Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mitch, just go **** yourself.

Graphic courtesy of Padre Mickey

J. Taylor Rushing reports at The Hill:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday sent a message to Democrats that Republicans are not prepared to bend to a stronger majority.

In letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), McConnell urged Reid to adopt a more conciliatory tone and warned him that Republicans will unite against Democrats if he does not. The letter was signed by all 40 GOP senators and two Republican incumbents who are awaiting the results of elections in Georgia and Minnesota.

All 42 should be sodomized with chainsaws and thrown in a vat of their own bile and vinegar.

Or am I the only one tired of this obstructionist shit?

There is not a bipartisan or conciliatory cell in their bodies. But they expect the other side to play nice. It's all bullshit and blackmail.

You know what to do in 2010 and 2012.
h/t to dday
--the BB

Go Bears!

Cal banner courtesy of the Bleacher Report

Y'all know that I am totally non-sportzoid. If I am physically present at a game there is a good chance I will shout myself hoarse cheering on the team I favor. Absent that, I don't care about any of it - with two exceptions.

All that matters is whether UCLA beats USC and Cal beats Stanford.

None of the rest gets me going. Back in my late twenties I was quite a fan of the Lakers and UCLA basketball. I have a sense of nostalgic geographic loyalty to the Dodgers and the Oakland A's though I have only attended one professional baseball game in my life (and it was an exciting one).

Well, Cal beat Stanford.
The Axe goes back where it belongs: Berkeley! w00t and double w00t!

Click graphic to enlarge (for all you stats lovers). Graphic courtesy of Rob Calonge's Examiner article.

I share here a chunk of Jon Wilner's article in the San Jose Mercury News:
The game turned on two plays, and Jahvid Best wasn't involved in either. Nor was Shane Vereen or Kevin Riley or Syd'Quan Thompson or any of the usual suspects in Blue and Gold.

The Big Game has a way of placing lesser-known players on center stage, if only for one outcome-altering instant. In the 111th version of the Cal-Stanford rivalry, those players were Golden Bears linebackers Devin Bishop and Eddie Young.

Bishop's leading role in a goal-line stand late in the first half and Young's interception early in the second created an 11-point swing that broke open a close game and propelled the Bears to a 37-16 victory Saturday before 70,086 at Memorial Stadium.

OK, sports fans, time to settle back in the afterglow.

It's been a good day.
--the BB

A retrospective of eight miserable years

Provided by CornSyrupAwareness

--the BB

Friday, November 21, 2008

Welcoming two more

We have had first-time visitors from a few more countries and I am still a bit behind on my welcomes, for which I apologize. My body is adjusting back to life at 5000 feet altitude and I have been sluggish ever since returning from sea level in Louisiana. Indeed, I was still in New Orleans when these visitors arrived the same day as our first visitors from Mongolia and French Polynesia. So, a very tardy but hearty welcome to our first visitors from Haiti and the Gambia.

The Republic of Haiti (French, République d'Haïti; Haitian Creole, Republik Ayiti) occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola, the rest being occupied by the Dominican Republic. This division has historical roots in a division of the island between the French and Spanish in the Treaty of Ryswick (1697). The nation takes its name from the indigenous Taino word Aytí, meaning "mountainous land." The capital is Port-au-Prince, the official languages are French and Haitian Creole. Its governance is as a presidential republic and the estimated population is 8.7 million.

Haiti is the only country in the western hemisphere with a successful slave revolution but its history is marked with foreign intervention and brutal dictatorship. Poverty and political instability have made life difficult for the Haitian people. [Wikipedia]

One night, after flying back to New Orleans, I rode a cab downtown with a Haitian driver and we chatted almost the entire trip in French, which was fun.

The Republic of the Gambia flanks the Gambia River and is surrounded by Senegal on all sides except the coast, being the smalled nation in mainland Africa. The capital is Banjul and the largest metropolitan area is Serekunda. English is the official language and the population is estimated at 1.7 million. The population is 90% Muslim and both Muslim and Christian holidays are celebrated. The media operate under strong constraints and journalists must toe the line with respect to any semblance of criticizing the government. [Wikipedia]

And now for some music:

1998 video song from this legendary Haitian group (Zèklè) who's been playing music for more than 25 years composed of the Widmaier brothers (Joel, Mushi) whose family had a crucial role in the evolution of Haitian jazz and kompa. Grandfather Ricardo Widmaier was the first to record Haitian jazz, and father Herby Widmaier was the first to record "Kompa direct" of Nemours Jean-Baptiste who's accredited as the father of Kompa.
Also featuring popular guitarist/composer Claude Marcelin and Raoul Denis, Jr.

Koudjay-Gran manje-Haitian music

ZIN-Ti randevou(Haitian music)

Gambia Music and Images

Gambia Banko [lots of photos of the Gambia and its people]

Toumani Diabate plays the Kora [lovely but way too short!]

So just a bit more - Kora Playing by TOUMANI DIABATE & THE SYMMETRIC ORCHESTRA

--the BB

Occam's hatchet brings us the new Ozymandias

'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty,
and despair.'


Check out the photo essay here.
--the BB

A chance to learn

Would you like to know what a group of experts have to say about Iran? Check out the joint statement at Juan Cole's Informed Comment.

The preface:
Among the many challenges that will greet President-elect Obama when he takes office, there are few, if any, more urgent and complex than the question of Iran. There are also few issues more clouded by myths and misconceptions. In this Joint Experts' Statement on Iran, a group of top scholars, experts and diplomats - with years of experience studying and dealing with Iran - have come together to clear away some of the myths that have driven the failed policies of the past and to outline a factually-grounded, five-step strategy for dealing successfully with Iran in the future.

--the BB


Army Spc. William Justin McClellan, 22, a New Castle native who grew up in Indianapolis, died Nov. 6 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he was recovering from the injuries he suffered in January when his truck hit a roadside bomb in Iraq.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not much to report today

Velvet Ash, 16 October 2005

Yes, I had green chiles in my lunch again. That's hardly news.

It is getting colder, the wind was blowing, the sky blue, the multi-colored leaves swirling about. Another glorious day. I had on three layers of clothing today, the first time, I would guess, since early spring or late winter. All but a few days in New Orleans (granted, it was summer) I had only one - a series of lightweight cotton shirts. Today an undershirt, a tightly woven heaver cotton shirt, and a down vest.

Dinner was at a friend's: rack of lamb and asparagus, salad, chocolate Bavarian, excellent companionship.

It's Friday Eve.
--the BB

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Part of being home

Sunday after Mass I went to the nearest Flying Star and had a tortilla española. They don't call it that on their menu; they say Spanish omelette. It was just that, what the Spanish call a tortilla and is definitely not a thin bread of either cornmeal or wheat flour--eggs with thinly sliced potatoes, green onions, cheese forming a a lovely thin omelette. Very tasty.

Monday I had a breakfast burrito with eggs, ham, fried potatoes, cheese, and green chile. A true return to New Mexico!

Tuesday for lunch I had chicken enchiladas with green sauce. Nice and hot but not too hot.

Today I had a green chile cheeseburger with twisty fries. OK, cheeseburgers are not very healthy, nor are fries, especially after I - with high blood pressure - sprinkle them liberally with salt.

But, in case you see a pattern here, yes, it's true. A day without green chile is like a day without sunshine.

That, and enjoying the beauty of autumn here, says I am home. Part of me, part of the time, is very far away nonetheless. My mind is off in my mythic land, exploring a world that only exists in my mind, pursuing questions, working on the revision of my novel. Not so much today but I wrote an entire new page yesterday.

Tonight I will be doing Rosetta Stone Russian.

I was challenged when faced with photos of people swimming. On some it said "Они пливут" and on others it said "Они плавают." Both were obviously variants on "they are swimming," but what was the distinction? I was guessing wrong and very confused. At one point I wondered if it were general swimming versus racing, but that was not it. I did notice that the second variant included folks swimming in opposing directions. Was that it?

Well, it was. Of course, with immersion courses like Rosetta Stone you will never get a translation - you have to associate the words with the visual images. But my Barron's 501 Russian Verbs came to the rescue. I looked up the basic verb and, sure enough, one version is unidirectional and one is multi-directional. Both mean swim. Armed with this knowledge, and grateful that I acquire lots of language resources, I feel ready to continue in Lesson 2.

And that is what I will be doing tonight.

Doctor Stukova, I plan to be ready for you and Russian 2 come spring!

But first a break to have some lasagna. A bear cannot live on language lessons alone.
--the BB

Need a good dose of Vitamin Joy?

Head on over to Ralph's place.

You'll be glad you did [he said with a happy sigh].
--the BB

May they rest in peace - Updated

Latest Coalition Fatalities in Iraq

DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
Cpl. Aaron M. Allen, 24, of Buellton, Calif., died Nov. 14 while supporting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 2)

Chief Warrant Officer Christian P. Humphreys, 28, of Fallon, Nev. He was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force 49, U.S. Army Alaska, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

I served with Chris for two years while he was a crew chief with the Search and Rescue Team aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, NV. He was always a pleasure to fly and work with. It seemed like he was never in a bad mood and could always be counted on during the most demanding missions. America has lost one of her best. Christina, I am so sorry to hear about this. You are in the thoughts and prayers of the entire Longhorn Team.

His wife left this beautiful message:

Rest in a better place my dear. You are the love of my life, my missing piece, my best friend, and my hero. I love you more than words can say. The world will never be completely at peace knowing you are gone. Save a spot for me and keep it warm, I'll see you when it's meant to be.

DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 2)

Chief Warrant Officer Donald V. Clark, 37, of Memphis, Tenn. He was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force 49, U.S. Army Alaska, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

His sister-in-law left this touching message:

Don was a wonderful brother in law to me and an even better husband and father to my sister and their children. He will be greatly missed in our family but I know he's looking down over all of us.


Photos and indented passages from IGTNT

O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of your servants, and grant them an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christ Followers, no matter what you may think!

That is the title of this holy ikon through the hands of +Clumber.

I dare to believe so, and a questionable lot they are.
--the BB

Saint Hild of Whitby

Learn about her from the learned Padre Mickey.

Saint Hild of Whitby
Retablo by PES

O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household, and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church: Give us the grace to recognize and accept the varied gifts you bestow on men and women, that our common life may be enriched and your gracious will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

--the BB

A little challenge for you - Updated

Yeah, I didn't think you could.

Oh, the criticism extends to President-Elect Make-Nicey-Nice too. If you thought this blog was going to be 100% supportive of any leader you were sadly mistaken. WTF was he thinking?

OK, maybe he was thinking along the lines of Howard Dean:
"You know, the desire of revenge is great, of course. But the truth is public policy doesn't run on revenge very well," he said. "And when you see the trouble this country has gotten into in terms of foreign policy, where Bush basically ran a foreign policy based on petulance because he was mad at, for example, Mexico, for abstaining on the Security Council when the Iraq War came up, if you have to actually run the country, it is best not to do it based on feeling of anger towards your enemies."

"My point of view is that Barack won," Dean said. "He can afford to be magnanimous. And if we happen to win both recounts and Georgia, Joe is the 60th vote. And the truth is -- and I certainly don't have to defend Joe Lieberman because, you know, we have an interesting history -- but the fact is, he does vote 90 percent of the time with the Democrats. And no, he shouldn't have said all those things. But why not clean the slate? Why not start all over again? Why not allow him to vote with us on the 90 percent of the stuff? He will be a good vote on climate change -- and this matters. He may be a good vote on election reform, which I hope we will get to. So, you know, he may end up - though it is a little against the odds -- he may end up being the vote that allows us to conduct business when Mitch McConnell decides we shouldn't."

Thanks to First Amendment for the quote.

I may calm down. But I still think he should not chair Homeland Security.
--the BB


The Senate Democratic caucus left Holy Joe's status intact, just as we all thought they would.

What spineless bastards.

Makes me wanna puke.

[Caution: violently emetic video for those with strong stomach only.]

As Jane Hamsher observes:
No matter what Joe Lieberman does, the people who are protecting him hate you much more than they hate him.
I'm with Markos:
I'm done with Reid as Senate leader.
Alas, our system does not have no-confidence votes. We need one right now. Would they know how to fucking govern if they HAD a 60+ majority? I increasingly think not.

Yeah, I'm pissed, even though it played out as I was certain it would.

h/t to BarbinMD for the video
--the BB

Well, it's a beginning

A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County's federal detention centers.

The indictment criticizes Cheney's investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees by working through the prison companies.

--Fox News, no less

I'm still holding out for war crimes tried before the Hague.
--the BB
Thanks to Google News headlines for the tip
--the BB

We fall down and we get up again

Saint Paul's, Ventura, is sharing a moving slide show of Mount Calvary before and after the fire. You may watch it here.

Thanks to Diobytes of the Diocese of California for the link. And for this information:
The Diocese of Los Angeles has established two fire recovery funds, a General Fire Recovery Fund that will serve local clergy in assisting those displaced or severely affected by the fires, and a Mount Calvary Recovery Fund that will address the loss of the Mount Calvary Retreat House, the only Episcopal structure damaged in the fires. Contributions with checks earmarked for either of the funds may be sent to the Bishop's Office, 840 Echo Park Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90026.

According to The Episcopal News of the Diocese of Los Angeles, the Mount Calvary staff, let by its prior, the Rev. Nicholas Radelmiller OHC, is working with members of St. Mary's Retreat House and other facilities to reschedule individual and group retreats that must be relocated following the fire. The brothers welcome letters, cards, and financial contributions (which can be mailed directly to the Mount Calvary Fire Fund, P.O. Box 1296, Santa Barbara, CA 93102, or online through Facebook), but do not need books, clothes, artwork, other religious memorabilia, or assistance with recovery at this time.
Because I am a wicked, fallen man, I cannot refrain from noticing that the paintings of Our Lady and John the Evangelist flanking the entrance have been greatly tarted up from the sober, New Mexican retablo style originals I recall from the early 70s onward.
--the BB

Monday, November 17, 2008

Once I had gotten home from Russia

Your November 2004 nostalgia tour:
Saint Molly Ivins was still with us:
White House to 'gut' CIA
Molly Ivins - Creators Syndicate
11.16.04 - AUSTIN, Texas -- Whilst the punditry wanders weak and weary in the deep fogs of the "moral values debate," what say we pay some attention to what is going on, eh?

According to Newsday, "The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Ladin..."

Bad Nooz. In the first place, the concept of "purge" has not hitherto played much part in our history, and now is no time to start. Considerable pains have been taken to protect the civil service from partisan pressure for extremely good reasons.

"Disloyalty to Bush," or any president, is not the same as disloyalty to the country. In fact, in the intelligence biz, opposing the White House is sometimes the highest form of loyalty to country, since when we fight without good intelligence, we fight blind.

There was change abroad. Rice replacing Powell at State, Gonzales replacing Ashcroft as AG.
A new report from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press paints a picture of White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales -- who has been nominated to replace U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft -- as someone who has worked tirelessly to keep information from the press and public if he believes it could hurt the president, and does not appear ready to change [...]

Gonzales has "played a key role in keeping presidential records out of the public eye and asked for several extensions to deadlines for turning over papers of past presidents," the report says. "Earlier this year, Gonzales also pressured the nation's archivist, John Carlin, to resign, according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.). Carlin's departure -- he resigned without giving a reason -- sparked speculation that he was forced out in order to protect the records of the first President Bush."

The report also cited Bush's efforts to protect his advisors from being forced to testify, saying, "Gonzales picked one battle in particular to doggedly fight: that the president and those working closely with him must be able to receive counsel from advisers without public inquiry. Gonzales argued throughout the summer of 2002 that Vice President Cheney and the records of his energy policy task force should not be subject to open-government laws."

That's your new Attorney General.[added Markos]
Oh, there were Hammer scandals:
SCORCHED EARTH....On Thursday, House Republicans took the odd step of reversing a rule that says anyone in a leadership positions who's indicted of a crime has to step down. Why? Because one of their leaders, Tom DeLay, seems likely to be indicted sometime soon on charges of breaking Texas state fundraising rules.
I was very bummed at the thought of four more years of Bush lawlessness and destruction.
--the BB

A beautiful day in Albuquerque

This is the neighborhood (actually, business park) where I work.

The Sandias
The Pan American Building at Journal Center

Walking to a training session

It burned yet it was not consumed

View from the footbridge

This is why I wanted to come home. Well, one of the reasons. I am not an urban bear. Concrete canyons are not my native environment, whether the CBD of New Orleans or the Financial District in San Francisco or the Miracle Mile in Los Angeles.
--the BB

A last look at New Orleans

I took lots of photos of this tower because it was just outside my office window.

Here is a shot looking up at it from the street - the photo that finally exhausted my camera battery. My last photo of New Orleans.

And, from earlier that morning, dawn in Louisiana. The building on the right is an office building for Jefferson Parish across the street from the apartment complex where I was staying.

--the BB

One more step toward hell

UPDATE: Focus on the Family announced this afternoon that 202 jobs will be cut companywide — more than 20 percent of its workforce. Initial reports bring the total number of remaining employees to around 950.

Focus on the Family is poised to announce major layoffs to its Colorado Springs-based ministry and media empire today. The cutbacks come just weeks after the group pumped more than half a million dollars into the successful effort to pass a gay-marriage ban in California.
--Colorado Independent
Hoffmania comments: "We guess they found it worth destroying 200 of their "families" to destroy a state's-worth of potential families. James Dobson took one more step toward hell."

I don't know that I've ever mentioned here just what a vile, smarmy, twisted expletive deleted I consider James Dobson to be. And that's been my opinion of him for decades. Why would I think so poorly of him? Because he has always come across to me as a manipulative, smug, evil, power-hungry, money-grubbing weasel in christian clothing. Oh, and a stupid fuck. But that's just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.
--the BB

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Working for Smokey again

The photo is from spring 2005 when I was working at the Regional HQ of the Forest Service in Vallejo, Callifornia.

Tomorrow I begin a new stint working for Smokey, my fifth with the Forest Service and my fourth at the Albuquerque Service Center where the budget and finance functions are handled for the FS nationwide.

I like the people, I like the location, and I look forward to this.

Smokey Bear is a good reminder of the devastation from wildfires.

Let us remember those endangerd or already devastated by the fires in California and anywhere else on the planet.

Yesterday in the Dallas airport I met a Greek Orthodox priest. We had a lovely conversation as we both waited for our connecting flights. One of several congregations he serves is in Galveston. They are trying to recover after Hurricane Gustav but the congregation is scattered and at a loss. One of my coworkers in New Orleans is from Galveston. She and her husband lost everything to the water damage.

So for individuals, families, business, churches, and all manner of human communities, let us pray.

And now, to bed. Early.
--the BB

Dona eis requiem

Patch Adam reminds us:

30 years ago on this day... take a moment to remember the more-than 900 people discovered dead in the jungle of Guyana at Jonestown.

--the BB

Sunday morning something to chew on

Not by me nor about a book I have read. Still, it seems worth passing on the link.

Today at Daily Kos teacherken reviews "The Limits of Power: The end of American Exceptionalism by Andrew J. Bacevich, West Point Grad, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, and one of the most cogent critics of the nation in which we live."

Reinhold Niebuhr shaped Bacevich's perspective, as the author mentions at the beginning.
The United States today finds itself threatened by three interlocking crises. The first of these crises is economic and cultural, the second political, and the third is military. All three share this characteristic: they are of our own making. In assessing the predicament that results from these crises, The Limits of Power employs what might be called a Niebuhrean perspective. Writing decades ago, Reinhold Niebuhr anticipated that predicament with uncanny accuracy and astonishing prescience. As such, perhaps more than other figure in our recnet history, he may help us to discern a way out.
Here is the conclusion of Bacevich's book:
"The trustful acceptance of false solutions for our perplexing problems," Niebuhr wrote half a century ago, "adds a touch of pathos to the tragedy of our age." That judgment remains valid today. Adamantly insisting that it is unique among history's great powers, the United States seems likely to follow the well-worn path taken by others, blind to the perils that it courts through its own feckless behavior.

For all nations, Niebuhr once observed, "The desire to gain an immediate selfish advantage always imperils their ultimate interest. If they recognize this fact, they usually recognize it too late." Both parts of this dictum apply to the United States today - and in spades. To extend however slightly the here and now, Americans are increasingly inclined to write off the future. So they carry on, heedless of the consequences even for themselves, no less for their children or grandchildren.

Thus does the tragedy of our age move inexorably towards its conclusion. "To the end of history," our prophet once wrote, "social orders will probably destroy themselves in the effort to prove they are indestructible." Clinging doggedly to the conviction that the rules to which other nations must submit don't apply, Americans appear determined to affirm Niebuhr's axiom of willful self-destruction.

You can read teacherken's review here.
--the BB