Saturday, November 30, 2002

I win the Henry Rollins "Family Man" Award this year! (RealAudio link)

Family man,
With your Christmas lights already up.
You're such a man when you're putting up your Christmas lights,
First on the block.

First on the block.

Friday, November 29, 2002

Chunk of the Rock for November 29:

The Kucerics

Perhaps the most white-trash family living in my vicinity growing up was the Kuceric family. There were two kids, much older than I: A boy named Dave, I think, and his younger sister, Diane. If I was six or seven around the time I became aware of their presence, he was already cutting high school and she was just a year or two away from doing the same. The reason I crossed paths with the dime store duo at all was because of a dirt bike and my dad.

Actually, Dave had a dirt bike with which popping wheelies up and down the block quickly got boring to him. My acquaintance with him might have been limited to these Evel Knievel-like flybys had he not taken to riding the bike in the area behind our home between the Salt Creek and our back fence. There were probably 200 yards of meadow and trees back there where us younger, not-yet-burnt-out kids from the neighborhood used the open area to play baseball in the summer and football in the gray months. Older, army-jacketed locals were often spotted by us ducking into the more overgrown areas of "the field" or "the wayback" as we referred to it. Presumably to smoke tic or drain the same empty half pints we would later find when using the woods as cover for a game of "ditch"--a team format, hide-and-seek free-for-all that we used to play til dinner, then again til dark. Now, the problem with Kuceric riding his dirt bike back there was really two-fold: On one hand, us kids played back there frequently, and though we were known to be quite nimble at that time, the potential for a disastrous collision always existed. Secondly, the sound of a dirt bike's muffler echoing off the valley of the Salt on a lazy summer afternoon could be quite worldbroken. It was this second piece of the equation that really brought my dad into the picture.

Face-to-face confrontations that included obscenities; regular summoning of Elmhurst's finest to enforce "noise ordinances"; and considered, but eventually rejected, plans of trail sabotage all ensued. It was really a none-too-quiet war of the loud muffler, which had many small battles being waged mainly by my father. I think he tried to enlist some allies, but most of the neighbors didn't seem to mind, or figured the kid would grow out of it soon enough. Ultimately the police didn't want to be involved either, and I think, soon enough, the kid grew out of it. But I don't blame my dad for taking a stand. Freedom from expression, or something like that. Besides, this was Elmhurst: a nice, quiet community situated along the banks of the lazy Salt Creek. This wasn't some garbage dump community bordering a retaining wall of an industrially toxic drainage ditch, was it?

Even though Kuceric got to my dad a little bit--it seemed he knew it: relishing the possibility of confrontation--I never had any personal run-ins with Kuceric the Elder. But sometime during the height of the war I happened upon the younger sister. I was alone, out by the creek, dumping grass clippings in the woods, or some such borderline misdemeanor, when from out of the underbrush appear three "burnouts", including Diane--sister of the sworn enemy of the Keenan state. She confronts me, in all of her green army-jacketed, nicotine-stained, Dee Snider-locked glory: "Heh, here's that jerkoff Keenan kid, the one whose dad keeps calling the cops on my brother. What's your dad's fucking problem, kid?" I shrugged. "Tell yer dad he's a real fucking jerkoff." Umm, okay. Too stoned, or too bored to engage, she spit on the ground, nodded her head to her compatriots, and moved the troops out. As she walked away, I noticed she was carrying an BB rifle. I guess I'll never know how close we came to total annihilation that day.
Midwest, I guess for November 28:

Every Thanksgiving when I was a child, we would go to my aunt Mary's house for Thanksgiving dinner. She made the best stuffing in the world. I could eat nothing else and be content. I never did, of course. Maybe next year if you're cooking and don't already have a stuffing tradition, you can try this. Here's the recipe:

Apple-Sausage Stuffing

1 lb. sausage
1 c. diced bacon (about 10 slices)
1 large onion, chopped
1 c. celery, chopped
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
2 apples, cored and diced
1 c. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp.each dried sage, dried thyme
2 tbs. butter
1 loaf (1 lb.) firm bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 c. chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste

1. Fry bacon and sausage in a dutch oven, uncovered, until crisp and brown.
2. Remove meat to paper towels, drain off fat from pan.
3. Add to pan: onion, celery, mushrooms, apples, parsley, herbs, 2 Tbs. butter. Stir for 1-2 minutes to mix.
4. Cover and cook 10 minutes until apples are soft.
5. Uncover and stir for another 1-2 minutes.
6. Stir in bread, broth, meat.
7. Season to taste.
8. Pour into bowl, cover, cool slightly.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

This week's sign that the Blogpocalypse is upon us:

Barbie™ has a blog. (via boingboing) Check out some of the entries...

11/4/2002 Hip Hop Rocks (so does Robbie)
Just chillin’, listening to some hip-hop. Burning copies of the hottest new CDs. Speaking of hot, it’s been 4 days since my cutie Robbie called. Not that we’re boyfriend and girlfriend or anything, but we definitely flirt. Hmmm… I wonder what’s up with that…
Before it comes via your inbox, part II:

No wonder Bush can't find Osama. (via doc)

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

That crazy Italian doctor says his patient is ready to give birth to the world first cloned human baby sometime in January 2003. This guy qualifies as a Frankenstein like mad scientist. In that sheep “Dolly”, it was found that her cells were behaving “older” than her actual age. She now has arthritis at a much younger age than most sheep. This study shows cloned mice with a shorter than average life expectancy due to possible immune deficiencies.

What if he creates a human child with a 10-20-year life expectancy? Is that the gift of life? Aren’t there starving children in the world that need adoption? Is human vanity so great that the infertile must clone themselves to satisfy the need for procreation?

If this cloned child is screwed, we can at least use it for …………..spare parts?
What the Fuck? (aka "Further Proof We're Living Under Plutocratic Rule")

"Visa" Torn From Dictionary by Credit Card Company

In October 2002, credit card giant Visa convinced a Las Vegas federal court to prevent the small business JSL Corp. from using the term "evisa" and the domain "" for its website offering travel, foreign language, and other multilingual applications and services. The court ruled that the website--run by Joe Orr from his apartment-- "diluted" Visa's trademark, even though the site uses the word "visa" in its ordinary dictionary definition, not in relation to credit card services.
Before it comes via your inbox:

Screenshot of President Bush using Windows. (via boingboing)
Please stay away from the brown acid...

Man cleared of removing girl's teeth - "She was found in April at their home..., with her body covered in blood and 18 of her teeth either in a bowl or on the bed. But she told the... Court she had removed her own teeth in an attempt to stop a 'luminous green and pink fly' from choking her." (via boingboing)

Monday, November 25, 2002

How about a little Tofurkey with some wheat-grass gravy for this years Thanksgiving? Yummy!
Hey, y'all... me anna my sistur tern twenny-fuckin-one ta-day! Ya hear? All y'all poe-lice can all jus kiss our legul assus!
Wondering if there will be a new definition of waystud after tonight's blowout on the Crawford ranch... Bush twins turn 21.
Miranda rules for police face challenge

You fellas wanna read me my rights?
You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to have your face kicked in by me. You have the right to have your balls stomped by him.
I'll waive my rights.

Previous Miranda post here.
Monday Morning Picture Party...


Bulldozers work to construct a wall against a scalding river of lava creeping down the slopes of Mt. Etna, Sicily, on Nov. 24. (AP/Fabrizio Villa) - Previous Etna post here.


Michael Jackson accepting some award, blah blah blah. And you thought Halle Barry was "light-skinned"... or Boris Becker "Aryan-white".


An iceberg was discovered by the Argentine Army about 200 kilometers from the coastal city of Mar del Plata, Argentina, on Nov. 21. Specialists said the iceberg, some 700 meters long, was an unusual find during the springtime in the southern hemisphere. (AP/Jorge Mangione) - Reminds me of the Onion's "Ross Ice Shelf to Embark on World Tour" headline from a few months back. Previous global warming posts: here, here, here, and here.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Chunk of the Rock for November 22:

Paul Smith

I remembered the guy's name. It was, and maybe still is, Paul Smith. He lived on the next block down on Hawthorne, the dead-end block, halfway between our house and Eldridge Park. Smith was the neighborhood punk, tough guy, angry young man. He used to cruise the area on his ten-speed, handle bars flipped up, with a scowl on his face that made you run for your backyard. Come to think of it, I'm not sure he did much more to us than steal the occasional ball we were playing with or knock over our bikes just to piss us off. But he was one scary dude nonetheless. He lived with his folks who seemed a little too old to be his parents. Like grandparent old, more than a generation removed. We didn't know much else about him. He hung with some bullies from north of Eldridge School on Fairview. Lawrence Les was one of them, and the other a tall heroin-skinny brillohead whose name escapes me at the moment. Together they rounded out their own version of the Stooges, but more like a nightmare version that somehow mixes Shemp, Curly Joe, and Larry (you always gotta have Larry)--you can live without Curly, but no Moe? Pure nightmare.

I remember hanging with Manzo around this time and Eldridge had already turned into the Community Center. This would put me between third and sixth grade, so call it 1980 for the sake of argument. One day, coming out of the gym, the Moeless Stooges confronted us and stole my basketball. (Who was with me? I think we were three.) It was like a fucking family heirloom, that ABA-colored rock, that had been shot countless times until bald, by three Keenan men. There was no fucking way those clowns were going to take my ball. I held my ground, calling them every name I thought was in the book, my courage bolstered by the fact that we at least had even numbers, if not even size. And then, for some reason, perhaps out of some distorted Bully respect, they gave it back to me and turned their attention to pestering Manzo. Heirloom saved, Stooge crisis averted for another day.
Averted...for now?

Scary stuff.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

In this week’s The Boondocks comic strip, author Aaron McGruder suggests that Winona Ryder’s easy sentence is because she is white. Today, McGruder’s target is Dawson Creek’s Joshua Jackson, claiming he too will receive preferential treatment because he is white. Hey Aaron, remember O.J.? These people are rich. Rich people are the one who go unpunished for their crimes.

A few weeks ago, Terrell Owens (49er’s receiver) celebrated a touchdown by pulling a Sharpie marker from his sock, signing the football and handing it to a fan. You’re cool! After receiving sharp(ie) criticism for the celebration, Owens claimed his critics were racially motivated.

"We're (African-Americans) more expressive than the white guys," Owen said.
"You look at the skilled players. We're the ones that get into the end zone.
We get in the end zone more than they do."

Racism is still prevalent in the United Stated, but so is playing the race card. It’s a shame that statements like these take away from the legitimacy of the real issues. Mr. Owens…you’ll never be a professional or collegiate coach in ANY sport, and it’s not because of the color of your skin. It’s the absence of your brain.
Bully Story #2

The Life of a School Bully

Fascinating, well-written account of what happens to the schoolyard tough after the school bell rings for a final time.

Douglas Milteer was my childhood bully. Pudgy, pugnacious, usually scowling, Douglas terrorized a lot of kids in our neighborhood in Monsey, N.Y., often in league with his brothers. For a time, I was his favorite target, subject to impromptu beatings and continual teasing and the constant dread these inspired. All three Milteer boys were angry and violent, and I could never figure out why.

Eventually, Douglas moved on to other prey. We grew up. I lost track of the Milteer boys. But like many people, I never forgot my bully. Then, unlike most people, I caught up with mine. He had died, alone and destitute at age 33.

I never really had a bully. And I never really bullied anyone myself. I guess I fell into that category that I like to call "medium guy": Just big enough not to fuck with, just popular enough to ignore. But there were a couple of (seemingly) much older neighborhood ruffians that terrorized us younger kids. I can't recall their names just now, but could easily pick them out of a lineup if I had to; and wouldn't have been surprised if I had ever been called to do so. One guy cruised the block riding a ten-speed bike with the handle bars flipped up backwards. He actually reminded me of a freckled, redheaded version of Deebo from the movie "Friday". But more on him tomorrow...
Bully Story #1

A pinhead editorial writer's adventure in the No Spin Zone

"Factor" this into your television viewing...
You know, we can put a man on the moon, but we're still hauling fossil fuels around in fragile boats that burn other fossil fuels? This sucks.
Midwest...I guess

Bagley Rapids
About an hour and 15 minutes northwest of Green Bay (between Shawano and Mountain) you'll find a marvelous little campground called Bagley Rapids.
It's medium-sized, with thirty sites, but in mid-week summer it's nearly deserted. Spot number 5 is at the top of a small hill, surrounded by lush, old trees, and is probably 20 feet from the water's edge. The largest rapid (photos) along the campground is right there. So imagine sleeping next to that. Pure camping heaven. The pictured "complexly intruded granitic rock" extends almost halfway across the river at this point. It's a great spot for having your dinner, drinking, basking, and just taking it in. And all for the low, low US fee campground price of 10 bucks.

Living out west, I now have a greater appreciation for the lushness of Wisconsin. Camping in Utah gives me a similar natural beauty overload, but returning to Bagley last year reminded me of what I'm missing - basically trees and water. Sigh.

Take the trip if you can.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Eye of Newt and toe of frog...

In a shocking turn of events and what will surely be direct embarrassment number two for President Bush II, U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) has led eight Republican congressmen in calling for Bush to denounce the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America for its policy of accepting homosexual mentors. (Story | Letter to President). In attempting to equate homosexuality to pedophilia, Tancredo has stepped over the far right boundary of his party yet again.

In addition to Tancredo, the letter was signed by Republican Reps. Bob Schaffer of Fort Collins; Chris Smith of New Jersey; Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania; Ernest Istook and John Sullivan of Oklahoma; John Hostettler and Brian Kerns of Indiana; and Jim Ryun of Kansas.

Direct embarrassment number one occurred when Tancredo criticized the President's immigration policy as a "political device". Oh yeah, as an added bonus, President Bush and the first lady are honorary chairs of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America and the organization was also chosen by Bush to help recruit one million mentors over the next five years.

Is the Grand Old Party going to blow it like they did in 1994, by taking their narrow, albeit impressive, victory over the Democratic Party as a strong conservative mandate? (Previously mentioned here.) David Broder thinks so: "Back to the Usual Pork". He outlines some of the changes that Dick Armey and crew made to the Homeland Security bill before it's second passage in the House. Try some of these additions on for size:

· Reversal of previous House decision to forbid the Department of Homeland Security to give contracts to companies that have established overseas addresses in order to avoid paying U.S. taxes.
· Gave immunity from liability lawsuits to companies that make anti-terrorism devices.
· The pharmaceutical industry, a major contributor to this fall's successful Republican campaigns, was given a provision that would restrict the liability of companies that make smallpox vaccine in cases where the recipient falls ill or dies. And Eli Lilly got protection on a different product that has been the subject of litigation.
· And finally, The Post reported, [Tom] DeLay put in a provision putting (his alma mater) Texas A&M in line for the first piece of pork from the new department, a university research center on homeland security.

Will all the ingredients of the new Republican juggernaut come together, seamlessly blending the three distinct branches of GOP-controlled government, or will certain flavors stand out and sour the stew? Where is the united front with the White House on policy or is the policy already shifting? Is the party beginning to splinter after the Big Win hangover has subsided or was this the plan all along? For example 1, just last week incoming Senate majority leader, Trent Lott said that he suddenly is attracted to the idea of militarizing our borders, "an indication the Republican Party may harden its stance on immigration after last week's sweep in midterm elections". This is, of course, a policy that the anti-immigration stalwart Tancredo has also embraced. One wonders how past generations of Tancredos arrived on our country's shores. (Previous Tancredo mentions here and here.) For example 2, George Bush has been appointing abstinence-only advocates to the presidential advisory panel on AIDS. The appointees, in the meantime, have begun to wage a stealth war on condom use.

So, are these examples of the GOP just playing good politics--as if the future of at-risk youth is a game to be won or lost, as if the security of Americans is to be tossed about like poker chips--by appearing to embrace the "center" to win votes and then charging as far right as they can as fast as they can? I guess it all remains to be seen, but the future looks none too bright.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Alabama judge loses Ten Commandments case - Score one for the continued separation of church and state.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Why Grubman Was So Keen To Get His Twins Into the Y - Quite possibly the most hilarious and disturbing story I have read in awhile. It would be utterly comical if it weren't all true.

Sunday, November 17, 2002


Face shot.

Friday, November 15, 2002

“Falwell, in a recent interview with CBS' "60 Minutes," said he had concluded from reading Muslim and non-Muslim writers that the Prophet Muhammad "was a violent man, a man of war." "I think Muhammad was a terrorist," the conservative Baptist minister said.

Muslims were outraged. An Iranian cleric called for his death……….”
You Are a Suspect

Interesting little op-ed piece from William Safire. Yes, that Bill Safire. So before you conservatives roll your eyes, thinking this a just another spout piece by just another bleeding heart, you had better think again. He outlines some of the last minute changes that have been tacked onto the Big Brother Act.

If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you:
Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as "a virtual, centralized grand database."

This is not some far-out Orwellian scenario. It is what will happen to your personal freedom in the next few weeks if John Poindexter gets the unprecedented power he seeks.

Once a Poindexter, always a Poindexter, that's what I always say.

See also: EFF's Chilling Effects of Anti-Terrorism

If you feel like weighing in on the issue, check out I just sent a letter to both of my Senators urging them to vote "no" on Homeland Security. I doubt it will do much good, but what could it hurt? What are they going to do, make my name the first on the Big Brother watchlist?
I guess not having a major attack on US soil in over a year, eliminating the Taliban, pushing an Iraqi disarmament resolution through the UN Security Council, killing and capturing dozens of to Al Qaeda leaders, and breaking up sleeper cells in the US constitutes little progress in the war on terrorism to Democrats and the NY Times.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Donahue ratings grim for MSNBC

But it’s “too soon to tell” for MSNBC, who signed Phil to a $1million contract this past summer. Monday, the network changed to a “new” format, which has Donahue running up and down the aisles of his studio audience…again. The plug, “Real people, real issues” separates him from the DAYTIME talk shows, I guess.

Last night a fistfight almost broke out between Reverend Al Sharpton and Pat Buchannan, while discussing border controls. Fortunately, the bouncers we able to break things up before any chairs were thrown.
Yesterday, with the backing of the United States, the U.N. declared open-season for elephant poachers in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.
There's None Better - "York will be going for its 22nd state cross-country championship under coach Joe Newton on Saturday [this article was published on Friday, November 8]. And win or lose, the Dukes will be No. 1 in my book: the best high school athletic program around."

Actually, the Long Green Line did win #22 last weekend. Nice work, men!

Is there a dominant prep program in the area that better reflects what high school sports is all about than York cross-country? I'm talking about one that competes for state championships without recruiting outside its district, without competing in the summer, without transfers or kids who have been competing since they were 8 years old, without club teams to serve as a pipeline for talented athletes, one that wins state championships with average kids.

My mom sends me the newpaper clippings every time there's a story about Coach Newton in the Chicago papers. And that's fairly often. If I were more organized, I could have built a Joe scrapbook by now and kept it under my pillow for general inspiration. For I doubt there is anyone that I have met in my life more inspirational than Joe Newton. Please feel free to read a previously published Chunk of the Rock about Coach here.
American Experience | Jimmy Carter

Seems to me, after watching this special, that Carter was a President who primarily strived for peace and personal accountability. (Conservatives: allow me to offer up "President Peacenik" to you) He probably more embodies the essence of Christianity than a large percentage of self-proclaimed evangelists in this country. I am fascinated by his "Crisis of Confidence" address to the nation (aka the "malaise speech"). His point of accepting responsibility into your life, not worshipping the material, and toning down the quest for endless consumption are nothing if not still (and more) relevant today.

"In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns."

The Carter Administration's mistake, as the documentary pointed out, was in its post-address inaction. This speech was largely regarded as a sermon, without any real tangible backing. And while it can be acknowledged that this type of "do as I say, watch me do nothing" approach is really the antithesis of what this country was built on, I will also submit, that in time "do as I say, not as I do" has become the fuel for the engine that this country now runs on.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Who's up for the Guest Chunk this week (Friday)?

Update 11/13: You guys are tits.
Sphincterine ™ - Stimulates & Tingles Like An Astringent, but it's an Ass-tringent (via boingboing)

"This all natural personal freshener has been formulated to give you a clean, soothing, minty-fresh feeling all day long. Sphincterine Asstringent was developed for both men and women who like to feel fresh all over…even back there. Pure herbal extracts and clean natural ingredients make Sphincterine the right choice for your personal cleanliness."
Check out some of the ass-timonials:

"It’s Like Altoids for your Ass!” This Product Rocks! -- Kathryn K.-New York, NY.

By the way, notice that I didn't tell you if the credit card made an appearance during my visit to this site. I will appreciate it if you'd return the favor. This post does not necessarily serve as an edorsement for ass-tringent or any other ass-umed products or non-products to be related to or in proximity to the aforementioned nether regions.
DRUDGEREPORT remains one of the best sites on the web. Love him or hate him (and I don't care for his own reporting much), there's no better place on the web to find compelling stories under one roof (except for "gang").

"OVER 1 BILLION SERVED: The WALL STREET JOURNAL declared "Matt Drudge a born loser" [10/24/00, Shafer], the NEW YORK TIMES last week in a Page One story claimed people have been "reduced to logging onto the Web site of the gossip columnist Matt Drudge" [11/06/02, Stanley], but in every state and nearly every civilized nation in the developed world, readers know where to go for action and reaction of news -- at least one day ahead. Sometime this afternoon, the DRUDGEREPORT will pass one billion views of the site's main page: in the past year! Free from any corporate concerns, there are simply too many to thank since the site's inception in 1994. This new attempt at the old American experiment of full freedom in reporting is ever exciting."

How to Break the American Trance
This is an interesting commentary.
I read it after responding (to Tony) on Kevin's "Where do we go from here" post. It speaks to the constant bickering between "parties". Yes, it has a liberal slant, but pay attention to what they writer is saying about conservative vs. liberal.
It also considers something that really bugs me:
Why do so many poor or working class or even fairly well off people support the multi-billionaires affected by the "death tax?" Do they honestly believe this is a problem?
On my long walk across America, a man driving a garbage truck told me that the biggest problem facing America today was the inheritance tax. I didn't have to ask him if he had a radio in his truck.

And consider this:
True conservatives in our country don't have many political leaders to look to with respect. Among the last was Barry Goldwater. He believed that the government had no business in our bedrooms. He believed that a woman and her doctor didn't need the government's help in deciding her important issues. He would have laughed and then, I think, become very, very angry at Ashcroft's attacks on the Bill of Rights and his citizen-against-citizen snitching system. Goldwater believed that the only issue of importance regarding gays in the military was whether or not they could shoot straight.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Honoring the Union

“A Forest Park man is fighting the system as he tries to pay last respects to 395 veterans of the Civil War who are buried in Forest Park’s Forest Home cemetery - with no marker.

His name is Richard Vitton - and he says he's trying to correct a wrong. Vitton says 1,234 veterans of the Civil War are buried in Forest Home cemetery in Forest Park….. Vitton says 395 of them have no marker - no headstone….some of the soldiers fought at Antietam….he's gotten the government to agree to pay for the headstones and engraving them. The problem is with putting them up.

As soon as Vitton rounded up volunteers to do it, Forest Home cemetery told him their collective bargaining agreement wouldn't allow volunteers. So now he's afraid he'll have to raise as much as 80-thousand dollars to pay union workers to do it.”
Check out this PBS Now site with Bill Moyers, mainly the politics and Economy section.

They pose the question of whether or not “democracy is dead” in the United States since only 54.7% of the voter aged population actually votes. This is a clever way to say, “since the Democrats lost everything this last election, democracy might be dead.” They give a list of countries from first to worst by percentage of population. Italy is #1 with 92.5% voting (even though Italy has had like 50 new government in 25 years, this must constitute a thriving democracy). I guess they forgot about Iraq’s 100% recent turnout for Saddam.

Bill Moyers commentary on the recent elections is hilarious. He actually manages to reverse the concept of redistribution by saying Republican control, “includes using the taxing power to transfer wealth from working people to the rich.” Really?? How do you transfer wealth from someone who doesn’t have it in the first place? Well, I guess if you say it, it’s true. He forgot to mention cutting all funding for Public Broadcasting, which would probably end his career. See if you can detect the same frustrated bitterness I do.

Take the “Free Speech Quiz”. I got 9 out of 9 correct, even the Hollywood question, “Which actor played a character associated with free speech?” If your not yet enlightened, Larry Flynt’s existence is about Free Speech, not misogynistic pornography.
The Origins of Veterans Day
RE: Last Tuesday, where do we go from here?

1. Daschle, Gephardt: 'political strategy is working' - Funny.

"As the Democrat most supportive of President Bush, I obviously have the best chance of being elected to replace him" [Gephardt] explained, adding that "voters aren't stupid. Once they realize that I agree with the president on everything, and that I'm much better looking, naturally they'll vote for me instead."

2. Nancy Pelosi Fights to Lead the Democrats - True.

Pelosi would seek to bring House Democrats further left than the aforementioned Gephardt's centrist politics. I'm all for it. With the Democratic party firmly planted in the center, or even just a little right of center these days, what's the difference between them and the Republicans then? Nothing. Disenfranchised liberals will continue to vote Green or just stay home if they think their needs are not being attended to.

An aggressive progressive, Pelosi has long argued that Democrats need to clearly distinguish themselves from Republicans on domestic and international issues. Now, she can point to Tuesday's election results -- in which Democrats who opposed the Bush agenda on taxes and war ran better than those who compromised with the administration -- as confirmation of her view.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Chunk of the Rock for November 8:

Butterfly Market

Though technically, and literally, located across the tracks in Berkeley, IL, the Butterfly kept our adolescent whistles wet with beer whenever we needed it. The 'Fly resided in one of the storefronts across from Q's Pizza on Butterfield Road. The owner was a Ralph Kramden-esque character, overweight and overcombed, appetite so large he willingly doled out 12-packs to area teenagers. Well, maybe not whole-heartedly. He knew what he was doing, but did I detect some regret in his demeanor? Or was it just the worry of getting caught? You would think the authorities had to be involved at that level. Especially on the constantly-monitored speed-trap thoroughfare that was Butterfield Road. I mean, on weekends that back parking lot would be jam packed with kids fueling up and planning the evening's events. At least until shoo-ed away by one of the proprietor's sons. It seems as though the Butterfly was the quintessential hit-and-run operation--Butterfly by night, if you will--nearly as soon as someone "discovered" the ease with which you could procure liquor there, the place was papered up. I think its run lasted less than a year. Scratch that... time flies now... I bet it was more like six months.

One time Kramden pulled me aside while we were stacking up our loot. He said sternly, "I don't mind you guys coming in here, but you gotta tell these younger kids to cool it. They'll ruin it for everyone." Everyone, indeed. We were 16 or 17 years old, who could he have been referring to?
image image

Andrew Fastow, former Enron CFO. What a difference a year makes.
Another Bush Victory

The United Nations Security Council has just passed a unanimous resolution (15-0) calling for Saddam to disarm, or face “serious consequences.” By playing hardball, and threatening unilateral action, President Bush and Colin Powell were able to move the Security Council to finally act. Even Syria, who was expected to abstain or vote no, sided with the US.
Sorry Wilco fans, there will be no pre-Thanksgiving show in Chicago this year. The good news is you can listen to their second to last show of their tour live from St. Louis on Saturday, Nov. 9th at 9pm right here. It's a free and easy download.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Midwest, I guess

Ozark National Scenic Riverways

It's all about cold chillin on this lazy man's camping and canoeing destination. Located 450 miles from Chicago and 950 mi from Denver, Salem, MO is the home of Akers Ferry Canoe Rental. This family owned operation has roots dating back to the mid 1800's! It's all so simple on the Current River-- you start by setting up camp at Akers and plan your trip with their staff for the next 1-7 days. You decide how long you want to rough it. Your day(s) pretty much go like this... awake (and....), canoe for half the day (3-4 hours), chow, canoe for half the day, arrive at your evenings camp where your tent and supplies await (usually 16-19 miles takes 7 hours) , repeat. On a scale of one to ten, I rate the difficulty level of canoeing the Current River a two. Sit back and check out the animals scurrying on the bank, birds flying overhead screaming alarms, bluffs (diving off some is possible), natural springs and caves. The various campgrounds along the way have tucked away places to set up camp and clean showers. Once you reach the end of your line on the river you can either take a van back up to Akers or have someone from their staff drive it down to you. My one and only trip here was in the summer of 1992. Looking forward to getting back.
Tonight the “anti-globalization” protestors have graced Chicago with their presence, to protest a meeting of the Transatlantic Business Dialog.

As a result of their protest, which started at 4:30 (I’m sure there were some 4:20 bong sessions to get everyone pumped), the travel times out of the city to the Suburbs have tripled tonight, due to parking restrictions, street closures, and everyone fleeing the city at the same time. What should normally take an hour, tonight will take two or three. Only a 6 to 12 inch blizzard does the same damage. I actually got in my car, and after 45 minutes of unsuccessfully entering I-55, I turned around and came back to the office.

So while the people without jobs, who protest companies and organizations that provide jobs, get their “message” on the 5:00 news, we Chicagoans with jobs are stuck in our cars, or the office, missing dinner with our families.

Rich Daley has threatened legal action and law suits against any protestors that cause damage to any city property or building. Hopefully my reward for such aggravation will be watching a few anarchist skulls being cracked by Chicago’s Finest on the 10:00 news.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

From the Sports page...

Dale Carter is reinstated by the NFL after his suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. He's picked up by the New Orleans Saints. Saints coach Jim Haslett says, "we got a little better today." Who the fuck is he kidding? That cokehead was burnt out and washed up three years ago when he was in Denver. Also, isn't bringing Carter to Bourbon Street a little like asking the Drugstore Cowboy to tend the pharmacy while you're away?

Michael Vick showed just how dangerous he can be last week when he said: "I have two weapons: My legs, my arm and my brains."

Heard on the espn Sunday night football game a couple of weeks back from the mouth of commentator Paul McGuire: "Both defenses have been out there a long time tonight." Think about it.
I've been waiting two weeks to use this one...

DeGette drops the Chlouber
Ads Are Stupid

A funny look at the lowest-common-denominator targeting of television ads.
Product: Coors Light

Synopsis: Asses/mini-skirts. Clinking cans. Aerial view of football field. Smiling cheerleader. Low-five! Fattish guy in a parking lot with grill, frattish white guy throws football, frattish black guy catches it, date-rapish guy kisses girl. Someone eating meat from various angles: Meat, meat, meat! Painted-face retarded man in clown wig cheers at stadium! [Italics mine]

Sound familiar? Selling Sexism and Suds
Bush’s Coattails

Halleluiah, Halleluiah, Halleluiah, Halleluiah, Hall-e-e-luuuuu-iah!

The GOP keeps the House, gains control of the Senate, Jeb wins huge in Florida, and James Carville wears a garbage can over his head on CNN’s election coverage.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

The Pitt-iful State of Your Investments

The Pitt Principle

Let's call it the Pitt Principle. The famous Peter Principle said that managers fail because they rise to their level of incompetence. The Pitt Principle tells us that sometimes incompetence is exactly what the people in charge want.

Don't forget to vote today and don't forget about those sweeping changes on Wall Street that have failed to materialize since the subject changed. (Even the venerable defender all things free market, the Wall Street Journal, and hyper-conservative Cal Thomas are clucking their tongues at Pitt for his shady selection of William Webster to head the accounting reform panel.)

Update 11/6: Pitt's resignation letter

Monday, November 04, 2002

The freemasons are growing their ranks in Cuba. But they've got nothing on the stonecutters...

Who controls the British crown?
Who keeps the metric system down?
We do! We do!
Who leaves Atlantis off the maps?
Who keeps the martians under wraps?
We do! We do!
Who holds back the electric car?
Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?
We do! We do!
Who robs the cave fish of their sight?
Who rigs every Oscars night?
We do! We do!

My favorite line from this great episode is delivered by Marge after Homer has been exposed as a fraudulent "chosen one", he resorts to hanging out with a bunch of monkeys: "Homer, you can't just keep hanging out with these colobus monkeys. Somebody's going to get parasites."
30 second movie review

Rent Insomnia. I had my doubts before viewing it since Pacino makes one good move out of the 75 a year he's in and Robins Williams is pretty much an ass. Expectations smashed. Fine acting by daboatofem. Pacino hasn't been this good in 20 years. Filmed in Alaska the movie has a great look to it as well. Nolan ("Memento") has joined the ranks of directors (Lynch, Coen Bros., Altman ect...) who's new releases are must sees. I probably liked this one more than Memento because my head didn't feel like exploding (and oh what an explosion is would have been) with all the crazy twists and turns. If you have seen it already go here for further insight. 4 stars.
Wallets of Darkness

A Chicago Sun-Times reporter intentionally dropped 20 wallets around Chicagoland to see what would happen. So far, 11 have been returned. Story

You find a wallet on the sidewalk. It is full of personal stuff--baby pictures, a grocery list, a love note, a prayer card from a grandmother's funeral, an ATM card, coupons, an ID card and $20.

What would you do?

You would return the wallet, of course. You are a Chicagoan, and Chicagoans are honest.

About this we have no doubt.

It's stories like this that make me believe that journalism is inherently good.
A Comforting Spouse Could Turn Out to Be a Real Pain

New research presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, going on now in Orlando, "offers the first clear neural evidence that social experiences can directly alter the way the brain responds" to chronic pain. This is huge. Researchers are only beginning to scratch the surface (probably both literally and figuratively) of the human brain. It sounds like they have also been able to draw a correlation between pain experienced at a very early age and the ability to tolerate pain later in life.

Neurons and neural circuits are constantly remodeling themselves to accommodate the influence of experience, whether it is the stimulation of computer games, too much stress or the actions of an overly sympathetic helpmate, new research shows. Indeed, the experience of surgery during infancy can alter the body's pain responses for a lifetime, researchers said Sunday...

The study also seems to beg the question, should we really be telling our loved ones who are in pain to just stop being a pain in the ass?

"The psychological environment in which you live can influence the experience of pain."

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Creative Use of Flash, Part IV


Since we're developing a theme here... This clock made the rounds last year, and just showed up on Metafilter again. Pretty neat.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Senator John Q. Citizen
Chunk of the Rock for November 1:


McGregor's was a nightclub on the corner of North Avenue and Route 83 in Elmhurst. A lot of punk bands used to play there in the late 80's and early 90's. It was a weird mix of sports bar, biker bar, and punk rock hangout. I guess you could say it attracted all the flavors of the white trash rainbow.

Sometime after I graduated from college, a few of us went to go see Pegboy there. During the set they announced that this was going to be "the last Pegboy show ever." I have since seen three more of those.
Get the poster.
Standing in line. (from the Dialect Survey)
The New Politics of Pot

Out of 113,418 votes cast in this Time poll, 84% say pot should be legalized. (via boingboing)
So it's the day after Halloween, time to bust out an old fav on all your friends and co-workers: "Hey, Halloween's over, you can take off the mask now."

Also, stop me if I've told you this one... How come witches can't have babies? Cause their husbands all have hollow weenies. I'll be here all week...
Creative Use of Flash, Part III

Atari Adventure

Remember this game? Wow. How about the easter egg in this game--"the hidden room"--where an invisible dot allows you to view the name of Warren Robinett, the game's programmer. So now I know.
Midwest, I guess for October 31 - Happy Halloween!

Ferrara Pan Candy Company

In 1908, Salvatore Ferrara, an Itailan immigrant, moved to Chicago, opened a confectionary, and the Cubs won the World Series for the last time. Eleven years later, in 1919, the White Sox threw the World Series and brothers-in-law Ferrara, Salvatore Buffardi, and Anello Pagano, formed a partnership and built a factory at 2200 W. Taylor Street in which to create panned candy. The second plant in Forest Park came later. Incredibly, these same three families still own the company today.

Who doesn't love Lemonheads or the occasional Atomic Fireball? My grandparents used to live in Forest Park, not very far from the Ferrara Pan factory on W. Harrison. I loved visiting them for the stories my grandfather told, my grandmother's cooking, and the scent of candy that was cooking up and blowing out into the neighborhood that day. You could literally smell the main ingredients--lemon, cinnamon, or maple (Boston Baked Beans)--of their signature brands.

Does anyone remember some of the lesser known, and since retired, Ferrara Pan candy brethern? How about Cherry Chan or Alexander the Grape? And wasn't there a green apple-spawned cousin as well? I guess it's not surprising that Cherry Chan changed his name to Cherry Clan over the years.