Thursday, November 22, 2012

More Greek Agony

So, it continues:
Greece's debts can only be cut to a sustainable level if eurozone countries accept losses on their loans to Athens, provide additional financing or force private creditors into selling Greek debt at a discount.

The document outlined that other measures (such as cutting the interest rates on Greece's loans or buying debt from private investors) would not have enough impact on the country's debt pile.

It said that either member states accept "capital losses or budgetary implications", or push back the target date for Greece's debts to fall to 120% of GDP by two years, to 2022.

Eurozone countries are not, yet, prepared to accept the first option, while the second option is unacceptable to the IMF. Thus deadlock.
Several months ago, George Soros showed there are ways out of these dilemmas, but these ways depend on the Germans stepping up.  There is no sign the Germans even understand the problem, much less are prepared to step up:
In my judgment the best course of action is to persuade Germany to choose between becoming a more benevolent hegemon, or leading nation, or leaving the euro. In other words, Germany must lead or leave.

Since all the accumulated debt is denominated in euros it makes all the difference who remains in charge of the euro. If Germany left, the euro would depreciate. The debt burden would remain the same in nominal terms but diminish in real terms. The debtor countries would regain their competitiveness because their exports would become cheaper and their imports more expensive. The value of their real estate would also appreciate in nominal terms, i.e., it would be worth more in depreciated euros.

The creditor countries, by contrast, would incur losses on their investments in the euro area and also on their accumulated claims within the euro clearing system.

...The eventual outcome would fulfill John Maynard Keynes’s dream of an international currency system in which both creditors and debtors share responsibility for maintaining stability.

...Whether Germany decides to lead or leave, either alternative would be better than to persist on the current course. The difficulty is in convincing Germany that its current policies are leading to a prolonged depression, political and social conflicts, and an eventual breakup not only of the euro but also of the European Union. How to persuade Germany to choose between either accepting the responsibilities and liabilities that a benevolent hegemon should be willing to incur or leaving the euro in the hands of debtor countries that would be much better off on their own?

Thanksgiving, 2012

Got an invite to eat Thanksgiving dinner with E. and her boyfriend at the mobile home park in Granite Bay, so that's where I was this afternoon. (Betcha didn't know that Sacramento's poshest zip code even had a mobile park!) Nice time was had by all.

At one time, E. decided to weigh in on foreign affairs:

They've been fighting for years over there in Pakistine - uh, Palistine. It all started when the the U.S. and the United Nations transferred part of Southwest Palistine to Israel. The Palistinians didn't understand that the transfer was legal, so that's why they keep fighting!

Yes, that is a very confusing situation. No wonder they never get it settled!

On TV, Animal Planet's episode where they look for Saquatch in the Humboldt-County California woods was being played on what seemed like an infinite loop. They talked to the people who filmed the famous 1967 sighting; they reenacted that filming; they made scary sounds in the woods at night; they drove around taking pictures of mysterious movements in the distance; and they even flew a helicopter at night and used thermal imaging to track down dots seen far below.

I dunno. I think I prefer this hunt for the Legendary Oklahoma Sasquatch:

Driving home, at E. Roseville Parkway and Douglas Blvd., I ran into evidence of a car crash. The driver was just getting out of her car, so I must have just missed the actual collision, but there was no sign of the other vehicle. A hit-and-run, perhaps, Or a get-hit-and-run?

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like Some Of ABQ's Finest Blue Meth!

My sister surprised me with some of Albuquerque's finest, quality-controlled blue meth for Thanksgiving.

Coincidentally, it was Joe The Plumber's birthday, and since he's a "Breaking Bad" fan too, I passed a packet to him. The surreptitious transfer was done in the harsh neon lighting of a motel parking lot. It felt so bad, so it must have been right!

Emily Jo Is In A Starbucks Ad!

Emily Jo Seminoff narrates this heart-warming ad.

We Are Beginning To Drive Less

About time!

Made It To The "Best" Page This Week On B3ta's QOTW!

Yay! Hard to make it to the "best" page!

It's not a new story, though: it's an old one I've told several times on this blog. Still, it's probably the highest-quality retelling of the story.

The "Question Of The Week" this week at B3ta was:
Ignored Advice

What wholesome advice have you ignored, to your own downfall?
My answer was:

"If you climb the mountain, be up and back by noon"

A pearoast, but it all started with neglected advice.

At age 17, a friend and I took a month-long auto trip around the American and Canadian West. One of our stops was at Mt. Hood, Oregon. My friend was partly prepared for the icy summit, but I wasn't. He had an ice axe, but the best I could scrounge from hunting around the ski slopes was a bamboo pole. Neither of us had crampons.

Someone advised "if you climb the mountain, be up and back by noon," but we didn't understand the advice. That meant starting the climb shortly after midnight. We wanted our sleep, however, and started instead after sunrise.

One reason for the advice is, as happens on summer's days, the surface snow begins melting, but is still rock-hard right under the surface. The combination is extremely slippery.

Descending from the top around 5 p.m., my friend was able to control his slippery descent using his ice axe, but my bamboo pole was nearly useless for that purpose. I slipped, and slid. I was hurtling downward straight towards a crevasse (technically a bergschrund), which sported a 30-to-50 meter tall cliff, depending where you sailed off. Painful death appeared certain.

I aimed my descent and plummeted straight into my friend, who was able to arrest both our descents with his ice axe. I started cursing him with the foulest language imaginable, even though he had just saved my life.

A panicky young death is not a pretty death! After more scary sliding experiments that brought us closer to the brink, I discovered I could roll over, hug the snow, and stop on my own. And I could take tiny baby steps downhill. After an eternity, we got out of there. I would have kissed him, except by now our tongues and lips were all sunburnt, and neither of us needed more pain.

Here is the final report on a particularly horrible 2002 accident, featuring the spectacular crash of the rescue helicopter, at exactly the same location.

Heisenberg Pumpkin Pie

"Breaking Bread", on Thanksgiving.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So There!

Caption: May 27, 2012 - Singer Eleftheria Eleftheriou of Greece performs during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 at Crystal Hall in Azerbaijan's capital city, Baku. Pablo Blazquez Dominguez / GETTY IMAGES

Interesting article regarding Azerbaijan last month in the Washington Post:
BAKU, Azerbaijan — The latest weapon in this country’s ideological war with Iran arrived late last month in an armada of jets from California, accompanied by a private security force, dazzling pyrotechnics and a wardrobe that consisted of sequins and not much else.

A crowd of nearly 30,000 gathered to watch as the leader of this mini-invasion pranced onto a stage built on the edge of the Caspian Sea. With a shout of “Hello, lovers!” Jennifer Lopez wiggled out of her skirt and launched into a throbbing disco anthem, delighting her Azerbaijani fans and — it was hoped — infuriating the turbaned ayatollahs who live just across the water.

“You could almost feel the Iranians seething,” said an Azerbaijani official who attended the U.S. pop star’s first concert in this predominantly Shiite Muslim country of 9 million. “This stuff makes them crazy.”

...As Iran sinks ever deeper into isolation and economic distress, its northern neighbor is sprinting in the opposite direction, building political and cultural ties to the West along with new pipelines connecting energy-hungry Europe with the country’s rich petroleum fields on the Caspian Sea. Where Iran is repressive and theocratic, Azerbaijan is socially and religiously tolerant, offering itself as a model of a nonsectarian, Muslim-majority society that champions women’s athletics and embraces Western music and entertainers.

Under The Seats At DMTC

Doing my yeoman duty at DMTC, sweeping dust from out underneath the seats of the theater, about a year ago, I found a curious and amusing piece of paper. I saved it, and ran into it again recently. Apparently most of it comes from amusing things that have been posted on Wikipedia at one time, or another. Here is the content:
From C is for Cookie

C is for Cookie can be regarded as a case study in persuasive oratory, emphasizing the emotional aspect of public speaking. Cookie Monster builds excitement by answering his opening rhetorical question, "Now what starts with the letter C?" with the obvious reply, "Cookie starts with C!" He then challenges the audience, "Let's think of other things that starts with C," before quickly replying, "Oh, who cares about the other things?" casually dismissing a whole range of other possibilities as irrelevant. Thus, having ostensibly come for the purpose of covering the letter C in its entirety, Cookie Monster has already focused his agenda exclusively on cookies, employing the classic bait and switch tactic. Several times in his presentation, Cookie Monster emphasizes what appears to be the central thesis of his remarks: "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me!" The appealing rhythm of this slogan appears designed to entrance listeners, swaying their emotions and making them instinctively want to chant along with him. After rousing the crowd, Cookie Monster systematically lays out the logical underpinnings of his pro-cookie ideology, comparing cookies to round donuts with one bite out of them and to the moon during its crescent phase, in essence using a straw man argument that implies his opponents would advocate the superiority of these competitors over cookies. In this sense, Cookie Monster may be proposing a false dichotomy representing cookies as the only viable choice to a group of obviously inferior alternatives. But before the audience has a chance to catch on, Cookie Monster launches into another round of repetitive chanting, "C is for cookie, that's good enough for me, yeah!" as young children sing along. Here, Cookie Monster uses a propaganda technique strikingly similar to that employed in George Orwell's Animal Farm by the pig Napoleon, who trained the farm's sheep to bleat, "Four legs good, two legs bad" on his cue. Cookie Monster then adds visual stimulation to his discourse by chomping into a large cookie, concluding his remarks with "Umm-umm-umm-umm-umm" and other chewing sounds.

[I would like to distastefully add that the cookie monster has now gone healthy. when offered both carrot and cookie, he now pick's the carrot! What is this world coming to... I mean, carrots and salad in general is what food eats. SOMETHING IS WRONG!!!

Coca-Cola in the Wild

In its natural state, Coca-Cola is docile until attacked, when it will spray sweet liquid on the predator. It has many foes, such as:

Yet it is often found and eaten. It does many things to protect itself. It may 'accidentally' tip over when frightened, or disguise itself as the less popular Pepsi or Dr. Pepper. Still, even with its most creative attempts, its foes still find it.

In the wild, it stays in packs of 5-23 other cans. Sadly, many packs have been taken into captivity, where rings are put tightly around their middles and the cans are put into boxes. They are then sold to people who take them to houses, where they will not be fed or allowed to roam around.

See Also:

Dr Pepper

[EDIT] Actually, organic farming allows for free-roaming.

(EDIT) It doesn't say organic does it edit boy?

This is simply because 90% of all Coca-Cola isn't organically cultivated. Organic and free-range Coca-Colas are more expensive and generally sold only in natural foods markets.

From Kool-Aid

The product mascot of Kool-Aid is a gigantic anthropomorphic pitcher filled with some kind of anonymous red liquid (Maybe it's drugs, who knows?) that seemingly at random bursts through walls with complete disregard for human life, causing countless thousands of dollars in property damage. He then chuckles and utters his thought-terminating catchphrase 'Oh Yeah!'. He has yet to be apprehended, so if you know anything about the wherabouts of this wanted fugitive, please call 1-800-555-KOOL or notify your local authorities, and consider him armed and very dangerous.

Also Pillsbury Doughboy:

Veteran Pillsbury spokesman Pop N. Fresh died yesterday of a severe yeast infection. He was 71. Known to friends as Brown-n-Serve, Fresh was an avid gardener and tennis player. Fresh was buried in one of the largest funeral ceremonies in recent years. Dozens of celebrities turned out including Mrs. Butterworth, the California Raisins, Hungry Jack, Aunt Jemima, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Skippy. The grave side was piled high with flours as longtime friend Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy, describing Fresh as a man who "never knew how much he was kneaded." Fresh rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with many turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes--conned by those who buttered him up. Still, even as a crusty old man, he was a roll model for millions. Fresh is survived by his second wife. They have two children and another bun in the oven. The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

Dumb Ways To Die

Via Metro Trains Australia

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ned Roscoe November Update

Ned's wife sent this on November 10th:
It has been a while since the last update, so here goes!

First of all, Ned is so thankful for all of your correspondence, whether it be through email or snail mail or through visits, it is all appreciated.

He would also like to thank whoever sent him the Ken Follett book. He really enjoyed it! Unfortunately the sender information was removed from the package so he couldn't send you a note. Please let me, or him, know if it was you!

Life in camp continues to be interesting. He completed his horticulture class, which was excellent. He even had the opportunity to go to the county road in front of the facility and plant some trees. It was quite a treat! He also had the highest score on the berry identification test. No surprise there. Next up in the series is a class in Pest Management. Bugs beware!

As of yesterday, Ned says he is caught up on reading his newspapers and magazines. That is quite an accomplishment, considering he reads so many.

Ned is thrilled that he now has an mp3 player. He is taking any and all suggestions for your list of top ten songs that you would like to hear if you were stranded on a desert island. Please send him your list, or reply to this email and I will pass it along.

Ned said last night that the computers will be down until Tuesday, so those of you on Corrlinks shouldn't be alarmed if you see no messages from him in the next few days.

If you would like to visit Ned, please let me know so that he may add you to the visitor list. I will send you the form and the address to send it to.

It is hard to believe we are almost 6 months in. That is half a year! We hope the rest goes as quickly.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers!

Why British Singers Sound American

Always wondered about that. I sort-of knew it already, since sometimes the British singers falter under the stress of the effort:
Why do British vocalists often sound American when they sing?

Because that’s the way everyone expects pop and rock musicians to sound. British pop singers have been imitating American pronunciations since Cliff Richard, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones began recording in the 1960s. These musicians were largely influenced by the African-American Vernacular English of black American blues and rock and roll singers like Chuck Berry, but their faux-American dialects usually comprised aspects of several American dialects. Imitating an American accent involved both the adoption of American vowel sounds and rhoticity: the pronunciation of r’s wherever they appear in a word. (Nonrhoticity, by contrast, is the habit of dropping r’s at the end of a syllable, as most dialects of England do.)

...Contemporary singers continue to adopt various accents according to their genre; Keith Urban, who is Australian, sings country music with a marked American Southern accent. A recent study suggests that the default singing accent for New Zealand pop singers utilizes American vowel sounds, even when the singers aren’t trying to sound American, perhaps because today’s singers were brought up listening to American (and imitation-American) pop vocals.

Step One Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

Because I was busy Sunday afternoon, I missed the grand celebration at Step One, but when I came in on Monday evening for Cardio Step class, I did look at their nice scrapbook.

What a strange atmosphere Monday evening! It was incongruous: a no-nonsense instructor barking orders at little kids as she played "We Need A Little Christmas", from the musical "Mame". Yes, must be time to rehearse a Christmas performance!

I am chagrined to learn that my Cardio Step class will be cancelled at the end of December. The virtue of that aerobics class is that it's hard work - full out, full-tilt, for an hour. The extreme effort is, by far, the most-important aspect of aerobics, and that class has it in abundance. For seven years I have worshipped at Step One's Cardio altar, because of that long-running class.

The Cardio class is likely to be replaced with Zumba. Hmmmppphhhh. More Zumba. The exercise dance that replaced everything and basically ate the world. Zumba is nice, but it's not full out, full-tilt, and so it's not an equal replacement. Pepper implied no regrets - it's basically a numbers game, as far as the studio is concerned. Attendance has dwindled in the Cardio class and they can't afford to ignore the Zumba onslaught. So, that's that.

I will have to rethink exercise strategies come January. Maybe I just step up my Zumba routine, and make it fierce. Alternatively, funk and hip-hop are still hanging on, so maybe that's the outlet.

I remember the old days, when people were fit and sensuous rather than fat and sinuous.

I hate change....

Pineapple Express Signal Weakening

For California, maybe a false alarm. It'll just be another storm to pummel the Pacific Northwest. According to the Weather Channel last night, there is already a flood danger in the Chehalis area, and more rain is due.

Keep It Simple, Stupid: For The GOP, It Means Everything That Isn't Defense Spending Must Be Welfare Spending

Yes, the National Weather Service is welfare for poor meteorologists, etc., etc.:
Navajo Nation President Shelly objects to congressional report calling Indian programs 'welfare'
WASHINGTON - In a letter dated Oct. 23 to Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly strongly objected to the characterization in an Oct. 16 Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report of various federal Indian programs as welfare.

In objecting to the inclusion of Indian programs within the discretionary category of welfare spending, President Shelly drew attention to the federal obligation that the U.S. has undertaken to "provide certain services to our citizens and to support Navajo self-determination" through various treaties and the trust responsibility.

...President Shelly criticized the characterization of Indian programs as 'welfare' simply because the programs serve what is only incidentally a disproportionately poor population.

"Federal transportation programs could also be labeled 'welfare' if their funds happened to go to states with high unemployment," Shelley said.

Bramlett's "A Christmas Carol" Link

Johnny Cash - 'Hurt"

Such an excellent song, performed so well! I remember seeing a video somewhere that they were experimenting with having Johnny Cash sing a variety of new songs, and that Cash's performances were either brilliant, or absurd, depending on the song. This song sticks.

Wikipedia states:
In 2002, Johnny Cash covered the song for his album, American IV: The Man Comes Around. The line "crown of shit" was changed to "crown of thorns", like Reznor's censored-for-radio version, not only removing profanity from the lyrics, but also more directly referencing Christ and Cash's devout Christianity. Its accompanying video, featuring images from Cash's life and directed by Mark Romanek, was named the best video of the year by the Grammy Awards and CMA Awards, and the best video of all time by NME in July 2011. The cover was released on a single with the B-side 'Personal Jesus', a cover of the Depeche Mode single.


When Trent Reznor was asked if Cash could cover his song, Reznor said he was "flattered" but worried that "the idea sounded a bit gimmicky." He became a fan of Cash's version, however, once he saw the music video.
I pop the video in, and wow... Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps... Wow. [I felt like] I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore... It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form. I wrote some words and music in my bedroom as a way of staying sane, about a bleak and desperate place I was in, totally isolated and alone. [Somehow] that winds up reinterpreted by a music legend from a radically different era/genre and still retains sincerity and meaning — different, but every bit as pure.

Music video

The music video was directed by former NIN-collaborator Mark Romanek who sought to capture the essence of Cash, both in his youth and in his older years. In a montage of shots of Cash's early years, twisted imagery of fruit and flowers in various states of decay, seem to capture both his legendary past and the stark and seemingly cruel reality of the present.

Romanek had this to say about his decision to focus on the House of Cash museum in Nashville.
It had been closed for a long time; the place was in such a state of dereliction. That's when I got the idea that maybe we could be extremely candid about the state of Johnny's health, as candid as Johnny has always been in his songs.
71 years of age at the time of filming (in February 2003), Cash had serious health problems and his frailty is starkly evident in the video. He died seven months later (September 12); his wife, June Carter Cash, who participated in the video, died three months after filming (May 15), closely preceding him in death. 'Hurt' is considered by many to be Cash's epitaph.

In July 2011, the music video was named one of "The 30 All-TIME Best Music Videos" by Time.

The house where Cash's music video for 'Hurt' was shot, which was Cash's home for nearly 30 years, was destroyed in a fire on April 10, 2007.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Oh, Meghan, Karl Rove Is Just A Shy, Sensitive Boy From Utah

Back on the Schadenfreude Front, I was intrigued by this Top 10 list at Salon:
Here’s a sampling of 10 reasons given by some of the Republican Party’s leading lights — including Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich and Meghan McCain — and why the party failed so miserably, and what it needs to do in order to make a comeback.
1. Bobby Jindal:
“We’ve got to stop being the stupid party. ... Certainly, we need to stop making stupid comments.”
But Bobby, you are the guy whose idea of cutting wasteful spending from the federal budget is to stop monitoring volcanoes, and you said that just two months before Alaska's Mt. Redoubt erupted. Some places in the U.S. need to worry about volcanoes!  That's why we should budget money to monitor them!

Stop making stupid comments? That's what Republicans like you do!

2. Lindsey Graham:
"But most people…on public assistance don’t have a character flaw. They just have a tough life. I want to create more jobs and the focus should be on how to create more jobs, not demonize those who find themselves in hard times."
"But as Michael Tomasky points out at the Daily Beast, it’s hard to see how any truly “conservative” proposal could help those struggling to stay economically afloat. From voucherizing Medicare to privatizing Social Security, the G.O.P. agenda adds up to a life on the economic margins for all but the well-off...."

4. Newt Gingrich:

"Newt Gingrich ... implied that the GOP needed to stop insulting potential voters — a pretty novel idea coming from a guy, as digby notes, who, throughout the presidential campaign, referred to Obama as 'the food stamp president.' "

 6. Peggy Noonan:
"But the Tea Party-style of rage is not one that wins over converts and makes people lean toward them and say, “I want to listen to you.”
But, Peggy, rage is the common thread of all Republican rhetoric. That's how they fire up their own troops! Without rage, Republicans have no motivation. Persuasion begins first with listening, and Republicans don't listen well.

7. Ralph Benko:
"The enormity of (and surprise at) the defeat of Romney is a huge setback — and perhaps fatal — to the Bush Mandarins’ hegemony over the GOP. If so, the potential re-ascendency of the Reagan wing of the GOP will prove very bad news for liberals and excellent news for the Republican Party. The Reagan wing now can resurge. A resurgence already has begun."
But, Ralph, there is no Reagan wing! It never even really existed.  Reagan presided over an orgy of defense spending, which sparked an economic recovery that made everyone feel good.  And Reagan died a long time ago, and people can't even really remember what he was like! It's not like there are frustrated Reaganites out there unable to make themselves heard.

 8. Mike Murphy:
"Look, there’s a huge donor revolt going on. I mean, we have now lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. This is an existential crisis for the Republican Party, and we have to have a brutal discussion about it. We alienate young voters because of gay marriage, we have a policy problem. We alienate Latinos — the fastest growing voter group in the country — because of our fetish with so-called amnesty when we should be for a path to immigration. And we have lost our connection to middle-class economics. We also have an operative class and unfortunately lot of which is incompetent. We don’t know how to win. So, this isn’t about new software in the basement of the RNC. It’s not about a few Spanish language radio ads. It’s a fundamental rethink that begins with policy because the country is changing and if we don’t modernize conservatism, we can go extinct. The numbers are the numbers."
Well, no one learns much from brutal discussions. Simple reality is a more-promising start.

Nevertheless, it was Meghan McCain's rant against Karl Rove that made me wince. No sting from a lash hurts quite as much as being insulted by a sorority sister like Meghan McCain. She stops just shy of calling Karl Rove fat and ugly. It makes me want to hug and console poor, misunderstood Karl. If this is what Meghan McCain says in public, I can't imagine what she says in private (except, possibly, she says exactly the same thing in both spheres):
I hate Karl Rove. I have hated Karl Rove before anybody else hated Karl Rove. I hated Karl Rove when I was, like, 14 years old. I hate — hate — Karl Rove. I think he’s an idiot, a pretentious blowhard, and I think he was ruined a lot of things for the Republican Party during the Bush administration. All these millionaires that keep giving him $400 million for him to not win one election — maybe it’s not working! Maybe it’s not working. Give me five freakin’ dollars — I’ll tell you for free what we gotta do. You can’t keep going and trying to get white men, because they’re dying off; it’s not a demographic anymore. We need the single women. But you don’t care. Seriously, I hate Karl Rove. Karl Rove needs to go away and retire, and just crawl back to the hole he emerged from…Everybody hates Karl Rove; he’s like a Bond villain.


The Workers At Hostess Are Heroes

What are they to do when management is just a bunch of zeroes?

One thing we can do is support the workers at Wal-Mart, and if they strike on Black Friday, don't shop there:
In 2011, Hostess earned profits of more than $2.5 billion but ended the year with a loss of $341 million as it struggled to pay the interest on $1 billion in debt. This year, the company sought bankruptcy protection, the second time in eight years.

Still, the CEO who brought on the latest bankruptcy got a raise while Hostess demanded that its workers accept a 30 percent pay and benefits cut.

...The unified Bakery Workers rejected the last cruel deal from executives by a vote of 92 percent. They chose to raise their heads with pride, as well they should.

Pineapple Express Signal

It's still well over the horizon, but the NOGAPS model is flashing a caution yellow for the start of December. It's comin'! The only question is how far north it will strike. Will it be a storm mostly for the Pacific Northwest, or is it for us too?

Good Use Of Paper Towel Tubes

In August and September, DMTC's Haunted House volunteers collected paper towel and toilet paper tubes in order to craft glowing-eye glow stick holders. In the end, we didn't use very many glow stick holders, and so had a surfeit of rolls to store.

Meanwhile, at her school, Stacy had a need for paper towel tubes in order to craft totem poles for a Native American educational display.

We got together....

We Are Ghosts (Twilight Breaking Dawn 2 Soundtrack) - Cover by April Story & Trey Stevens

On my YouTube Channel I get promotional mail from obscure people and bands. It's rare I get something I like, but this is an exception.

Tackling The Home Sewage Crisis

Last year, I gave Joe The Plumber the rooter machine I purchased two years ago, since I had kinked the cable on a resistant tree root, and thus it was pretty useless. Nevertheless, since Joe has no place to store 'his' machine, I'm still in possession of it.

Last year, Joe cut off the kinked part and tried to affix a cutter at the end of the bare cable. He lost the cutting head in Marcia's sewer, however, so the end of the cable was bare. In addition, the air-pressure switch to the rooter machine sprung a leak, and could be operated only with temporary seals (generated generally by spitting on the switch and using Cling Wrap to try to make an effective seal).

So, even though the cable no longer had a head, and was very hard to operate continuously, and thus was very inefficient at its task, I decided to use it anyway, since it meant I didn't have to rent and transport a machine to the site. Tonight, I also bought a new hand-operated snake at Home Depot that featured a thicker cable.

It was slow work, featuring multiple insertions. The snake seemed to be a failure, but eventually the spastic mechanical cable was able to rip out enough roots that I was able to clear enough roots so I could run a garden hose's worth of water down the sewage line without a backup. Frustrated with all this, and hesitant because it's poisonous to fish, at the end, I also added some poisonous copper sulfate into the line, to soak the roots overnight and stop their regrowth.

As long as the sewage line is in a state of decay, these crises will recur. Most sewage lines in the Curtis Park neighborhood date roughly to 1940, with lifetimes expiring in 70 years at most (2010 at most). So, it's downhill from now on, and not just me either, but since I can't afford a replacement pipe, I'll fight to the end to save what I've got.

Pineapple Express May Start Gathering Soon

Arrival around December 1st?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mutual Core - Bjork

Bjork has a new video out, inspired by geological science. Yes, she is one strange, interesting chick:

Empire Of Mud

On Sunday, November 4th, I went to Pam's ballet class. On the way back, I stopped at the Dollar Tree, in the hope of catching a post-Halloween sale.

There was no sale, and my car wouldn't start.

It appeared to be the same problem as back in October, where I was forced to leave my car in the Safeway parking lot at 1:30 a.m. because it wouldn't start. I had to walk a mile home through a sketchy neighborhood. When I called AAA and returned the next day, the car started without a jump.

So, would that weirdness happen here too? Something odd is wrong with the car's electronics these days!

I decided to walk eleven blocks to Auto Zone, and buy a new battery. When I returned to the car, after carrying the new battery eleven burdensome blocks, the car started without a jump and without the new battery being installed. Like I knew it would!

I still haven't installed the new battery. By the time I do, it'll probably be discharged.

Today, at home, I finally had time to clean the gutters. Except that it was already raining. So, I worked all day on cleaning the gutters, despite the rain. Mud and grime. Plus, there are still a few carnivorous fleas left in the basement. Joy!

And this afternoon, the sewer line decided to stop functioning. This is the second time this year that vital pipeline has failed. Things must be deteriorating in the nether regions. Joe The Plumber's vehicle doesn't even run anymore - I haven't seen him in three weeks - so he may not be able to help. I'll probably have to get help from E. Joy!

Heck, there is no need to go to Russia to experience life as portrayed below. Just come on over to my house!

Time To Start Countering The BS About Unions And Hostess Brands

No, it wasn't the unions, it was the management:
Our friends at Media Matters set the record straight. Here are some key points:
  • The problem was debt. Reuters (a real news outlet) reported Hostess' entered "First Bankruptcy With $648.5 Million In Debt, And Came Out With More Than $800 Million." Reuters reported that after Hostess filed for its first bankruptcy in 2004, "it did not deal with its debt"
  • Blame the lawyers, not the unions. Reuters also reported In its first bankruptcy, Hostess spent more than $170 million on professional fees in its first bankruptcy. That's because each time a company goes bankrupt, it must pay for lawyers and advisers not only for itself, but for its major creditors.
  • Debt was the problem in the second bankruptcy: The New York Times' DealBook reported that Hostess had "more than $850 million of secured debt outstanding" as well as "$180 million in accrued workers compensation liabilities." The Times further reported that "[a]nother $50 million to $60 million is outstanding to trade creditors, plus $36 million in lease obligation" and that the company was "going to lay a $75 million debtor-in-possession loan on top of that." The Times added that "all this from a company with assets of just over $980 million."
  • Unions made concessions while executives looted the company: Forbes explained that Hostess was able to exit bankruptcy in 2009 for three reasons, including that "substantial concessions" were made "by the two big unions" -- the Teamsters and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union... and "thousands of union members lost their jobs."
  • The hacks running the company made out like -- well, you know: In April Hostess' creditors noted that Hostess had dramatically increased executive pay, including increasing CEO compensation from $750,000 to $2.25 million.
  • Management couldn't come up with new products: CNBC reported "The company's sales declined and attempts to roll-out new products more in line with changing consumer tastes flopped."

Did Anonymous Save The 2012 Election?

So, what is this letter at Wonkette?:

[UPDATE]: I've been trying to think this through. According to the Ohio election rules:
Security of Voting System and Tabulation Programs/Software

No voting machine or component of a voting system may be connected to the internet. A voting system includes the total combination of mechanical, electromechanical, and electric equipment, including software or firmware required to program, control, and support the equipment that is used to: set up elections, define ballots cast, receive voting data from polling places, count votes, report or display election results, and maintain and produce any audit trail information. The board’s voter registration server is not considered a voting machine or component of a voting system for purposes of this section.

Voting machines or components of a voting system may only be connected via a local computer network cable to the central tabulating system (a closed local network) for the purpose of creating or uploading memory cards, ballots definitions, precinct results, and other required tasks. Additionally, voting machines in a polling location may be connected to a closed local network.

Election results, ballot definitions, or other similar information must never be transferred to a voting system via the internet (except that blank ballots may be transmitted to a UOCAVA voter via the internet or facsimile).
Vote counting should be the simplest possible use of modern computational software - grade-school arithmetic - except, of course, that it is necessary to protect the process from cheaters!

Theoretically, the Ohio voting systems are hermetically sealed from the Internet, but there are always - always! - exceptions. The supposedly outward-looking UOCAVA (Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voters) rule is one exception, as is the Secretary of State's Office itself (where election results are presented to the public). Maybe the three "digital tunnels" Anonymous refers to needed to be placed out-of-state in order to exploit the UOCAVA exception.

Global Aerosol Burden

This is an awesome video!:
[Y]ou can watch the Saharan dust blow west to Florida. I was also amazed when a huge white (sulfate) bloom appeared to the northwest of Madagascar in January 2007, and then found out there was a big eruption of the Karthala volcano at that time. You can also see lots of sulfates (presumably from fossil fuel burning) over the U.S., Europe, and China. Seeing all these aerosols whipped around into cyclonic shapes and moving across land and sea is simply mesmerizing.

Change The Bible If It Doesn't Please

I thought this was a most interesting article.

Trying to create a unified anti-abortion bloc of Christians in the late 1970's was worse than herding cats. Christian denominations were all over the place. Yet, by the 21st Century, that effort had largely succeeded. How was it done?

Well, there is only one verse in the Bible that explicitly addresses the legal status of the fetus, and that verse was changed. Specifically, the English translation was changed in order to suit the new need:
In 1977, the New American Standard translation of Exodus 21:22-25 read as follows
And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is not further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
By 1995, an updated version of the translation had changed the meaning.
If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
The original treats the death of a fetus differently than the death of a person. By changing “so that she has a miscarriage” to “so that she gives birth prematurely” this little barrier to anti-abortion unity was removed. The change, however, is at odds with centuries of church tradition, Jewish interpretations of the same passage, and the clear intent of earlier near Eastern legal codes in which the passage appears to have had its roots