Saturday, September 11, 2004

Think It Can't Happen To You?

Notes from the neon babylon

Fill 'er up and kill 'er up By Bruce Van Dyke

One thing is obvious when you fly into Reno from the north--major forces are currently doing a fine job of fulfilling the dominant paradigm: Fill it up, fill it up, fill it up. The things being filled up are places--Spanish Springs, Double Diamond, the North Valleys and the Verdi sump, for example. At current rates of construction, these once bucolic ruralities should be completely filled up with condos, culverts and convenience stores within the next 10 to 15 years.

You might suspect that you’re about to read some sort of weepy, green-ass lament. Not a chance. We all know what’s coming, and we all see the writing on the wall. There’s no time to waste. Get the houses up. Get the golf courses built. Get those malls socked in. Let’s just get it the hell over with.

You do realize, however, that you can’t fill someplace without draining someplace else. At least, that’s how it is in Nevada these days. It’s not difficult to see what places will be drained in order to honor this axiom. Walker Lake is obvious toast. Hell, it’s already doomed, and they haven’t even started building the new subdivisions of Yerington. Stampede, Boca and Prosser Lakes will likely be drained on an annual basis once 63,000 new lawns are installed and opened for twice-weekly hosings. That’s assuming we’re lucky enough to have those reservoirs at least partially fill up during our increasingly undependable snow seasons. Pyramid Lake has some pretty sharp lawyers looking after its health, so it will be a while before the upstream legal teams of Reno, Sparks and Truckee find a way to backstab the tribe’s legal team, but no one should be too shocked when they do.

Draining and filling--this is where the action is in Northern Nevada. If you don’t like the sound of that, well, too damned bad. Because the people who are baking The Pie and then cutting it up really don’t give a flying bleep what you think. Oh, they might give you your three minutes in front of a council or commission, and let you blather on about the old days and the past times with their quiet nights and chirping crickets and unlocked doors and the visible galaxy and such. They’ll give you that. And then they’ll pat you on the head and say “thank you so much” and advise you to not let those coccyx-bustin’ chamber doors hit you on the ass on your way out. Because at that point, it will be time to get down to bidness. And don’t kid yourself. There’s a helluva lot of bidness to be done around here. And that’s future bidness, which doesn’t take into account the bidness that’s already been wrapped up and about to begin.

So bring it on. Fill ’em up. Fill up the valleys, and then fill up the boxes that will fill up the valleys. For that’s when we’ll find out ... The Next Places to Fill.

You Can't Make This Shit Up...

Man Who Used Alligator As A Mace Jailed
Associated Press
Friday, September 10, 2004

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A man who swung an alligator at his girlfriend during an argument was sentenced to six months in jail.

David Havenner, 41, of Port Orange, pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of battery and possession of an alligator, said Linda Pruitt, spokeswoman for the State Attorney's Office. He changed his earlier plea of not guilty, she said.

He was sentenced to six month in jail with 48 days credit for time served during the Sept. 1 hearing, according to court records.

Sheriff's officials said Havenner was keeping the 3-foot gator in his bathtub and swung it at his girlfriend, Nancy Monico, 39, during an argument on July 16.

Monico told investigators that Havenner beat her with his fists, then grabbed the gator and swung it at her as she tried to escape. The gator struck Monico at least once, after which time Havenner threw empty beer bottles at her and then kicked her out of their mobile home, she told investigators.

Havenner told investigators that Monico bit his hand because she was upset that they had run out of alcohol.

The alligator was later released into the St. Johns River, wildlife commission officials said.

Go Read This...

Greg Palast9.10.04September 11: What you 'ought not to know'Document 199-I and the FBI's words to chill the soul

You Tell 'Em, Teddy!

Ted Kennedy in The Washington Post, 9/11/04:

"Because of the Bush administration's arrogant ideological incompetence and its bizarre 'mission accomplished' mentality, our troops and our intelligence officers and our diplomats had neither the resources nor the guidance needed to deal with the worsening conditions that steadily began to overwhelm them and continue to do so," Kennedy said.

"It is preposterous for the administration to pretend that the war in Iraq has made America safer," he added. "No president in America's history has done more damage to our country and our security than George W. Bush."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Yo, Teheran, Listen Up!

We know you'll see this. If your Intelligence Service doesn't see it, CIA and Mossad read The Alternate Brain every day (this is where they get most of their info, after all) and they'll let you know.

Here's the deal: We know that you abided by the terms of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty for several years after the Shah was deposed, but now you are actively seeking to have your own, in-house, nuclear weapons. We believe this is because you are scared of us and wish to have a deterrent. Maybe you're scared of Pakistan and India, too, but we can't speak for them.

Don't be scared of America. Be scared of George W. Bush. Wouldn't blame you a bit, but rest assured we are doing everything we can to send his ass back to Texas. In any case, he won't be around long.

If you don't have nuclear weapons, we will never launch a nuclear strike against you, at least not after Bush is gone. Believe this.

If, on the other hand, you manufacture or otherwise acquire nukes, then we are likely to be scared of YOU. Our biggest nightmare is a bunch of fundamentalist religious right-wing nutjobs with nuclear weapons. This is one of the reasons we are trying to get rid of Bush.

Point is, we have about 5000 nuclear warheads left over from the Cold War. If our satellites pick up a launch bloom from Iran, you are likely to become a self-lighting, glass-surfaced parking lot. You may not even have time to face Mecca and pray for forgiveness, or whatever it is you pray for.

We are here to stay. Hopefully, so are you. Don't do anything stupid. If you think Allah is telling you to destroy us, He is chumping you like Bush et al. try to do to us, and it could easily be fatal.

Does the State Department talk to other countries like this? If they don't, maybe they should.

Anchors Aweigh

Hey Gord, and everyone else,

Sorry it's been a while but the Internet connection at my hotel in London town sucked and Mrs. F. ran me ragged all week. At the end of the day, I didn't feel like lugging my shit several blocks to an Internet cafe. Boy it's good to be back. I'm in the CyberCentre on the Queen Mary, but I'm heading off to set up my laptop connection in my stateroom. We're still docked in Southampton and we'll be pulling out in a little while. I'll write later. Just skimmed the blog and I'm patting myself on the back for conning . . . er, hoodwinking . . . er, asking Gordon to help out. Hope he plans to stay at his post after I get back to the States. Is he great or what? Well, I'm outta here for now. Great work, Gord.

Friday, September 10, 2004

That's You an' Me, Bro....

Quote of the day:

The essential ingredients of struggles for justice are human beings who, if only for a moment, if only while beset with fears, still step out of line and do something, however small. And even the smallest, most unheroic of acts adds to the pile of kindling that may be ignited by some surprising circumstance into tumultuous change. -- Howard Zinn

From Working For Change

Been There, Can't Remember If I Done That.....

Whether the Harvey Wallbanger cocktail carries the name of its inventor seems to be lost in a cloud of alcohol fumes. Pancho's Bar in Manhattan Beach and the Office in Newport Beach both have been cited as its birthplace in the 1960s or '70s.

One story holds that the drink honors "a surfer named Harvey [who] liked his screwdrivers spiked with Galliano and, after a hard day, had one too many and walked into a wall."

Steve Harvey, LATimes, 9/10/04

Thursday, September 9, 2004

The Straight Dope

There has been a lot of information about Bush's Air National Guard service, or lack thereof, surfacing in recent days. Your intrepid reporter has been doing some digging and we now have info that will put this matter to rest once and for all.

Our sources, though wishing to remain anonymous, did in fact "cross their hearts and hope to die", thus proving the following to be irrefutable.

In actual fact, Bush went missing from the Alabama ANG for five months due to action by the air base Bicycle Repair Division mechanics. The mechanics were overworked and exhausted, and their morale was at an all-time low, because Lt. Bush had crashed every bike on the ANG base, due no doubt to his predilection for strong drink. When action through the normal chain of command produced no results, as Lt. Bush was politically well-connected and shielded from above, they took matters into their own hands.

Early one morning, when Lt. Bush was sleeping very soundly, the mechanics managed to get him into a large sack and spirited him away to a secure location, where they removed him from the sack, hog-tied him, re-inserted him into the sack, and left him.

Eventually, Lt. Bush awoke and, after much wriggling, managed to worm his way out of his bonds, a talent which has always served him well and continues to do so to this very day.

Since the mechanics had left him in the liquor storage room of the base Officer's Club, and there were plenty of comestibles, such as pickled pigs feet and Slim Jims, to sustain life, Lt. Bush thought he had died and gone to Heaven and thus saw no reason to leave. His presence was only discovered, after five months, by an alert club manager who noticed the club was losing money. Lt. Bush was returned to duty with the aid of several burly NCO's from the base Air Police Platoon.

There has been speculation that Lt. Bush intentionally missed his required flight physical due to his concern that traces of cocaine would show up in his blood test results. While no doubt warranted by him, these concerns have been shown to be false. A reputable source, wishing to remain anonymous and known only to this reporter as "The Candy Man", has stated that Lt. Bush did not have to worry about this as the so-called "Peruvian Marathon Talking Powder" purchased by him from said source, was not in fact cocaine, but a common household product called "Drano" and would not have shown up as cocaine in test results. "Candy Man" reports that Lt. Bush apparently took a liking to this product and would call him at all hours in an attempt to "score" more of it, at a reported $130 per gram. "Candy Man" further states that he "wished he had a dozen more customers like that fool." This is the first time this reporter has heard of anybody being strung out on drain cleaner, and may explain a lot about Mr. Bush's current behavior and even his policies.

Now that the truth of this matter is known, perhaps the election campaign can get on to more important issues.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot....

Cycle World, Oct. '04:


"Tombstone Hearse Co. provides a fitting final ride for the V-twin enthusiast with its Harley-Davidson hearse service. A 19th century-style hearse with glass sides is hooked up trailer-style to a trike-modified Road King. Included in the $500 to $600 cost is a costumed driver, and they'll even take the dearly departed over a favorite road or to a special place. Arrange your final ride at before it's too late."

Yeah, but do they have it in chrome? "The one who rides in the last toy wins."

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

More Vets For Kerry

ON THE BAY HAP RIVER, Vietnam — The 50-foot Swift boats were easy targets as they plowed through the waterways of the Mekong Delta in packs of three or four, making big waves and thunderous noise when approaching. Former Viet Cong soldier Duong Hoang Sinh remembers them well — the one time he tangled with three Swift boats, the Americans killed all the insurgents in his unit except two. "It was very fierce fighting," said Sinh, 52, who lost his left eye during the war and still has shrapnel in his arm. "Each side tried to eliminate the other." Sinh and John F. Kerry, the U.S. Democratic presidential nominee, were fighting along the Dong Cung canal about the same time 35 years ago in early 1969, experiencing the intensity of war along these muddy waters, but from opposite sides. Although Sinh had never heard of Kerry, he had a strong opinion about the debate surrounding the candidate's Vietnam War record as a U.S. Navy Swift boat commander: Kerry must have had guts to troll the Mekong Delta's spider web of rivers and narrow canals knowing that Viet Cong like himself were waiting to pick him off. "Kerry served in Vietnam and he was awarded the medal for his bravery," Sinh said. "He deserves the medal." The memories of the Swift boat battles in these waters are now being sharply scrutinized under the divisive lens of the U.S. presidential election, where Kerry's actions under fire have been disputed by a group of veterans. As a Navy lieutenant, Kerry commanded two Swift boat units, PCF-44 and PCF-94, in Vietnam in late 1968 and early 1969. He was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star and a Bronze Star. Kerry's actions in several of those instances — including a March 13, 1969, incident when he rescued U.S. Army Special Forces Lt. Jim Rassmann under enemy fire; a Feb. 28, 1969, incident when he chased and killed a Viet Cong fighter; and a December 1968 incident when he was wounded — have been challenged in a series of television ads aired by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The anti-Kerry Vietnam War veterans group contend the Massachusetts senator did not come under heavy enemy fire as his medal citations state. But other veterans of the "brown water navy" who witnessed the fighting, along with Navy documents from that time, have backed Kerry's version of events. Associated Press took a boat tour along the same rivers and canals of the Mekong Delta that served as a battleground for Kerry. The people who live here now have worked hard to put the fighting behind them, but the memories persist. When Kerry and Sinh plied these muddy waterways, mangroves grew thick on both sides of the Bay Hap River, forming a bushy shield of impenetrable green. It was perfect cover for Viet Cong guerrillas who lay waiting to ambush the clunky U.S. Swift boats. Sinh recalled one morning in February 1969 when he and six other insurgents watched silently from their hiding spot in the thick forest that grew along the banks of the Dong Cung canal, about 4.7 miles off the Bay Hap River in Vietnam's southernmost province of Ca Mau. When the U.S. Navy boats rumbled into view, the Viet Cong were in for a shock as the Americans began firing on them. Sinh recalled his comrade got off one good shot from a B-40 rocket launcher, blasting a hole in the side of one vessel. But it wasn't enough. The Americans charged, unloading a hail of bullets, and Sinh realized this was not a fight his unit could win. "We got more fire from the American soldiers after that. We tried to fight back, but decided to flee," he said. He believes the Americans must have had intelligence about the planned ambush that day because the three U.S. boats fired first. Five of his comrades died, including his buddy who fired the crippling blast. Sinh escaped by fleeing into the dense forest. He said it was the first and last time he fired at Swift boats along the waterways where he grew up. Not long after, he was sent away from his family in Dong Cung village to fight elsewhere, which is why he remembers the date so well. His village was renamed Tran Thoi after the war. To Sinh and those who still live along the Mekong Delta, the controversy over Kerry's tour of duty in Vietnam is dumbfounding. Since the war ended in 1975, they have reveled in peace and, more recently, economic growth. "I think it's American politics," said Nguyen Van Khoai, 61, a former Viet Cong soldier who attacked American troops along the water but never fought directly against the Swift boats. "On any side, a soldier who made an outstanding feat is given a medal — but maybe some people try to think otherwise." The area that once crawled with Viet Cong has changed. The thick mangrove forests that lined both sides of the Bay Hap River, Dong Cung canal and other tributaries are mostly gone. Some canals just wide enough for the U.S. Navy boats to pass through are double in size today. Many more thatch houses are perched on stilts along the water's edge and small speed boats now zoom past. Shrimp farms litter the landscape where forests once grew, and the names of many wartime canals and villages have been changed. Cai Nuoc village, where Kerry put in on March 13, 1969 — the day for which he was awarded his third Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for rescuing Rassmann — has ballooned into a district. Cafes abound along the water here as well as shops selling a wide variety of wares, including shiny bathroom tile. A thriving floating market also bustles where mounds of ripe rambutan, pomelo and bananas form a rainbow of color. But much remains the same. The water is still dotted with children splashing and men checking fishing nets attached to crude sticks poking out of the river. The smell of diesel fuel and smoke is in the air and stinging downpours still come in the afternoon. Many of the residents here in the Mekong Delta have never heard of Kerry. They do, however, remember the Swift boats and the Americans who roared by aboard them. "I was very scared when I heard the American boats coming up the canal, so I had to hide in my backyard," said Phu Thi Nguyet, 60, who has lived along the Dong Cung canal since 1960. For those who have followed the debate, the Kerry controversy is confusing. "It's very strange in a way. It's just a small thing, but they have made it into a big deal," said Lam The Hung, 42, a native of Cai Nuoc village who now serves as a provincial official in Ca Mau. "The fact that one soldier rescued another — that happened thousands of times among the Vietnamese, so I don't understand." Hung said he was also puzzled by the uproar over Kerry's decision to join the antiwar movement upon returning home. He said Kerry's actions proved that he learned a lot during his time in Vietnam and that he wanted to keep other Americans from dying here. "When they went home, they knew the nature of the war and the people here were innocent and they knew it was nonsense to wage war here," said Hung, whose two older brothers joined the Viet Cong and laid mines in the rivers where the Swift boats operated. Although Kerry may be worried about veterans' support in America, Sinh said he would vote any day for his former enemy over President Bush. In the veteran's opinion, Kerry's experience along these rivers fighting Viet Cong might keep him from sending other young Americans to invade countries. "He knew the suffering and how much misery it brought to the people of Vietnam — he knew the cruelty of war," Sinh said. "So I don't think he would go to war again if he's elected."

Open Wide and Say Ahhhhh.....

"Too many OBGYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all over this country."

George W. Bush, in a speech in Missouri over Labor Day weekend.

Not tonight, Laura. I had that for lunch.

Monday, September 6, 2004

With a Cutlass in Either Hand and a Pistol in the Other

"Ambush is Murder and Murder is Fun!"

The Bushies know this well and are experts at it. It's their only tactic anyway, as they have no record of accomplishment. None they care to talk about anyway. Personal attacks are all they've got.

Senator Kerry well knows, as does any 19-year-old kid Marine, that the only way to break an ambush is to assault it head-on with all guns blazing, brass flying, and murder in your soul.

Get after it, Sen. Kerry! Time's a-wastin'. Turn into them, firewall the throttles, and work those triggers like there's no tomorrow! There aren't many. If you burn out your barrel, we'll get you a new one.

Or call an air strike or naval gunfire. Or run over them with a garbage truck. Just do it quick!

Did they get the deposit back on the keg?

From today's New York Times:

"Black Rock Desert, Nev., Sept. 5 (AP) - As jugglers danced with hoops and spirals of fire, vehicles belched flames and hypnotic drums echoed through the night, more than 35,000 costumed revelers ritually burned a 40-foot neon-and-wooden icon of a man deep in the Nevada desert on Saturday."

Sheesh! Sounds like my next door neighbor's house every Saturday night. Only, he can usually keep it out of the papers.

Sunday, September 5, 2004

Frances, do yo' stuff

We don't want anybody to be hurt by this storm, of course, and our kindest thoughts go out to those who have been displaced and traumatized by her (including the nutjob reporters who stand out in the rain to bring us raindrop-by-raindrop reports) but, having said that, this could be our big chance:

If Frances rips Florida loose from her moorings, like yacht owners who don't want to make the payments anymore but could sure use the insurance check are doing, and since almost everybody has already been evacuated, we see the best chance ever to promote reunification of Americans and maybe cleaner government as well.

Once Florida has been declared a hazard to navigation, the U.S.Navy should, at once, tow her out to sea and sink her with gunfire.

Think of the benefits:

Drunken sea captains heading for Mobile will no longer have to one-eye it through the Straits of Florida.

Future hurricanes will no longer be bottled up in the Gulf of Mexico (See: Galveston, 1900).

It'll be too far for Cubans to row to the U.S. in old pick-ups.

Retirees will relocate to other warm states, like South Carolina, where they can still enjoy hurricanes, but can put their double-wides above sea level. Their Social Security money will be more evenly dispersed throughout the economy, and jobs will be created.

Absentee ballots from Floridians will just float around in the Atlantic and will pose no danger to the rest of us. Ballot counts will become more accurate.

JEB can go be governor of Wyoming. That's where Cheney's from, and all the oil and gas rigs will become a tourist attraction. Disney will do something with this.

There will be two less senators and electoral votes will need to be shifted. Minor details that can be worked out next week.

See: It's win-win.

Note: My bride has just come in and told me that one of Florida's power plants is submerged. Maybe it's getting ready to launch torpedoes. We can only hope.

Mark Twain on W

"It is sound judgment to put on a bold face and play your hand for a hundred times what it is worth; forty-nine times out of fifty nobody dares to "call," and you roll in the chips."

"Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul."

"His ignorance covered the whole earth like a blanket and there was hardly a hole in it anywhere.

"He was good-natured, obliging and immensely ignorant, and was endowed with a stupidity which by the least little stretch would go around the globe four times and tie."

"He is useless on top of the ground; he ought to be under it, inspiring the cabbages."

"Against a diseased imagination demonstration goes for nothing."

More later