Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Two poems by Robert frost

I won;t be posting for a while, so here is some more poetry for poetry month: People ask why I pick out gloomy poems--for some reason I like them, they stick in my mind, and I don't want to post something everyone knows like "Stopping by woods on a snowy evening." I'm broadening your horizons, all three of you! Hi there Matt, Akaky, and Rachel!

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.


Provide, Provide

The witch that came (the withered hag)
To wash the steps with pail and rag
Was once the beauty Abishag,

The picture pride of Hollywood.
Too many fall from great and good
For you to doubt the likelihood.

Die early and avoid the fate.
Or if predestined to die late,
Make up your mind to die in state.

Make the whole stock exchange your own!
If need be occupy a throne,
Where nobody can call you crone.

Some have relied on what they knew,
Others on simply being true.
What worked for them might work for you.

No memory of having starred
Atones for later disregard
Or keeps the end from being hard.

Better to go down dignified
With boughten friendship at your side
Than none at all. Provide, provide!


I've enjoyed poetry month very much--looked through my poetry books and read over some old favorites.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Trend: the volunteer employee

I've been bussing my own tray in fast food restaurants for so long now it seems quite normal. Ditto feeding myself vile concoctions in preparation for a colonoscopy.

I also notice that the powers that be no longer clean up highways; There are proud signs at the side of the road proclaiming that the care of this highway is being undertaken by some organization: the American Nazi Party, the Marxist Collective, the League of Child Molesters; the Ku Klux Klan. Appparently no group is so depraved that they are unfit to clean up a highway, saving the proper authorities from having to perform such a menial task.

As for pumping gas: you must do it yourself in most States. The chap inside the store who takes your money will no longer even show you how. Some male motorist eventually takes pity on me and demonstrates the technique.

The reason I haven't mastered this quite simple task is that I live in New Jersey, where it is illegal for the motorist to pump his own gas. Our State motto should read: "New Jersey: we're too dumb to pump gas."

It suits me just fine. Every time I do pump gas I end up with gasoline on my shoes. I stink for hours.

At one motel in Massachusetts, I asked when the rooms would be cleaned. The proprietress suggested that some people prefer to clean their own rooms. I don't. I also don't like to re-use my dirty towels and sheets in order to save the planet.

Let the planet take care of itself. I'm already doing enough volunteer work.

Rant about aging

For years I believed that I had received a special dispensation from God or somebody. I would always be 37. Other people could age, but as for me, I preferred not to. Along with this went the delusion that although I was gaining weight, I was the same normal-sized person, I only weighed more. Looking at myself in the mirror, if I squinted and held myself the right way and the light was just right, I looked pretty good.

I found out that God had lost my phone number when I saw, in a plate glass window, an ugly old lady with a frown on her face, approaching me. To add insult to injury, she was wearing the same clothes I was. She was also kind of, well, fat. It was me!

I want a do-over.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The pros and cons of being fit

David Brooks gloats:

If the report from researchers at the National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is correct - and it is the most thorough done to date - then it seems that Mother Nature has built a little Laffer curve into the fabric of reality: health-conscious people can hit a point of negative returns, so the more fit they are, the quicker they kick the bucket. People who work out, eat responsibly and deserve to live are more likely to be culled by the Thin Reaper.


In general, I am in accord with Brooks' views. But on the subject of weight lifting, I must dissent. I had a bone scaan several years ago and was found to have osteoporosis. The doctor told me to lift weights. I did, grudgingly.

Recently I had another bone scan and my spine is normal!. Wow! Something the doctor tells you to do actually works!

John Bolton: pro and con

The Senate is making a coilective horse's ass of itself over this confirmation. Has somebody gotten at the water supply? If not, what is the excuse for the comments of Sen. Biden, Senator Dumbass of Ohio (not Kucinich, the other dumb one), Barbara Boxhead, et al. I would rather be ruled by Caligula's horse.

As for Bolton: I'm sure he's a wonderful candidate, but his wife or mother needs to step in and make him lose the Hitler hair-do and the Stalin mustache.

As long as I am dispensing fashion advice: Michael Jackson! Get a haircut, buy a real suit, and apply some fake tanning lotion to your face. I have seen people laid out who looked more lifelike than he.

The new Pope and the Andrew Sullivan Problem

For Sullivan, it's all gay marriage, all the time.

In all seriousness, I recommend the Episcopal Church to Andrew. Basically founded by Elizabeth I, it has a long proud history. It needs members. It endorses gay marriage. It has a nice liturgy.

I don't have a horse in this race. I'm Jewish. But isn't God, if you believe in Him, present in all faiths? Isn't that what John Paul II was trying to tell us? And if He doesn't exist, what the hell does it matter where you go on Sunday morning,Friday night,Yom Kippur, Passover, Friday morning? At least give other churches a whirl. And shut up about gay marriage. We already know your views., at least those of us who haven't been trapped in a mine shaft for the last ten years.

Wow! Check out this blog for good information on blogging possibilities

Information about the possibilities, present and future, of blogging.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

a poem for Sunday

The Tiger

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies 5
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart? 10
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp 15
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee? 20

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?


Friday, April 22, 2005

Take that, you self-righteous, skinny people!

Some Extra Heft May Be Helpful, New Study Says

Some Unexpected Findings

People who are overweight but not obese have a lower risk of death than those at a normal weight, according to a new study.

My poem of the day

In Time of Pestilence

Adieu, farewell earth's bliss,

This world uncertain is:

Fond are life's lustful joys

Death proves them all but toys,

None from his dart can fly:

I am sick, I must die.

Lord, have mercy on us!



Rich men, trust not in wealth,

Gold cannot buy your health;

Physic himself must fade;

All things to end are made;

The plague full swift goes by;

I am sick, I must die.

Lord, have mercy on us!



Beauty is but a flower

Which wrinkles will devour;

Brightness falls from the air,

Queens have died young and fair,

Dust hath clos'd Helen's eye:

I am sick, I must die.

Lord, have mercy on us!



Strength stoops unto the grave,

Worms feed on Hector brave,

Swords may not fight with fate,

Earth still holds ope her gate;

Come, come, the bells do cry.

I am sick, I must die.

Lord, have mercy on us!



Wit with his wantonness

Tasteth death's bitterness:

Hell's executioner

Hath no ears for to hear

What vain art can reply:

I am sick, I must die.

Lord, have mercy on us!



Haste, therefore, each degree

To welcome destiny;

Heaven is our heritage,

Earth but a player's stage;

Mount we unto the sky.

I am sick, I must die.

Lord, have mercy on us!

By Thomas Nashe

I apologize for the gloominess of my poems. It is just happening that way.

Curses on Experian--also Equifax

Freqnently when I buy something at a store I've never used, they offer me a discount if I open a credit account. Why not? So I do. Not that i'll ever use it again , but they don't know that, do they?

Well, I applied for one at Banana Republic, and I was refused! Refused! And I went to the same high school Les Wexner* attended! (Not at the same time, however). They said the credit company, Experian, would write to me, explaining the reason.

The reason--a lame one--they couldn't track down my Social Security Number. They would probably issue a card to Mohammed Atta with no compunction, but me--could not trace my social security number.

Assholes.

I tried to call, but they have no phone number answered by persons of the human persuasion. Even pretending you have a rotary phone does no good. So I wrote them a scorching letter. The paper almost caught fire. I asked them, among other things, why they couldn't find my ^*%$ SSN and to take back their rotten rejection, apologize to me, and send me roses. Pink or yellow, if possible.

In return, I received a letter which was completely beside the point, saying I had already had one free credit report (I hadn't)and had to pay if I wanted another one. They gave me a couple of 800 numbers and told me that if I had sent them a check, they had shredded it.

I tried calling both the phone #s they gave me, and ended up in voice mail jail, which I am sure was their intention.

Got on their web site. clicked to a promising link which turned out to be a law firm which would handle all my credit problems for $39.95 a month. No thanks.

I finally got an e-mail from Equifax informing me I had an excellent credit rating. How did they know?

May they all have to sit through a 20 inning baseball game with hemmorhoids.

Lileks expresses gratitude for those who do the world's work

Got a nice atta-boy from a woman at the checkout counter – she’d liked the Walker Art center piece. Love when that happens. []question – excuse me, but aren’t you . . . There’s never a day when it’s not a joy to hear that question. Ninety-nine percent of the people who do actual work and make actual contributions to the world never get that out-of-the-blue atta-boy.

So I should give back: excuse me, aren’t you that firefighter? That emergency room nurse or admitting clerk? That policeman, that Reservist, that underpaid librarian, that park worker who picks up the stuff people throw in the creek, the guy who wipes the tables clean in the food court so I don’t have to put my elbows in someone else’s ketchup? Aren’t you that systems tech who makes sure my favorite website comes up every day when I want, the UPS driver who gets my stuff to my door and rings the bell, the gaffer who plugged in the cords so they could shoot that scene in the movie I want to see, the board operator at the radio station who sent the signal to the bird, the fellow behind the console in the theater who brought the spotlight up with practiced ease so the audience knew the show was starting? Excuse me, aren’t you that person who delivers the paper every morning?


I love this post--I'll think of it every time I see somebody cheerfully bussing my table, or cashiering at Walgreens or any other scut job. How can they stand it, and smile?

I loved my job so much I would have paid them to let me do it, so I don't count.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The ALA: a joke that isn't funny

I've long suspected that the ALA was run by Larry, Curly and Moe, with an able assist from Groucho, Harpo and Chico, Sneezy and Grumpy may also be involved. Conservator reports:

ALA COUNCILOR JIM CASEY DOES US THE FAVOR of laying out the Rube Goldberg-esque explanation of how the Bush administration in Washington, D.C. bears responsibility for library budgetary woes in Salinas, California:

Federal tax cuts and the anti-tax push of this Administration have led to huge budget deficts not only at the Federal level, but in practically every State of the Union. State Budget deficits have led to crushing burdens being shifted down to the local level where local property taxpayers who support public libraries are being battered and prompted to revolt in such a manner that some public library systems are being threatened with closure.

So, it just follows logically that the reason ALA should not have honored Laura Bush is because she is married to the man who proposes the budget that is approved by the Congress that leads to huge budget deficits not only at the Federal level....


Are you sure the Jews had nothing to do with it?

BTW--when is the ALA going to interest itself in issues that concern librarians, such as lousy pay, berserk politicians, etc.?

A poem for today: Tommy by Rudyard Kipling

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins", when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind",
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir", when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!


The emphasis (boldface) is mine. Kipling is a truly under-rated artist.

News from the Jews

Because I belong to s synagogue, I get the local Jewish paper, the Jewish Standard (no link, at least I can't find one). I read it, well, religiously. Which is to say, it has a place of honor in my bathroom. A sample headline:
Jews largely skip filibuster debate

Why is this big news? Jews have strong opinions, pro or con, on everything from the new Pope to gefilte fish. Apparently, though, they can take the filibuster or leave it alone. Thank God there is one issue they don't feel passionately about.

Another article I found interesting, "Two can tango," concerns a joint Arab-Jewish tango orchestra in Argentina, called Salam-shalom. The purpose of the group is to improve Arab-Jewish relations and provide good dance music. The tango is very popular with Argentinians.

I'm not trying to put down the Jewish Standard. It's a lot more trustworthy than the New York Times. Besides, I take a great interest in the tango. You can say I'm pro-tango.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The British theatre celebrates Rachel Corrie

Steven Plaut discusses the new British megahit, My name is Rachel Corrie, which has been sickeningly praised in the British press. He suggests some other Rachels who might be remembered:
1. My Name is Rachel Levy (Israeli girl age 17, blown up in a grocery
store)
2. My Name is Rachel Thaler (Israeli girl aged 16, blown up in a pizzeria)
3. My Name is Rachel Levi (Israeli girl aged 19, murdered while waiting
for the bus)
4. My Name is Rachel Gavish (killed with her husband and son while at
home)
5. My Name is Rachel Charhi (blown up while sitting in a cafe)
6. My Name is Rachel Shabo (murdered with her three sons aged 5, 13 and 6
while sitting at home)

It would be interesting knowing how many of THESE Rachels were murdered
with explosives smuggled in through the same tunnels that Rachel Corrie
and her ISM pro-terrorist friends were "defending"!

A Robert Burns poem for today

0, my love is like a red, red rose,
that's newly sprung in June.
0, my love is like a melody,
that's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair thou art, my bonnie lass,
so deep in love am I,
And I will love thee still, my dear,
till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
and the rocks melt wi' the sun!
And I will love thee still, my dear,
while the sands of life shall run.

And fare the weel, my only love!
And fare the well awhile!
And I will come again, my love.
Tho it were ten thousand mile!

Christopher Hitchins has a good word for Andrea Dworkin

Andrea Dworkin, who was pelted and ridiculed for decades of her life, was another of those rare people who feel other people's pain as if it were their own. When she first sent me one of her books, I was all ready to snigger. But she could write, and think, and argue, and it was often a pleasure to disagree violently with her, which is more than I can say for some of her detractors. Like many clever and tormented people, she had the gift of getting the gist of supposedly complex questions. It wasn't OK with her that President Clinton had a special staff of private dicks to "handle" and to slander truth-telling women; it wasn't OK with her that Serbia used rape as a weapon of ethnic cleansing; and she wasn't neutral against a jihadist threat that wanted, and wants, to enslave and torture females. That she could be denounced as a "conservative" for holding any of those positions says much about the left to which she used to belong. If she was indeed crazy, I wish she had bitten more of her twisted sisters.


The criticism of Dworkin has been rather unpleasant, focusing on her looks and grooming habits and putting words in her mouth which she never used.

I might get into trouble here

I think I have mentioned previously my propensity to get lost while driving.

Well, it happened to me again last week. I was in a neighborhood far, far from where I thought I was headed. I spotted a street sign: Oh, oh! Martin Luther King Ave.

Why must MLK Ave always be in the heart of a revolting slum? Couldn't they find a nice street to name after him? Fifth Ave in New York springs to mind.

Do people enjoy having awful things named after them? The guy they named the Major Deegan (horrible congested highway, for those not in the know) after must be revolving in his grave, so many people use his name in vain. I've never heard anyone say a nice word about JFK Airport. And was Alois Alzheimer proud to have a nice disease named after him?

If anyone wants to name something after me posthumously, heres a hint: how about a nice rose? Yellow is my favorite color, but I wouldn't object to pink or red.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Income tax forms claim another victim

Another blogger makes a good point::

Recently, in the Life and Arts section of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a reporter by the name of D. Parvaz has cropped up with a column called “Popping Off”. [] In a March column .... “Confessions of a writer who didn’t pen a memoir”, Parvaz rambles about the abundance of memoirs that have flooded the literary market. Though I agree with her that there are a few too many crap memoirs out there ..., I don’t like her tone towards bloggers. She writes, “Those who don’t make it into print embrace blogs, painfully detailing their every triumph and trauma.” So what? Unlike Parvaz’s words and the plethora of bad literature out there, at least readers aren’t paying to read a bloggers ponderings. The beauty of the blog is that you can click in and click out. Tune in or tune out. If a blogger speaks to you and you jive with what they are putting out there, cool. I personally have spent many an hour comforted by blogs where authors share experiences similar to my own or better yet, open my eyes to cultures and ways of thinking that I might never experience.... As long as no animals or small children are harmed ..., then it’s all good.;

Neo-neocon asks a good question

[I]s being an expert like being "President for life?" That is, once you are anointed, appointed, elected, whatever, to "expert" status, is there nothing that can impeach you? Like, maybe, being wrong; like maybe, over and over and over again?

I have noticed that a bad track record on analyzing or predicting events is brushed over and ignored, and that experts keep on prognosticating and experticizing (yes, I know it's not a word, but I think it should be). They are rarely, if ever, called on it.[]

It reminds me of a related question I've often wondered about: does anyone check up on psychics? How many of their yearly predictions actually come true--the ones that aren't totally vague, that is?


I've often wondered, if these people can predict the future so well, why they are not fabulously wealthy from shrewd investment in the stock market.
That would be a much more valuable use of their time than predicting (wrongly, as it happens) that a million Afghans would be killed if we attacked the Taliban.


Read the post; the comments are good, too.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Another poem for April

Intimations of Immortality by William Wordsworth, part V

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy,
But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

More surfing--isn't this interesting?

Usually, all warships of the United States fly the Union Jack (in US usage, that's the canton of the US National Flag - the blue part with the white stars - and not the British jack) as their naval jack (the jack is the flag flown from the front of the ship, as opposed to the ensign, which is flown from the back. In the US Navy, the ensign is the US National Flag - the "Stars and Stripes.")

On September 11th 2002, exactly one year after the war on terror started, the Navy started to fly the First Navy Jack from all of it's ships. The first navy jack is a flag consisting of 13 horizontal alternating red and white stripes with a rattlesnake diagonally across them. At the bottom is the motto "Don't Tread On Me." It is, as the directive ordering the change put it: "an historic reminder of the nation's and Navy's origin and will to persevere and triumph."

The Navy SpecWar liasion at Camp Vance (the special operations headquarters in Afghanistan) had one flying over his office, and it was always a pretty moving moment to look over past the National Flag flying in front of the TOC (the HQ building, basically), and see, lower and smaller behind it, the "Don't Tread On Me" flag. It always made me feel like, as long as some of us remember where we came from, our nation would be OK.

So what does that have to do with the Star Spangled Banner? Just this: just as we changed our navy jack, I'd like to see the military change and sing the fourth verse of the National Anthem instead of the first during the war (at official functions, Army-Navy games, and so on.) Just the change would be a reminder of what we're about, and the fourth verse speaks to the US view of war better than almost anything else (of course, its politically incorrect as anything, given that it invokes God's blessing on our nation, but I don't see that as a bad thing, actually.)

O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand
Between their lov'd home and the war's desolation
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

(Information on the Navy Jack came from www.navyjack.info)



I found this quite moving, actually.

This is what you come up with when you idly surf the web

Everyone has an IRS rant--here's mine

I did my income tax on TaxActonline way back in March. Since I owed the IRS money, I didn't worry about filing it just then. Let them wait.

I decided to file it last Friday. Monday I got an e-mail saying the government had refused to accept my return! You're pretty low, beneath contempt in fact, when the US government spurns your tax return. This meant that the NJ one could not be sent either.

They claimed my employer's EIN number was inaccurate. I checked the form and it looked Ok to me, but I called my employer, and I had the right number. I submitted it again.

Rejected again! This was yesterday, April 13, mind you. I called the IRS. They told me it was a computer glitch and I had to print the return and file it. The printer didn't work! (I have bad printer karma.) My huband helpfully suggested I buy a laser printer, which I couldn't afford because I owed the government so much money.

Then I found a previous printout so that was okay. But New Jersey? The TaxAct folks had me receiving a large refund from NJ, more than I paid out as it happens, but am I going to argue with H&R Block?

I did the Nj one online, and discovered I had a modest refund of $98 coming. So much for the accuracy of H&R Block.

The IRS encourages you to use this software! What are they thinking?




























How do I get my $7.95 back from TaxActOnline?

Mad hatter's disease

An interesting Slate article about the dangers of sushi:

Talking Tuna
How much sushi and albacore is too much? Be careful who you ask.
By Amanda Schaffer

Posted Tuesday, March 29, 2005, at 4:23 AM PT
[]
New research continues to probe the long-term, neurological ills of mercury, the fish-loving contaminant. Doctors in California warn that some of their affluent, fish-eating patients show signs of mercury poisoning. The California attorney general's office is skirmishing with the tuna industry, demanding that it post warnings to consumers about toxic exposure. Watchdog groups are threatening to sue the FDA over its latest consumer advisory.


Now we know what happened to Barbra Streisand, Sean Penn, Whoopi Goldberg and countless other poor unfortunate celebs.

In England, in the 19th century, hatmakers were considered crazy. That's because they used mercury in the manufacture of hats and it affected their brains.

So Streisand, et al., are not just crazy, there's a medical reason for it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Interesting people you meet at work

Our manager called our entire team into her office, and she looked pretty ill at ease.[] We all thought there was bad news on the horizon, and she was going to announce restructuring and the subsequent layoffs. I don't think any of us had any idea what we were in for.

Turns out, the topic of the meeting was another member of our department who was out on vacation, and was due back shortly. This meeting was to prepare us for Rob's glorious return.

It seemed that when Rob returned on Monday, he was no longer going to be Rob, but instead Roberta. Rob was going to have a sex-change operation, and would be counting on all of us for our understanding and support.

He would not be a woman yet, but he would be wearing women's clothing, and makeup, and talking like a woman, and we were to treat him with all the political correctness we could muster[]

As this news was being relayed to us, suddenly, it all clicked.

A few months before, a bunch of us noticed that Rob was growing a goatee. We all figured that maybe he was trying to toughen up his image, since he was kind of a mousy guy. Since the goatee really didn't do much except evil him up a bit, we promptly began referring to him as "Evil Rob." This played out in a few weeks, and we didn't think too much of it after that.

The goatee apparently wasn't working out for him, because he shaved it off and started growing out his hair. We thought maybe he joined a band or something, and didn’t want to have both, since then he’d look like a mousy, evil jesus christ, which would not do.

The new rocker hair was coming right along, but we knew something was off when we noticed the fingernails. The nails were very nice --long, polished, and buffed to a subdued, yet sophisticated luster. At this point we had no idea what the hell was going on, but we figured that maybe the band thing was still the right answer, given that androgyny is a pretty common thing among rockers, and lots of rock guys paint their nails. []

So back to the infamous meeting. The obvious questions came up. Did we call him Roberta, or did the final whackin' have to happen before that? No, we were to address him as Roberta. Which bathroom was he/she going to use, and can I please use a different one? She will be assigned a bathroom on the first floor that nobody else would use. The questions went on for a bit in this vein.

[]
We were all dismissed back to our desks to let this news sink in, and let me tell you there was some furious instant messaging happening after that shit.

So the next Monday rolls around, and everyone is trying like hell not to look at Rob as he stumbled into work wearing stiletto heels and a dress. Clearly, there was more practice needed on the "walking in heels" thing, because he obviously had no idea how it was done. He was walking exactly like an average guy would when suddenly deprived of the flat part of his feet, or placed on stilts for the first time. Kind of a rolling, shuffling, zombie-like gait interspersed with some quick, balance-catching jerks and almost-rolled ankles. I was waiting for him to hit the floor with a compound ankle fracture.

Initially, we were all pretty understanding. Shocked, a little freaked out perhaps, but understanding. He had some sympathy points built up, but he pretty much squandered them his first week back, mostly because of his newly developed in-your-face attitude.

[]
The make-up job made Mimi Bobeck look reserved. He really needed a hand with that. I had frat buddies in college who dressed as women one Halloween and they were more convincing than this dude, even though he clearly had some face-work done while he was away.

[]
The other insanely annoying thing was the artificially high, "girlish" falsetto he had adopted. It was like Mrs. Doubtfire had taken it up an octave. His high-pitched, tittering laugh was enough to make you think seriously about jamming sharpened pencils in your ears. Every time you heard it wafting across the room, if you were a guy, your balls would shivel just a little bit. You’d have to ask the women in the office what effect it had on them, but I imagine their ovaries twitched or something.

I remember commenting to a friend that he wasn't acting like a woman, or even a girl, and he clearly needed lessons very, very badly, because no woman I knew acted like that. It was like when he put a dress on, he got a lobotomy. Suddenly, there was this airhead, giggly schoolgirl act. I had never seen anything like it. Ru Paul acted more like a real woman than this guy. He had some serious learning to do, as I’m sure we all would, but he seemed to be heading in the wrong direction. When you decide to take the bullet train out of Normalville, you'd better know what track you’re supposed to be on, and it was painfully obvious that he did not.

It was completely awkward for most of us. Sometimes he would slip and lose the fake falsetto for a few seconds in the middle of a sentence and then things got really weird. In every single interaction with this person, it was like there was a gigantic pink elephant in the room that you were supposed to ignore, except this particular elephant just happened to be in drag.

Luckily, this guy wasn’t on my immediate team, so my interaction with him was limited. I heard the horror stories from other people, and I’m glad it wasn’t me. From what I hear, he got off on weirding people out. If he got a whiff that you were a little freaked, he would go out of his way to make you even more uncomfortable, to the point of sometimes becoming confrontational. If he had been wearing men’s clothing, he probably would have gotten his ass kicked multiple times. I’m not sure what the rules are on face-punching a Tranny, but I’ll look into that and get back to you.

A few of the women on the team even had the distinct pleasure of some one-on-one “girl talk” which I’m sure was a blast. I did find out later that he WAS on my team in a more general sense, in that he still liked women. Apparently, he was a woman trapped in a man’s body, but also a lesbian.

Chew on that tidbit for a while. Go get a snack, and when you get back, we'll talk about Part II

Part II: Enter the Bra-Dude

So here we are once more...

Right around this time, we enter part two of our story, which starts with my experience in the lunch line. There was this other long-haired dude who I never paid much attention to, who was apparently a friend of Rob's. They were in the same band, so to speak. I was standing behind him in line, and he was wearing your normal clothes for a business casual environment. Khaki Dockers, a button down white shirt and tie. As I was waiting to pay for my food, I noticed something else. That something else would be the outline of a pink lacy bra. Again, I try not to judge. I may laugh and point, but I don’t consider that judging, although some people might. Maybe he had manboobs and needed the support.

I started noticing him around more after that. You know how when you buy a new car, suddenly you start seeing cars just like yours everywhere? I’m not saying I identified with this guy in any way, but I just started seeing him around more after noticing the bra. I mean, I’ve never worn women’s undergarments. The closest I’ve come to this was finding a pair of my wife’s panties in the arm of my sweatshirt one day,but that was totally thanks to the dryer, and not to any inclination on my part. I was in this for the pure, comic aspect.

A few times, I saw him wear his hair tied back. With a pink scrunchie.

He was a different kind of dude, but after dealing with Rob, this was nothing. He was reserved, and didn't really advertise, although a pink bra under a white shirt is sort of an important mile marker on the highway of life for a guy. Once you pass that point, it's tough to go back. You’d have to go pretty far to even come close to Rob, but it seemed he was willing to do just that. Here's where things get pretty interesting.

My friend Scuba is a network admin, and part of his job entails cleaning up the abandoned crap that people store on the network and then never touch again. So he’ll do some searches by file size and date and file type, and clean off old spreadsheets and graphic files and what not. Once in a while, he’ll stumble on something that shouldn’t be out there, like bootleg music files, or bootleg videos, or sometimes even porn. []

So he was cleaning up some drives shortly after I had my pink bra experience, and he came across a directory stuffed full of jpeg files. This directory appears to belong to bra-dude. He checks out one of the files, and it’s porn. "Great," he thinks, like a cop who stumbles on a body in an alley. "I don't need this today." The first thing that’s odd to him is that it’s a male in the picture. He looks at a few more. All men. Hmmm. Not only porn, but gay porn. Then he realizes something.

He realizes that he knows the guy in this picture. It's bra-dude, and he's on a bed, arms over his head, dress hiked up, crank saluting at half mast. It is at this point in our story that Scuba goes blind. I'm kidding. He only wished he was blind.

The guy has a porn collection of himself and his man-friends stored on a company server. What the hell is he thinking? After Scuba realizes who it is in the pictures, he looks at a few more, and realizes something else.

Some of the pictures were taken in the building.

This guy was sneaking other guys into the building after hours and taking gay porn pictures of himself and the other guys, and then storing them on his network drive....


Scuba was completely traumatized. He seriously considered taking the rest of the day off. He didn't sleep for weeks. To this day, the images are burned into his mind, and I have it on good authority that on occasion he still wakes up screaming.

Incidentally, neither of these two work here anymore, one of them for obvious reasons. Although they were good for laughs, I have to say I don’t miss either of them. There’s only so much diversity we can stand, and I think I speak for everyone here when I say I’m full up.

It's still Poetry Month

COMPOSED UPON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE, SEPT. 3, 1802

EARTH has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill; 10
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

William Wordsworth

Poem of the Day (you thought I forgot,didn't you?)

Song On May Morning

NOw the bright morning Star, Dayes harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The Flowry May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow Cowslip, and the pale Primrose.
Hail bounteous May that dost inspire
Mirth and youth, and warm desire,
Woods and Groves, are of thy dressing,
Hill and Dale, doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early Song,
And welcom thee, and wish thee long.

John Milton

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Heretical Librarian Gives Seymour Hersh a Good Fisking

Gossip Journalism

Writing for the April 18, 2005 issue of New York Magazine, Chris Suellentrop ably points out journalist Seymour Hersh's issues with the truth:

Since the Abu Ghraib story broke eleven months ago, The New Yorker’s national-security correspondent, Seymour Hersh, has followed it up with a series of spectacular scoops. Videotape of young boys being raped at Abu Ghraib. Evidence that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may be a “composite figure” and a propaganda creation of either Iraq’s Baathist insurgency or the U.S. government. The active involvement of Karl Rove and the president in “prisoner-interrogation issues.” The mysterious disappearance of $1 billion, in cash, in Iraq. A threat by the administration to a TV network to cut off access to briefings in retaliation for asking Laura Bush “a very tough question about abortion.” The Iraqi insurgency’s access to short-range FROG missiles that “can do grievous damage to American troops.” The murder, by an American platoon, of 36 Iraqi guards.

Not one of these exclusives appeared in the pages of The New Yorker, however. Instead, Hersh delivered them in speeches on college campuses and in front of organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and on public-radio shows like “Democracy Now!” In most cases, Hersh attaches a caveat—such as “I’m just talking now, I’m not writing”—before unloading one of his blockbusters, which can send bloggers and reporters scurrying for confirmation.

Every writer understands that there is a gap between the print persona and the actual self, but Hersh subscribes to a bright-line test, a wider chasm than is usually acknowledged, particularly in today’s multimedia age.

Sy Hersh Says It’s Okay to Lie (Just Not in Print)

Suellentrop draws a clear distinction between Hersh's verbal comments and his written work.... Unfortunately, Hersh's writings reflect the same record of outlandish inaccuracy as his spoken utterances. During the Afghanistan campaign in October 2001, Hersh published an absurdly overwrought account of a special operations raid against the Taliban that allegedly went horribly awry. In late March 2003, he wrote an article implying that US forces would be lucky to fight their way back to Kuwait, never mind taking Baghdad. In April 2004, Hersh returned to the topic of Afghanistan, stating that the "situation there is deteriorating rapidly". Hmm, not quite. While Hersh did help break the Abu Ghraib abuse story, even here much of his reporting has been less than accurate. Hersh's track record, in short, is not exactly the best.

The simple truth is that Seymour Hersh's journalism is politically motivated hackwork based in large part on anonymous "sources" passing along third-hand gossip. Many of these informants are merely cranks and malcontents who tell Hersh exactly what he wants to hear. Take for example, the Air Force officer who allegedly greeted Hersh by saying "welcome to Stalingrad" during last November's battle for Fallujah.... Other Hersh sources have included conspiracy peddler Karen Kwiatkowski. Hersh himself has become one of the main purveyors of the infantile "neocon cabal" thesis, and numerous other equally ridiculous and unsubtantiated notions such as those mentioned by Suellentrop.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Today's poetry saying

I gave up on new poetry myself thirty years ago, when most of it began to read like coded messages passing between lonely aliens on a hostile world.
Russell Baker

What has happened to God? His job has been outsourced to India!

As one anonymous tipster so helpfully pointed out, with YHWH out of commission, who's been running things?

Some intrepid sleuthing on my behalf unearthed the unearthly truth: YHWH {Hebrew reference to God} has subcontracted out His national deity duties to India. Continuing a global trend, the divine services specified in the Abrahamic covenant have been outsourced to the firm of Ganesh, Shiva & Krishna.

According to an internal document I obtained, the quiet change was made possible due to a loophole in the phrasing of the covenant. In all the confusion resulting from the contradictions between between the doublet of Genesis 15 and 17, Abraham forgot to insist on a clause forbidding subcontracting. As a result of this oversight, the controversial change is compliant with the contract YHWH made to be our national deity. For quite some time now, the prayer lines have been staffed at Indian call centers. If you think your prayers weren't answered due to sin, you may be missing the real cause: many prayers went unanswered due to language issues and difficulty in understanding accents.[]

Reaction to the news has been mixed. Up above, archangel Michoel is agitating amongst the heavenly hosts to form a labor union. In a brief statement, he expressed frustration. "I've been busting my hooves for millennia and this is the loyalty I get?" he said. "Outsourcing has gone too far when it puts me out of a job."

Down on earth, the response has been mostly positive. The Reform leadership has announced that they are rewriting their liturgy in Hindi to more accurately reflect the changing times. Some people are worried that the long distance will require greater kavana. Rabbi Gavriel Carlin allayed those fears, saying, "I hadn't notice any difference in response. It's almost as if it doesn't matter to whom you pray."

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Memorials to bad drivers

Friday, March 25, 2005
Of Road Grime and Religion
I drove past a new roadside shrine on the way to work today. A cross of flowers next to about 50 feet of flattened guardrail. What the hell is up with these things? Either they've become hip in the last few years, or I just never noticed them before. It used to be just the bikers did it to commemorate where some other biker bit it. They have that whole brotherhood thing going, so I can almost see that -- but now it seems that every time there's a fatality of any sort, up goes the shrine.

I realize that someone died there, and the shrine is probably some distraught person's way of helping deal with their grief, but I find them a little bit irritating. I don't want to know nor do I really care that someone died on that spot. It's a bit gruesome, like staying at a B&B and finding out someone kicked off in the bed you're sleeping on. []
Case in point: There's one about 3 miles from my house. It's been there for about two years now, and I pass it every day. It's two wooden crosses, one painted purple and one painted blue, and there's almost always fresh flowers. It's right in front of a large tree on the top side of a 'T' intersection, directly across from a stop sign.

Clearly, the driver of the vehicle was completely shitfaced and drove straight through the stop sign at a spectacularly high rate of speed instead of turning right or left. This smacks a bit of natural selection to me, and I'm not sure that if I had done something so amazingly stupid I would want it immortalized with any sort of roadside extravaganza. It does, I guess, act as a kind of message to the still living -- don't drink and drive....
This is not even taking into account the religious aspects of it, nor the fact that these shrines are sometimes erected on private property. If you own a nice piece of property and someone gets creamed in your front yard by a log truck, somehow I doubt that you'd enjoy a nice Carnation Instant Cross and some candles placed there to remind you of that fact. Plus, they've got to be a total bitch to mow around.

When you think about the religious aspects of it, it becomes even more baffling. You always hear the justification of the people who put them there. They say things like, "I can feel Steve's presence here, I really can." or "I think Joe and Tammy would want people to remember them on this spot."

My question is: Why? What the hell is wrong with Steve and Joe and Tammy? Were they completely insane? If so, then maybe I can see their position. Hunter S. Thompson once said, "Some may never live, but the crazy never die." If their goal was to gain some semblance of immortality by driving at insanely high speeds into a bridge abutment and have unknown strangers wonder just what the hell they were thinking when they did this, then I guess the shrine serves that purpose. ...

Mostly, it makes me wonder about the person erecting the shrine in the first place. Do they even know what the deceased would want? Do they care?

You can think about it two ways: Either the person believes in an after-life, or they don't. Either way, one thing is for sure -- they are almost certainly not hanging around the side of the road freezing their semi-transparent nads off, just waiting for you to drive by and toss a few prayers and a long-stemmed rose their way. I mean, think about it -- If you were a spirit, wouldn't hovering 3 feet to the left of some dead flowers thumbtacked to a torn up telephone pole be the absolute last place on earth you'd want to be? Call me crazy.

So do me a favor, ok? If I bite dirt in a six car on I-87 at any time in the future, I would request that someone scatter my ashes off a cliff in the adirondacks. Please do not chain my translucent ass to some rusted out car parts on the side of the highway. Thanks.


I can't get the link to work! F**** Blogger!

Mark Steyn on the Central "Intelligence" Agency

Even before the latest budget-bloating ''reforms,'' the U.S. government was spending $30 billion annually on intelligence, and in return its intelligence agencies got everything wrong. British and French intelligence also get a lot of things wrong, but they get them wrong on far smaller budgets. One of the great sub-plots of the post-9/11 world is the uselessness of ''experts,'' the guys who get unlimited budgets to run 24/7 agencies devoted to their areas of expertise. What's startling about the glimpses we get of CIA operations -- that red-hot presidential briefing from August 2001, Joseph C. Wilson IV's non-fact-finding mission to Niger -- is how generalized it all is: Anybody who watches cable news or reads an occasional foreign paper would know as much.

How about if that $30 billion was allocated to, say, a program for subsidized bicycling helmets for grade-schoolers or some other federal boondoggle, and they bulldozed Langley, and gave the CIA director 20,000 bucks to put all his agency's global ''analysis'' up on a blog -- spook.com -- and invite comments from readers around the world? It couldn't possibly be less informed than the CIA's decades-long record of incompetence in the Middle East. U.S. intelligence needs a fresh start, and short of buying ol' Sandypants a larger pair of trousers and getting him to smuggle out every single classified document, it's not clear how it's ever going to get it.


They are wrong, stupid, useless and expensive.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Today's Poetry Quote

One ought, everyday, to hear a song, read a fine poem, and, if possible, to speak a few reasonable words
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Air Force Wife Has a Great Post

The Lotus & the Mishpokkeh The Principles of Jewish Buddhism

1. Let your mind be as a floating cloud. Let your stillness be as the wooded glen. And sit up straight. You’ll never meet the Buddha with such round shoulders.

2. There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And whose fault was that?

3. Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is another story.

4. To practice Zen and the art of Jewish motorcycle maintenance, do the following: get rid of the motorcycle. What were you thinking?

5. Be aware of your body. Be aware of your perceptions. Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.

6. If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

7. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this, and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

8. The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao is not Jewish.*

9. Drink tea and nourish life. With the first sip, joy. With the second, satisfaction. With the third, Danish.

10. The Buddha taught that one should practice loving kindness to all sentient beings. Still, would it kill you to find a nice sentient being who happens to be Jewish?

11. Be patient and achieve all things. Be impatient and achieve all things faster.

12. To find the Buddha, look within. Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers. Each flower blossoms ten thousand times. Each blossom has tenthousand petals. You might want to see a specialist.

13. Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?

14. Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkes!


I can add nothing to that!

Omigod, we've got cousins!

Neo-neocon has a link to this fascinating item:

"The Genetic Bonds Between Kurds and Jews"

by Kevin Alan Brook

Kurds are the Closest Relatives of Jews

In 2001, a team of Israeli, German, and Indian scientists discovered that the majority of Jews around the world are closely related to the Kurdish people -- more closely than they are to the Semitic-speaking Arabs or any other population that was tested. [] Most of the 95 Kurdish Muslim test subjects came from northern Iraq. Ashkenazic Jews have ancestors who lived in central and eastern Europe, while Sephardic Jews have ancestors from southwestern Europe, northern Africa, and the Middle East. The Kurdish Jews and Sephardic Jews were found to be very close to each other. Both of these Jewish populations differed somewhat from Ashkenazic Jews, who mixed with European peoples during their diaspora. The researchers suggested that the approximately 12.7 percent of Ashkenazic Jews who have the Eu 19 chromosomes -- which are found among between 54 and 60 percent of Eastern European Christians -- descend paternally from eastern Europeans (such as Slavs) or Khazars. But the majority of Ashkenazic Jews, who possess Eu 9 and other chromosomes, descend paternally from Judeans who lived in Israel two thousand years ago. In the article in the November 2001 issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics, Ariella Oppenheim of the Hebrew University of Israel wrote that this new study revealed that Jews have a closer genetic relationship to populations in the northern Mediterranean (Kurds, Anatolian Turks, and Armenians) than to populations in the southern Mediterranean (Arabs and Bedouins).


On behalf of the Jews, I'd like to say: Welcome to the family.

Poem for today

Draw a crazy picture
Write a nutty poem
Sing a mumble-gumble song
Whistle through your comb
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.
--Shel Silverstien

Ouch!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Florida conservative discovers that liberals can be, well, downright mean

Lately I've been noticing that my liberal friends are just so angry. I realize that they're upset Bush was re-elected. But what I can't stand is that everything seems to be turning so personal and just plain mean. One friend sent out an item about a pending Bush appointee who was pro-life, asking all her friends to write. Well, whenever someone asks me to write, the first thing I do is check Snopes. When I found out the low-down, I simply replied to her that the info (per Snopes) was out of date. She replied to me, and I am not kidding: "Are you even a real woman?"

Another friend wanted to talk about Terri Schiavo a couple of weeks ago. I didn't really want to get into it and chose to limit my response to the fact I was saddened the family had ended up in court in the first place. I wished Michael & the Schindler's had not turned into bitter enemies. My friend responded that it was all Jeb Bush's fault for exploiting a family's suffering for political gain.


I, too, have noticed that stating a conservative view causes my liberal friends to froth at the mouth. They're like little kids: if they don't win, they want to take their marbles and go home.

Today's poem:

Ode to a Grecian Urn by John Keats



I

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
Or deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?



II

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal-yet do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

III

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves nor ever bid the spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
Forever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! More happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

IV

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou are desolate, can e'er return.

V

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,-that is all

Mark Twain on staying healthy

A cheery thought:

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Rant about New Jersey Motor Vehicle Dept, Illegal Aliens etc.

A kid in my family sent a $50 check to pay a parking ticket. Turns out the parking ticket was for $53, so they sent him a letter threatening to suspend his license. Could he pay the $3 online? Oh, no. The ticket had to be paid personally and a copy of the receipt forwarded to the motor vehicle bureau, plus ten dollars "court costs."

New Jersey considers all of its residents who have driver's licenses as potential criminals who haven't been caught yet. If you don't have your license, registration, or insurance card you have to make a court appearance, even if your wallet was stolen and you are on your way to the Motor Vehicle office to get a replacement license.

And car insurance: It's compulsory and expensive. If you have anything short of a major accident you'd be stupid report it to the insurance company. They will raise your premiums even higher. It's an extortion racket sanctioned by the State. When the Demos are in office, the price of auto insurance goes up. The Republicans, ditto. It's an equal opportunity mugging.

What has this to do with illegal aliens? Being an illegal alien is a real crime, getting a parking ticket is a trumped up "crime." Not having auto insurance is a trumped-up crime too, one that punishes the poor.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Pity the poor widder woman

Suha Arafat seems to have taken a page from the playbook of our old friend, the Nigerian scammer.

Today's snarky poetry quote

Poetry is about the grief. Politics is about the grievance.

By Robert Frost

Why did Sandy Berger do such a stupid thing?

What he did is tough to figure out, but as near as I can see, he stole five copies of the same memo, each of which had handwritten notes from five different people. The notes could have said anything from: Wanna have lunch? to Monica L=hot babe, to Take Immediate action, but, as the Bible says:

The wicked flee when no man pursueth.

I also find it difficult to believe that he cut them up with scissors. Didn't the man own a shredder? You can buy one with its own wastebasket at Staples. $19.95. Plus tax, where applicable. Free delivery.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

An e-mail from ALA Presidential Candidate Leslie Burger

Since, as the Buddha said, "What we do no[t] only matters; it molds us," yoga for librarians will again be offered at our NJLA conference next week:


What is yoga for librarians? Just asking.

Hysterical lefty metaphor of the week

Oh, oh! Someone does not like the proposed Constitution Restoration Act:

More than religiosity run amok, more than a sodomizing of the constitution with a rusty word processor, the CRA is organized thuggery of precisely the sort that characterizes the legislative agenda of every fascist state.


Inquiring minds would like to know: how do you sodomize a piece of paper?

British Universities pursue freedom of inquiry

It seems every group of true believers, however grand or humble, needs someone to hate. For the intellectual left, Israel is the villain of choice.

The Association of University Teachers' [Britain] annual council, which begins on April 20 in Eastbourne, will also debate whether to boycott three of Israel's eight universities - Haifa University, Bar Ilan University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem - over their "alleged complicity with the government's policies" on the Palestinian territories.

The great irony here is that these Israeli universities are all themselves bastions dominated by the Academic Left, including some extremists that make Ward Churchill look like a sane moderate. These Israeli versions of Taliban John will be exempt from the British boycott, because the motion contains a clause to exclude "conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state's colonial and racist policies". Naturally, the British in question will not be boycotting any colleges in Syria, Iran, Egypt, Dubai or Saudi Arabia.


Liberal right-thinking trumps investigating the facts.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Poetry is Like Fish

" Poetry is like fish: if it's fresh, it's good; if it's stale, it's bad; and if you're not certain, try it on the cat."
-- Osbert Sitwell

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Are the Republicans dumb enough to take advice from their enemies?

Mark Steyn, the incomparable, warns against friendly advice from people who mean you no good:



It's a good rule of thumb that anything 59 economists, bureaucrats or diplomats are prepared to sign an open letter objecting to is by definition a good thing. But that goes double when the 59 panjandrums lined up against you are Princeton Monteagle Jr., President Nixon's ambassador to the Spurgeon Islands; Spurgeon Monkfish III, President Ford's ambassador to the Lyman Islands; Dartmouth Monticello IV, President Johnson's personal emissary to His Serene Highness the Monteagle of Keeny; Columbia Long-Playing-Album, the first diplomat to be named by President Carter to the State Department's Name Control Agency; and Vasser Peachy-Keeny, the first woman to be named Vasser Peachy-Keeny. One sees their point, of course: Let a fellow called "John" Bolton become ambassador and next thing you know Earl and Bud will want the gig.

Even Sen. John Danforth, who should know better, got in on the act, taking half a page in the New York Times to give the Full Monteagle to the "religious right." Blog maestro Andrew Sullivan decided that America was witnessing a "conservative crack-up" over Terri Schiavo and the embrace of her cause by extreme right wing fundamentalist theocrat zealots like, er, Jesse Jackson and Ralph Nader. Sullivan was last predicting a "conservative crack-up" during the impeachment era, on the grounds (if I recall correctly) that Republican moralizing would dramatically cut into Strom Thurmond's share of the gay vote. In the '90s, the Weekly Standard ran innumerable special editions devoted to the subject: Conservative Crack-Up; Conservative Crack-Up 2; Conservative Crack-Up -- The Musical; Abbott And Costello Meet The Conservative Crack-Up; Conservative Crack-Up On Elm Street; Four Weddings And A Conservative Crack-Up; Rod Stewart Sings Timeless Favorites From The Great Conservative Crack-Up, etc.


Ignore them, they're born losers.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

A song for late summer

The Oven Bird

by Robert Frost

There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

In honor of poetry month

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.
--G. K.Chesterton

Your tax dollars at work

This was posted on April 1. It's an April Fool joke, isn't it? Isn't it?

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Least Funny April Fool's Joke of the Year

A library joke, courtesy of Conservator:

Gorman Abdicates, ALA Leadership in Disarray
-- 4/1/2005




Michael Gorman, president-elect of the American Library Association (ALA), has stepped down just months before assuming office. “It was the blog people, they did it,” said RLG’s Walt Crawford....”


Not too funny, right? Neither is Gorman, a stuffed shirt who hates bloggers. People, it is a library joke! Go easy on us bun- and comfortable-shoe wearing, dowdy old ladies who say shush a lot. We have so little fun!

Sick of opinions

The wonderful and always refreshing James Lileks reflects on the Internet and Terri Shiavo opinion, pro and con:

Speaking of which: if nothing else, this entire affair has made me heartily sick of the very act of reading the Internet. Pardon my language, but I am simply goddamn sick of opinions, period. Right or wrong, well-reasoned or poorly expressed, snarky or solemn, I am tired of the lot of them, my own included. I’m tired of reading blogs and bulletin boards and noting that it’s OK to joke about one dead person, perfectly fine to kick the Pope when he’s about to give up the ghost, but a breach of human decency to be less than reverential about the passing of a comic who specialized in dope humor. That sort of thing is expected on the internet, but what makes me weary is the blogligation to have an opinion about it and bang it out so the whole world knows I stand four-square against bashing near-dead Popes.


Speaking of which, the radio and television news is covering every last symptom of the Pope's condition. I expect to hear any moment now, that he has, or has not had, a bowel movement. Gruesome! Let the poor old man die in peace.

He's not married, so he doesn't have to worry about anyone pulling the plug.

Oh-oh, I've expressed an opinion. Sorry.