they use Tyson chicken. Tyson is a big Repug donor and treats his employees poorly. I don't even wanta think about what he does to the chickens.

It's war I tell ya ...

Whaddya mean we can only drink beer at lunch?


Warehouse workers at Danish brewing giant Carlsberg are striking because management has decided that the employees may no longer have their customary three free bottled beers a day at the workplace, reports

Carlsberg has implemented a new workplace alcohol policy that now limits employees to one bottle of beer a day at lunchtime.
That move resulted in employees at the brewer’s Fredericia facility to strike yesterday. This morning, workers at Carlsberg’s Terminal East morning shift in suburban Høje Taastrup also left the worksite prior to their shifts in protest of the new policy.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Quote of the Day

El Rude-o:

... The whole of the interview was like watching three wildebeests fuck each other - awkward, stupid-looking, and mostly goddamned funny ...

Addendums ...

To my post the other day:


You know what it feels like to be in the middle of it? Well, combat is the Great Equalizer. It is a time where abstract thought takes its leave, when the words "moral" and "compassion" meaningless until it's over. You are in touch with your basic instincts, kill or be killed, fight or flight, and nothing much else matters. You are as wild as the rest of God's creatures, humanity be damned. All that matters is what all of your senses, heightened to the sharpness of a razor thanks to the adrenaline rush, are telling you and what animal instinct and the training you've received are causing you to act. And you can't turn it on and off like flipping a switch.


Our friend Comrade Misfit relates "The Story of the Green Flare":


The Navy conducts exercises at sea from time to time, operations that civilians refer to as "war games." The goal is to train the ships' crews to deal with the operational tempo, lack of sleep and some of the stresses of being in fluid and uncertain situations at sea.

I was one of the OODs of one of the ships in the exercise. My ship had a modest AAW defensive capability. That was simulated by the firing of a green flare from a Very pistol. For the duration of the exercise, the OODs wore a holster with the Very pistol and several flares.


Fortunately, nobody took .50 caliber that night but it reinforces my point that when the pucker factor is high, constantly, your frame of mind changes. You see what you want to see, be it reporters, jihadis, or unfriendly helicopters. Misfit captures this well in her post, and her CO understood what goes on when it's tense. It's the situation, and we have to be careful what situations we put our troops in. It's time to hang the assholes who decided this misbegotten war would be a good thing.

“Treason in Defense of Slavery” month

Blue Texan at FDL, many links.

Group that Lobbied Republican Governor to Honor Confederacy Tied to White Supremacists

The interwebs are buzzing today with the news that GOP Gov. Robert McDonnell of Virginia has declared April “Treason in Defense of Slavery” month.

But what’s not getting enough attention is the fact that the group that convinced McDonnell to sign the declaration are a bunch of neo-Confederates.

This year’s proclamation was requested by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. [...]

They must be pretty old by now...

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a dossier on the SCV.

Although the 31,400-member SCV has always billed itself as a “non-political” and “non-racial” heritage organization devoted merely to preserving the legacy of Confederate soldiers, SCV leaders have long been tied to segregation and white supremacy.

But you’ve got to see this quote from an article in the May/June, 2008 edition of the SCV’s newsletter, The Southern Mercury.

It is very clear to me that if Barack Obama should be elected President, he would be extremely anti-white and would demand reparations for slavery and press hard for affirmative action to the degree that it would hurt young whites who were seeking jobs or admission to College and Graduate Schools. Even if he were elected, I would think he would be a one term President and the Congressional Republicans with a “corporal’s guard’ of Democrats would stop most of the radical and unjust laws he would propose. However, I believe that his rhetoric and anti-white legislative proposals would stir up racial riots. If he were running for re-election, these riots would turn into an extremely violent nature that would seriously damage race relations in America, and leave entire sections of some of our cities in ruins.

Real nice people you’re keeping company with, Bob.

From Raw Story:

Virginia's Confederate History Month debuted under Governor George ("Macaca" - G) Allen, a Republican, in 1997, causing "a national uproar," the Post notes. Allen's proclamation made no mention of slavery, but his successor, Republican James. S. Gilmore, added language referencing slavery in his own proclamation.

The month-long historic event was then dropped entirely by two subsequent Democratic governors, and had been absent from Virginia for the past eight years.

There are a lot of fine people in Virginia and The South. Unfortunately for them and for us, none of them are in charge right now.

A coupla personal anecdotes. I spent about two years in North Carolina in '65 and '66. They had odd drinking laws there, and to get a beer on Sunday we had to go to a town called Swansboro. 'Town' mighta been pushin' it a little bit, but it had a saloon that was open on Sunday.

The black Marines who were from The South wouldn't go there with us, they went to black bars in black towns, but the splibs from Up North didn't have the Jim Crow upbringing and would. Once. There were usually a couple of locals in the joint and they weren't down with Civil Rights just yet and didn't like blacks in "their" bar. They didn't have quite the lack of common sense to take on a bunch of young Marines, so there wasn't much they could do about it.

What they could do was put nickels (yes, I'm that old) in the jukebox. They played such songs as "Cajun Ku Klux Klan" and "NAACP Flight 105" which was about an airport flight controller directing a plane carrying Freedom Riders to crash in a swamp. Nice, huh? Both of these songs, and there were others I am sure, were on Rebel Records although I don't think they are still in the catalog. That they were probably on jukeboxes in "white" bars all over The South is indicative of the times.

The black Marines wanted to kick the crackers' asses for playing these race records, but we convinced 'em that a) they weren't in Chi town or Philly, and b) they were stickin' their fingers in whitey's eye just by being there and that they didn't want to rot in some redneck lockup and neither did we for backin' 'em up. It kept them from doing something that would have felt good but would have gotten us all in trouble.

Switchin' gears here. I got transferred from electronics school at MCRD San Diego to Camp Lejeune in March 1965. I drove my car and as luck would have it, my route went right through Selma, Alabama. I had heard, of course, about the Freedom Marches across the Edmund Pettus bridge there earlier that month, but when I blazed through Selma it was very quiet and peaceful. Deader'n a carp, actually. I decided to send a postcard home and stopped at a store to buy one.

I was driving a 1948 Plymouth with California plates and a Loyola University sticker in the back window. To the casual observer in Alabama it must have looked like another commie agitator was in town. I wasn't in the store one minute before the biggest fuckin' cop I've ever seen was right in there taking a look at me. The cop had a state Alcohol & Beverage Control patch on his uniform shoulder and was mighty well armed for a booze cop! He saw my haircut, and maybe the base sticker on my bumper, and put two and two together and decided I wasn't a problem and left. Those Alabama cops were on it, though. If there was any more civil rights trouble, they were gonna nip it, nip it in the bud! (Thanks to Barney Fife. Heh.)

That was 45 years ago, at the very dawn of the attempt at equality in this country. Some people have not accepted it and are not over it to this day. The old ways die hard, but they were and are pure evil, and die they must even if they have to be helped along their way to hell by the rest of us.

Numbers to Die For

From a Tomgram that will make your jaw drop:

U.S. War-Fighting Numbers to Knock Your Socks Off

It’s striking, of course, that all this is happening at a moment when, domestically, small businesses can’t get loans and close to 10% of the population is officially out of work, while state governments are desperately scrabbling for every available dollar (and some that aren’t), even as they cut what would once have been considered basic services. In contrast, the Pentagon is fighting its distant wars as if American pockets had no bottoms, the national treasury had no limits, and there was quite literally no tomorrow.

And there’s one more small contrast to be made when it comes to the finest military in the history of the world: for all the private security guards, mountains of burgers, lakes of gasoline, miles of blast walls, and satchels of cash to pass out to the locals, it’s been remarkably unsuccessful in its pacification campaigns against some of the motliest forces of our time. The U.S. military has been fought to something like a draw by relatively modest-sized, relatively lightly armed minority insurgencies that don’t even pass muster when it comes to shooting straight.

Vast piles of money and vast quantities of materiel have been squandered; equipment by the boatload has been used up; lives have been wasted in profusion; and yet the winners of our wars might turn out to be Iran and China. The American way of war, unfortunately, has the numbers to die for, just not to live by.

All of this yet to be paid for, and the upshot is that Iraq will have the civil war it longs for and a strongman will emerge to take control, and Afghanistan will return to the 13th century with cell phones and Kalashnikovs to coordinate the opium trade.

Thanks again, George.

Keep yer hands off my ...

Government subsidized apartment.

Seems the guy who wanted to kill the Speaker of the House for giving him government subsidized health care already lives in government subsidized housing.


Sister Lorna Walsh, community operations manager of the Mercy Housing complex where Giusti lives, said he had lived in the subsidized housing for almost 10 years. She would not comment further


People like this are the same type that Osama et. al. talk into blowing themselves up on buses and in train stations.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It ain't 'teabagging' anymore ...

It's called terrorism:


"Let me tell you what you've got to do," said Florida GOP terrorist Allen West. "You've got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house. That's the only way that you're going to win. That's the only way you're going to get these people's attention."


Video at Maru's place.

And stay down ...

My contribution to Confederate History Month:

The Band - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Captain Obvious ...

Glenn Beck is a prolapsed rectum.

Confederate History Month Is for Losers


RICHMOND -- Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, reviving a controversy that had been dormant for eight years, has declared that April will be Confederate History Month in Virginia, a move that angered civil rights leaders Tuesday but that political observers said would strengthen his position with his conservative base.

McDonnell's crackerass proclamation here.

The Rude Pundit, links at site.

Let's get this straight, oh, dear people of the South: the North kicked your cracker ass. You begged them to stop. You bent over and said, "No, c'mon, if we let you fuck us in the ass, will you end this?" You thought you were so fucking tough, seceding and daring the North to fuck with you. And when you ended up with your cities burned, your slaves freed, and your fake government in ruins, you never got over it, not since Appomattox. So you fetishize this shit. You build monuments to traitors, you parade around with your shirts and your yards and your pick-ups sporting the flag of your defeated pseudo-country, jacking off to the idea that one day...oh, god, shit, smack it, one day, Dixie will rise again.

Except it won't. And as much as you prance around and pretend that the good ol' days are anything but ol' and gone, you'll wallow in the mud pit of ignorance with the rest of the pigs of history.

Now, as an expatriate from the South, the Rude Pundit has had more than his fair share of discussions with knuckleheads pretending to be smart over the cause of the Civil War, usually ending with his question to said knucklehead, "Would it have happened if it the South hadn't had slaves?" Because whatever other "grievances" the South had with the North, go fuck yourself if you think, at the end of the day, there was any other reason for the war.

But, hey, go ahead, Virginia, and celebrate your slave-owning exploiters of the poor, white, racist yeoman farmers who made up the bulk of the Confederate Army. Celebrate how the wealthy plantation owners and politicians manipulated a bunch of undereducated tools into doing their bidding. It's fuckin' par for the course for conservatives, you know.

Remember, though: the Confederacy was a criminal enterprise and its defense was massive thuggery. Polish that horse turd, if you want, but it took two fucking presidential pardons to clean the slate of the huge act of treason that occurred. Congratulations, Virginia, for honoring a violent conspiracy to keep human beings enslaved without even mentioning it in the proclamation.

Historical revisionism is a beautiful thing for, as we learn from the Governor, after they had their asses handed to them by the North, "the surviving, imprisoned and injured Confederate soldiers gave their word and allegiance to the United States of America, and returned to their homes and families to rebuild their communities in peace." Yes, we all remember the century of peace and harmony that existed in the South after the Civil War, until, you know, it was fucked up by the civil rights movement. You can't give an inch, man.

Fuck the South. The next time they want to secede, soon I hope, let's save ourselves all the trouble from the last time and just wave goodbye. We can use the tax money we save by not having to support the bastards to put people to work building a fence around them.

Donohue defends pedophile priests

Well of course he does.

Raw Story, with links and video.

In another coup for the seemingly part-time political pundit Bill Donohue, CNN broadcast on Tuesday a conversation about the Catholic church's thousands of pedophilia scandals that would be awkward to even over-hear in public, let alone broadcast nation-wide.

Objecting to the term "pedophilia" being used to describe the rampant claims of children being sexually abused by priests and nuns, Donohue instead called the acts "homosexuality," later suggesting "that's what gays do."

What Donohue is saying is that the priests who carried out such horrendous offenses against children did not have a psychological fixation on children: they were simply attracted to people of the same sex, and that's just what homosexuals do. His own bar for limiting use of the term "pedophilia," according to his CNN interview, is, "I dunno, 12, 13 years of age?"

Well, there ya go. So you go from being a 'pedophile' to being a 'child molester' when the victim hits puberty. Mox fuckin' nix. They should be in prison.

In this instance, Donohue simply parrots an occasional meme of the rightwing press, no more true in present day America than it was when similar charges were commonly leveled against other minority groups.

The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance take a differing perspective on the definitions, classifying "homosexuals" as individuals who are solely attracted to adults of the same sex. Pedophilia, they note, "is now generally used to describe an adult who sexually abuses children; a child molester. Some pedophiles are attracted to both boys and girls; some are attracted to children of only one gender."

Meaning: it does not matter the gender of the child, sexual abuse by an adult makes the perpetrator into a pedophile in the eyes of society. Mr. Donohue's argument that "homosexuality" is to blame for the Catholic Church's problems would seem to be misplaced.

'Misplaced' is way too kind a word. Donohue needs to be taken out and horsewhipped. Maybe he can find a priest who likes to do that and isn't turned off by his being a nominal adult.

Porn star likes GOP 'values', switches parties

Raw Story

Former porn star and lifelong Democrat Stormy Daniels (may not be work safe depending on where you work - G) has found a new home in the GOP after its notorious expenditures at a bondage-themed strip club in Los Angeles.

Wholeheartedly embracing what has been a damaging scandal for the party, Daniels added, "While this decision has not been an easy one, recent events regarding Republican National Committee fundraising at Voyeur, an LA based lesbian bondage themed nightclub finally tipped the scales."

"As someone who has worked extensively in both the club and film side of the Adult Entertainment Industry, I know from experience that a mere $1,900 outlay at a club with the reputation of Voyeur is a clear indication of a frugal investment with a keen eye toward maximum return," she remarked.

Daniels added:

"And I firmly believe that it is precisely this type of creative and calculated investing that we, as taxpaying Americans, should expect not only from our political parties but from our government. The American taxpayer deserves consistent conservatives who reject wasteful spending and unwarranted government intervention in the private sector.

"As is the case with so many of my fellow Louisianans, I have been a registered Democrat throughout my life. But now I cannot help but recognize that over time my libertarian values regarding both money and sex and the legal use of one for the other is now best espoused by the Republican Party."

I can dig it! Besides, whatever she has to do to get ahead in the Repug party won't hurt or gag her like it did with Democrats, and won't take near as long.

That said, I agree with her that prostitution should be legalized and can't wait to hear Steele or Boner say so. Heh.

The anti-pedophile coloring book

If it's Wednesday, it must be Morford, and today we get a twofer. Today's column is about sex rehab. Here's a taste:

Like licking? Favor fantasy? Stoked about stroking? Unable to resist turning, staring and drooling like a whimpering dog/feral cat whenever something callipygian and curvy or firm and sinewy walks by and winks in your general direction, and then invites you to forget your marriage vows for a few days and come identify every bone in the naked human hardbody with your tongue in a giant vulva-shaped bathtub at the MGM Grand with someone named Brandi or Rocco or "Mistress Midori"?

Sailor, have we got the latest trend for you.

Come join Jesse James, Tiger Woods, David Duchovny and many more slut-tastic humans you've never really given a damn about and only recognize because of the endless tabloid headlines assaulting your eyeballs lo these past many months, in the latest spurious rehab trend to hit your internal bulls--t detector since the Catholic Church said it would "look into" the problem of all those priests molesting thousands of children and then lying about it for the past 2,000 years.

In light of the recent exposure of the bloody papists' 2000-year-old pedophilic tradition and the cover-up that goes all the way to the top, this line caught my eye:

...the Catholic Church's heartwarming coloring books that instruct young boys to always be near an open door or another adult when a priest is nearby...

Which led to a column from a coupla years ago.

Take the Archdiocese of New York. It has apparently just released new coloring book for kids, all about how to be safe in an age of fear and predation. It is full of nice pictures of kids being sweet and virginal and right, engaging in happy activities that praise Almighty God while protecting themselves from, say, online predators and vegans and atheists. It is about awareness, about listening to your parents and saying your prayers and never, ever being alone with a priest and being nice to animals and never hitting your sister and ...

Wait, what? What was that, about the priests? Oh right. Um, the pedophilia. The sexual molestation and the lawsuits and the hints of deep ongoing perversion for the past, oh, 2,000 years. Yes.

(Of course, to really make amends they'd have to fire pope Benedict XVI and hold a Vatican III conference and abolish the silly celibacy law and the abhorrent "no female priests" law and also the homophobia law and the "sex is bad for you" law and, well, pretty much all the laws restricting spirit and sex and gender and love. But, you know, that might be asking a bit much. So instead: Coloring book. Yep, that oughtta do it).

Then he shifts gears:

But it does bring up a rather fascinating question: Is the very existence of this weird little book another odd but undeniable sign (there are many others) that something a bit more spiritually rich, more karmically grand is at hand? A raised awareness? A deeper spiritual awakening? Is this the church essentially telegraphing its own imminent demise? Maybe a little?

It's a slightly mushy notion I carry over to the bizarre parallel universe of conservative Christian megachurches, those giant ultra-bland heavily shellacked stadium-sized fluorescent nightmare warehouses that are still flourishing, more or less, simply because many of them are now dramatically diluting the fire-and-brimstone religion stuff, muting all that thorny theology and eschatology and even the right-wing intolerance (or rather, carefully burying it, to be fed to you slowly, bit by bit, especially around election time) and replacing it with something resembling, well, a giant, cheesy self-help seminar.

More. Links. Enjoy.

Pissing ya off ...

Before I go to work. Guess how much tax ExxonMobil paid last year? I know what I pay and I'm seriously pissed. I'm tired of supporting these corporate assholes.

Have you traveled with me?

Spirit Airlines will start charging $45 for carry-on baggage. You can bet your left gonad that every other airline will follow right along.


Do you know how much I have to pack for 3 weeks in Europe?

Mrs. F, who flies every-fucking-place on business, has condensed her shit to one carry on when she goes away. It seems like the airlines only want you to fly, sans luggage. It's one thing when somebody goes on a 3-day business trip and can generally pack what they need into a carry on or a valet, but what do folks do when they, and their kids, go on vacation? It's getting to the point where they have to plan to buy an extra ticket for their luggage, a cost that's prohibitive to many people.

Do the airlines think this is gonna make them money? Sure, there are folks who have to fly (Mrs. F for one) but a lot of families will opt to load up the car with their kids and their stuff and hit the road. The business travelers, like the Mrs., will adjust and travel as lightly as possible.

Our deal, when we go to Europe in late summer, is to use the airlines to our favor, mainly a Delta Airlines American Express card. We get points for every purchase with the card and the Mrs. gets double when she buys her business travel tickets with it. With the points we accrue in a year, we upgrade to first class at no charge for the sole reason of being allowed to take 3 bags each, up to 70lbs each without fees. Since we enjoy cruising so much, we also try and arrange trips that end up in New York so we only have to fly one way; one of those perks that only comes with living in an area that has 3 cruise ports within driving distance (we'll be leaving and returning to Pier 92 on Manhattan's West Side when we go to Bermuda in a few weeks).

Air travel has become more hassle than it's worth. After all we've done in the way of bailouts and tax breaks for this industry, you'd think they could make the experience a little more bearable. They are only screwing themselves in the long term by increasing fees and downgrading service. The flying public has enough to deal with going through the security nightmare just getting to their flight and it doesn't get any better from there out.


So, if you check your baggage, you'll pay a fee. If you carry it on, you'll pay a fee. Oh, you could send your shit by UPS, but when you show up at the airport with no luggage, the happy fuckers working for the TSA will give you a free colonoscopy.


People are going to avoid flying as much as possible and it will eventually kill the airlines' bottom line. Be prepared to hear calls for financial help in the next few years. Hopefully, when they do come crying with their hands out, our elected representatives will say no.


More here:


One more thing - aren't you glad that American, Spirit, United and all the rest phased out those extra baggage charges when gas prices went down over the past year? Remember those were extra charges meant to make up for the surge in gas prices ...

Yeah, I'm doing the Dance of Joy!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Let me tell ya about killing ...

Stays on top today - G


Ok. So this film released today showed the killing of what turned out to be innocent civilians, including journalists. It also featured sick, disturbing attitudes among the soldiers who fired on these innocent civilians. And it shows that the Pentagon originally lied to the press about what happened. [my em]


People were disturbed by the soldiers' attitudes? People should be disturbed. That's what war is. That's what war does to the human mind after prolonged exposure. War ain't played by Marquis of Queensbury rules.

You know what it feels like to be in the middle of it? Well, combat is the Great Equalizer. It is a time where abstract thought takes its leave, when the words "moral" and "compassion" meaningless until it's over. You are in touch with your basic instincts, kill or be killed, fight or flight, and nothing much else matters. You are as wild as the rest of God's creatures, humanity be damned. All that matters is what all of your senses, heightened to the sharpness of a razor thanks to the adrenaline rush, are telling you and what animal instinct and the training you've received are causing you to act. And you can't turn it on and off like flipping a switch.

Now, do that day after day, year after year, tour after tour. Do you expect them to be any different? After years on the line, seeing the killing and the destruction, the human mind does what it has to in order to protect itself. Some of that involves dehumanizing those you might have to kill; a hardening of the shell, as it were. It's also the addiction to the rush, for there is no other like that in a combat situation (Trust me, I spent years trying to find it via more 'peaceful' means).

What the troops' attitudes should show us is that they've been there too long, too many times; a place they never should have been in the first place. It shows us that back here at home, we haven't seen enough of the horror and suffering of war. If we had, we'd never have allowed Bush and Cheney to engage in this criminal enterprise. If we had, they'd be sitting in jail by now.

Do you think these soldiers were psychopaths before they went there? They're probably guys with spouses and kids whom they're gonna go home to. They used to have normal lives but now when they get back, normalcy will be a tenuous thing for years, if not forever. The average American has no clue, or they wouldn't be so cavalier about putting our troops in this position. I'm not excusing their actions but they are certainly understandable in light of what they've been asked to do for so long.

Everybody thinks it's like a big paintball game. The troops go out, play the game, and then come home. Only a small few take the time to reflect on what effect our 'adventures' have on the minds of the people we send on them. Don't forget, we're gonna have to deal with these people once this shit is over. They're gonna have to live and function in the real world. If you think it's disturbing seeing this in a war zone, think about what it would be to see it in your neighborhood.

The Moral Weight of War

This is an adjunct to Fixer's excellent post above.

Julia Baird in Newsweek:

"We don't have the luxury of choosing our wars. We go where and when our president tells us to—without hesitation. I know it's hard for some to understand: no matter how much it sucks at times, we love what we f--king do" (Mike Scotti, in the documentary Severe Clear).

Seven years after the war in Iraq began, it's still refreshing to hear frank words from a Marine who has fought there. Who has endured, killed, seen hell, and returned. Who admits the only thing Marines think about more than sex is their rifles. Perhaps it is because the debate about war is usually dominated by pundits, perhaps because our news coverage of Iraq has plummeted. (Andrew Tyndall, who keeps track of major-network nightly news, found that there has been only one report from a correspondent on the Iraq War this year. One! This is doubtless due to progress made, but 98,000 troops remain.) Or maybe it's because we don't often see real footage of soldiers drinking, being anointed with oil before battle, or getting high on combat, and shouting: "This is the coolest thing ever! It's raining bombs! Steel rain!" Nor do we too often see graphic images of dead, bloodied U.S. soldiers, or the brains of a young Iraqi girl lying on the road after her father did not obey a signal to stop his car.

Mike Scotti's story is particularly arresting because as he fought on the front lines of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, he recorded what he saw on a mini-DV camera. This footage forms the spine of Severe Clear, which is raw and thought-provoking. It reminded me of two lessons of war that are both obvious and constantly forgotten—and a third that is urgent today. The first is that soldiers need a clear, true reason to fight. The second is that surviving a war requires enormous mental strength. The third is that if we send men and women to battle under false pretenses, our responsibility to care for them afterward is even greater.

The first is why Scotti carried a photo of Beth Quigley, a friend who died on September 11, in his pocket when he went into combat. As he watched a bombed patch of land burn with leaping flames, he says: "I knew people were dying out there, but to be honest I didn't give a f--k. For me this was payback for September 11." He wrote in his journal, "There will be no debate once we find Saddam's weapons." When those weapons were not found, Scotti tried to stop thinking about it. But when he came home, feeling like an alien, to discover there was no "imminent threat" from the Iraqi regime, he felt an overwhelming anger and slipped into a self-destructive "black hole." As we saw in the The Hurt Locker — which Scotti found so accurate, it was unnerving—returning home can be profoundly alienating. A 2008 RAND study found that 20 percent of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan reported symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder or major depression. Only half have sought help, and half of those received "minimally adequate" treatment. Part of this depression is undoubtedly coming back, as a warrior who survived war, to realize you may not have needed to be there in the first place. The moral weight of war, and killing, is heavy enough without strategic errors. As Nancy Sherman writes in The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds and Souls of Our Soldiers, "that psychological anguish in war is also moral anguish is a fact too often ignored."

And there is serious psychological anguish. A report by the Congressional Quarterly found that more U.S. military personnel had killed themselves in 2009 than had been killed in either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars that year. A 2007 CBS investigation found that about 120 veterans committed suicide each week in America in 2005. The highest suicide rate was among veterans age 20 to 24 who had served in the war on terror: between two and four times higher than civilians their age.

When I met Scotti, I was struck by how lean and driven he was. He says he dug himself out of his hole by viewing his war experiences as a source of strength: initiative, discipline, focus, attention to detail, and strategic thinking. He went on to finish an M.B.A. from NYU Stern, work in finance, and found a charity. He wanted me to know how proud he was to be part of Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, a.k.a. the Beastmasters, the artillery unit that supported his infantry in Iraq. And that brotherhood and service still mattered more than any strategic reasons to go to war. But of course these reasons matter, even for the few, the proud, the Marines. We owe them honor, truth—and ongoing care.

Mr. Scotti worked through his problems. Not all of the Veterans will. We ain't seen nothing yet.

Question of the Day

The Rude Guy:

... How clean is coal with blood on it?

GOP senator likely to be indicted

What a delightful headline! Gives me goose bumps.

Raw Story

Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign is likely to be indicted for a $96,000 payment he made to the husband of the aide with whom he had an affair, a leading Nevada political reporter says.

"If Ensign gets indicted, he will become a national and state nightmare for the GOP," Ralston reports. "National Democrats will brandish him as a symbol of corruption (they may anyhow) and local Democrats will wrap the junior senator around the GOP Senate nominee’s neck...."

Ralston also notes that the Justice Department's failed prosecution of Alaska GOP Sen. Ted Stevens in 2008 "has cast a shadow over the Ensign case. ... The department is being very deliberate in assembling a case against Ensign."

The Stevens prosecution wasn't a total failure. At least he's out of office.

Best of luck to DoJ on this one.

Headline of the Day

Pope Vows To Get Church Pedophilia Down To Acceptable Levels

None Dare Call It Sedition

Another 'must read', by Sara Robinson. Links at site.

Sedition: Crime of creating a revolt, disturbance, or violence against lawful civil authority with the intent to cause its overthrow or destruction -- Brittanica Concise Dictionary

These two events are a wake-up call for progressives. They're telling us that it's time to openly confront the fact that conservatives have spent the past 40 years systematically delegitimizing the very idea of constitutional democracy in America. When they're in power, they mismanage it and defund it. When they're out of power, they refuse to participate in running the country at all -- indeed, they throw all their energy into thwarting the democratic process any way they can. When they need to win an election, they use violent, polarizing, eliminationist language against their opponents to motivate their base. This is sedition in slow motion, a gradual corrosive undermining of the government's authority and capacity to run the country. And it's been at the core of their politics going all the way back to Goldwater.

At that point -- and we're there -- criminal intent and action become the real issues. Progressives need to realize that the right began defiantly dancing back and forth over the legal line, daring us to do something about it, quite some time ago. And it's high time we called it out -- and, where appropriate, start prosecuting it -- for exactly what it is.

Openly advocating acts of sedition has become the conservatives' main political stock in trade over the past year. (The SPLC offers a strong summary here.) You hear it everywhere from Rush to Glenn to Michelle Malkin to Michelle Bachman. Everybody on the right is now roundly convinced that the fairly-elected President of the United States isn't even a citizen. He's a Muslim, and thus in treasonous league with terrorists. The main goal of his administration is to turn the country over to the One World Government. He's a socialist. He's a fascist. All of these are direct attacks on Obama's fundamental legitimacy and authority to lead the country -- and thus a deliberate incitement to revolt against his administration.

These narratives are coupled with a rising us-versus-them blaming of progressives for all the problems of the country. These days, the screeds sound eerily like free-market fundamentalists freebasing Hitler: they're clouded over with the typical eliminationist vitriol that reduces liberals to subhuman vermin that must be violently exterminated from the body politic in order to restore the virtue of the country. (For those who groove on that sort of thing, there's even a slight dash of anti-Semitism in the mix.) This is dangerous stuff. And in the context of the conservatives' longstanding effort to delegitimize the government, it's also an open invitation to sedition.

What these groups are telling us is that they no longer recognize the government's sole franchise on the use of force; and they're actively organizing to seize and exercise at least some of that power for themselves.

Most alarming of all: these right-wing warriors have advanced to the point of actual target acquisition. This should worry us, because law enforcement and terrorism experts know that when groups like this get to where they're settling on specific targets, they're the final stages of gearing up for violent confrontation.

It's time to confront the sobering fact that the entire right wing -- including the GOP establishment, which encourages, endorses, and echoes these sentiments almost every time its officials appear in public -- is now issuing nearly constant invitations to criminal sedition. They're creating a climate and using language that lowers their base's inhibitions around violence -- and irresponsibly eggs on the handful of sociopaths in their midst who are already primed to kill. They've given their newly-expanded corps of flying monkeys permission to brandish their guns in public, empowered their militias, promised them glory, and are now telling them explicitly which targets to hit.

We'd be idiots not to regard this as an overt threat. Especially when they keep telling us, very explicitly, that they mean it to be. When somebody says they're going to shoot you, believe them.

If this is just political grandstanding to energize the base, they're playing with fire, and they need to bring this incendiary campaign to a screeching halt. Right now. This Mickey Mouse pussyfooting around, play-acting at sedition is criminally dangerous chickenshit politics that puts the short-term needs of the Republican party ahead of the long-term viability of the American democracy they've sworn to uphold. In case the party leaders haven't noticed, their base has taken them as seriously as a heart attack -- and they're genuinely making ready for armed revolt.

On the other hand, if seditious overthrow is what they intend, let them stand up, follow through, and face the charges. They're either Americans, committed to working in good faith within the democratic process to create our common future; or else they're seditionists in intention or fact -- and thus enemies of the state, plain and simple.

For the good of the country, we cannot continue to let them have it both ways. They need to choose whose side they're on: America's, or their own.

I have nothing to add other than keep your weapons clean and oiled.

“If we see the end of this country it will come from the right"

Chris Hedges with a 'must read'.

There are no constraints left to halt America’s slide into a totalitarian capitalism. Electoral politics are a sham. The media have been debased and defanged by corporate owners. The working class has been impoverished and is now being plunged into profound despair. The legal system has been corrupted to serve corporate interests. Popular institutions, from labor unions to political parties, have been destroyed or emasculated by corporate power. And any form of protest, no matter how tepid, is blocked by an internal security apparatus that is starting to rival that of the East German secret police. The mounting anger and hatred, coursing through the bloodstream of the body politic, make violence and counter-violence inevitable. Brace yourself. The American empire is over. And the descent is going to be horrifying.

Those singled out as internal enemies will include people of color, immigrants, gays, intellectuals, feminists, Jews, Muslims, union leaders and those defined as “liberals.” They will be condemned as anti-American and blamed for our decline. The economic collapse, which remains mysterious and enigmatic to most Americans, will be pinned by demagogues and hatemongers on these hapless scapegoats. And the random acts of violence, which are already leaping up around the fringes of American society, will justify harsh measures of internal control that will snuff out the final vestiges of our democracy. The corporate forces that destroyed the country will use the information systems they control to mask their culpability. The old game of blaming the weak and the marginal, a staple of despotic regimes, will empower the dark undercurrents of sadism and violence within American society and deflect attention from the corporate vampires that have drained the blood of the country.

“We are going to be poorer,” David Cay Johnston told me. Johnston was the tax reporter of The New York Times for 13 years and has written on how the corporate state rigged the system against us. He is the author of “Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With the Bill,” a book about hidden subsidies, rigged markets and corporate socialism. “Health care is going to eat up more and more of our income. We are going to have less and less for other things. We are going to have some huge disasters sooner or later caused by our failure to invest. Dams and bridges will break. Buildings will collapse. There are water mains that are 25 to 50 feet wide. There will be huge infrastructure disasters. Our intellectual resources are in decline. We are failing to educate young people and instill in them rigor. We are going to continue to pour money into the military. I think it is possible, I do not say it is probable, that we will have a revolution, a civil war that will see the end of the United States of America.”

“If we see the end of this country it will come from the right and our failure to provide people with the basic necessities of life,” said Johnston. “Revolutions occur when young men see the present as worse than the unknown future. We are not there. But it will not take a lot to get there. The politicians running for office who are denigrating the government, who are saying there are traitors in Congress, who say we do not need the IRS, this when no government in the history of the world has existed without a tax enforcement agency, are sowing the seeds for the destruction of the country. A lot of the people on the right hate the United States of America. They would say they hate the people they are arrayed against. But the whole idea of the United States is that we criticize the government. We remake it to serve our interests. They do not want that kind of society. They reject, as Aristotle said, the idea that democracy is to rule and to be ruled in turns. They see a world where they are right and that is it. If we do not want to do it their way we should be vanquished. This is not the idea on which the United States was founded.”

It is hard to see how this can be prevented. The engines of social reform are dead. Liberal apologists, who long ago should have abandoned the Democratic Party, continue to make pathetic appeals to a tone-deaf corporate state and Barack Obama while the working and middle class are ruthlessly stripped of rights, income and jobs. Liberals self-righteously condemn imperial wars and the looting of the U.S. Treasury by Wall Street but not the Democrats who are responsible. And the longer the liberal class dithers and speaks in the bloodless language of policies and programs, the more hated and irrelevant it becomes. No one has discredited American liberalism more than liberals themselves. And I do not hold out any hope for their reform. We have entered an age in which, as William Butler Yeats wrote, “the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

[...] Those who do not rebel in our age of totalitarian capitalism and who convince themselves that there is no alternative to collaboration are complicit in their own enslavement. They commit spiritual and moral suicide.

Pretty strong stuff. The darkest days of the Reagan Era may not yet be upon us.

Simply put ...

Mr. Urban Hellhole:


To restate the obvious, the point isn't that there are bad (accused) priests. Of course there are! There are bad people everywhere. The point is the church using its institutional power to cover up alleged crimes, shield perpetrators, and put accused abusers and rapists in positions where they have continued access to teens and children. [my em]

Exactly, and it goes all the way to the top.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Fun in the snow!

Our pal Froggy in a comment on this post:

Ice out has been declared on Lake Minnetonka. That means, essentially, the ice is gone. Enjoy your snow. I'll be enjoying my not snow.

Go jump in yer ice-free lake, Froggy. I'll be able ta hear yer weenie slammin' ta "Min" from here! Heh.

Anyway, I took yer advice. Here's me enjoying my snow, which we got a pretty good refill of yesterday and last night. First things first:

My buddy Dave, The Berm Fairy working on Clancy's driveway next door after taking a few swipes out of mine that saved me a lot of time and work. He's hard to catch in the act, but I got lucky and had my camera on me. Pardon my finger:

I went up and got him the 5-pack of Heineken's Best Berm Removal Fuel that I've had in the icebox for a month. It woulda been a 6-pack except Mrs. G fell to temptation. Thank you, Dave.

Here's the first round of the main event, with a coupla annotated 'wardrobe malfunctions'. I have no shame, nosirree. Heh. I only wish I had the camera running as I went down the right side of the driveway. All the snow I had been throwing over there avalanched down on me. No problem, happens quite often, but it's impressive, especially when you find yourself standing in knee deep snow where you weren't a second before. As you can see, we all had a good time. We do this shit a lot in the wintertime.

Thank you for letting me bore you with my ho-hum chores.

Devil of a Scandal

MoDo, an Irish Catholic gal about whom I have fantasies of in a Catholic schoolgirl's uniform...

The exorcist also said that the abuse scandal showed that Satan uses priests to try to destroy the church, “and so we should not be surprised if priests too ... fall into temptation. They also live in the world and can fall like men of the world.”

Actually, falling into temptation is eating cupcakes after you’ve given them up for Lent. Rape and molestation of children is far beyond what most of us think of as succumbing to worldly temptation.

[...] The Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, told those at St. Peter’s Basilica, including the pope, that he was thinking about the Jews in this season of Passover and Easter because “they know from experience what it means to be victims of collective violence and also because of this they are quick to recognize the recurring symptoms.”

He was talking about the collective violence and recurring symptoms of those critics — including victims, Catholics worldwide and commentators — who want the church to face up to its sins.

Father Cantalamessa went on to quote from the letter of an unnamed Jewish friend: “I am following with indignation the violent and concentric attacks against the church, the pope and all the faithful by the whole world. The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt, remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.”

As they say in Latin, “Ne eas ibi.” Don’t go there.

Non fæces, Sherlockus! Esplain to me the non-shameful aspects of anti-semitism?

Mindful of the church’s long history of anti-Semitism, Leon Wieseltier, the New Republic literary editor and Jewish scholar, noted: “Why would the Catholic Church wish to defend itself by referring to other enormities in which it was also implicated? Anyway, the Jews endured more than a bad press.” This solidarity with Jews is also notable given that Italy’s La Repubblica reported that “certain Catholic circles” suspected that “a New York Jewish lobby” was responsible for the outcry against the pope.

Well of course “a New York Jewish lobby” was responsible for the outcry against the pope. Aren't they responsible for everything? I didn't know the Vatican was run by Repuglicans, but I guess those old white men are as right-wing as they come.


I have said elsewhere that it came to me in a flash of divine revelation that the probably centuries of child molestation by the papists is more than isolated incidents. I suspect that they know that some small number of the victims will become child molesters themselves, thus ensuring a steady supply of Catholic priests in years to come.

Celibacy, itself a perversion of the human spirit, apparently applies only to women, vessels of unholiness that they are, at least to perverts that are scared shitless of them.

Molesting children is not only a sin, it's a felony, and its practitioners and enablers should be in prison. The Roman Church no longer has any moral authority whatsoever. It invented the scam of being God's chosen mouthpiece on Earth anyway, and scared people into submission for a coupla thousand years, by force if necessary, over something that doesn't exist. This is the basis of all religions besides animism and a few others that actually make sense.

Besides the priests and victims, their cover is now blown as well.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Wacko wingnuts could draw votes away from rightwing nut jobs.

Most Governors Defy Order by Guardians of the Free Republics
But some do agree to resign and let ad hoc group of anti-tax lunatics take over country.

Only the little people pay taxes.

Sarah Palin Addresses S&M Convention
Says McCain “kinkier than he looks.”

Please, no video...

$700 Billion of Junk Bond Debt Coming Due in 2012
As predicted in Mayan Calendar.

CDC Confirms Norovirus on 3rd Straight Cruise From South Carolina
Investigators focusing on Midnight All You Can Eat Buffet on Vomitorium Deck.

Quote of the Day

My neighbor Blondie:

... CNN is losing viewers. In its efforts to get more viewers, they began to suck more than ever before ...

Late for work ...

Does Cheney sit on the board?

Because these folks are as parasitic as it gets:


Here is how it works: If you were employed by a company that retains the Talx Corporation, they will contest every unemployment claim that a fired employee of those companies file. They will do it without having any reasons for such a contest. When the hearing officer rules against Talx, they will appeal.


How can they sleep at night?

Recipe for disaster ...

Hopefully, this will end well:


A political climate that's already more overheated than any time in a generation. Plans for a large-scale rally of firearms enthusiasts in the nation's capital. A fast-growing group of (mostly ex-) military and cops that pledges to disobey "unconstitutional orders" from the president, and an "urgent" call from the group's leader to flood Washington to "shout your oaths in the tyrant’s face" -- on the 15th anniversary of the worst home-grown terror incident in U.S. history, the Oklahoma City bombing.

What could possibly go wrong?


Just wondering if this would have happened when Bush was President ...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Song For A Snowy Afternoon

We're expecting 12-18" by Tuesday. Here's a tune by the late Kate Wolf.

From the 1980 Here In California Studio Performance. Accompanied by Nina Gerber and Rick Byars.

Kate Wolf ~ You're Not Standing Like You Used To

Thanks to kennethrm.

The lady is a tramp

A wonderfully metaphorical photo of life's journey into the mists of the future. The end of it all being Cleveland brings it back down to Earth. Ho-hum.

A different kind of sea cruise.

EssEffChron, with photos.

We were somewhere near Newfoundland, crossing the turbulent North Atlantic on a freighter and bound for Cleveland - two things not at the top of everyone's to-do list - along with 19 Polish crewmates and 22,000 tons of steel. My wife and I had boarded the Isadora in IJmuiden, Netherlands, committing to the 16-day voyage in large part because, frankly, I'm afraid to fly. (We had circled the globe using only ground transport, and I was determined to finish without becoming airborne.)

There also was an element of romance: experiencing the sea without the distractions - all-you-can-eat buffets, belly-flop contests, tuxedo dinners with the captain and cheesy lounge acts - that come with typical cruises. The only promises on the Isadora were fresh air, relaxation, hearty Polish meals in the company of the crew and an appreciation for hardworking seafarers.

And, of course, adventure.

"Not exactly the Queen Mary," deadpanned my wife upon seeing the Isadora for the first time, confirming that my enthusiasm for the trip was not as contagious as I'd hoped.

'Tramp' freighter

The Isadora is considered a "tramp" freighter because the company sells her services to the highest bidder; after unloading the steel in Cleveland, the bosses would entertain all offers. Returning empty was not an option. As with many other freighters, the Isadora runs a side business carrying a few travelers, although passengers aren't exactly revenue generators. (The ship burns $500 in fuel every hour. That's about six hours on our dime.)

While my wife was concerned about pirates (I explained that Somalia is halfway around the world), I was more worried about seasickness, especially after the first mate explained that our cargo of steel causes the ship to roll more in the open ocean.

That night, after a dinner of freshly baked rye bread, pork cutlets and sauerkraut, the captain invited us to his cabin to sample Polish culture (specifically, Polish vodka) and listen to American jazz. The cabin swayed as we made conversation, the captain topped our glasses with spirits from his homeland and Dave Brubeck jammed through the speakers.

You don't get nights like this on a Carnival ship.

I think that last sentence qualifies as a masterpiece of understatement!

In the end, I didn't suffer mal de mer nor were we hijacked, but we did have an adventure that we agreed was the best of our global jaunt. (Although it's unlikely that beef tongue, pickled herring and tripe soup will find their way unto my plate anytime soon.)

"Maybe not a queen but certainly a lady," I said.

Much more, including how to book passage.

An actual working merchantman where you're one of eight passengers instead of one of 1600 on a floating amusement park. Or 6000. Or, soon probably, 10,000. Polish food (yum!) and Dave Brubeck in the skipper's cabin beats the crap outta the manufactured distractions on regular cruises. Meaning no offense to anyone, that means you, Mr. and Mrs. Fixer, and to each their own, that's my opinion. Just sayin'.

Granted, the ports of call (Cleveland; Burns Harbor, Ill.; and, occasionally, Duluth, Minn., and Milwaukee) aren't quite as exciting as on the normal cruises, but then, the trip's the thing.

I find this concept oddly appealing. One of the beautiful things about being out on the sea is simply being out on the sea. On my two cruises, I spent a lot of time leaning on the rail watching Mother Ocean, mostly because there wasn't much else to do besides mess duty which totally sucks at sea. For $1800 a head, cheap for 16 days, I expect someone else to cook & clean and leave me free to gaze at my navel and contemplate the vastness of it all. And eat Polish food.


Mrs. G says this is OK with her as long as as the aftereffects of all that cabbage wafts aft and off the fantail.

Update II:

One ship I do not think I will consider for a cruise is this one.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Obama!

Daddy Frank, on the money as usual:

Depending on where you stand — or the given day — he is either an overintellectual, professorial wuss or a ruthless Chicago machine pol rivaling the original Boss Daley. He is either a socialist redistributing wealth to the undeserving poor or a tool of Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs elite. He is a terrorist-coddling, A.C.L.U.-tilting lawyer or a closet Cheneyite upholding the worst excesses of the Bush administration’s end run on the Constitution. He is a lightweight celebrity who’s clueless without a teleprompter or a Machiavellian mastermind who has ingeniously forged his Hawaiian birth certificate, covered up his ties to Islamic radicals and bamboozled the entire mainstream press. He is the reincarnation of J.F.K., L.B.J., F.D.R., Reagan, Hitler, Stalin, Adlai Stevenson or Nelson Mandela. (Funny how few people compared George W. Bush to anyone but Hitler and his parents.)

Funny. Yeah. Ha. Ha.

What’s clear is that Obama largely remains a fixed point even while the rest of us keep wildly revising our judgments, whether looking at him through the prism of partisan politics, race, media melodrama or any other we choose. It’s our recession-tossed country, not his presidency, that is rocked by violent mood swings.

Much more.

To those who observe ...

Happy Easter and a belated Passover.

Started a new project in the house this week out of necessity. The pedestal sink in the master bathroom broke so we figured it was time to do the things we wanted to do when I built it the first time (hastily, because company was coming from Germany that year and we needed the second bathroom functional) 10 years ago. I'm praying I'll get most of it done before we leave for Bermuda at the end of the month. Oy! No rest for the weary.