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Archive for July 2008

Picture of the Day July 31, 2008

In today’s Picture of the Day, the so-called ‘Trees of Love’ with padlocks placed by newlyweds to seal their love, are seen across Luzhkov bridge in downtown Moscow, Wednesday. A recent Russian tradition involves newlyweds placing a padlock at one of the iron trees on Luzhkov bridge to lock their love, and as long as the padlock remains, the couple’s love will remain locked. (July 30, 2008)

Monogamy, what a quaint custom!

If we built Trees of Love in the United States that would lock a couple’s love as long as the padlock remained, both parties to the marriage would have to have a key, and a third key left in the padlock, just in case.

According to how one reads the statistics, monogamy in or out of marriage is becoming an endangered species.

I know why, a long time ago, monogamy didn’t work for me, but I am curious why it didn’t work for everyone else. How many can say they are still in a monogamous state of marriage? This is barring widowers and ghosts, of course.


Quote of the Day July 31, 2008

A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down.

Robert Benchley (1889 - 1945)

Early morning reverie July 30, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

It was a bit cold this morning as I wandered into the Virtual Garden from the street, with the Nehi Cola Thermometer proudly hanging from over the doorway to the Virtual Ballroom sitting at just 52 degrees. I chuckled to myself at seeing the Garden Gnomes, already up and about tending their chores, because they all were wearing heavy wool coats, as if it were already winter again. I remember one time a decade or so ago that the needle on the antique Nehi thermometer was so far below -10 degrees it nearly broke off. The actual temperature that day was -33, but the part that made the day so memorable is it didn’t break any records for being the coldest day.

As I sit down in my favorite bar stool at the Virtual Espresso Bar, I’m suddenly uncertain who our barrista of the day might be, as it seems as if he/she is made up of several different personalities. Combine the hair of Phyllis Diller, the hook nose of several persons of Palestinian descent, the unspeakably large eyes of the late William F. Buckley just before he pounced on someone who disagreed with his viewpoint and the most-unique eyebrows I’ve seen. Yes, they form one continuous line across his/her head.

“Since you appear to be asking yourself, I am called Abstract,” the ghost announced, as it shifted its color from flesh to something approximating puce, then reverting to a pale vibrating orange color. “Our espresso of the day is called “Multiple Persuasions”. Given the way you bob and weave about in your task of running The Virtual Ballroom it is something you may find useful, indeed.”

When confronted with a ghost of so many different components who changes its color more often than some people change socks, especially before my first cup of espresso of the day, I grasped the coffee cup Abstract had placed before me with all the tenacity with which a person drowning grabs onto a lifeguard. I took a sip, then waited patiently for the magic of our espresso to kick in. Nothing. Another hit, this time a deeper sip. Still nothing.

Suddenly it dawned on me. Of course it wouldn’t affect me. I’m already committed to Multiple Persuasions. However, just wait until everyone else in the Virtual Ballroom gets a taste of THIS fine brew!


Iran’s Nuclear Capability…

Good morning, Netizens…

Originally I wasn’t going to touch this scenario because we have discussed the electromagnetic pulse war scenario somewhat before, but now it seems there might be that plans in Iran might be destined that way. Let’s set the stage briefly with the name of the source for what little information we have been told.

If you do not already know the name Kenneth Timmerman, you probably should become at least familiar with his past writing, including the fact he was once up for the Nobel Prize for Peace. Although some of the media pundits have repeatedly hammered the fact home that he is a super-conservative writer, what nobody seems to notice is that he has a pretty-decent record when it comes to delivering accurate news about the Middle East, and that should count for something. He does tend to be a bit “out there” but in this case, he is sounding an alarm that someone should be watching closely. Here’s the article he wrote about Iran’s nuclear intentions:

Timmerman Article

According to Timmerman, Iran is planning a nuclear strike on the United States. They just do not have the necessary components to build even a dirty bomb, yet. However, they are testing missiles from the Caspian Sea, which they are launching into near-space and then blowing them up. This does not, according to Timmerman, appear to be just another missile test.

Ostensibly once Iran obtains a nuclear warhead of some type, Iran wants to lob one or more nukes from offshore of the United States into near-space and explode the bomb(s) there, thus creating an EMP wave of monumental proportions. How big, you ask? There are several ways to interpret past knowledge of the electromagnetic pulse, including several tests done in the Pacific decades ago. However, a medium-sized bomb lobbed over let’s say, New York City, and exploded in near-space would easily create an EMP wave that would stop the electronics of most of the East Coast of the United States in its tracks. Wall Street closes down—way down.Anything with a computer would stop working, including cars, computers and almost any electronic controls for the electrical grid. We could return to the eighteenth century in a heartbeat.

Some sources, including Timmerman, insist it would impact the entire country. I did some research into the history of what we know about EMP and I think not, but that is up for debate. It could reach as far as Florida and Chicago if the numbers are credible.

Just think, one dirty little bomb and in effect, Iran could in essence cripple this country worse than Osama Bin Laden.

A cargo container vessel containing one (or more) of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Scud or Shahab-3 missiles launches from just outside American waters, and the nuke explodes in near-space. Things stop working.

Is Timmerman credible? Before you answer that, ask yourself, how close is Iran to acquiring the nuclear warhead to put atop that missile?

Somber thoughts, this morning.


Quote of the Day July 30, 2008

Assuming either the Left Wing or the Right Wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles.

Pat Paulsen

Could this happen HERE?

Good evening, Netizens…

A brief review of Sunday’s incident where Jim D. Adkisson killed 2 people with a shotgun before being wrestled to the floor:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A gunman opened fire at a church youth performance Sunday and killed two people, including a man who witnesses called a hero for shielding others from a shotgun blast.
Seven adults were also injured, but no children were harmed at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Church members said they dove under pews or ran from the building when the shooting started. (AP Courtesy the Spokesman-Review)

“It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that, and his stated hatred for the liberal movement,” said Police Chief Sterling Owen.
Adkisson was a loner who hates “blacks, gays and anyone different from him,” longtime acquaintance Carol Smallwood of Alice, Texas, told the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Also witnesses said the attack was cut short after some church members tackled the gunman and held him until police arrived.
The Unitarian-Universalist church advocates for women’s rights and gay rights and has provided sanctuary for political refugees. It also founded a chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, according to its Web site.
Owen said authorities believe the suspect had gone to the church because of “some publicity in the recent past regarding its liberal stance on things.”
(AP Courtesy of Seattle Times-Intelligencer)

From all this we gather a picture of a sadly angry man looking to kill people who advocated beliefs which he found unacceptable. Had some brave people, including one man killed by Adkisson, not acted when and how they did, it is doubtlessly true that many others would have died.

We have a Unitarian-Universalist and several Unity Churches in Spokane who share many, if not all the church’s beliefs in Knoxville that appears to have driven Adkisson to commit such a henous act.

The question remains, could this have happened here in Spokane?


Afternoon Reverie, July 29, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

I was resigned to the fact living in a long-haul truck on the road would be my life until I graduated from college, or I died, whichever came first, for I was always as in love with the life on the road as I was with the ocean.

Like all good things, I knew driving long-haul truck for a living had to come to a close, and the difficulty of making that decision, of walking away from that which had supported me for most of my adult life, brought me through a circuitous route to the tiny town of Gorda, California, at the southernmost end of Big Sur Country. I had left my truck at a repair shop in Ventura, California and hitched a ride northbound, since my truck was going to be waylaid for at least two weeks after blowing a turbocharger and sucking the pieces of metal into the engine. One of the great mysteries of life is that truck had used less than half its life expectancy. Was that a message?

True, I more or less had already decided to quit the trucking business, but I could not, for the life of me, make that last run, fill out the last log book entry, and simply walk away. I knew I had a serious problem with alcohol addiction, although I hadn’t touched the stuff in several years. I knew I had a drug addiction to those “little white pills” I munched like candy, which was more collateral damage from the road. I also knew I had a heady series of college degrees, not one of which seemed to interest me one bit at that point. I simply needed some peace and quiet. I needed to get away from The Road. I needed to decide. The Road was my life.

Without wheels nor a compass, I hitched-hiked North. It wouldn’t be the first time I had thumbed a ride. I met some semi-crazy people who more or less took me in when I ran out of rides at the Gorda Store on the Pacific Coast Highway. I had a fair amount of disposable income on hand, and they told me of an abandoned shack up the road a piece where I could stay for low/no rent, and less than a quarter-mile away, was the Pacific Ocean, still calling to me. I admit my first few days above the Stone House were spent sitting on a rock, listening to the sea, and wandering along the spit of sand further down the cliff next to the water’s edge. While I had always lived most of my life alone, this had meaning and I began to write for the first time in years, as I knew I eventually would.

The two weeks stretched out into two months, and several of the pieces I wrote were published here and there, and through that experience, I met the folks from Esalen, who invited me up to sit in one of their hot tubs, and sitting in a hot tub late one afternoon, I met several monks from Tassajara, who were not the least bit like I had ever envisioned Buddhist monks to be. Ironically, the monks seemed to be more interested in helping me find Inner Peace than they were converting me from the Protestant faith to Buddhism. What a novel approach to religion!

I suddenly found I could still remember how to pray, and each day, just before sunrise and sunset, I would go down to the ocean’s edge and spent quiet time in solitary, for there was no other word nor phrase that could describe how I was changing. Of this time, I only remember selling my truck, and after retrieving my few personal possessions from the sleeper, I bought an ugly car, a Borgward Goliath, because it had a Blaupunkt radio that worked, which I drove from South Texas to the Stone House near Gorda. I remain convinced that was a Zen car, because it ran forever up and down incredibly bad roads of Big Sur and never hesitated, and thanks to the Blaupunkt radio, I could listen to classical music in Big Sur. Imagine that.

Of the ocean all I can say is that was where I rid myself of many demons and found instead, my belief. It played an valuable role in the beginning of an end, and the beginning of a new start. To this day, I can close my eyes and still hear the ocean calling me, and I answer, “I stand beside the shore where I found enlightenment.”

What does the ocean say to you?

For Jeanie, who I think understands.


Quote of the Day July 29, 2008

Wanting to be someone you’re not is a waste of the person you are.

Kurt Cobain (1967 - 1994)

Gas tax/Grocery Bags

I just read in the Seattle Times that they are voting on a proposed plastic-bag fee and foam ban. The Seattle City Council is expected to vote at a 2 p.m. meeting today whether to charge shoppers 20 cents for each disposable grocery bag they use. The fee would begin in January, and would apply to paper and plastic bags at grocery, drug and convenience stores.

The city would distribute at least one free reusable bag per household, and consider distributing extra bags to low-income shoppers.

Quote of the Day July 28, 2008

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak.

Jay Leno (1950 - )

A Gentle Reminder…

Good morning, Netizens…

Particularly those new to Community Comment and/or The Virtual Ballroom.

Unfortunately last week after learning of a number of forgeries designed to trick their way past the Spokesman-Review’s security, I began verifying each new name and e-mail address as they came in.

If you do not have a valid, verifiable e-mail address your messages may be subject to being killed forthwith.


Two more banks closed by FDIC…

Good morning, Netizens…

Doubtlessly mortified over the images that made their way around the world of the angry depositors demanding their money from a failed California bank, it would seem that perhaps the FDIC learned from their errors as they seized control of two more banks late Friday afternoon. In this picture, a bank employee posts a notice that 1st National Bank of Nevada is in FDIC receivership on Friday, July 25, 2008, after federal regulators closed the bank in Carson City, Nev. Twenty-eight branches of 1st National Bank of Nevada and First Heritage Bank, operating in Nevada, Arizona and California, were closed Friday by federal regulators. (AP Photo/Nevada Appeal, Brad Horn)

Both the FDIC and the news media were quick to note a so-called calm response to the closure, which was a stark contrast to the hundreds of angry customers who waited for hours earlier this month in Southern California to demand their money after IndyMac Bank’s assets were seized.

The 28 branches of the 1st National Bank of Nevada and First Heritage Bank N.A. — owned by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based First National Bank Holding Co. — were closed Friday by the FDIC. First National Bank of Nevada also operates as First National Bank of Arizona.

Mutual of Omaha Bank bought all the two banks’ deposits, even those over the amount protected by FDIC insurance limits. IndyMac customers had to take a loss on whatever amount they had in the bank over the insurance limits. On Monday, Mutual of Omaha will open the banks as its own branches, and during the weekend, accountholders can access their funds by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards.
One 1st National Bank of Arizona in downtown Phoenix didn’t even have a note outside to tell customers about the trouble Saturday. But there were no customers outside to tell because the banks were closed by that time, normally.

And those big lines of angry customers? What the FDIC and the news media didn’t mention is that the banks are normally closed on Saturdays, anyway. It is obvious that the FDIC has learned the essential skill of good timing.


Quote of the Day July 27, 2008

Education… has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.

G. M. Trevelyan (1876 - 1962), English Social History (1942)

A Rebuttal to “The Changing Times”

Good morning, David…

You wrote:

Frank, I will encourage you to keep up the good fight. You are about to begin facing this one your own. I won’t be surprised that Green Libertarian will do the prudent thing and save himself for future battles and discussions. He is an intelligent and essential voice. The message to you and others will be clear and will have the intent of silencing people. Be courageous and understand that in the end someone always has more power and will exert that power over others. It is the source of abuses throughout centuries and through to the current moment. Anyone who has read these blogs from Hard 7 through News is a Conversation through A Matter of Opinion and others over the last year plus is aware that the two police officers attempted mascarade as civilians, one under the psuedonym of Kevin, and on many ocassions called others names or variations of their “righteous” names, etc.
The rules are about to be set. Feel free Frank to stray from the topic to discuss Antonio Banderas or Dave L’s latest Virtual Pink Tutu. But understand that you can not and will not be permitted to steer this conversation in certain directions which — with the Police Guild’s recent vote — are supposed to now be allowed to fade away.
Read back through the history of this blog. It will be clear that some past moments of apparent bravery by the blogmeisters are about to become just that… past moments. Beware the non-Obama, non-Mccain flip-flop.
Hear ittttt, hear it cominggggggg…….

Memories of Tassajara, old and new…

Good evening, Netizens…

This picture shows the wildfire, as it appeared just above the Tassajara Zen Center, moving down the canyon, cutting off the access road and from there into the heart of the Zen Center near Big Sur, California. Despite being told to leave the center before the fire severed all communications and emergency routes leading out of the remote area, four men and one woman stayed behind to face the fire in a remarkable display of dedication and courage.

The five who stayed behind, Abbot Steve Stucky, Director David Zimmerman, Mako Voelkel, Graham Ross and Colin Gipson, are Zen Center priests and among the most senior residents of Tassajara. These five priests, untrained in how to fight wildfires, armed with only bare essentials including several water pumps, were in the Zen Center as the fire eventually swept through the area, burning several smaller outbuildings, but sparing all the main buildings. They fought valiantly against the odds as the fire raged completely around Tassajara during the worst part of the fire storm. They had essentially been abandoned by the firemen from the State and Federal task force assigned to the fire that, for a time, also endangered Big Sur’s tourist areas.

The Tassajara Five:

As of several days ago, the threat has abated, and once more the road to Tassajara is open. Most of those who originally were relocated during the original evacuation order have returned to the Zen Center and are working with the members of what the news media are now calling The Tassajara Five to make repairs to the damage done during the fire.

Originally tonight I was going to complete a piece about living next to the ocean near Big Sur those many years ago, and my short-term relationships with the folks at Esalen and Tassajara forged in those days. I was going to write about the healing properties of not only those places, but of living next to the ocean itself, and healing the hurts that had accumulated in my life back then.

As fate would have it, I received a phone call from friends who still live above Tassajara on 40 acres of land, and from them I learned the remarkable tale of courage of the Tassajara 5. Of course if you want the absolutely latest information, you can browse thusly:

News from Tassajara

I stand in awe of the fact that no one at Tassajara was injured, and only a few outbuildings caught fire and burned as the firestorm swept through the entire area.


Your Thursday Wild Card

I am half a block away from the downtown Spokane fire in the Joel Building. Pretty smokey. Tell me your thoughts for today and help me get this smoke out of my eyes.

Picture of the day…July 24, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

A seagull sits above sunbathers on Brighton beach in southern England on Wednesday. (Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images) (July 23, 2008)

Many of the sage minds in the Virtual Ballroom might ask, why have you posted a picture of a seagull when we have all seen the flock of gulls that regularly eat at Dick’s parking lot downtown? There is an important difference between the seagull in this picture and those fly-by-night french fry artists that poll the parking lot at Dicks for handouts. This is an English seagull, a distant relative to the gulls of Dicks, and although I am certain it would hop on a stray french fry in a heartbeat, there are cultural differences.

British seagulls, instead of bellowing in gull-talk at any other gulls who might try to infringe upon a choice location for begging, probably would comment something like, “I say, Old Man, cease and desist. I was here first!”

American generic seagulls just screech, “Butt out Bozo!” in gull-talk, a noxious sound if I ever heard one.

It is a theory, and only that, but I submit that seagulls “talk” in the various lingua franca of the areas in which they live. See how cleverly I snuck that in?

A similar theory of communication applies to the hand signs that take place each day between myself and our barrista of the day. One finger, modestly uplifted means ‘I’ll take another cup of whatever that was you served the first time’. Two fingers uplifted means ‘Pretty good stuff! It didn’t eat my fillings nor cause me to have exotic fits on the floor.’ The middle finger, well we all pretty much know what that means but in the parlance of the Virtual Espresso Bar it takes on new meanings, such as “Do you have hazardous waste permit for that stuff?’

Relax already. We do not serve hazardous waste espresso at the Virtual Ballroom. Which reminds me, I’d better head that way shortly. I’ve been told I have a new pair of paisley-and-cream colored Speedos awaiting my inspection suitable for wearing in the Ballroom.


Motorcycles - What’s the Law?

I would like to open up a topic regarding Motorcycles. I have learned that there is absolutely no insurance required to own/operate a motorcycle in the state of Washington. That the Drivers guide for vehicles has but 2 or 3 lines regarding watching out for them. Any 16 year old kid can go out and spend $4k on a 150 mph crotch rocket and can endanger himself, his passenger and other traffic. All without any insurance. I carry Motorcycle insurance (cause I want my backside covered). Costs me $168 a year. Cheap. Why isn’t it mandantory?


Posted by SCIMITAR | 22 Jul 8:13 PM

Quote of the Day July 23, 2008

Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.

Nikola Tesla (1857 - 1943), Modern Mechanics and Inventions, July, 1934

Higher Gas Prices, Lower Death Rate!!!

From Yahoo news:

AP IMPACT: Traffic deaths fall as gas prices climb.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Rising prices at the gas pump appear to be having at least one positive effect: Traffic deaths around the country are plummeting, just as they did during the Arab oil embargo three decades ago.

For more see

Are we prepared for a disaster?

Good morning, everyone…

This is an open letter to Mayor Mary Verner sent this morning via e-mail:

Today at 10:30 AM Mayor Mary Verner is hosting a community round table on emergency preparedness. The prepared text, taken from the City’s Web Site states: “Building on a successful series of interactive Community Roundtables this spring, Spokane Mayor Mary Verner will host a new Roundtable on Tuesday, July 22, at 10:30 a.m. in the City Council Chambers in the lower level of City Hall. The session’s topic is “A Community Discussion on Emergency Management and Preparedness.”

Mailman wants to wear kilts on mail route…

Good evening, Netizens…

An Oregon U.S. Mailman wants the U.S. Postal Service to give workers the option to wear kilts, or what he calls Male Unbifurcated Garments or MUGS.

Quoting the U.S.A. Today story, the man states, “MUGs are worn all over the world, and have been for thousands of years because they are comfortable,” he wrote to other carriers, according to the Globe. “Unbifurcated Garments are far more comfortable and suitable to male anatomy than trousers or shorts, because they don’t confine the legs or cramp the male genitals the way that trousers or shorts do.”

The final decision obviously lays with the U.S. Postal Service.

Why, sure. Just so long as they don’t start playing bagpipes on their route.


Picture of the Day July 21, 2008 —Novel breakfast?

Good morning, Netizens…

Oh, Lordie! This morning’s Picture of the Day is one that may either amuse or simply revulse everyone who has raised children who seem to acquire the gift of guinea pigs. In this morning’s picture, we have two Guinea pigs wearing Peruvian local dresses displayed during the Guinea pig food festival in Huacho, Peru, on Sunday. Guinea pigs are native to the high Andes and have been an important source of protein for millennia. Nowadays, in Peru, the animal is served with a generous portion of Andean tubers. (July 20, 2008)

Granted, guinea pigs in my experience of things are not the most-intelligent creatures, but until this morning I had no idea they were considered edible. I swear it!

Ewww! Guinea pigs for breakfast? Let me skip that. I’ll take an order of toothpicks and a glass of water, if you please.


Word of the Day — grammatolatry

“So difficult it is to show the various meanings and imperfections of words when we have nothing else but words to do it with,” wrote philosopher John Locke (1632-1704).

While there’s truth in Locke’s assertion, it’s possible to overcome the difficulty to some extent. We construct small unambiguous building blocks, define them as precisely as we can, and then put them to work for bigger purposes (though in some languages, such as German, we often get carried away).

Fortunately, the English language abounds in words. And there are plenty of terms to describe these words themselves. This week we’ll look at some of these meta-words or words about words and language.

grammatolatry (gram-uh-TOL-uh-tree) noun

   The worship of words: regard for the letter while ignoring the spirit of something.

[From Greek gramma (letter) + -latry (worship).]

Today’s word in Visual Thesaurus:

-Anu Garg (words at

  “The worship of words is more pernicious than the worship of images. Grammatolatry is the worst species of idolatry.”
   Robert Dale Owen; The Debatable Land Between This World And the Next; Trubner and Co; 1871.

There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for. -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948)

Discuss this week’s words on our bulletin board:
Remove, change address, gift subs:



Randock’s “victims” deserve punishment, too.

Good morning, Netizens…

On a normal day, if SR columnist Rebecca Nappi writes an article, I will read it immediately, not necessarily because I always agree with her point of view, but because she writes with clarity and more often than not, captures my interest with the first sentence. That is good journalism, at least according to what I was taught. Writing an opinion column, however, is an entirely different type of writing, and we are taught early in the process of education that we should never mingle news and opinion. Writing opinion is one of the places in the Spokesman where Nappi truly can shine, whether you agree with her opinion or not.

In writing today about Dixie Ellen Randock, the woman who has been sentenced to serve time in federal prison for selling bogus college degrees, Rebecca draws an apt comparison between the victims of this multi-million dollar college degree scam and the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz. She does an workmanship’s job of blending vision of the Scarecrow-victims who have played into Randock’s hands, except she overlooks the obvious fact: Randock’s victims, those gullible enough to buy phony degrees, had to have known they were not just Scarecrows, but were co-complicators in a scam. Even dummies know you have to study to get a college degree, even at the Bachelor’s Degree level.

Rebecca Nappi’s Column Today

My late grandmother taught me a lesson early in life about legitimacy. You do not get something of value for free and call the deal legit. Each of the purported “victims” of Randock’s scheme had to have known it was a bogus deal, from the moment they were told they could get a college degree without text books, sitting in a classroom, studying or any of the other aspects of a real college education. God forbid the thought that you could even get a Master’s Degree from Randock’s diploma mill, but you could. She was one sharpie, make no doubt about it, but she got caught.

My wife and I each have Bachelor’s Degrees, bought and paid for legitimately at different Universities. Hence we both know from experience the kinds of work it takes to attain that achievement. When I see the minimalistic requirements that Randock’s system promised applicants in order to get a Bachelor’s Degree, I nearly get sick. Had I no real scruples, had I been willing to take a short cut, and be willing to cheat the system, I could have avoided six hard years and all those hours of studying by parting with my money, and not much else.

Apparently only a select few know how many undetected thousands of people are out there with bogus degrees. Even fewer employers appear to know or care and unless you were working for the U.S. Marshall’s Service, news of your fraud might never enter the news spectrum at all.

My opinion of everyone that obtained degrees from Randock’s diploma mill is that they should pay restitution or face jail time for stealing. Restitution you say? How do you pay restitution for stealing a college education by theft? It’s simple. Make every “graduate” of Randock’s who obtained a college education by false means get one legitimately. Send them back to school, get a Bachlor’s Degree with a minor in business ethics. Sauce for the goose, I say.

That’s the part that Rebecca Nappi omitted. Thus far, other than a very few, there has been no one even suggest a punishment for everyone who took the short cut to a college education. That is very depressing because it tells me how very very little value we place on having a college degree these days.


Quote of the Day July 20, 2008

I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.

E. B. White (1899 - 1985)

Ten Ways to tell the Fire is out…

Good morning, Netizens…

For the benefit of those of us who live outside the fire zone of the Valley View fire, but who are curious if the fire has really descended from front page news to “also ran”, here are ten ways to tell the Valley View Fire is really over:

1. I’ll bet NOBODY builds recreational fires on vacant parcels of land anymore. Ever! Not even neighborhood kids.
2. Any smoke in the sky is now nearly always coincidental and in direct proportion to the number of high-end barbecues being held by those who managed to survive the fire unscathed.
3. Randy Shaw and Nadine Woodward have accrued time off although reruns of their performances during the height of the fire will undoubtedly be fodder for KREM-2’s advertising blitz machine. That most-certainly will last forever.
4. The rubber-neckers and touristas have diverted their attention to other disaster areas, other tourist locations.
5. Thus far, there are no socials, dinners or other benefit parties for the victims of the Valley View Fire. However, there are lots and lots of insurance adjusters and lawyers attempting to descend like locusts, but alas this is a gated community. Even locusts need an invitation to get inside the gates.
6.The wealthy and ultra-wealthy who live atop the hill have gone back into affordable anonymity, and are only seen with appropriate amounts of makeup and proper attire for public viewing.
7.Most of the area residents now have well-defined clear spaces around their homes, free of pine needles and other combustible materials, some for the first time since Firestorm 91.
8.Pictures of the burned-out Mercedes and Jaguar no longer have that same “shock-and-awe” value they once had.
9.The petty burglars and vandals who began their reign of terror as soon as the fire was out have gone back to their own neighborhoods looking for new victims.
10.Most area swimming pools atop the hill are once more put to use for their intended purposes.

Yes, the fire is out. Nothing to see here folks, so move along…


Picture of the Day July 19, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

Since on weekends we have no Word of the Day, we often find ourselves at the mercies of the Picture of the Day, which sometimes leaves us in intellectually-boring places. Perhaps not this morning.

In this morning’s picture, members of the press visit the posh air-conditioned stables of the Shatin Olympic Equestrian Venue in Hong Kong. (PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images) (July 18, 2008)

The last time I was in Hong Kong to negotiate the purchase of computer parts, I chanced upon a colony of boat people who live their entire lives on tiny junks that are tied up and bob on the waters of various parts of Hong Kong Harbor. For the most part, entire generations of families have lived on the decks of these tiny boats in small shacks attached to the deck of their boats, since everything below decks is reserved for fishing, their primary source of income.

One of the obstacles that stood in my path of communicating with anyone was that some of the “boat people” speak a language all their own, which cannot be easily translated into English, or just about any other language, for that matter. In one boat I encountered, eleven family members had been living in four shacks built onto the deck of a 45 foot long boat for two generations, spoke a dialect of Cantonese that my translator couldn’t understand, but I was told were eager to learn of my life in the United States. They are, according to authorities of the time, among the poorest of the poor in Hong Kong, but highly self-sufficient.

So in retrospect, based upon my memories of that time more than a decade ago, I wonder how eager they would be to live in the palacial environment of the Shatin stables. Four horse stalls, at least according to the picture above, and they would be set for life.


Bicycle or Car, or Bus, or Tennis Shoes

So, I’m thinking of riding a bike for the first time in 40 years. YIKES!

This comes with mixed emotions. With gas prices rising close to the same as a house payment, a lot of us are considering alternative methods of transportation. Public transit, walking, car pooling, and ………. riding a bicycle.

New hands-free cell phones for 8 cents!!!

Oh, Jesus…

Here I am ready to leave for breakfast with MHibbs and John Olson sends me this priceless depiction of a new low-cost device (costs .08 cents) for your cell phone to keep you in strict compliance with the new hands-free law in Washington State.

Now I want to know, will it stand up in court?

Mother McCree, I nearly lost my coffee when I looked closely at this picture.

thanks John, even if you did make me late for breakfast!


Picture of the Day —July 18, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

In today’s Picture of the Day a Cambodian man walks at Preah Vihear temple near the Thai border north of Phnom Penh. (TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images) (July 17, 2008)

The temple was built between the 9th and 11th Centuries, with most of the temple constructed during the reigns of the kings Suryavarman I (1002–1050) and Suryavarman II (1113–1150). Although a great contention exists between Thailand and the newly independent Cambodia, each of which claims ownership of this ancient, sacred place, it is proclaimed as a place of peace and meditation.

Among one of the inscriptions that line the long hallways that lead to the sanctuary are a series of glyphs that describe in gravest detail that Preah Vihear should always be a place of peace, although countless skirmishes have been fought over it, as recently as 2008.


Picture of the Day July 17, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s picture of the day, courtesy of Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images / July 15, 2008, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke prepares to testify before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in Washington. Bernanke said risks to both growth and inflation in the U.S. have increased. Do you think?

Between the mortgage crises and the escalating cost of fuel, do you believe, as some obviously do, that we are facing certain economic meltdown in the United States? Or are we already there and simply being told to ignore the obvious? Given that we received another round of bad news Wednesday, as consumer prices made their biggest monthly jump in 26 years, are you feeling the least bit optimistic about the future of our national economy?

If so, why?

If not, why not?

Admittedly I am a pessimist, because I believe the hard facts: costs are soaring through the roof while Bush is mouthing pieties and Bernanke is understating the obvious, in my opinion. We in the business marketplace are feeling the pinch of the recession more and more each day, with no end in sight.

Where do you stand on the economy?


Early morning Reverie — July 16, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

As I slip quietly through the Virtual Garden just before dawn, all the Garden Gnomes are still sleeping in their covert caverns scattered here and there throughout the garden, and the morning mist is just beginning to lift. It is so silent at this hour you can hear the far-off cry of the mourning doves near the river, and in the pearly half-light before dawn, for a time even I, a mere mortal, take on the vaguely-defined outline of one of the ghosts in the Virtual Ballroom.

Striding across the Virtual Ballroom and sitting down at my favorite bar stool, our barrista of the day, Andromeda, a brilliant wraith sparkles at me as she delicately pushes a cup of the day’s virtual espresso blend my way.

“It is called the “Virtual Premise” she comments, adding in a sibilant whisper, “It is supposed to make you capable of dreaming of new vistas, and capable of visualizing new concepts.”

As I take my first tentative sip of the daily virtual espresso, I am suddenly mindful of today’s quotation, that the only admirable imagination is that which creates new realities, and is capable of making things happen. With all the social, moral and financial malignancies spreading across the face of the planet, I ponder in this, my most-private moment whether now more than ever before, we as a culture need to use that other 90% of our brains to imagine a world crafted only by our imaginations.

What if we could create a new world consisting of our imaginations alone? Would we regenerate the same old world with all its inherent weaknesses and turmoil, or would we make the conscious decision to make the world over again, with an eye toward humanity and grace? Could we accept that the world, at least as we know it today, is in desperate need of an overhaul, and then have the conviction in our beliefs to create something more fair and gentle than the world in which we live?

Are we capable of true change, where our values and mores coupled with our innate imaginations will guide or alter our future?

Maybe the ghosts should have named today’s Virtual Espresso “Altruism”. On the other hand, we can dream, can’t we?

Welcome to Wednesday, July 16, 2008. You can get into fathomless philosophical waters and perhaps even drown therein, or you can simply come to live for a time in the Virtual Ballroom where beliefs and your own imaginations are the only guideposts to a less-heartbreaking reality.


Quote of the Day July 16, 2008

There is only one admirable form of the imagination: the imagination that is so intense that it creates a new reality, that it makes things happen.

Sean O’Faolain (1900 - 1991)

Question: When is it OVER?

Good evening, Netizens…

Here’s one for you to consider. Susan Atkins, a follower of Charles Manson who stabbed pregnant actress Sharon Tate to death nearly 40 years ago but is dying of brain cancer in a California prison was denied compassionate release Tuesday. The California Board of Parole released its unanimous decision on the release of Atkins hours after a 90-minute hearing, during which it heard impassioned pleas from both sides.

Atkins’ doctors and officials at the women’s prison in Corona made the request in March because of her deteriorating health. She also has had her left leg amputated and is paralyzed on her right side. Aw, poor baby. You wonder why I am being so sarcastic?

Arkins has been at the California Institution for Women for 37 years, where she has been held longer than any other female inmate in state history. She was transferred to the prison hospital in March of this year. Atkins, 60, has been denied parole 6 times.

Shall I recall the crime for which she is incarcerated? Sharon Tate was 8 and one-half months pregnant at the time of her gruesome murder, and pleaded with Atkins to spare her unborn baby in the last minutes of her life. Atkins then wrote the word PIG on the wall in Tate’s blood. On the witness standing during the Manson trials, Atkins recounted her role, claiming she was on LSD at the time but did not apologize for the crime until a parole hearing years later. The murder of Tate was one of the most gruesome crime scenes imaginable, according to Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted the Manson family for the murders, and went on to write several books about it.

I attended most of the trial, and furthermore, did not pretend to be surprised that Manson was responsible for the Tate-La Bianca murders. He was one crazy man.

So, would you grant Susan Atkins compassionate release? Under what terms would you even consider releasing her to die a death with dignity?


Alternative Quote of the Day…

Good evening, Netizens…

” “We’re going through a tough time, but our economy is growing, consumers are spending, exports continue increasing and American productivity remains strong,” President George Bush told a news conference this afternoon.


Where the hell is HE living these days?

Canada to deport U.S. Deserter

Good morning, Netizens…

According to the Globe and Mail U.S. army deserter Robin Long is slated to be deported back to his army base in Fort Knox, Ky., Tuesday, which would make him the first resister to the U.S. war effort in Iraq to be sent out of Canada.

Madam Justice Anne Mactavish of the Federal Court of Canada cleared the way for the deportation late Monday, dismissing a last-ditch attempt to delay the process while the 25-year-old pursued further appeals.

A war resister’s group in Canada, Vancouver War Resisters Support Campaign, stated in a press release that this “flies in the face of everything Canada has done”. They claim to have knowledge of 50 deserters in Canada, while the Resistance operating out of San Francisco, California states the number of deserters living underground in Canada and other countries actually may run as high as 200 or more.

Mr. Long was actively in the U.S. Army in July, 2003, but fled to Canada in 2005 before moving to British Columbia last summer. Unfortunately, he did not file to become a refugee until September, 2006. His application for refugee status was denied on Feb. 15, 2007. An application for leave to appeal the decision was turned down.

Also unfortunately, he did not apply for conscientious objector status, either in the United States or Canada, which is one of the prerequisites that traditionally has generally stood up under Canadian law. According to the Canadian Court, the vast majority of American deserters have not been prosecuted for desertion, as the judge stated in a four-page decision. About 94 per cent of U.S. deserters from 2002 to 2006 were being dealt with administratively, receiving a less-than-honourable discharge from the military.

Another factor that may have played a role in the Court’s decision was Mr. Long was not in court for the hearing Monday. He was in custody at a location outside Vancouver after failing on two previous occasions to report to authorities when he was required. The court in Canada also takes a very dim view of persons slated to appear for hearings who do not show up, which also may play a role in their decision.

(Limited information obtained from The Globe and Mail)

This Bud’s for you…well, maybe not.

Good morning, Netizens…

Now when I was a drinking man, I suppose I probably do my part to defray the costs of the Anheuser-Busch Corporation, as I put away a lot of Budweiser Beer back then. Perhaps that is why, in reading the news of the day, I nearly fell out of my chair upon hearing that Anheuser-Busch has been purchased by the Belgian brewer InBev SA and within a matter of a few months the manufacturer of my once-favorite beer will be referred to Anheuser-Busch SA and owned by a Belgian international consortium. That good old guy with the Scot’s name, August Busch IV, who runs Anheuser-Busch will step back into a non-executive role, and the new head of the company that will make Budweiser Beer and the Clydesdales is Carlos Brito, current CEO of InBev SA. Ye ha!

Few products are associated with America as much as Budweiser, which its present owner calls the King of Beers. Its Clydesdale horses are prime-time winners of Super Bowl advertising, and even the label is red, white and blue, with an eagle swooping through the “A.” Hell, how much more American can you get than THAT?

Not any more. The deal, according to the press release I read this morning, is all but done. A few signatures, some promissory notes or entries in lines of credit, and Budweiser Beer will no longer have a home in St. Louis, the United States of America.

And what’s next? GM gets bought by a consortium in Japan? It surely puts the sting in things when everything we once held dear and near is suddenly for sale at bargain basement prices to foreign countries, doesn’t it?

This Bud’s for you. Want one? Not for me, no thanks. These foreign buy-outs make me sick.


Picture of the Day July 14, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

Participants enjoy mud during the Boryeong Mud Festival at Daecheon Beach in Boryeong City, South Korea. The annual mud festival, now in its 11th year, features mud wrestling, mud sliding and a mud king contest. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images) (July 12, 2008)

Oh, Lord I simply couldn’t resist this shot of South Korean mud wrestlers, especially since they accord all kinds of awards and prizes to the winners of the competition. The thought suddenly crossed my mind that we in Eastern Washington could stand to learn a lot from the South Koreans after all. For decades Spokane has been plagued with one-term Mayors, and yes, despite what her illustrious public relations team might suggest, Mayor Mary Verner might become one of those during the next election.

Can you imagine a mud wrestling competition between various Mayoral and City Council members to determine who takes office? Can you imagine all the advertising the news media could sell during the competition? Can you imagine all the FUN we could have watching our candidates actually competing with one another, instead of sparring words on bogus advertising that nobody listens to much anymore? Spokane’s Mud King or Queen has this nice ring about, at least to me.

What a way to start a new week off! Mud wrestling for politicians would add an authenticity to public elections that has been gone for far too long. Let the candidates beware!


Quote of the Day July 14, 2008

All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value.

Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996)

A hiatus for an afternoon…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Off we go, for the first time in several weeks, with friends Garry and Terresa-Monroe Hamilton to an undisclosed location for a relaxing afternoon and some lunch in the wilds of Idaho. I’ve had my deep slumber nap, the afternoon awaits me like a blossom in a springtime meadow, and so off we go.

I will have my cell handy although where we are going it doesn’t always work well, but what the heck! This is supposed to be a get-away.

I’ll see you upon my return later this afternoon.


Amazing Pete Seeger department…

Good afternoon, Netizens…

Just when you would think that aging Pete Seeger has all but disappeared from the world of music, he goes and does something that is like… well, like something Pete Seeger would do.

In Brattleboro, Vermont, Seeger will headline a Sept. 13 New England Farm Relief Concert in Brattleboro to raise money for a new micro-loan program being developed by The Carrot Project and the organization that operates the town’s annual Strolling of the Heifers.

Seeger, 89, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is known for hits including “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “If I Had a Hammer” and “Turn, Turn, Turn.” to name just a few.

The Carrot Project, a nonprofit based in Somerville, Mass., makes loans and guarantees available for small farms and people who use environmentally friendly practices. The Strolling of the Heifers is an annual event in Brattleboro in which flower-bedecked young cows are paraded down Main Street to celebrate Vermont’s agricultural tradition.

It warms the cockles of my old heart to see Pete’s name in lights once again…


Quote of the Day July 12, 2008

The word ‘politics’ is derived from the word ‘poly’, meaning ‘many’, and the word ‘ticks’, meaning ‘blood sucking parasites’.

Larry Hardiman

Pot Heads Fantasy—Picture of the Day 07/12/2008

Good morning, Netizens…

This morning’s picture is a pot head’s dream. Here a soldier from Colombia walks among packs of seized marijuana at a military base in Cali, Colombia. (AP Photo/Christian Escobar Mora) (July 11, 2008)

This brings a new term for our Word of the Day feature that runs each work day of the week: Megapot. Yes, I can see the pot heads of America positively slobbering over their computer screens, given the number of kilos of Megapot shown in this picture. Why, there’s enough dope to make a Drug Enforcement officer’s name rise dramatically in the personnel roster. For that matter, there’s enough dope there to ensure a pot head will never have to make surreptitious deals with dealers in back alleys again. Yes, and we can assume semi-permanent high for anyone possessing so much bud.

Of course, we can make some assumptions about how the Army of Colombia came to possess so much pot to begin with.

Someone at one or more ports of entry into the United States are positively in a state of mourning, while DEA officials are gloating.

People are losing sleep over so much dope falling into the government’s hands. Somebody spilled the beans about this huge pot shipment and probably paid for it with their lives. Snitches do not have a good life expectancy in the world of big-time drug dealers. Drug dealers have a tendency to never forget a snitch or a crooked cop, either one.

Just remember, this is free enterprise at work. Although big dealers in the United States probably are crying in their drug bowls right about now, this means there are a few other entrepreneurial types in the world who are trying to organize an even bigger shipment, all the while keeping an eye on the Colombian Army and the DEA, of course. It’s a never-ending for-profit type of enterprise.

Now were this shipment legitimate and legal and paid taxes in the United States, can you imagine the amount of taxes that would be due and payable? We could retire the National Debt with just a few shipments, couldn’t we? We could even buy all the Congress Critters it would take to legalize marijuana in one or two shipments.

Ah, the things pot can do to your brain! Such as believe pot will ever be legalized.


Pre-Gathering Reverie July 11, 2008

Good afternoon, Netizens…

(Sung to the tune of “When the Moon Shines Over the Cow Shed” AKA K-K-Katie…

It’s another Friday, a wonderful Friday,
It’s the bestest kind of day I’ll ever have.
Because my work’s done, yes all my work’s done
And now I have time to meet all my friends at the Gathering…

Yes, it’s Friday, and incredibly enough, the real work, the kind that pays the bills, is done, leaving me ample time to attend our 3:00 o’clock Gathering at Frankie Doodles. In the Grand Ballroom, the barrista of the day, Fierro, is serving our daily blend of espresso, something dubiously called, “Foam and Water” purported by our barrista, to ease whatever fires are ailing you. As he slides a cup of his mysterious-looking blend my way, he smiles in his enigmatic way and unctuously comments, “It’s been a week and then some, huh?”

Defensible living…

Good morning, Netizens…

If you are among the very lucky this morning, you awoke when your alarm clock went off, and groaning to yourself at the thought of another Day in the World, you went about the business of making yourself presentable for contemporary society. On the other hand, if you live in one of the areas where wildfires drove through the countryside yesterday, you either woke up at a friend’s a relative’s house or worse still, at one of the Red Cross shelters where you sit drinking coffee out of Styrofoam cups and wondering when you will be allowed to go home — if you still have a place to call home.

Where once you marveled at the beauty of the hills around your home, the gentle pathways you frequently trod on long, contemplative walks through the hills, today, you perhaps regard the hills with suspicion, even dread, almost as if they were your enemies rather than part of your community, your life. If you are one of several who lost everything in yesterday’s fire, you not only mourn your losses but you also may be looking for someone, some entity to blame for your misfortune. While I join you in mourning your losses, having intimately experienced a number of wildfires in other places, other times, please remember that each time you point a finger of blame for losses in a wildfire, there are four fingers pointing inexorably back at you.

Before you react to that statement, you might consider the following:

This fire more or less happened once before, in Firestorm. Almost the same place, the same weather conditions, and even the same development was affected in some cases. Apparently only a few residents learned anything from those fateful days so many years ago. Here are some practical lessons you can learn from the wildfire yesterday.

Know and understand the implications of the term “Defensible fire zone” and put it into practice, even if you have no idea where to begin. You need to clean all brush, trees and highly-combustible material away from your house. Create green belt buffer zones on all four sides of your house to prevent an encroaching wild fire from getting close to your house.

Know and use a good defense posture. If possible, have a high-pressure water pump on the premises that, when a wild fire is heading your way, you can use to wet down your property. A garden hose simply will not get the job done, in most cases. Keep a portable generator on hand because even if you survive the fire untouched, it may be days before electrical power is restored.

Most important of all, when you live in the woods, be aware of your environment. I was stunned yesterday when I heard of a number of households that, when the police came to order an evacuation, the homeowners had no idea there was a fire burning nearby, despite the smoke in the air. This is not your typical house in suburbia. You need to treat the woods with respect if you are going to live among the trees.


Quote of the Day July 11, 2008

Wanting to be someone you’re not is a waste of the person you are.

Kurt Cobain (1967 - 1994)


Good evening, everyone…

One of many homes in the Dishman area burns.

More to follow.


Wild Card Thursday July 10, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

It is a curious daybreak this morning, outside the Virtual Ballroom in the Garden, not too hot for the sweet corn, simply delectable for the baby strawberries and the flowers that line the path leading from the street to the Virtual Ballroom are all in a frenzy of color, just as one would expect them to be nearly halfway through the month of July. Of course, we did have a bit of a late start on summer this year, and tongues are still wagging about winter.

As I enter the Virtual Ballroom this morning, while my mind is preoccupied with a number of technical and personal issues, I almost missed noticing the bouquet of large pale irises that someone placed atop the Espresso bar. Pausing appreciatively, I comment to this morning’s barrista, Siddhartha, that we seldom see lovely bouquets adorning the scarred, rough-grained wood of the espresso bar, and smiling as only a ghost can, he obliquely slides a cup filled to the brim with today’s Blend of the Day down the bar to me, commenting softly, “Today’s blend is called “Heavenly Blossom” so named because there is a heavenly blossom hidden away in all mortals in this life. For some, that blossom proudly stands forth and only adds to the inherent beauty in us all. Unfortunately, for most mortals, the sheer beauty and overwhelming incandescence of one’s flowers are kept hidden away from sight, and thus we never perceive how life is so filled with beauty, all around and within us all.”

I nod my assent at Siddhartha’s precise logic, and sitting down at my personal bar stool, as I am about to commence the business of the day, I turn to the eagerly-waiting voices and faces in the Virtual Ballroom and briefly comment, “You all have delicate flowers inside your hearts, just waiting to be seen. Now is the time to bring them forth.”

Thus you have today’s Wild Card. Blossom freely…


The sky is falling! The Internet is broken!

Good afternoon, Netizens…

BULLETIN: The Internet is broken.

I got you with that one, didn’t I? Actually what has happened is that CERT, which is part of the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), a federally funded research and development center at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, yesterday announced a vulnerability in one of the underlying components of the Internet, Domain Name Service. DNS is used by every computer that links to the Internet and works similar to a telephone system routing calls to proper numbers, in this case the online numerical addresses of websites. Every website in the world has a numerical address.

“An attacker with the ability to conduct a successful cache poisoning attack can cause a nameserver’s clients to contact the incorrect, and possibly malicious, hosts for particular services,” CERT said.
“Consequently, web traffic, email, and other important network data can be redirected to systems under the attacker’s control.”
I could go on, but in other words, the Internet is broken. However, system administrators around the world are working on patches for the various types of systems, which is a major chore, in case you wanted to know.

Do you want to know how secure you are? Point your browser to Test your ISP’s DNS and click the box labeled “Check my DNS”. If your ISP has NOT upgraded their DNS server you are vulnerable, and this web site will tell you so. If your ISP’s have recently patched DNS, you might drop them a note and tell them “thank you” for staying current with the latest security changes on the Internet.


Today’s Picture…July 8, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s picture, former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, right, flashes peace signs with his wife Barbara Bach, left, during his 68th birthday celebration outside the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago, Monday. (July 07, 2008) Associated Press

I have historical images of the Peace sign engraved upon my mind, thousands of images that stick in my consciousness like flies in a room filled with flypaper, but none of the images are current. We have become a generation of the uninvolved, pressed by pressures against our will into molds that are either the Haves or the Have-nots, the Republican and Democrat, to a degree we have all become suspects when viewed through the eyes of an increasingly-observant law enforcement community. Once upon a time, long ago, we as a culture believed we were going to end war, and we wore the badges of our cultural revolution, including the Peace sign which we flashed at everyone, proudly. Do you still believe we can achieve true world peace in our lifetimes?

Granted, Ringo is probably one of the world’s most-affluent aging Hippies, but in all fairness this lovely morning, I have some auspicious questions to ask of our lovable collective of Netizens.

In the heyday of the 60’s did you ever flash the peace sign at anyone? How about in the last five years? The last six months?

Did you, as Ringo has done recently, EVER use the word “groovy” to describe a sublime experience?

As you can see from the picture above, nearly all the crowd were waving the peace sign for the benefit of the camera, all except for the dolt at the far rear who mistakenly takes a picture of the back of Ringo’s head with his cell phone. I understand him. Idiots abound.

Thus we start yet another day in the Virtual Ballroom with more questions than answers. Contribute both freely.


Quote of the Day July 8, 2008

I admit it’s tempting to wish for the perfect boss, or the perfect parent, or the perfect outfit, but maybe the best any of us can do is not quit. Play the hand we’ve been given and accessorize the outfit we’ve got.

Allan Heinberg, Sex and the City, A ‘Vogue’ Idea, 2002

Love Boat on the Rocks…

Good morning, Netizens…

This story was a little too late for tomorrow morning.

In this photo provided by the National Park Service, the cruise ship, the Spirit of Glacier Bay, is shown Monday, after it ran aground in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Picture from AP July 7, 2008

Officials say that the 207-foot Spirit of Glacier Bay grounded early Monday morning, although it is unclear whether the grounding was caused by human error or mechanical or electronic malfunction. The ship had 51 people aboard, but no injuries were reported. Everyone aboard were taken by Cruise West, which owns the ship, to the Juneau airport, offering to refund half the price of the ill-fated cruise in cash and half in credit for a future cruise.

Hmph. The thought of the Love Boat on the rocks sounds so much like a Hollywood thing. I guess that is what captured my attention by this piece. It was too late to be a contender for tomorrow.


Picture of the Day…July 7, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…
In this morning’s picture, we have one of a collective group of individuals around the globe called model aircraft aficionados, better known as model aircraft nuts. The other day we were talking about dangerous or exotic hobbies, such as riding a lawn chair from Burns, Oregon to across the Idaho State Line. Until now I never thought I would consider flying a radio-controlled model aircraft somewhat exotic. As I recall them, model aircraft make noise, like an over-sized mosquito, somewhat expensive to maintain but fun to watch.

Model maker Reinhard Oetken pushes his Airbus 380-900 model aircraft from the runway after a flight during a model jet meeting at the Ganderkesee airbase in northern Germany on Sunday. The airplane is 17.24 feet long and the wing span is 17.55 feet. It’s tank is filled with 21 liters of kerosene. Germany’s largest model aircraft flew the first time in public on Sunday. (July 06, 2008) Associated Press

If you think this “gee whiz” approach to model jets flying around a field is bad, watch this
Jet fighter take-off going through its paces. Of course, what made the Airbus the clear winner were the hundreds of scale-model passengers who disembarked once the plane was off the runway. I’ll bet nobody told you that now did they?

They looked suspiciously like Garden Gnomes to me.


Picture of the day… July 6, 2008

Good morning, Netizens…

In this morning’s picture, cheese carver Troy Landwehr displayed his patriotic cheese sculpture in Times Square Friday. The sculpture was created from a 2,000 lb block of cheddar cheese and depicts the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Photo: Bess Greenberg/The New York Times

Patooie! I’ve featured exotic pictures of sand carvings, stone carvings, even a picture several months ago of a really sharp Eskimo wood carving, although at the time I commented that using wood as a medium was a little too “traditional” for me. Here we have the latest in a series of carvings, and this one, a huge block of cheddar cheese, is edible. That way, if the carving doesn’t work or gets bad reviews in the press you may have some alternatives, such as:

The cheese carving, when properly treated, would yield up a lot of Cheese Whiz. Although Kraft Foods will not tell you about its chemical contents, it is assumed that Cheese Whiz contains emulsifiers and stabilizing agents, such as xanthan gum or carrageenan. These products derive their tanginess and flavor from additional ingredients such as citric acid and various flavoring compounds. Annatto is used for coloring according to the Wikipedia. It’s not just cheese anymore.

When properly emusified, treated with various chemicals and put in cans under pressure, Troy Landwehr’s immaculate carving would yield up roughly 32,000 ounces of Cheese Whiz or further translated 166 cases, each containing 12 cans of Cheese Whiz. Stop and think about that a minute. Add a truck filled with crackers and you have the makings of a really good party in Riverfront Park. If the crackers are a no-show, you can invite your favorite anarchists and the SPD and have a battle with Cheese Whiz.

Which would you rather have, a half truckload of Cheese Whiz or a remarkable sculpture in cheese?

Given its potential for “alternative uses” this seems like a good question to start an otherwise beautiful Sunday morning off with a proper businesslike hustle and bustle.


Smile, you’re on candid camera…

Good morning, Netizens…

Smile, you’re on candid camera!

The Spokane Police Department recently installed several surveillance cameras similar to the one in this picture, purportedly to monitor the activities of people in Riverfront Park over the Fourth of July celebration. It is not entirely clear from what little has been said about the cameras whether they will be taken down once they have been used for the Fourth of July, or whether they will remain in service for the foreseeable future.

The question that remains is how legal is it to use cameras such as these to monitor the activities of citizens without a search warrant? Like most arguments of this kind, there are two sides to the issue.

The police maintain that use of such cameras are both a strong crime deterrent. In Dallas, Texas, for example, when cameras were installed in a high-crime area of downtown, crime in Dallas’ business district was reduced by 28% in their first year, according to the Austin, Texas Statesman. Several other examples are readily available of similar camera installations, and in each case, considerable crime prevention numbers are used to justify their use.

On the other hand, the ACLU position papers state emphatically the use of surveillance cameras is a violation of civil liberties, particularly when the cameras are abused. According to one ACLU paper, cameras are more frequently used for leering at attractive women on the street than preventing crime. We had an occurrence of that taking place here in Spokane, involving cameras installed in the U.S. Court House being used for spying on women in a nearby apartment complex.

The question remains thus: are surveillance cameras a violation of our civil liberties or should they be allowed as a deterrent against criminal activity?


Quote of the Day July 5, 2008

The pug is living proof that God has a sense of humor.

Margo Kaufman

Quote of the Day July 7, 2008

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

Carl Sandburg (1878 - 1967)

Where it began…July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Two Koreas—a puzzling study?

Good morning, Netizens…

What about those Koreans?

First we have the SR’s John Stucke’s piece in this morning’s paper that the North Koreans are overjoyed to have the first of many ships filled with Inland-Northwest wheat arriving this week. Last year at this time, President Bush declared South Korea to be a point in the “Axis of Evil” because of their atomic energy development programs that appeared to be developing atomic weapons. That all seems to have gone away after they blew up one of their reactor cooling towers.

Then we have this picture of Roman Catholics and workers from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions participating in a special service as part of protests against the South Korean government’s policy toward U.S. beef imports in front of the Seoul City Hall in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday. Tens of thousands of South Korean auto workers went on strike Wednesday to oppose resumed U.S. beef imports and the pro-business policies of new President Lee Myung-bak, joining anti-government protests that have raged for weeks.(July 02, 2008) Associated Press. The South Koreans love us because they can export lots of things to the United States, such as electronics, which is a hot ticket item, I am told. But they don’t want our beef?

So let’s see here, two countries separated by a thin political line. South Korea doesn’t want any more U.S. Beef imported into their country while the North Koreans, who are starving, want any of the wheat they can get. In exchange the United States trades wheat to the North Koreans who really do not like Bush and his policies, and try to sell beef to the South Korean government, who likes our government so long as we buy lots of their electronics at artificially-inflated prices using slave labor.

Does anyone make any sense out of this picture?


Early morning Reverie —07/03/2008

Advisory: This Blog Entry is submitted as satire, and as such, should be treated with great care to avoid becoming overly agitated or confused.

Good morning, Netizens…

I came slowly into the Virtual Ballroom before dawn. Yesterday I had been kept busier than I had originally expected to be, since a bad case of the Catastrophic Hiccups had stricken one of my clients, and I had labored long and late into the night, but I was delighted to be home once again. As I slid into my familiar bar stool, our barrista of the day, a svelte-looking Frenchman named Montrero D’Arte, slid a cup of Virtual Espresso of the day, Chocolat de camaraderie décadent, in front of me with a knowing wink.

“’Ees been waiting for you impatiently all day, Monsieur,” he said, casting his eyes in the direction of a rather pithy-looking imp of a ghost hovering completely by himself, near the end of the bar. From my vantage point he appeared to be wearing a huge Stetson hat, and wearing cowboy boots, something we do not see every day in the Ballroom. Montrero paused, nervously casting his eye about the Virtual Ballroom, and licking his lips, added in a half-whisper, “’E says he can speak only to you.”

After the word bombs of the previous few days and being called a few names, I sat for a moment wondering what this could possibly be about. From where I sat, I could see where, despite the early hour of the morning, some of the more energetic ghosts were gliding about the Ballroom, cleaning up small bits of debris and detritus from in front of the stage where it appeared a contentious debate had taken place last evening. Others were hauling plastic trash bags outside, no doubt heading for the Virtual Incinerator in the alley behind the Ballroom. Most of the regular patrons of the Ballroom were sitting in groups at tables in front of and beside the Virtual Espresso Stand, talking quietly among themselves. One sip of the espresso of the day, however, and I immediately felt at one with the entire world, which may be why everyone seemed so at Peace throughout the Ballroom.

“Sure,” I said, taking another appreciative sip of the daily blend, grateful that JeanieSpokane and several ghosts had conceived of it yesterday in my absence. “Let’s see what this is about. This is an excellent daily blend, by the way. Sure, send him over.”

Quote of the Day July 2, 2008

I got kicked out of ballet class because I pulled a groin muscle. It wasn’t mine.

Rita Rudner

I think I can, I think I can…

Good evening, Netizens…

We might actually have a light show in the skies over Spokane yet tonight.

Once again it appears, despite the television weather announcers whooping it up that a severe thunderstorm warning is in effect, most of the significant hail and lightning has hit to the north and west of Spokane, although I have heard from folks in Wilbur that they just had a gusty dust storm followed by intensive lightning and some hail.

Meanwhile to the north and east, the severe thunderstorm cell that just smacked Deer Park and parts east now appears to be about to graze eastern edges of the Spokane Valley and near the Idaho State Line.

If you are in those areas, you might want to move your car into a safe area, as there are already reports of windshield damage from hail embedded in this cell.


Quote of the Day July 1, 2008

Help others get ahead. You will always stand taller with someone else on your shoulders.

Bob Moawad

Morning News: DSHS told “clean it up or else”…

Good morning, Netizens…

In local news, the power is out in and north of the Deer Park area, due to lightning strikes that took place during last night’s short-lived thunderstorms that moved through the area. There is a continuing threat of thunderstorms later on today, and as of 6:00 AM PDT, several small cells of activity are noted in the Northern Oregon desert communities where a lot of Spokane’s thunderstorm activity originally sometimes forms. The heat, humidity and the threat of thunderstorms will continue at least until Friday, but the preliminary forecast for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service in Spokane remains optimistically clear.

In other news, a judge Monday gave the state Department of Social and Health Services 30 days to start keeping promises it made four years ago to settle a class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of foster children. He wasn’t even playing word games with his ruling, which seems to have happened so many times in the past, as if foster care were a giant game of football where the kids were booted from one end of the field to the other.

According to the Seattle-Times Online Edition this morning, he stated bluntly, “I’m not asking,” he said. “I’m ordering.”

What does the Judge’s ruling demand? First, that the state find ways to make monthly visits to foster children, to get them prompt health care and screenings, to see their siblings on a regular basis and to keep the case loads for these children to where all the above is possible. One has only to remember that none of these children asked to be put in foster care; it was done in most cases without their full understanding, knowledge or consent by a so-called benevolent State. There are over 10,000 foster children in the State of Washington’s care at any one given time, according to the Department of Social and Health Services.

It is about time someone took DSHS to task for their deplorable record when it comes to foster child care. In my opinion Governor Gregoire is too busy building her personal agenda in time for the upcoming elections to bother keeping her promise to the voters about foster child care. It’s about time somebody put a stop to it.



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