Friday, March 28, 2008

Tropical Cyclone Pancho

Boy, they've really screwed up these forecasts. It's going into the coast of West Australia, and they still think it won't.
What Was His Nationality Again?

This post is so good, I reproduce it in entirety:
The tag line for John McCain's first general election TV ad:

"John McCain: The American president Americans have been waiting for."

Late Update: TPM Reader SW feels the patriotism:
Is the Onion running McCain's slogan department?

There's not enough "America" in his ad. I'm not sure - is he running for prime minister of Canada?

So to be crystal clear, he needs to up the ante in the slogan:

John McCain, American: The American President of America that Americans have been waiting for. America!
Innovative Automotive Technologies

To aid with yesterday's (unsuccessful) effort to keep the stringency of California's ZEV mandate, the Mitsubishi MiEV lithium-ion battery-powered car was brought into town. The battery technology is a significant improvement beyond lead-acid batteries: vehicle performance doesn't decay quite so readily with battery discharge, and the energy density is greater. This prototype vehicle apparently costs a cool million dollars (although in mass production it would be more like $15,000 to $20,000).

Introduction of electric vehicle (EV) technologies has depended to an inordinate degree on regulatory mandates from the California Air Resources Board:
Jay Friedland, legislative director for Plug In America, an electric-vehicle advocacy group, said the air board once again placed too much emphasis on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

"This thing is a gigantic shell game," he said.

Critics of hydrogen-powered cars point to the vehicles' durability problems and still-astronomical production costs, as well as to the need for building entirely new hydrogen-production and refueling systems.

Backers say costs will come down and infrastructure will get built, and note that hydrogen vehicles have the potential to mimic the long range and fast refueling of today's gasoline vehicles. Battery vehicles, by contrast, are slow to charge and have a somewhat more limited range. They're also expensive.

But they can be recharged from any electric outlet, and supporters say that even several-year-old vehicles cost less to operate than the most fuel-efficient hybrids on the market today.
In general, automotive history has shown that new technologies will be readily adopted, with or without regulatory mandates, if they offer some specific advantages to the purchaser. The lithium-ion battery technology addresses performance issues that deterred people from purchasing the earlier generation of EVs. In addition, this vehicle is larger than previous EVs. People who drive frequently in dense urban cores would be most-likely to benefit from EVs.

This prototype vehicle doesn't yet comply with American on-road safety regulations, and so would have to be upgraded before becoming available to the general public.

Here's a bit more info:
The i MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle) is built around a 47 kW motor. Two variations on the battery pack give the i MiEV prototype a driving range of between 81 and 99 miles between charges, with an 81 mph top speed. Mitsubishi has been giving significant attention to its “i” concept for small, efficient cars. More ambitious plans for in-wheel electric motors, however, have been set aside in favor of the single motor design. Mitsubishi expects to put the i MiEV on the commercial market by 2010 with a starting price of $17,000.
[Update:] Here is an article regarding the i MiEV's appearance at the 2008 New York Auto Show.
Album Cover Art

For the band Why?

Since alopecia is involuntary hair loss, I was going to reply "Why not?" and talk about my bald spot, but since I know nothing about this band, or this album, or even about the nice image, maybe I should just shut up and practice my comb-over.
Kylie's "X" Album

The madness of being a Kylie fan in the U.S......

Kylie's "X" album was released this week in the U.S., nearly five months after the European release. I patiently waited, of course, peeking occasionally online at the new videos, and lurking in online forums, but basically bided my time. Tonight, I purchased the CD and listened to the album.

Remembering a dictum that I heard from Elton John, in concert in Albuquerque in 1973, that it often takes a while to warm up to new songs, here's my initial impression.

I like "No More Rain" a lot, and "Like A Drug," and maybe "The One," and "Sensitized." The rest doesn't really grab me yet; even the heavily-promoted singles, "Wow," and "2 Hearts."

Of course, with Kylie, for me, the visual presentation is really about 75% of the impact. She is less a musician, than a performer....

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kylie At IMA - Goldene Kamera Award

Awards shows are always fun!
Dementia And Belly Fat

If I have just a little belly, does it mean I'll get just a little dementia?:
Having a large gut in midlife increases the chance of dementia in old age, according to new research published Wednesday that suggests that abdominal fat is a bigger risk factor than even family history.

The study of 6,583 adults found that people with the highest amount of abdominal fat between the ages of 40 and 45 were about three times more likely to develop dementia than those with the lowest amount.

By contrast, people who have parents or a sibling with Alzheimer's face twice the risk of developing the disease.

..."This ought to be a wake-up call to baby boomers in terms of diet and exercise," said Dr. Sam Gandy, a spokesman for the Alzheimer's Assn. who was not involved in the study. "If they are not frightened enough about heart disease, maybe they will worry about losing their mental function."
Litigious Driver

Strange lawsuit (and hopefully it will be thrown out). Suicide by train seems alluringly-popular there these days (even as a tourist, I got inconvenienced by it):
THE driver of the train that killed Greg Maddock, the boss of Queensland government-owned power company Energex, is suing the suicide victim's estate.

Former Queensland Rail train driver Paul Jackson, considered the forgotten casualty of the electricity crisis and its subsequent fallout, is seeking $400,000 in damages.

He has detailed in court documents his tortured memory of Mr Maddock's suicide at a Brisbane train station on September 17, 2004.

Mr Maddock was under an expenses probe at the time and dealing with political pressure over a damning review of the state of the network.

...Before the 2004 state election, then premier Peter Beattie and now Deputy Premier Paul Lucas blamed blackouts across southeast Queensland on summer storms, not a deteriorating power network.

A subsequent independent review revealed the network was overloaded and massively underfunded, prompting the Government and Energex to commit billions of dollars in upgrades and implement a string of reforms.

During the crisis, Mr Maddock - who as Energex chief executive had sought more funding from the Government - came under scrutiny over expenses which, while approved by Energex chairman Don Nissen, were later deemed inappropriate.

The 50-year-old married father of two committed suicide amid an ongoing investigation that led to Mr Nissen's resignation and sent Energex into freefall.

Mr Maddock's widow, Lyn, yesterday referred calls to her lawyer, who was unavailable. But she said: "I do feel sorry for the driver but I don't think going after me is the right way to go. He's not the only victim."

...Mr Jackson, 39, struggled to return to work after the incident, later quitting as a driver, and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The court documents state that Mr Jackson has difficulty in relationships, finds it hard to socialise without the incident being raised, and sees Energex signs and workers as a constant reminder.
AU Weather

After a wet summer, March started out eerily dry again, but late in the month, some life has started to reappear. The weak front laying east-to-west across Australia has brought some welcome rain to the Brisbane area and points west, and the front seems to be strengthening, so more rain is to be expected.

And on the west coast, Severe Tropical Cyclone Pancho has taken a jog towards Carnarvon, and so life there may be more exciting than usual over the next few days.

The forecasts these days seem unusually unreliable - that tropical cyclone I thought I espied for Queensland never developed. Reality is the best forecast!
Like Spotting A Unicorn!

Catching a glimpse of Erik Daniells painting a set (for "Laughter On The 23rd Floor", which premieres at DMTC on Friday)!

(Normally, Erik's keen keyboard craft keeps him far away from the set, and holed up instead with the musicians, but there are exceptions....)

Erik accepted the paparazzi's rude attentions with the sort of stoic resignation one associated with Britney before she went all bald and beserk: "I have chosen to live my life in the public eye."
Donation To DMTC

Left: Martin Lehman (recently seen as Georges in "La Cage Aux Folles") presents Jan and Steve Isaacson, Producers of DMTC, with a $2,000.00 check from the Best Buy Children's Foundation Tag Team Awards.

We anticipate using the funds to upgrade communication between the light booth and the stage.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Funniest Movie Review, In Almost, Just About, Forever

Bad movies bring out the best in writers:
The release of the Paris Hilton vehicle The Hottie and the Nottie has revived the debate as to which is the worst motion picture ever made. Because the film logged in with some of the worst receipts in history - $250 per screen on opening weekend - there is a temptation to accord it the mythical status of such universally ridiculed motion pictures as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes or Plan 9 From Outer Space, to welcome it into the dark, Bizarro World pantheon inhabited by phantasmagoric disasters such as Showgirls, Ishtar, Heaven's Gate, Battlefield Earth, The Postman and, most recently, Gigli and Swept Away.

That is not fair. It is not fair to Kevin Costner, it is not fair to Jennifer Lopez, and it is certainly not fair to Madonna. Though it is a natural impulse to believe that the excruciating film one is watching today is on a par with the excruciating films of yesterday, this is a slight to those who have worked long and hard to make movies so moronic that the public will still be talking about them decades later. Anyone can make a bad movie; Kate Hudson and Adam Sandler make them by the fistful. Anyone can make a sickening movie; we are already up to Saw IV. Anyone can make an unwatchable movie; Jack Black and Martin Lawrence do it every week. And anyone can make a comedy that is not funny; Jack Black and Martin Lawrence do it every week. But to make a movie that destroys a studio, wrecks careers, bankrupts investors, and turns everyone connected with it into a laughing stock requires a level of moxie, self-involvement, lack of taste, obliviousness to reality and general contempt for mankind that the average director, producer and movie star can only dream of attaining.

A generically appalling film like The Hottie and the Nottie is a scab that looks revolting while it is freshly coagulated; but once it festers, hardens and falls off the skin, it leaves no scar. ....

The worst film I have ever seen is a low-budget 1969 production called Futz. It was about a man who fell in love with a pig, and even by the dismal standards of the era, it was dismal. There is also a special place in my heart for La Grande Bouffe, the 1973 film about four men who eat themselves to death, and for Anjelica Huston's 1969 debut in her father's A Walk With Love and Death, which also starred Assaf Dayan, the son of the Israeli general with the flashy eyepatch. Pasolini's 120 Days of Sodom is as vile as any film I have ever seen, The Way We Were as treacly and flatulent as any movie I know of, and the lighthearted Holocaust-era comedy Life Is Beautiful as morally repugnant - precisely because of its apparent innocence - as any film I can name. ....

This brings me to my major point. To qualify as one of the worst films of all time, several strict requirements must be met. For starters, a truly awful movie must have started out with some expectation of not being awful. ... And it must, upon release, answer the question: could it possibly be as bad as everyone says it is? This is what separates Waterworld, a financial disaster but not an uncompromisingly dreadful film, and Ishtar, which has one or two amusing moments, from The Postman, Gigli and Heaven's Gate, all of which are bona fide nightmares.

Six, to qualify as one of the worst movies ever made, a motion picture must induce a sense of dread in those who have seen it, a fear that they may one day be forced to watch the film again - and again - and again. To pass muster as one of the all-time celluloid disasters, a film must be so bad that when a person is asked, "Which will it be? Waterboarding, invasive cattle prods or Jersey Girl?", the answer needs no further reflection. This phenomenon resembles Stockholm Syndrome, where a victim ends up befriending his tormentors, so long as they promise not to make him watch any more Kevin Smith movies. The condition is sometimes referred to as Blunted Affleck.

...There is one other requirement for a movie to be considered one of the worst ever: it must keep getting worse. By this, I mean that it not only must keep getting worse while you are watching it, but it must, upon subsequent viewings, seem even worse than the last time you saw it. That is what distinguishes Ishthar from Gigli and Showgirls from Swept Away. Widely viewed as one of the worst movies ever when it was released in 1987, Ishtar actually has several comic moments. Gigli doesn't. Similarly, Showgirls has a certain campy allure that grows a bit each time I see it. Madonna's Swept Away doesn't; it seems more amateurish on each viewing, like a morass that starts out as a quagmire, then morphs into a cesspool and finally turns into a slime pit on the road to its ultimate destination in the bowels of Hell.

All that said, none of these very, very, very bad movies automatically qualify as the worst film ever made. While it may disappoint those who welcome my occasionally unconventional opinions, I am firmly in the camp that believes that Heaven's Gate is the worst movie ever made. For my money, none of these other films can hold a candle to Michael Cimino's 1980 apocalyptic disaster. This is a movie that destroyed the director's career. This is a movie that lost so much money it literally drove a major American studio out of business. ....

A friend of mine, now deceased, was working for the public relations company handling Heaven's Gate when it was released. He told me that when the 220-minute extravaganza debuted at the Toronto film festival, the reaction was so thermonuclear that the stars and the film-maker had to immediately be flown back to Hollywood, perhaps out of fear for their lives. No one at the studio wanted to go out and greet them upon their return; no one wanted to be seen in that particular hearse. My friend eventually agreed to man the limo that would meet the children of the damned on the airport tarmac and whisk them to safety, but only provided he was given free use of the vehicle for the next three days. After he dropped off the halt and the lame at suitable safe houses and hiding places, he went to Mexico for the weekend. Nothing like this ever happened when Showgirls or Gigli or Ishtar or Xanadu or Glitter or Cleopatra were released. Nothing like this happened when The Hottie and the Nottie dropped dead the day it was released. Heaven's Gate was so bad that people literally had to be bribed to go meet the survivors. Proving that, in living memory, giants of bad taste once ruled the earth. Giants. By comparison with the titans who brought you Heaven's Gate, Paris Hilton is a rank amateur.
Something I Might Do

Caption from the Modesto Bee:
According to the CHP officer on scene, a man driving the white pickup was stopped on the tracks at the private railroad crossing located between East Ave., and Cortez Ave., along Santa Fe Rd. to look at a map and saw the train coming when he looked up and was able to get out of the pickup without injury before the train hit his vehicle. The train stopped about a mile south of the private drive near Cortez Ave., Friday, March 21, 2008. (Debbie Noda/The Modesto Bee)
Thank God The Bushies Didn't Yet Repeal The New Deal

Because those parts of the New Deal that haven't been paralyzed by investment bankers are the only thing saving us from the abyss:
Despite sustained efforts to tear down the New Deal—from the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999 to President George W. Bush's ill-fated 2005 efforts to dismantle Social Security—the 1930s-vintage infrastructure has proved remarkably durable. And this crisis has elicited new experiments in policy, just as the Great Depression did. The Federal Reserve has been systematically lowering its standards for what it will accept as collateral for loans. This week, Hillary Clinton called for a national panel to recommend solutions to the housing morass. (She said the group should include former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, which is a little like Chicago appointing a cow to a panel on preventing disastrous fires.) ....

[F]our 70-year-old agencies are helping to cushion the blow of the housing bust. Let's count them.

1. The Federal Home Loan Bank system. ...Indeed, had it not been for the FHLB, it's possible that the nation's largest mortgage lender, Countrywide Financial Corp., might have gone under. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., noted last fall that Countrywide borrowed a whopping $51.4 billion from the Atlanta FHLB as its troubles mounted. On Monday, the FHLB pitched in again, relaxing regulations on member banks to allow them to double the number of mortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that they can hold on their books for the next two years....

2. The Federal Housing Authority. ... Last summer, it created FHASecure, a program that lets certain borrowers switch from adjustable-rate mortgages into fixed-rate mortgages. "From September to December 2007, FHA facilitated more than $38 billion of much-needed mortgage activity in the housing market, more than $15 billion of which was through FHASecure, FHA's refinancing product." As part of the recently passed stimulus package, the FHA is also temporarily jacking up the size of the mortgages it will insure (in high-cost housing areas) from $362,790 to $729,750.

3. The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) ... The stimulus package boosted the size of the loans Fannie and Freddie can buy, from $417,000 to "125 percent of the area median home price in high-cost areas, not to exceed $729,750." And then earlier this month, OFHEO, the body that regulates Fannie and Freddie, said it would lift the cap on the amount of capital they could use to buy mortgage-backed securities and make loans, providing "up to $200 billion of immediate liquidity to the mortgage-backed securities market."

4. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. ... Even as banking companies have racked up significant losses on soured loans, and even as some tiny banks have failed, Americans haven't rushed to yank their cash out of their checking and savings accounts. The reason: In the event of a failure, depositors with $100,000 or less at FDIC-insured institutions are made whole.
Good Point

Jonathan Taplin emphasizes why we are having the current chaos with the investment banks: the destruction of the Glass-Steagall act, which the Clinton Administration enthusiastically supported. Another good reason to support Obama!:
[Quoting] Paul Krugman:

Wall Street chafed at regulations that limited risk, but also limited potential profits. And little by little it wriggled free — partly by persuading politicians to relax the rules, but mainly by creating a “shadow banking system” that relied on complex financial arrangements to bypass regulations designed to ensure that banking was safe.

But never once in the whole article does he point out who yielded to the enticements of Wall Street--who was responsible for destroying the Glass-Steagall separation of Banks and Investment Banks--Bill Clinton.
Social Security Improvement

This year, Social Security is in a little better shape ($13 billion) than estimated previously. Why? Illegal immigration:
  • Illegal immigrants tend to skew young. This benefits the system.
  • Young people have more children than older people. This benefits the system.
  • Some illegal immigrants pay taxes for a few years and then leave. This benefits the system.
Odd Bedfellows

Richard Mellon Scaife, unofficial chairman of the vast right wing conspiracy, and owner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, chats with Hillary Clinton.

Betcha they talked about Obama and the upcoming Pennsylvania primary....

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Oooh! Kylie On TV

Did not know this:
KYLIE Minogue has booked the perfect launch pad for her new assault on the US music charts. The Australian pop princess will perform live in front of more than 20 million US TV viewers next week on America's version of Dancing With The Stars.

The performance will take place on Tuesday (Wednesday AEDT) - the same day her latest album, X, hits US record stores.
Al-Sadr Rebels

Moqtada got the memo about the Surge, and decided he didn't like it.
The burgeoning crisis — part of an intense power struggle among Shiite political factions — has major implications for the United States. An escalation could unravel the cease-fire which al-Sadr proclaimed last August. A resumption of fighting by his militia could kill more U.S. soldiers and threaten — at least in the short run — the security gains Washington has hailed as a sign that Iraq is on the road to recovery.

The confrontation will also test the skill and resolve of Iraq's Shiite-led government in dealing with Shiite militias, with whom the national leadership had maintained close ties.
Not Your Typical Barney Fife

Hot summer afternoons, and hallucinations in the heat:
Tempe should brace itself for a Shaq-attack, as police confirmed Tuesday that Phoenix Suns star Shaquille O'Neal is set to become a volunteer with the Tempe Police Department in the near future.

...While playing for the Miami Heat before being traded to the Suns, O'Neal volunteered as a deputy for the Miami Beach Police Department at least once a week.
Food Court Musical

Very funny! According to DMTC's Steve Isaacson: "the guy who plays the janitor is Bill Caldwell who was in our version of West Side Story (1989), Company (1989), and Camelot (1990).
Suggestions Of A Tropical Cyclone

Ten days from now, somewhere on the Queensland coast.
The Day After Yesterday

Big ice, on the move:
A chunk of Antarctic ice about seven times the size of Manhattan suddenly collapsed, putting an even greater portion of glacial ice at risk, scientists said Tuesday.

...Satellite images show the runaway disintegration of a 160-square-mile chunk in western Antarctica, which started Feb. 28. It was the edge of the Wilkins ice shelf and has been there for hundreds, maybe 1,500 years.

...Because scientists noticed satellite images within hours, they diverted satellite cameras and even flew an airplane over the ongoing collapse for rare pictures and video.

"It's an event we don't get to see very often," said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. "The cracks fill with water and slice off and topple... That gets to be a runaway situation."

While icebergs naturally break away from the mainland, collapses like this are unusual but are happening more frequently in recent decades, Vaughan said. The collapse is similar to what happens to hardened glass when it is smashed with a hammer, he said.

The rest of the Wilkins ice shelf, which is about the size of Connecticut, is holding on by a narrow beam of thin ice. Scientists worry that it too may collapse. Larger, more dramatic ice collapses occurred in 2002 and 1995.
Maladaptive Software

From the summary of a review for "The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers" by Daniel L. Schacter:
You've put your glasses down somewhere, and now you can't find them. That is the memory's sin of absent-mindedness. Schacter, chairman of the psychology department at Harvard University, cites that and six other sins of memory: transience, the weakening of memory over time; blocking, the inability to recall a familiar name or fact; misattribution, in which one assigns an item of memory to the wrong source; suggestibility, the implanting of memories through leading questions; bias, the unconscious reshaping of a memory under the influence of later events or opinions; and persistence, the repeated recall of disturbing information or events that one would prefer to forget. Do these aberrations serve a useful function? Yes, Schacter says, they protect against overload, helping the memory "to retain information that is most likely to be needed in the environment in which it operates."
The Wayfarer

The thin man in his late twenties, wearing a leisure suit, materialized out of the darkness at 2nd Avenue and 21st Street as Sparky and I returned from our walk, about 2:20 a.m. He was heading south, away from downtown. He could hardly keep standing, he was so drunk. He began talking, and we had a strange conversation. He seemed vaguely-foreign, but he spoke so well, I couldn't place him: Iranian? Columbian? Cuban? Palestinian?

"You seem to be a man of education and understanding," he said to me. "You seem to be traveler; a wayfarer," I told him. There is a stage of drunkenness where one develops an overarching love of the world, and where one wants to philosophize about the aching beauty of the place. He was in this stage of inspiration, but since intoxication also strips away some of the higher-language abilities, we couldn't get much farther than how pretty the moon was.

"Language is just a tool," I told him. "Knowledge is what is important," he replied. "I am just worthless," he said. "No man is worthless," I responded.

"Which way is downtown?" he asked. "North, back where you came from," I replied. And off he stumbled into the darkness.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Robots, And What We Can Do For Them
A Brief Episode?

Or is it the beginning of the end?:
BAGHDAD — A cease-fire critical to the improved security situation in Iraq appeared to unravel Monday when a militia loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr began shutting down neighborhoods in west Baghdad and issuing demands of the central government.

Simultaneously, in the strategic southern port city of Basra, where Sadr's Mahdi militia is in control, the Iraqi government launched a crackdown in the face of warnings by Sadr's followers that they'll fight government forces if any Sadrists are detained. By 1 a.m. Arab satellite news channels reported clashes between the Mahdi Army and police in Basra.

The freeze on offensive activity by Sadr's Mahdi Army has been a major factor behind the recent drop in violence in Iraq, and there were fears that the confrontation that's erupted in Baghdad and Basra could end the lull in attacks, assassinations, kidnappings and bombings.
Mark Of The Hawk

After aerobics this evening, Sandra found, on top of her car, an intact, perfectly-severed bird wing.
"Rockferry" - Duffy
"Mercy" - Duffy

If Amy Winehouse can channel the Ronettes, Duffy can channel Motown! From Wikipedia:
Raised in Nefyn on the Llŷn Peninsula with her twin sister, Katy, her parents divorced when she was 10, and she moved to Pembrokeshire with her mother and sisters, while her father remained in Nefyn. Her early interest in singing was apparently inspired by her father John Duffy's videotape of the 1960s television rock show Ready Steady Go!.

Duffy returned to Nefyn when she was 15, and started singing in various local bands. After being involved in an unsuccessful music project in Switzerland, Duffy returned to Wales in 2003 and auditioned for Wawffactor, a Welsh alternative to Pop Idol on S4C where she was expected to win, but eventually came second to winner Lisa Pedrig.

Duffy was elected president of the Students Union at Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor, before transferring to study at the University of Chester, Chester, England where she built up a following in Alexanders, a local jazz and blues club. She recorded a three-songs-EP in Welsh in 2004 and also appeared on two tracks on the album See You in the Morning by Mint Royale while working as a waitress and in a fishery. Owen Powell of Catatonia and Richard Parfitt of Newport band 60ft Dolls, introduced Duffy in August 2004 to former Public Image Ltd. member turned music manager and part-owner of Rough Trade Records Jeanette Lee. Lee moved Duffy to Crouch End in London, and orchestrated a meeting between Duffy and Suede's ex-guitar player Bernard Butler, who then co-wrote with her and helped create a sound that has been compared to Dusty Springfield.
Tangled Up In Lanyards

Nevada Republicans become smut billboards, an unfortunate but perhaps predictable hazard of doing business in Las Vegas:
Several times during the Clark County Republican Convention on March 8, Chris Comfort reminded the delegates to support the sponsors.

For a party that has been swimming in red ink, any help should be recognized.

Still I thought it a little fancy that I was given a one-inch wide bright red lanyard -- a cord worn around the neck -- to go with my press badge. The Democrats handed people a string.

...Wrapped around my neck was a brightly-colored ad for a not-so-discreet Web site.

Who knew that this, the so-called party of family values, the party whose platform keeps veering to the right to appease the Bible thumpers, would be strutting out the porn?

But there I was, advertising

...Apparently the lanyards weren't noticed by most of the 3,000-plus delegates spread across three rooms at The Orleans. Most were too busy haggling over two words in the rules. At one point, a delegate asked for a definition. Comfort jokingly riffed on the famed Clinton line parsing the definition of is.

...When informed, Zadrowski quietly removed his lanyard and told several others to do the same.

...Elegant Angel is a Canoga Park, Calif., firm owned by Patrick Collins, a porn director. If you want to check out the site yourself, be forewarned. It's not for the squeamish or those under 18, or pretty much anyone who wrote the family platform planks at the convention.

Comfort said he finds this all an embarrassment. "Somebody apparently dropped off a box of lanyards," Comfort said. "We don't know who supplied it. It must have been a frat-like prank by the Democrats."

Puh-lease. The Democrats? The party which couldn't organize its own county convention has time to trip up the GOP with porn?

...Zadrowski said he doesn't know how the party got the lanyards. "I saw them in the county party office about three or four months ago, before I was chairman. ... I thought at the time, we could reserve those for another use."

In order for this to be a prank, he said, someone would have had to infiltrate the county party office months ago and know some unwitting officials would grab them to use for press, guests and volunteers at the convention. "I'm not a conspiracy theorist," Zadrowski said.

But they did end up at the county party office. And they did end up around the necks of, who knows, 50, 60, maybe even more, people.

"I can't imagine a good Republican bringing these by," Zadrowksi said. "A good Republican wouldn't purposely bring that."

Lately it's been said that all things Republican Party in Nevada travel through The Venetian.

The same can be said of the lanyards.

Elegant Angel was a sponsor of the Adult Entertainment Expo at the Sands Convention Center Jan. 9 to 14. When I e-mailed the company's representatives asking how their lanyards might have gotten to the Republican convention, they were confused, to say the least.

"No, we did not sponsor the Clark County Republican Convention," wrote Travis Graham of Elegant Angel. "We sponsored the AEE convention in Las Vegas ... earlier this year and we provided lanyards."

...Seems to me the pipeline from The Venetian extends to its Sands Convention Center. Someone probably brings by all kinds of leftover goodies that may someday help the party. Pens, notebooks. Who knows what else the party's got?
Which Americans Paid The Highest Price For The Iraq War?

The soldiers who fought and died? Their families? Not according to Dick Cheney:
"The president carries the biggest burden, obviously," Cheney said. "He's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm's way for the rest of us."
Arrgghhh! Mass Chaos! YouTube Dumps All Those Failed Posts At Once!

Must try to regain control of the blog!

Danity Kane - Damaged

A Man For All Seasons -

(from the LA Times)

Paul Scofield, one of the giants of the British stage who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Sir Thomas More in the 1966 film "A Man for All Seasons," has died. He was 86.

...Considered one of the most talented actors of his generation, the tall, craggy-faced Scofield had a memorably rich voice that movie director Fred Zinnemann likened to the sound of "a Rolls-Royce being started."

An admiring Richard Burton once said of his fellow actor, whose stage roles included Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth and Othello: "Of the 10 greatest moments in the theater, eight are Scofield's."

Ranked with stage greats Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud by British critics and actors in the 1950s and '60s, Scofield was praised by critic Kenneth Tynan for "his power to enlarge a role until it fits him, as a hatter will stretch a bowler."

Scofield originated the role of More, the morally courageous 16th century chancellor of England who defied King Henry VIII, in Robert Bolt's "A Man for All Seasons" on the London stage in 1960.

A year later, he was playing More on Broadway, a role for which he won a Tony Award for best actor in a play.

"With a kind of weary magnificence," a Time magazine writer observed, "Scofield sinks himself in the part, studiously underplays it, and somehow displays the inner mind of a man destined for sainthood."

I Don't Really Understand My Neighborhood

An exasperated man in his fifties approached me as I was doing yard work on Easter Sunday. "Did you see that? Did you SEE that?" he asked. "Well, I saw a police car do a U-turn, but didn't understand what was going on," I replied. "He stopped me for walking against the green light." The explanation sounded incomplete to me. I mean, who gets stopped for jaywalking on Easter? "Nice yard," he said, and as I started inquiring further: "Thanks, but why...," he cut me off, with "have a nice day," and walked away.

Strange Easter. An ambulance roared by. A helicopter did a U-turn. A small bird alighted on a fence and started chirping insistently, flicking its tail up and down, as if trying to convey some important message, before flying away in frustration with my incomprehension.

But at least my home phone works again. Apparently I was never switched over when AT&T took over operations last July. I knew that switchover was somehow to blame! But it makes me wonder why I was able to receive any calls at all until two months ago, when calls ceased entirely.

I don't really understand my neighborhood.

Girls love their gays!

Chris Crocker gets all, like, didactic again.

A Man For All Seasons - Clip

And as good an explanation as I've ever heard to fight the Bush Administration's predations on the Law!

(from the LA Times)
Paul Scofield, the towering British stage actor who won international fame and an Academy Award for the film "A Man for All Seasons," has died. He was 86.

...Scofield made few films even after the Oscar for his 1966 portrayal of Sir Thomas More, the Tudor statesman executed for treason in 1535 after clashing with King Henry VIII. He was a stage actor by inclination and by his gifts -- a dramatic, craggy face and an unforgettable voice that was likened to a Rolls-Royce starting up or the rumbling sound of low organ pipes.

..."With a kind of weary magnificence, Scofield sinks himself into the part, studiously underplays it, and somehow displays the inner mind of a man destined for sainthood," Time magazine said.

...Scofield was an unusual star -- a family man who lived almost his entire life within a few miles of his birthplace and hurried home after work to his wife and children. He didn't seek the spotlight, gave interviews sparingly, and at times seemed to need coaxing to venture out, even onto the stage he loved.

In The Interest Of Creating Even More Confusion

This idea, I truly don’t like. There are better ways, like the convention, to resolve the Obama-Clinton imbroglio. But I’m sure people will find all kinds of creative and helpful ways to sow mass confusion, from now, till August, and beyond, and I will help:
Here's how it would work: In August at the Democratic National Convention, the party would nominate one candidate for president and the other for vice president in the time-honored way. In their acceptance speeches, the nominees would announce that they intend to alternate. For example, they could tell the voters that the person heading the Democratic ticket would, if elected, take office in January 2009 but would serve as president for only the first three years of the four-year term. In January 2012, the teammates would use the 25th Amendment to switch places, and the person elected vice president would assume the presidency for the final year of the term. There is nothing magical about these dates. Almost any date would do. For maximal democratic legitimacy, however, the candidates should inform the voters before the election of the specific date when their planned shift of power will occur.

Of course, if this dream team proved popular in office, the teammates could run for re-election in 2012. This time, it might make the most sense for the ticket to be the inverse of 2008. Thus, the person at the bottom of the 2008 ticket could top the 2012 ticket. If re-elected, our initial-VP-turned-president might then serve until, say, January 2016—four consecutive years in all—and then our initial-president-turned-VP would resume the top spot for the final year of the second term. (Thus, this person, too, would end up serving four years, albeit not consecutively.)
Way To Go!

From the previous Rogue Traders album, the one with 'Here Come The Drums.' The Roguies pitch to the American market seems nearly-perfect: hope they get some traction.