Friday, June 22, 2007

Language To Charm Air Travelers

"The first-class bathroom is for first-class passengers. There are two other bathrooms for coach passengers."
(Like, where? Where'd they put the outhouses in this Airbus 319?)
"We apologize for the lengthy delay. We'll be airborne just as soon as a few numbers arrive."
(Like what? Eight? Eleven? Pi?)
"The captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign. We expect violent turbulence as we approach Albuquerque!"
(Oh great! Violence! A bone-crunching good time!)

As it turned out, there were only a few minor bumps.
Babies On Board

I came to claim my airline seat, and you could see the disappointment in the eyes of the couple in the adjacent seats. They had been hoping against hope that the seat would remain unoccupied, for the benefit of their squirming toddler daughter.

Meanwhile, next to the nursing mother, the seat in front of me remained unoccupied. So, when to move forwards?

I waited till after she finished nursing, but just before takeoff. The young couple made a show of objecting: "don't worry, our daughter will fall to sleep as soon as we're airborne." But I knew better!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Brief Hiatus

Packed the bunny up to spend five days at Hotel VCA kennel (boy, she's a ton of bricks these days).

Taking Sparky to the vet this afternoon.

Joe The Plumber wants to eat sushi (???)

Off to Arizona for ash spreading, seeing the relatives, and checking into what Deborah and James and Doug are up to these days.

Catch ya'll next Tuesday at the latest, with bulletins in-between if possible!
For A Fun Time...

Get Hal to talk about his life practicing before the bar, how to pass the bar exam, the troubles with lazy lawyers, practicing in Lance Ito's courtroom, and why OJ is innocent. Not a life for the faint of heart!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Powerpoint!

With all its pluses and minuses:
One of the most elegant, most influential and most groaned-about pieces of software in the history of computers is 20 years old. There won't be a lot of birthday celebrations for PowerPoint; the program is one the world loves to mock almost as much as it loves to use.

While PowerPoint has served as the metronome for countless crisp presentations, it has also allowed an endless expanse of dimwit ideas to be dressed up with graphical respectability. And not just in conference rooms, but also in the likes of sixth-grade book reports and at

...Mr. Gaskins and Mr. Austin, now 63 and 60, respectively, reflected on PowerPoint's creation and its current omnipresence in an interview last week. They are intensely proud of their technical and strategic successes. But to a striking degree, they aren't the least bit defensive about the criticisms routinely heard of PowerPoint. In fact, the best single source of PowerPoint commentary, both pro and con, (including a rich vein of Dilbert cartoons) can be found at, his personal home page.

...Mr. Gaskins reminds his questioner that a PowerPoint presentation was never supposed to be the entire proposal, just a quick summary of something longer and better thought out. He cites as an example his original business plan for the program: 53 densely argued pages long. The dozen or so slides that accompanied it were but the highlights.

Since then, he complains, "a lot of people in business have given up writing the documents. They just write the presentations, which are summaries without the detail, without the backup. A lot of people don't like the intellectual rigor of actually doing the work."

Now grade-school children turn in book reports via PowerPoint. The men call that an abomination. Children, they emphatically agree, need to think and write in complete paragraphs.

...While the two certainly know how to use PowerPoint, neither consider themselves true power users. They don't even know many of the advanced features it has come to sport. They also have no patience with cubicle warriors who, in the guise of doing actual work, spend endless hours fiddling with fonts. And they like telling the joke that the best way to paralyze an opposition army is to ship it PowerPoint and, thus, contaminate its decision making, something some analysts say has happened at the Pentagon.

...If they have a lament, it's that complaints about PowerPoint are usually not about the software but about bad presentations. "It's just like the printing press," says Mr. Austin. "It enabled all sorts of garbage to be printed."
Bev Gives A Big Thumbs Up For "Beauty And The Beast"

Sounds good!:
If I were forced to give a one-word review of the Davis Musical Theater Company’s new production, “Beauty and the Beast,” directed by Steve Isaacson, with musical direction by Erik Daniells, it would have to be: wow.

“Beauty and the Beast” is a huge show. It started life as a Disney animated cartoon and was the first of such films to cross over from the silver screen to the stage in 1991. Its phenomenal success spawned the likes of “The Lion King” and “Mary Poppins,” and “Tarzan.”

With the financial backing of the Disney corporation, the stage show could dazzle with opulent costumes, intricate sets and wonderful special effects, something almost impossible for a small community theater on a small budget to reproduce. But DMTC does the best it can and can hold its head high for the end result.

You won’t find intricate sets, but you will find utilitarian sets (designed by Isaacson), and more set changes than I remember in a DMTC show.

Costume design by Denise Miles is outstanding. Belle’s final costume alone would not be out of place in a professional production. It’s gorgeous.

But what gives this show the “wow” factor is the energy, the stunning choreography by Ron Cisneros, who is wonderful at making non-dancers look like dancers, and the quality of the acting and singing.

Rachelle Jones is delicious as Belle, the spunky heroine, who, to save her father’s life, agrees to live in the castle of the Beast forever. Jones does not have a strong voice, but a sweet, clear, genuine voice and she created a real character, not a caricature. It was a captivating performance.

Gil Sebastian is perfect as Belle’s eccentric father, Maurice, the town inventor who gets lost in the woods and ends up in the dungeon of the Beast’s castle.

Tevye Ditter made an impressive Beast, a prince under the spell of an enchantress (Kristen Meyers, who appears later as Babette), doomed to live inside a hideous body unless he can find a woman to love him for who he is, not for how he looks. His growing love for Belle is unmistakable to the audience, less so, at first, to the Beast. Ditter has a powerful voice and his “If I can’t love her,” which ends Act 1, was the high point of the evening.

Gaston is the town hunk, whose self-esteem needs no bolstering. In his mind, he’s gorgeous and he knows it and has set his eye on the most beautiful girl in town, Belle, to be his wife, whether she wants to be or not. JR Humbert does a wonderful job at being the egotist who can’t believe that there could possibly be a woman who would not swoon at his advances.

Fifteen year old Chris Peterson is very funny as Gaston’s foil, LaFou, who gets tossed around so much one wonders if Peterson is going to end the run black and blue.

The bewitched prince’s house staff also comes under the curse of the Beast, and are gradually turning into furniture and other household objects. As the candelabra, Lumiere, Jon Jackson provides lots of fun. Lumiere gets all the best lines (“You’ve cut me to the wick...”) and Jackson makes the most of them.

Adam Sartain is Cogsworth, the major domo who is slowly becoming a clock and who plays off of Lumiere beautifully.

The ever-wonderful Lenore Sebastian is Mrs. Potts, the round little tea kettle, who pushes her son “Chip” (Sara Pinto) around in a tea cart and who sings the beautiful title song as the Beast and Belle’s romance begins to blossom.

Kristen Meyers is adorable as Babette, the feather duster in a feathered dress Ginger Rogers would have loved.

Carolyn Gregory is Madame de la Grande Bouche, the opera star who is now becoming a chest of drawers.

The trio of Silly Girls (Shannon Kendall, Carolyn Self, and Wendy Young), all vying for the love of Gaston, deserve special mention for their valiant attempt at a high-kicking can-can.

The 10 piece orchestra under the direction of Erik Daniells provides better than average accompaniment.

This is a huge cast for DMTC – I count 36 actors involved. While it moves fairly quickly, the pace may be a bit slow for younger children (two youngsters near me were quite squirmy), but children 8 and up (especially little girls) should love it.
Meter Maids

The Surfer's Paradise Meter Maids are either forty years old, or forty-three years old, but who's counting - whatever works for a celebration!:
The Surfers Paradise Meter Maids were introduced in 1965 by Bernie Elsey to help beat the bad image created by the installation of parking meters on the tourist strip in December 1964. This was a controversial promotion, using young women dressed in gold lame bikinis and tiaras, who strolled the streets of Surfers Paradise feeding coins into expired parking meters, and leaving a calling card under the windscreen wipers.

Gone are the outdated tiaras, replaced by the sun-conscious and true Aussie Akubra hat ideal for our tropical climate, while Gold Lycra Bikinis with the occasional sequin have replaced the traditional lame bikini....
How I'll Spend Retirement

Like this lady:
Deputies arrested a 94-year-old woman who spit on, hit and tried to bite authorities at a Bank of America in suburban Boca Raton today, the sheriff's office said.

The woman was upset over money she believed the bank owed her and became combative when a deputy asked her to leave, the sheriff's office said.

...She had visited the bank several times a week during the last month, claiming they owed her $16,000, Palenzuela said. But bank employees decided they'd had enough today and called the sheriff's office.

The deputy who first responded thought he could simply escort her out. But she was "anything but pleasant," and when the deputy picked up some of her things to encourage her to walk out with him, she hit him, Palenzuela said.

He thought she might have dementia or other medical issues. At one point, he called paramedics to have her checked out. When he tried to escort her out again, she started spitting at and trying to bite the assembled authorities, Palenzuela said.
Bill Richardson's Spastic Lurch Left

Apparently some Democratic candidates support the loophole-ridden Feingold-Reid bill. In an effort to distinguish himself from the Democratic pack, Bill Richardson doesn't support the bill. Nevertheless, he used to support the bill, but rather than own up to a change in heart, he tried to erase evidence of his former position - and gets nailed.
Learn Something New Every Day

The lovely dancer Jennifer Nairn-Smith, who negotiated the tricky transition between NYCB and Fosse, also choreographed Motley Crue's “Girls, Girls, Girls”.
Angelyne Fights The Man

Looks like it's time for the Candidates' Forum to ride to her aid!:
Angelyne can barely squeeze into the 8-foot-wide storage room. And not just because she's the buxom, bigger-than-life billboard queen of Los Angeles.

Boxes of printed posters and placards depicting her in glamorous poses fill the Hollywood self-storage space she is renting while she feuds with city redevelopment leaders and developers of a planned $500-million luxury project near the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.

...Angelyne operated her promotional company from a Selma Avenue office building for 18 years until she was forced out last fall to make way for a W Hotel, upscale retail shops, condominiums and apartments.

Developers paid relocation expenses for her and about 35 other tenants who were occupying shops and offices in the path of the Hollywood and Vine project.

But they are balking at her demand that they also pay for the reprinting of perhaps 100,000 promotional and souvenir items that list her old address.

"One of the developers said that is too much. He said, 'Honey, take me to court.' He talked to me like I was his ex-wife," she said, adjusting her dark glasses as sunlight streamed through the open storage room door. "I was stunned."

...And Angelyne is definitely a character — though she'd dispute the "old Hollywood" characterization. She became famous (locally, at least) in the early 1980s when a series of billboards popped up around the city featuring her in various sexy poses. Although she has appeared in several movies, she said her billboards have been shown in "hundreds" of films and TV shows.

In the 2003 gubernatorial recall election, Angelyne was one of 135 candidates. Running on the campaign slogan, "We've had Gray, we've had Brown, now it's time for some blond and pink," she finished 28th.

...She estimates it would cost about $400,000 to reprint her inventory with a new address — a sum the developer says is way too much.Those in charge of the Hollywood-Vine project contend they have played it straight with Angelyne and the other displaced tenants. They said relocation expenses of about $6 million have been paid.

"We've offered her a perfectly amiable solution to her problem. We've offered her a permanent address on the property. She can have mail sent to her old address and we will deliver it to her each day," said Jeff Cohen, senior vice president of Gatehouse Capital Corp., the Dallas-based developer of the project's hotel and commercial property.

"She's never shown us her inventory. Relocating her has not hurt her. We've followed every CRA rule and regulation. We've tried to be very fair. When somebody is making a claim we feel is creditless and we have offered a reasonable solution, we have to put it in somebody else's court."

"We don't just print money in the backyard and give it away," Cohen said.

...The standoff is puzzling to Thomas Zia, an Aptos, Calif. real estate consultant retained by Angelyne.

"In the 35 years I've been involved with relocation issues I've never seen anything like this. Under state law they're supposed to pay all of her moving costs and printing expenses for promotional material, business cards and stationery," Zia said.

"Her livelihood is based on her fan club and selling her items. An actual mailing address is important."

...Likened by some to an earlier era's Paris Hilton, Angelyne became famous for being famous because of her billboards.

As for her fan club, Angelyne claims "hundreds of thousands of members, or something like that — I don't know." Her website, meantime, states that club membership is about 20,000.

Although not a dues-payer, Hilton is among them, according to Angelyne — who met the now-jailed hotel heiress once: three years ago at a Hollywood night club.

"Paris said she's a fan," Angelyne says before slipping into her pink Corvette and driving off.
The America That Was Free And Is Now Dead

Publius is very tired of the Woodrow-Wilson-style politics of the Bush Administration, and thinks we should be a bit more humble:
At the outset, I should say that I support democratic capitalism as much as the next guy. I wish the whole world consisted of liberal democracies -- it would be a far better place. But, we conduct foreign policy with the world we have. And as recent history teaches us, the steps taken to promote democracy often make the world worse than it otherwise would be.

Democracy promotion (however you interpret it) is inherently revolutionary, not unlike Marxism-Leninism in this respect. The underlying logic of democracy promotion is that an existing regime is basically illegitimate unless it is sufficiently democratic. The implication is that many of the world’s current regimes -- including many of our allies and trading partners -- are illegitimate.

The ironic result is that, by affirming democracy promotion as an explicit foreign policy goal, it restricts our ability to promote liberal values and human rights in both these and other countries. Take Iran and our recent “democracy promotion” initiatives. Iran -- correctly -- believes that the American administration views its regime as illegitimate and wants it to go away. Accordingly, America’s efforts to promote liberal reforms and human rights in this country are viewed as threatening, revolutionary acts that must be resisted (and that require arrests). If, by contrast, the two nations worked from a mutual recognition of each other’s sovereignty and worked from this baseline, it would likely be easier to push Iran to adopt reforms (see, e.g., the 1990s). That’s because reforms would be seen more as human rights issues than pretexts for regime change.

Similarly, for good or bad, countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, and China are important strategic allies. That said, we should continue push for liberal reforms and human rights in these countries. But if we do so under the guise of “democracy promotion,” our reforms transform (in their eyes) into challenges to these regimes’ existence and legitimacy, and will therefore be less effective.
These observations are just a pale shadow of the thunderous denunciations of Woodrow Wilson in Walter Karp's collection of essays, called "Buried Alive" (1992, Harper's Magazine). When I first read Karp, I had the same sense I got when watching the movie "Network": here's the REAL deal!

There is an essay called 'The America That Was Free And Is Now Dead' where Karp gives vent to his Wilson loathing. And since there seem to be many parallels between these post 9/11 years, and the years following World War I, it's time to listen to Karp again!

In some ways Karp's rendering of the 1920's sounds more like a horrible, post-2008, post-Mad-Max apocalyptic alternative future that is just a year-and-a-half away. Reading the essay, just change 'Republicans' to 'Democrats', and 'Wilson' to 'Bush': Hillary Clinton plays the part of Warren G. Harding, and Rudy Giuliani plays the part of James Cox:
The triumph of Woodrow Wilson and the war party [World War I] struck the American republic a blow from which it has never recovered.

...The sheer fact of war was shattering in itself. Deaf to the trumpets and the fanfare, the great mass of Americans entered the war apathetic, submissive, and bitter. Their honest sentiments had been trodden to the ground, their judgment derided, their interests ignored. Representative government had failed them at every turn. A President, newly reelected, had betrayed his promise to keep the peace. Congress, self-emasculated, had neither checked nor balanced nor even seriously questioned the pretexts and pretensions of the nation's chief executive. The free press had shown itself to be manifestly unfree-a tool of the powerful and a voice of the "interests." Every vaunted progressive reform had failed as well. Wall Street bankers, supposedly humbled by the Wilsonian reforms, had impudently clamored for preparedness and war. The Senate, ostensibly made more democratic through the direct election of senators, had proven as impervious as ever to public opinion. The party machines, supposedly weakened by the popular primary, still held elected officials in their thrall. Never did the powerful in America seem so willful, so wanton, or so remote from popular control as they did the day war with Germany began. On that day Americans learned a profoundly embittering lesson: they did not count. Their very lives hung in the balance and still they did not count. That bitter lesson was itself profoundly corrupting, for it transformed citizens into cynics, filled free men with self-loathing, and drove millions into privacy, apathy, and despair.

...Well before the war, the war party had made its aims clear. It looked forward to a new political order distinguished by "complete internal peace" and by the people's "consecration to the State." It wanted an electorate that looked upon "loyalty" to the powerful as the highest political virtue and the exercise of liberty as proof of "disloyalty." The war party wanted a free people made servile and a free republic made safe for oligarchy and privilege, for the few who ruled and the few who grew rich; in a word, for itself. The goals had been announced in peacetime. They were to be achieved under cover of war. While American troops learned to survive in the trenches, Americans at home learned to live with repression and its odious creatures-with the government spy and the government burglar, with the neighborhood stool pigeon and the official vigilante, with the local tyranny of federal prosecutors and the lawlessness of bigoted judge's, with the midnight police raid and the dragnet arrest.

...By the time Wilson reached Paris in December 1918, political liberty had been snuffed out in America. "One by one the right of freedom of speech, the right of assembly, the right to petition, the right to protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, the right against arbitrary arrest, the right to fair trial . . . the principle that guilt is personal, the principle that punishment should bear some proportion to the offense, had been sacrificed and ignored." So an eminent Harvard professor of law, Zechariah Chafee, reported in 1920. The war served merely as pretext. Of that there can be little doubt. In a searing civil conflict that threatened the very survival of the republic, Americans, under Lincoln, enjoyed every liberty that could possibly be spared. In a war safely fought three thousand miles from our shores, Americans, under Wilson, lost every liberty they could possibly be deprived of.

Under the Espionage Act of June 1917, it became a felony punishable by twenty years' imprisonment to say anything that might "postpone for a single moment," as one federal judge put it, an American victory in the struggle for democracy. With biased federal judges openly soliciting convictions from the bench and federal juries brazenly packed to ensure those convictions, Americans rotted in prison for advocating heavier taxation rather than the issuance of war bonds, for stating that conscription was unconstitutional, for saying that sinking armed merchantmen had not been illegal, for criticizing the Red Cross and the YMCA. A woman who wrote to her newspaper that "I am for the people and the government is for the profiteers" was tried, convicted, and sentenced to ten years in prison. The son of the chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court became a convicted felon for sending out a chain letter that said the Sussex Pledge had not been unconditional. Under the Espionage Act American history itself became outlawed. When a Hollywood filmmaker released his movie epic The Spirit of '76, federal agents seized it and arrested the producer: his portrayal of the American Revolution had cast British redcoats in an unfavorable light. The film, said the court, was criminally "calculated . . . to make us a little bit slack in our loyalty to Great Britain in this great catastrophe." A story that had nourished love of liberty and hatred of tyranny in the hearts of American schoolchildren had become a crime to retell in Wilson's America. The filmmaker was sentenced to ten years in prison for recalling the inconvenient past.

...The War Enemy Division of the Justice Department had more important war enemies in mind. Every element in the country that had ever disturbed the privileged or challenged the powerful Wilson and the war party were determined to crush. They were the enemy. "Both the old parties are in power," Lincoln Steffens wrote a friend during wartime. "They are the real traitors these days. They are using the emergency to get even with their enemies and fight for their cause." Radicals were ruthlessly persecuted. The International Workers of the World was virtually destroyed in September 1917 when Justice Department agents arrested 166 I.W.W. leaders for heading a strike the previous June. Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist Party's candidate for President, was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment for attributing the world war to economic interests in a speech before a Socialist gathering. Under the cloak of "patriotic bodies" and armed with the federal police power, reactionary local businessmen and machine politicians crushed local radicals and prewar insurgents. The wartime tyranny in Washington spawned and encouraged a thousand municipal tyrannies.

"It was quite apparent," Howe recalled in his memoirs, "that the alleged offenses for which people were being prosecuted were not the real offenses. The prosecution was directed against liberals, radicals, persons who had been identified with municipal ownership fights, with labor movements, with forums, with liberal papers that were under the ban." The entire prewar reform movement was destroyed in the war, said Howe, "and I could not reconcile myself to its destruction, to its voice being stilled, its integrity assailed, its patriotism questioned. The reformers "had stood for variety, for individuality, for freedom. They discovered a political state that seemed to hate these things; it wanted a servile society.... I hated the new state that had arisen, hated its brutalities, its ignorance, its unpatriotic patriotism."

Most of all, Wilson and the war party were determined to corrupt the entire body of the American people, to root out the old habits of freedom and to teach it new habits of obedience. Day after day, arrest after arrest, bond rally after bond rally, they drove home with overwhelming force the new logic of "the new state that had arisen": Dissent is disloyalty, disloyalty a crime; loyalty is servility, and servility is true patriotism. The new logic was new only in America; it is the perennial logic of every tyranny that ever was. The new state affected men differently, but it corrupted them all one way or another.

..."The war has set back the people for a generation," said Hiram Johnson. "They have become slaves to the government." Yet the tolling of the bells for armistice brought no release to a corrupted and tyrannized people. To rule a free republic through hatred and fear, through censorship and repression, proved a luxury that the victors in the civil war over war refused to relinquish with the outbreak of peace. On Thanksgiving Day 1918, two weeks after the armistice, the war party, as if on signal, began crying up a new danger to replace the Hun, a new internal menace to replace the German spy, a new object of fear and hatred, a new pretext for censorship and repression. "Bolshevism" menaced the country, declared William Howard Taft, although Communist Party members constituted a minuscule .001 percent of the American population. Bolshevik propaganda menaced America, declared a Senate committee in the middle of winding down its investigation of the nonexistent German propaganda menace. Purge the nation of "Reds," declared the National Security League, opening up its campaign against "Bolshevism" a month after completing its hunt for "pro-Germans" and three and a half years after launching its campaign for "preparedness."

...The Republican oligarchy was bent on returning to power. Postwar America, degraded and despoiled, was an America made safe for their rule. There would be no trouble with reformers: the prewar reform movement had been destroyed. There would be no perilous popular demands for governmental action: Americans had grown to hate their government so much they merely wanted it lifted off their backs. The Republican Party, however, was not in good odor. Popular hatred of Wilson and the war was its only real asset, and Republican leaders had no choice but to exploit it as best they could. That hatred, as yet unvoiced by a citizenry too cowed to appear "disloyal," was a palpable force in the country nonetheless. It surged powerfully through the Middle West. It burned with white heat among the downtrodden "hyphenates." It waxed strong, too, among America's demobilized soldiers. By June 1919 some 2.6 million of them had returned from Europe, hating the war they had fought and the President who had conscripted them. If the Republicans could somehow identify themselves with that hatred, their triumph was assured and Wilson doomed.

...While Wilson was still at the (Versailles) peace conference, Republicans, led by Senator Lodge, launched their attack on the President through a concerted attack on his League. That a large majority of Republican senators favored a League of Nations in principle, that Wall Street supported Wilson almost unanimously, did not deter Republican leaders. For ventilating popular hatred, Wilson's League made the perfect outlet, and the party was not about to pass it up.

To attack Wilson's League was to attack Wilson's war, without incurring the dangers of doing so openly. Republicans assailed the League as a "breeder of war," denounced it as a "supergovernment" concocted by Wilson to snuff out American sovereignty. Unless altered by the Republican-controlled Senate, it would drag America, they said, into corrupt foreign conflicts under the pretense of international "obligation." The implication was clear. Wilson's League would inflict on Americans the kind of war they hated most-the one they had just fought. That Republican leaders had supported that war with the utmost enthusiasm, millions of Americans were past caring. Unrepresented for so long, they were meanly grateful for whatever crumbs men of power threw them.

To attack Wilson's League was to assault Wilson himself Of the actual merits and defects of the League of Nations, millions of Americans cared little. They knew only that Wilson wanted it and that was reason enough to oppose it. ... Wilson was reaping what he sowed. The President had robbed Americans of what they had cherished most. Now, spitefully and vindictively, millions of Americans wanted him deprived of what he cherished most. "Nine out of ten letters I get in protest against this treaty," a pro-League senator complained, "breathe a spirit of intense hatred of Woodrow Wilson.... That feeling forms a very large element in the opposition to this treaty." Licensed, as it were, by the Republican oligarchy, pent-up hatred of Wilson poured into the political arena. "No autocracy," shouted Republican foes of the League, and audiences booed "the autocrat's" name to the rafters. "Impeach him! Impeach him!" a Chicago Coliseum audience screamed after Senator William Borah of Idaho finished assailing Wilson's League. It was no edifying spectacle, this picture of free men deliberating grave issues with little thought save personal vengeance. Yet here again Wilson reaped what he sowed. He had been the chief instrument of the republic's degradation. Now hate-ridden millions howled for a degraded revenge.

...Contemporaries saw matters more clearly. The President was now discredited almost everywhere. His selfish, destructive course had disgraced him even in the eyes of admirers. With one year left of his term, he was utterly without power. In May Congress passed a joint resolution terminating the war with Germany. Wilson vetoed it and Congress overrode his veto. A few weeks later, the ailing half-mad President watched in disappointment as his party nominated Governor James Cox, a party hack from Ohio, to run for his office against Senator Warren G. Harding, a party hack from the same state.

Cox never stood a chance of winning. Just as millions of Americans had cared nothing about the merits of the League of Nations, so in 1920 they cared nothing about the merits of the candidates. The chief issue of the 1920 election was Thomas Woodrow Wilson. Wilson's enemies poured their support into Harding's campaign headquarters and it flowed in a torrent. Hatred of the President dominated the campaign. In the denunciations of Wilson the "dictator" and Wilson the "autocrat," Cox himself was virtually forgotten, buried, as the Springfield Republican put it, under a "mountain of malice." With nothing to recommend him save the fact that he was not a Democrat, Harding won the election with 16.2 million votes to Cox's 9.1 million. It was the most crushing election victory ever won by a presidential candidate of no distinction whatever. ... Today American children are taught in our schools that Wilson was one of our greatest Presidents. That is proof in itself that the American republic has never recovered from the blow he inflicted upon it.

In 1920 Americans yearned for the "good old days" before Wilson and war, before everything had gone so wrong. They yearned in vain. The war and the war party had altered America permanently, and since the war party had shaped America to serve its own interests, the change was a change for the worse. In postwar America the "despotism of professional politicians" went unchallenged. Independent citizens ceased to pester the party machines. The "good citizens" whose rise to civic consciousness had spawned the progressive movement now spurned the public arena in disgust. Wilson's hymns to "service" had made public service seem despicable. Wilson's self-serving "idealism" made devotion to the public good seem a sham and a fool's game. "The private life became the all in all," a chronicler of the 1920s has written. "The most diverse Americans of the twenties agreed in detestation of public life." The Babbitt replaced the political insurgent, and what was left of the free public arena was a Kiwanis club lunch. In 1924 three-quarters of the electorate thought it useless to vote.

...The Republican rulers even set about creating multi-corporate cartels to enable the monopolists to govern themselves and the American people as well. This refurbished monopoly economy the rulers and their publicists praised fulsomely as the "American System," although it was a system prewar Americans had fought for thirty years and which the very laws prohibited. Herbert Hoover, the chief architect of the cartels, described the new economy as "rugged individualism," which was very like calling the sunset "dawn" or describing Wilson's neutrality as "America First," for official lies and catchphrases dominated the country after Wilson's demise as much as they had in his heyday. The catchphrases were crass rather than lofty. That was the chief difference.

Magazines that once thrived on exposing the corrupt privileges of the trusts now retailed gushing stories of business "success," supplied recipes for attaining "executive" status, and wrote paeans in praise of big business, although it was even more corruptly privileged in the 1920s than it had been in the days of the muckraker. America basked in unexampled prosperity, the publicists wrote, although half the country was poor and the farmers desperate. In the 1920s the poor became prosperous by fiat. America had entered an endless economic golden age, proclaimed the magnates of Wall Street whose ignorant pronouncements were now treated with reverence and made front-page news. Peace had returned to America, but the braying of bankers, not the voice of the turtle, was heard in the land. There were other diversions, too, for the populace: Babe Ruth, Red Grange, Al Capone, and an endless stream of songs and movies extolling the charms of college life, although most Americans had never graduated from high school. In postwar America the entire country lived on fantasy and breathed propaganda.

Against the fictions and the lies, where were the voices of dissent? There were few to be heard. What had happened to America's deep enmity toward monopoly and private economic power? It had virtually ceased to exist. It was just strong enough to call forth a few euphemisms. Republicans labeled the cartels "trade associations" and that was that. When the indomitable La Follette ran for President in 1924 as a third-party candidate, it was hardly more than the swansong of a cause long lost. Outside of a few of the old insurgent states (now known collectively as the "farm bloc," a mere special interest) the country fell silent. Apathy and cynicism were the universal state. The official propaganda of the 1920s meant little to most Americans, but by now they were inured to a public life that made no sense and to public men who never spoke to their condition. Like any defeated people, they expected their rulers to consider them irrelevant. Even when the Great Depression struck down the postwar economy (it was a house of cards) and toppled the tin gods of the 1920s, Americans remained as if dumbstruck. Foreign visitors to America in the early 1930s were astonished by the American people's docility, for we had never been docile before. In the 1893 depression America had looked like the Rome of the Gracchi; forty years later people whose life savings had been wiped out by the "American System" stood quietly on breadlines as if they had known breadlines all their lives.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bloomberg Jumps

From the GOP:
"I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party. Although my plans for the future haven’t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our City."
Regarding SiCKO

Kevin Drum makes a good observation:
It's true that I wish Michael Moore were a wee bit more scrupulous with the facts in his films, but I sometimes wonder if he doesn't insert random distortions into his movies deliberately. With rare exceptions, after all, they're small things that could just as easily have been presented correctly without damaging his narrative at all. But the end result is the kind of publicity money can't buy, and it's the sweetest kind of publicity of all: the kind that's subsidized by his enemies, who helpfully boost ticket sales by furiously denouncing his films for weeks on end.

With SiCKO, though, I'm willing to bet Moore mostly sticks to the facts. When you're dealing with the American healthcare industry, after all, the facts alone are usually hard enough to swallow. Anything more would simply seem implausible, like expecting us to believe that Katherine Heigl has a hard time getting a date.

Which, of course, explains why he shot part of SiCKO in Cuba. Sweden or Canada would have worked just as well, but probably no other country in the world could have produced the kind of howling denunciations from the National Review set that Cuba has produced. Even the State Department got briefly into the act. Really, Moore's brilliance at getting his mortal enemies to do all his publicity for him is unparallelled. His enemies' willingness to go along with this time after time is astonishing.
Party Like It's 1987

Need a way to get past the velvet rope:
KYLIE Minogue will reportedly splash out £500,000 on a party, set to coincide with the 20th anniversary of her first single topping the Australian charts.

A source told The Sun: "The date of the party is really significant to Kylie. When Locomotion went to No.1 in Australia on August 3, 1987, it was the start of something special. She is even flying in old mates from Australia and begging her two grandmothers to make the long trip from Melbourne." - BANG Showbiz / Reuters

500 Years of Women Art

Excellent morphing of styles and periods: renaissance baroque neoclassicism impressionism rococo fauvism surrealism abstract realism romanticism nouveau.

Kylie Showgirl Homecoming - Cowboy Style/Too Far

In some ways, this was the most interesting of Kylie's "Showgirl - Homecoming" numbers, particularly the last minute, with the whirling dervish theme and the scat singing.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Expand Yo' Vocabulary

Among the many definitions of "flossy":
someone who gets drunk and tries desperately to convince people that glamorous is a good song by singing the wrong words over and over again.
Aussie RocketCam

Oh, just the best stuff! Video taken from model rockets!

And what acceleration! When I was twelve, I remember placing a jumping spider in the payload section of one of my own rockets, and it didn't survive (exoskeletons have their limitations).
Bloggity, Blog, Blog, Blog

Check out MikeMac's funny clips!
Bunny's Bad Back

Left - Caption: "The bunny's range of movement made it, amongst other things, an ineffective goalkeeper"

Another visit to the vet today. Cloudy shows improved eyes from the eye medication, and the extra saline probably helps, but she's showing little or no improvement to her nearly-motionless legs from the antibiotic and the inflammation-reducing agent. Indeed, she's suffering hair loss in the urine-soaked fur on the area on which she sits (prelude to bed sores).

I also checked records, and established she had been born about July 20, 2000, making her seven years old, not six, as I had previously thought. Rabbits typically have ten-year life spans.

Today, the rabbit specialist took a look at the X-Rays, and in addition to various bone spurs (spondylosis), she discerned two collapsed disks and a noticeably bent spine - likely the source of the paresis (near paralysis) in the hind legs. Often these things result from trauma, but except for a fall six months ago from the porch steps (three feet fall onto concrete), I know of no trauma she's suffered lately. Her decline seemed to be gradual, rather than instantaneous. Maybe that initial fall set off an unfortunate deterioration that is finally expressing itself now. Or maybe she just lived long enough to encounter these problems.

Coming into the exam, I had been inclined to opt for euthanasia, but the doctor didn't think it was time - the maggots hadn't set in yet. Paraphrasing the doctor:
Rabbits have paper-thin skin that is easily infested by maggots if they have urine-soaked fur, or fecal mats that result from diarrhea, or any other cause that irritates the skin and keeps it moist. The rabbits don't seem to pay much mind, but maggot-infestation can happen very quickly, especially in summer, with the maggots quickly crawling up under the skin. We had one maggot-infested rabbit here, and when we tried cleaning out the maggots, there were so many of them, they clogged the sink. So, the rabbit can probably live indefinitely as an invalid, but wash her four times a day, pay strict attention to skin irritation, change her position to avoid bedsores, and keep her away from flies.
So, no euthanasia, for now. But keeping the rabbit away from flies means keeping her always inside, which diminishes what little quality of life she has left (not to mention all the extra cleaning). So, a choice, of sorts: inside or outside....

I'll pick up some Desitin this evening for the diaper rash, but I'll let her enjoy the nice day outside, such as it is....
Allah Save Us

From technical innovations meant to smooth the ride of Malaysia's first astronaut to the Space Station next year:
One of the star attractions was a computer program called Muslims in Space, which calculates when spacefaring Muslims should pray and, using spherical trigonometry, discerns the direction of the Ka'aba, the holy shrine in Mecca that Muslims face during prayer. To settle the timing question, the software divides the space station's 90-minute "days" into the same five periods used for prayer in conventional, ground-based Islam. The program then links these periods to standard Greenwich time, so the astronauts can pray at both the correct Earth time and the correct time of day that they perceive on the space station.
That Feeling Of Dread....

Being wedged by 70 mph traffic on Highway 99 behind a double-decker automobile transporter carrying SUVs, then watching in helpless alarm as it approached an overpass with 14 foot 10 inch clearance, and *barely* squeaked through.....

Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Tommy" Auditions Finish A Busy DMTC Weekend

Left: Stirling Freeman auditions for DMTC's concert version of "Tommy", coming in July. Pictured are pianist Jonathan Rothman and auditioner Stirling Freeman. Seated are Amanda Morish (aka Amanda Salazar) and Steve Isaacson.

"Beauty And The Beast" opened this weekend to appreciative audiences. Few problems that I'm aware of. I understand Babette suffered a torn skirt - understandable with the stage crammed with various knick-knacks - which makes you wonder if "Beauty And The Beast" should be done in an ultra-modern style, with leotards, tights, sophisticated lighting, and an utterly bare stage. I'll make the suggestion to Disney right away....

(Although I passed through the theater every day this weekend, I haven't seen "Beauty And The Beast". Since I'll be out of town next weekend, I won't see the show until third or fourth weekend).

Physics Guy Rap

We need a follow-up, a 'Between The Sheets' kind of rap, maybe starting with an important concept from Optics regarding diffraction gratings, known as the 'Paschen Mounting'.

PARIS IN JAIL: The Music Video

Adapting the taglines from the 1983 movie "Chained Heat" (

What this woman did to get into prison, is nothing compared to what she'll do to get out.

One very rich woman, stripped of all she had, except the will to survive.

White hot desire melts cold prison steel!

Hit The Books

Try, try again:
A 73-year-old Indian farmer who vowed not to marry before passing his high school exams has failed to get through for the 38th time.

Shiv Charan Yadav has been taking the exams - normally given to schoolchildren aged 15 - every year since 1969, without success. This year, he failed everything except Sanskrit.

Mr Yadav, who lives on his own in a small village, was in his 30s when he decided to better himself through education.

"Once I pass, I want to get married to a girl under 30," the ever-optimistic permanent student said.
Newton, The Seer

Still a little time left:
RENOWNED British scientist Sir Isaac Newton, the father of modern physics and astronomy, predicted the world would end in 2060 in a 1704 letter that went on show in Jerusalem today.

...Working from verses in the Book of Daniel, the elaborator of the classical laws of gravity, motion and optics argued that the world would end 1260 years after the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire in western Europe in 800 AD.

The letter, on show at Jerusalem's Hebrew University as part of an exhibition entitled "Newton's Secrets", is part of an array of papers of the British scientist bequeathed to the institution by a wealthy collector of scientific manuscripts.

The university said it was the first time the letter had been put on public show since 1969.

...But it has long been known that the ground-breaking physicist from Grantham, England, also took a keen interest in superstitions of his day that have long since fallen foul of modern science.