Saturday, July 3, 2010

Gone ridin'...

Trials riding is a Euro-based sport like soccer, except I get to be the ball. There are all kinds of videos showing feats of derring-do, but here's one of a beginner like me at the venue I'm going to. If I do anywhere near as well as this guy I'll be thrilled.

I'm (a beginner) participating in a AHRMA Vintage trial at Donner Ski Ranch on a modern GasGas bike.


Thanks to mikenao.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

This beautiful number live at ACL 1982


Emmylou Harris ~ Millworker

Thanks to peters332, Netherlands.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Light blogging, things to do

I've got things to do today. My street bike backfired and blew the carburetor clean off. Heh. Gotta get that fixed so I can run nickel-and-dime errands without firin' up a Big American V8.

Then I gotta put the final touches on my Sherco so I can ride the Donner Classic Trial tomorrow. My friend Steve said I should practice by riding figure 8s in my driveway. I told him I practiced something that might be more useful - grabbin' a big handful of throttle and jumping off!

I dug out my riding gear yesterday. Hadn't seen some of it in years. Tried on my riding jersey. I got it on, but this is the first time it ever hummed. Musta shrunk. Today I have a very pretty new blue one from my local 'sickle emporium.

I'll leave ya with this:

Jimmy Buffet was supposed to give a free concert at his sister's restaurant to get some economic relief to hotels and restaurants on the Redneck Riviera. It worked, but the concert was rescheduled 'til 7/11 because of Hurricane Alex. Jimmy showed up anyway.

This is from MeyerVacationRentals in Gulf Shores, Alabama. They have lots of these and other oil spill vids as well. This is a pleasant video and shows there are more attractions on the Gulf Coast than tar balls. I think the lady with the long lens could hold me down pretty good in a big blow...

Also see Jimmy's interview with Anderson Cooper on his reaction to the oil spill.

What a surprise when we showed up for dinner at Lulu's last night! I will have the fish tacos with a side of Jimmy Buffett please. Jameson ordered a shrimp quesadilla with a side of Lucy Buffett, a necklace, a shirt and hair wrap :) Jimmy arrived by boat and played for almost three hours. Sorry if the camera was bumpy - I tried not to dance but it proved too difficult at times. And I apologize for being a back up singer - could not resist. Jameson and I had a blast! Come to the Coast for his next show on July 11th.

Quotes of the Day

Will Durst

Aahh. The 4th of July. Let's drink a lot of beer and handle explosives. The day many nicknames like "Lefty" and "Patch" are christened.

Looks like we will no longer be able to use one of the best oxymorons ever: Larry King Live. But Fox News still works.

Unseemly ...

I don't follow basketball. I follow football (European) and baseball (Mets, I'll root for the Yanks if they're in the Series) and I keep an eye on the Jets and the Giants of the New York Football (American) variety. The most I do with basketball is see the highlowlights on the morning news of whatever way the Knicks or the Nets discovered to embarrass themselves the night before.

That said, I know far too much about Lebron James.

As an outsider, the countdown to Lebron's free agency, and then watching the lineup of millionaires and their minions come and go, kissing his ass personally for him to come and play in their city, is ridiculous and unseemly. Mayor Bloomberg humiliated himself, though he didn't go all the way (amazingly) and proclaim he was just the right height to fellate Lebron without kneeling down and also had a flat head where Lebron could park his drink during the festivities.

We have a nation that's falling apart, pollution poisoning the Gulf, our money being wasted on endless wars, and the big story is how much money a pro sports team can throw at Lebron. Maybe, if times were good, it wouldn't irk me so badly, but at a time when the vultures in Washington are denying people unemployment benefits in the worst recession since the Great Depression, when peoples' livelihoods are being destroyed by the thousands, when our Treasury is constantly being looted by millionaires and billionaires, it pisses me off.

Corporations can own and sponsor sports teams and lavish their stars with huge salaries and bonuses, but heaven forbid they pay their workers a living wage or give them benefits. Heaven forbid they treat the people who keep them in business like human beings.

Long term ...

Republicans don't know the meaning, unless it helps them in the short term, politically.

But here is the thing: There are a whole gamut of long-term problems facing both this country, if not humanity in general, and for the vast majority of them, the Republicans/conservatives don't give a shit. Let's run down a short list:

...

But only when they spy a chance to dismantle the social safety net which keeps old people from starving to death or dying quickly of preventable illnesses, do Republicans rouse themselves to bleat about the future.

...


And people continue to vote for 'em. We'll probly have a Rethuglican Congress by the end of the year.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

With July 4th comin' up...

...me 'n Mrs. G have decided to do our grocery shopping this morning instead of on Saturday as usual. This place is a zoo on the 4th, and the supermarkets will look like the locusts have hit them by tomorrow afternoon. I'll just leave ya with this and see yas later:

Sam Seder: Pointing out Bullshit so you don't step in it.


Thanks to SamSeder.


There's also a video called "How did Elena Kagan get so hot?". Musta been the General Tso's Chicken on Christmas. Heh.

Quote of the Day

The last line from a good post by The Rude One on Obama's Wisconsin speech:

It's always nice to see someone rip the corpse of Ronald Reagan out of the earth and smack it around in front of an audience.

Yes it is.

Headline of the Day

It's official!

Presidential scholars: Bush is the worst president of the modern era, bottom five of all time.

Shit, I coulda told 'em that. I guess that makes me a presidential scholar.

Hurricane?

In the Gulf of Mexico? Nah, never happen.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"...do not eat the fuzzy part of the cheese"

If it's Wednesday, it must be Morford.

It's a bit like NASA poking at the dangerous magnificence of black holes, those swirling deep space phenomena that entice and enthrall us almost as much as they scare us silly. Sure, we can get reasonably close, we can take astounding photos, we can make all sorts of educated guesses as to what might be happening in there. We can even send in a few probes, feelers, satellites, take some measurements and gather a few samples to send back to the lab.

But holy hell on a tip of a vibrator, you don't actually go in there. That's where worlds collide, universes expand, meanings come undone, gods laugh, demons play poker with angels, and fire turns into spun glass in the shape of a Sylvia Plath poem. You think you got a pill for that? The hell you do.

If ya wanta know what he's talking about, you'll have to go see.

Tie a yellow ribbon 'round yer nine-year woody

Tina Dupuy

Edith Shain was 91 years old when she died peacefully last week in her home in Los Angeles. You knew her as the woman in the iconic black and white photo of a jubilant soldier kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day. The snapshot tells an American tale of a war ending and an entire generation of people coupling up - creating the suburbs, a solid middle-class and a stupendous baby boom.

What strikes me about the photo is that they really knew how to end wars back then. For example: they used to end wars...back then. There was a global conflict followed by a resolution. Beginning. Middle. End. Done. Birthrate skyrockets.

Now we have two never-ending wars and Cialis commercials on an eternal loop. How far we've come.

No wonder Repugs think the way they do - their two wars have given them an erection that has lasted nine years and there's no blood to their atrophied brains.

About five years into the conflict yellow ribbon car magnets became a big trend. During that time I was traveling all over the country, and in every pocket of the U.S. were cars, trucks and SUVs with magnets showing support for what had become not one, but two wars. Yellow ribbons were ubiquitous. And then gradually the magnets starting disappearing until they were gone. Individually - one by one – in private, with no fanfare and no media coverage - Americans removed their patriotic yellow ribbon magnets from their vehicles. You don't see them anymore. Apparently something as temporary as a magnet shaped like a ribbon is not the proper symbol for the war we are actually waging.

Actually, Americans didn't remove their ribbon magnets. Car washes did. They just didn't replace them. Same thing.

Headline of the Day

Conyers throws in with Grayson, co-sponsors ‘War is Making You Poor Act’

Eisenhower on the Opportunity Cost of Defense Spending

Harper's reminds us:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. […] Is there no other way the world may live?

Dwight David Eisenhower, “The Chance for Peace,” speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Apr. 16, 1953.

War is the quick road to profit and every dime of it comes out of our pockets. Any money going into our pockets does not go into theirs and is to be avoided.

If ya got a choice ...

Between perpetual war and having Social Security, of course you'll take a war any day. Am I right?

I saw this and I couldn't believe it. But then I thought, well, Boehner's only saying out loud what some Democrats seem to believe anyway: We can't afford the war AND Social Security, so naturally, Social Security's gotta get slashed.

Makes perfect sense, right? Because, you know, stopping the war would be simply unthinkable! (And wasn't it the Republicans who first promised us the Iraq invasion would pay for itself?)


Hey, it's that whole "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" thing. "If you wanted a job, you'd find one" and if you want a pension, you'll get a job that offers one. How dare you interfere with the war effort!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Something to watch in traffic jams. Or something that watches you...

LATimes

California lawmakers consider license plates that flash ads

Motorists who already feel bombarded by digital billboards, freeway advertisements and vinyl-wrapped buses say a new proposal to put ads on license plates is a bad sign.

State lawmakers' flirtation with digital license plates moved another step forward Monday as the Assembly Transportation Committee voted 9-0 in favor of a feasibility study to determine if advertising revenue from millions of digital license placards would help close the state's $19.1-billion deficit.

Besides bringing in revenue, electronic plates could streamline car registration procedures and quickly notify motorists of hazardous road conditions and AMBER alerts, some officials suggested.

Shit, might as well put a GPS and a mic in 'em. If you drive someplace "they" don't want you to, it'll tell you, maybe CHP'll be waiting for you when you get home. And you pay (through the nose) for the privilege. Yeesh.

Critics warn that the ads would distract drivers and add to a growing clutter of intrusive signage. Others fear that it would give the government one more way to track the public's every move and could lead to taxes on miles driven, or instant notifications to authorities when registration expires or insurance lapses. Some also say that the computerized ads could be hacked by vandals intent on posting rogue messages.

But tech blogs have lit up in recent days with dire warnings from commentators ridiculing the idea.

The plates "will have to be wireless, which will entail a statewide wireless network" that is open to hacking, wrote one commentator on the Daily Tech website blog. "Imagine all the license plates at once displaying porn or something." The next commenter joked: "Suddenly I support the idea."

I get a disturbing visual of entire neighborhoods full of guys out in their driveways watching their license plates with their pants around their ankles. A double bleach, please.

There's more. Oh God, is there. Another awful idea from government.

Kagan Hearings

El Rude-o on the Kagan hearings:

Apparently the Republican strategy during the hearings on Solicitor General Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court is to portray her as a nigger-loving kike. As it's known in the popular political parlance, that's called "playing to the base." Yeah, that's a big tent there.

For what else was Jon "The Other Cactus Fucker from Arizona" Kyl implying when he quoted a Politco article: "Kagan’s experience draws from a world whose signposts are distant from most Americans: Manhattan’s upper West side, Princeton University, Harvard Law School and the upper reaches of the Democratic legal establishment." Wealthy? Elitist? Yes, and Jewy. And not the right kind of Likudnik Jew that Republicans love.

Damn, he's good! Much more. Go.

Headline and Quote of the Day

Obama Finds Cure For Cancer. Republicans Attack Him For Putting Oncologists Out of Work

Lara Logan, You Suck

This is a 'must read' if you're interested in the whole Rolling Stone/McChrystal/journalist v Villager press thing.

Matt Taibbi

Lara Logan, come on down! You're the next guest on Hysterical Backstabbing Jealous Hackfest 2010!

Anyone who wants to know why network television news hasn't mattered since the seventies just needs to check out this appearance by Logan. Here's CBS's chief foreign correspondent saying out loud on TV that when the man running a war that's killing thousands of young men and women every year steps on his own dick in front of a journalist, that journalist is supposed to eat the story so as not to embarrass the flag. And the part that really gets me is Logan bitching about how Hastings was dishonest to use human warmth and charm to build up enough of a rapport with his sources that they felt comfortable running their mouths off in front of him. According to Logan, that's sneaky — and journalists aren't supposed to be sneaky:

Up 'til now I liked Lara Logan. She did a helluva piece that I'd love to find for Fixer & Gordon on how Cubans keep their pre-Castro Harleys running, and she's done some pretty good stuff, but as chief foreign correspondents go, she's no Martha Raddatz, whom I adore and who has more time on the ground in Afghanistan than most grunts.

This time, Lara stepped on her dick.

And true, most of the major TV outlets are completely in the bag for the Pentagon, with two of them (NBC/GE and Logan's own CBS, until recently owned by Westinghouse, one of the world's largest nuclear weapons manufacturers) having operated for years as leaders in both the broadcast media and weapons-making businesses.

But is that enough to guarantee a level playing field? Can a general really feel safe that Americans will get the right message when the only tools he has at his disposal are a $5 billion P.R. budget and the near-total acquiescence of all the major media companies, some of whom happen to be the Pentagon's biggest contractors?

As to this whole "unspoken agreement" business: the reason Lara Logan thinks this is because she's like pretty much every other "reputable" journalist in this country, in that she suffers from a profound confusion about who she's supposed to be working for. I know this from my years covering presidential campaigns, where the same dynamic applies. Hey, assholes: you do not work for the people you're covering! Jesus, is this concept that fucking hard? On the campaign trail, I watch reporters nod solemnly as they hear about the hundreds of millions of dollars candidates X and Y and Z collect from the likes of Citigroup and Raytheon and Archer Daniels Midland, and it blows my mind that they never seem to connect the dots and grasp where all that money is going. The answer, you idiots, is that it's buying advertising! People like George Bush, John McCain, Barack Obama, and General McChrystal for that matter, they can afford to buy their own P.R. — and they do, in ways both honest and dishonest, visible and invisible.

They don't need your help, and you're giving it to them anyway, because you just want to be part of the club so so badly. Disgustingly, that's really what it comes down to. Most of these reporters just want to be inside the ropeline so badly, they want to be able to say they had that beer with Hillary Clinton in a bowling alley in Scranton or whatever, that it colors their whole worldview. God forbid some important person think you're not playing for the right team!

Meanwhile, the people who don't have the resources to find out the truth and get it out in front of the public's eyes, your readers/viewers, you're supposed to be working for them — and they're not getting your help. What the hell are we doing in Afghanistan? Is it worth all the bloodshed and the hatred? Who are the people running this thing, what is their agenda, and is that agenda the same thing we voted for? By the severely unlikely virtue of a drunken accident we get a tiny glimpse of an answer to some of these vital questions, but instead of cheering this as a great break for our profession, a waytago moment, one so-called reputable journalist after another lines up to protest the leak and attack the reporter for doing his job. God, do you all suck!

The indie press is the only one that has been doing its job for the last thirty years, or maybe since Watergate. Hard to find sometimes but easier than it used to be before the internets. Too bad most of America still eats the crap the corporate media feeds it and please, sir, may I have another?.

Like old times ...

U.S. authorities said on Monday they had arrested 10 suspected spies who had recruited political sources and gathered information for the Russian government.

"Such actions are baseless and improper," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "We do not understand what prompted the U.S. Justice Department to make a public statement in the spirit of Cold War espionage."

...


What, do people think the game was over when the Wall came down?

Just call me "Rush" ...

I threw my back out yesterday ... well, I felt a twinge on the weekend and was trying to protect it but I picked up a wheel for a Nissan Pathfinder the wrong way yesterday and put it over the top ... so I'm home, in bed, with an Oxycontin in me.

Now, I'm not a pill head and the strongest I take is aspirin, but I could see where people could get used to taking them and it getting habit-forming. The painkilling properties are pretty good and you get a nice little buzz on the side.

I'm not one to lie around and I'm the worst patient. I was in bed for 3 months with my leg in a cast (snapped an Achilles tendon) and was close to homicidal when I finally got out. This situation won't do for more than a day or two.

Now, where's that big roach ...

Monday, June 28, 2010

San Francisco Pride Celebration

If ya got the Monday blahs, this'll help. Worked for me.

Here's an EXTENSIVE! photo gallery from arguably the most colorful (40th) annual event in a colorful town. No wonder the wingnuts hate Baghdad By The Bay. Heh.

I just love "Dykes On Bikes" (wiki). So does the photog.


Dykes on Bikes leads off the 18th annual Dyke March up 16th Street from Dolores Park in San Francisco on Saturday.

Enjoy.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) Wins $120 Million Contract to Protect U.S. Consulates in Afghanistan
Guards will be redeployed from Pandora.

Saudis Reportedly Clear Israel to Bomb Iran
Described as “act of good will.”

World's Biggest Radio Telescope Begins Operations in Europe
It's expected to peer back to moment just before Big Bang.

Priorities ...

While they're cutting programs and services because we're broke, it seems like our endless wars will get every dime they demand:

As we are told that austerity is needed in government and we'll have to get less, it is becoming quite clear where our spending priorities lie.

We're going to be need another $33 billion for Afghanistan this year. So what's that, another couple dozen alleged Al Qaeda to chase around and ultimately toss around missiles at?

...


And everybody seems okay with that. In a time when over 10% of us don't have jobs, when the rich don't pay taxes, and the economy is on the brink of collapse, we see nothing wrong with spending tens of billions of dollars chasing a buncha goat humpers through the mountains in a place where history shows we cannot win. We're a nation of cowardly chickenshits.

So ...

How about not outsourcing every government job (70% of DoD employees are contractors) to private industry? Then we might not have to choose between Blackwater and nothing:

How can a company allegedly responsible for killing 17 unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007 continue to get State Department and CIA contracts? CIA Director Leon Panetta says there is "not much choice" because few companies have the capabilities of Blackwater.

...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Endless War

A Tip O' The Brain to Montag for this one.

Andrew Bacevich in the WaPo

To be an American soldier today is to serve a people who find nothing amiss in the prospect of armed conflict without end. Once begun, wars continue, persisting regardless of whether they receive public support. President Obama's insistence to the contrary notwithstanding, this nation is not even remotely "at" war. In explaining his decision to change commanders without changing course in Afghanistan, the president offered this rhetorical flourish: "Americans don't flinch in the face of difficult truths." In fact, when it comes to war, the American people avert their eyes from difficult truths. Largely unaffected by events in Afghanistan and Iraq and preoccupied with problems much closer to home, they have demonstrated a fine ability to tune out war. Soldiers (and their families) are left holding the bag.

Throughout history, circumstances such as these have bred praetorianism, warriors becoming enamored with their moral superiority and impatient with the failings of those they are charged to defend. The smug disdain for high-ranking civilians casually expressed by McChrystal and his chief lieutenants -- along with the conviction that "Team America," as these officers style themselves, was bravely holding out against a sea of stupidity and corruption -- suggests that the officer corps of the United States is not immune to this affliction.

Americans might do well to contemplate a famous warning issued by another frustrated commander from a much earlier age.

"We had been told, on leaving our native soil," wrote the centurion Marcus Flavius to a cousin back in Rome, "that we were going to defend the sacred rights conferred on us by so many of our citizens [and to aid] populations in need of our assistance and our civilization." For such a cause, he and his comrades had willingly offered to "shed our quota of blood, to sacrifice our youth and our hopes." Yet the news from the homeland was disconcerting: The capital was seemingly rife with factions, treachery and petty politics. "Make haste," Marcus Flavius continued, "and tell me that our fellow citizens understand us, support us and protect us as we ourselves are protecting the glory of the empire."

"If it should be otherwise, if we should have to leave our bleached bones on these desert sands in vain, then beware of the anger of the legions!"

Stanley McChrystal is no Marcus Flavius, lacking the Roman's eloquence, among other things. Yet in ending his military career on such an ignominious note, he has, however clumsily, issued a warning that deserves our attention.

Also, a warning about precipitous disengagement from a panelist on Press The Meat today, Thomas Ricks ("Lose A General, Win A War") I think:

"Just because you walk out of a movie doesn't mean it's over."

"...little of it cheering and none of it resolved..."

The first thing I do on Sundays is check to see what Daddy Frank has to say about the events of the week. He rarely disappoints. This week it's McChrystal, the insider v outsider media, and the larger view of Afghanistan. A 'must read', links at site.

What we saw was this: 1) Much of the Beltway establishment was blindsided by Michael Hastings’s scoop, an impressive feat of journalism by a Washington outsider who seemed to know more about what was going on in Washington than most insiders did; 2) Obama’s failure to fire McChrystal months ago for both his arrogance and incompetence was a grievous mistake that illuminates a wider management shortfall at the White House; 3) The present strategy has produced no progress in this nearly nine-year-old war, even as the monthly coalition body count has just reached a new high.

There were few laughs in the 36 hours of tumult, but Jon Stewart captured them with a montage of cable-news talking heads expressing repeated shock that an interloper from a rock ’n’ roll magazine could gain access to the war command and induce it to speak with self-immolating candor. Politico theorized that Hastings had pulled off his impertinent coup because he was a freelance journalist rather than a beat reporter, and so could risk “burning bridges by publishing many of McChrystal’s remarks.”

That sentence was edited out of the article — in a routine updating, said Politico — after the blogger Andrew Sullivan highlighted it as a devastating indictment of a Washington media elite too cozy with and protective of its sources to report the unvarnished news. In any event, Politico had the big picture right. It’s the Hastings-esque outsiders with no fear of burning bridges who have often uncovered the epochal stories missed by those with high-level access. Woodward and Bernstein were young local reporters, nowhere near the White House beat, when they cracked Watergate. Seymour Hersh was a freelancer when he broke My Lai. It was uncelebrated reporters in Knight Ridder’s Washington bureau, not journalistic stars courted by Scooter and Wolfowitz, who mined low-level agency hands to challenge the “slam-dunk” W.M.D. intelligence in the run-up to Iraq.

We now know, thanks to Hastings, that the general was out of control and the White House was na├»ve. The price has been huge. The McChrystal cadre’s utter distaste for its civilian colleagues on the war team was an ipso facto death sentence for the general’s signature counterinsurgency strategy. You can’t engage in nation building without civilian partnership. As Rachel Maddow said last week of McChrystal, “the guy who was promoting and leading the counterinsurgency strategy has shown by his actions that even he doesn’t believe in it.”

You have to wonder whether McChrystal’s defenders in Washington even read Hastings’s article past its inflammatory opening anecdotes. If so, they would have discovered that the day before the Marja offensive, the general’s good pal Hamid Karzai kept him waiting for hours so he could finish a nap before signing off on the biggest military operation of the year. Poor McChrystal was reduced to begging another official to wake the sleeping president so he could get on with the show.

The war, supported by a steadily declining minority of Americans, has no chance of regaining public favor unless President Obama can explain why American blood and treasure should be at the mercy of this napping Afghan president. Karzai stole an election, can’t provide a government in or out of a box, and has in recent months threatened to defect to the Taliban and accused American forces of staging rocket attacks on his national peace conference. Until last week, Obama’s only real ally in making his case was public apathy. Next to unemployment and the oil spill, Karzai and Afghanistan were but ticks on our body politic, even as the casualty toll passed 1,000. As a senior McChrystal adviser presciently told Hastings, “If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular.”

The gaping discrepancy between Emanuel’s upbeat assessment and the reality on the ground went unremarked because absolutely no one was paying attention. Everyone is now. That, at least, gives us reason to hope that the president’s first bold move to extricate America from the graveyard of empires won’t be his last.

We don't need to be an empire but we don't need to be in the graveyard either. I supported the Afghan war longer than most, but it's going nowhere. I don't want the Taliban running that country, but nobody else seems to want to run it besides thieves and dopers out for themselves. If (not 'when', though we surely will someday. Maybe...) we leave, the Taliban will surely take over. Does al Qaeda come back? Do we get attacked again? Can we just nuke 'em when that happens? How much is this all worth?

Certainly more questions than answers. I still think we could have done some some good there if not for the needless criminal war of aggression and distraction in Iraq.

Thanks again, Georgie. Yes, I will continue to blame that little weakling until all this is no longer his fault.