Sunrise over Lake Champlain from Ticonderoga

Support the victims of Hurricane Katrina (click image)

Musings and Meanderings

Sunday, October 31, 2004

The score does not lie

The Washington Redskins have proved to be a time-tested election predictor. In the previous 15 elections, if the Washington Redskins have lost their last home game prior to the election, the incumbent party has lost the White House. When they have won, the incumbent has stayed in power.

The history:

On 30 October 2000 the Washington Redskins lost to the Tennessee Titans, 27-21 The Incumbent Party lost. Bush won.

On 27 October 1996 the Washington Redskins defeated the Indianapolis Colts at home Democratic President Bill Clinton won re-election over his Republican challenger, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas.

On 1 November 1992 the Washington Redskins lost to the New York Giants at home, 24-7, Republican President George H. W. Bush lost his re-election bid to Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas.

On 6 November 1988 the Washington Redskins edged the New Orleans Saints at home, 27-24, True to form, Vice-President Bush emerged victorious.

On 5 November 1984 the Washington Redskins bested the Atlanta Falcons 27-14, The next day, President Ronald Reagan handily defeated his Democratic challenger

On 2 November 1980 the Washington Redskins were trounced at home by the Minnesota Vikings, 39-14, Jimmy Carter failed in his re-election bid.

On 31 October 1976 the Washington Redskins were spooked by the Dallas Cowboys in a Halloween Day home game, losing 20-7 Democratic Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia unseated President Gerald Ford that year.

On 22 October 1972 the Washington Redskins edged the Dallas Cowboys, 24-20, The 7 November 1972 election resulted in the re-election of President Richard Nixon.

On 27 October 1968 the Washington Redskins lost a close game to the New York Giants, 13-10, sitting Vice-President Hubert Humphrey lost to former Vice-President, Republican Richard Nixon.

On 25 October 1964 the Washington Redskins beat the Chicago Bears, 27-20 President Lyndon Johnson won a landslide victory over Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona.

On 30 October 1960 the Washington Redskins were pasted at home by the Cleveland Browns, 31-10. Like the Redskins, the Republicans lost; unlike the Redskins, the Republicans made the contest a very close one. (Kennedy bested Nixon by a mere 0.2% margin in the popular vote.)

On 21 October 1956 the Washington Redskins soundly defeated the Cleveland Browns at home, 20-9,the Republicans and their standard-bearer, Dwight D. Eisenhower, prevailed over the Democratic nominee, Adlai Stevenson.

On 2 November 1952 the Washington Redskins lost a squeaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home, 24-23 The Democrats' loss on 4 November 1952 was not nearly as close as the Redskins' had been.

On 31 October 1948, the Washington Redskins walloped the Boston Yanks at home, 59-21, predicting a win for the incumbent Democrats. Two days later, In one of the most stunning political upsets in U.S. history, President Harry S. Truman defeated his Republican challenger, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York.

On 5 November 1944, the Washington Redskins trimmed the Cleveland Rams at home, 14-10, predicting a win for the incumbent Democrats. And win the Democrats did, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt secured an unprecedented fourth term by defeating the Republican nominee, Thomas Dewey, on 7 November 1944.

On 3 November 1940, the Washington Redskins thrashed the Pittsburgh Pirates (forebears of today's Steelers team) at home, 37-10, predicting a win for the incumbent Democrats. Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt became the first as he thrashed Republican challenger Wendell Willkie of New York

On 1 November 1936 the Boston Redskins downed the Chicago Cardinals at Fenway Park, 13-10, predicting a win for the incumbent Democrats. Two days later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt won his re-election over Republican Governor Alf Landon of Kansas.

And now todays result.

The Packers Beat the Redskins at home 28 - 14. GOOD BYE GEORGE BUSH

posted by Mike 3:54 PM

Saturday, October 30, 2004

How stooopid is this??

According to Bill Moyer's NOW show on PBS:

62% of Americans still believe that Iraq and Al Qaeda were working together
43% of Americans believe that Saddam Hussein PLANNED the 9/11 attacks.

I mean just how dumb is this?

The facts are out there.

I was castigated by someone once for comparing the Rovian Political Machine to the "Big Lie". Need I say more?

posted by Mike 11:40 AM

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Big Life Changes

Oh where do I start....

I want to Teach. How is that for a start?

I want to write. There isn't that better. I got the two biggest issues out on the table for all to see.

How do I get there and what is the road map are of course the questions raised by the two innocuous statements above.

In order to teach in this state, and in most states, I need to go through a rigorous vetting process called credentialing. This state is actually one of the toughest, but with the "No child left behind" program in it's under funded state, the reality is that all states will have tougher requirements for teachers.

In order to teach then I need to go back to school. This of course requires an income, which I do not have right now. WE have an income, I just don't have one, so I guess you could say L has an income and I am a kept Man... Well don't say that but you get the idea.

In order to go back to school I need a job or jobs that allow me to make enough money to pay the bills and any new tuition needs. There in lies the real heart of the matter.

Turns out my clever new job isn't going so well. This is partly my fault, some of which, if I choose to, I can rectify, and some fault partly lies in the hands of my manager whom has not been the most "teaching" oriented chap. Though he is a real stand up person whom I do like, he has his own income to concern himself with as a producing manager.

So the logical train of thought, and I think I'm being fairly concise here, (Verbose but Concise) (Is that an oxymoron?), is: Do I have the time to fix what's wrong in my assumptions about my new job, knuckle under and do the things I need to, and survive the time period till my income is significant. (In this case this line is simply making enough to match what unemployment was giving me).

The quick answer is NO. So this brings out three possible courses of action. First is to get another job, a day job, a well paying day job. As if that is going to just appear after 6 mo of looking.

However like many American's trying to replace a decent income in the Bush Economy, there is always the possibility of TWO jobs. Day job, and evening job, more specifically, unpredictably underpaying job, and predictably underpaying job. So..... second and more realistic is to keep the present day job and supplement my income. Third (also more realistic to scenario one) is to scrap the day job and find one or more underpaying jobs.

To that end, I have applied to (don't flip) a few Retail operations in the electronics and literary sectors for evening/seasonal work. This covers scenario two and three in the predictably underpaying job. For the unpredictably underpaying job, to cover the possibility of scenario three, I have FINALLY gotten off my tushy and am getting the two big School Districts around here to send me the paperwork needed to become a Substitute. Last but not least, if I do take scenario three, I will also get registered with a temp agency.

God this is getting way too long.

Ok TOMORROW (or some reasonable facsimile of tomorrow aka "the day after that") Chapter Two. How do I squeeze in going back to school? That will be ABOVE this piece.

Please see the Blog BELOW this one for the writing piece. It will be short I assure you.

posted by Mike 10:39 PM

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

"So you want to write?"

A very clever literary device available to bloggers is the ability to write entries in the past. Variously called back dating or as I call it "BackBlogging" the clever blogger can insert a piece where it fits the best.

In this case this short piece on my desire to write, is not being written today, Oct 27 as it says on the date line, but Tomorrow Oct 28th, by writing it today Oct 28th, and setting the date for yesterday Oct 27th.

Yea I'm thinking of doing some Time Travel stuff.

So brother G sent me this great book called "Writing for Science Fiction" by a fairly famous Sci Fi writer whose name is unimportant now. Ok its Orsen Scott Card, of the Ender series fame. I read it when he sent it and put it away.

Turns out its part of a series by the Writers Digest people of small tomes that explicate the various parts of Fiction writing.

MW, G, L, and a host of other people represented by initials so as not to reveal their true identities, have been urging me to go into writing on a more serious basis. Believe it or not it is from reading all these meanderings and musings for the past two years. Go figure.

Brother G thinks I should write Sci Fi, for a million reasons none of which are important to no one but me, so I won't bore you with them. Suffice to say I'm going to give it a try.

I am going to try a few things to break in, none of which will involve painfully writing the "Great American Novel" (GAN) for the next five years only to have it rejected as too pedantic. These will include in no order, and not necessarily inclusively, writing some short stories for Sci Fi Mags like Analog or Asimov's; writing something for some of the Dr. Who Fanzines or anthologies; and, yes, working on the GAN as well.

To that end I will be trying to spend more time reading about writing, and more time just exercising my mind and imagination trying to come up with some good stories. One thing I came away with more than anything else from the how to book. It is all well and good to be a good writer, but if you don't have a story to tell, your carefully crafted prose will put the reader to sleep.


posted by Mike 11:57 PM

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

One Week left to decide a Nation

I am burnt on this one. Toast. Put a fork in me.

I can't bear to watch the news, to hear one or the other candidate blather on and on about their "message".

If I have to hear Monkey boy say "You can run but you cannot hide" I think I will Puke.

If I have to hear ol Granite Face drone on and on anymore about some arcane bit of economic theory I think I will faint.

I wonder how the people in the swing states are holding up. Heck the only ads we get are the local races and an apparently unopposed run by Sen Schumer.

And in one week, the only thing we will know is where the Democrat and Republican Lawyers are going to be for the next who knows how long till the courts decide this election.

Delicious irony though if Bush wins the popular vote but looses the electoral college. Don't ya think?
posted by Mike 11:05 PM

Sunday, October 24, 2004

As I was so nicely remided....

Down below in the comments section...

Sunday was my two month anniversary for not smoking. Yea I've put on weight, and no my "wind" is no where near where it shoulb be...

But I do feel a hell of a lot better.

posted by Mike 10:02 PM

Friday, October 22, 2004

Scary Quote of the day

In a disturbing article in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine, the writer Ron Suskind told of a meeting he'd had with a senior adviser to the president. The White House at the time was unhappy about an article Mr. Suskind had written.

According to Mr. Suskind, "The aide said that guys like me were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' " The aide told Mr. Suskind, "That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act we create our own reality."

Lets examine this quote carefully.

People like "them" (ie journalists) are from reality.

This infers that People like "us" are not. "Us" being the Bush Administration.

People from "reality" believe that solutions come from studying whats really going on and coming up with logical steps to fix a problem. I think that is a good paraphrase of what he said above.

This logically inferres that guys like "us" who are not from reality (established above) believe that solutions can just be made up as you go along, with no connection to actual events (aka reality)

However according to this quote the world does not work on "reality" anymore.

Apparently America is an Empire and we "act to create our own reality".

Its bits and bytes like this that show just how completely screwed up this Administration is. The preparations for the "peace" are a perfect example of this. Rummy had it in his head that a set number of troops would be needed. Did not matter that the Pentagon thought differently. The "reality" people just had it wrong it seems. Rummy created his own reality, much to the disasterous effect on the Iraqi people and the 25,000 wounded and injured American boys.

God I hope they loose in November.
posted by Mike 5:33 PM

Monday, October 18, 2004

I have NOT Fact Checked this

Do You See A Pattern Here?

* Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
* David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
* Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
* Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
* Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
* Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
* John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, Purple Hearts.
* Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
* Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
* Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53.
* Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
* Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
* Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons.
* Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
* Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and Legion of Merit.
* Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
* Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze Star with Combat V.
* Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
* Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
* Chuck Robb: Vietnam
* Howell Heflin: Silver Star
* George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
* Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but received #311.
* Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
* Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
* John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.
* Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul Wallenberg.

* John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart and Disguished Flying Cross.
* George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from duty.
* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
* Tom Delay: did not serve.
* Roy Blunt: did not serve.
* Bill Frist: did not serve.
* Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
* Rick Santorum: did not serve.
* Trent Lott: did not serve.
* John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
* Jeb Bush: did not serve.
* Karl Rove: did not serve.
* Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Max Cleland's patriotism.
* Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
* Vin Weber: did not serve.
* Richard Perle: did not serve.
* Douglas Feith: did not serve.
* Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
* Richard Shelby: did not serve.
* Jon! Kyl: did not serve.
* Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
* Christopher Cox: did not serve.
* Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
* Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role making movies.
* B-1 Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over in Korea.
* Phil Gramm: did not serve.
* Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
* John M. McHugh: did not serve.
* JC Watts: did not serve.
* Jack Kemp: did not serve. "Knee problem," although continued in NFL for 8 years.
* Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
* Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
* George Pataki: did not serve.
* Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
* John Engler: did not serve.
* Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
* Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army ZZZbase.

* Sean Hannity: did not serve.
* Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
* Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
* Michael Savage: did not serve.
* George Will: did not serve.
* Chris Matthews: did not serve.
* Paul Gigot: did not serve.
* Bill Bennett: did not serve.
* Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
* John Wayne: did not serve.
* Bill Kristol: did not serve.
* Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
* Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
* Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
* Ralph Reed: did not serve.
* Michael Medved: did not serve.
* Charlie Daniels: did not serve.
* Ted Nugent: did not serve. (He only shoots at things that don't shoot back.)
posted by Mike 7:10 AM

Saturday, October 16, 2004

You gotta just LOVE the internet

Here is another example of the completely outrageous stuff that runs around the Internet everyday. It is very typical of the Right Wing to put this stuff out so that the sheep of the world go BAAA BAAA and not their head in agreement. It is a very "Rovian" method. Ascribe philosophies and sound bites to the Left, especially if they don't actually ever believe that, and put fear in the hearts of Americans.

My comments are posted blatantly in-between. What cracks me up the most is that the Right still has to go out of their way to bash Clinton 3.75 yrs after he is out of office. What it has to do with this election is beyond me.

Anyway on to the comedy bits (again):

I'm trying to get all this political stuff straightened out in my head so I'll know how to vote come November. Right now, we have one guy saying one thing. Then the other guy says something else. Who to believe. Lemme see; have I got this straight?

Clinton awards Halliburton no-bid contract in Yugoslavia - good...
Bush awards Halliburton no-bid contract in Iraq - bad...

Any President awarding a no bid contract is bad.

Clinton spends 77 billion on war in Serbia - good...
Bush spends 87 billion in Iraq - bad...

It's 120 billion. The war in Serbia was a NATO operation that America was part of. The war in Iraq was a unilateral attack on a dictatorship.

Clinton imposes regime change in Serbia - good...
Bush imposes regime change in Iraq - bad...

Again, this was a NATO operation, not a unilateral operation.

Clinton bombs Christian Serbs on behalf of Muslim Albanian terrorists-good...
Bush liberates 25 million from a genocidal dictator - bad...

See the NATO comments. This author obviously has the notion that past administrations operated in the same manner as this one.

Clinton bombs Chinese embassy - good...
Bush bombs terrorist camps - bad...

Clinton was soundly berated Nationally and Internationally for bombing the Chinese embassy. There is no one who has berated Bush for bombing terrorist camps.

Clinton commits felonies while in office - good...
Bush lands on aircraft carrier in jumpsuit - bad...

No felonies were charged to President Clinton before or after his Presidency, although there was attempt to impeach him. Nothing wrong with Bush landing on an aircraft in a jumpsuit, and it was not the Administration who put the "Mission Accomplished" sign up, it was a done by some sailors.

No mass graves found in Serbia - good...
No WMD found Iraq - bad...

Uhhh lets see. There were mass graves found in YUGOSLAVIA. NATO didn't go to war in YUGOSLAVIA due to mass graves anyway. However this Administration DID go to war in Iraq over WMD's that "absolutely" existed.

Stock market crashes in 2000 under Clinton - good...
Economy on upswing under Bush - bad...

I want to know where this person lives? Where is the economic upswing? Just yesterday the number of jobless applications for first time unemployment spiked again.

Clinton refuses to take custody of Bin Laden - good...
World Trade Centers fall under Bush - bad...

Who offered custody of Bin Laden to Clinton? When? I'll take this one on the chin if I'm wrong. Clinton DID fumble around like an idiot in the early 90's regarding Bin Laden and terrorists. But hindsight is easily 20-20. And yes it was not bad but HORRIBLE about 9\11. What kind of sicko writes this stuff.

Clinton says Saddam has nukes - good...
Bush says Saddam has nukes - bad...

Again both were BAD. The 9/11 commissions specifically put blame on both administrations. Read the report, I have, did you?

Clinton calls for regime change in Iraq - good...
Bush imposes regime change in Iraq - bad...

The Clinton Administration called for regime change through peaceful means of economic sanctions and support of internal groups. This has been the American way of doing things from Cuba to South Africa. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Bush imposed Regime Change in Iraq in a unilateral war. And by the way lets get some things clear: The "Left" 1) supports our troops in Iraq. 2) Supported the need for regime change in Iraq. 3) Takes issue with the METHOD of change, not the need.

Terrorist training in Afghanistan under Clinton - good...
Bush destroys training camps in Afghanistan - bad...

Why is this bad again? Cite sources where anyone criticized the destruction of Training camps in Afghanistan.

Milosevic not yet convicted - good...
Saddam turned over for trial - bad...

Huh? I think this is backwards. The Milosevic trial is a joke, and having the Iraqi's put Saddam to trial in their own country is fantastic.

Ahh, it's so confusing!

I think this is because the writer listens to way to much talk radio.

Every year an independent tax watchdog group analyzes the average tax burden on Americans, and then calculates the "Tax Freedom Day".

This is the day after which the money you earn goes to you, not the government. This year, tax freedom day was April 11th. That's the earliest it has been since 1991. It's latest day ever was May 2nd, which occurred in 2000. Notice anything special about those dates?

Recently, John Kerry gave a speech in which he claimed Americans are actually paying more taxes under Bush, despite the tax cuts. He gave no explanation and provided no data for this claim.

Well actually he did support the claim. He uses cites increased State and Local taxes which are an inadvertent reaction to the Bush Tax cuts as his support. He also makes the claim by speaking of percentages, and due to the recession with incomes lower, tax burdens as a percentage of income are higher. It may be fuzzy maths, but it was supported

Another interesting fact: Both George Bush and John Kerry are wealthy men. Bush owns only one home, his ranch in Texas. Kerry owns 4 mansions, all worth several million dollars. (His ski resort home in Idaho is an old barn brought over from Europe in pieces. Not your average A-frame).

Actually Theresa owns these properties which she inherited from her late husband, who was a Republican.

Bush paid $250,000 in taxes this year; Kerry paid $90,000. Does that sound right? The man who wants to raise your taxes obviously has figured out a way to avoid paying his own.

Well did they have the same income? I do believe that the President makes more than a Senator. That and the fact that at this point I doubt these numbers are accurate.
posted by Mike 8:19 AM

Thursday, October 14, 2004

This is the sickest and darkly funniest spam I have ever recieved.

Ok I want to put a bunch of caveats here becuase our civil liberties are so restricted now a days with that crazy bunch of neo cons running the government. Since sooner or later Ashcrofts storm troopers are going to scan this site for subversive information I feel it is paramount that I put these disclaimers here:

1) The following is a copy of a spam email I got.
2) I do not support nor do I offer any of the things in this e-mail below.
3) I have never given aid to arms dealers.
4) I removed any contact information so no storm troopers get confused.
5) The intent of this blog post is for amusement only.

Ok get the message Mr. shred the constitution Attorney General?

On to the comedy bits:

hello our potential customer

We would like to introduce our newborn site, where you can shop around most wanted and needed items in your life. Our weapon section has wide range of hard-to-find machine guns, silencers, armour-piercing ammos and others.

First of all, let\'s check our 3 top-selling items:
1. Russian surface-to-air missle SA-14 \"Gremlin\" (upgraded analog of SS-16 \"Strela\") from our supplies in Kazakhstan.
Due to high demand, it takes about 4 weeks to backorder that item. Weight is 10,2 kg., length - 1427 mm. You can make a huge party and you can have tons of fun launching your \"Gremlin\” with your buddies.

2. Israeli best-selling submachine-gun \"Tavor\" 5.56\" (upgraded analog of 7.65\" \"Uzi\"), comes with 2 full clips of standard ammo + bonus one clip of armour-piercing ammo.

3. Russian booby trap made in 5 versions:
- a bottle of Jim Beam (200 grammes of C4 inside),
- a can of Budlight beer (150 grammes of C4 inside),
- a Barbie-doll (100 grammes of C4 inside),
- a cell phone (50 grammes of C4 inside),
- a lighter Zippo (25 grammes of C4 inside
You can take one with you to the school or college and have a lot of fun with your buddies. Buy more than 10 pieces of booby traps, and we upgrade C4 to C4+ for free.(C4+ can not be detected in airports or any other areas).

Also we have our Dutch-based shop where you can buy some drugs to make your life more wonderful and funny. We have wide selection of Ganja, Crack, both synthetic and natural Heroin. And our prices are affordable for everyone.

If you want to buy anything from us, just visit our site, contact administrator and get full price-list. We accept all major credit cards, wire transfers and money orders. Please ask for details if you want to use Western Union or Money gram money transfers.

P.S. Due to our government laws all items from our shop can be sold only to 18+ aged people. We can ask you for age verification before shipping.

We thank to our hosting company AT&T, cause it in any circumstances continues to host our site and covers all our dirty business for the small per cent from the deals.

So I think that reason for this spam is a knock on ATT. Also I did take the time to look up the domain name of the sender. It is a legitimate hosting company out of San Francisco, and I forwarded the email to them with a warning they had a problem.

Well I hope you got as good a laugh out of this as I. It is by far the most outrageous spam I've ever recieved. Did you get it to, or am I just lucky?

posted by Mike 8:02 AM

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

On to November!

Finally the debates are over. I watched all three, well all four if you include Darth Vader and the Breck Girl.

I'm glad they are over, because it means that we are less than four weeks away from ending this long march.

Unlike the last two debates however I did not take notes as they were broadcasting. So this is mostly off the cuff thoughts. And not many of them.

First kudo's again to the President for ceasing this absurd game he plays of trying to be "everyman" and sound dumb. He may have a problem with "intellectuals" but he is no idiot. The man went to Yale for god’s sake. YES it would have been lovely for the Democrats if he played stupid for all three debates like he did in the first. But he didn't, and if he wins the election I for one will be glad to know there is some glimmering of intelligence behind that face.

Kerry came across again as cool and poised. He marshaled the facts well as the pundits said he would. He had snappy answers to the points that Bush made. He laid out concrete plans for his Presidency, except for his answer regarding social security, that made sense, regardless of the fiscal analysis (which I leave to the experts.)

One liner takeaway was Kerry's Soprano reference. Bush talking about Fiscal Responsibility is like Tony Soprano talking about Law and Order. What a hoot. Look regardless of which Aisle you stand on one thing is clear, this Administration has been a big spender. This has bugged all fiscal conservatives, whether they are Democrats or Republicans.

The two Candidates gave a clear choice to the American People as to what type of road they want to go down for the next four years domestically. One choice is four more years of the same policies, perhaps allowing these domestic economic policies to come to fruition. The other is an interesting union of New Democratic Clintonian ideals and older more traditional Democratic ideals.

There is no question that the debates did Kerry a world of good. Just as a baseball season isn't over until you play all 164 games, this election did need to go through all 6 games (the two conventions and the four debates). I think the bounce that Bush got out of his Convention did Kerry a world of good. In reading about Kerry one learns that he does best as an underdog. So spending the month of September behind was energizing for him. But now all the events are done and we are back to a neck and neck race.

In the end, to sound completely repetitious and much too dark for my liberal friends, I don't think Bush will loose this election. I choose those words carefully, this was always Bush's election to win or loose.

According to NBC its down to three freakin states: Fla, Ohio and PA. Win two of the three and you win the election. Florida = Jeb Bush and voting machines run by a deeply conservative company that supports the Bushies. Ohio = A Republican Sec of State that covets the limelight that Kathleen Harrison got in 2000. PA = The Bushies are walking away from that state. Net outcome = "four more years".

America - Prove I'm wrong.. Please....
posted by Mike 10:48 PM

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Could this be the real reason?

Here is the query of the week. What was that bulge on the President's belt in the first two debates.

The wit's of American are saying that it is a scrambled transciever so that he can get talking points during the debates.

It would explain my perception that Bush seemed so much more "on it" in the second debate. He practiced using the earphone more.

posted by Mike 11:25 PM

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Fun with Computers

So in January of this year I did my semi annual reformatting of my hard drive. Problem was I grabbed the wrong W98 disc and inadvertently put W98 not W98se on my computer.

Not too clever.

So I always knew that this year some time I would have to do it again. In discussions with Brother Greg, he suggested that I could alleviate my blue screen problems by going to Windows 2000 in my next HD scrub. He suggested also that it just ran a hell of a lot better due to drives being formatted NTSD or something instead of FAT 32.

So finally I got him to send me a copy, I backed everything up and took the plunge today. Contrary to his advice however, I did an "upgrade" instead of a new install because a) it said I would be able to keep my other programs and b) it would change my drive to NTSD or whatever its call.

So let me tell you W2000 is sweet. It runs so nice, its clean looking and has a lot of great bells and whistles.

However it’s also very complicated, and I spent most of today trying to get it to talk to the internet. The best Road Runner could come up with was that my NIC card didn't have the right drivers. We even tried going USB with my modem but no go. So not being able to get online was definitely not a good thing. Finally I decided I was not going to spend the next few days trying to figure out why.

So I tried to go backwards. As they say in the Military, NO JOY. Tried various different methods of attempting to reformat the "C" drive back to FAT 32. NO JOY. So then I was going to just get my "D" drive up and running on W98se.

It gets better. I lost my C drive completely in going back and forth with the drives. Toast. Not Toast.

Sooooo I'm down one 6 gig HD (the other one is a 30) and back on W98, however it's second edition. Also by putting the operating system on the newer drive that is 7200mps my system is definitely running faster. Other than the aggravation, the damage from the process is just that 6gig HD. It was old and moldy anyway
posted by Mike 9:10 PM

Friday, October 08, 2004

And Round Two goes to...

Well both of them!

There is no question that this was a better performance by a sitting President of the US in round two tonight. He was animated and excited looking like he was "itchin' to get goin'" on every question. We saw a side of George W. Bush that we have not seen in a long time I felt, the intelligent person. He was much more the person who beat Ann Richardson in the debates for Texas Governor than the person who showed up for the first debate, or even the '00 debates.

I read a great article somewhere talking about the evolution of Bush's way of speaking in public. That it was an affectation, and that videotapes and press conferences from his early public speaking years show an intelligent and well spoken man who pronounces words correctly and puts sentences together well. This is the person who showed up tonight.

I'm feeling like I’ve been listening to a broken record at this point on the third round now, including the VP debate. The Bush/Cheney team dummying down the record of Senator Kerry into bits and bytes for consumption. The Kerry/Edwards team attempting to put their confusing and needlessly complicated positions into some better light.

Senator Kerry was as cool and collected as the President was passionate. He did one thing that was a brilliant strategy in looking directly at the President while criticizing his policies. No doubt this strategy was to get the President to break and get angry or flustered. It worked only once, during question six regarding the military draft when Bush was so agitated that he over spoke the moderator. Kerry utilized and marshaled his facts and the names of people who thought the war in Iraq was mismanaged very well. He did repeat some of the catch slogans that are being used on the campaign trail, but so did President Bush so that was a draw.

I don't think either candidate did a great job of actually answering the questions that were put to them. Some they did answer but others were almost ignored, or as in the 18th and last question, were conveniently reinterpreted by the Candidates.

However in a true debate (which none of these are really) the winner and looser is determined by how they handled the questions and what they actually said, not the throw away one liners, stump speech sound bites nor the grimaces or chuckles. For this debate I took copious notes on each question and what was said. If I were to shape those notes into a piece it would be needlessly long and I'd loose you fairly early, if I haven't lost you already......

However in a cursory run through of the Questions, taking into consideration HOW the questions were handled, not the actual facts that were presented ( I will leave that to I would give the nod to Senator Kerry over President Bush 10 to 8.

Stand out things I heard tonight from the Candidates: The term "internets", as if there were more than one. Enjoyed the phrase "The Military wins the war, its the President that wins the Peace". When asked why we had such a huge deficit, President Bush actually practiced truth in advertising and said: "well we had a war and a recession and then we cut taxes!". Kerry looking directly in the camera and saying he would not raise taxes on anyone making less than 200K a year. President Bush's joke in response to the Supreme Court question was quite endearing in his "I'm not telling!" response.

All in all this debate did nothing to break the deadlock btw the two candidates. I still stand by what I have said over and over in this blog, that it's all well and good, but that Kerry just cannot win in November. Whether its' voting machines in Florida, Right wing Secretaries of State in Ohio, or the whole messy Electoral College system, Kerry will not win enough electoral college votes to win the Presidency. He may very well win the popular vote however.

Won't that be something?
posted by Mike 10:59 PM

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Ok let me try to get this straight.
The Duelfer Report.

We didn't go to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussein was creating WMD's.

We didn't go to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussein was about to make Nuclear Weapons.

We didn't go to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussein was supporting Al Queda.

We didn't go to war in Iraq because Saddam Hussein was giving WMD's to terrorists.


Apparently now, according to the President we went to war because:

"The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions," Bush said as he prepared to fly to campaign events in Wisconsin.

Oh and apparently even though the Duelfer report contradicts this, we went to war because Saddam Hussein was (to paraphrase Douglas Adams)"... doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away."

This election is taking on an air of surrealism that begins to make even myself, a long veteran of politics, shake my head in disbelief. What American in their right mind would return a President to the White House who has steadfastly stood by his reasons as to why he started a war with Iraq, until they were completely unsupportable, then simply made new ones up to justify his actions?

What a country.

What is interesting about the report is that it supports a little credited theory as to the real reasons why France, Germany and Russia did not support the war in Iraq. A few months after the war started I was speaking to my brother in France, and he said that Hussein had tried to do an end run around the sanctions by offering to sell oil for Euro's to these countries. Now if you are not an Economist you might not realize how big a deal this would have been, and theoretically could have actually began a slow and permanent movement away from the world being run by "Petro-Dollars" to be replaced by a world run by "Euro-Dollars". This theory posits that this was another of the "secret" reasons that the Bushies wanted to start this war and remove Hussein.

Bush likes to repeat Kerry's ill worded phrase "Wrong War at the Wrong Time for the Wrong Reasons". MY thought with this war (which I called for in my first blog, still available in the archives) is that it was the Right War, at the Wrong time for the Wrong reasons. My supposition is that the Bushies didn't think America was bright enough to understand the real reasons to remove Saddam Hussein, so they had to manufacture ones.

This doesn't even begin to address the post war issues, the Economy, the erosion of Civil Rights and the host of other issues I, and half of America, has with this Adminsitration.

What a country.
posted by Mike 9:36 PM

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

That New York Times Article

You may have heard about the NYT article from Sunday on the Iraqi Aluminum tubes that were supposedly purchased to make weapons grade Uranium before the war. This one fact pushed the Senate and the Administration to war more than any other "fact". That the Intelligence was incorrect, and may have been pushed onto the Senate, UN and American people by people with an agenda is very alarming.

Or maybe not. The reality is that it is a very long and involved article, more suited to the Times Magazine or the Atlantic, which I doubt many American's will take the time to read about. Well I finally took the time to read it tonight.

In excruciating detail it covers the process from discovery that Iraq was buying these Aluminum tubes, through to the speech Secretary of State Powel made to the UN. This article dovetails very nicely with the Hirshfield articles in the New Yorker (which he has developed into a book that has just come out) regarding the "stove piping" that the Bush Administration did regarding intelligence leading up to the Iraq war.

The key issue was a massive failure of oversight and competitive theories regarding what these tubes really represented. 20 20 hindsight has shown that the tubes in question were actually purchased for a missile system that the Iraqi's had been utilizing for some time. The incredible stretch to apply the specifics of the tubing to alleged use in Uranium centrifuges simply boggled my mind. All the intelligence coming from the CIA was from one expert. Just one. On the other hand the competing theories, which inconveniently did not fit the Cheney/Bush requirements for a "smoking gun" came from a panel of experts at the State Department and, get this, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency. No way they could have been experts at Uranium centrifuges huh!!

Summarizing this article is not easy by any means. One conclusion that it does make however is arguing that "group think" was not the factor in this massive intelligence failure. Competing voices were there stating uncatagorically what these tubes were really to be used for (this has been confirmed by now, by the way). They were crowded out quite skillfully, so that by the time decisions needed to be made to go to war, the one conclusion that would most likely create a favorable outcome for the hawks in the Senate and the Administration was assured.

It equally criticizes the Bushies as well as Kerry & Edwards in their roles in the Senate. Very few Senators apparently read the Intelligence briefing from alpha to omega, and some who did, like Sen Graham of Florida promptly saw holes in the report and voted against the war.

So what have we learned from this? The moderate view would be that depending upon one expert in any intelligence agency is a massive mistake. The "forest from the tree's" syndrome can affect even the most diligent analyst. The more paranoid view, one that I fully ascribe to by the way, is that Cheney (especially) wanted a smoking gun and kept asking the CIA to go back and find it. Again this dovetails nicely with the Hirshfield book (nee articles) that has come out recently.
posted by Mike 10:45 PM

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Two boys and their Sandbox

First of all, let me say that my best hope for this Debate was that Mr. Edwards would not say something stupid to affect the good progress that the Kerry / Edwards ticket has made after the first Presidential Debate. I might have hoped that Mr. Cheney would say something unusually heinous (above and beyond his normally vindictive manner) that would show the American people the kind of person he really is. It was interesting to note also that Mr. Cheney is only 12 yrs older than Mr. Edwards.

It will come as no surprise to you that I do not like Dick Cheney. He is probably the finest example of the usage of Goebels’ “Big Lie” philosophy I have seen in American Politics in years. He states with same absolute conviction both the truth and the lies that this Administration has been repeating for the last year. And of course the American people believe him. He is the President’s attack dog and flack catcher. It is a role that other Vice Presidents’ have taken on, but never to this extent.

This Debate was a slag fest. I don’t think either man actually answered one question in the first 45 min without insulting the other. Not one question was answered without going back to argue the last statement from the other. Both were guilty of this through out this Debate.

I did enjoy however watching Senator Edwards actually bring up the voting record of one time “Representative” Cheney. I’ll admit that the Kerry and Edwards Senatorial records have been ones of Liberal voting policies. In fact I wish they would stand up and shout to the skies that they are Liberals. But that is not the point.

It was nice to see someone finally bringing up Mr. Cheney’s record of votes and positions from his past. This only fair since his job on the campaign trail is to slag off the Kerry record. One of my favorite “jokes” of this campaign has been how Cheney likes to use Kerry’s military procurement voting record in the 80’s and 90’s as an illustration of how unfit he is to be Commander in Chief when the record shows that Cheney supported cuts in the exact same weapons programs. It was nice to see these points brought up in a public forum.

The sad fact is that the “tour stops” for the Republican Campaign are mostly a sham. By now you should know that all the participants at a Republican Campaign rally are vetted, required to sign a piece of paper saying they support the President, and some are, willingly I will admit, cajoled into making phone calls before and after the rallies so that they can get “closer” to the President or VP. This was evidenced by the performance of President Bush in the first Debate. The President seemed lost when faced with needing to fill 90 min with thoughts and ideas, and when faced with not being surrounded by “yes” men.

Tonight we saw the effect on this debate in what I would call a positive manner, in that Mr. Cheney was much more tame than he is usually on the Campaign trail. Unable to make the egregious statements he likes to make when surrounded by his faithful, he definitely toned down his rhetoric tonight.

Despite the personal sniping that went on this evening I felt that this Debate was a positive contribution to the fact pile for this Presidential campaign. As opposed to the bullshit pile that is much bigger created from the Campaign stops by both parties during this election season.

On a purely partisan comment from an unabashed Liberal, I wished that Mr. Edwards had hammered more upon the facts, and spent less time accusing Mr. Cheney of various nefarious deeds while in Haliburton, etc etc. Mr. Edwards missed the opportunity to call Mr. Cheney to the carpet over the Medicare Bill and this Administration’s lies about the costs and affects of that bill.

So in the end, by 10:30 pm EST, (before the talking heads start spinning this one) I felt that this debate was a draw at best. At the worst (in my view) I would give a slight nod to Dick Cheney, and again only because his delivery style is uniquely qualified to make one believe what he is saying. Even when his facts are a crock of horse hockey. He doesn’t sound like a slick Politician, and alas Mr. Edwards can sound like that.

However Cheney’s statement of “disappointment” over the divided state of this Union was beyond belief. His party holds the Senate, the House, the Presidency, a majority of the Governorships, and is philosophically similar to the Supreme Court. If the country is divided I’m guessing that it’s on the shoulders of the Party in power.

In a week this Debate will be forgotten. I look forward to the second Presidential debate with bated breath, where both Candidates have to answer questions from the crowd.
posted by Mike 10:46 PM

Monday, October 04, 2004

A thought for your day

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
-- Martin Luther King Jr.
posted by Mike 6:51 AM

Sunday, October 03, 2004

2004 Twin Rivers Council Camporee - Emergency Prepardedness Weekend

Well they were not prepared for us!

It would be mighty helpful if you skimmed this article in the Albany Times Union first before reading on. Don't worry it will open a new window and you can close it and come back to this blog when you are done.

Ok so you get the idea. If you click on the cool logo above you will see some of where we were this weekend. Anyway we took off from the Church at 5:30 on Friday and got there around 7pm. Our Scoutmaster was able to take the temporary troop trailer into the site but Alex and I backpacked the 1/4-mile in or so to where we were camping. We pitched our tents in the dark and I was quite impressed that all the boys were able to cope in the dark, especially my Screaming Eagle patrol as they are the youngest (all are 11 yrs old).

The place was packed. As you can imagine 2000 scouts (this is adults and boys) takes up a bit of space. The Pangaea Puddle is really big, and there was room for the massive tent city we created. Alas there was no way to get up high enough to take a picture of the massive tent city we created as a Council, but rest assured it was a lot of boys.

Saturday dawned bright and cold and after the patrol did its "patrol breakfast" to help complete the requirements to the Second Class Rank, and cleaned up, we headed down to the "puddles" to get ready to go through the drill. We were all given small cards saying what had happened to us, ranging from walking and fine to DEAD. I drew a dead card, which worked out well as I was able to wander around and take some pictures.

We were divided up into groups and each type of casualty took a different Soccer field. I felt this was the first dip into non-realism as the effects of a massive emergency would be scattered throughout a "population". Anyway an airplane few over dropping coupons for McDonalds and this started the drill, as it was supposed to simulate a chemical attack by plane.

Then came the waiting. Information is very sketchy as to what was supposed to happen and what really happened. From this author's perspective, the response time of the admittedly all most all-volunteer forces was pitifully long. As we all lay there dead or dying they took a quite leisurely pace in getting things secured and "investigating" the incident. One pundit posited to me that they would not want their EMS people rushing into a scene because they would not want them affected by whatever had affected the victims. However they did have full hazard gear, so that excuse seems a bit lame.

Anyway about 2 hrs into the performance, someone came through and said the exercise was called off. Apparently things didn't work out the way it was planned. One of the excuses I heard was that they had not expected the number of scouts they got. However the Times Union article I had you read before this clearly stated they knew just how many people they were going to handle.

Frankly I just don't think they had any idea how to handle this type of emergency. It appeared that FEMA was there as well observing, as well as the local congressman, who of course took the opportunity to throw in a campaign speech at the beginning.

So the Disaster Drill was a Disaster!!

The rest of the weekend was mixed. There were a bunch of great activities for the scouts sponsored by the Trailblazer Adventure group the boys were able to partipate (depending on age) in Game Calling, Trapping, Fishing, Archery, BB Gun and Shotgun shooting. However a cold front swept in and it rained a bit during the day. Then just after sundown the real storm hit and cancelled the huge bonfire scheduled for the night. Ah well. We all went to bed early.

Broke camp this morning and we were all home by Noon. Much fun for all, although the actual modus vivendi for the weekend was a bit of a let down.
posted by Mike 9:29 PM

The musings and meanderings of an overworked and underemployed mind