Saturday, December 26, 2009


12/24/09 DoD:
Marine Casualty Identified
Lance Cpl. Omar G. Roebuck, 23, of Moreno Valley, Calif., died Dec. 22, as a result of a non-hostile incident in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.


I am afraid I have not kept up in honoring the fallen of late.

May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas dinner

Luminarias in front of the house, during one of the moments when they were all burning.

The table.

It has been a lovely Christmas here at Desert Farne. Friends and family enjoying each other's company. My ex-daddy-in-law was engaged and engaging, which is pretty impressive in one's mid-90s. Great food, if I say so myself, though I only fixed half of it and Bill the rest. Even after living apart for seven years we're an amazing team in the kitchen.

I am beyond grateful for his presence in my life.

There was the joy of old and new friends.

Now the dishes are all done and folks were sent home with See's candies.

I can catch my breath. At least tonight. A busy weekend remains.

Prayers offered for the lonely this Christmas, the homeless, the hungry, the depressed, those caught up in war and civil strife, the frightened, the grieving. May we strive for a society where basic human needs are met, the dignity of every person honored, and peace flows over and through us.

--the BB

Christmas Eve

This is about half of the luminarias put out at the church tonight.

Tarted up a bit for the Twelve Days

A vision in red, white, and green

The nacimiento before the arrival of the Baby Jesus

Here is a side view of the chancel area. You can see the three wise guys lurking between the veiled chalice and the altar book on the right. They still have a way to go before Epiphany.

We sang nine hymns (the first two verses of each of the first seven, then all verses of "Silent night" and "Joy to the world."

Real bread (thank you, Linda), real frankincense (thanks, Scott, for the thurible), a banner for color (thanks, St Mike's), poinsettias (thanks, Warren and Anne Marie). A dear friend and two new guests (thanks, Google). We had singing in harmony. Snacks and hot cider afterward as we sat around and shared.

Mostly, thank you, God, for loving your creation enough to become part of it, joining us to yourself.

--the BB

Thursday, December 24, 2009


The cards are all placed by the chimney with care.

All my "kids" are under the tree, the first time they have all been in one place since I cannot remember when.

I have tons of cleaning and cooking still to do, but a sense of rightness now prevails.

--the BB

Blessed Christmas!

και το φως εν τη σκοτια φαινει και η σκοτια αυτο ου κατελαβεν
And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not comprehended it.
John 1:5

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

They just don't care

Isn't it time that we all realized that a lot of these people just don't care? If all 45,000 of the people cited by that famous Harvard study who will die for lack of a decent health-care system dropped dead on his f**king lawn tomorrow morning, Joseph Lieberman would not CARE.

He would step over their bodies to get to a fundraiser. He is a vindictive, wretched sack of pus and all that will ever matter to him for the rest of his sorry political career will be settling scores and fluffing his tush in somebody's green room. There is no less excusable public man in America than this bitter old carny-whore;....
--Charles Pierce

Well, um, yes.

h/t to watertiger

--the BB

I commend to your attention Professor Cole's summary

Top Ten Worst Things about the Bush Decade; Or, the Rise of the New Oligarchs
By spring of 2000, Texas governor George W. Bush was wrapping up the Republican nomination for president, and he went on to dominate the rest of the decade. If Dickens proclaimed of the 1790s revolutionary era in France that it was the best of times and the worst of times, the reactionary Bush era was just the worst of times. I declare it the decade of the American oligarchs. Just as the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union allowed the emergence of a class of lawless 'Oligarchs' in Russia, so Neoliberal tax policies and deregulation produced American equivalents. (For more on the analogy, see Michael Hudson.) We have always had robber barons in American politics, but the Neoliberal moment created a new social class. At about 1.3 million adults, it is not too large to have some cohesive interests, and its corporations, lobbyists, and other institutions allow it to intervene systematically in politics. It owns 45 percent of the privately held wealth and is heading toward 50, i.e. toward a Banana Republic. Thus, we have a gutted fairness doctrine and the end of anti-trust concerns in ownership of mass media, allowing a multi-billionaire like Rupert Murdoch to buy up major media properties and to establish a cable television channel which is nothing but oligarch propaganda. They established 'think tanks' like the American Enterprise Institute, which hires only staff that are useful agents of the interests of the very wealthy, and which produce studies denying global climate change or lying about the situation in Iraq. Bush-Cheney were not simply purveyors of wrong-headed ideas. They were the agents of the one percent, and their policies make perfect sense if seen as attempts to advance the interests of this narrow class of persons. It is the class that owns our mass media, that pays for the political campaigns of 'our' (their) representatives, that gives us the Bushes and Cheneys and Palins because they are useful to them, and that blocks progressive reform and legislation with the vast war chest funneled to them by deep tax cuts that allow them to use essential public resources, infrastructure and facilities gratis while making the middle class pay for them.

Read it all here.

--the BB

It isn't Christmas without them

Mrs. Londquist's Peppar Kakar
(Swedish Pepper Cookies)

1 Cup melted butter
1-1/4 Cup sugar (white or brown)
Cream butter and sugar together.

1/2 Cup sour cream
1-1/2 Cups light molasses
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Mix together in a very large bowl and add the butter & sugar mixture.

1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
8 Cups flour
Mix dry ingredients together then add to wet ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Roll to 1/8 inch thickness on floured board. Cut.

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 15 minutes.

This recipe makes a lot of cookies. You may keep the dough in the refrigerator and roll out and bake some at a time. It takes a bit of work to make the cold dough malleable but if it gets too warm it does not handle well either. Practice, and lots of sprinkling with flour.

They are best made around Thanksgiving, stored in an airtight container, and served at Christmas. We love making holes in some of them and hanging them on the Christmas tree. Those hanging on the tree will be perfectly edible when Epiphany arrives.

[Photos of my Christmas tree with said cookies to follow.]

--the BB

We will, we will rock you!

Going for full-on intimidation, our team terrified the competition in the holiday decoration contest and prizes (with chocolate and other candies) came our way today when the judges visited out Winter Wonderland. It has been suggested we need to retire our jersey now.

I am very proud of my cow, so we start with her tonight. Isn't she a sweetheart?

Our stockings were all hung by the chimney with care.

You've seen the flying reinducks, but we have skiing ducks on a bunny hill too.

The Queen of all Snowflakes has been a constant centerpiece.

In addition to Hannukah and Kwanzaa, yesterday was noted as well.

And Christmas was not forgotten (just the last to be completed).

Click on this one to see detail.

So that's the report back from the holiday decorations. I am happy to lay my scissors down and not cut another snowflake until next year. Most of today was spent processing updates in the system and/or hoping for snow.

Here is the forecast from the National Weather Service:
Tonight: Rain likely before 11pm, then snow likely. Cloudy, with a low around 25. Breezy, with a south wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west between 20 and 25 mph. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Total nighttime snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.

Wednesday: A 50 percent chance of snow. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 35. West wind between 5 and 15 mph. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.

Wednesday Night: A 20 percent chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 17. West wind between 5 and 10 mph.

Thursday: A 20 percent chance of snow showers. Partly cloudy, with a high near 32. West wind between 10 and 15 mph.

Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 11. West wind between 5 and 10 mph.
Here is a photo from December 15, 2008:

--the BB

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's about time someone called Tweety on his BS

Chris Matthews, a loudmouthed tool aka Tweety, with an inflated sense of his own importance, shot off his mouth, again. Cenk Uygur takes him to the woodshed, reminding Matthews that he is in no position to cast aspersions on blogging activists. Cenk rips him a new one by reminding us all, with clips, of Tweety's infantile adulation of W the "cowboy." It is positively embarrassing to watch Matthews' behavior.

Matthews SO deserves this take-down. Delicious.

--the BB

Cutting deals

Rahm Emanuel, the President's Chief of Staff, was Bill Clinton's Political Director. And Rahm Emanuel's take away from Bill Clinton's failure to get health insurance passed was 'don't get on the wrong side of the insurance companies.' So their strategy was cut a deal with the insurance companies, the drug industry going in. And the deal was, we're not going to attack your customer base, we're going to subsidize a new customer base. And that script was pre-cooked so it's not surprising that this is what comes out the other side.
--Robert Kuttner talking with Bill Moyers and Matt Taibbi

Cynical? You bet I'm cynical.

Read or watch more here.

--the BB

Too big to hide anymore

The three of us, as experienced investigators and prosecutors of financial fraud, cannot answer these questions now. But we know where the answers are. They are in the trove of e-mail messages still backed up on A.I.G. servers, as well as in the key internal accounting documents and financial models generated by A.I.G. during the past decade. Before releasing its regulatory clutches, the government should insist that the company immediately make these materials public. By putting the evidence online, the government could establish a new form of “open source” investigation.


So far, prosecutors and regulators have been unable to build such evidence into anything resembling a persuasive case against any financial institution. Most recently, a jury acquitted Bear Stearns employees of fraud related to the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, in part because available e-mail messages suggested the employees had done nothing wrong.

Perhaps A.I.G.’s employees would also be judged not guilty. But we would like to see the record to find out. As fraud investigators, we would like to examine the trading patterns of A.I.G.’s financial products division, and its communications with Goldman Sachs and other bank counterparties who benefited from the bailout. We would like to understand whether the leaders of A.I.G. understood that they were approaching a financial Armageddon, and whether they alerted their counterparties, regulators and shareholders to the impending calamity.

Fair enough. We, the taxpayers, bailed their sorry asses out.

--the BB