Saturday, February 23, 2008

I'd like to thank the Academy ...

Actually, I'd like to thank my fellow bloggers. I am truly honored to have been given this "E for Excellent" Award by blogger BAC over at Yikes! (UPDATE: Yowza! I just found out that Dave over at The Galloping Beaver also passed this one to me — now I'm really blushing!) It means a lot to me, because I'm very much a newbie — I haven't even been doing this a year yet. I still can't believe anyone comes back, much less think it merits the "E" word. "You like me! You really like me!"

But the coolest thing about this award is that "once a blog receives it, that blog must then pay it forward to ten other worthy blogs, thus spreading the accolades around blogtopia and yes, we coined that phrase." (from Skippy the Bush Kangaroo)

And so, like everyone else who has been given this charge, I say "Just ten?!" But here are ten blogs that I enjoy immensely, who deserve this "excellent" link love (in no particular order):

Mauigirl's Meanderings


Suburban Lesbian Housewife

The Quaker Agitator

Political Voices of Women

Unrepentant Old Hippie

Bootstrapping Andrew Sullivan

Princess Sparkle Pony

Up in Alaska

Mid-Life Clarity

Apparently, understanding the state of the world today and having the skills to make it a better place is just not enough for the American voter

My level of cable t.v. doesn't carry CNN or MSNBC (yes, that would be the "ultimate cheapo" level, and you can get it too wherever you live), so I haven't watched many of the debates. I usually end up catching bits and pieces of them. Well, I happened upon this excerpt where Hillary Clinton talks about the importance of being able to take over the Presidency with the ability and understanding on Day One of the complexities of the world. And I am truly saddened that it's looking more and more like she will not be our next president. C'mon Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania. And my friends and family in Vermont, too!

From "West Wing" to the Real Thing?

In case you think there's a kind of a Hollywood feel to the Barack Obama campaign, you're not crazy. From the Guardian:
Devotees of the West Wing have been talking about it for weeks: the uncanny similarity between the fictional presidential contest that dominated the final seasons of the acclaimed TV show and the real-life drama of this year's election.

For what those West Wing fans stunned by the similarity between the fictitious Matthew Santos and the real-life Barack Obama have not known is that the resemblance is no coincidence. When the West Wing scriptwriters first devised their fictitious presidential candidate in the late summer of 2004, they modelled him in part on a young Illinois politician - not yet even a US senator - by the name of Barack Obama.

"I drew inspiration from him in drawing this character," West Wing writer and producer Eli Attie told the Guardian. "When I had to write, Obama was just appearing on the national scene. He had done a great speech at the convention [which nominated John Kerry] and people were beginning to talk about him."

Attie, who served as chief speechwriter to Al Gore during the ill-fated 2000 campaign and who wrote many of the key Santos episodes of the West Wing, put in a call to Obama aide David Axelrod.

The scriptwriter also borrowed from Obama's life the notion of a superstar candidate. "After that convention speech, Obama's life changed. He was mobbed wherever he went. He was more than a candidate seeking votes: people were seeking him. Some of Santos's celebrity aura came from that."

The result is a bizarre case of art imitating life - only for life to imitate art back again.
Damn, I hate when that happens ....

H/t to Cootamundra, again.

Friday, February 22, 2008

You can always count on Rush Limbaugh ... to be a big fat idiot

It had been such a wonderful day off. Just the thing to refresh from a rather wearying week. What could be better than sleeping late, drinking coffee and reading the paper in front of the electric fireplace (o.k., wood would be better), taking the dog for a walk, leisurely strolling the aisles of Trader Joe's. The roads are fine at this point, so the drive home from the store was peaceful -- until for some reason I decided to turn on the talk radio station.

There was Rush Limbaugh in all his glory. He had some Joe Shmo caller on the line who had supposedly seen Hillary Clinton in a closed meeting room, where, according to this guy, she "swore like a sailor." Limbaugh was in heaven. "Oh, I've heard about this side of her," he exclaimed gleefully.  "Were there ashtrays -- did she throw things?"

What the what?

As it turned out, Clinton was furious because her daughter was being stalked at Stanford, and the First Lady didn't think the Secret Service were doing enough to protect the girl.  Chelsea (whom the caller referred to as "Amy," which, honestly, doesn't do much for his credibility) could have really been in danger -- and what mother parent wouldn't fly off at the people who are supposed to be protecting their child if she thought they weren't doing their job?

Thankfully, they broke for a commercial as I got home, so I wasn't subjected to any more of this nonsense. But it just infuriates me to think that American voters are listening to this crap -- and that people like Rush Limbaugh are out there saying it. What purpose is served by him posing questions like "Did she throw things?" The listener is left with the idea "Hillary ... throws things."

We have one of the most intelligent, most uniquely qualified candidates ever to run for President, and people like Limbaugh portray her as a foul-mouthed, angry bitch. And life in America goes on.

Is 2 o'clock too early to start drinking on a snow day?

It's a snow day!

And we're taking full advantage of it! Please pardon our light posting today, but we've got other things to do — tennis balls don't get chased on their own, you know!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The peace symbol turns 50 today

H/t to Cootamundra Wattle, (who feeds me lots of great ideas!) for this one:
A peace of history turns 50
A familiar icon has reached a milestone. The peace symbol turns 50 today.

Before it was a hippie fashion accessory, before it became the emblem of the Vietnam era anti-war movement, the peace symbol stood for nuclear disarmament.

The British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament details the origins of its logo. Designed by British artist and conscientious objector Gerald Holtom for what then was the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War, the bisected circle with two downward spokes combined the semaphores for the letters “N” — two flags held down at a 45 degree angle — and “D,” one up, one down.

The symbol was unveiled Feb. 21, 1958, according to the New York Public Radio show “On the Media,” and made its public debut at a 1958 Easter weekend anti-nuclear march, according to CND.

It later migrated to the U.S., where it was adopted by student pacifists and later by the anti-Vietnam War movement.

Columbia University professor Todd Gitlin said it was in the mid- to late 1970s that the peace sign started to become more of a fashion statement.

As the anti-war activists of the 1960s grew older, a younger generation was looking for a way of declaring who they were, Gitlin said. “For them, it seemed to signify being righteous or hip.”

“Back in the ’60s and ’70s, everyone was familiar with the sign. People were putting it on their graduation caps,” said Keith Knutson, a Viterbo University professor who said he protested the Vietnam War before serving in the Navy.

Knutson compares the Vietnam War to the current war in Iraq. Both were wars of choice, not necessity, he said. “But the peace symbol doesn’t seem to be coming back.”
Read more about the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament here.

Spy satellite? What spy satellite?

So the Dept. of Defense successfully shot down the out of control radioactive hostile alien perfectly innocent spy satellite last night while you were sleeping. Here's the video:

Bad Astronomy has more. NOTE: Apparently the DoD servers are getting overloaded with hits to view the video. You may need to check back later for the video.

Next up on the Homosexual Agenda: Earthquakes

You do know, of course, that the real "agenda" of the gay community is to move into your neighborhood, renovate the houses, and drive up your property values. But teh gays in Israel must have some kind of superpower, according to this story from the BBC:
Two earthquakes shook the region last week and a further four struck in November and December.

Shlomo Benizri, of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party, said the tremors had been caused by lawmaking that gave "legitimacy to sodomy".

He called on lawmakers to stop "passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the state of Israel, which anyway brings about earthquakes".
Yeah, plus, they like, make it cloudy sometimes. And when it's really hot and muggy? I think they do that, too.

There may be light posting today ...

Because apparently I've won the EURO MILLIONS LOTTERY! Woo hoo! I know this is true because they just sent me an official email with lots of exclamation marks:

Today we are please to announce you as one of the 4 lucky winners in the Euro Millions Lottery International Email Address draw on the 28th of January 2008, due to the mixture of names and address the result was released on the 13th February, 2008. All 9 winning addresses were randomly selected from a batch of 50,000,000 international email addresses. Your email address emerged alongside 3 other as a second category winner in the Euro Millones Lottery Draw.
All I have to do is send them some personal information and they will forward me my prize winnings of
(Seven Hundred And Eighty Seven Thousand United State Dollars Only)($787:000:00)(United States dollars only)

Overachieving George W. Bush does it again, breaks new record for lowest job approval rating!

That's right, folks! He's done it again! According to a new poll out, George Bush has managed to receive the lowest approval rating of any president, evah!
Among all Americans, 19% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 77% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 14% approve and 79% disapprove.
Congratulations, George! You've done it again! As pointed out by Attytood, even Richard Nixon never managed those numbers:
Nixon, as he was hounded out of office in August 1974, never dipped below the mid-20s.
Here's a nice little compilation I found of some of George's best moments. Makes you proud to be an American, I'll tell ya!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The life of a teacher today

The video below was put together by the Maryland State Teachers Association, but it applies to schools all over the country. As a former cart-pushing teacher myself, I love this. Of course some of it's over the top. But sadly, most of it is not — teachers who "float" and have to carry their supplies on carts from room to room, over-crowded classes without enough supplies, teachers working with students in corners and hallways — I've seen (and lived) them all.

Obama's legislative accomplishments: Missing in action?

This is from a post at Yikes!, which links to a post at Taylor Marsh:

Chris Matthews Humiliates Obama Supporter State Senator Kirk Watson

What has Senator Barack Obama accomplished in the Senate?


Seriously, you'd think the Obama campaign would prep these people, because it's not like this is the first time this has come up.

Can you name any, can you name anything he's accomplished as a congressman?

"Nah, I'm not going to be able to do that. ... " adds Watson, stuttering.
"That's a problem, isn't it?" - Chris Matthews
Yeah, you'd think that would be a problem. But, evidently, Democrats in 2008 don't care about action, they prefer speeches, promises, and fairy tales.

Not me.

However, the Republicans would agree. They'll eat this stuff up.
Read the rest at Yikes.

Deaths continue in Iraq

The Iraq War, packaged as "Operation Iraqi Freedom," has been pushed off the front pages and the evening news lately. The American public is tired of bad news. (Please see post below.)

Meanwhile, Iraqi civilians and American and Iraqi soldiers continue to die. Families are torn apart and homes are destroyed. Many of our dead soldiers are young -- most had just begun to live as adults. We'll never know what wonderful things they could have done in their lives, because they served our country with, as the saying goes, the ultimate sacrifice.

Whether you support President Bush's decision to invade Iraq and fight this war or not, don't forget that it is still raging on. Soldiers like Corey Spates are dying almost daily. Please don't forget.
Sgt. Corey E. Spates, 21, of LaGrange, Ga., died Sunday in Diyala Province, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered a roadside bomb. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Spates joined the military in May 2004 as an armor crewman and was assigned to the 2nd Squadron since August 2006. He deployed November 2007.

Spates' decorations and awards include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge, Driver Mechanic Badge and Driver Wheeled Vehicle.
From the local LaGrange Daily News:
He told his wife that every night he looked at the moon and sent a kiss and a prayer to her side of the world.

He told his father, Steve Spates, that the tight end that decided not to accept University of Georgia’s football bid would regret that decision.

Two weeks before his death, Spates sent his wife roses for her birthday.

A week later, he sent a second dozen roses to celebrate their anniversary.

Five days after his death, she received his Valentine’s Day gifts - including a box of chocolates from the place where they honeymooned.
When you hear the politicians talk about bringing home the troops, think of Corey. And then pick up the phone and call your Senators and Representatives and tell them this war must stop.

Clinton/ Obama Exit polls: Who wins the "Grownup voter"?

I don't know when it happened, but apparently I've turned into one of "them." You know, the party poopers. The grownups. The ones who tell you not to sit too close to the t.v. The ones who correct your grammar. The ones who tell your child to stop running in the store. The ones who say "Someone's going to put an eye out."

Now don't get me wrong, when I was younger, I was a complete idealist — as I'm sure Hillary Clinton was, too. I grew up "inside the beltway" and have been fascinated with politics my entire life. I campaigned at my elementary school for George McGovern when I was eleven. My first presidential election I voted for John Anderson (yeah, remember him?!). I've been to peace rallies, no nukes rallies; I've ridden on a bus for 15 hours to march on Washington.

When I was seven years old I was in the car with my mom when we heard on the radio that Martin Luther King Jr. had been shot. I will never ever forget how upset she was at that news.

I tell you all of this because I want you to understand: I want to have a better world. I want peace. These are core values of mine. The thing is, I have learned in my years of involvement in all of these causes and issues that there are some realities in how things get done.

Yes, there's the adult speaking again. The party pooper raining on the Obama parade. But here's the reality, folks: this country is screwed up! We are closing in on 4,000 American dead in a war that no one here even pays much attention to any more -- a war that was begun under false pretenses. Our economy's down the toilet, gas prices are out of sight and oil companies fight off every effort to develop true renewable alternatives. We have troops in Afghanistan fighting and dying, and we're consumed with the latest "scandal" on the campaign trail. America has become a nation of toddlers: "Ooh look! Something shiny and bright! I want it!"

What's behind that shine, folks? I am afraid that it's as thin as some pretty foil — all shine and no substance. So call me an old fart if you want. I call it growing up.

I continue to support Hillary Clinton as the most qualified candidate to take over the White House. She wants all the same change that Obama speechifies on. The difference is that she has the experience and the understanding to take on the challenge of bringing about that change. He does not. She will be able to lead, he will not. He will rely on advisers and confidantes, and where have we seen this before? For the past 7 years George W. Bush has overcome his "inexperience" by bringing in Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc., and what has happened?

So don't waggle shiny things in front of me, Sen. Obama. I outgrew that a long time ago.

Wednesday poetry break ... with a dash of snark

You Smiled, You Spoke, and I Believed

You smiled, you spoke, and I believed,
By every word and smile deceived.
Another man would hope no more;
Nor hope I what I hoped before:
But let not this last wish be vain;
Deceive, deceive me once again!

— Walter Savage Landor

(And yes, that's 3 shots for those of you playing the Obama Drinking Game ....)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

While we wait for the election results ....

Something completely different ... and silly, to distract you.

While filling out a form recently, I had to write in my occupation. Well, my formal occupation is "Trainer," because I train people how to use software an' stuff. Trouble is, whenever someone sees that job title they always say "Oh really?" And then they kind of look me up and down.

You see, this is a "Trainer":

This is "Not a Trainer":

Obama's speeches: Not plagiarism, but still less than honest

No doubt by now you've heard about allegations by the Clinton campaign that Obama has plagiarized parts of a recent speech by using the same words and intonation used by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. Obama's response is that he and Gov. Patrick are friends and have discussed strategies, and that he used Gov. Patrick's lines with his tacit approval:
"I'm happy to give Deval credit, as I give credit to a lot people for spurring all kinds of ideas," he said. "But I think that it is fair to say that everything that we've been doing in generating excitement and the interest that people have in the election is based on the core belief in me that we need change in America."
Note: Those of you participating in the Obama Drinking Game should have taken one shot at this point. Please, pace yourself today!

Because Obama says he had discussed these words with Gov. Patrick, it does not seem to fit the definition of plagiarism. However, it does strike me as fairly dishonest and yes -- phony. He's selling us on the idea of change and new ideas while recycling someone else's campaign speech.

His charm is lost on me. As Hillary Clinton has said: "If your whole candidacy is about words, they should be your own words."

Texas poll shows dead heat among Dems

(CNN) -- It's all tied up in Texas.

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll suggests the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination between Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois is a statistical dead heat in Texas, which holds primaries March 4.

In the survey, out Monday, 50 percent of likely Democratic primary voters support Clinton as their choice for the party's nominee, with 48 percent backing Obama.

Take your pick of headache remedies, my friends. Or perhaps just drop the alka seltzer directly into the vodka. That works, too.

And here's some really insightful commentary from the experts:
"One reason the race appears to be tight is that Texas Democrats are having a hard time choosing between two attractive options," says CNN polling director Keating Holland.
Apparently Keating Holland holds a Doctor of Tautology degree.

Pakistani voters reject Musharraf —and U.S. policies

It looks like Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf may be on his way out, following elections held in that country yesterday. Although finals votes have not been counted, there did not appear to be any tampering or intimidation by the ruling party, as had been feared by many. From the New York Times:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistanis dealt a crushing defeat to President Pervez Musharraf in parliamentary elections on Monday, in what government and opposition politicians said was a firm rejection of his policies since 2001 and those of his close ally, the United States.

Almost all the leading figures in the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, the party that has governed for the last five years under Mr. Musharraf, lost their seats, including the leader of the party, the former speaker of Parliament and six ministers.

Official results are expected Tuesday, but early returns indicated that the vote would usher in a prime minister from one of the opposition parties, and opened the prospect of a Parliament that would move to undo many of Mr. Musharraf’s policies and that may even try to remove him.
In parliamentary elections, of course, voters vote for the party rather than the candidate. So in theory, Musharraf could decide to try to hold onto the presidency even if his party is not in the majority. However, most observers believe he knows that would be a futile — perhaps even deadly — decision.
“Musharraf should be preparing a C-130 for Turkey,” Mr. Ahsan said, referring to Mr. Musharraf’s statements that he might retire to Turkey, where he spent part of his childhood.

Two politicians close to Mr. Musharraf have said in the past week that the president was well aware of the drift in the country against him and they suggested that he would not remain in office if the new government was in direct opposition to him. “He does not have the fire in the belly for another fight,” said one member of his party. He added that Mr. Musharraf was building a house for himself in Islamabad and would be ready soon to move.
Now, let's see how Dana Perino and the rest of the White House gang spin this one ....

Monday, February 18, 2008

A lighter moment

I feel like I've bummed us all out with the last few posts (except for Sir Charles, of course!). So it's time to bring out the secret weapon: puppies. They're not the ones down the hall, but could be their litter mates. Enjoy.

And then out of nowhere, comes Charles Barkely

This should put a smile on your face!

Isn't it wonderful to see Wolf Blitzer squirm when faced with honesty? Imagine: a person who quite clearly believes he is speaking the truth and doesn't care about "political" repercussions!

Hate crimes, sadly, are not something new

I'm going to warn you right now -- this is sad. I encourage you to watch, though, because it is really powerful. And I promise you that I am looking for some uplifting news to post later today, because although I want to give as much attention as I can to victims of violence, I also know they wouldn't want us to stop living and laughing. So watch this, and then step outside in the sunshine for a few minutes and look at the sky. (Thank god my co-worker brought her puppies to work today!) Take a deep breath, and do something to stop the madness.

h/t to Mid-Life Clarity for the video.

Coming soon to a home near you: Guns

Guns. I've never shot one. I don't understand the appeal of holding one, having one, shooting one. All I know is they are destroying lives throughout America. In the past 2 weeks I have read about the shootings of a young gay teen in California, an entire family in Maryland shot by their 15-year old son while they slept, and 21 shot with 6 dead in a classroom at Northern Illinois University.

I know there are other stories, too. Lives are ended daily in inner cities across this country, from Baltimore to Detroit to L.A. You may wonder where these guns are coming from, and the sad news is that guns are extremely easy to buy in America. Disturbingly so. From the AP:
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The online gun dealer who sold a weapon to the Virginia Tech shooter said it was an unnerving coincidence that he also sold handgun accessories to the man who killed five students at Northern Illinois University.

Another website run by Thompson's company,, also sold a Walther .22-caliber handgun to Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people in April on the Virginia Tech campus before killing himself.

"I'm still blown away by the coincidences," Thompson said Friday. "I'm shaking. I can't believe somebody would order from us again and do this."

Coincidences? Is he kidding? As long as guns are available like this, we will continue to see these "coincidences" again and again. I don't want to hear any more citizens or especially politicians twisting the Second Amendment for their own purposes. The right to bear arms was written into the Constitution so that a young nation could have a "well regulated militia" for protection and security of the nation — not so that you could go target shooting with a Glock 9 mm handgun.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is working to demand stronger gun laws. We have got to get together on this as a nation before our youngsters feel the only way to to solve their problems is with a gun.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

To be young and gay, often means to be dead

"The real issue is not the kid coming out, but the kid sitting next to him."

You haven't seen this story on the evening news, and none of the presidential candidates has mentioned it. But earlier this week, a 15-year old boy was shot in the back of the head by a classmate. Students were just sitting down in their seats when the 14-year old assailant suddenly pulled out a gun and shot Lawrence. He shot Lawrence because he was gay and it freaked him out.

From the LA Times:
Police have not determined a motive in the slaying but said it appeared to stem from a personal dispute between King and the suspect.

[S]everal students at the south Oxnard campus said King and his alleged assailant had a falling out stemming from King's sexual orientation.

The teenager sometimes wore feminine clothing and makeup, and proclaimed he was gay, students said.

"He would come to school in high-heeled boots, makeup, jewelry and painted nails -- the whole thing," said Michael Sweeney, 13, an eighth-grader. "That was freaking the guys out."
As regular readers know, I used to teach middle school. So I know, it doesn't take much to freak out the guys. I also know that when something like this happens it is imperative that the adults make a clear sign that this is wrong -- very wrong -- and it will not be tolerated.

Yet the LGBT community is still waiting to hear one of our "adults" (i.e., elected officials and those who would hope to be elected) stand up and make a statement about this tragedy. As blogger Sara Whitman has noted:
The message of hate is getting through to our kids, loud and clear. It’s okay to kill someone who freaks you out because they don’t fit a gender role to your liking.
And think about these words spoken by Lorri Jean, CEO of the L.A Gay Center, at a memorial for Lawrence King:
No one is born hating gay and transgender people or believing that we should be denied equal rights. Such hatred and bigotry must be learned. It is learned in families that don’t accept their own children if they’re different than the norm. It is learned in right wing churches where ministers preach abomination or in schools where teachers and administrators don’t protect LGBT kids from bullying and harassment. It is learned from political leaders who support blatant discrimination again us or whose leadership fails them when it’s time to speak out and take action on behalf of our equality and our humanity.
Superdelegates? Really? Michelle Obama's clothes? Clinton's campaign manager? Is that what's important? Of course not. So when will either Clinton or Obama show some real leadership, refocus on the priorities, and make a clear statement denouncing this act?