Friday, September 12, 2008

Condolences To The Family Of Katherine Xa

The Marr family sent this E-Mail to the affected acting community, including DMTC's YPT. This is shocking news, and we are all very much saddened by it:
It is with much sadness that we inform you that Kiyo and Eric's mom, Katherine Xa, died unexpectedly this week. She was admitted to Sutter Hospital last Friday and was transferred to UC Med Center in Sacramento on Saturday. It was determined that she had a aneurysm. Unfortunately, it burst on Monday and last night she passed away.

There will be a memorial and burial service this Saturday in San Mateo at the Skylawn Memorial Park. Time of the service has not yet been set and we will forward you the information should you wish to pay your final respects to Katherine as well as provide much needed support to Kiyo and Eric.

You have been sent this message because you may have been an important part of Kiyo, Eric or Katherine's lives whether it be as classmates, ballet dancers, theater actors, neighbors or friends. Katherine's sisters, brother, nephews and nieces are banding together to work toward finding a safe place for Kiyo and Eric to live. They are currently staying with one of their aunts.
Last Picture I Got Before This Gulfcam Went Down

Doesn't look TOO bad....

[UPDATE: It looks like Ike's eye might cross on the east side of Galveston Bay. That means that Galveston might not get the worst of the hit - winds are parallel to the coast, and the waves are likely not perpendicular to it.]
More Cowbell, Please

A helpful Web Site where you can upload mp3's and add as much Cowbell and Christopher Walken, or as little, as one pleases.....
"More cowbell" is an American pop culture catch phrase originally derived from an April 8, 2000 Saturday Night Live comedy sketch about the recording of the song "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult. The sketch featured guest host Christopher Walken as music producer Bruce Dickinson and Will Ferrell as fictional cowbell player Gene Frenkle. In the television special Saturday Night Live: 101 Most Unforgettable Moments, this sketch is moment number five.
Good Touch, Bad Touch

Rebuttal to McCain's sex ed ad.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sarah Palin Suggests War With Russia

And why not? The war in Iraq went so well, after all! And the neoconservatives have no other use for NATO anyway, so let's admit Georgia and Ukraine into NATO and let the fireworks start!:
GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty, wouldn't we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?

PALIN: Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help.
And Things Not Much Better In Denver...

And the Bush Administration is too busy getting in bed with the Oil Industry to care about mineral royalties:
On one occasion in 2002, the report said, two of the officials who marketed taxpayers’ oil got so drunk at a daytime golfing event sponsored by Shell that they could not drive to their hotels and were put up in Shell-provided lodging. Two female employees “engaged in brief sexual relationships with industry contacts,” the reports’ cover memo said, adding that “sexual relationships with prohibited sources cannot, by definition, be arms’ length.”
Meanwhile, In Australia

NSW Police Minister Matt Brown was bad. Very bad. And the state government was sworn in just three days ago! It starts here:
A witness told The Australian Mr Brown stripped down to his "very brief" underpants and danced to loud "Oxford Street-style" techno music on a green leather Chesterfield couch he had recently ordered for his office.
And then it gets worse....
Glass Houses, And All....

Funny indeed!:
Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner told Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. to worry about its own finances, three weeks after the firm said the South American country could default within two years.

``Today the news in the papers, in all the papers, is the collapse of another bank far away in the United States -- that bank that predicted the collapse of Argentina,'' Fernandez, 55, said during a speech last night. ``They should spend more time looking at their own accounts rather than looking at other countries.''
Gulf Cam

For Galvestonians who just gotta know
Theatrical Smoke

Hmmmm. I wondered a bit about this:
A. Background

In 1997-99, at the request of Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) and the League of American Theaters and Producers (LATP) and with the support of the Equity-League Pension and Health Trust Funds, investigators from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (Mt. Sinai) and ENVIRON International Corporation (ENVIRON) conducted a study to determine whether the use of smoke, haze, and pyrotechnics special effects in theatrical musical productions is associated with a negative health impact in Actors. This effort was initiated in response to ongoing concerns by Actors that the use of these theatrical effects may have an impact on their health. The results of this study were presented in the report Health Effects Evaluation of Theatrical Smoke, Haze, and Pyrotechnics (Mt. Sinai and ENVIRON 2000).

The results of the Mt. Sinai/ENVIRON study indicate that there are certain health effects associated with Actors exposed to elevated or peak levels of glycol smoke and mineral oil. However, as long as peak exposures are avoided, Actors’ health, vocal abilities, and careers should not be harmed. Pyrotechnics as used on Broadway at the time of the study did not have an observable effect on Actors’ health.

Mt. Sinai and ENVIRON recommended the following guidance levels with respect to
glycols and mineral oil:

• The use of glycols should be such that an Actor’s exposure does not exceed 40
milligrams per cubic meter (mg/m3).
• Mineral oil should be used in a manner such that an Actor’s exposure does not exceed a peak concentration of 25 mg/m3.
• For chronic exposures to mineral oil, the existing standards established for oil mists (5 mg/m3 as an eight-hour time-weighted average) should also be protective for
Actors in theatrical productions.



A. Selection of Chemicals to be Sampled

The chemicals used to produce theatrical effects included in this Protocol are (1) glycols for smoke generation, and (2) mineral oil used for a haze effect.

1. Glycols
Mixtures of various glycols are used to generate smoke effects. Glycol aerosols are generated by heating a glycol/water solution and feeding the vapor through a critical flow orifice. The glycol solutions currently used to generate smoke effects consist of mixtures of 1,3-butylene glycol (BG), diethylene glycol (DEG), propylene glycol (PG), dipropylene glycol (DPG), triethylene glycol (TEG), and water. Upon entering the atmosphere, the vapor condenses rapidly to form fine droplets, producing a visible aerosol. The particles subsequently revolatilize into the vapor phase and dissipate.

2. Mineral Oil
A haze-like effect can be produced by generating an aerosol of mineral oil. Oil mist effects are generated by “cracking” a USDA approved food or pharmaceutical grade mineral oil through a dispersion system using high-pressure air. Haze machines (“hazers”) typically produce a fairly uniform particle size distribution with aerodynamic diameters ranging from 0.1 to 1.0 micrometers (μm). The haze particles will dissipate via room ventilation.

While other chemicals may be available currently or in the future for generating smoke and haze effects (e.g., glycerol), these chemicals were not included in the Mt. Sinai/ENVIRON study. Thus, the conclusions and guidance levels developed from the Mt. Sinai/ENVIRON study will not necessarily be applicable to these alternative chemicals.
Seven Years Later - Isn't It Time We Finally Got Serious About Getting Osama bin Laden, First By Voting For Barack Obama?

Because we sure as hell aren't getting anywhere by letting Pakistan's ISI set the rules of the search:
Sept. 11, 2008 Where the hell are Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri? And why does virtually no one ask anymore? ... These are things that I wonder as I watch from my perch in Philadelphia, where I'm a talk show host, columnist and MSNBC talking head. I have also spoken and written about them incessantly, so much so that I've exhausted my welcome with many conservative members of my own talk radio audience.

...I can't help myself. So strong is my belief that we've failed in our responsibility to 3,000 dead Americans that I am contemplating voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in my life. It's the chronology I find so compelling.

We're at the seven-year anniversary of 9/11, lacking not only closure with regard to the two top al-Qaida leaders but also public discourse about any plan to bring them to justice. To me, that suggests a continuation of what I perceive to be the Bush administration's outsourcing of this responsibility at great cost to a government with limited motivation to get the job done. Of course, I may be wrong; I have no inside information. And I'd love to be proven in error by breaking news of their capture or execution. But published accounts paint an intriguing and frustrating picture.

To begin, bin Laden is presumed to have been in Afghanistan on 9/11 and to have fled that nation during the battle at Tora Bora in December of 2001. Gary Berntsen, who was the CIA officer in charge on the ground, told me that his request for Army Rangers to prevent bin Laden's escape into Pakistan was denied, and sure enough, that's where bin Laden went. Then came a period when the Bush administration was supposed to be pressing the search through means it couldn't share publicly. But as time went by with no capture, the signs became more troubling.

We now know that in late 2005, the CIA disbanded Alec Station, the FBI-CIA unit dedicated to finding bin Laden, something that was reported on July 4, 2006, by the New York Times. At the time, I hoped we'd closed the bin Laden unit because Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was fully engaged in the hunt in his country's northwest territories, where the duo were supposedly hiding. In September 2006, however, Musharraf reached an accord with tribal leaders there, notorious for their refusal to hand over a guest. In doing so, he agreed to give them continued free rein.

...I came home with the utmost respect for the men and women throughout the ranks of all five branches of the service committed to eradicating the forces of radical Islam. But there was one thing noticeably absent: the search for bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. It was not part of our otherwise comprehensive agenda, and when I did ask specific questions, there was no information forthcoming except a generic assertion that, indeed, the hunt continued.

When we were briefed at Andrews Air Force Base by Vice Adm. David Nichols, the No. 2 to Army Gen. John Abizaid, I asked him whether the hunt for bin Laden was, at that stage, completely dependent upon Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. He told me we respect national sovereignty, and described the search as "difficult and nuanced." I took that as a confirmation of my concern about outsourcing.

When in Bahrain, I put the same question to Marine Brig. Gen. Anthony Jackson. He told me that the search was the equivalent of finding one man in the Rockies, an analogy that I heard repeatedly from men I met overseas. He also said that "no one is giving up," and that my question was better put to the guys in special ops.

So, when we got to the special ops headquarters in Qatar, I raised the matter yet again, this time with Col. Patrick Pihana, the chief of staff to the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command. He offered nothing substantive on the issue.

No one told me the search was over, but I came home worried that the days of aggressively hunting bin Laden and al-Zawahiri had ended. Of course, I could fully appreciate that an aggressive pursuit was under way but that I, a blowhard from Philadelphia, was simply deemed unworthy of any information. That would have been fine.

But there was another consideration. More than one individual with whom I spoke -- and no one that I have named here -- raised with me the question of what would happen to public support for the war against radical Islam if we were to find and kill bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. They wanted to know: Would the American people then expect the military to pack up and go home? No one ever told me that we're not hunting bin Laden because killing him would cause Americans to want to close up shop in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it was absolutely on the minds of our warriors as support for the war in Iraq dissipated.

A few months before my return, there was news of our response to the accord reached between Musharraf and the tribal warlords. The agreement, which was effected on Sept. 5, 2006, stipulated that the Pakistani army would pull back from the tribal areas. A report from the BBC detailed what the tribal leaders would grant the army for withdrawing: "Local Taleban supporters, in turn, have pledged not to harbor foreign militants, launch cross-border raids or attack Pakistani government troops or facilities."

Meanwhile, there was no demand for accountability by our government. The White House and the Pentagon consistently played down the significance of capturing bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, and President Bush offered only superficial responses to the few questions raised on the status of the search. On Feb. 23, 2007, the Army's highest-ranking officer, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, said he didn't know whether we would find bin Laden, and "I don't know that it's all that important, frankly."

At a May 24, 2007, White House news conference, when asked why Osama was still at large, President Bush offered his usual refrain: "Because we haven't got him yet ... That's why. And he's hiding, and we're looking, and we will continue to look until we bring him to justice." For me, somewhere between two and four years removed from 9/11, it had all begun to wear thin -- especially because it seemed bin Laden remained active. Unfortunately, the president's standard line has long been accepted by the media and American people.

Then, On May 20, 2007, the Times reported that we were paying $80 million a month to Pakistan for its supposed counterterrorism efforts, for a total of $5.6 billion.

In July 2007, a National Security Estimate concluded that the failure of Musharraf's accord with warlords in Pakistan's tribal areas had allowed bin Laden's thugs to regroup there. On July 22, National Intelligence director Adm. Mike McConnell said on "Meet the Press" that he believed bin Laden was in Pakistan in the very region Musharraf had ceded to the warlords.

...Things changed somewhat on Aug. 1, 2007, when Barack Obama delivered a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets, and President Musharraf won't act, we will," he said.

"We can't send millions and millions of dollars to Pakistan for military aid, and be a constant ally to them, and yet not see more aggressive action in dealing with al-Qaida."

Finally, I thought, a presidential candidate saying something about this foreign-policy failure.

The reaction? Ridicule.

...To his credit, Obama refused to back away from his insistence on reasserting American control over the hunt for bin Laden. I interviewed him on March 21, 2008, and he admitted that a resurgence of the Taliban had occurred in Pakistan.

"What's clear from ... what I've learned from talking to troops on the ground is that unless we can really pin down some of these Taliban leaders who flee into the Pakistan territories, we're going to continue to have instability, and al-Qaida's going to continue to have a safe haven, and that's not acceptable."

I was pleased by what he had to say about the issue, and asked about it again on April 18, 2008, when I interviewed him for a second time. He told me that Musharraf, despite being flush with billions in American aid, was not taking counterterrorism seriously.

"That's part of the reason that I've been a critic from the start of the war in Iraq," Obama told me. "It's not that I was opposed to war. It's that I felt we had a war that we had not finished."

"And al-Qaida is stronger now than at any time since 2001, and we've got to do something about that because those guys have a safe haven there and they are still planning to do Americans harm."

He also pointed out that the Bush administration had actually shown signs of following his lead. Obama reminded me that a late-January airstrike killed a senior al-Qaida commander in Pakistan, calling it an example of the type of action he'd been recommending since August. The CIA, it was reported a few weeks after the strike, acted without the direct approval of Musharraf.

Soon after I spoke with Sen. Obama, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of the United States Congress, issued a report dated April 17, 2008, with a title requiring no interpretation: "Combating Terrorism: The United States Lacks Comprehensive Plan to Destroy the Terrorist Threat and Close the Safe Haven in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas."

The report, undertaken at the bipartisan request of U.S House and Senate members, minced no words in issuing a conclusion that should have made Americans' blood boil: Six years after Sept. 11, the United States had failed to destroy the terrorist havens in Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas (known in the report as FATA). The GAO confirmed prior reports that al-Qaida was revitalized and poised to launch an attack, and said that no comprehensive U.S. plan existed to combat terrorism on its most central front.

...From there the headlines continued to defy the GAO recommendations. "Pakistan Asserts It Is Near a Deal With Militants," read the front page of the April 25 edition of the New York Times. Pakistan's newly elected government was again on the verge of an accord with the militants running amok in the FATA -- despite the new government's previously stated desires to move away from Musharraf's policies in those regions. Less than a week later, under the headline "Pakistan's Planned Accord With Militants Alarms U.S.," the New York Times reported that the Bush administration expressed concern that the new agreement could contribute to "further unraveling of security" in the region.

The arrangement was tailor made for bin Laden. It permitted the local Taliban group, Tehrik-e-Taliban, to assist in keeping law and order in the area known as Swat in the northwest frontier province -- while not attacking the existing security forces -- in return for an exchange of prisoners between the Pakistani army and the Taliban. The army also agreed to withdraw forces from parts of Swat. According to a report from the May 22 edition of the New York Times, the Bush administration was concerned that the deal would "give the Taliban and Al Qaeda the latitude to carry out attacks against American and NATO forces in Afghanistan." Some U.S. officials even went so far as to call it a "victory" for bin Laden, as reported by ABC News. What else are we to assume, except that the climate in Pakistan may grow even more hospitable to al-Qaida?

In a refreshing opportunity free from the stock answers so often given by politicians, I was offered the chance to interview Marcus Luttrell as part of my radio book club series in May 2008. He was the only survivor of Operation Red Wing, a mission that would result in the worst loss in Naval SEAL history. He earned a Navy Cross for his valor and wrote about his harrowing story in the New York Times' bestseller "Lone Survivor." Unlike most of the bureaucrats from Washington, who have only been able to offer me talking points from a failed policy, Luttrell gave a brutally honest account of the time he spent in the Hindu Kush, a mountainous area located just a few miles from the northwestern border of Pakistan. Luttrell described how his efforts were too often constricted by red tape.

"Yeah, we've got some problems with that border ... because we'd be chasing the bad guys in there and they had a lot of security set up and we have to stop what we're doing while they just run across and if we don't, we'll get engaged by the Paki border guards and that's an international incident."

Luttrell couldn't delve into the details of the prickly international problem that was created by the tension with the border guard, but when I asked him if the Pakistan issue was a problem in general, he wholeheartedly agreed.

"Hell, yeah, it's a problem. Heck, they're harboring the enemy. It's such a joke, it's so stupid. [T]hey come over and do their business, whatever is, and if it gets them into trouble, all they have to do is sink back into Pakistan and stay there. They say, 'We're good here, we're good here' ... It's frustrating."

Americans may be uncertain about which talking point of the day to believe on this issue, but I'm taking the word of a guy who saw the conditions firsthand. Marcus Luttrell and thousands of other men and women in uniform serve their country valiantly. Don't we owe it to them to aggressively pursue and kill the enemies that seek to destroy them?

...The Bush administration's failure to orchestrate a successful counterterrorism plan -- one topped off with justice for Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri -- has left me embarrassed of my party and angry. The oft-repeated explanations of the search being nuanced or covering difficult terrain should have worn thin long ago.
Unfortunately, even after dangling my vote in front of Sen. John McCain, the nominee from my own party, he only offered a continuation of the Bush administration's policy. In a conversation I had with the senator on June 13, 2008, he first attempted to say that our counterterrorism efforts were working and that remaining on good terms with Pakistan was imperative to our safety.

"There has been progress in those areas. Pakistan is a sovereign nation and we have to have the cooperation of Pakistan in order to have these operations succeed. I don't have any classified information, but I do know that there are activities taking place that are intended to counter some of these activities, so all I want to say to you is that if you alienate Pakistan and it turns into an anti-American government, then you will have much greater difficulties."

Even when the senator attempted to remind me of the fact that the United States also gives a great deal of money to Egypt, which, like Pakistan, could be more helpful in assisting the U.S. in the war on terror, I pointed out to him that these guys aren't hiding in Cairo. The people responsible for the atrocities of 9/11 are concentrated in an area of northwestern Pakistan, a fact that I repeated to the senator. He then pointed out the historic difficulty with the region.

"I have promised that I will get Osama bin Laden when I am president of the United States, but ... you can go on the Internet, and look at that countryside, and there's a reason why it hasn't been governed since the days of Alexander the Great. They're ruled by about, it's my understanding, 13 tribal entities, and nobody has ever governed them, not the Pakistani government, not the British -- nobody, and so it's a very, very difficult part of the world." He added, "I agree with you that we should've gotten Osama bin Laden, but I can't put all of it at the doorstep of the Pakistani government."

I have a great deal of respect for John McCain, but I have a serious disagreement with him over this issue, which I let him know would dramatically influence my vote in November. For the entirety of my interview, I tried to keep the senator focused on Pakistan, and though he answered all of my questions, at the end of the interview, he tried to insert his message of the day, which was about the Supreme Court ruling that granted habeas corpus rights to enemy combatants. When he did, I responded, "I hear you, and all I think is that the guys who sent those guys over here are still on the lam and we're writing a big check, and I'm unhappy about it." To my disappointment, McCain said the following, "Yes, sir, and I understand that, and if you let KSM, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, and others go, they'll join them over there. Thirty guys who have been released have gone back to the battlefield."

It wasn't the fact that he once again dodged my dissatisfaction with the Pakistan issue that left me dismayed -- I've become quite used to it at this point; it was the fact that I clearly heard an aide mutter the line to him before he delivered it before me and my captive audience. The campaign had a stock answer for me, an answer that I've heard before and have rejected.

Put quite simply, the support for this failed policy is driving me to the edge of my long Republican career. And despite never pulling a lever for a Democratic presidential candidate, I believe the election this November will present the chance to relieve this country of the conventional wisdom that President Bush has offered for seven years and Sen. McCain appears resigned to advance: that President Musharraf was a friend who did what he could to prevent Pakistan from defaulting toward further extremism; that the hunt for Osama bin Laden is nuanced and U.S. forces are doing everything they can to find him; and that the war in Iraq is a necessary one that hasn't distracted from the fight against those who perpetrated and planned 9/11.

That wisdom has been proven unequivocally wrong.
Secret Pants Sketch Comedy Presents "Bush or Batman"

Lipstick, Meet Pig

Obama makes a clarification:
"Keep in mind, technically, had I meant it this way, [Palin] would be the lipstick. The failed policies of John McCain would be the pig, just following the logic of this illogical situation," Obama said.
"Fiddler On The Roof" - DMTC - Tuesday & Wednesday Night Rehearsal

Left: "If I Were A Rich Man". Tevye (Jeff Nauer).

Left: "Miracle of Miracles". Tzeitel (Amanda Yount) and Motel, The Tailor (Brennan Ballard).

Left: "If I Were A Rich Man". Tevye (Jeff Nauer).

Left: "If I Were A Rich Man". Tevye (Jeff Nauer).

Left: "If I Were A Rich Man". Tevye (Jeff Nauer).

Left: Tzeitel (Amanda Yount), Tevye (Jeff Nauer), and Motel, The Tailor (Brennan Ballard).

Left: Tzeitel (Amanda Yount) and Motel, The Tailor (Brennan Ballard).

Left: Hodel (Josephine Longo).

Left: Chava (Shannon Kendall).

Left: Chava (Shannon Kendall).

Left: Hodel (Josephine Longo), Tzeitel (Amanda Yount), and Chava (Shannon Kendall).
Falling Under The Sway

Matt Taibbi, spellbound:
All of this saccharine talk of "change" is so transparently a mechanical come-on that if it were anybody but Barack Obama uttering the word, you'd want to throw up at the very sound of it. And yet, as I watch Obama deliver the same hackneyed act I've seen hundreds of times before, I feel against my will that I am actually watching something different at work. After Kerry and Dean speeches, I often heard people say things like, "At least he's not as dumb as Bush." But after Obama speeches, I see audience members stumbling around in all directions with orgiastic smiles on their faces, as though they've been splashed with gallons of magic pixie paint. In Raleigh, North Carolina, where Obama knocked dead a massive town-hall crowd at a local fairgrounds with a speech that said almost nothing at all, I ask a woman named Melanie Threatt why she thinks her life would improve under an Obama presidency. "It just will," she says. When I press her for specifics, she says, "I just think doors are going to open." You hear stuff like this a lot on Planet Obama, and it makes you wonder just what it is you're encountering. Obama's followers implicitly believe in the things he says, and the fervor of their belief is more religious than intellectual, closer to faith than to reason. Watching him at work, you realize that Obama's remarkable success has almost nothing to do with the same-old product being marketed by the same-old political machine, and almost everything to do with the specific qualities of the individual who is selling it. The same stuff that sounded like hollow, invidious horseshit coming from Kerry and Gore sounds, as dispensed by Obama, like nothing less than a clarion call to collective action.
Newfangled 'Get Out The Vote' Ad

Hollywood sure does things differently when it comes to civics....

Jessica Alba is encouraging people to vote:
"I think it is important for young people to be aware of the need we have in this country to get them more active politically," says Alba. "People respond to things that are shocking."

The dramatic image "really resonates" with the issue of voting, according to the 27-year-old star. "If you don't register and vote and make a difference, and hopefully change the bad things that are happening in our country, you are essentially just binding and muzzling yourself."

I dunno. I think I prefer the less-Hollywoodified 'Get Out The Vote' ads of my generation (Post-Boomer, I might add):

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Marriage Equality Fundraiser

Andrea St. Clair sends this information regarding a campaign fundraiser sponsored by Equality America that will be held at the Studio Theatre this Sunday called "Marry Me". It's pricey, but that's what's required to make a dent in California ballot initiative campaigns, and most importantly, to help retain the right of same-sex couples to marry. (This ballot initiative will be the hardest-fought on the fall ballot).

Most importantly, many of our favorite local performers will be singing their hearts out at this event! Andrea states:
Please make readers aware that they need to include the "referral code" with their donation for the ticket, otherwise the money will NOT go to the event and they will not receive a ticket.

Short list of those performing:

Norma-Jean Russell, Bob Cooner, Kevin Little, Martha Omiyo-Kight, Lorraine Araula DeArco, Andrea St. Clair, Jason Pettit, Scott Martin, Shane Wright, Romar DeClaro, Maggie Hollinbeck, Matthew Abergel, to name a few...
Andrea adds:
Let me know if you have questions... I know there are a few lower priced tickets available for those with special circumstances. Let me know and I can put them in touch with the organizer or Bob Cooner.
Let me know here at any special circumstances and I will forward the information on to Andrea....

And don't forget the referral number "205" in the referral code box at the "donate" page!
Less Debate, More Cowbell
How Do They Keep Going?

The futility of life in Haiti:
[T]he enduring spirit of the people of Gonaïves is being tested by a string of recent tropical storms and hurricanes whose names Haitians spit out like curses — Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike.

After four fierce storms in less than a month, the little that many people had has turned to nothing at all. Their humble homes are under water, forcing them onto the roofs. Schools are canceled. Hunger is now intense. Difficult lives have become untenable ones and, if that was not enough, hurricane season has only just reached the traditional halfway mark.

One can see the misery in the eyes of Edith Pierre, who takes care of six children on her roof in the center of Gonaïves. She has strung a sheet up to shield them, somewhat, from the piercing sun. The few scraps of clothing she could salvage sit in heaps off to a side. “Now I have nothing,” she said before pausing a minute, staring down from the roof at the river of floodwater around and then saying again in an even more forlorn way: “Nothing.”

...More misery in Haiti is an almost unfathomable thing. Already the poorest place in the Western Hemisphere, it has become even more destitute. Haitians were struggling to feed themselves before the hurricanes battered their agricultural lands, killed their livestock and washed away their tiny stores of rice. Now, the country will be even more dependent on imports, and the high food prices across the globe will only increase their sting.

...And now that suffering has been turned up a notch. The hurricanes have struck all 10 of Haiti’s regions, and by knocking out bridges and washing away roads they have created isolated pockets of misery across the countryside. Relief workers and Haitian authorities have reported more than 300 deaths, most from Hanna, and they are just beginning to reach all the trouble spots.

...Getting food to the hungry is no easy task, dependent on planes, ships and helicopters — including a nearby United States Navy vessel — since trucks are getting stuck in the mud. Once food reaches a place like Gonaïves, the crush of desperate people turns handouts into melees. As a solution, food trucks, protected by heavily armed Argentine soldiers serving with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country, have begun setting out before dawn distribute high-energy biscuits while most of the city still sleeps.

...Gonaïves, the worst of the worst in the scale of the death and destruction, has always been especially vulnerable when hurricanes strike. The northern port city is located in a flood plain and it fills up fast when rivers break their banks and rain rushes down mountains long ago stripped of trees. But that same geography gives the place agricultural potential and much of the rice grown in the country is from the area around here.

It was just four years ago that Hurricane Jeanne hit Gonaïves, killing about 3,000 people and leveling much of the city. The ensuing years have been spent rebuilding.

This time, though, there is talk about whether it makes sense to try to recreate the same old place again. Authorities are talking about shifting some of the population away from the lowest-lying areas.

There is discussion of boosting building codes so the next storm — and everyone knows there will be one — does not so easily level flimsy structures. The local emergency operations center was flooded and, Yolene Surena, its coordinator, vowed that the new one will move to higher ground. “We should have done it before,” she acknowledged with a shake of her head.

In Port-au-Prince, Patrick Elie, a presidential adviser who is preparing a report on whether Haiti ought to reform its army, said the string of storms makes it clearer than ever to him that the country’s biggest enemies are not other armies.

“We need a civil defense system,” he said. “These storms have pointed out the weakness of the Haitian state. Why are we surprised every time a storm hits when we know another one will come?”
The Mother Of All Oklahoma Rain Storms

Most models agree that Hurricane Ike will end up somewhere on the Texas coast near Corpus Christi.

According to current model forecasts, and as a foretaste, remnants from Tropical Storm Lowell will pass near OK, or across it, on Friday & Saturday.

Then, on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, remnants of Hurricane Ike will collide with much colder air over OK, creating The Mother Of All Oklahoma Rain Storms, featuring all kinds of very nasty weather. I wouldn’t plan for much outdoor activity on Sunday – Tuesday in Oklahoma.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

William Kristol Says Don't Fret...

Kristol says Sarah Palin's inexperience doesn't matter much, and he provides several examples from American history where seemingly relatively-inexperienced folks succeeded to the presidency.

But remember, Harry Truman had been a Senator for a decade before he was picked for VP. Plus, he had led troops in WWI.

Gerald Ford had been in the House of Representatives for 25 years and had been Senate Minority Leader for eight years.

LBJ had been in the House for 12 years, in the Senate for 11 years, and Senate Majority Leader for six years.

True enough, Calvin Coolidge had been Governor of Massachusetts for only two years when tapped as VP, but he had had a long career in the the state legislature, and as mayor of Northampton.

A genius with a photographic memory and prolific writer, Teddy Roosevelt had served six years with the U.S. Civil Service Commission, two years as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and two years as Governor of New York.

Palin's experience pales in comparison to all these folks.
Should voters be alarmed by a relatively young or inexperienced vice presidential candidate? No. Since 1900, five vice presidents have succeeded to the presidency during their term in office: Teddy Roosevelt in 1901, Calvin Coolidge in 1923, Harry Truman in 1945, Lyndon Johnson in 1963, and Gerald Ford in 1974.

Teddy Roosevelt took over at age 42, becoming our youngest president, and he's generally thought to have proved up to the job. Truman was V.P. for less than three months and had been kept in the dark by Franklin Roosevelt about such matters as the atom bomb — and he's generally thought to have risen to the occasion.
Character, judgment and the ability to learn seem to matter more to success as president than the number of years one's been in Washington.

From The Onion:
DAYTON, TN—A steady stream of devoted evolutionists continued to gather in this small Tennessee town today to witness what many believe is an image of Charles Darwin—author of The Origin Of Species and founder of the modern evolutionary movement—made manifest on a concrete wall in downtown Dayton.

"I brought my baby to touch the wall, so that the power of Darwin can purify her genetic makeup of undesirable inherited traits," said Darlene Freiberg, one among a growing crowd assembled here to see the mysterious stain, which appeared last Monday on one side of the Rhea County Courthouse. The building was also the location of the famed "Scopes Monkey Trial" and is widely considered one of Darwinism's holiest sites. "Forgive me, O Charles, for ever doubting your Divine Evolution. After seeing this miracle of limestone pigmentation with my own eyes, my faith in empirical reasoning will never again be tested."

Added Freiberg, "Behold the power and glory of the scientific method!"

Since witnesses first reported the unexplained marking—which appears to resemble a 19th-century male figure with a high forehead and large beard—this normally quiet town has become a hotbed of biological zealotry. Thousands of pilgrims from as far away as Berkeley's paleoanthropology department have flocked to the site to lay wreaths of flowers, light devotional candles, read aloud from Darwin's works, and otherwise pay homage to the mysterious blue-green stain.

Capitalizing on the influx of empirical believers, street vendors have sprung up across Dayton, selling evolutionary relics and artwork to the thousands of pilgrims waiting to catch a glimpse of the image. Available for sale are everything from small wooden shards alleged to be fragments of the "One True Beagle"—the research vessel on which Darwin made his legendary voyage to the Galapagos Islands—to lecture notes purportedly touched by English evolutionist Alfred Russel Wallace.

..."It's a stain on a wall, and nothing more," said the Rev. Clement McCoy, a professor at Oral Roberts University and prominent opponent of evolutionary theory. "Anything else is the delusional fantasy of a fanatical evolutionist mindset that sees only what it wishes to see in the hopes of validating a baseless, illogical belief system. I only hope these heretics see the error of their ways before our Most Powerful God smites them all in His vengeance."
Seafood Surprise

Wish it had been MY oyster!:
A Lebanese woman working in a restaurant kitchen found 26 pearls in an oyster she was preparing for the table and is to submit the find to the Guinness Book of Records.

Amal Salha, 50, said she was helping out her son in his Al Fanar restaurant on the waterfront in the southern port of Tyre, when she made the astonishing find on Monday evening.

"I couldn't believe it," she told AFP.

"I was in the process of opening the shells when I found a number of shining pearls inside one of them," she said. "I was so startled I screamed.

"It was so beautiful. It looked like a bunch of grapes."

After counting them, there turned out to be 26 pearls of varying sizes. The oyster had been harvested off the Lebanese coast.

Pearl oysters are unrelated to the oysters normally eaten in Europe but Salha said they were still popular with the French and Italian soldiers serving with the UN peacekeeping force deployed in south Lebanon.
Chili For The GOP Ticket

Ack! The duo of John McCain and Sarah Palin visit El Pinto Restaurant in Alameda, NM (a familiar haunt) and buy some chili.
How To Make Sparky Uneasy

Bruce gave me a CD that he obtained from his workplace featuring dogs, sheep, and chickens singing songs popularized by The Beatles. Sparky gets particularly nervous hearing dogs barking, along with sheep on harmonies, to 'A Hard Days Night'.
DMTC's "Fiddler On The Roof" - First Dress Rehearsal

Left: Perchik (Giorgio Selvaggio), Hodel (Josephine Longo), and Tevye (Jeff Nauer).

Left: "Do You Love Me?". Tevye (Jeff Nauer) and Golde (Jan Isaacson).
Spooked Investors Flee United Airlines

Talk about jumpy!
An erroneous headline that flashed across trading screens Monday, saying United had filed for a second bankruptcy, sent the airline’s stock plummeting.

United Airlines shares fell to about $3 from more than $12 in less than an hour before trading was halted, wiping more than $1 billion in value. Its shares closed at $10.92, down 11.2 percent.

By the end of the day, fingers were pointing in many directions to assign blame.

United blamed an old Chicago Tribune article that, it said, was posted on the Web site of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper. That article was picked up by a research firm, Income Securities Advisors, which then posted a link to it on a page on Bloomberg News, which sent a news alert based on the old article.

But the newspaper’s editor and the Tribune Company, which owns The Sun-Sentinel, denied that the paper had run the article on its Web site, saying it could be found only in its archives.

The episode was a reminder of how negative news, rumors and even outdated articles can travel at lightning speed, with some investors selling before pausing to check facts.

“That’s how much confidence people have in our system, when you can take the stock of a major corporation to zero in about 10 minutes,” said R. Thomas Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents mechanics and other employees at the nation’s airlines.

Added Philip A. Baggaley, an airline industry analyst with Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services: “Given that there’s been so much bad news in the past half year, it means that investors are very nervous about the airlines.”
Michael Palin For President

Because his time is now....
Dolly Doppelgangers

The forecast paths keep evolving on this storm called Ike. The latest model results suggest that Brownsville, TX, or vicinity, is the target, approximately where Hurricane Dolly hit earlier this season. In addition, the outcome of the system looks similar to Dolly, with heavy rains hitting southern NM, west Texas, and OK. But since the Pacific’s Tropical Storm Lowell is forecast to pass over much the same ground before Ike arrives, the next couple of weeks may be unusually wet in southern NM.

Monday, September 08, 2008

So This Is Why They Call Them 'Bangers'

Andy send this:
A burglar who broke into a home just east of Fresno rubbed spices over the body of one of two men as they slept in their rooms and then used an 8-inch sausage to whack the other man on the face and head before running out of the house, Fresno County sheriff's deputies said Saturday.

Lt. Ian Burrimond, describing the crime as one of the strangest he's ever heard of, said a suspect was found hiding in a nearby field a few minutes later and taken into custody on suspicion of residential robbery.

Deputies, he said, had no problem linking the suspect to the crime.

"It seems the guy ran out of the house wearing only a T-shirt, boxer shorts and socks, leaving behind his wallet with his ID," Burrimond said.

...The victims, both farmworkers, told deputies they were awakened by a stranger applying spices to one of them and striking the other with a sausage.

Both the spices and the sausage, Burrimond said, reportedly were obtained from the victims' kitchen.

After the man fled, the victims discovered the home had been ransacked and that some money was taken, Burrimond said.

Burrimond said the money was recovered, but that the piece of sausage used in the attack was discarded by the suspect and eaten by a dog.

"That's right, the dog ate the weapon," Burrimond said.

"I tell you, this was one weird case."
Wall Street Will Cast Verdict This Week On The Takeover Of Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac

Housing market socialism makes a colossal advance this week! The glass is half full to some, and half empty to others. For myself, I can't see how saving the (mostly) Chinese investors but wiping out the (mostly) American shareholders will be anything but a big, big negative:
NEW YORK -- The government's groundbreaking move Sunday to take control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could give a much-needed boost to the housing market and the stock market as well.

But the development is bad news for anyone who owns stock -- common or preferred -- in the mortgage finance giants.

On the positive side, the federal intervention is likely to bolster confidence in the financial system in general and in the debt of Fannie and Freddie in particular.

That would help to lower mortgage interest rates, reducing costs for home buyers and making it easier to qualify for a home loan.

"This really can't hurt anything," said Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance in Bethesda, Md. "If anything, it's going to make it easier to get a mortgage."

The prospect that the rescue will help stabilize the country's financial infrastructure -- a good thing for the economy -- could send stock prices up today.

In Asian markets, shares soared early today in reaction to the Treasury Department's steps.

But the rescue won't come without pain, and it won't solve the vast array of problems weighing on the economy and housing markets.

The takeover is expected to slam the already-depressed stocks of the two companies and may rattle other financial companies with exposure to them, experts said.

"By rights, the stocks should go to zero" when they open today, said Christopher Whalen, a partner at Hawthorne-based research firm Institutional Risk Analytics.

Under the Treasury plan, the shares might eventually have some value. But it could take years to know for sure.

Likewise, the companies' preferred shares -- which paid hefty dividends and were viewed more as bonds than stocks -- could well end up worthless, depending on how much taxpayer money Fannie and Freddie require to stay solvent. The dividend payments will cease.

The common shares "will become penny stocks and the preferreds are not far behind them," said David Kotok, chief investment officer of money manager Cumberland Advisors in Vineland, N.J.
Tropical Storm Fashion

Dwight says, "What the fashion conscious hottie will wear in Florida this month."
Ike Ripping Up Cuba

After ripping up Cuba early this week, the forecast models suggest Hurricane Ike will move into the Gulf of Mexico, picking up strength, but slowing down in forward movement, until by next Saturday, the storm will be virtually parked south of Louisiana. Then, a break will happen.

NOGAPS suggests the storm will move directly north and plunge into Louisiana, but GFS suggests the storm will head ENE, cross the coast at Pensacola, FL, and move into Georgia.

Parking such a large storm in the oil platform region of the Gulf will be bad for oil prices. The break in direction, possibly bringing the storm back towards Florida, may be worrisome for Tampa.

As always, keep an eye on this storm.
Lobster Armpits

I was pretty sloppy applying the sun tan lotion on Saturday, so now I have crimson underarms..
Four Little Bandits

Lightning-like flashes greeted me when I arrived home Saturday night. Guests who were visiting my next-door neighbors were busy taking flash photos of the canopy of the tree directly above my house.

"What's going on?" I asked. "Look!" a woman said, "There are four raccoons in your tree!"

I looked and saw one of the raccoons, and could hear the others moving around.

"Where do they come from?" the woman asked. "I think they come from the little park at the street corner," I said.

"But so many! Should we call animal control?" she asked. I shrugged my shoulders.
"Rent" Closes On Broadway

12 years!
Romance And Snakes

A perfect match!:
TWO top venom researchers have taken their relationship the next step since finding a deadly taipan on one of their first dates.

Cairns venom zoologist Teresa Carrette was showing new boyfriend American venomous snakes expert Donald Schultz around Cairns last weekend when they chanced upon a 2.2m coastal taipan in the middle of McGregor Rd, near James Cook University at Smithfield.

"I’ve worked extensively with deadly animals in the States so it was a huge deal for me to come across one of Australia’s deadliest animals almost on cue," Mr Schultz said.

The South African-born herpetologist, who produces shows for TV cable network the Discovery Channel, said he was used to working with spitting cobras and black mambas so found the taipan "very placid".

"But a bite from a snake that big would be a huge medical emergency," he said.

"Their fangs are so long they wear holes in the bottom of their jaw so they don’t even have to open their mouth to envenomate you."

Mr Schultz and Ms Carrette, who is doing her PhD at JCU specialising in box jellyfish, met in San Diego two months ago where she was appearing in the Discovery show I Was Bitten!, about her painful experience being stung by an irukandji a few years ago.

"She has amazing snake-handling skills," Mr Schultz said admiringly of Ms Carrette, who helped him bundle up the taipan in a pillowcase last Saturday and take it to the Cairns Tropical Zoo.

"For someone like me, that’s kind of a bonus in a girlfriend."