Tuesday, September 30, 2008

'Palin on Couric: Homosexuality is a Choice'

Complete Talk Left post here.

CBS News aired another segment of the Katie Couric - Sarah Palin interview tonight.

Twice, Palin described homosexuality as a choice.

But as for homosexuality, I am not going to judge Americans and the decisions that they make in their adult personal relationships. I have one of my absolute best friends for the last 30 years happens to be gay, and I love her dearly. And she is not my "gay friend," she is one of my best friends, who happens to have made a choice that isn't a choice I would have made. But I am not going to judge people.

. . .

Remarks on homosexuality begin at 8:12. (She's Bush with lipstick.)

You're fired

Seen at MyDD

NBC News: Palin 'not doing well in practices'

Watch at 1:45.

Another one

Another gem

Why couldn't she name one publication? Newsweek? Time?

Cats on the bed together

Nobel literature chief: US writing too 'insular'

Ahem. Story from AP is here.

Sep 30th, 2008 STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- The man who announces the Nobel Prize in literature says the United States is too "insular" and ignorant to compete with Europe when it comes to great writing.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Horace Engdahl said Tuesday that "Europe still is the center of the literary world."

Engdahl is the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, which selects the literature prize winner. He is expected to announce the winner in the coming weeks.

Engdahl says the U.S. "is too isolated, too insular" and doesn't really "participate in the big dialogue of literature."

Since Japanese poet Kenzaburo Oe won in 1994, the selections have had a distinct European flavor. The last American winner was Toni Morrison in 1993.

Monday night late

Hope those natural sleeping pills kick in soon.

I was back at the gym tonight. Didn't go yesterday, as I usually do on Sundays since B. left. My left shoulder was actually painful to the touch (not just an ache). It's been bad for almost a year and I think I overdid it at the gym on Friday. So I let it heal a little. It felt better today. (I also took a nap after work today.) The damage to this shoulder was caused, I think, by years of sleeping on my left side on a firm mattress.

The weather yesterday was also discouraging. It was really nasty right at the time I would normally walk down to the gym. So I made up for it today.

No word today from Home Depot. I'm still sitting here without a kitchen (since July 2). As I've probably mentioned, the stove was disconnected last Friday, so the kitchen is now totally useless, except as a storage area. I'd been using the stove to make a load of chili once a week and using the timer to time my laundry (i.e., the washer and dryer in the laundry room). Now it's back to the wind-up tomato.

New Obama ad

'Horseshit?'

From Firedoglake

Monday, September 29, 2008

'McCain Runs Away From His “Great Bailout Success”'

From Firedoglake, here.

Paging Mr. DeMille:

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After bragging today about his role in shaping the economic bailout package, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) made no statement to the press after the defeat of the bill, in part at the hands of House Republicans.

Instead, McCain boarded his Straight Talk Air charter plane, where he sat in front, separated from reporters by a brown curtain, without making a comment on the bill's defeat.

So much pomp, so little circumstance. After melodramatically "suspending" his campaign last week to rush back to Washington -- well, okay, to his campaign office in Arlington -- to save the Wall Street bailout negotiations -- well, okay, to make dinner reservations Saturday night with the Liebermans at a four-star restaurant in D.C., John McCain got to watch his latest campaign publicity stunt crash and burn with the same fiery elan as those four Navy jets he piloted.

Such a miserable failure demanded the only response possible for a diva: blame everyone else. . . .

Time For The Dem Bailout Bill

From Talk Left, here.

Allrighty then. The GOP and McCain do not want the bipartisan bailout solution. Fair enough. Then it is time for the DEM bailout bill. With HOLC, a stimulus package, rigorous oversight of Paulson, equity stakes in the bailoutees, and everything the Democratic caucus thinks is necessary now.

Pass it on a party line vote. The Senate can then decide what to do. And then President Bush can decide what to do. The House Republicans do not want to be a part of this bipartisan short term bailout solution? Fair enough. Then Bush has to take the Dem bailout solution. . . .

'Could Palin possibly leave the ticket?'

See here.

'It Gets Worse?'

From TPM: "Could CBS really still be sitting on the most embarrassing parts of the Couric/Palin trainwreck interview?"

Report: Everglades in decline as restoration lags

Full AP story here.

A multibillion-dollar effort to restore Florida's Everglades has made little progress amid funding shortfalls, bureaucratic red tape and disagreements, according to a congressionally mandated report that warns the vast wetland is in peril.

The National Research Council, in findings Monday, warned that degradation of the Everglades could become irreversible if action isn't taken quickly. . . .

The South Florida Water Management District, which oversees restoration for the state, said in a statement that it agrees with the report's findings "that restoration progress is hampered by limited federal funding and a complex and lengthy federal planning process."

Approved by Congress in 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was originally estimated to cost about $7.8 billion and expected to take 30 years to complete — a price tag that has since ballooned due to construction costs and other inflation.

Approved by Congress in 2000, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was originally estimated to cost about $7.8 billion and expected to take 30 years to complete — a price tag that has since ballooned due to construction costs and other inflation.

The 2000 plan made the federal government and Florida 50-50 partners. To date, the state has committed more than $2 billion and pushed ahead alone with a few projects. Congress has only appropriated several hundred million dollars.

Lake Okeechobee, the liquid heart of the Everglades, remains heavily polluted with phosphorous mostly from fertilizer runoff. Wildlife habitat is disappearing and the report noted that at least 67 threatened or endangered species face extreme peril. . . .

'Saturday Night Live' interview spoof

Click here.

Tests start on new superpill

"Drug that combines four medicines could halve worldwide deaths from heart attacks and strokes." From The Guardian.

A drug that combines four different medicines and could halve deaths from heart attacks and stroke around the globe will enter human trials this week in London.

The once-a-day polypill has been the dream of doctors for many years, but because the drugs it contains, including aspirin, are cheap, there has been no financial incentive for the pharmaceutical industry to get involved. . . .

Difficulties in combining four drugs in one tablet have been overcome and the Red Heart pill, as it has been christened, has been manufactured by the Indian generic drug company Dr Reddy's. Volunteers are now being recruited for a 12-week pilot trial which will involve up to 700 people in six countries. If all goes well, the main trial with 5,000 to 7,000 volunteers will begin at the end of next year.

Anthony Rodgers, co-director of the clinical trials unit at the University of Auckland, leader of the project, said it had been a struggle to get the polypill this far. "The chances of mainstream pharmaceutical industry taking this on are slim.

"We spent a few years around about 2000-2002 trying to persuade a number of companies to do this, but got nowhere. Basically, their whole business model is around people paying a few hundred pounds a year for the latest blockbuster drug. A pill with established medicines that halved cardiovascular risk and could be available for £20 a year could be seen as a threat."

He added that it had been hard to find a source of research funding for a lifesaving idea that involved using existing medicines and was therefore about application as much as innovation. "If someone came up with a credible solution to preventing most cancer, using established available and affordable medicines, can you imagine it taking this long to be trialled?" . . .

Makes me wonder whether the drug companies' profit motive is good for our health. Perhaps these companies should be nationalized or in some way restructured for the benefit of the common weal.

Palm Beach Increases Domestic-Partner Benefits

From The Advocate, here.

The Palm Beach County School District has agreed to insure the children of its employees' domestic partners.

As Floridians prepare to decide on Amendment 2 -- an initiative that could constitutionally ban same-sex marriage in the state -- on November 4, Palm Beach made a bold statement of gay tolerance by offering increased domestic-partner benefits. . . .

The Palm Beach school board last year adjusted its health insurance rates to allow employees with domestic partners to pay the same premiums as married partners.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday night

I was feeling a little down tonight as I sat watching the season premiere of "Desperate Housewives" in the living room, where B. and I used to sit watching it together, on the couch that B. bought. I would have watched it here in the "office" (as B. called it) but for some reason ABC doesn't come in on the cable. Then a friend called and I perked up. Actually, I returned his call after DH was over, since he'd called toward the end of the show--just when it was getting good--and I wasn't about to miss it. (My friend knows I watch this show.) I won't give the plot away, if you haven't seen it.

This is the friend who had the paralyzed dog. The dog keeps improving, I'm happy to report. It probably helps that she's taking a steroid drug now--Prednizone, I think.

Bootsy has been having trouble with his ears (fungus?), so I've been giving him the medicine the vet gave me for Lucy (EnteDerm). It seems to be helping. I administer it when he's sleeping on my bed. Of course, that wakes him right up, but he's pretty docile. I may take him to the vet for a check-up. Of course you can't go to the vet nowadays without forking out $100.

There seems to be a bug in the blog. I've tried to fix it myself by deleting certain items. The next step is to notify Blogger. (The kitchen blog is fine, however.)

Glad I perked up in time to go to bed.

Random thoughts

I used to think John McCain was a half-way decent person, especially when he called Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson agents of intolerance.

Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

But that was eight years ago. Since then, he's backtracked on almost all his "maverick" (for a Republican) stances, including sucking up to the fundamentalists.

He's no leader. He's just a panderer now.

Breaking Through AIDS Denial in Florida

Story here.

A year ago, statistics showed St. Lucie County had the highest HIV rate in Florida for African-American women and the sixth-highest for white women. But as HIV prevention outreach staff from In the Image of Christ work on the streets at night, offering condoms and free oral swab HIV antibody tests to residents, they hear a lot of denial. These workers say denial, ignorance, and refusal to talk about HIV keeps infection rates high in the county despite prevention efforts. . . .

Data show that heterosexual women of all races are at risk on Florida’s so-called Treasure Coast, including an increasing number whose partners are men who surreptitiously have sex with men, Jones said. . . .

Movie Review: Spike Lee's 'Miracle at St. Anna'

See here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Obama ad

Biden on the debate

Palin swimsuit video

See here.

Aleksandar Hemon

Hemon, originally from Bosnia, learned English in the U.S. as an adult, after becoming stranded in Chicago when war broke out in Bosnia in 1992. Good short story here. An excerpt:

A throng of Armani-clad businessmen surrounded some pretty, young interpreters, while the large head of a famous retired basketball player hovered above them, like a full moon. I spotted the Ambassador—a stout, prim Republican, with a puckered-asshole mouth—talking to a man I assumed was Macalister.

The possible Macalister was wearing a purple velvet jacket over a Hawaiian shirt. His jeans were worn and bulging mid-leg, as though he spent his days kneeling. He wore Birkenstocks with white socks. Everything on him looked hand-me-down. He was in his fifties but had a head of Bakelite-black hair that seemed as if it had been mounted on his head decades ago and had not changed shape since. Without expressing any identifiable emotion, he was listening to the Ambassador, who was rocking back and forth on his heels, pursing his lips, and slowly expelling a thought. Macalister was drinking water; his glass tilted slightly in his hand, so that the water repeatedly lapped against the brim of the glass, to the exact rhythm of the Ambassador’s rocking. I had finished my second beer and champagne and was considering refuelling, when the Ambassador bellowed “May I have your attention please!” and the din died down and the crowd around the Ambassador and Macalister moved aside. . . .

More on Hemon and his latest novel here.

Debate highlights

Some words about Paul Newman

Here.

T.G.I. Friday's Fined for HIV Discrimination

Advocate story here.

The company that owns T.G.I. Friday's restaurants has been fined $5,000 for a Virginia outlet's wrongful termination of an HIV-positive employee. Alexandria, Va., city manager James Hartmann fined T.G.I. Friday's parent company, Carlson Restaurants, for violating the city's Human Rights Code in the case of former Friday's employee James McCray, according to the Southern Voice. . . .

McCray, 39, was fired from T.G.I. Friday's on July 26, 2006, the day after he reportedly told supervisors he has HIV. The Human Rights Commission decided on July 8, 2008, that T.G.I. Friday's had wrongfully terminated him.

McCray could also file a complaint in a federal court under the Americans With Disabilities Act. . . .

View from abroad: 'Faith no more as market revealed to be false idol'

From The Sydney Morning Herald here (emphasis added).

AS THE American authorities made the biggest bank seizure in US history yesterday, the President of France declared that "laissez-faire is over".

Nicolas Sarkozy continued: "The idea that the market is always right is a crazy idea."

He is a right-wing, pro-American leader, so it's not entirely a French socialist reflex.

Besides, he is in good company. The German Chancellor, the conservative Angela Merkel, said: "It was said for a long time, 'Let the markets take care of themselves'." But now "even America and Britain are saying, 'Yes, we need more transparency, we need better standards"'.

With a run on the Washington Mutual bank - assets $US307 billion ($372 billion) - leading to its seizure and auction to JPMorgan Chase yesterday, there was not much argument.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, added a liturgical flavour by saying that an excess of faith in the market had become a kind of "idolatry".

And all of them were really just repeating something that the American financier and philanthropist George Soros has been saying for years.

As he said in May: "Unfortunately, we have an idea of market fundamentalism, which is now the dominant ideology, holding that markets are self-correcting, and this is false."

And so surely Australia, as part of the Anglo-Saxon free market fetish, is also reconsidering the era of market fundamentalism?

No, it's not, chiefly because Australia has never truly participated in it as the US practised it.

Over the last 25 years Australia has allowed market forces a much greater play in our markets and in our lives.

But it has never been seduced by the notion that the authorities have no legitimate role in controlling the market impulse.

Under Labor and Liberal governments, Australia has pursued a pragmatic balance. The Liberals have avoided the deregulatory extremes.

In discussing the contrast between the US collapse and Australia's stability this week, Peter Costello pointed that one "extremely big difference between us and the United States, in 1997 we set up a body called the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. There was no regulator for non-bank financial institutions of anything like that sophistication before, and that institution has served us well".

And nor will Labor overreact and overregulate in response to the market trauma. As the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, told the Herald yesterday: "Blind faith in markets is not a substitute for being hard-headed. On the other hand, blind faith in complete regulation all the time is not a substitute for being hard-headed. There are two extremes in this debate. I think it's just a question of better regulation, not more regulation."

Australia's genius has been in finding a judicious balance between market forces and sensible regulation.

Joan Walsh not impressed with Sarah Palin

Column here (video no longer available from CBS).

Some people thought Tina Fey was a little tough on Sarah Palin when she impersonated the GOP veep pick insisting "I can see Russia from my house!" But here's what Palin said when CBS's Katie Couric asked how her proximity to Russia gave her foreign policy experience:

"As Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state."

John McCain should be ashamed of himself. . . .

Ex bank employees talk about predatory tactics

CNN Post-Debate Poll

From Talk Left:

CNN just conducted an Opinion Research telephone poll. Obama beat McCain by big margins:

* The debate: 52% to 38%
* Iraq: 52% to 47%
* Economy: 58% to 37%

Update: More than 60% of the CNN focus group in Ohio said Obama won. 64% said they thought he would be the next President.

Friday, September 26, 2008

One blogger's take on the debate

From Turkana at The Left Coaster:

John McCain came across as an angry old crank who lived some of the past quarter century's history, and wants to build on it. He was wrapped too tight. Glaring. Almost cackling. Barack Obama came across as calm and poised, if occasionally frustrated by McCain's lies, but most importantly, he came across as a man who wants to dramatically change our approach to foreign policy.

Barack Obama was almost too nice, refusing to call McCain's stunt about Obama not understanding things by saying, flat out- "John, no matter how many times you repeat your tired talking point about my not understanding issues, the simple fact remains that you didn't understand that invading a country that had nothing to do with September 11 would prevent us from catching those who did have something to do with it; you didn't understand that a war against a nation that had nothing to do with international terrorism would create a front in the war on terror that previously didn't exist; you didn't understand that invading a country that had nothing to do with September 11 would devastate that country, our military, our economy, and our international standing. John, you've been in politics a long, long time. You may have understood the world of the 20th Century, but you clearly don't understand the world of the 21st Century." Obama's best moment was when he attacked McCain on Iraq, and he should have repeated the attack every time McCain repeated his talking point about Obama being green.

The question for the night: don't both candidates' running mates usually make themselves available to the media for post-debate spin?

CNN snap poll: Obama won the debate by a 51-38 margin, won the debate on Iraq by a small margin, and won the debate on the economy by a huge margin. A very good night for Obama. . . .

(Video from Talk Left)

Conservative columnist: Palin should go

Full AP story here.

A conservative columnist who welcomed Sarah Palin's entry in national politics says she's proven to be a dud and should step aside as John McCain's running mate.

Kathleen Parker, writing in the National Review Online, says her "cringe reflex is exhausted" after watching the Alaska governor stumble through TV interviews and it's become clear to her that Palin is out of her league.

"No one hates saying that more than I do," Parker writes. "Like so many women, I've been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I've also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does." . . .

"Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves," Parker writes. "She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first."

Brief analysis of the debate

Here. I caught the last few questions. I find these debates too painful to watch and went to the gym at 9:00 (as usual). Obama was doing fine, however.

More interview with the dingbat

Via Talk Left here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kitchen update

Here.

Barbara Boxer on McCain's recent behavior

More of the interview with Katie Couric

From the 'I do believe in spooks' dept.

A day as Sarah Palin (impostor)

Full story and slide show here.

When comedian Kristy Webb took to the streets of New York dressed as Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the experience was nothing less than "surreal."

She was ogled by politically starstruck New Yorkers, stumped on policy questions by angry NYU students and asked how she, as the possible second-in-command of our country, could help to improve ordinary American lives, by ordinary Americans.

In Webb's words, here's what it feels like to be the woman who could break the political glass ceiling forever. . . .

(Via TowleRoad)

'Obama Responds to McCain Debate Postponement Stunt'

From TowleRoad

'What would you do with $700 billion?'

Full story here.

Improving education. Researching alternative fuels. Nationalizing health care. Paying off the debts of the American people. iReporters have plenty of ideas about what the government should do with $700 billion, and most of them don't involve bailing out failing financial giants. Many iReporters agreed with Michael Thies, who said, "Instead of bailing these companies out, bail out the people!"

What George Bush hath wrought: 'Sexual cleansing in Iraq'

"Islamist deaths squads are hunting down gay Iraqis and summarily executing them." Guardian story here. (Via PageOneQ.)

'SARAH PALIN LOVER REVEALED!'

From the National Enquirer:

In a world exclusive The NATIONAL ENQUIRER names GOP VP Candidate Sarah Palin's secret lover!

No less than three members of the man’s family including one by sworn affidavit have claimed that Sarah Palin engaged in an extramarital affair with hus­band Todd’s former business partner, Brad Hanson.

These sources have named Hanson as Palin’s secret love, and say their affair nearly wrecked both their marriages.

Hanson owned a snowmobile dealership with Palin’s husband Todd, who immediately dissolved the partnership after he heard stories about the affair, which occurred around 1996, according to the sources. At the time, Palin was mayor of Wasilla. . . .

Another source, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, provided The NATIONAL ENQUIRER with a sworn affidavit attesting to the Palin-Hanson story.

“Todd was away on business a lot and Sarah felt lonely. Brad was a good listener, and Sarah talked to him at length. Eventually, she real­ized she was falling in love with him,” one insider divulged.

“When Todd got back from one of his trips, Sarah told him that she had begun to have feelings for Brad.” . . .

Source here, q.v.

Bush's 'house of cards'

From The Left Coaster

Pres. Clinton says bailout must not protect undeserving

AP story here.

Former President Clinton says legislation stabilizing troubled financial markets ought to be ensure there'll be no "unjust enrichments" of people who do not deserve a bailout.

The former president also said he believes the convulsiveness in the markets has the potential to substantially damage the economy in the absence of action by Congress and the administration.

Clinton was interviewed Thursday morning on CBS's "The Early Show." He said that "when people lose confidence in everything, down to the 4-year money market accounts, that's bad."

Interview with a dingbat

Letterman: 'It's starting to smell now'

Source

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Video shows Palin in anti-witchcraft prayer

Story from The Guardian, here.

A video has emerged showing Sarah Palin playing a central role in a church service in Alaska in which witchcraft is denounced.

Thomas Muthee, a Kenyan who is a regular preacher at Palin's local Pentecostal church in Wasilla, made a passionate plea to defeat witchcraft and other supposed enemies of Palin during a sermon three years ago.

The role of the witchfinder in the life of the vice-presidential candidate running mate raises new questions about how much his team investigated her background before naming her as John McCain's running mate.

The video, available on YouTube, shows Palin standing in front of him at the service, head bowed, her hands held by two members of the congregation.

Muthee, in the sermon, calls on church members to try to gain footholds in centres of influence, such as politics and the media, and praises Palin for her bid to become governor of Alaska. He spoke about the hindrances she faced from her enemies. "In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, every form of witchcraft is what you rebuke. In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, father make away now," Muthee said. . . .

(Palin appears at 7:10.)

Wednesday night

Had planned on going to the gym tonight, but I have to finish painting the kitchen ceiling instead. The inspector and electrician are coming tomorrow (sometime between 8 and 5, so I'm taking another vacation day). Yippee! Back later.

Update (8:41): Done. Ran out of paint but most of it's done, including the most important part: the area above where the fan will be hanging. I have no idea what they're going to be able to accomplish tomorrow, but I'm ready for them. I can go back and do all the rest at another time.

At first, I poured the wrong paint into the tray (interior flat ceiling paint vs. semi-gloss kitchen and bath paint) and had already got my roller wet when I noticed it. So I had to throw the roller cover away but was able to salvage the tray liner. The handyman had originally used the flat paint for the kitchen ceiling, and it was absorbing airborne grease spatters.

Tuesday night

Not much to report. Haven't heard anything back from Home Depot about the electrical inspector coming in here to inspect last Friday's work. I'm still living in the same mess, and the stove is no longer in commission--it was disconnected on Friday. (I'd been using it to make a load of chili once a week.) The kitchen cabinets and counters can't be installed until all the electrical work is done and inspected. The stuff they did on Friday was only the "rough" installation.

Spent an hour tonight working on the kitchen ceiling so it'll be ready when they install the new fan. Who knows when that will be... But I'll have my work done by then. I still have to repair the damage that the electrician did to the ceiling (it was unavoidable). That won't take long, however. That will be my next project.

So I've been working more on this and blogging a little less. Sorry.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

'The Humane Society Cites Sarah Palin as Reason For Endorsing Obama/Biden'

Post here. A quote from the endorsement:

Palin engineered a campaign of shooting predators from airplanes and helicopters, in order to artificially boost the populations of moose and caribou for trophy hunters. She offered a $150 bounty for the left foreleg of each dead wolf as an economic incentive for pilots and aerial gunners to kill more of the animals, even though Alaska voters had twice approved a ban on the practice. This year, the issue was up again for a vote of the people, and Palin led the fight against it -- in fact, she helped to spend $400,000 of public funds to defeat the initiative.

What's more, when the Bush Administration announced its decision to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, Palin filed a lawsuit to reverse that decision. She said it's the "wrong move" to protect polar bears, even though their habitat is shrinking and ice floes are vanishing due to global warming.

The choice for animals is especially clear now that Palin is in the mix. If Palin is put in a position to succeed McCain, it could mean rolling back decades of progress on animal issues. . . .

Tonight, while sipping a Wild Sweet Orange tea over at Starbucks, I finished reading an article on Palin in this week's New Yorker. It said that Palin has a pair of wolf pelts hanging in the governor's office in Juneau.

In the article, Palin said that the wolf-culling is necessary for "providing more food for Alaskans." But everything I've read says that's not true, and the people of Alaska are against it. (Far be it for a Republican ideologue to ignore the scientific literature.) (Illustration from The New Yorker.)

HIVers more likely to develop cancers

Story here.

The onset of three types of cancer—cervical cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma—are so common among HIVers with advanced HIV disease that they’re considered AIDS-defining illnesses. But a new study shows HIVers—even those on effective antiretroviral therapy—also are more prone to several other types of cancer. In some cases, it was due to coinfection with other sexually transmitted diseases, but in others there was no exact discernable cause.

For example, HIVers are 18 times more likely to develop Hodgkin’s lymphoma; four times more likely to develop lung cancer; three times more likely to develop melanoma (skin cancer) and mouth and throat cancers; and about twice as likely to develop leukemia, colorectal, and kidney cancers, according to the study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Why the increased cancer risks? The researchers theorize a weakened immune system may be less able to destroy newly formed cancerous cells before they take hold to become tumors or systemic infections. It’s also possible that HIVers have higher rates of smoking and alcohol use, which can boost cancer risks, although the study did not screen for these factors.

New Obama ad in Spanish

From Talk Left

Miami Herald blog first of MSM to break story on Buse

From Michelangelo Signorile here.

Steve Rothaus at the Miami Herald has picked up the Mark Buse/McCain story. While it's a blog and not the print edition itself, I think it still marks the first traditional media publication to pick up the story. Believe it or not, it matters even to some gay outlets: 365gay.com has now picked it up only because the Miami Herald picked it up.

It's outrageous that LGBT issues are treated as something that can be discarded or suppressed unless you force it out there, but that's how it is. The fact that there were 626 comments on Daily Kos about McCain's gay chief of staff shows the interest, relevance and importance of the story to many people. The media of course can't get answers from Sarah Palin (or McCain) on a variety of issues, let alone gay issues, and don't seem to really be making a stink about it. It's astonishing that she has not yet given a press conference (McCain gave his first in 39 days to day, for 15 minutes) and they are letting her get away with it.

McCain Chief of Staff Outed

Lovin' this. Also seen at The Advocate, here. See Michelangelo Signorile's post here.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain's chief of staff was outed Monday after radio host Michelangelo Signorile quoted additional sources to confirm the long-blogged-about rumors. Mark Buse, 44, previously served as a lobbyist for several large corporations including AT&T and ExxonMobil, the only Fortune 10 company without a nondiscrimination policy covering sexual orientation, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Signorile said on his blog that he had previously been contacted by three sources, all wishing to remain anonymous, claiming Buse is gay. The radio host says he was then contacted by 46-year-old Brian Davis, who claims to have had a past intimate relationship with the McCain staffer.

Davis claims he first met Buse at a Phoenix bar called Connections in 1986, around the same time Buse started work as a McCain intern during the presidential hopeful's tenure in the House of Representatives. Davis said Buse asked him to move to Washington, D.C., with him after a long-distance courtship taking place over several months. A year after moving to Washington, Buse left Davis for his current partner.

McCain has opposed several gay rights bills during his Senate tenure. He told the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network in 2007 that the ban on openly gay and lesbian military personnel was necessary and that the legislation "unambiguously maintains that open homosexuality within the military services presents an intolerable risk to morale, cohesion, and discipline."

McCain also voted against two hate-crimes bills in 2000 and 2002 and did not cast a vote for the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act in 2007. He voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in 1996 and 2006, because, he said, current laws already apply to LGBT workers.

In 2003, McCain voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would have federally banned same-sex marriage. Instead, he said, he favors states' rights to grant or deny same-sex marriage, and he supported Arizona's proposed (but failed) ban in 2006.

Clay is gay: Aiken comes out of the closet

Who'd'a thunk it?! AP story here. Advocate story here. From the AP:

Clay Aiken is finally confirming what many people already knew: He's gay. The cover of the latest People magazine shows Aiken holding his infant son, Parker Foster Aiken, with the headline: "Yes, I'm Gay." The cover also has the quote: "I cannot raise a child to lie or hide things." . . .

The baby's mother is Aiken's friend and record producer Jaymes Foster.

Aiken, who gained fame as the runner-up on "American Idol" in 2003, rarely addressed the frequent rumors about his sexuality. In an interview with The Associated Press two years ago, he said: "I don't really feel like I have anybody to answer to but myself and God and the people I love."

The multiplatinum singer recently released the CD "On My Way Here" and made his Broadway debut this spring in "Monty Python's Spamalot."

From The Advocate:

Later [in 2006], a Green Beret claimed to have had a sexual encounter with Aiken in the National Enquirer. He later apologized, saying that he should not have released the story without Aiken's consent. . . .

Monday, September 22, 2008

On the bank bail-out

From yesterday's "Face the Nation" (9 1/2 minutes).

See here (via The South Beach Bum).

1961 jukebox

Click here.


Obama (and McCain) on 60 Minutes

Part 1 (of 2) of Obama's interview. (All videos here.)


Watch CBS Videos Online

'McCain Doesn’t Regret Financial Dergulation; Says It Was “Helpful”'

Full post here (plus video), from Firedoglake.

Really, it's just astonishing that someone who was already knee-deep in banking scandals to begin with and who's economic adviser and campaign manager have their dirty fingerprints all over this one would at least muster some variation of the "mistakes were made" cliche. Not McSame. Even in the face of this epic catastrophe, he cannot abandon the Club for Growth party line. That's the mark of an ideologue, not a maverick.

New Obama ad

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday night

Just got off the phone a few minutes ago with a friend. I hadn't heard from him in two weeks and had been expecting a call. Over a year ago, his dog, Moriah, ran into a sliding glass door at his house in Ft. Lauderdale and became partially paralyzed. The prognosis was bad, but my friend gave Moriah lots of special therapy (including exercises in his swimming pool) and she regained most of her function. I saw her in February and she could walk almost normally. She seemed to be very happy. (I've known this dog since she was a puppy, eight or nine years ago.)

Then six weeks ago, while my friend was out walking her, Moriah had a massive seizure and became paralyzed again (on one side, as before). My friend had to carry her home. He started therapy again, but there was little progress and Moriah was acting despondent. The last thing I heard, the vet said that Moriah wasn't getting any younger and now appeared to be giving up.

Tonight my friend was happy to report that Moriah has significantly improved and is walking fairly well. I was so glad to hear it. He said she still falls down sometimes or veers off course, but that she's no longer despondent and just picks herself up and deals with it. He said she's happy to be alive again. We talked for over an hour, mostly about his dog and my kitchen.

Got a lot done today, especially with regard to the kitchen. Did some painting and some repairs to the ceiling in there. Also went out shopping twice. Didn't go to Magnum. Walked down to the Boston Market for a light dinner of their meaty chicken soup and creamed spinach, and afterward had an orange herbal tea at Starbucks before packing it in for the night.

You can lock me in my trunk and drive me across

"For phobics, tall bridge can be a roadblock"

Saturday night

At home with the cats.

I got a good night's sleep, which I needed. Didn't get one the night before. I slept till a little after noon--made myself linger in bed to repair--and woke up a little achy. That would be from sitting in this chair for over seven hours yesterday while the electrician was here, working in the kitchen. It's a nice, comfortable chair, but still.

Decided not to do anything productive today except go to the gym (afterward stopping by the store for a few things). I didn't go last night since I was too tired. I usually go on Sundays, but since I went today, I may pop in at Magnum tomorrow around tea dance time, not that they have a tea dance. (There used to be tea dances all over Miami on Sundays, with free food.) I still have to paint a ceiling fan and finish priming and painting the kitchen ceiling and fix the damage the electrician caused yesterday while re-wiring the recessed lights (to eliminate one that will be covered by a new cabinet). (The damage was unavoidable.) Maybe I'll do some of that tomorrow, or maybe not. There's no real urgency, I don't think.

Today I was hungry and had a big NY Strip steak dinner at Flanigan's, with cole slaw and black beans with chopped onions (no rice), along with hearty soup for starters. After the gym, I had a green tea at Starbucks and a pomegranate smoothie at Jamba Juice and then came home. Mundane, but that's OK. Yesterday was almost too exciting, with work resuming in the kitchen after two and a half months of stagnation (and no functional kitchen). Now, however, the kitchen is even more useless than before, since the electrician had to unplug the stove. At least I was able to make my easy chili recipe (no real kitchen necessary), which in part I've been subsisting on. But no longer.

I know I may sound like a broken record when I talk about it, but would anyone like to go without a kitchen for months on end? It's a terrible inconvenience and costs me extra money to have other people prepare my food when I can (and am more than willing and able to) do it myself. I can't wait to cook up something when the kitchen is done. I haven't decided yet what the first dish will be. I'll definitely keep you posted.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Another different story

I happened upon this while searching for the TBM videos, below. I have no idea when this occurred. I'll have to do some research.

Update: See here. The video is from July of last year.


German tunnel builder on the cutting edge

Now for something completely different.

Yesterday as I sat here all day long, reading stories on the Internet and putting stuff up on the blog while the electrician was working in the kitchen, I almost burned out on news. After he left, I was happy to get out of the house and read my magazine. (If I were to read my magazine at home, I wouldn't have anything to read when I'm out of the house).

The Sept. 15 New Yorker had a very interesting story ("The Long Dig; getting through the Swiss Alps the hard way") about a company in Germany that builds tunnels using special tunnel boring machines (TBMs) (or worms) which it fabricates at a factory in the Black Forest. (Unfortunately, the magazine's website carries only an abstract of the article.) The company, Herrenknecht, manufactures TBMs of all sizes, ranging from four inches in diameter for utility lines to fifty feet in diameter (and a third of a mile long) for subway, train and highway tunnels. The company is presently using the large-bore variety to create the world's longest traffic tunnel, beneath the Alps in Switzerland.

The story describes this particular machine at length, but I found it difficult to form a mental picture. (A photograph would have helped, but The New Yorker is not big on photographs to illustrate its articles.) (Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say. In this case, a diagram would have been even better.) But I also found it difficult to imagine how the machine worked. (The article probably wasn't the most well written I've read, but on the whole I found it entertaining.)

At any rate, it's a very large and complicated machine. Here, the top photo is of the TBM they're using in Switzerland. Beneath that is a model of it. Beneath that is an even larger TBM (the world's largest) they're using in Madrid to build tunnels to decrease traffic at street level and allow for more parks and pedestrian plazas. The videos show how the machine works.

I hope you find this as fascinating as I did.






'Palin Costing McCain Support in Florida'

Talk Left has this.

The St. Petersburg Times has been conducting focus group testing on undecided voters.

Five weeks ago, the St. Petersburg Times convened a group of Tampa Bay voters who were undecided about the presidential election. Their strong distrust of Barack Obama suggested it was a group ripe for John McCain to win over.

Not anymore. The group has swung dramatically, if unenthusiastically, toward Democrat Obama. Most of them this week cited the same reason: Sarah Palin.

Among the comments:

"The one thing that frightens me more than anything else are the ideologues. We've seen too many," said 80-year-old Air Force veteran Donn Spegal, a lifelong Republican from St. Petersburg who sees McCain's new running mate as the kind of "wedge issue" social conservative that has made him disenchanted with his party. . . .

"That was almost insulting," Democrat Rhonda Laris of Temple Terrace, another strong Clinton backer skeptical of Obama, said of the Palin pick. "Do they think we're really stupid? … I'm definitely leaning toward the Democratic side now. Sarah Palin scares the crap out of me."

One thing about these voters. They are not supporting Obama because they have been persuaded by him. It's opposition to Palin. . . .

Sarah Palin, Polarizer in Chief. . . .

'Dan Marino takes loss of $600,000 on house'

Miami Herald story here.

Even celebrities aren't immune to the pitfalls of South Florida's real estate market.

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino sold his Parkland house for $2.35 million, or $600,000 less than what he paid for it in 2005, Broward property records show.

The 9,286-square-foot house with seven bedrooms and 9 ½ baths was bought by David L. Spiller last month.

Marino and his wife, Claire, had listed the house for sale for $4.65 million two years ago. They later dropped the price to $3.5 million but still got no takers. In February, the couple auctioned the property, but no one met the lowest price the Marinos were willing to accept. . . .

'Nasty, filthy, trashy little tourist town. And I love it.'

All about Galveston, here.

Brilliant

In case this hasn't shown up here already (I'd seen it, or at least the first part), here it is. Via The South Beach Bum.

Friday, September 19, 2008

McCain's 'energy expert' speaks

See here.

New kitchen blog post

Here.

'For now, France backs off idea for "picnic tax"'

What might that be? you ask. Story here.

France's government has backed away from instituting a tax on common household products — from plastic forks to disposable diapers — that aren't environmentally friendly.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's office says he is opposed to taxing such products now because many French are already worried about their declining purchasing power. But he asked Cabinet ministers Friday to gather a working group to discuss what household products might be taxed in the future.

France's ecology minister said this weekend that the government was considering a "picnic tax" on disposable dishes and other products that have greener alternatives. A similar tax plan is already being used to encourage French people to drive greener cars.

'Poll: People prefer Obama over McCain as teacher'

Full story here (also more on the football-watching).

If this election were about which candidate people wanted as their child's schoolteacher, Barack Obama would be moving to the head of the class. . . .

Asked which they'd choose to be their child's teacher, Obama was the choice by a more decisive 55 percent to 44 percent, including a markedly stronger performance by the Illinois senator among whites. . . .

'The corporate financiers are wrong'

"Would they please shut up about the wonders of an unfettered free market? It's taxpayers who are paying the price for their greed -- again." Full article here.

Now that we're all about to take on hundreds of billions or perhaps a trillion dollars in new public debt to redeem the nation's super-smart corporate financiers, there is one thing I hope we can expect in addition to postponing the apocalypse. Will they all please shut up about the wonders of the unfettered free market and the horrors of big government?

For decades, the investment class and their mouthpieces in the conservative movement have been telling Americans that if only we repealed all those musty old New Deal rules and programs, then we could enjoy unprecedented prosperity. Repeated endlessly by the think tanks, magazines and academics of the right-wing machinery, this message eventually drowned out the reality-based ideas of the American liberal tradition. Although those were the ideas that had actually built this country over the past century, they were erased from public consciousness by a combination of amnesia and propaganda.

We ought to have learned the way the world really works -- that is, how privilege, power, entitlement and greed undermine free markets -- during the teaching moments of the savings and loan debacle, the corporate scandals of George W. Bush's first term [e.g., Enron], or any of a number of smaller crises when taxpayers had to rescue major enterprises that were "too big to fail." Indeed, there has been a similar result -- along with higher unemployment, falling family incomes, rising debt and deficits, and neglected public infrastructure -- every time we have bought into the free-market extremism of the Republican right.

So now is a good time to try to remember the disastrous consequences of ideological rule. Although the same pattern can be traced back to the 19th century, when robber barons and Republicans pillaged the nation, we need go back no further than October 1982. That was when Ronald Reagan signed the legislation to deregulate the savings and loan industry, long a stable bulwark of the housing market and family finances. "All in all, I think we've hit the jackpot," he quipped charmingly.

It was a jackpot for the crooks who took over the thrifts, milked their assets and drove them into bankruptcy -- and for the political cronies of the Republicans who eventually swept up the remains in profitable work-out deals with the government. It was not a jackpot for the taxpayers, who ate the trillion-dollar bill for cleaning up the fiasco and taking over the bad debts because ... well, because someone had to pay the price. . . .

Hillary explains the financial crisis

Love the talk about ideologues and laissez-faire capitalism. Ideology is never good. It ignores reality. Via Talk Left.

'Taxpayers Bail Out Banks'

Post is here.

So basically because the Bush Administration and Alan Greenspan enabled banks to be stupid at a time of cheap money, and allowed new "products" to run rampant without any adult supervision from regulators or the Fed, the American taxpayers now must pony up for it, and allow the banks to get off the hook.

But allowing government to intervene and substitute public policy choices for market-driven ones in health care and energy is bad?

'What Do Mormons Have Against Love?'

Full post here.

There may not be any suspense as to whose column California's electoral votes will go this year (latest Field Poll has Obama up 16%) but that doesn't mean we don't have some tight electoral battles in CA in November, perhaps most notably Proposition 8, which seeks to prohibit same sex couples from marrying in California, as they have been doing happily since June 16. . . .

On the bright side, the momentum seems to be with No on 8. The new Field Poll shows 55% against and just 38% in favor (last month it was 51%-42%.) So, good right? Well, this momentum is fueling the other side to the point where, even with Brad Pitt's generous $100,000 donation yesterday, the Yes on 8 forces are outraising No on 8. . . .

And, as Julia Rosen points out at calitics, wealthy Mormons are largely fueling the Yes on 8 fundraising AND activism surge. . . .

If you can, help Californians protect equality by contributing to No on 8 over at the Calitics Equality ActBlue page.

'Ex-Mormon Gives $1 Million to No on 8'

Advocate post is here.

Ex-Mormon Bruce Bastian has donated $1 million to California's No on Prop. 8 campaign in reaction to the Latter-day Saints Church’s recent public stance favoring the ballot measure. Bastian gave $5,000 in May, but after the church’s formal statement expecting all California Mormons to “do all [they] can to support the proposed constitutional amendment,” which would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, Bastian upped his donation, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

"The LDS Church has no business stepping their big nose in something that's a legal matter, not a religious matter," Bastian told the Tribune. "Constitutions are meant to protect minorities -- not to take rights away from people."

Bastian, who attended Brigham Young University and went on to cocreate WordPerfect software, grew up in a conservative Mormon family in Twin Falls, Idaho. He has been at odds with the church's view on homosexuality since coming out as a gay man, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Utah Mormons have donated $120,550 to support Prop. 8, according to public finance records on ProtectMarriage.com. Donations in excess of $1,000 are recorded and catalogued by Mormons for Proposition 8. Thirty-five percent of donors to ProtectMarriage.com are LDS, contributing close to $5 million collectively.

“Many, if not most, Mormons have responded to the church leaders’ request for assistance on this matter by actively campaigning in support of Prop. 8,” the group says on its website.

'Voters "Comfortable" with the Black Guy, Not so Much the Old Guy'

Open Left post is here, via MyDD.

The latest Quinnipiac poll continues the good news for the Obama campaign and should raise worries for the McCain campaign. The headline is Obama 49, McCain 45 which is in keeping with the polling of the last few days showing solid movement to Obama. But the internals are really interesting.

Ninety percent of voters say they are very or somewhat comfortable with the idea of an African-American president. Specifically, 78% say they are "entirely comfortable" with the idea and another 12 "somewhat."

By contrast, just 37% are entirely comfortable with a 72-year-old president with a grossly unqualified running mate (okay I added that last part). Another 23% are somewhat comfortable with it. Also, 91 percent are entirely or somewhat comfortable with the idea of a woman VP. Sarah Palin can't take too much comfort in that, though, because she is the least popular of the 4 candidates according to this poll. Her numbers here aren't as bad as the Research 2000 for dKos poll (where Palin's negatives now exceed her positives by 4 points, sorry to keep beating that dead moose) but they are trending down.

Economic messages are the other headline here. That issue is by far the most often selected as the most important campaign issue and among those people Obama leads McCain 52 to 40 percent. It's also clear that most voters now understand which candidate will raise their taxes. Voters identify McCain as the one whose tax cuts will benefit the rich and Obama as the one whose tax cuts will benefit the middle class and the poor.

It's these economic realities that will start to drive the remaining recalcitrant Hillary Clinton voters to Obama (the poll says 1 in 4 Clinton voters is for McCain still; how many of them are really Republicans?).

Electrician is here

Working in the kitchen. Hallelujah!

I'm tired--was up earlier than usual--so I walked over to Starbucks for a cup of coffee. Brought back a sample of pumpkin spice latte for the electrician. He has a lot of work to do.

I was up pretty late last night, also, cleaning the bathroom and tidying up the kitchen a bit.

'Aggies home game gets evacuees punted from hotel'

For the sports fans out there. Story here.

Another hurricane is approaching Texas, forcing people to evacuate. But unlike last week when thousands fled the approaching ravages of Ike, this week some of those same evacuees are having to flee their College Station hotel rooms.

The Saturday football game between the Hurricanes of the University of Miami and Texas A&M University Aggies have hotel managers asking evacuees to vacate their rooms for the weekend.

Rabid Aggie fans book hotel rooms up to a year in advance for home football games, so evacuees who have been holed up since last week are being asked to leave.

L.C. Ruiz of Galveston said he went to extend his stay at Manor House Hotel Thursday and was told he had to leave today but was welcome to return on Monday.

"We were told we have to get out because they're having a football game," said Ruiz, who evacuated Sept. 10 with his ailing wife, his wife's nurse and her family.

Ruiz said he ended up putting his wife in a convalescent center when the nurse and her family found a hotel room in Huntsville.

Scott Joslove, president and chief executive officer of the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, said it would be a breach of contract if hotels canceled reservations. College Station hotels, he said, are trying to help the evacuees.

"Hotels that have booked reservations are calling their guests and asking them to cancel their reservations in deference to the evacuees," Joslove said. "We can't just cancel without the guests' permission."

'Obama starting key Florida swing with rally at UM'

"Barack Obama arrives in South Florida on Friday for the first time since he clinched the Democratic nomination in June." Full story here.

After one of Wall Street's worst weeks ever, Barack Obama brings his campaign and its hope-and-change theme to Florida, one of the states hit hardest by the economic crisis.

At best, he is tied -- but gaining ground -- in Florida polls with Republican John McCain. A national Gallup Poll, showing Thursday that Obama has opened up a four-percentage-point lead nationwide, suggests that his stock with voters is improving as the stock market tanks. . . .

How we pick our leaders?

Full story here.

Poll: Obama tops McCain as football-watching buddy

People would rather watch a football game with Barack Obama than with John McCain — but by barely the length of a football.

Obama was the pick over McCain by a narrow 50 percent to 47 percent, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll released Friday that generally mirrored each presidential candidate's strengths and weaknesses with voters. Women, minorities, younger and unmarried people were likelier to prefer catching a game with Obama while men, whites, older and married people would rather watch with McCain. . . .

Such views are significant because in many elections, candidates considered more likable have an advantage.

McCain backers were a bit more intrigued by watching with Obama than the Democrat's supporters were with making McCain their football buddy. While fewer than one in 10 Obama backers wanted to watch with McCain, nearly one in five McCain supporters wanted to kick back with Obama. . . .

There was also a danger sign for McCain: About three in 10 voters are still undecided or say they may switch candidates. That group leans narrowly toward Obama as their football companion. . . .

'What does Sarah Palin have to hide in her Yahoo e-mails?'

Full story here.

Some adolescent criminal (in mentality if not age) yesterday hacked into a Yahoo account used by Sarah Palin for both personal and business email, and various sites -- including Gawker -- posted some of the emails online. While the bottom layers of the right-wing noise machine (the kind that make you run for the shower after reading them) are moronically describing the hacker(s) as "liberals" and "left-wing," nobody actually has any idea of their identity, let alone their political leanings (if any). The available evidence strongly suggests the hacker is loosely part of an assorted band of Internet pranksters ranging from the juvenile to the psychopathic. Conventional political agendas ("Vote Obama!") don't exactly appear to be their interest. Either way, whoever did this committed a serious crime -- it's rather revolting to see screen shots of someone's inbox splattered across the Internet -- and the hacker should be apprehended and prosecuted.

Still, it's really a wondrous, and repugnant, sight to behold the Bush-following lynch mobs on the Right melodramatically defend the Virtues of Privacy and the Rule of Law. These, of course, are the same authoritarians who have cheered on every last expansion of the Lawless Surveillance State of the last eight years -- put their fists in the air with glee as the Federal Government seized the power to listen to innocent Americans' telephone calls; read our emails; obtain our banking, credit card, and library records; and create vast data bases of every call we make and receive and every prescription we fill and every instance of travel and other vast categories of information that remain largely unknown -- all without warrants or oversight of any kind and often in clear violation of the law. . . .

SiteMeter info

I see that someone from Anchorage is reading this. I hope it's not someone from Sarah Palin's "hater"-detection squad and that I won't be put on the "haters" list (and have my tax returns audited should she become vice president--not that I have anything to hide). She's a joke, and McCain has clearly shown himself to be reckless and incompetent by putting her on his ticket.

Thursday night

The electrical contractor is coming in in the morning to work in the kitchen. They called me at work this afternoon to confirm it. Taking a vacation day off.

I'm not taking a vacation this year and had planned on using vacation days to deal with the kitchen remodel. But that has dragged on so long (well over two months) that I was starting to crack up from lack of holidays (not to mention living in the mess without a kitchen). I think Bertrand Russell wrote an essay on that topic (not about kitchen remodeling--just lack of holidays). I think he attributed lack of holidays to the rise of fascism or something. (I can't remember.)

The moral of the story is: Take your holidays and you'll remain sane. Looking forward to my vacation day tomorrow, even though I have to wake up earlier than usual.

Tonight I cleaned the bathroom that the electrical workers will be using and also tidied up the kitchen a bit. I had bags of grocery store stuff all over the floors (since I don't have any cabinets to put stuff in). Plus stuff sitting on top of a card table (since I have no counters to put stuff on).

P.S. Blogger is working better. It's putting the correct date and times on the posts. But it's still not putting them on the list of posts. That's OK. I can edit them directly from the blog itself.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

'Sarah Palin's dead lake'

"By promoting runaway development in her hometown, say locals, Palin has 'fouled her own nest' -- and that goes for the lake where she lives." Full story here.

Sept. 19, 2008 WASILLA, Alaska -- Every morning she's at home here, Sarah Palin wakes up to a postcard view from her lakeside home. Out the windows of her two-story wood-framed house stretch the serene, birch-lined waters of Lake Lucille. Ducks go gliding by the red-and-white Piper Cub floatplane docked outside. With the snow-frosted Chugach and Talkeetna mountains looming in the distance, the scene seems to define the Alaska that Palin celebrates: rugged, majestic, unspoiled.

And, yet, the lake Sarah Palin lives on is dead.

"Lake Lucille is basically a dead lake -- it can't support a fish population," said Michelle Church, a Mat-Su Valley borough assembly member and environmentalist. "It's a runway for floatplanes."

Palin recently told the New Yorker magazine that Alaskans "have such a love, a respect for our environment, for our lands, for our wildlife, for our clean water and our clean air. We know what we've got up here and we want to protect that, so we're gonna make sure that our developments up here do not adversely affect that environment at all. I don't want development if there's going to be that threat to harming our environment."

But as mayor of her hometown, say many local critics, Palin showed no such stewardship. . . .

The two lakes are the town jewels, the only eye relief along a harrowing corridor of strip malls, big-box stores and fast-food drive-throughs that is Wasilla. "Lord, help me get through Wasilla," reads one Alaska bumper sticker. . . .

John Stein, Palin's predecessor as Wasilla mayor, tried gamely to get a handle on the commercial free-for-all. He made an effort to restore the health of Lake Lucille, which, he said, "was turning into a bog." . . .

But while Mayor Stein tried to impose some reason on Wasilla's helter-skelter development, and its growing pressures on Mat-Su Valley's environmental treasures, when Sarah Palin took his place, she quickly announced, "Wasilla is open for business." . . .

"Sarah was such a great cheerleader for Wasilla, but she did nothing to protect its beauty. She'd go to these Chamber of Commerce meetings and say, 'Wasilla is the most beautiful place in the world!' And we'd just sit there gagging."

A city official in nearby Palmer, who has lived in the Mat-Su Valley his whole life, sadly admitted: "Sarah sent the growth into overdrive. And now they're choking on traffic and sprawl, all built on their ignorance and greed.

"I try to avoid driving to Wasilla so I won't get depressed," added the official, who asked for his name to be withheld, to avoid Palin's "wrath."

"You get visually mugged when you drive through there. I take the long way, through the back roads, just to avoid it."

Wasilla City Council member Dianne Woodruff hears the same lament about her town all the time. "Everywhere in Alaska, you hear people say, 'We don't want to be another Wasilla.' We're not just the state's meth capital, we're the ugly box-store capital. Was Sarah a good steward of this beautiful valley? No. I think it comes from her lack of experience and awareness of other places, how other cities try to preserve what makes them attractive and livable. . . .

"Sarah hasn't traveled outside of Alaska much," said Kilkenny. "She hasn't seen dead lakes and rivers."

Now Palin can see one right out her window.

'FBI on the trail of Palin hackers'

"Information from private account posted online, including messages, digital photos and address book." Full Guardian story here.

FBI officials and secret service investigators were trying yesterday to track down hackers who broke into an email account belonging to US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. . . .

"Governor Palin has come under criticism for using private email accounts to conduct government business and in the process avoid transparency laws," the website said. "The list of correspondence, together with the account name, appears to reinforce the criticism." . . .

The use of non-government email services to conduct official business has been criticised in the past. Official government communications are required to be preserved under federal law. Without using official communications channels, it remains unclear whether emails from private accounts are being correctly kept.

Last year the issue came to the fore after it emerged that the Bush administration had been using private accounts to conduct White House business.

A number of senior Bush advisers, including former political strategist Karl Rove, were discovered to have been using private accounts. Documents lost as a result included email conversations about the controversial dismissal of a number of United States attorneys. . . .

U.S. becoming a 'banana republic'?

Brian Williams: "Wow." Great job, Bushie. (And McCain stands for more of the same.)

'Shirtless man ordered to pay a $25 fine'

I didn't even know they had laws prohibiting men from going topless. (That would never fly in Florida.) Story here.

Sep 18th, 2008 EASTON, Md. -- An man who was cited in June for not wearing a shirt has been ordered to pay a $25 fine and court fees. A related charge of failing to obey a lawful order has been dropped.

Sean Cephus, 18, was arrested June 4 when an officer spotted him going topless on South Street. A 1974 ordinance requires both women and men to wear a top while on public property. The arrest drew the attention of a San Diego-based national campaign called GoTopless.org. Member Nadine Gary called the Easton law "backwards."

Police acknowledge the ordinance is very rarely enforced but say it is sometimes used as a means of stopping repeat offenders.

Cephus pleaded guilty to an unrelated assault charge last month and is serving an 18-month sentence.

Blogger still broken

Tonight I've been manually inserting the date and time on each post. Also, the Autosave does not work while composing posts, nor are the posts I've created tonight listed on my list of posts, etc. Not a big deal, though, so long as the posts are posting.

'Chuck Hagel: Reality-Based Republican'

Post is here.

I always knew [Nebraska Sen.] Chuck Hagel was a sexist. Questioning Sarah Palin's qualifications, how dare he!

"She doesn't have any foreign policy credentials," Hagel said in an interview. "You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything." [...]

"I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, 'I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,'" he said. "That kind of thing is insulting to the American people."

He went on to veer completely off-message (although Hagel, to his credit, was never one just to spout whatever message was being advanced from on high.) But still, check it out:

"But I do think in a world that is so complicated, so interconnected and so combustible, you really got to have some people in charge that have some sense of the bigger scope of the world," Hagel said. "I think that's just a requirement."

So is Palin qualified to be president?

"I think it's a stretch to, in any way, to say that she's got the experience to be president of the United States," Hagel said.

If Hagel was thinking about endorsing Barack Obama for president before McCain picked Palin, it would seem from these remarks that he may be even more likely to do so now. That would just be a huge get for Barack. I'm sure there's immense pressure on his from both sides. Come on, Chuck. You know you want to.