Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Biggio Sets A New Record! Sheffield To Pitch Gerber Products? Red Sox Avoid Sweep.

Biggio Moves Past Baylor

The Biggio Watch is now officially over. Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros was hit by a pitch from the Colorado Rockies Byun-Hyung Kim in the fourth inning of the Astros 7-1 victory to move past Don Baylor as the all-time major league career record holder for having been hit by a pitch. Yesterday, Jason Jennings did the honors by hitting Biggio to tie the record, now, it is all Biggio's with 268 HBPs and counting. Congratulations Craig. Is there an Advil endorsement on the horizon?

Sheffield: Respect My Authoritah!

New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield let It be known, in no uncertain terms, that he does not want to be traded the cross-town Mets, as has been rumored lately. ESPN excerpt:

I'm not going anywhere," Sheffield told The New York Times on Wednesday. The Yankees and Mets reportedly were in discussions about a possible Sheffield-for-Mike Cameron swap.

"If I have to go somewhere, I won't go," the Yankees' slugger told The Times. "If they said 'wouldn't you want to get paid', I'd say 'I've got plenty of money.' I'm not playing nowhere else, I can promise you that."

Sheffield is signed through 2006 and does not have a no-trade clause in his contract. He signed a three-year, $39 million contract in December 2003.

The Yankees reportedly are interested in upgrading their defense by placing Cameron in center. The Mets would add another powerful bat to the middle of their order with Sheffield, who plays right field for the Yankees.

Sheffield seemed to hedge in another interview with, saying he would want concessions for signing off on any trade. "If I have to go somewhere else, a lot of things are going to have to be changed or you're going to have an unhappy player," Sheffield told "I'll ask for everything. Period. You want to inconvenience me, I'm going to inconvenience every situation there is," he added. "The only reason I'm playing is that I wanted to play for the Yankees. If I don't get that opportunity, things change."

Sheffield, who negotiated his current contract personally with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, did say that he wouldn't hold out if he were to be traded. "I would never sit out," Sheffield told "I'd go play, but that doesn't mean I'll be happy playing. If I'm not happy, you don't want me on your team. It's that simple. I'll make that known to anybody."

Christ, when the rumors hit that the Red Sox were trying to trade Manny Ramirez to Texas for A-Rod, and then trade Nomar to the White Sox for half that team, every media hack in New England turned on Nomar as if he was a non-Catholic Church sponsored child molester. Shitheads like Dan Shaugnessy began to pretend that Nomar was not the hustling, two-time batting crown winning shortstop we had come to love since he broke in in 1996, but was in fact a clubhouse cancer of the worst kind. Now, it will be interesting to see the media reaction now that a legitimate clubhouse cancer has shown his true nature.

Let's review: Sheffield came to the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1988 and immediately became known as a head case. He forced a trade with his bad play, apparently due to "unhappiness", to the San Diego Padres where he led the NL in hitting (.330) and total bases (323) in 1992. But he quickly wore out his welcome there and forced another trade in mid-1993 to the Florida Marlins (around the same time the Padres traded Fred McGriff to the Atlanta Braves), where he played pretty well, being a part of the first Marlins World Series Championship team in 1997, until another mid-season trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998. After three monster years in LA, he moved on to the Braves and put up two more monster seasons before Steinbrenner's millions pried him loose.

By the time he had moved to the Dodgers, it appeared that Sheffield had calmed down. No longer was he compared to legendary troubled talents like Richie Allen, but instead was likened to players like George Hendrick who went through his own growing pains as a Cleveland Indian in the mid-1970s before joining the St. Louis Cardinals in time to be a key component of their 1982 World Series Championship.

Unfortunately, Sheffield seems to have backslid into the type of behavior that made him a manager's nightmare. You've got to feel for Joe Torre. The poor guy not only has to deal with Steinbrenner's ego and unrealistic demands, but now he has a player who will use this situation to retrieve the chip that we thought had finally fallen from his shoulder in 1999. Maybe there is a Gerber Baby Food endorsement on the horizon...

Red Sox Avoid Sweep

The Red Sox avoided a sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Indians witha 5-2 victory this afternoon at Fenway Park. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield pitched seven strong innings to earn his seventh win of the season. Back-to back home runs from catcher Doug Mirabelli (his fourth) and second baseman Mark Bellhorn (his sixth) helped pace the Sox offense. Matt Mantei pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Mike Timlin pitched a scoreless ninth the earn his first save of the season in place of closer Keith Foulke who threw 287 pitches in the ninth inning of last night's meltdown.

Part of that meltdown occurred when, having entered the game in the eighth inning with an 8-5 lead, Foulke let two inherited runners score. In the ninth, with one out, Jody Gerut lined a shot off the Monster that Manny Ramirez played perfectly by barehanding the carom and throwing a strike to second base. Gerut should have been out by five feet, but Mark Bellhorn dropped the throw (as well as a throw from third baseman Bill Mueller on a potential double play ball in Monday night's loss). Suddenly, instead of two out and nobody on base, there was one out and a runner at second. Things got worse from there when, after Foulke got Aaron Boone to fly out, he gave up a game-tying single to Jhonny "Yes That's Really How I Spell It" Peralta before loading the bases with walks and surrendering a grand slam to Travis Hafner. Foulke has been shaky all season, and the Sox need him to come around if they hope to repeat as WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS.

The win today moves the Sox two games ahead of the second place Baltimore Orioles, who are in a rain delay with the Yankees at Camden Yards.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Lifelike Robot Revealed In Japan. Dems Cave Again, Senate Gives Bush His Energy Bill.

Lifelike Robot Revealed In Japan

We may be one step closer to Isaac Asimov's "I Robot". Check out the following National Geographic News excerpt:

Repliee Q1 appeared yesterday at the 2005 World Expo in Japan, where she gestured, blinked, spoke, and even appeared to breathe. Shown with co-creator Hiroshi Ishiguru of Osaka University, the android is partially covered in skinlike silicone. Q1 is powered by a nearby air compressor, and has 31 points of articulation in its upper body.

Internal sensors allow the android to react "naturally." It can block an attempted slap, for example. But it's the little, "unconscious" movements that give the robot its eerie verisimilitude: the slight flutter of the eyelids, the subtle rising and falling of the chest, the constant, nearly imperceptible shifting so familiar to humans.

Full story:

Now we just have to hold our collective breath as we wait for the Dobsons, Falwells and other religious nuts to weigh in on the "morality" of this event. Fortunately, the aforementioned Asimov classic contains a plan on how to cope with this coming innovation. Unfortunately, the aforementioned religio-nutjobs read nothing but the Bible, and therefore aren't close to being qualified to judge developments from the 17th century, let alone here in the 21st. Interesting times lie ahead...

Dems Fail To Show Up For Work Again As Senate Gives Bush An Energy Bill

In another disgusting capitulation to the Bush administration and the energy lobby that pulls its strings, the Senate passed a slightly different version of the energy bill that recently passed in the House of Representatives. Painful Christian Science Monitor excerpt:

WASHINGTON – Soaring fuel prices and concerns about a Chinese company buying a major US oil producer give a long-stalled energy bill its best shot at passage since George W. Bush took office.

The Senate Tuesday passed its version of energy reform by a bipartisan 85-12 vote, opening the door to tough talks with the House to reconcile differences over issues from drilling in the Alaskan wilderness to a controversial liability waiver for a gasoline additive that pollutes drinking water.

But with the price of crude oil topping $60 a barrel, the pressure on Congress to move an energy bill is all but irresistible. Adding to the momentum, China's bid for the California oil group Unocal sent shock waves across Capitol Hill last week, fueling speculation that the global rush for the world's oil reserves is on.

First China buys up most of our trade deficit by purchasing massive amounts of treasury bonds, and now they want to buy up our oil companies. To echo a phrase Republicans used during President Clinton's impeachment: "Where's the outrage?"

US business interests lobbied heavily for a new energy bill. The energy sector contributed more than $50 million in the 2004 election cycle, 75 percent of it to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Vastly outspent, environmental groups gave $1.9 million, 88 percent of it to Democrats.

For industry groups, the key selling point for an energy bill is jobs. Without an agreement, the US stands to lose 2 million jobs, especially in industries fueled by natural gas, according to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). The plastics industry has already lost more than 150,000 jobs. The US chemical industry has lost some 90,000 jobs. Of the 120 chemical plants priced at $1 billion or more being built today, only one is in the US.

Wait a goddamned minute. Didn't these industries get BILLIONS of dollars in tax cuts from President Glad-Hand? And wasn't the main argument for these cuts that they would stimulate job growth? Why then, do we see the figures listed above? Could it be because these people are lying scumbags? Just asking...

The House bill, debated only two days, strongly favors fossil-fuel producers and traditional energy sources. The Senate version is deliberately weighted toward subsidies for conservation and renewable energy sources.

That may be true, but it's just a matter of degree. Sort of like the choice of being dipped in shit, or being dipped in puke. Either way it's a fucking mess...

"The Senate bill is a lobbyist's dream and a taxpayer's nightmare. [It] is less a coherent policy than a grab bag of giveaways for special interests," says Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, in a statement.

Gee, I guess we're lucky then that the House version didn't pass muster with the Senate, aren't we? While watching a Red Sox game with Dad, one of the many pickup truck, SUV and luxury car commercials finally prompted Dad to bust out with this: "I'm disappointed in Detroit. We should be able to get cars that give us at least 50 miles to the gallon. Why the hell doesn't the government step in and force the issue?" Well, my answer, that the government is headed by a greedy oil man and his greedy cronies, and that said oil man's political party controls both houses of Congress, and that given those facts we aren't likely to see the type of changes Dad wants to see, was less than satisfactory. See, Dad is a Bush lover. In fact, he loved the first Bush mistake, as well as the Reagan disaster, but I can only put up with so much self-delusion for so long, even when trying to cut Dad some slack. Oh well, no sense beating this dead horse any longer. In the immortal words of Judge Smails: "You'll get nothing and like it!!!"

Anyway, here's the full story link:

Odds And Ends

The Red Sox, after having been shut out last night 7-0 at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, look for revenge tonight. Wade Miller starts on the mound for the Sox against lefty Cliff Lee of the Indians. Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros is still waiting to be hit by the next pitch to tie Don Baylor for the all-time major league career record in that painful department. He still trails Baylor 267-266.

Also, President Clueless gives an address tonight, presumably on why we need to stay bogged down in Iraq. I wonder if he'll address the mixed messages coming from his own camp? Dick "Five Heart Attacks" Cheney recently said that the Iraqi insurgency was "in it's last throes". Not long after those famous words, General John Abazaid AND Defense Secretary Donald "Saddam Was My Best Business Partner" Rumsfeld both claimed the opposite. Abazaid claimed that the insurgency was "as bad as it's ever been", while Rummy claimed that we could be fighting these insurgents for the next 12-15 years! Given the Moron In Chump's propensity for ignoring inconvenient facts, I wouldn't expect him to address this issue.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Religious Whackjobs To Dishonor Fallen Veteran. More Supreme Court Idiocy.

Religious Whackjobs To Dishonor Fallen Veteran

In an all too typically idiotic display of religious insanity, some group called the WBC has decided to assemble at the funeral of fallen Green Beret Christopher Piper, formerly of Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read the following unbelievable Boston Herald excerpt:

A Green Beret killed in Afghanistan will be laid to rest in his native Marblehead today as police brace for the anticipated arrival of a Kansas hate group.

``We're in Massachusetts now and we will be in Marblehead,'' said Margie Phelps of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church.

The WBC has blamed the 9/11 attacks and deaths of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan on America's tolerance of homosexuals. The group, which recently demonstrated outside local Catholic churches and public schools it deemed tolerant of homosexuality, has threatened to show up at services today for Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Piper, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan this month.

The group's literature proclaims ``Thank God for IEDs (roadside bombs)'' and states that Piper and other slain soldiers were ``cast into Hell to join other dishonorable Americans.'' Officials in Marblehead and Chicopee, home of slain Marine Capt. John Maloney, have denounced the group's plans to demonstrate at the fallen heroes' funerals. Both men's families have said freedom of speech is something they died trying to protect. Maloney was killed by an IED in Iraq this month.

Full story:

You just can't make shit like this up. As it turned out, there was no trouble at the funeral, but still, I wonder how these shitheads would feel if one of their cult members was killed say, in a drunken driving accident, and a group called, say, Freaks Against Religious Thuggery (FART) showed up to the funeral to rejoice that there was now one less religiously insane asshole in the world? Something tells me that they wouldn't be too thrilled at the prospect...

Nine-Inch Nails Blow Another One

The United States Supreme Court ruled that a monument of the Ten Commandments was NOT unconstitutional because it was outside, and therefore, NOT promoting any specific religious viewpoint. JTA News excerpt:

WASHINGTON, June 27 (JTA) — The U.S. Supreme Court’s split rulings this week on the public display of the Ten Commandments is likely to lead to further confusion on what’s permissible and what’s not, analysts say.

The high court determined that some monuments cast a religious message and therefore violate the separation of church and state. But taken together, the rulings on two separate but related cases are likely to be viewed as an endorsement of public displays of the Ten Commandments, as long as they are erected with a secular objective.

Full story:

First these paragons of wisdom decide that any public official can, for any reason, steal your property from you and then turn around and sell it to any greedy developer who claims they need it (or who simply wants it, like President Bloodthirsty Moron wanted Iraq), and now this.

So how the hell are we to determine whether a monument is erected with or without a secular objective? Are we to take the word of those behind such displays that there is no intent? Remember Alabama Judge Roy Moore? His intent was more than clear when he had his Ten Commandments monument placed inside his courthouse. He made sure that you knew you were in the hands of a religiously insane jurist. Moore, when his monument was ruled unconstitutional in 2003, acted like an NRA member basically saying "You'll take my monument from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hands." He eventually lost his job as a result of his defaince of the ruling by a U.S. District judge that went against him. The Supreme Court declined to hear his appeal.

That story:

I'll finish this rant with a couple of quotes from the Master Architect who built the wall that separates Church and State:

"A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims." -- Thomas Jefferson, "Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-1782"

"Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law." -- Thomas Jefferson, letter, 1814

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Red Sox Sweep Phillies. Biggio Watch In Effect.

Red Sox Sweep Phillies

The Red Sox swept the Phillies this afternoon with a 12-8 victory that saw them blow an 8-1 lead after Mark Bellhorn homered (his 5th) and Manny Ramirez hit a grand slam (his 19th career grand slam). Sox starter David Wells went five innings and even got a single, an RBI and scored on Manny's granny. But, he surrendered homers to Bobby Abreu (his 17th) and Pat Burrell (his 16th) before turning it over to the bullpen. After a scoreless sixth from Matt Mantei, Alan Embree and Mike Timlin allowed the Phillies to tie the game at 8-8 in the seventh inning, but the Sox responded with four runs in the eighth off of former Sox reliever Rheal Cormier, including a two-run homer by Jason Varitek (his 13th). Keith Foulke pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the sweep.

The Sox had a perfect 6-0 record on this road trip and now face the Cleveland Indians to begin a three-game series tomorrow night at Fenway. And since the Orioles were swept by the Braves in Atlanta, the Sox now hold a 2 1/2 game lead in the AL East.

Biggio Watch

Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros needs to be hit by one more pitch to tie Don Baylor for the painful distinction of having been hit by the most pitches in a career. Biggio trails Baylor 266 to 267.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Catch-Up Time. Chuck Schumer Rents A Pair. Sox Win In Philly.

Catch-Up Time

I've been a little busy the past two days so it's now time to play catch-up. Among the things that occupied my time was attending a fitting for a tuxedo to wear as part of my friend's wedding party when he and his fiance get married this October in...LAS VEGAS!!! IT'S ON BABY! IT IS SO ON!!!

Last night it was my company team softball game that kept me from the keyboard. I am happy to report that we recorded a 15-6 win in which I went 3 for 4 with a single, double and homer, scoring twice and driving in three runs in addition to having handled four putouts in center field. The team is now 3-4 and we are currently in 10th place in an 18-team league with 11 games left to play.

Chuck Schumer Rents A Pair. Shows Signs Of Fighting Back!

So now I can address the Karl Rove - Dick Durbin nonsense. Anyone who thinks Dick Durbin was wrong in saying what he said does not understand English. Go to the Daily Howler web site on my links list to get a clear picture about this story, and why Durbin should NOT have had to apologize for a damned thing.

Of course, most Democrats have stabbed Durbin in the back, but Chuck Schumer grew a temporary spine as you will see from the story taken from Google News:

New York's senior US Senator is repeating criticism of key White House adviser Karl Rove. Senator Charles Schumer says Rove went too far in a speech earlier this week in New York City.

In Manhattan on Wednesday Rove told a conservative dinner that liberals had looked at the 9-11 attacks and offered therapy for the attackers while conservatives had prepared for war. Many democrats are calling for Rove to apologize for the remarks or resign his white house post as special adviser to President Bush.

Schumer, on a stop in Syracuse, said Rove's remarks were sickening and far beyond what should be acceptable in the political arena.

“I don't think people should play politics with 9-11. We all have our different political views, but 9-11 is sacred to all New Yorkers and to all Americans,” Schumer said.

President Bush has no plans to ask Rove to step down. A spokesman says the White House thinks Rove 'got it right' in his speech.

So not only do we see that the Republicans are calling liberals traitors, but they are, once again, exploiting their greatest windfall for their plan to erode our democracy, the September 11th, 2001 tragedy. I seem to recall that part of Governor Bush's 2000 campaign was that he wanted to "change the tone" in Washington. Well, he sure as hell succeeded in doing so. Things are pretty well fucked up in this world when Dick "Go Fuck Yourself" Cheney and Karl "The Man Behind The Curtain" Rove can tell outright lies and then arrogantly refuse to apologize, but when Dick Durbin tells the truth he is accosted from all sides and forced to apologize for making perfectly accurate statements.

Red Sox 8, Phillies 0

The Sox began their final inter-league series of the season in Philadelphia tonight with an 8-0 shutout of the Phillies. Tim Wakefield pitched eight strong innings with a nearly unhittable knuckleball, and even banged out a base hit. The Sox had three-run homers from Doug Mirabelli, his 3rd, and Manny Ramirez, his 17th. Manny also made a terrific sliding catch of a Jim Thome pop fly near the left field line. David Ortiz added a mammoth two-run homer, his 19th, to cap the Sox offense.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Justice Delayed. KKK Murderer Convicted Of...Manslaughter...

Edgar Ray Killen, cowardly KKK murderer, was convicted today of manslaughter in the case in which three men, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered in 1964. Excerpts from the San Luis Obispo Tribune:

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. - (KRT) - On the 41st anniversary of the murders of three young civil rights workers, a jury on Tuesday convicted an 80-year-old former Ku Klux Klan leader of manslaughter, closing another chapter in the country's sordid past of racial violence that has hovered over generations.

Edgar Ray Killen took a deep breath then sat expressionless as the judge pronounced him guilty of orchestrating the slayings of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, who were beaten and shot to death the night of June 21, 1964, on a rural road a short distance from Killen's house. Their bodies were found 44 days later in an earthen dam.

Though the jury declined to find Killen guilty of murder, which would have carried an automatic life sentence, many people who have lived most of their lives in and around this small town found solace in the manslaughter verdict, which could land Killen in state prison for up to 20 years on each of the three counts. The conviction most likely means that Killen will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Manslaughter. That's when you accidentally kill someone in a car accident for Christ's sake. This was a goddamned murder. I only hope the assholes who covered the Michael Jackson trial and harassed those jurors will do likewise for the panel that decided this was real justice. Nancy Grace and her ilk are more concerned with punishing a celebrity, but will likely remain unconcerned about the fact that Killen probably engineered and participated in more murders during the 41 years he was allowed to live free among humans. That is a tragedy. But don't take my word for it. Read what the wife of Michael Schwerner had to say:

In finding Killen guilty of manslaughter, the jury of three African Americans and nine whites rejected the prosecutors' claim that Killen intended to cause the men's deaths. The manslaughter charge, which was added toward the end of the trial, gave the panel the option of finding him guilty of orchestrating the attack, which ended in what could have been unintentional murders.

Rita Schwerner Bender, who was married to Schwerner and had traveled with him to the South that summer, said the conviction is an important first step in bringing recognition to the many people who gave their lives helping others.
"The window is open, but the light has not come through completely. That some members of the jury could sit there and not see that this was murder with malice is an indicator that there are still people who unfortunately choose to look aside and not see the truth," said Bender, an attorney in Seattle. "This means there is a lot more work to be done."

Bender said it remains a sad fact that national and international attention has been focused on the story because two of the three men - Schwerner and Goodman - were white. "No attention would have been given to others who were so badly treated," she said. "That means race is still an important factor in this country."

I can't state it any clearer than Ms. Bender has. When the fuck are we going to wake up in this country?

Full story:

Monday, June 20, 2005

Music Review - Bruce Dickinson, Tyranny Of Souls. Late Red Sox Update.

Music Review - Bruce Dickinson, Tyranny Of Souls

Tyranny Of Souls is Bruce Dickinson's first solo release since his 1998 release The Chemical Wedding. Since then, he has re-joined his Iron Maiden bandmates to record Brave New World and Dance of Death. Tyranny Of Souls was produced by guitarist/producer Roy Z (Tribe of Gypsies). All ten songs were co-written by Bruce and Roy, and total about 44 minutes in all. One of the things I like about Dickinson's solo efforts is that he tends to write songs that don't call on him to have to use the upper end of his vocal range the way he is asked to do for the songs Steve Harris tends to write for him with Iron Maiden. Roy Z's solos are fluid and sharp, and carry plenty of punch to help Dickinson's strong vocal delivery. Here's a song-by-song breakdown:

Mars Within (Intro) — 90 seconds of impending doom with a distinctly Lovecraftian feel about the lyrics: “Professor Quartermass where are you…/ Mankind returns to the stars…? /But sometimes…the stars…return…to mankind…/ Didn’t you come this way before? A million years ago?”

Abduction — A hard hitting rocker with a heavy hook powered by the machine-gun drumming of David Moreno. Bruce’s powerful vocals deliver the goods with a tale of alien abduction, and Roy Z delivers a searing guitar solo.

Soul Intruders — A mid-tempo rocker with more heavy drumming and another blistering Roy Z guitar solo that seems as if it was cut off much too soon. Bruce shows off the higher register of his voice with more on the abduction theme.

Kill Devil Hill — This number is a slower piece that is Bruce’s tribute to the place where the Wright brothers flew the first airplane. From that first flight Bruce imagines a new world of space travel that will open up the universe for mankind. The song slows even more with some nice piano fills as the song fades out.

Navigate The Seas Of The Sun
Another slow piece that alternates between acoustic and electric passages with robust solos from Roy Z using both formats. Bruce sings effectively about not just man’s emergence into space, but hints at ancient civilizations that may have done so, said civilizations’ collective memory driving us to this goal. He even invokes the famous Einstein quote about God not playing dice with the universe.

River Of No Return — A mid-tempo song with a heavy riff and a short, piercing solo by Roy Z, Bruce evokes images of past lives and interconnectedness with everything.

Power Of The Sun — Heavy song with a blistering Roy Z solo that morphs into a double-tracked melody line reminiscent of Thin Lizzy.

Devil On A Hog — A heavy piece of bombast that is a bit on the silly side with Bruce playing the part of a motorcycle headbanger-space invader. Roy Z once again provides a healthy guitar solo to drive this weakest song of the CD.

Believil — A heavy song with an epic feel that starts slowly with Bruce sneering the words as he sings about an overwhelming evil force over Roy Z’s heavy Sabbath-like guitar riffs.

A Tyranny Of Souls — The longest and most varied song of the CD, it features some lyrical content that would have been at home on The Chemical Wedding or Dance of Death. Roy Z turns in his best performance with some unbelievable guitar soloing punctuated by slow, deep bends alternating with speedy trills combined with more Lizzy-like double-tracked harmonies as the song winds from one tempo change to another.

The overall impression is that this is a solid collection of songs, but it lacks the urgency and epic feel that The Chemical Wedding, and it's immediate predecessor, Accident Of Birth had. Still, Dickinson shows that his imagination, and voice are in good form as he stretches himself out in a slightly different direction from what Maiden is doing.

Late Red Sox Update

The Sox oulasted the Cleveland Indians by a score of 10-9 in a long game that saw both starting pitchers struggle. Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia was tatooed for nine runs in 4 2/3 innings, including a three-run homer from Manny Ramirez, his 16th of the season. Having taken a 9-4 lead, Sox starter David Wells turned it over to the bullpen, which did its best to keep the Indians in the game as Mike Meyers, Mike Timlin, Alan Embree and closer Keith Foulke all got touched up by the Indians bats. In the end, Johnny Damon's ninth inning solo homer, his third of the year, proved to be the winning run that put an end to Cleveland's nine-game winning streak (not eight as I stated in yesterday's post).

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Taliban Resurgence. Pro-Bush Downing Street Memo Spin. Red Sox Notes.

I'm back after a slight relapse of my flu-like symptoms with the following stories that piqued my interest:

The Taliban Is Back...But Did They Ever Really Go Away?

The latest news from Afghanistan is not good. The following Rueters excerpt explains why:

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Taliban guerrillas said they executed a district police chief and seven other policemen on Sunday out of 31 police they were holding prisoner in the troubled southern Afghan province of Kandahar.

The capture and killing of the men has created a fresh crisis for authorities in Kandahar, the province worst hit by a surge of violence in recent months that has raised fears for parliamentary elections on Sept. 18.

In separate violence in neighboring Helmand province, guerrillas killed a judge, an intelligence official and a guard in the district of Anad-i-Ali to the west of the provincial capital Lashkargah on Friday night, a provincial spokesman said.

Full story:

In light of attacks like this one, why on earth do President Bloodthirsty Moron and Vice President Potty Mouth keep insisting that they defeated the Taliban? Better yet, why does our "liberal press" continue to give these assholes a free pass every time they make such fake claims?

Pro-Bush Downing Street Memo Spin

Lisa Hoffman of the Scripps Howard news service has come up with what is probably the most brainlessly blatant excuse-mongering for President Bloodthirsty Moron and his cabal of neocon dirtbags.

Full story:

This one is long, so I've pasted the whole damned thing and interjected my comments where appropriate.

There's a mighty hoo-hah blowing across the ocean from Britain, one amplified by blasts from American bloggers about the timing of President Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq.
An unofficial Capitol Hill hearing Thursday, chaired by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is likely to add spin to the swirling controversy that centers on what's come to be known as the "Downing Street Memo," a once-secret report on a meeting British Prime Minister Tony Blair held with aides in July 2002.
At it, they discussed what was characterized as Bush's "determination" to invade Iraq - even though the White House was publicly denying such a decision had been made. The threat of weapons of mass destruction was concocted to justify a war, the memo implied.

The memo didn't "imply" any such thing--it came right out and said that that was what the White House was doing.

To believe the bloggers, who have launched a coast-to-coast e-mail assault, the "mainstream news media" were snoozing at the time, either deaf to the war drums or uninterested in challenging Bush. The bloggers and Conyers also are outraged that little press attention is being paid now to the memo.
But a quick Google search of news stories at the time shows that the United States' steady military buildup and its possible intentions were in fact chronicled in great and continuous detail beginning in the spring of 2002. Perhaps the bloggers' misinformation about the earlier coverage dampened interest in the memo.

Could this buildup have had anything to do with the fact that President Bloodthirsty Moron, with the help of his good friend British Prime Minister Tony Blair, was, as we bloggers have always maintained, shuffling the deck to prepare for his precious invasion?

Was there a devious White House decision, even before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, to concoct a rationale for ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who had bedeviled America since the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War and who had plotted to assassinate President George H.W. Bush?

Yes. Ever hear of a group called the Project For the New American Century? This is a group that is made up of people who would make up most of the Bush cabinet like Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. These clowns have been around since 1997 and ackshully urged President Clinton to invade and occupy Iraq at that time. Clinton told them to go piss up a rope.

If there was, it was hardly necessary. While it was the first for the George W. Bush administration, the 2002 military buildup was at least the fifth time the United States had massed fighting forces and materiel to confront Iraq since the end of Operation Desert Storm. Each time, the use of force was under full contemplation and, in several cases, used.
In President Bill Clinton's two terms alone, there were three such major mobilizations. Two came in response to Saddam's obstruction of international weapons inspectors. Hoisting a 5-pound bag of sugar to dramatize the amount of anthrax Saddam's regime was believed to have, then-Defense Secretary William Cohen traveled to Capitol Hill and TV news studios warning Saddam to relent - or else possibly face pre-emptive attack.
The last buildup - which in January 1999 brought U.S. forces in the Gulf to seven times their normal level and cost taxpayers more than $1 billion - was the Clinton administration's response to escalating Iraqi military provocations against American warplanes patrolling the "no-fly" zones over northern and southern Iraq.

Miss Hoffman's concern for US taxpayers is really touching, but she conveniently omits the fact that Bloodthirsty Moron has thrown $320 billion dollars at Iraq. Who the hell does she expect will pick up the tab for this effort?

It didn't work. In the first seven months of 1999 alone, U.S. pilots reported they had faced Iraqi antiaircraft artillery fire from Iraqi ground forces 91 times, had been targeted by enemy radar in preparation for attack another 54 times and had been shot at by surface-to-air missiles 24 times.
Saddam's response to U.S. demands that he cease? The strongman merely upped the reward he was offering to any Iraqi soldier who could bag a U.S. warplane and pilot.

Apparently Miss Hoffman is unaware that when fired upon our military aircraft show a remarkable tendency to return fire against their attackers.

The trajectory to crisis continued into the 2000 election year. No matter who won the presidential contest, it was clear that Saddam and Iraq would likely present the first major foreign-policy conundrum to whomever ascended to the Oval Office.
At the time, Saddam had the edge. He was gaining global sympathy with his complaints that U.N. economic sanctions - imposed after the Gulf War to keep Saddam from rebuilding his military and arming it with weapons of mass destruction - were causing the Iraqi people terrible suffering due to the food and medicine shortages that resulted.
While we know now that Saddam was siphoning off billions of dollars of "oil for food" aid that was intended for Iraqi families, at the time his plaint drew growing support from European nations, who were close to calling on the United Nations to lift sanctions.

This is nothing but a distraction from the main argument. Besides, 60 percent of this money ended up in the hands of US-based contractors like Halliburton.

U.S. allies in the Middle East, who had backed the no-fly enforcement and America's military buildups as a proper response to Saddam's aggression, were similarly peeling back their support. Saddam had lately taken up the Palestinian cause, funding the families of suicide bombers and otherwise inserting himself in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
His anti-U.S. tirades were well received in the region, and his stature was growing around the globe for his success in yanking America to the brink of war over and over for years.
At the same time, the Pentagon had growing worries about the no-fly patrols, which were designed to stifle any Iraqi military moves against its neighbors and to protect the Iraqi Kurds and Shiites, who were victims of the alleged war crimes for which Saddam now stands accused.

Yes, crimes that we helped him to commit by selling him the very biological weapons he used against these people.

After 10 years of daily flights, the patrols, which reached a total of more than 216,000 sorties, were costing some $1 billion a year and wearing out warplanes and pilots. The escalation of Iraqi attacks meant the missions would only cost the military more and be even more dangerous. Many Pentagon brass grumbled that something had to be done.
But what? Periodic pinprick cruise-missile attacks, such as those launched against Iraqi military targets in 1998's Operation Desert Thunder, Round II, had little effect, except on the Pentagon's budget.
Relax economic sanctions? The Clinton administration denounced any such move as a misguided capitulation that would allow Saddam to re-arm, including with chemical and biological toxins.

Again, does Miss Hoffman mean the biological toxins that we sold Saddam in 1984 with Donald Rumsfeld as the main salesman?

Abandon the no-fly patrols? That would break America's belated pledge to protect Saddam's victims, thousands of whom died after U.S. forces left them vulnerable after the Gulf War. No more overflights would also give Saddam a free shot if he wanted to repeat his 1990 invasion of Kuwait or any other neighbor.
Clinton left the festering crisis to his successor. But even before Bush was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2001, Saddam demonstrated his own resolve to continue to force the issue.

Jesus Christ, first this dizzy bitch claims Clinton was asleep by pretending that our aircraft were as defenseless as clay pigeons, then she claims he was too tough by continuing economic sanctions, then she claims again that he was asleep by implying he wanted to abandon the defenseless aircraft flying patrols? She can't seem to make up her mind. Then again, what can we expect from a representative of the media that was fed the lie that Clinton's military moves against Iraq were a "wag the dog" distraction from the Minica Lewinsky mess?

In early January, Iraq's aggressive targeting of U.S. no-fly patrols increased. By the end of January, more than 60 such incidents had been recorded - far more than in previous months. The newly minted Bush administration said the nation's Iraq policy was under review, and that a new approach clearly was called for.

Here she goes again by implying that our Air Force was a useless, defenseless organization. Please note that she gives no casualty figures. Draw your own conclusions about that. In addition, during the debates with Vice President Gore, Governor Bush claimed the opposite of what becmae an eventuality in Iraq--namely that he WOULD NOT BE INCLINED TO ENGAGE IN NATION BUILDING. The next paragraph shows how serious he was about this promise. It also indicates that, in this matter as well as many others, he was not a man of his word.

On Feb. 16, 2001, less than a month after Bush took office, he issued his first military order: permitting U.S. warplanes, in retaliation, to attack Iraqi surveillance radar and communications sites located outside the no-fly zones.
And what did Saddam do? He turned that bombing into fodder for his anti-U.S. campaign, and received a sympathetic response from many U.N. member nations.

Well, that's the end of this mysterious article. Sort of a weak ending if you ask me, but then again the article is filled with justifications that are easily explained for anyone who was alive and awake at the time these events took place. This is the type of reporting one would expect from Fox News. It is this type of reporting that allowed Bush, Cheney et al to do what they have done, not only in Iraq, but here at home regarding economic policy, energy policy and almost every other policy upon which they've laid their filty paws. To ignore this is to either be a true believer in what these madmen are doing, or it is simply the reporting of a bought and paid for hack.

Red Sox Somewhat Hot...

The Red Sox shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates today 8-0 for their fifth win in their last six games. Starter Matt Clement pitched seven strong innings with nine strikeouts to earn the win. David Ortiz hit a two-run triple and Jay Payton hit a two-run homer to pace the offense.

A potential problem is that Manny Ramirez was hit by a pitch above the left ankle on Saturday night. He came out of that came, and sat out today's game. His defensive replacement was Kevin Millar, normally the everyday first-baseman. Millar is a barely adequate defender at his normal position. He is well below adequate in the outfield where his lack of foot speed and weak throwing arm are a double liability. A better alternative is to play Payton, who is swinging a hot bat, in left field and to put Millar back at first base. Ackshully, it would be better to sit Millar down in favor of John Olerud who, despite his sporadic playing time, is hitting well. Of course, Millar has also hit well of late, and since he is a favorite of Manager Terry Francona, he will likely continue to see the majority of the first base action when and if the Manny situation settles down.

On the positive side, most of the regular position players seem to be hitting well. Likewise, the starting pitching is in good shape, and the bullpen was given a boost when Alan Embree, who has been pounded lately, pitched the final two innings without giving up a run.

Next up is a trip to Cleveland to play the suddenly red-hot Indians, winners of eight straight. The Tribe is averaging over seven runs of offense per game during their hot streak, so the Sox pitchers will have their work cut out for them as the week begins.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

New 100 Meter Dash Record. Murdering Racist Swine For $1,000.

New 100 Meter Dash Record

Asafa Powell set a new world record in the men's 100 meter dash. Details via the following ESPN excerpt:

ATHENS, Greece -- Asafa Powell set a world record in the men's 100 meters Tuesday, clocking 9.77 seconds at the Tsiklitiria Super Grand Prix meeting.

On a warm summer's night on one of the fastest tracks in the world, the 22-year-old beat Tim Montgomery's previous record of 9.78 set in Paris in September 2002 to become the fastest man ever over the distance.

"This goes to show that the no one knows how fast a man can run," a smiling Powell told reporters. "I am just happy to have set the record on a track where Maurice Greene also broke the world record."

American Maurice Greene set a record in 1999 when he ran 9.79 seconds in the same stadium, which hosted the Summer Olympics last year.

Powell, 22, already had the world's fastest time this year, a run of 9.84 seconds at the Jamaica International Invitational on May 8. He also ran a 9.85 on June 9 in the Czech Republic.

That's damned fast. I wonder why stories like this don't get the amount of coverage that accompanies say, the Kentucy Derby or the Indy 500?

Full story:

I'll Take Murdering Racist Swine For $1,000 Alex

I have no words to preface this story. I'll let the following Google News excerpt do the talking:

The Ku Klux Klan is making a presence at the jury selection of the trial against ordained Baptist minister and Klansman Edgar Ray Killen, who allegedly murdered three civil rights activists that were working to register black voters in Mississippi in 1964. Jury selection began at the Neshoba County Courthouse in Philadelphia, Mississippi on Monday, June 13, 2005 for the trial against Killen.

The trial against Edgar Ray Killen is being held in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a small town with a population of only 7,000. The KKK's reputation is one of using scare tactics and intimidation of the inhabitants of small town Mississippi in order to silence any opposition to their hate-filled agenda.

J.J. Harper, the imperial wizard of the KKK, has requested that all Klan members be at this trial. One can only wonder what the potential jurors are feeling as they are being questioned by the attorneys for such an important trial, knowing that the KKK is standing outside the courthouse.

Good question. An even better question would be, isn't this type of organization subject to scrutiny and to have its members detained as a provision of the USA Patriot Act? Or is that piece of legislation only to be used to harass people like Tommy Chong for selling bongs over these Internets?

Full story:

The murdered men, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerne, who were helping register blacks during the "Freedom Summer" of 1964 and were investigating a church burning the night they disappeared galvanized the civil rights movement and helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

How ironic is it then, that the Senate is officially apologizing for never having enacted anti-lynching laws in the Deep South? Have we really moved forward in our understanding of racial equality when it takes more than 40 years to deliver justice in a case like this?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Non-Michael Jackson Related News!!! New Earthlike Exoplanet Found!

Earthlike Exoplanet Found

In this, one of the few, if not the only Michael Jackson-free blog on these Internets, I give you a story about the discovery of what is thus far the most Earthlike exoplanet, in terms of mass, orbiting one of our closest stellar neighbors, a red dwarf called Gliese 876. The following excerpt from Sky and Telescope gives more details:

June 13, 2005 After three years of maintaining secrecy while collecting more and more evidence, a team of astronomers today announced finding an entirely new type of planet orbiting a dim star 15 light-years away. The object is the lightest known extrasolar planet orbiting a normal star, with a mass between 6 and 9 Earths and most likely 7½ Earth masses. At a National Science Foundation press conference this afternoon, Geoffrey W. Marcy (University of California, Berkeley), R. Paul Butler (Carnegie Institution of Washington), and four colleagues called their find the most Earthlike world yet discovered outside our solar system.

While that is technically true, the planet is truly weird by any Earthly standard. The new world orbits the red-dwarf star Gliese 876 at a distance of only 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers, or 0.021 astronomical unit) with an orbital period — a "year" — that is only 46 hours long. It's so close to its little star that the star must appear in its sky as a fireball 12° across — some 24 times as wide as the Sun in Earth's sky, or about the size of a tennis ball held at arm's length.

As a result, the planet's temperature should be some 200° to 400° Celsius (400° to 750° Fahrenheit), well above the boiling point of water at Earth's atmospheric pressure but perhaps below the boiling point of water if the world has a thick enough atmosphere, barring a strong greenhouse effect. Whether it has an atmosphere at all is unknown. It could consist of bare rock, rock swathed in an atmosphere as thick as Earth's or Venus's, or it could be a Uranus analog, a hot "ice giant" in which a massive atmosphere rich in cosmic volatiles (water, methane, ammonia) comprises a fair fraction of the objects' entire bulk. If the world is rocky it would be a little less than twice Earth's diameter in size, and its strong surface gravity would probably keep its topography relatively flat.

Full story:

Of course, given the information described in the excerpt, this planet is almost certainly uninhabitable, but the point that planets smaller than the gas giants that have been found, some of which are five to ten times more massive than Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, exist and are right in our own back yard, in a manner of speaking.

I don't want to get too political here because this is a HUGE story. It is much bigger than any celebrity trial, sporting event or any of the other fifteen disposable headlines the major networks pass off as "news". This story really IS news. It is news because it is something that is completely unexpected and unseen in our time. The only way this story could be bigger is if we could somehow detect the presence of life on this world. Maybe then we would start to see reporters re-discover the skills they lost when they decided to become purveyors of fluff or mouthpieces of the Bush administration. Maybe. But then again maybe not because when Paris Hilton does her Latest Stupid Thing of the Week, these idiots will trip all over themselves once again to see who can be the first to type it up.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Flu Sucks. Food Poisoning Sucks. Put Them Together...

Hola amigos. I'm back, and am at about 60% capacity after having been laid low by a combination of flu and food poisoning late last week, hence the lack of new posts.

I was unfortunate enough to watch the Red Sox continue to stumble in the National League parks as the interleague schedule resumed last week. The Sox were lucky to escape St. Louis with one win in the three-game series there, and have thus far lost the first two games of their three-game set with the Cubs, having lost a game yesterday that they should have won. They try to avoid a sweep tonight, and I have the added misfortune of having to watch the game on ESPN and listen to Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Miller is fine, but Morgan is the most irritating man behind the mic in the business today. The over-under on the amount of Big Red Machine references in nine innings is 30.

Anyway, the Sox are struggling badly. Johnny Damon, David Ortiz, Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek are the only players doing anything offensively. Manny Ramirez looks completely confused at the plate. Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar and Mark Bellhorn are doing almost nothing with the bats. Edgar Renteria, who looked like he was waking up from his early slump, has fallen back into a funk. The pitching staff is getting bruised, especially the bullpen. Alan Embree has been terrible, and Matt Mantei has been wild. Mike Myers and Mike Timlin have been good. Long man John Halama might be given another chance to start if Tim Wakefield has another rocky start tonight. Closer Keith Foulke has been hittable, but is showing recent signs of regaining his dominance.

Stay tuned for some music reviews. I have some things to say about the latest releases from Bruce Dickinson, John Norum and Edenbridge. Blog at ya later!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Holier Than Thou Assholes For $200

I'll Take Holier Than Thou Assholes For $200 Alex

I ackshully caught this nonsense on TV as I got home from my wage slavery containment facilitah. The story was so nutty I had to go to the Internets for verification. I knew that it would be just the sort of item I could present to you, my loving audience. I proudly present the following ABC News excerpt:

June 7, 2005 — The newest battle in the culture wars is being waged on the telephone lines. In a departure from the standard telemarketing calls aimed at selling long distance service, United American Technology has taken telemarketing to a whole new level.

The Oklahoma-based long distance carrier, which describes itself as a Christian conservative company, is seeking
like-minded customers by bad-mouthing bigger rivals for their "sinful" behavior.

"Our base, which would be a conservative base, really does not like the same-sex marriage that has been pushed down our throat," UAT consultant Carl Thompson told ABC News.

UAT niche markets its service by railing against Internet pornography, homosexuality, and then criticizing competing phone companies it claims promote both.

Many major corporations — ranging from huge hotel chains to telecommunications firms that carry cable television and Internet services — have profited, in one form or another, from adult entertainment.

Gee, how in Hades did they overlook their close friends in the Catholic Church?

But some say UAT takes its politics too far. New York City comedian Eugene Mirman was so astonished by a UAT call he received, he recorded it. Mirman believes he was contacted — as something of a joke — because he donated $51 to the 1996 presidential campaign of Republican Alan Keyes.

"I got a phone call," Mirman said. "It was a recording and it said: 'Hi, I'm the mother of three, and I don't support gay marriage. If you don't support gay marriage press one.' I have something hooked up to my phone to record phone calls, and so I scrambled and found it … Every time they would call, I would record it because it was crazy."

In one of the "crazy" exchanges he recorded, the telemarketer starts her sales pitch by asking about Mirman's stance on same-sex marriage:

UAT TELEMARKETER: OK. Eugene, did you press 1 to oppose same sex marriages?
MIRMAN: Oh, I pressed it, yes.
UAT: OK, that's great to hear. Now are you against same-sex marriages?
MIRMAN:: Well I want to destroy it, yes.
UAT: OK, that's great to hear. And Eugene -
MIRMAN: With the fist of God, we will smash them!
UAT: Exactly. Uh, Mr. Mirman, our organization is dedicated to people such as yourself who want to stop same-sex marriages and to quit doing business with companies that promote and profit from the homosexual lifestyle.
MIRMAN: Some companies profit from homosexuality?
UAT: That's correct.
MIRMAN: By selling sex favors?
UAT: No. Such as AT&T, what they do …
MIRMAN: AT&T sells sex favors?
UAT: No, no. What it is is they own the Hot Network, which is a hardcore pornography channel … They also give millions of dollars to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance group.
(AT&T actually has sold its division that owned the Hot Network, but Thompson says that's immaterial since the company still makes money off phone sex calls.)

There is more, but I don't want to deprive you of the laughs you'll get when you read what Mirman does with this stupid sack of shit. Full story:

The sad thing about all this is that this kind of crap no longer surprises me. These holy rollers aren't going to be happy until they succeed in turning this country into a totalitarian Christian nation, and woe be to anyone who doesn't buy into their specific delusions.

But, on a lighter note, for some extremely twisted comedy, check out Eugene Mirman's web site:

Monday, June 06, 2005

The New Cruelty, Extreme Pain Edition.

In a terrible decision, the US Supreme Court decided by a 6-3 vote that the federal government is the only entity qualified to decide how much pain severely ill patients can suffer, and exactly what substances they can use to alleviate some of that pain. Sad Yahoo News excerpt:

WASHINGTON - People who smoke marijuana because their doctors recommend it to ease pain can be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, overriding medical marijuana statutes in 10 states.

The court's 6-3 decision was filled with sympathy for two seriously ill California women who brought the case, but the majority agreed that federal agents may arrest even sick people who use the drug as well as the people who grow pot for them.

Justice John Paul Stevens,
an 85-year-old cancer survivor, said the court was not passing judgment on the potential medical benefits of marijuana, and he noted "the troubling facts" in the case. However, he said the Constitution allows federal regulation of homegrown marijuana as interstate commerce.

Then why not regulate it the way you would regulate any other crop that grows all over the goddamned country and stop acting like we are asking you to turn your own feces into gold bullion.

The Bush administration has taken a hard stand against state medical marijuana laws, but it was unclear how it would respond to the new prosecutorial power. Justice Department spokesman John Nowacki would not say whether prosecutors would pursue cases against individual users.

Bullshit. They'll go after every poor slob they can. Look at what that asshole Ashcroft did to Tommy Chong for selling bongs over the Internets.

In a dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the court's "overreaching stifles an express choice by some states, concerned for the lives and liberties of their people, to regulate medical marijuana differently."

Can you believe that? Justice O'Connor acting in a sane and sensible manner! Just as shocking is that fact that Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas dissented along with Justice O'Connor.

The problem here is that we have a loud segment of the Family Values Asshole Brigade pissing and moaning about a bunch of people they don't know and will never meet to the extent that they have insinuated themselves into those persons lives in the same way that Tom DeLay and President Useless tried to o in the Terri Schaivo case. Rather than address what is a medical issue, it has become a law enforcement one, which is truly ridiculous.

Of course, this might never have been an issue if this country would come to its senses and adopt a policy of total and effective health care coverage, but we mustn't think such thoughts as long as Senate Majority Leader Frist continues to insist on screwing the very constituents he claims to be helping when he lies about the true costs of Medicaid. But what the hell, its just another useless federal program like Social Security...

I'll end this rant with this declaration: To criminalize behavior that by it's very nature is beneficial is the real crime, and thanks to the suddenly federalist Supreme Court, nobody can decide how to manage extreme pain by themselves. Funny, but I don't recall any such moral ambiguity over the "interstate commerce" aspect of firearm distribution...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Red Sox Take Two Of Three From Angels. Sunday Afternoon Horror Movie.

Red Sox Take Two Of Three From Angels

The Red Sox managed to rebound from Saturday's hideous bullpen explosion to beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, United States, North America, Western Hemisphere, Third Stone From The Sun, etc.

The final score was 6-3 behind the solid pitching of starter Wade Miller, Mike Meyers (who got his second win of the weekend), Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke who enjoyed a 1-2-3 ninth for what was probably his easiest save of the season. The Sox got huge RBIs late from David Ortiz and John Olerud. The team will now head to St. Louis and Chicago to play the Cardinals and Cubs. We will most likely see David Ortiz and first base (despite Kevin Millar's HUGE weekend at the plate after two nearly silent months...), since the NL does not use the designated hitter. We will also be treated to the spectacle of seeing the Red Sox pitchers hit, which I must say, even as a fan of the NL style of ball, is not a thing I look forward to viewing.

Sunday Afternoon SCI-FI Movie, Courtesy Of H.P. Lovecraft

After the game I turned on the Sci-Fi channel to see a film titled "Dagon". There are only a handful of movies that have been adapted from Lovecraft's stories, most of them terrible (perhaps the best rendering was a film called "The Resurrected" that starred Chris Sarandon in the adaptation of the short novel "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward").

The action centered around two couples on a boat ride that goes horribly wrong as a storm rises from nowhere. One couple decides to take the small life raft and go for help. When the couple lands they find an eerie priest with webbed fingers and pallid, clammy skin. He takes the woman with him to get the police while the man goes on a fishing boat with a couple of characters who say nothing, but look a lot like the priest in that they also have webbed fingers, etc.

Right away I knew that the story that SHOULD have been credited was Lovecraft's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth". The tale was first published in 1942 in Weird Tales, and it is one of several Lovecraft classics. This one dealt directly with an entire community corrupted by one man, Captain Obed Marsh, who sailed around the world and came back home to Innsmouth (an ancient Massachusetts seaport) with more than just a little treasure. He learned how to communicate with the Deep Ones, the ocean-dwelling elements of what would become known as the "Cthulu Mythos". As a result, the town prospered as long as there were plenty of sacrifices to the sea god Dagon. In time, some of Dagon's minions began hooking up with the citizens of Innsmouth, with the result that a good portion of the population became part fish.

Anyway, aside from modernizing the characters, and adding a smattering of Spanish and Portuguese into the mix, the story as told by this film was actually fairly passable, which came as a pleasant surprise. The sense of isolation that is a staple of Lovecraft's stories was effectively conveyed through the actions of the hapless couple as they struggle to escape the sinster denizens of this nightmare town.

If you haven't seen the movie or read the story I won't spoil either one for you. But if you like your horror with a healthy dose of other-worldly helplessness, I think you'll like both the movie, and the original story, as well as Lovecraft's other stories.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Deep Throat Analysis By Way Of Talk Radio.

A lot of people are weighing in with opinions in all the furor over the revelation that Deep Throat was W. Mark Felt, the FBI's Number Two man during the Watergate scandal. I heard an interesting conversation on National Public Radio this afternoon on my way home from my wage slavery containment facility. The participants were men who were on the scene during the height of the scandal. William Doyle Ruckelshaus, Jeb Stuart Magruder and Charles Wendell "Chuck" Colson were on hand for the listening audience. Before my humble analysis of their respective efforts to state their cases, I did the following research into their backgrounds. Research courtesy of Wikipedia.

William Doyle Ruckelshaus: Ruckelshaus served as the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970, was subsequently acting director of the FBI, and then Deputy Attorney General of the United States.

In a 1973 event known as the "Saturday Night Massacre", Ruckelshaus and his boss, Elliot Richardson, famously resigned their positions within the Justice Department rather than obey an order from President Richard Nixon to fire the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, who was investigating official misconduct on the part of the president and his aides.

Full story:

Jeb Stuart Magruder: Magruder's first major political job was managing the successful run of Donald Rumsfeld for the House of Representatives from Illinois in 1962. Magruder was appointed to the White House staff in 1969 as Special Assistant to the President. He worked for H.R. Haldeman and Herbert Klein, Nixon's Communications Director for the Executive Branch. Magruder served in the White House until 1971, when he left to manage the Committee to Re-elect the President (CRP) as Deputy Director, and assistant to CRP Director and former Attorney General John N. Mitchell. The campaign to re-elect the President was extraordinarily successful, winning 49 of 50 states and the District of Columbia, and Magruder went on to manage Nixon's inauguration in January 1973 as Inaugural Director.

In April 1973, Magruder began cooperating with federal prosecutors. In exchange, Magruder was allowed to plead guilty in August 1973 to a one-count indictment of conspiracy to obstruct justice, defraud the United States, and eavesdrop on the Democratic Party's national headquarters. On May 21, 1974, Magruder was sentenced by Judge John Sirica to 4 months to 10 years for his role in the failed Watergate burglary and subsequent coverup; he served seven months of the sentence in a prison near Allenwood, Pennsylvania. After his sentencing, Magruder said, "I am confident that this country will survive its Watergates and its Jeb Magruders."

Full story:

Charles Wendell "Chuck" Colson was the chief counsel for President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973. His later life has been spent working with his nonprofit organization devoted to prison ministry called Prison Fellowship. Colson is also a noted speaker and author expressing his own personal faith.

As an atheistic intellectual and former U.S. Marine, Chuck Colson was a "tough guy" White House insider during the Nixon administration. Known as President Nixon's hatchet man, Colson could be counted on to break the china - do whatever was necessary - to achieve the desired political ends of his boss. Colson was very loyal to President Nixon. He bragged, "I’d walk over my own grandmother to re-elect Richard Nixon." The phrase that joined the American lexicon was the rather more entertaining " ... run over his own grandmother ... " as if with an automobile. Currently, a variety of other verbs and prepositions are sometimes used, but the sense is preserved: ruthlessness.

Colson was involved in the Watergate Scandal, and in 1974 voluntarily agreed to a plea of nolo contendere (no contest) to obstruction of justice in the Watergate affair. Some months before this plea, Colson became an evangelical Christian. Editorial comics in several U. S. newspapers, as well as magazines such as Newsweek and Time, ridiculed the decision, claiming that it was cynical. He spent much of his prison sentence at Maxwell Correctional Facility in Alabama. He was released in 1976.

In October 2002, Colson, along with several other prominent American evangelical leaders, was a co-signer of the Land letter to President Bush which outlined a "just war" endorsement of the pre-emptive invasion of Iraq.

Full story:

Okay, here we go: The discussion centered around Mr. Felt's motives. Ruckelshaus seemed to indicate that Felt must have thought he had no choice in exposing the Nixon camp's activities the way he did because he (Ruckelshaus) and his boss, Attorney General Elliot Richardson resigned rather than follow the Presdient's orders to fire lead prosecutor Archibald Cox. Ruckelshaus also dismissed the idea that Felt's actions were triggered by his having been bypassed to head the FBI.

Magruder acted as if the whole ugly chapter in our political history was a mere inconvenience, and expressed the view that Felt was a simply a malcontent who betrayed his president. No surprise here, after all Magruder was the head of the committee to re-elect Nixon. Note also Magruder's ties to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Colson was a bit more shrill in his criticism of Felt. He claimed that Felt passed up a chance to be remembered as a great policy man for a cheap footnote in history as the man who brought down a president by betraying his oath of office. Colson, as you can plainly see from the Wikipedia bio, is nuttier than an Almond Joy bar. Perhaps the only person in Nixon's crew that was nuttier was G.Gordon Liddy.

Let's look at Colson's analysis. How many of you can name the current number two man in the FBI? Uh-huh. I thought so. That argument makes no sense at all. As for the idea that Felt betrayed his oath of office, well, did it occur to Colson that the very president for whom he committed his crimes was just as guilty of that same offense?

At least Magruder's view, as unlikely as it seems to me, has some rational plausibility. Colson's does not, unless you happen to believe that extreme loyalty to a man who showed his complete and utter contempt for the American people is an honorable thing. That's why I included the piece about Colson's jumping on the Iraq War bandwagon in my excerpt. Colson would be an ideal fit in the current administration. Come to think of it, so would Magruder...

After the three men were finished, I switched to the local knuckledrag radio station to hear the paranoid tones of Mr. Jay Severin. Yesterday Jay was on the fence as to whether Felt was a hero or a rat. He implied that Felt had misused his position, and had likely committed serious crimes in exposing Nixon as a criminal. Today he seemed to relax that position somewhat when a caller gave him the Goodfellas ruling: "Henry Hill was a rat. Mark Felt might not be a hero, but he ain't no rat." The implication that Hill, by having been a career gangster who turned on his people, was the real definition of a rat. Felt, by comparison, was not directly involved with Nixon's crimes and therefore is not a rat.

Jay then surprised me by implying that there are times when one must break the law in order to bring to light a more malignant crime. He cited several instances of civil disobedience that fit the definition of criminal acts, but that eventually exposed the supporting laws as unjust. I don't think I completely agree with Severin's comparison as it relates to the Felt case, but it was encouraging to see Jay straighten his posture a little bit.

In the end we have a case of a man who blew the whistle on one of the most controversial presidents in our history. Nixon did do some good things. He appointed the first head of the EPA. He re-opened channels of communication with China. However, he extended the Vietnam War and murdered millions of South-East Asians who had no part in the conflict. He then subverted the law to apparently try to place himself in a position not unlike that in which we see President Bush today.

Richard Nixon deserves to be remembered with scorn and disgust. Unfortunately, the men in his party who came after him used his Watergate model to bring us to a place that I think Nixon would look at with a deep sense of pride. Just as unfortunately, the so-called "liberal media" has relinquished its responsibilities to report what is happening, not what the administration tells us is happening.

I'll end this piece with two questions: Where and who are the next Woodward and Bernstein? Even more intriguing, who will be the next Deep Throat?

Special thanks to Ken Kanniff, Connecticut's Most Wanted Gangsta for giving me a good kick up the backside for the laziness exhibited in what passes for my last two posts.