Friday, January 30, 2004

Honda Ad

Isn't nice when things just work?

Honda released The Cog a two-minute short film as UK television advertisement for the new Accord. No computer graphics or digital tricks were used, everything was done in real time. The film allegedly took over 600 takes!

After three months, two disassembled handmade vehicles, and six million dollars a brilliant piece of advertising emerged.

Honda executives realized what a gem they had on their hands, and they figure the free distribution of the film will provide more than enough publicity to cover the cost of production and distribution.

You can download The Cog for free at Honda UK Multimedia.

Enjoy it!

Thursday, January 29, 2004

A Painting

Addict Self-Portrait by Roger Swan

This is one of my favorite paintings. Click the image to see a larger version.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

There Goes The Neighborhood!

Another American spacecraft has landed on Mars and is sending back pictures! I wonder if the Martians are fleeing the vicinity because they don't want to live around Earthlings?

Now the worker's have struck for fame . . .

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Urban Myth: Social Security For All Chain eMail

I received an email from a friend in Boston that had been sent to him from someone that had received it from someone else who had received it from another and so on. The header of the email was over a page long, and I would usually just delete it because it couldn't be very important.

The title intrigued me, though: "Subject: FW: Let's Act on This One............"

It didn't seem like a God-Loves-Little-Kittens-And-The-World-Is-A-Beautiful-Place-Because-Boys-Are-Dying-In Iraq-For-Your-Freedom-And-I-Just-Sent-This-To-Fifteen-Of-My-Closest-Friends chain letter, so I read on.

To my surprise, it was a plea to contact your US Senator and US Rep and ask them to repeal the special congressional retirement fund. According to the email, Senators and Representatives received their salary for life upon retirement.

This is appalling, of course, and I set out to find the truth.

This is the email:

This is worth the read. It's short and to the point.)

Since many of us have paid into FICA for years and are now receiving a Social Security check every month -- and then finding that we are getting taxed on 85% of the money we paid to the federal government to "put away,"

You may be interested in the following:

So pass this on please! 2004 Election Issue and this is a must! Please! Keep it going.

Perhaps we are asking the wrong questions during election years. Our Senators and Congress men & women do not pay into Social Security and, of course, they do not collect from it. You see, Social Security benefits were not suitable for persons of their rare elevation in society. They felt they should have a special plan for themselves. So, many years ago they voted in their own benefit plan.

In more recent years, no congressperson has felt the need to change it. After all, it is a great plan. For all practical purposes their plan works like this: When they retire, they continue to draw the same pay until they die, except it may increase from time to time for cost of living adjustments.

For example, former Senator Byrd and Congressman White and their wives may expect to draw $7,800,000.00 (that's Seven Million, Eight-Hundred Thousand Dollars), with their wives drawing $275,000.00 during the last years of their lives. This is calculated on an average life span for each. Their cost for this excellent plan is $00.00. Nada. Zilch. This little perk they voted for themselves is free to them. You and I pick up the tab for this plan. The funds for this fine retirement plan come directly from the General Funds-our tax dollars at work!

From our own Social Security Plan, which you and I pay (or have paid) into-every payday until we retire (which amount is matched by our employer) --we can expect to get an average $1,000 per month after retirement. Or, in other words, we would have to collect our average of $1,000.. monthly benefits for 68 years and one (1) month to equal Senator Bill Bradley's benefits!

Social Security could be very good if only one small change were made. That change would be to jerk the Golden Fleece Retirement Plan from the Senators and Congressmen. Put them into the Social Security plan with the rest of us ... then sit back and watch how fast they would fix it.

If enough people receive this, maybe a seed of awareness will be planted and maybe good changes will evolve.

How many people can YOU send this to? PLEASE!!

I started Googling and I found these articles:

Break The Chain
Media Desk
Your Congress

There were many more reporting the same thing: this a hoax. Though our elected officials in Washington do have an excellent retirement plan, it is not as offensive as this chain letter would have me believe.

It does spark me to learn how much congress costs us after they retire; but that will be for another day.


Monday, January 26, 2004

Middle-Class Welfare

Ok, I've had it!

I endured another conversation with a middle-class suburbanite convinced that 20th Century social services destroyed the American dream and forced our national budget into deficit.

Any thinking person with nominal analytical abilities knows that New Deal and Great Society funding made us the most powerful nation on the planet because it spent money on both military/industrial funding AND social service funding.

How, then, can it be a good idea to de-fund one while over-funding the other?

Why has the American middle-class turned on the poor? How can it be possible that anyone believes our government has given too much money to the poor? Clearly the government gives more money to the rich, because if they were giving it to the poor, well . . . they wouldn't be the poor anymore would they!?!?!?

How can any home-owner complain about government subsidies? Home-owners are the recipients of one of the grandest social welfare schemes to hit our national conscience.

You scoff! "There is no welfare for the middle-class," you say.

Well, then, let's talk about the home mortgage interest tax-deduction.

Every penny a home-owner pays towards interest on the mortgage of their primary residence is tax-deductible, reducing their tax liability rather dramatically. Poor people, especially the working poor, do not have a mortgage, but they must pay income tax. The federal government offers no renters' deductions. So, the working poor are subsidizing the middle-class in their suburban homes.

Is this fair?

While the working poor is subsidizing middle-class home-ownership, suburbanites are voting for republicans who reduce the tax-burden of the wealthy, and eliminate social programs for the poor.

Is this fair?

As the middle-class undermines itself by electing republicans to a majority, those elected officials give our treasury to the wealthy. If we dare to question this, we are called whiners, or liberals, or unpatriotic.

Is this plan of subsidizing the middle-class to fund the wealthy while defunding social services for the poor a good representation of patriotism?

Is this what we've become? Are we now just nation of self-serving suburbanites with no allegiance to anyone but ourselves and no concern for others less fortunate?

If the middle-class wants welfare for themselves and the rich, then the poor should get it, too!

If you are middle-class and you vote republican, all the power to you; but, stop pretending it is the fault of the poor that our country is struggling. It is not the fault of the poor, it is the fault of the rich and their apologists in the republican party.

Get a clue!

Friday, January 23, 2004

Faith-Based Initiatives

Since the insertion of fundamentalism in the United States government during the Reagan Administration, the further intrusion of it under Bush I, and the complete surrender to fundamentalism of our country by Bush II, the notion of federal funding of faith-based initiatives has increased.

The notion of a faith-based initiative is not in and of itself offensive. Under examination, however, it is a dangerous and illegal trend that I hope some Democrat has the spine to stop.

What is faith?

This definition is from Your Dictionary:

faith (fAth) noun
: confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing
: belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief, trust
: loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
: Faith: the theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God's will
: the body of dogma of a religion
: a set of principles or beliefs

Faith is a good thing. Faith works in many ways for me. I have faith that all will be well with the world. I have faith that God will never abandon me. I have faith in humanity. The faith I have developed over the years is rooted in my upbringing in a home with judeo-christian morals and my further pursuit of spiritual writings by Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and some less-definable aboriginals.

I was radicalized by my Catholic upbringing. Accepting that a child of God was put forth on this planet to raise our consciousness and save us from ourselves then be put to death for his work is, for me, a truly radical idea. It is an amazing lesson of selflessness non-pareil. That children of God continue to put themselves in harm's way to help others is, to me, the greatest gift of humanity. I have always felt challenged to make the world a better place and to right the wrongs I see and pay close attention to my moral compass. To me, that is what it means to be a Christian, this is the foundation of my faith.

Faith has seen me through poverty, victimization, crime, addiction, ill-health, loss, in the same way it has helped others.

It is my Christianity that makes me believe that my government should provide a very strong safety net for people. As a Christian, I know it is my responsibility to pay taxes and be an active participant in my culture and government. This is the right thing to do.

Since the rise of fundamentalism in the United States at the end of the last century, we have been told repeatedly that it is not the government's job to help the poor. We have been convinced that providing social services which proved to be a great mandate of the Roosevelt Administration in the mid-20th Century are wrong and bad and do not help people and only cost you a lot of money. We are told that the government should give our tax money to corporations who will create jobs that will take the poor out of their poverty and provide them with enough money for housing, health-care, and education.

At the same time, the fundamentalists in the White House and Congress who pass themselves off as Christians, make new laws that allow these same corporations who have been given our tax money to create jobs that pay minimum wage and provide no health care benefits or security, they eliminate education funding and social services, work to eradicate labor unions, then say that the poverty of the working poor is because of a pattern of dependence created by our social services infrastructure.

Am I the only person who sees the insanity in this? The right-wing has taken over our government and has abdicated its responsibility to the taxpayers by eliminating social services, then blames the poor for being poor.

What little funding remains for social services is now being distributed outside the government to churches (which are corporations) to provide the social services that we had already successfully provided for decades. These are called faith-based initiatives. It probably doesn't require any analysis to know that the religious organizations receiving these funds are primarily christian organizations. So, taxes paid by Jews, Muslims, atheists and agnostics, and other non-Christians are being distributed to christian fundamentalists to allegedly provide social services to America's needy.

Why, in violation of our constitutional mandate to separate church and state, are we giving our tax dollars to religious organizations to do the work any great society can validly expect from its government?

I know there are churches and temples and mosques throughout America that have been providing charity for centuries, and they have improved some of their programs with certain federal funding over the years. I recall an organization in Boston called ESAC (Ecumenical Social Action Council, or the such) that provided remarkable social services for the city's poor. They were funded almost exclusively by church councils, but received some federal money for research and staffing. They were germinating new ideas and solutions for urban poverty and they were making a difference.

I know some religious organizations have been funded with tax dollars to build use-specific housing developments: housing for elderly, housing for handicapped, housing for people with AIDS. There is something so perfectly correct about this that I would never argue against it.

Sadly, the fundamentalists who have taken control of the United States government are not really interested in funding poverty-programs like ESAC or need-specific housing. Things have been brought to a whole new level of avarice that would make a pirate blush. They are funding low-end housing by giving the money to church-based developers who are building not need-specific developments, but basic public housing. Public housing is a good thing. Every society needs it. Our government was doing fine developing public housing, right through the 1970s. Wealthy fundamentalists, however, weren't getting big profits, because the government was controlling the development and maintenance of the projects. In case you don't know: prior to defunding the existing public housing programs, our federally-funded housing developments were working fine. You take away the maintenance staff and security personnel and any development will fail!

So, what has the right-wing done? They defund social services and tell us that public housing can't work. They defund programs that are working just fine, watch them fail, then tell us the only solution is to give the money to private corporations, preferably church-based, to do the work that was already being done.

This is wrong and you should pay very close attention to the rise of faith-based initiative funding by the federal government.

We were once a great nation, now we are a powerful nation. The difference is that a great nation takes care of its disenfranchised. We have ceased taking care of our own.

We can reverse this trend.

We can provide social services.

We can be a great nation again.

What are you going to do about it?


Thursday, January 22, 2004

What is un-American?

Sent to me by a friend:

A car company can move its factories to Mexico and claim it's a free market.

A toy company can outsource to a Chinese subcontractor and claim it's a free market.

A major bank can incorporate in Bermuda to avoid taxes and claim it's a free market.

We can buy HP Printers made in Mexico.

We can buy shirts made in Bangladesh.

We can purchase almost anything we want from many different countries; but, heaven help the elderly who dare to buy their prescription drugs from a Canadian pharmacy! That's called illegal and un-American!


Wednesday, January 21, 2004

A Little Humor

I could not bear to watch the state of the union address, so I have decided to brighten your day with a little humor:

Thanks to Dave for sending this along!


Tuesday, January 20, 2004


Are caucuses supposed to be this Caucasian? Bad pun, sorry.

The results are in:

John Kerry 38%

John Edwards 32%

Howard Dean 18%

It could be worse, you know. If one of the two right-wing Democrats had run in Iowa and had won, it would be very bad indeed. New Hampshire will really show if Democrats are really interested in moving away from the extreme right. If one of these three wins New Hampshire, things are looking good.

John "Comeback" Kerry is OK. He is the liberal husband of a multi-millionaire (or is his wife a billionaire, I can never keep them straight). He is a veteran. He is tall, charismatic, and somewhat attractive. He has a sensibility that is not mired in privilege.

John Edwards is an exciting choice and would make an excellent nominee. I am not certain that Edwards would move us off the road to righteous ruin we are on. Southerners seem to embrace the fire and brimstone of fundamentalism which includes subtly racist, misogynist and homophobic rhetoric. I am suspicious of all politicians from the south, at this point.

I still prefer Howard Dean at this early stage of the 2004 presidential campaign. He is an intellectual with a sensible spiritual outlook on life. I can see him really moving America back in the direction of civil liberty and social justice.

If these are the three we are to select from, we could do worse! At least they each have a blog at their site!

I like Dick Gephardt, but it is good to see him leave the political arena gracefully. Americans would never elect a guy whose eyebrows are invisible! He's a guy with class and there aren't enough people like him in electoral politics.

I certainly hope that Lieberman's absence from Iowa will spell the end of his dreadful candidacy. He really should join the republican party and do his war-mongering for the fundamentalists in the White House (they always welcome a non-christian right-winger into the fold, if only for a laugh)! Lieberman must be a hoot in a jester's cap doing a little dance for the military industrialists and the oil guys! I'll bet they love him! Yes, Mr. Lieberman, sir, please step to the right, you'll be more comfortable over there. Let's hope he follows Gephardt out of the race.

I would never support Wesley Clark in the primary, because he is a general and I think it very rare that a military tactician makes a good president.

I love Al Sharpton. Al Sharpton says the things that nobody else wants to discuss and acts as the conscience of a bloated people. He points out that racism is a real issue and social inequity needs to be addressed. Since America would never elect a black man as president, I remain grateful that he is in the race making noise.

I have voted for John Kerry in the past. I used to live in Massachusetts and I voted to send him to the Senate three times. He's OK. He's a liberal with deep pockets, and those are the best kinds of liberals.

I wonder if he can resist the fundamentalist corporate movement against worker's rights, though. Can he resist lowering the wages of the working poor who are stuffing ketchup into bottles for the Heinz family? Will he, even though a liberal, erode the rights of workers for his own personal profit as the current president is doing? Will he work to reverse the anti-worker legislation pushed forth by Bush? And, even though Kerry has stepped back towards the left regarding the "war," do you think he might join Lieberman standing in the shadows and blinded by the right? Can he get us out of Iraq without completely surrendering it to the fundamentalists?

Irrespective of which democrat runs against Bush, any of these three would be a dramatic improvement. It would be good to have a northerner, especially someone from Massachusetts, in the White House again.

Is Kerry left enough to be considered middle-of-the-road; or, is he still to far to the right to be effective?

Do you have a preference for one of the top three Iowa Caucus winners?


Monday, January 19, 2004


Today is the national holiday to celebrate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrate Freedom!

Dr. King was the driving force behind America's civil rights movement, which became the model for future important movements for the rights of women and homosexuals, reproductive rights, and whose actions are the antecedents to our current voting rights struggles.

Dr. King was a brilliant, noble, hard-working man, whose legacy is everything that makes America great.

Sadly, the people running the government today are opposed to pretty-much everything Dr. King fought for in his short life. Civil rights, voting rights, and reproductive rights are under direct attack by fundamentalists! The social and cultural progress our country enjoyed in the 20th Century is being reversed, and nobody is doing anything about it.

I am one of those odd people who is both Catholic and Pro-Choice. The lessons of "live and let live," "love thy neighbor," and "be of service to humanity" are important to me. I believe that when a woman chooses abortion, she requires the utmost understanding, compassion, respect and love. The notion that anyone would oppose a medical procedure for a person in crisis is anathema to being a Christian.

I am a man, so it may not be terribly noble to have this opinion about abortion; but, I think we make a big mistake by pretending we should tell others that they may not have an abortion.

I consider myself a moral person, and morality is important to me. I impose my morality only on me, it is my guide for living. You have your morality and you live by it, everyone has their own morality and they live by that. We cannot impose our morality on each other. We can choose to spend time with those who share our moral beliefs, but we cannot force others to embrace our morals.

I have been active in the movement to support a woman's right to choose abortion and control her own body since I was seventeen years old. In those many years I have marched in demonstrations, provided security at an abortion clinic, joined pro-choice organizations and given them money, and written letters to elected officials about this very important issue.

Friday night I received an email from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) alerting me to a sneak-attack by the Bush Administration. Just as the congressional recess got underway, the president appointed Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In previous Senate Confirmation Hearings, our elected officials have rejected Pickering, so the president has bypassed the senate confirmation process by using the Executive privilege of recess appointment power, and has guaranteed Pickering this seat until at least January, 2005.

This is a horrible appointment. Though Pickering is most famous for his vitriolic, mysogynistic, anti-choice, anti-voting rights campaigns he is dangerous for all Americans who are not wealthy white born-again christian fundamentalists. He will set the movements for racial equality, health care, gay rights, child protection, education, voting rights, social security, labor rights, and myriad others back decades.

Charles Pickering is not interested in jurisprudence! He uses his seat on the court to push forward a right-wing agenda that helps nobody but the very rich. If you work for a living, Pickering is bad for you. If you are a Catholic, Jew, or Muslim, Pickering is bad for you. If you have children in school, Pickering is bad for you. If you need a fire department, police department, public library, or any other government service, Pickering is bad for you. This man is a danger to our very way of life, and he hides himself behind a fundamentalist mantle that spews forth the lie that civil liberty and equality is bad for you.

Here is the text of the message I received from NARAL:

Just days before Americans celebrate Martin Luther King Day and mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, George Bush has given us a timely reminder of the need to stand up for the freedoms we cherish. With a ruthless disregard for our hard-fought rights, the President is stepping up his campaign to place a far-right stranglehold on the federal courts.

Charles Pickering is a lifelong anti-choice extremist. He spearheaded the Republican Party platform plank calling for a constitutional amendment outlawing a woman's right to choose and has fought to criminalize abortion in all instances except to save the life - but not the health - of the woman.

Forcing Pickering's controversial appointment after Senators rejected him in two separate Congresses is a slap in the face of everyone who believes that government should stay out of our personal decisions. Doing it when you think people won't be paying attention is the worst kind of political gamesmanship.

George Bush may think he can get away with yet another holiday weekend sneak attack on a woman's right to choose. Please contact your Senator today to express your outrage and dismay.

I have written to Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer:

I am writing to express my opposition to President Bush's recess appointment of Charles Pickering to the Fifth Circuit. It is appalling that President Bush thinks he does not have to follow the rules for filling the federal bench.

I urge you to stand up! Take an important stand to fight for the liberties that made America great! Stop letting this horrible president make a mockery of everything we have fought for to make this nation the best it can be.

You have been middle-of-the-road on everything. You seem afraid to take an important stand on difficult issues.

Take this opportunity to make things right.

If Pickering goes through, I will hold YOU responsible and I will point out to everyone I know that you are unable to defend New Yorkers against the intrusion of fundamentalism into our lives.

Later in the evening, I received this email from People For The American Way:

Today, President George W. Bush bypassed the Senate confirmation process and placed far-right judicial nominee Judge Charles Pickering, Sr. on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. By doing so, the president demonstrated arrogant disregard for the constitutional checks and balances that ensure independent and fair courts and dishonored the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Click here to read the statement of PFAW President Ralph G. Neas.)

As many Americans now know, thanks to your efforts, Pickering's long public record as an elected official and federal judge is directly opposed to Dr. King's vision of equality and justice under the law, particularly on issues of racial discrimination and civil rights.

That President Bush nominated Pickering demonstrates his desire to use our federal courts to turn back the clock on the social justice progress Dr. King and millions of Americans helped win. In selecting this moment to install Pickering on the bench, Bush has once again chosen partisan confrontation over bipartisan cooperation.

Even as we heed Dr. King's call to "never succumb to the temptation of bitterness," we must not let the president's deeds go unchallenged or our convictions go unsaid. Please call President Bush and tell him that his action today only strengthens your resolve to oppose his court-packing plan.

White House Comments Line: (202) 456-1111
White House Switchboard: (202) 456-1414
TTY/TDD Comments Line: (202) 456-6213

I've decided to stop being nice to my senators and president. They have been letting the fundamentalists run rough-shod over America's civil liberties, and are happily doing their beckoning.

Please write or call your representatives in Congress: (202) 224-3121. Then call the White House comments line (202-456-1111) and let the president know you are against this action. Even if he is going to get away with this, it is important that we speak out. We must speak out. You may think you are only one voice, but your voice is what makes America great.


I Googled Pickering Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and this is a sample of what I got on the first page:

Save Our Courts

National Association of Social Workers

American Association of University Woman

National Black Law Students Association

Friday, January 16, 2004

MoveOn's Bush In 30 Seconds Campaign -- Follow-Up

The mouthpiece for American fundamentalism and poster child for corporate avarice (also known as the Republican National Committee) embarked on a smear campaign against MoveOn.

On 06 JAN 04, I received this email. It may be ten days old, but it is still pertinent.

Dear MoveOn member,

As the New Year begins, we'd rather be talking about positive things, and there are plenty of good things happening. But has come under attack from the Republican National Committee (RNC), which has launched a campaign of malicious misinformation to divert attention from the creativity and power of the Bush in 30 Seconds contest. We need your help to make sure the media don't fall for it.

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie launched the attack on "Fox News Sunday," and the RNC followed it with press releases and calls to reporters. The charges centered on two ads posted on the Bush in 30 Seconds website which compared President Bush's tactics with those of Adolf Hitler. Mr. Gillespie repeatedly referred to the ads as 'the MoveOn ad' or 'MoveOn's ad,' implying that we had sponsored or perhaps even commissioned the ad. And he also claimed that we might spend $7 million to run it on TV.

This is a lie. hasn't sponsored such an ad, and we never would -- we regret the appearance of these ads on the Bush In 30 Seconds site. The two ads in question are from more than a thousand posted by members of the public, and they were voted on by MoveOn members through December 31st. Obviously the few hundred of you who viewed these ads agreed that they were not worthy of further broadcast or recognition, because they got low ratings. Yesterday we announced the 15 finalists -- all good, hard-hitting and fair appraisals of the Bush record, in the judgment of the members and others who rated them. The two offending ads can only be found one place now -- on the RNC website!

When we've explained this to journalists, most have understood that this is a game of gotcha politics, not news. But even our statement for the press below, which goes through the entire process in detail, hasn't stopped the right wing from working this angle as hard as they can.

That's why we're asking you to please watch for stories on this as they appear, and let us know. Call the news outlet yourself and give them hell for falling victim to such political baloney. I've attached our statement, which fully explains the situation, below. Then please let us know so we can contact the outlets directly.

You can help us track inaccurate reporting on this story at:

Second, we need you to get the press back on the right track. After you've corrected the negative accounts, write an upbeat letter to your local paper about the exciting and positive aspects of the contest and the finalists. These ads reflect the courage, hope, and deep patriotism of our membership. They're creative, passionate, and totally unlike most of the political ads that are out there. And perhaps most importantly, they were picked in a democratic way. Now that's a story.

The finalists are online at:

By sharing that URL with your friends, family, and colleagues, you can help to make sure that the RNC isn't successful in stealing our finalists' glory.

Not only is the RNC campaign deceptive, it's also totally disingenuous. Yesterday, the New York Post ran a long opinion column focusing exclusively on how much Presidential Candidate Howard Dean resembles Hitler, even calling him "Herr Howie." Of course, the RNC hasn't issued a condemnation of that. When close RNC ally Grover Norquist repeatedly compared taxing the wealthy with the Holocaust in an interview on NPR, the RNC was muted. And in 2002, the RNC and its allies were silent when supporters of President Bush actually aired TV ads morphing the face of Senator Max Cleland, a triple amputee as a result of wounds sustained in Vietnam, into Osama bin Laden. Given such a transparently partisan track record, the RNC's moral outrage doesn't mean a whole lot.

Obviously, and its 1.7 million members are now on the right-wing radar. They are going to do everything they can do to silence us, and we simply won't let it happen. Smear tactics and campaigns of misinformation have no place in American democracy.

--Adam, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Noah, Peter, Wes, and Zack
The Team
January 6th, 2003

P.S. Here's the statement we released to the press yesterday, which explains the whole situation.

Screening Process Allowed Ads to Slip Through
Statement by Wes Boyd, Founder of Voter Fund:

The Republican National Committee and its chairman have falsely accused of sponsoring ads on its website which compare President Bush to Adolf Hitler. The claim is deliberately and maliciously misleading.

During December the Voter Fund invited members of the public to submit ads that purported to tell the truth about the President and his policies. More than 1,500 submissions from ordinary Americans came in and were posted on a web site,, for the public to review.

None of these was our ad, nor did their appearance constitute endorsement or sponsorship by Voter Fund. They will not appear on TV. We do not support the sentiment expressed in the two Hitler submissions. They were voted down by our members and the public, who reviewed the ads and submitted nearly 3 million critiques in the process of choosing the 15 finalist entries.

We agree that the two ads in question were in poor taste and deeply regret that they slipped through our screening process. In the future, if we publish or broadcast raw material, we will create a more effective filtering system.

Contrast this with the behavior of the RNC and its allies when supporters of President Bush used TV ads morphing the face of Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA) into that of Osama Bin Laden during the 2002 Senate race. and the Voter Fund exist to bring the public into the political process and produce a more fact-based election process. We regret that the RNC doesn't seem to embrace the same goals.

It's important to work against the RNC and their campaign of fundamentalism and avarice. I hope you will join MoveOn and become active in the coming presidential campaign. We can remove the evil-doers from the White House and restore sanity to our nation.


Thursday, January 15, 2004

David Seaman

When Mrs. Mac was transferred to London in 2000 a new chapter in sports fanaticism began for me. It was difficult to be an American sports fan in London. Baseball and the NFL are simply ignored. I had nobody with whom to discuss the World Series and the Super Bowl.

In October, 2000, another American expatriate invited us to a soccer match at Highbury, in North London. We watched Arsenal v. Manchester City and my entire opinion of soccer was changed. I was hooked, I was a fan.

I had notions of fans stabbing their neighbors in the stands, of missiles being launched at the opponents, and police rounding-up hooligans. None of this transpired, of course.

Watching the amazing play of Patrick Vieira, Ashley Cole, Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Che Grimandi, Sylvain Wiltord, and Thierry Henry helped me understand why it is called the beautiful game. Final score was Arsenal 5 - 0 Man City. The play, however, wasn't as close as the score makes it sound. Arsenal whipped their Eastlands opponents, and I was now a supporter of the Arsenal Gunners, I was now a "gooner"!

I began to read about my new team in the press and watch their matches on television. I discussed the game at the office and with anyone who was patient enough to entertain the ignorance of a new American footy fanatic.

I learned about the different leagues and how teams are promoted and relegated, which is the most fascinating thing in organized sports. Get this:

A team is in a league. In England there are basically four leagues: Premier League, First Division, Second Division, and Third Division. Then there is the Conference, which is the lowest division.

There are currently twenty teams in the Premier League, and 24 in each of the lower divisions. At the end of this season the bottom three Premiership teams will be relegated to the First Division, where television revenue is much lower, and three First Division teams will be promoted. Similarly, the bottom three teams in the First Division will be relegated to the Second Division while three Second Division teams are promoted, and so on. I don't know if teams move from the Conference to the Third Division in the same manner.

Also, the top teams in the Premier League are invited to play in the European Champions League and UEFA Cup. These competitions bring big money to the team. BIG MONEY!

So, this promotion/relegation paradigm adds an amazing dynamic. Not only could your team be out of the running for the domestic championship and European invitations, you could actually be relegated to a lower division (and there is little more humbling AND humiliating than that).

While following Arsenal, their star goalkeeper returned from injury. David Seaman was getting a bit long in the tooth, and his nagging injuries were now real injuries; but, he was a superb keeper, a star of the England national team, and an all-around good guy. When I attended the match against Man City, he was out nursing a shoulder injury (again); but he came back.

David Seaman

Seaman was a joy to watch in goal. He is an amazing athlete who smiles a lot and seems to be sincerely enjoying his job. I became a big fan and supporter of the old man.

When Mrs. Mac and I returned to the United States, I became a season ticket holder for the MLS MetroStars and learned which pubs showed matches from England, and I cheered for Arsenal and Seaman at every opportunity.

Unfortunately, at the end of the 2002-2003 Seaman learned he would not be the starting keeper for Arsenal in 2003-2004 and he decided to look elsewhere for employment. Coincidentally (for my story only), he signed with Manchester City, who are now back in the Premier League.

The television camera loves Seaman, and he is becoming a bit of a telly star in England. He is captain on They Think It's All Over, a televised sports quiz show.

He's a top bloke!

This past Tuesday evening, David Seaman retired from professional football. His shoulder just won't cooperate. He is rumored to have said: "The mind still wants to play, but the flesh will not do it."

He will be replaced by David James, who also replaced him as keeper for the England team. I quite like James, who is currently wasting away in the First Division with West Ham who were relegated last year. And City needs an attractive player like James, because they are one ugly lot!

It is the first passing of an era for me as a footy fanatic. It's a little sad, because I will not see him on gameshows and talkshows and judging talent contests and posing with topless girls and being declared 'the greatest keeper in this history of the modern English game' or some such silliness. It is unlikely that I will ever see his image on the television again.

Good luck, David Seaman!

Some related Links:

Here is an article about Seaman's retirement.

An article about David James.

ESPN/Soccernet David Seaman Page

Manchester City Football Club

Arsenal Football Club

They Think It's All Over


Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Bush In 30 Seconds

I never imagined that there could be a worse time for America than the twelve years of Reagan and Bush I. Who could have imagined that after 8 years of prosperity brought to us by Bill Clinton, Bush II could make such a hellish mess of things so quickly? Never, in the history of the United States has there been a more important time to band together to remove a president. is a wonderful grass-roots organization that works diligently to help us sort the fundamentalist crap from the real matters at hand. In their ongoing crusade to save what is left of America, they sponsored a contest to find the best 30 second advertisement against Bush II. Bush In 30 Seconds is a wonderful site.

Of course, the dullards running the republican party, who are nothing more than the apologists and henchmen of the worst christian fundamentalist movement since the Spanish Inquisition, are using their position as poster children for corporate avarice by trying to smear the contest and campaign. Like everything else they do, they are failing.

The fourteen finalists in the contest are brilliant videos from the minds of thinking people. You can see them on the Finalists' Page.

The overall winner "Child's Play," by Charlie Fisher of Denver, Colorado, is a poignant film of children doing dangerous adult jobs with the caption, "Guess who's going to pay off President Bush's $1 trillion deficit?"

My favorite is "Desktop," by David Haynes of Dallas, Texas. The animation is of a computer desktop wallpapered with the presidential seal. A cursor drags important folders like Environment, Social Security, Civil Liberties, Budget Surplus, Veterans Benefits, and Separation of Church & State to the Trash. The cursor then empties the trash and a prompt asks if we want to permanently delete the items, to which the cursor responds "OK" and the closing caption asks "what's next?"! Brilliant!

There are many others to view, and I encourage you to visit the site, then visit MoveOn and join.

The 2004 presidential election might be the most important election in the history of Western Civilization, modern capitalism, and American freedom. Get involved. Get active. Stand up and speak out. Do not let fundamentalists continue to run your nation into the ground.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Thou Shalt Not Kill

As an American and a Christian, I am loathe to support war and I am against it. I do not support the death penalty, so I commit no capital crimes. I do not believe in abortion, so I will neither have one nor counsel another to have one. This does not mean that war will be avoided, it does not mean that capital criminals will not be put to death, nor does it mean that abortion should be banned. These are the conflicts and struggles that make us stronger, smarter, and hopefully more spiritual and generous people. I know they do me.

It has been many decades since a noble war was fought. There really have been wars that needed to be fought.

I understand why we attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan, and if the christian fundamentalists and their puppets in the republican party were capable of following-up that military action with the appropriate rebuilding to make right what was so wrong, I might actually accept that we attacked Afghanistan. Since we have no intention of doing anything more than letting the Taliban back in power, because fundamentalists adore fundamentalists, then those attacks are just another public relations move to justify a bloated military budget that benefits not the American citizenry but a small number of very wealthy industrialists.

I understand why we attacked Iraq: to regain control of its oil. There is little more reprehensible than killing for natural resources, especially when they are available on the open market.

I know that many want to believe the lies that cloak this war in patriotism, and I know many people can't help it. We've watched too many episodes of Friends, think Court TV is a valid representation of the Judicial branch of our once-noble Republic, and subscribe to the notion that news equals information.

We are all angry about crime, especially international crime, especially the crimes perpetrated against the owners and inhabitants of the World Trade Center, and I know the christian fundamentalists have packaged the war against Iraq as a salve for that anger.

Sadly, the war against Iraq is about neither patriotism nor safety nor retribution. It is about a small number of very wealthy Americans, and their British and Arabian cohorts, making vulgar amounts of money from the equity of our tax dollars and the blood of our youth. They are playing our fear for their profit.

Jews, Christians, and Muslims all build their beliefs on the same theology put forth originally in the Hebrew bible. There are some differences, but in the big picture they are nominal differences. Apologists for each group will go to great and tearful lengths to insist otherwise, but I know I am correct. A mere glance at the timeline of humanity and the development of western civilization will show this, and it doesn't take a doctorate in history to see my point.

Irrespective of how the fundamentalists in each of these religions interpret and justify killing for profit, it is basically still a sin to kill another person. Each of these religions have had (or are having) their crusades and sprees of killing that they justify with tracts from religious writings that allegedly prove it is OK for each of them to kill or enslave their neighbors. This is not new. It is sad, but it is not new.

The conflict I have as a human being, an American, a Christian, and an intellectual is how we can continue to kill while draping ourselves in the mantle of religion. Just in case you have forgotten: it is a sin to kill. The next time a fundamentalist, whether American, European, African or Arabian, whether Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, talks to you about justifying war, please remind them it is a sin to kill. Fundamentalists, however, must distort religion to justify their movements, wars, and profiteering. Fundamentalism of all stripes must be stopped. If fundamentalists are not stopped, they will have us all dead. They will have you obeying commandments and giving your money and support to criminals that steal their way into your government then use your name and money to commit the most mortal of sins.

Our war against Iraq is not about our safety; don't let the fundamentalist whackos currently controlling the United States government convince you of it, either!

Pay attention to the Orwellian information and the contradictions they put forth:

Church Sign Generator by Ryland Sanders.

Monday, January 12, 2004

A Night At The Opera

Some days the drudgery of life is rewarded by hard work. Some days hard work is its own reward. Some days bring surprises unimaginable.

A few years ago, my boss had given me tickets to see Offenbach's Tales of Hoffman at the New York Metropolitan Opera. At that time she told me that Verdi's Rigoletto was her favorite opera and that she had never seen it. Imagine my surprise when, after a long work week, she invited me to see Rigoletto with her at the Met last Friday. Going to the opera is one of life's special treats for me.

My mother owned a copy of Bizet's Carmen on vinyl, and I heard it innumerable times while growing up. Sadly, Boston did not have an opera company that I knew of in the 1960s, and nobody ever took me to the opera. The first time I heard the presentation of any aria outside of our scratchy copy of Carmen was in seventh grade music class where we learned to sing "Toreador."

Opera was not popular in the projects. It wasn't unpopular, per se, it was just never mentioned. I don't know when I decided that opera was for rich people, but I always felt as though it was out of my league. There was no chance I would ever get dressed in formal attire and go to the opera. So, this weekend, I was trying to recall my cultural evolution from hearing Carmen, to believing that you had to be rich and wear a tuxedo, to actually being at the Met learning the lesson of staying awake for Act III while avoiding a nap in the second act.

Verdi's Rigoletto takes place in 16th Century Mantua, Italy. Rigoletto is the hump-backed jester in the court of the Duke of Mantua. The Duke is a vain, self-centered ingnoble man whose prime delight is the seduction of the local woman, young and old. A ball at the palace is filled with revelry, and the guests are entertained by Rigoletto's taunting of Count Ceprano, whose wife is the Duke's current conquest. Countess Ceprano is literally Duke's current conquest as they are in an adjoining room when the party is interrupted by the outburst Monterone, whose daughter has lost her honor when seduced by the Duke. When Rigoletto belittles Monterone he becomes the focus of a curse that had been planned for the Duke.

Rigoletto takes the curse quite seriously and after Monterone is dragged to jail, the courtesan turn their attention to gossip about the young woman living at Rigoletto's home. Rigoletto has kept secret that he has a daughter, Gilda, so the Duke's friends assume that the jester is keeping a young lover. To seek revenge against Rigoletto, whose unyielding taunts have plagued them all, they plot to kidnap Gilda and offer her to the Duke. Unknown to all, the Duke has been courting her while pretending to be a poor student, and she is in love with him.

The courtesan kidnap Gilda and bring her to the Duke. Rigoletto, believing that the loss of his daughter is part of Monterone's curse, plots to have the Duke assassinated. He arranges for her to dress as a man and make her way out of town, while the murder takes place. Instead, Gilda finds her way back to the Duke and is killed in his stead.

Juan Pons was perfect in the role of as Rigoletto, and Andrea Rost as Gilda the perfect complement. Both were technically proficient but sang with a passion that made you believe you could sing like that if you were in their shoes. Both earned the bravos and ovations they enjoyed.

Verdi premiered Rigoletto at theatre La fence, in Venice, on March 11, 1851.

My only apprehension about attending the opera with my boss last week was that I was dressed in khaki trousers, boots, and an Oxford shirt with no tie. I looked clean enough, but I would never choose to go to dinner and the opera dressed like this.

One of dynamics I find most intriguing at Lincoln Center is the attire. An evening at the Met might be the only place in the world where you can see a patron in a tuxedo sipping champagne next to a person in jeans and a t-shirt sipping champagne. And both are equally comfortable and happy that the other is there. So, my childhood observation about opera patrons was rather inaccurate. Opera patrons seem to come from all walks and styles of life. Anyone who wants to, can be a part of it!

I went to the opera dressed as I was and enjoyed myself immensely.

If you haven't been to the opera, go. If you haven't seen Rigoletto, do. Dress-up, dress-down, just go!


Friday, January 09, 2004

More Evil: Club For Growth

I have been encouraged recently by a couple emails I've received from total strangers who say they share my displeasure with the current administration in Washington, DC. Though both voted for Bush in 2000, they plan to vote third-party in 2004! This is great news!

Is it possible that some whacko right-winger disguised as a libertarian might do to Bush what Michael Moore and Ralph Nader did to Al Gore? It might be possible! Republicans who are not part of the christian right could un-elect Bush by voting third-party.

This means that thinking and working Americans might be able to band together and elect a Democrat to this White House. I know it's unlikely, but I can dream! It is my sincerest hope that Bush is dethroned. Enough is enough already!

Whichever candidate you support, I hope you will be active in this election. I hope you will send money, or volunteer time, or speak-out in your professional and social circles. That is old-fashioned democracy. It's fun! Do it. Let everyone know you are working to oust Bush.

The Republicans are the greatest mudslingers in the history of American electoral politics. They lie about that, but it's true. They sink lower and lower each time. Their biggest tricks are playing the Black Card and the Gay Card. They insinuate that the Democrats only represent gay people and people of color, and that election of Democrats mean that your wives and children are not safe. It's vulgar, it is so fifties, and so effective. It's depressing that people still fall for it; but, it's so visceral that everyone responds.

The Republicans say they want small government and less taxes, but they have raised working families' taxes so much and eliminated so many services for working families since the Reagan administration, that it will take a hundred years of token Republican give-backs to bring working families back to the standard of living they enjoyed during the Carter Administration in 1977! The tax-cuts and budget changes made by the two Bushes and Reagan have benefited only a very small percentage of the country and many working families are now members of the greatest Republican invention: the working poor!

Acting in their formal role as the mouthpiece for the christian right and poster children for unbridled corporate avarice, Republicans have found support from the Club for Growth in their current attack against Democratic front-runner Howard Dean.

Club For Growth is paying for the current campaign and it is outlined in this email from Joe Trippi, of the Dean Campaign:


Dear Dean Supporter:

They'll do anything to stop you. We knew that the special interests that support George Bush would attack your campaign even as we're fending off attacks from the other Democratic campaigns.

The Club for Growth, the corporate interest group that attacked us last month, is now on the air again in Iowa trying to stereotype you. The new ad shows an elderly couple saying:

"I think Howard Dean should take his tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show back to Vermont, where it belongs."

It's one thing to distort Howard Dean's record, but it's a new low when they resort to trying to smear you, the people who built this campaign. The president of this despicable group said: "What we're trying to show is Dean is supported by the cultural elite and not by anyone with middle-American values and finances."

Smearing and stereotyping are not "middle-American values." We need to stand together now for the integrity and common purpose that sparked this campaign and fuels it today:

Contribute to Dean For America

You can send a message today that our campaign is about restoring the American community, not resorting to name-calling as a substitute for meaningful discussion of the real concerns that face our country.

Your past contributions have carried us to where we are today. We are on our way to reaching two million Americans giving $100 to defeat George Bush. Now, with this battle underway, please join the $100 revolution:

The Dean For America Revolution

And in the final stretch to Iowa, the Los Angeles Times reports that it's not just the Club for Growth that is spending all it's got to try and distort what it is we're fighting for. The story shows that three of our opponents have outspent us on the air in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

We're fighting a battle on many fronts. The supporters of George W. Bush have already launched their air war. Combined, the other campaigns have $45 million against our $15 raised last quarter. And they are spending all of it to stop you.

Thank you for all that you do.

Joe Trippi
Campaign Manager
Dean for America

Watch the Club for Growth attack ad


I hope you are making a decision to de-throne the current president of the United States. America deserves a chance to become a great nation again. Please support a candidate, any candidate against Bush!


Thursday, January 08, 2004

Another Resolution 2004 - Halliburton

I resolve to never be swayed from my belief that the Republican Party, with its new masters from the christian right, is the most evil group of human beings organized on the entire planet.

People who vote republican, especially women, Jews, homosexuals, Catholics, and people of color, ought to be ashamed of yourselves at this point! Don't you see that the christian right has no place for you in the end? You are marginalized now and you will become more marginalized as the christian right gets more power.

I will spend 2004 pointing it out regularly.

Today we will talk about how corporate henchmen hide behind morality while robbing us blind. Let's see . . . We'll pick Halliburton because they are popular.

I was happy to see The Nation publish this article (which I reprint without permission):

Will the French Indict Cheney?

[December 29, 2003]

Yet another sordid chapter in the murky annals of Halliburton might well lead to the indictment of Dick Cheney by a French court on charges of bribery, money-laundering and misuse of corporate assets.

At the heart of the matter is a $6 billion gas liquification factory built in Nigeria on behalf of oil mammoth Shell by Halliburton--the company Cheney headed before becoming Vice President--in partnership with a large French petroengineering company, Technip. Nigeria has been rated by the anticorruption watchdog Transparency International as the second-most corrupt country in the world, surpassed only by Bangladesh.

One of France's best-known investigating magistrates, Judge Renaud van Ruymbeke--who came to fame by unearthing major French campaign finance scandals in the 1990s that led to a raft of indictments--has been conducting a probe of the Nigeria deal since October. And, three days before Christmas, the Paris daily Le Figaro front-paged the news that Judge van Ruymbeke had notified the Justice Ministry that Cheney might be among those eventually indicted as a result of his investigation.

According to accounts in the French press, Judge van Ruymbeke believes that some or all of $180 million in so-called secret "retrocommissions" paid by Halliburton and Technip were, in fact, bribes given to Nigerian officials and others to grease the wheels for the refinery's construction. These reports say van Ruymbeke has fingered as the bagman in the operation a 55-year-old London lawyer, Jeffrey Tesler, who has worked for Halliburton for some thirty years. It was Tesler who was paid the $180 million as a "commercial consultant" through a Gibraltar-based front company he set up called TriStar. TriStar, in turn, got the money from a consortium set up for the Nigeria deal by Halliburton and Technip and registered in Madeira, the Portuguese offshore island where taxes don't apply. According to Agence France-Presse, a former top Technip official, Georges Krammer, has testified that the Madeira-based consortium was a "slush fund" controlled by Halliburton--through its subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root--and Technip. Krammer, who is cooperating with the investigation, also swore that Tesler was imposed as the intermediary by Halliburton over the objections of Technip.

Tesler is a curious fellow: A veteran operator in Nigeria, he was the financial adviser to the late dictator Gen. Sani Abacha and controlled his personal fortune, while at the same time working for Halliburton. Abacha's former Oil Minister, Dan Etete--who is suspected of having used some of the alleged bribe money to buy himself fancy apartments in Paris and a chateau in Normandy--was deposed by Judge van Ruymbeke in December. According to the Journal du Dimanche (a large Sunday paper), Etete's testimony seemed to confirm the judge's suspicions that Tesler laundered the $180 million through offshore and other accounts, and that part of the money wound up in dictator Abacha's coffers. Tesler's bank accounts in Monaco, Switzerland and elsewhere have been subpoenaed in an effort to find out where the money went.

Judge van Ruymbeke's authority for his transnational investigation comes from a law France passed in 2000 against "bribing foreign officials," following its ratification of a convention adopted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development prohibiting bribe-giving in the course of commercial transactions. The notion that the judge's targeting of Cheney might be in part retaliatory for the Bush Administration's exclusion of France from Iraq reconstruction contracts is unlikely: Van Ruymbeke is notoriously independent, and his previous investigations have been aimed at politicians and parties of both right and left. He's also no stranger to the unsavory world of oil-and-gas politics, having previously investigated bribe-giving by the French petrogiant Elf--indeed, it was in the course of his Elf investigation that van Ruymbeke stumbled upon the Nigerian deal.

The suspected bribe money was mostly ladled out between 1995 and 2000, when Cheney was Halliburton's CEO. The Journal du Dimanche reported on December 21 that "it is probable that some of the 'retrocommissions' found their way back to the United States" and asked, did this money go "to Halliburton's officials? To officials of the Republican Party?" These questions have so far gone unasked by America's media, which have completely ignored the explosive Le Figaro headline revealing the targeting of Cheney. It will be interesting to see if the US press looks seriously into this ticking time-bomb of a scandal before the November elections.


Halliburton is a bad corporation and makes America a bad place. No matter what criticisms you have of democrats dating all the way back to Roosevelt, the post-Reagan takeover by the christian right is the most deplorable event in the history of capitalism and western civilization.

The Nation is a great magazine that has been publishing since 1865. Please subscribe to The Nation.


Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Low Fidelity

One thing I liked about the punk movement in the 1970s was that it was so LoFi. Guys in the basement making tapes and pooling their money to press 45s. I loved playing the records not on a fancy turntable but on an old record player. The vinyl got better as the dirt bore into the grooves and the pops, hisses, and scratches were like an added level of unslick production.

I am not an audiophile. I like songs. I don't give a shit about separation and highs and lows and woofers and tweeters. Haven't a friggin' clue what any of it really means. I have a tin ear. I buy records because I like the songs, and I don't have a clue how to arrange my speakers to maximize the sound experience.

I really like artists who aren't afraid to try new things and who shrug-off the ordinary. I like spoken word stuff and music made with odd instruments. I like yodelling records and jungle beats. In these days of dullness it is not as easy to find LoFi out there. The power trio is still grinding away; but there aren't many punk bands making dance songs while banging on colanders and making feedback with transistor radios.

Some little girl in expensive clothes from Canada who never heard of David Bowie is considered the hottest punk act on the scene and her RIAA-protected over-produced releases are hardly counter-culture. But, she waves her hand in the air with thumb, index and baby fingers sticking out, so they call her punk. She is not punk. She is not LoFi. (What the hell does that hand symbol mean anyhow?)

Indie labels are still the way to go for innovative music and certainly the only outlet for LoFi recordings. With the demise of local record stores, it is harder to find these releases.

The best place to find print advertisements for new releases from indie labels combined with excellent journalism is the magazine Punk Planet! Get it! Tons of cool bands advertise on their pages.

I also like to buy stuff from CD Baby where indie label recordings are the norm, not the exception.

I listen to Yma Sumac and Om Kalsoum, and I love old monaural recordings of Robert Johnson and Ma Rainey. I enjoy that raw recording of the human voice and simple (even if electric) instruments. Every culture has their LoFi icons.

A couple of years ago I met a young man in New York. He wore really great clothes that his mother made, was thin as a rail, as pretty as the day is long, and with a wit to die for! We met while he was standing at the backstage door of a midtown studio awaiting the arrival of a musician he admired. You might think I was there doing the same thing, but it was coincidence that I found myself being introduced to him.

We became fast friends and he is one of my favorite young men in the whole world. He likes Velvet Underground records, the punk movement, poetry, angst, talking about sex, and avoiding the tedium of dull people. He reminds me of me, only cuter. And younger. He writes songs and gets around. He's been in bands and released solo CDs, and he's becoming a bit of a LoFi legend.

His latest solo release is Long Island Baby. If Iggy Pop and Lou Reed had abandoned the notions of pop music and had only made records with Cale and Cage, they might have made this CD! Buy Long Island Baby at this link.

Eventually I met a buddy of his and we became friends, too. I taught him about how the streets and avenues of NYC form the grid and how Broadway intersects to make the famous squares. I made him buy a Supremes CD and apply to college in New York. He's really smart and adorable, too.

The two of them are peas-in-a-pod who could not be more dissimilar. They should become homosexuals for a few years, which every self-respecting artist did prior to the Reagan administration; but, they are from the era of the NeoCon and they do not see the benefit of switching cultures (and genders) for a while.

I was flattered when they approached me about working on a project they were putting together as a memorial to Jimmy Haig. They asked if I would be interested in doing vocals on one of the tracks. Buy Poems For Girls That Straight-Up Rejected Me, by The Jimmy Haig Experience at this link. It's sort of The Residents versus The Flying Lizards, with some William Burroughs sensibility and Jeff Stryker balls. The project is a LoFi masterpiece. My vocal is about plying sex from girls with art, and hating beautiful people.

These two CDs are the best and hottest in LoFi releases!


The Jimmy Haig Experience, Poems For Girls That Straight-Up Rejected Me

NN Maddox, Long Island Baby

For some German LoFi, go to the LoFi-Lab

For some Indian LoFi, go to Rajalakshmi's site

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Pete Rose in the Hall Of Fame?

I don't know about you, but I am sick of hearing about Pete Rose.

Pete Rose has been banned from baseball for life because he was caught gambling on baseball games while a player and/or manager of the Cincinatti Reds. I am not a fan of banning people; but, if you are going to ban someone from sports then gambling on that sport might be the only good reason.

Every year around Hall Of Fame voting and announcement time, the Pete Rose question comes back. Should Pete Rose be allowed in the Hall of Fame?

Generally speaking, election to the Hall of Fame is based on your numbers. Inductees are elected by sports writers. I wonder what kind of numbers the average sports writer Hall of Fame voter has put up? I am not a sports writer, but let's look at my numbers:

2 Years in Little League Farm System
20 At-Bats
1 Hit

These are not Hall of Fame numbers.

I am not really qualified to judge a player's performance, based on my personal experience in the sport; but neither are sports writers. I'll bet my numbers are not that much different from the sports writers that receive ballots, though, so I am qualified to discuss the merits of Rose's election.

Let's look at Pete Rose's numbers:

3562 Games Played (1st All Time)
14053 At-Bats (1st All Time)
2165 Runs (4th All Time)
4256 Hits (1st All Time)
5752 Total Bases (6th All Time)
746 Doubles (2nd All Time)
1566 Walks (11th All Time)
1041 Extra Base Hits (17th All Time)
160 Home Runs
1314 Runs Batted In
198 Stolen Bases
.303 Lifetime Batting Average

These are Hall of Fame numbers. Someone with these numbers should make it to the Hall. The person with these numbers, however, is no more qualified for Hall election than me! He is totally unqualified. Why? Because he has been banned from baseball for life.

In a recent interview in Sports Illustrated, Rose tells the story of his continued efforts to be reinstated so that he can be elected to the Hall of Fame. I reprint the following dialog without permission:

"Mr. Selig looked at me and said, 'I want to know one thing. Did you bet on baseball?'" Rose writes. "I looked him in the eye. 'Sir, my daddy taught me two things in life -- how to play baseball and how to take responsibility for my actions. I learned the first one pretty well. The other, I've had some trouble with. Yes, sir, I did bet on baseball.'"

"How often?" Selig asked.

"Four or five times a week," Rose replied. "But I never bet against my own team, and I never made any bets from the clubhouse."

Well . . . there you have it . . . Pete Rose regularly bet on baseball games. I consider that to be in the category of corporate malfeasance. He was entrusted with a corporate holding, expected to generate profits with that holding, and he jeopardized the financial security of the shareholders with his (if not illegal) immoral behavior. This is like the Enron guys, and the WorldCom guys, and Neal Bush and the Silverado S&L. Sure, maybe not illegal, but it's morally repugnant.

Unlike those other guys, Pete Rose couldn't even nickel and dime! According to the article Rose lost "several hundreds of thousands of dollars. . . ." I always knew Rose was no mental giant, but now we learn the guy is a loser!

In the interview, Rose has the audacity to insist that he should be reinstated because 'they promised': "I've consistently heard the statement: 'If Pete Rose came clean, all would be forgiven,"' he writes. "Well, I've done what you've asked. The rest is up to the commissioner and the big umpire in the sky."

He also belittles others with compulsive behavior by saying that if he "had been an alcoholic or a drug addict, baseball would have suspended me for six weeks and paid for my rehabilitation."

So, he goes on, "I should have had the opportunity to get help, but baseball had no fancy rehab for gamblers like they do for drug addicts," Rose wrote. "If I had admitted my guilt, it would have been the same as putting my head on the chopping block - lifetime ban. Death penalty. I spent my entire life on the baseball fields of America, and I was not going to give up my profession without first seeing some hard evidence. . . . Right or wrong, the punishment didn't fit the crime - so I denied the crime."

Let's be clear about something: Pete Rose did not get the death penalty and he would not have gotten the death penalty if he admitted his wrongs! He is alive, nobody killed him. To be kicked out of your professional industry is not the same as being put to death!

He claims that because there was no rehab program in place, he couldn't ask for help! What crap! If there is no help in place, and you are the most famous baseball player in the world, you can make things happen by being honest. If you lie, you are a liar and you get treated like a liar. If Pete Rose stood up and became the poster child for gambling rehabilitation, there would be clinics all over the country for guys like him. Instead he became a lying liar lying to cover the lies he tells so he hopefully won't been seen as the lying liar he is known to be.

When someone is arrested for drug use, or tests positive for drug use, there is proof that they need help. They get help as soon as they ask for it. Rose hid his compulsion and lied about it, so there was no way for anybody to help him. When famous people stand up and talk about social problems, people listen. Rose never took the high road. He has always lied and snuck around and played at the back door and tried to weasel his way back into the game. He is an ignoble man, and the lifetime ban is perfect punishment for him.

I think we all forgive Rose his dereliction. That does not lift the ban.

I think we all agree that Rose needs help. He should get it. He's rich, he can afford private counseling, and 12-step programs are free! He should get help. When he gets help, that does not lift the ban.

It is important to remember that Pete Rose has not been banned from baseball forever, just for the remainder of his life. When he dies, the lifetime ban is lifted. When he dies, the Veterans' Committee can decide whether or not to elect him.

Now it is Hall of Fame time again. Should Pete Rose be allowed in the Hall of Fame?

No! Rose should go away. He's stupid and inarticulate and selfish and a bad influence on all of America. He is a liar and a cheat and a sneak and doesn't belong on television telling his lying lies about the lies he told when he was only lying to protect himself.

OK, so his wrongs are not as bad as Neal Bush, or all the employees of Arthur Anderson and Enron, but he did gamble on baseball while employed in the sport, and for that he has been banned for life, and that is a just punishment. He may or may not have changed. That is neither here nor there. He should go away and come back when he's dead. We'll discuss his reinstatement then.

Monday, January 05, 2004

It's a god-awful small affair . . .

The new Exploration Rover has landed on Mars. You can see this article.

Have you seen the pictures?

As a boy, I was fascinated by space exploration. When I started the first grade in 1963, I carried a blue metal lunchbox with a picture of an astronaut and renderings of NASA rockets. Watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon in 1969 was remarkable to me.

My infatuation with the space program has waned dramatically in the past twenty-five years. I know now that astronauts are truck drivers for the military, and there is little government interest in scientific investigation except as it leads to military ends.

Still, it's exciting to see pictures from Mars!

Life On Mars
It's a god-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling "No"
And her daddy has told her to go
But her friend is nowhere to be seen
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she's hooked to the silver screen
But the film is a saddening bore
For she's lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools
As they ask her to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show
Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

It's on Amerika's tortured brow
That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers have struck for fame
'Cause Lennon's on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibeza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds
To my mother, my dog, and clowns
But the film is a saddening bore
'Cause I wrote it ten times or more
It's about to be writ again
As I ask you to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go
It's the freakiest show
Take a look at the Lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man! Wonder if he'll ever know
He's in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?
(Words and music by David Bowie)

Here is the main site for the Mars Rover.


Friday, January 02, 2004

Homeland Security

I would say that America is as safe as it was on September 10, 2001. It feels just as safe as it ever did. I have never had to run out of any bombed buildings or avoid flaming jet fuels, but I still think we are safe.

I don't think this feeling of safety has anything to do with the creation or policies of the Department of Homeland Security. (Has there ever been a more ridiculous agency funded with our tax dollars?) My sense of security is rooted in knowing that the horror of September 11, 2001, was a crime committed by a small band of very wealthy criminals. It was not a national military offensive against us.

How can we take the homeland security guys seriously when they haven't even admitted that the criminal who sent all the anthrax through the mail was an American employed by a military contractor? Instead of telling us what they know about chemical terrorism in America, they test the air at the Rose Bowl; but, the real perpetrators of biological warfare within our borders are the employees of the companies contracted to provide services to this bogus new homeland security department.

The small band of criminals who perpetrated the crime at the World Trade Center are funded by money from a very wealthy Saudi family named binLaden. They have many friends in the United States, especially men like Henry Kissinger and his colleagues and partners. The profits from the binLaden families' holdings in the United States are used to finance the lives of individual binLaden family members, including Osama. If you think Osama binLaden's mother is not protecting him and sending him money, you have a rather distorted view of motherhood. Our mothers look after us, even when we are wrong and bad.

As long as wealthy and powerful Americans like Kissinger are profteering with the binLaden's, and guys like Dick Cheyney are hell-bent on acquiring control of Middle Eastern oil reserves, criminals like Osama binLaden will be funded by American avarice.

Oddly, none of the Homeland Security activities are focused on preventing the rich from using our tax dollars and profitable economy to finance the bad behavior of their children and friends. Homeland Security activities seem geared towards preventing Americans from traveling conveniently and delaying middle-class foreigners from entering the US to spend money.

The world's problems are not created by the middle-class or the working-class or the working-poor or the poor. The world's problems are created by the greed of a small percentage of very wealthy Americans and their international cohorts. The Department Of Homeland Security should be tracking the activities of the wealthy, not the middle class!

One of the offensive policies imposed by the homeland security idiots in Washington is the fingerprinting of tourists and visitors arriving at our borders. I don't know what this would prevent except tourism. Having some middle-class Brazilian families' fingerprints on file is not going to prevent the children of the world's wealthiest families from funding crimes like the World Trade Center bombings.

Henry Kissinger, who represents the binLaden family (and in the past ordered the bombing of Hanoi on Christmas Eve in violation of a treaty we had signed), does not get fingerprinted when he arrives at the border (even though he should be imprisoned), but maybe we should now fingerprint and track the activities of any businessman or lawyer who profits from work with the binLadens and the Saudi royal family.

Happily, not all our allies are laying down for the fingerprinting fiasco.

Brazil now requires that all Americans be fingerprinted at their border! No other allied citizens are required to be fingerprinted when they arrive in Brazil, just United States citizens! They started yesterday. Every American who arrives at the Brazilian border beginning January 1, 2004, is being photographed and fingerprinted, like common criminals!

Sadly, this will not force the US government to change its ridiculous and humiliating policy, it will only convince stupid Americans to avoid the rest of the world. Dullard Americans who have no world view will remain in their sterile suburban homes watching Faux News and nurturing their new-found patriotic xenophobia.

Still, it is still a brilliant move by the Brazilians!

As an American, I think it's absurd that Brazil would fingerprint me for admittance to their country; but, it is equally absurd that we would fingerprint them upon arrival in our nation.

What have we come to? How has this whacko administration gotten so out-of-control that our allies now want to treat us like common criminals? We have overthrown Afghanistan and abandoned them to an uncertain future, we are occupying Iraq with no plan for them except to control their oil, we are preventing our allies from entering our country and spending money, and to what end?

Thank you, Brazil! Keep up the good work.

See this article at Common Dreams for more info about the Brazil decision.


Thursday, January 01, 2004

Resolutions 2004

I use New Year's Resolutions to pretend I will do the things tomorrow that I was supposed to do today.

Do you have a resolution for 2004? How about one of these:

  1. Exercise

  2. Eat healthy foods

  3. Drink less alcohol

  4. Speak-out against conservatism

  5. Lower my voice

  6. Read more books

  7. Take out the trash before being asked

  8. File paperwork before it piles-up

  9. Stop pretending tax cuts will help our nation

  10. Surf the web less

  11. Clean out the junk drawer

  12. Donate clothes I no longer wear

  13. Lose weight

  14. Vote Democrat

  15. Watch less television

  16. Get rid of the CDs I never listened to

  17. Write a letter and send it to someone in the mail

  18. Pray and meditate

  19. Accept that christian conservatives aren't very Christian

  20. Work harder for my employer or partners

  21. Teach someone to read

  22. Support locally-owned busniesses

  23. Speak-out against the RIAA and the MPAA

  24. Always say please and thank-you

  25. Drive less, walk more

  26. Learn to cook

  27. Accept that Reagonomics has failed my country

  28. Embrace my heritage

  29. Listen to others

  30. Tell family members how much I love them

  31. Get a passport

  32. Buy a CD from an indie label

  33. Visit a far-away land and use my passport

  34. Trust God

  35. Work against the corporate take-over of the U.S. government

  36. Become a Big Brother/Big Sister

  37. Thank a cop

  38. Give the money for my next CD to a homeless person on the street

  39. Stop buying tabloid newspapers

  40. Write an essay about America

  41. Help those in need

  42. Do my spouse's chores

  43. Write my congressional delegation and ask them to stop the war

  44. Help a blind person cross the street

  45. Lower my debt

  46. Thank my boss for my job

  47. Dream

  48. Write the president and explain that the United Nations is very important

  49. Listen to a type of music I say I hate

  50. Speak-out against coroprate subsidies, including sports facilities

  51. Admit the war in Iraq was only to get the oil

  52. Laugh

  53. Take more photographs

  54. Work to restore social services

  55. Tithe

  56. Forgive

  57. Smile

Happy New Year!