Monday, February 28, 2011

Are you sick of highly paid teachers?

by Dick Mac

Teachers' hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It's time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do - babysit!

We can get that for less than minimum wage.

That's right. Let's give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan -- that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day...maybe 30? So that's $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.

However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET'S SEE . . .

That's $585 X 180 = $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries).

What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master's degrees?

Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour.

That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute -- there's something wrong here!

There sure is!

The average teacher's salary (nationwide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student -- a very inexpensive babysitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!


Make a teacher smile; repost this to show appreciation for all educators.

Originally sent anonymously via the internet. If you are the author, I would like to give you credit!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Code of the West

by Dick Mac

Tea Party Republicans elected to the Montana legislature in the last round of elections have introduced a bill that would make "The Code Of The West" the "Code Of Montana."


In this Bill, it is stated that the Code of the West is:
(1) Live each day with courage.
(2) Take pride in your work.
(3) Always finish what you start.
(4) Do what has to be done.
(5) Be tough, but fair.
(6) When you make a promise, keep it.
(7) Ride for the brand.
(8) Talk less and say more.
(9) Remember that some things aren't for sale.
(10) Know where to draw the line.

This list is said to come from the book Cowboy Ethics, by James P. Owen, published in 2005.

Most of these items are pretty vague and open to interpretation, unlike most codes and laws enacted by governments. It's important to remember that this "code" comes from a piece of literature written about a romantic idea of ye olde west, and not rooted, really, in historical fact.

What is "fair" to a police chief in Missoula, Montana, might be different than what is fair to a police chief in Athens, Georgia; and although many Tea Party supporters think that the federal government has no role in law enforcement or control, we do have a federal government that is legitimate and defends the American way of life, and no Tea Party can ignore, desecrate, or eliminate our laws of the land to fit neatly into their hateful little plan to build a narrow little world.

The original "code of the west" was actually presented in the early 1930s by the writer Zane Grey, who wrote popular fictional novels about the American West. Fiction. Many great ideas have come from fiction.

In 1969, Ramon Adams, a historian who studied the American West, explained in his book, The Cowman and His Code of Ethics [currently out-of-print, but available from some book dealers]:
Back in the days when the cowman with his herds made a new frontier, there was no law on the range. Lack of written law made it necessary for him to frame some of his own, thus developing a rule of behavior which became known as the "Code of the West." These homespun laws, being merely a gentleman's agreement to certain rules of conduct for survival, were never written into statutes, but were respected everywhere on the range.

Though the cowman might break every law of the territory, state and federal government, he took pride in upholding his own unwritten code. His failure to abide by it did not bring formal punishment, but the man who broke it became, more or less, a social outcast. His friends 'hazed him into the cutbacks' and he was subject to the punishment of the very code he had broken.

In that book, the list is more detailed:
Don't inquire into a person's past. Take the measure of a man for what he is today.

Never steal another man's horse. A horse thief pays with his life.

Defend yourself whenever necessary.

Look out for your own.

Remove your guns before sitting at the dining table.

Never order anything weaker than whiskey.

Don't make a threat without expecting dire consequences.

Never pass anyone on the trail without saying "Howdy".

When approaching someone from behind, give a loud greeting before you get within shooting range.

Don't wave at a man on a horse, as it might spook the horse. A nod is the proper greeting.

After you pass someone on the trail, don't look back at him. It implies you don't trust him.

Riding another man's horse without his permission is nearly as bad as making love to his wife. Never even bother another man's horse.

Always fill your whiskey glass to the brim.

A cowboy doesn't talk much; he saves his breath for breathing.

No matter how weary and hungry you are after a long day in the saddle, always tend to your horse's needs before your own, and get your horse some feed before you eat.

Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses and cows.

Complain about the cooking and you become the cook.

Always drink your whiskey with your gun hand, to show your friendly intentions.

Do not practice ingratitude.

A cowboy is pleasant even when out of sorts. Complaining is what quitters do, and cowboys hate quitters.

Always be courageous. Cowards aren't tolerated in any outfit worth its salt.

A cowboy always helps someone in need, even a stranger or an enemy.

Never try on another man's hat.

Be hospitable to strangers. Anyone who wanders in, including an enemy, is welcome at the dinner table. The same was true for riders who joined cowboys on the range.

Give your enemy a fighting chance.

Never wake another man by shaking or touching him, as he might wake suddenly and shoot you.

Real cowboys are modest. A braggert who is "all gurgle and no guts" is not tolerated.

Be there for a friend when he needs you.

Drinking on duty is grounds for instant dismissal and blacklisting.

A cowboy is loyal to his "brand," to his friends, and those he rides with.

Never shoot an unarmed or unwarned enemy. This was also known as "the rattlesnake code": always warn before you strike. However, if a man was being stalked, this could be ignored.

Never shoot a woman no matter what.

Consideration for others is central to the code, such as: Don't stir up dust around the chuckwagon, don't wake up the wrong man for herd duty, etc.

Respect the land and the environment by not smoking in hazardous fire areas, disfiguring rocks, trees, or other natural areas.

Honesty is absolute - your word is your bond, a handshake is more binding than a contract.

Live by the Golden Rule.

See, The Code of the West

This list is much more comprehensive, but as you look over the list you will see that there are many ethics there that do not exactly fit into the Tea Party's plans.

So, again, the Tea Party takes a small sliver of history, warps it into some odd "code" that suits their hostile, angry, vicious, bitter, self-serving needs, and presents it as fact to be used in their narrow interpretation of the law of the land.

Good luck to the Montanans who elected these people. I hope Zane Grey's "code of the west" works out to be sufficient legal grounds for you to build a civilization; it was certainly enough for a fictional book about cowboys!

And, you thought the stories of the Old Testament were enough for these people!

PS: I nicked the coloring page of the cowboy above so that you could color the code of the west however you want it to look, just like the Tea Party does!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Attack On African-American Mothers

by Dick Mac

The billboard pictured to the left states: "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb," and a child of about 4-years-old is pictured.

Excuse me?

Once a child is a child, it is no longer in the womb. The people who created this billboard think either (a) a four-year-old child is carried in a mother's womb (maybe like a marsupial carries her young), or (b) a 4-year-old black child is not being nurtured properly.

I would hope that people this powerful are not so stupid as to believe the former (that we are marsupials); so the latter is likely the case. This billboard says that black mothers are bad mothers, unwilling to take care of their children, unwilling to give them the nurturing and love a child needs to grow into an adult.

That is offensive. Why would an organization make such a blanket statement about black mothers? It's unconscionable.

Then you find out that this billboard is published by Life Always, a corporation formed by a group of conservatives to limit access to health care. They oppose abortion. I guess in their neck of the woods, black women abort four-year-old children.

I know a lot of mothers, even black mothers, and I've never heard of a single African-American four-year-old being aborted.

My experience is that people who oppose abortion, also oppose the poor. They consider the poor to be lazy, stupid, and criminal. They don't want the government to pay for abortions, nor do they want the government to maintain a social safety net. Conservatives generally treat poverty like a hairstyle: you chose it, now you live with it.

They generally tend to promote private charity as a means of helping the poor and eliminating poverty, which is admirable. One needn't dig too far into the past of Western Civilization to see how well that went. Orphanages were basically slave labor camps providing boys and girls to industry, pimps, and the rich, to work in the trades we all find the least desirable.

As poverty levels sky-rocket in America (yes, in America!), conservatives find millions of dollars to rent billboards promoting their opposition to a medical procedure, while millions of American children go without medical care, and sometimes food and heat. And these are the children of people who are working!

That's America's conservatives. They are compassionate. They want all the fetuses of unwed teenagers, battered women, and sex slaves to be born as babies; to be born into God's beautiful world, where they will live in poverty, have no nutritional, housing, or medical safety net, and create an even greater divide between those who have and those who have not.

Abortion is a terrible thing. All the people I know who have had abortions have been deeply affected by it. I've yet to meet the person who greets the procedure gleefully, or is simply using it because a child would be a momentary inconvenience. Those people might exist, but I have yet to meet them.

I have heard people say that they would choose differently if they could do it again. I have heard people say that without the procedure their life, and the life of the child, would have been a living hell. No matter the after-effects of the procedure on a person's psyche, that person needs understanding, acceptance, and comfort during that time, not judgment and attack.

Those who object to abortion do not have abortions. Those who choose abortion should be allowed to do so in peace, just as those who choose to have children should be allowed to do so in peace.

Billboards like this, that distort reality by tugging at our heart strings, and are offensive. Conservatives have politicized medicine to the point that many Americans can't get health care, and they have lowered the national discourse to this: black mothers are bad mothers.

Those who oppose abortion should not have one. They should also get out of the lives of those who so choose.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Feeling Religious

by Dick Mac

I don't care if it rains or freezes, as long as I've got my plastic Jesus riding on the dashboard of my car . . .

There are many versions of this song, including one by System Of A Down. That version is not published here today.

At the page for one version of this song, a user named nbelsky offered these additional lyrics:

I'm safe from all sorts of folly,
'cause I got the goddess Kali
Riding on the dashboard of my car.
Traffic cops they never scold me,
She has got eight arms to hold me.
riding on the dashboard of my car.
My life is a bed of roses,
'cause I got magnetic Moses.
Riding on the dashboard of my car.
Traffic jams don't bother me.
They part just like the old Red Sea.
Riding on the dashboard of my car.

And this one with a good written message at the end . . .

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Album Art - Mitch Miller, "Yellow Rose Of Texas"

by Dick Mac

I could write about Album Cover Art ad nauseum.

There are so many amazing works of art and quirky pieces of trivia about album art.

I think it was either Brian or Brice that gave me one of my favorite tidbits of album art trivia: "Revolver," by The Beatles, was the first LP to use a drawing of a band, instead of a photograph of a band. I don't actually know if it's true, but it intrigued me, because someone somewhere told someone somewhere that this was a fact. When it comes to rock n' roll, sometimes that's all it takes to make a fact!

I generally use RealPlayer as my computerized jukebox, and it works just as I want. I have a system for rating the tens of thousands of cuts, creating mixes, and generating eighty-minute playlists to burn to CD. I have a 6-year-old car and it plays CDs. I need a regular supply of mixed CDs for driving here and there. For years and years, RealPlayer has provided the best tool.

I have also had an iTunes account since it started and liked to use it as my jukebox at work. I purchased a couple hundred songs many years ago before they inserted DRM technology which meant I was only really renting, or borrowing, the song; that the publisher, label and the distributor retained the rights to the cut AND reaped the profits.

It was 2005 when I first learned about Apple's complicity in this fleecing of the music-buying public: DRM - "Media Companies Go Too Far . . . " by Walter S. Mossberg, at Dick Mac (alive!).

The backlash against the music industry was so severe that they decided to dispose of DRM technology and simply raise the price of single cuts by 30%. In 2007, I learned that it was coming to an end: iTunes Begins to Unlock Their Files, at Dick Mac (alive!).

I am totally cool with that. Paying $1.29 for a single song is just fine with me -- perfectly reasonable. DRM technology is not reasonable.

I still felt fleeced by Apple, though, and I did not purchase music from iTunes for a couple more years.

Last year, I imported all my music into iTunes and I started making purchases, again.

One of the nifty things about iTunes is the display of Album Cover Art. After I loaded all my music, I selected the feature: Advanced | Get Album Artwork. The program searched through my music library and downloaded all the album art it could find. Was it 100% accurate and successful? No; but it did a damn good job and I am impressed.

Today I was scrolling through the "M"s in my library searching for a Michael Jackson cut that I thought might be misfiled.

I cam upon a song I don't much listen to: "Yellow Rose Of Texas" by Mitch Miller, that comes from a compilation of pop music over the decades. I smiled to think I had a Mitch Miller song, and I clicked it to listen. "Yellow Rose Of Texas" is, after all, an excellent song.

Imagine my surprise when this album art appeared in Cover Flow window:

As I said: I would never expect this technology to be 100% accurate; but I found this particular mix-up amusing enough to share with you! The famous Mitch Miller collection of Tajikistan Folk Music!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Never Sublime, Always Ridiculous

by Dick Mac

Tea Party Republicans now control the Montana Legislature. Some of the major pieces of legislation that they have put forward have been compiled by a blogger named Montana Cowgirl, who prefaces her list by writing:
This is not a joke. These are real bills, and they are currently taking priority in the Montana legislature.

Legalize hunting with hand-thrown spear (Senate Bill 112)

Create fully-armed militia in every town (House Bill 278)

Allow legislators to carry weapons in the Capitol (Senate Bill 279)

Create an 11 person panel with authority to nullify all federal laws (House Bill 382)

Allow guns in schools (House Bill 558)

Eliminate educational requirements for persons seeking job of State Superintendent of Schools (House Bill 154)

Lift nuclear ban for purpose of building a nuclear reactor in the Flathead Valley (House Bill 326)

Withdraw the United States of America from the United Nations (Senate Joint Resolution 2)

Eliminate all state incentives for developing wind power (House Bill 244)

Omit Barak Obama’s name from the 2012, ballot because his father was born outside of America (House Bill 205)

Compulsory marriage counseling for people seeking a divorce (House Bill 438)

Give sheriffs authority over the federal government in terror investigations (Senate Bill 114)

Legalize hunting with silencers (House Bill 174)

Lift the prohibition on carrying concealed weapons in bars, churches and banks (House Bill 384)

Eliminate law that requires landlords to install carbon monoxide detectors (House Bill 354)

Require the federal government to prove in court that the National Parks were lawfully aquired. (House Bill 506)

Officially designate the "Code of the West" as the "Code of Montana" (Senate Bill 216)

If I remember correctly, attempting to dismantle the federal government (that is, the United States of America) is treason, or sedition.

Well, perhaps the teabaggers will learn that running a civilized nation is expensive and a lot of work, and perhaps they'll withdraw back into their isolated little worlds and let the grown-ups back in charge.

Actually, they aren't really interested in civilization, so we could be in for a long process of them becoming bored when they realize exactly how dull and difficult governing really is.

Good luck, Montana!

Thanks to Dave for the heads-up

Friday, February 18, 2011

Popular Uprisings

by Dick Mac

Popular uprisings in second- and third-world nations are often quaintly popular for Americans. We see our own heritage in the uprising of other people, the rising-up against tyranny, we embrace that and appreciate it.

The current uprisings in the Middle East are troubling. American allies are about to be toppled throughout the region.

Sure, they are horrible regimes: monarchies and dictatorships that keep huge sums of money for themselves, sell-off their countries' natural resources, and rule with fear and intimidation. But, they are our friends, we have supported them, propped them up, and we depend on them for oil.

There is a theory that oil is not fossil-based, but is a natural resource continually replenished as a gift from God in an abiotic process deep underground. Until that is proven, however, our long-term strategy must include short-term plans to get as much of the world's known oil as we can. Our entire way of life depends on massive amounts of oil being consumed each day. So, our strategic "partnerships" throughout the Gulf region are vital to our day-to-day lives.

We are often surprised to learn that one religious group that rules over another religious group would actually use religion as the criteria for discrimination. That's just not very American, our criteria tend to be racial and ethnic, and we are doing a pretty good job eliminating those hurdles.

In the Middle East, most of our allies have been the majority Sunni Muslims. Bahrain, pre-revolution Iran, pre-invasion Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and on and on, are ruled by the majority Sunni. They have been, generally, bad rulers but great business partners.

I do not share the general enthusiasm about the uprisings in the Middle East; because the new regimes are likely to lean towards theocratic rule, and that is bad for everyone. Popular uprisings based on religion are generally bad.

It is true that leaders should be benevolent, not murderous, and that equity should play some role in the decision making process of any government.

As we prop-up the governments that support our business interests, we should be able to foster good governing. We spend billions of tax dollars to secure the marketplace for our businesses, but we spend nothing on ensuring stability int he countries.

We can do this better; and if we want to continue acquiring an unending supply of the world's oil, we need to take a different position than we have historically taken. Why? Because it's all falling apart on us, and we really have nobody to blame but ourselves. We have failed our allies, and all the people of the oil-rich Middle East.

I sure hope someone can figure this out.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Alan Simpson, The Thinking Man's Republican

by Dick Mac

Retired Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) was hired by President Barack Obama to work with former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles (D-NC) on leading a commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

I had my doubts about the Commission, as I think we all should have doubts about federal commissions. Most of these commissions are created to justify the status quo, or at least not upset the status quo.

I assumed that the bipartisan commission would come forward and give us the Fox News line: cut taxes, eliminate subsidies for children and families, cut education and public health, reduce spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, provide subsidies to big business to create jobs, increase defense spending, and prop-up the oil industry.

Representatives of both parties in our one-party system subscribe to some form of the Fox News Platform -- many to all of it.

I was a bit startled to hear Alan Simpson on the radio say things that Republicans are not known for saying. In discussing social safety net issues with interviewer Steve Inskeep, he offered:
Simpson: [Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program], that's a critically important thing. That shouldn't even be touched.

You don't need to touch that, you need to go get rid of 250,000 contractors in the Defense Department where you can really pick up some small change.

Inskeep: So you think the safety net can be preserved – that's not really where the big money is anyway.

SIMPSON: No! Child nutrition. WIC. Those things don't need to be chopped up.

Go for the chunk. Go in there to the Medicare and start hammering and that's what we tried to do with a $400 billion cut.

For those unfamiliar with the vernacular, military contractors are generally mercenaries.

Hearing a Republican talk about cutting money for military contractors is very refreshing. I have been saying for years (decades?) that we spend way too much money on mercenaries. Dumping the mercenaries and putting a fraction of that money into troops could improve conditions for our soldiers, perhaps even allow us to increase the number of actual military personnel, AND save a lot of money.

Medicare is the other hot-button issue for Republicans. There are actually many pictures of elderly Tea Party protesters holding signs that say things like "Keep your federal government out of my Medicare." Aging white guys are a huge chunk of Republican supporters, so the GOP rarely suggests cuts to Medicare.

Military spending and Medicare spending are out of control. One is a corporate safety net and one is a social safety net. To some degree, we need both of them; but, do we need them to look like they do today? Do we need to prop-up both a military-industrial complex and a medical-insurance complex, neither of which promise any growth in jobs, reduction in costs, increase in revenue for the Treasury, nor reductions in spending?

The notion that we should cut milk money for children is absurd when we are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for each of a quarter-million mercenaries; and insurance company executives are earning salaries of tens of millions of dollars - much of it from our tax coffers. Cutting heating-oil subsidies for working class families in the North is not going to help our budget, but cutting payments to military contractors will.

It's all about perspective: when we put the numbers in perspective, we start to realize that the expensive social safety net programs are programs we all support (Medicare), and that our ignorance of the money sent to mercenaries and insurance companies makes it difficult for most people to make an adequate analysis of what's happening to our tax dollars.

To hear Senator Simpson putting military spending on the table as a problem in the federal budget reminds me that were once elected Republicans who actually could think about what's going on, instead of just reacting to what's going on.

A link to the Commission's report, The Moment Of Truth.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Iowa grandmother speaks in favor of gay marriage

by Dick Mac

An 80-year-old grandmother speaks about her gay son, his marriage and the effect the gay marriage debate is having on her and her family.

This is yet another testimonial from a regular person whose life is made worse by so-called "conservatives" who would deny American taxpayers their civil rights.

It's really time to move past this. All adults should be able to marry whomever they choose. Basing the validity of marriage solely on the sex of the participants is absurd.

If we really want to protect the sanctity of marriage, let's outlaw divorce!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bettye LaVette singing "Love Reign O'er Me"

by Dick Mac

Believe It Or Not . . .

Sometimes even I don't really have much to say. Especially when a cold has settled in my sinuses, and at times like this, fewer words are better.

Perhaps even silence is the way to go.

So, instead of offering my long-winded opinion about something today, I offer you this video of Bettye LaVette singing "Love Reign O'er Me" at the Kennedy Center Honors show:

From Bettye
On his blog at, the legendary axe-slinger [Pete Townshend] said, "My favorite moment was when Bettye LaVette sang a very fine version of 'Love Reign O'er Me' at the Gala and Barbra Streisand turned to ask me if I really wrote it".

I love Bettye's latest record, and I highly recommend it:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Does this train take me to . . .

by Dick Mac

More than any other city in which I've lived, the streets and subways of New York, the great urban outdoors, play a huge role in the way local culture develops. More than Boston, Miami, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and London (the other major cities in which I've lived), the streets and subways of New York are hives of activity: love, commerce, art, commuting, etc.

Not just the homeless live in the streets and subways of New York.

There are salesmen: the ubiquitous hot dog and pretzel cart vendors, artists, sausage carts, knock-off designer bags, books, the contents of apartments from other neighborhoods, kids selling candy for their sports league or schools, and more.

There are the hustlers: the buskers, the preachers, the break-dancers, and my personal favorite: the guy selling Duracell batteries on the subway.

There are tourists: people with cameras, school groups, dance troupes, Americans, Asians, Europeans, Africans, Australians, Islanders, and perhaps even the occasional extra-terrestrial. Although I am not a fan of E.T. culture, it is clear to me that New York City is the place an alien would choose, if he needed to be under-cover on Earth.

There are the non-tourist out-of-towners: business people, students, shoppers, movie stars and rock stars, job applicants, diplomats, random billionaires, and others.

Then there is the subway, filled with many of those people, as well as commuters, residents, high school kids, and others from the metropolitan area making their way in and out of Manhattan.

If you are fascinated by humanity, as I am, the streets and subways of New York are the place to be. I like watching the people discover the city, search the city, live and love in the city.

When I see a person lost, with map in hand or hovering at the subway map with a blank stare, I offer to help.

The subway is the most challenging, because the question isn't always "which line gets me to Coney Island"; it's often: "how do I get to the Eretrian Embassy?" Not knowing where the Eretrian Embassy is located, it can be hard to help. More often than not, however, it is confusion with how to change lines, or how to tell if a train is going uptown or downtown, and how far East and West they might be. Streets like Canal, 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th, can be very challenging for people because almost every line that enters Manhattan stops at those streets. Do you want to be at the East end of the street (take the Lexington Avenue line, or the Broadway line south of 23rd Street)? The Eighth Avenue line (A, C, E) is the furthest West. The 1, 2, and 3 travel Seventh Avenue. Sixth Avenue is serviced by the B, D, F, and M). The Broadway line cuts diagonally through the island, just as Broadway itself does.

One day I offered to help a man of Asian descent who was baffled by the 34th Street station at Herald Square.

In broken English he said "Find KAY-nel Street, please."

"Kaynel Street?" I asked, turning to look at the paper he was reading. He quickly pulled the page to his chest, so I could not read it. "I don't know Kaynel Street," I admitted. "Is it in Brooklyn or Queens?"

"Kaynel Broadway," he insisted.

I titled and slowly shook my head and tightened my lips.

He relented and showed me the paper he was clutching. Most of it was in Chinese characters, but there in the middle, in large print, in English, it said "Canal Street at Broadway."

I directed him to the Broadway line, he smiled and nodded, and I continued on my way. To this day, I refer to Canal Street as Kaynel Street.

In the January 10, 2011, issue of the New Yorker (subscribe here), this wonderful cartoon, by Joe Dator, appeared. I reprint it here without permission:

By the way, for those actually looking for the Eretrian Embassy's New York Office, it is at 100 Fifth Avenue (@ 15th Street). You can reach them by calling 1-212-647-1122. Take the Broadway line (N, Q, R) or the Lexington Avenue line (4, 5, 6) to 14th Street and walk one block West to Fifth Avenue, then one block North to 15th Street; or take the Sixth Avenue local (F, M) to 14th Street, and walk one block East to Fifth Avenue, then one block North to 15th Street.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Putting Some Muscle In Those Family Values

by Dick Mac

Politicians who promote family values often (1) define "family" as something very narrow and something they might recognize as their own family; and (2) propose legislation that endangers the safety of American taxpayers who are members of other people's families.

Family values politicians support laws like Don't Ask, Don't Tell ("DADT"), and the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"), and they hold themselves up as paragons of morality and as perfect, white representations of the perfect American nuclear family.

We all know what usually comes of these types of politicians: they are caught with strippers, or blowing male prostitutes, or fathering children with women who are not their wives, and that sort of thing. By day they are well-suited, well-heeled paragons of virtue insisting on protecting America from cocksuckers, niggers, abortionists, and socialists, and by night they are starring in their own private remake of "Butt-Hole Banquet Eight"!

It would be funny, if it wasn't so sad. These repressed men have spent their lives living lies, maintaining a fraudulent family life that they magnify with legislation intended to protect their lies, and they are filled with so much self-loathing that they spend the rest of their time trolling the internet and men's rooms, looking for what they really want: not a loving family, but a nice piece of ass, a big hard cock, or a soft, wet pussy. Preferably one of those anatomical features that is draped in the Bible or some good family values.

I use this strong language in hopes of presenting this situation in the light in which it belongs: absurdity! Desperate men pursuing satisfaction of their insatiable repressed sexual longings in the darkest places of their souls.

Christopher Lee (R-Craigslist) resigned from his position as the Representative for the 26th Congressional District of New York, serving (in many imaginable ways) the metropolis of Batavia, New York, home of the Muckdogs, of the NY-Penn Baseball League. He resigned after it was learned that this married Congressman, father of two was posing as a divorced lobbyist while trolling the personals at

One potential suitor got a little pissed-off when she learned that this guy was lying to her, and she sent her entire story to

Chris Lee, exposed just a little bit more than he had intended, then circled the wagons, initially denied everything, then suddenly resigned with an apology to his beautiful family, the good conservative people of western New York, and the venerable House of Representatives.

Last year, Mr. Lee opposed the repeal of DADT, a law that thinking people right across the political spectrum insisted was a terrible law; in fact, likely unconstitutional. He also opposes marriage equality, in order to protect the sanctity of marriage.

Well . . . do I really need to say anything more? Is there a modern "conservative" in America with an iota of credibility, with a position that is believable or rooted in reality at any point?

American conservatism is a lie, and guys like Chris Lee (good, wholesome, god-fearing, good-looking, upwardly-mobile, anti-tax, anti-immigrant, anti-government men) are the perfect representatives of this fallacy.

God bless America!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Good News From The Republican Party?

by Dick Mac

The headline reads: "Republicans in House Battle Turmoil in Their Ranks"!

Nothing in politics could make me happier this morning.

It seems that gone are the days of the GOP keeping their members in line to form a unified front. The GOP has attached itself to the radical fringe right-wing, helped elect a couple dozen of them, and now has to figure-out how to keep the lunatics in the asylum.

Good luck with that!

The quality of GOP leadership is not the highest, and nowhere near as effective or convincing as previous teams of Republican leadership.

John Boehner (R-OH) is the Speaker of the House of Representatives. I have been following electoral politics and government in the United States since I was ten-years-old. I have seen some impressive (for better or worse) politicians lead the House: John McCormack, of Massachusetts, was Speaker when I started paying attention, and he had served quite a long time. He was, like his successors, Carl Albert, Tip O'Neill, and Jim Wright, an excellent leader, negotiator and tactician. The word "impolitic" would not be used to describe these men, they were politicians and they knew how to make everybody happy and get things done. John Boehner is not like any of these people.

In the 1990s, things began to change. Tom Foley, Newt Gingrich, Dennis Hastert, and Nancy Pelosi were horrible leaders; media poseurs hell-bent not on making America a better place (quite to the contrary, in fact), but creating havoc from which they could dip into the wide-open pool of tax dollars that the Treasury became under Ronald Reagan. John Boehner is a lot like this group.

No longer is the Speaker of the House relied upon to do anything more than make his or her own personal headlines, secure directorships for the future, and amass a personal fortune. There is no longer any advantage to being "politic," of bringing together different people to reach consensus about how to proceed, everything is "us and them" and that's all. Thank you, Newt Gingrich.

Boehner, even more than the heinous Pelosi and Gingrich before him, is so self-serving that he can't even hide it and doesn't even try. He is a terrible actor whose displays of "emotion" and "toughness" are unbelievably insincere and unbelievably unbelievable. And on top of it, he can't lead. Nobody takes him seriously, including his own freshman members - the people he should be leading and guiding and showing the ropes.

This may not exactly be good news for Democrats. A fractured Republican Party might be dangerous because their agenda is so disjointed. Nobody really has any idea what the GOP wants to do . . . well, except that they hate niggers and they're going to get Obama at any cost, that much they've made pretty clear - but, that's a different story. What are they going to actually do?

They will not cut taxes for the working American: they never have and they never will, even though that's what they say they will do. The only party that has cut taxes for working people is the Democrats. The Republicans cut taxes for the rich. Period.

They will not cut the budget: if they cut from something they don't like, they will add it to something they do like - always have, always will. No more funding for public education, we need a bridge to nowhere in Alaska.

They will not unify America: they've made it clear that they have no intention of working with anybody, including each other, to bring conclusions or plans of action.

And, most importantly, the party that pretends is supports personal freedom will spend inordinate amounts of time denying homosexuals their civil rights, preventing women from getting access to needed health care, and putting drug users in prison. After all, you are allowed personal freedom, as long as you are like them, and do what they say (just like God and our forefathers intended).

They will do nothing that was historically thought of as Republican; and it seems they will do nothing that has more recently become known as Republican. This is probably for the best.

The GOP has already seen its freshman class side with the Democrats on an attempt to fast-track re-approval of the Patriot Act! Woo-Hoo! Finally, this boondoggle might be allowed to expire. It's only point was to funnel tax dollars to contractors and restrict the movement of taxpayers.

The GOP freshmen also dug in and broke rank regarding a demand of repayment from the United Nations, and passage of a "trade assistance" bill. Trade assistance, by the way, is a Republican phrase that really means: we're going to take some tax money and give it to really rich people who supported our campaigns; no job creation, no stimulus, no hope for investment in the nation's future - just a simple, straight-forward cash payment to rich folk.

Can the GOP freshman class really be a revolutionary force in Washington? Will they really guide their party to sensible budget ideas, campaigns for personal freedom, and investing in the growth of America through infrastructure improvements? This is what the pre-Reagan GOP represented, and perhaps that's what the non-establishment Republicans want to do.

Perhaps they will, and perhaps they should stop calling themselves Republicans!

One thing is certain: John Boehner will have no part of improving America. He has a personal career to promote, a sun tan to apply, and a pack of cigarettes waiting to be smoked. Perhaps his freshman class will be his downfall.

We can only hope!

Republicans in House Battle Turmoil in Their Ranks

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Moments In Incongruity - Judas Priest - Music Video

by Dick Mac

I am a fan of incongruity. A spiritual adviser once suggested that this may not be a good thing; that it might be related to my penchant for seeking the ironic instead of seeking the truth. I suspect he is correct.

I love when things happen that you least expect, especially in the music world.

I remember hearing Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl" for the first time. Although it was certainly Top 40 material, it seemed subversive. I always loved the song, because it's a lot edgier than pop music afficianadoes realize. There weren't a lot of songs written about Patty Hearst, and it took a certain amount of testicular fortitude to try and get away with it in pop music. I have always been a fan of Patty Hearst as a pop star, and wish I still had the Tania wanted poster that I nicked from a post office during the entire debacle.

That is an example of incongruity for me: a pop band singing a very pop sounding song about a young woman who has "joined" a revolution.

I recently posted about another music incongruity that I like: Patti Smith singing "You Light Up My Life" in 1979.

Today's observation of incongruity is Judas Priest singing the Joan Baez song "Diamonds & Rust." Written, one can only assume, and rightfully so, as another song to/about Bob Dylan, "Diamonds & Rust" is a beautiful song.

In 1982, Judas Priest started performing it live in concert. Oddly, Rob Halford maintains the beauty of the song, but the setting and his image make it all seem . . . well, almost . . . wrong.

Still I like it a lot, and here it is for you:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Deport Her!

by Dick Mac

13 FEB 11: As comments have mentioned, this story was a hoax.

When I read that Sarah Palin said Christina Aguilera should be deported for botching the lyrics of the "Star Spangled Banner," because she doesn't know the basics about America, my head hurt.

Is this what the Tea Party really believes are the basics of America: song lyrics? I guess it would go along with the rest of their sophisticated agenda: flags and guns.

Palin got on the Sean Hannity radio show yesterday and said:
Quite frankly, Sean, public figures must be held accountable for what they say. Here's another case of an airhead diva going on TV, running her mouth off, sounding like a fool. She doesn't understand something so basic about America, yet we're supposed to tolerate her diva behavior? Americans can see through that, Sean.


Well, yes, public figures should be held accountable for the things they say. Especially when they say stupid, inflammatory things in an effort to destabilize our government, our nation, and our way of life. You know, like Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity.

Forget, for a moment, the old adage about pots and kettles, and consider what she is saying: forgetting the words to a song equates a lack of understanding of the basics of America and such a person who forgets said words should be deported.

Wow! There is plenty about Aguilera's performance to criticize, mostly her shitty rendition of the song; but to question her patriotism, call her names, and call for her deportation? Really? This is where the Tea Party goes with their philosophy?

This episode reminds me of the comedy video of dummies being afraid and wanting to protect the holiness of America (I may have published this before, so I apologize ahead of time if this is a repeat):

Remember: the agenda of the Tea Party includes the notion that if you forget the words to the national anthem, you should be deported.

Frankly, I was more offended by the crappy rendition of "America" by the woman from the cast of Glee. Let's deport her . . . or . . . no . . . wait . . . she isn't a Latina. Now, I get it!

edited 2/8/11 at 0959 to correct error in first paragraph

Monday, February 07, 2011

Packers 31 - 25 Steelers

by Dick Mac

I "watched" the Super Bowl last night. Oddly, I missed most of the ads; not because I wasn't interested in them, quite the contrary. I am a big fan of advertising and only lost my taste for television advertising in the 1990s when the amount of commercial interruptions doubled from an average of 9 minutes per hour to today's average of 18 minutes per hour.

To a fan of the creative process and marketing campaigns, like me, this might have been a good thing. Sadly, instead of doubling the number of ads produced each year, we simply see the same ads twice as much - over and over again.

Historically, the Super Bowl is where large companies launch their new campaigns, and that has been a reason many tune-in. Especially because it is rare that the game is any good.

Last night was an exception. The game was actually rather engaging and worth watching. Maybe that's why I didn't plug-in to the commercials very much.

My favorite ad was the Pepsi Max ad of a couple in various situations. He wants to eat only things that are bad for him, and she's always catching him and he changes to the healthy alternative.

He is on a park bench sneaking a Pepsi Max, she approaches, he flinches, she assures him that Pepsi Max is OK, he relaxes. An attractive jogger sits on the next bench, waves and smiles. He enthusiastically smiles back, the girlfriend throws the can of Pepsi Max at his head, he ducks and the pretty girl on the next bench gets knocked-out.

What was your favorite ad?

Congratulations Packers!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Chicago - That Wonderful Windy Town

For over a week I have had the song "Chicago" trapped in my head. No matter how many Gang Of Four, David Bowie, James Brown, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lady Gaga, or Rolling Stones songs I listen to, "Chicago" keeps coming back to the top of my mental play list.

So, I had to get it out of my system:

This clip looks like it was made for television, but the sound is rather high-quality for television. It doesn't have the dramatic flourishes that Judy used in the Carnegie Hall version (which I can not find on video), but it is an amazing performance.

One of Judy's most well-known performances is her gig at the London Palladium, in 1960. Famous because it was filmed, not because her performance was necessarily any better than previous performances. She had been diagnosed with acute hepatitis and was told that if she kept-up at the pace she was going she would be dead or invalid in five years.

The Palladium show featured duets with her daughter, Liza Minelli, where the two of them showed that they are some of the best hoofers and singers of their respective generations.

In this version of Chicago, Judy takes the lead vocal for a verse while Liza dances a Broadway-style number, showing of her amazing skills. I wonder nothing about the performance, only if it is Peter Allen on the piano behind her. Allen being the gay man that Liza would marry at Judy's urging.

This show at the Palladium preceded one of Judy's most remarkable performances, her show at Carnegie Hall on April 23, 1961.

Considered a highlight of her career and by one reviewer the greatest night in show biz history, the show was recorded and released as the "Judy at Carnegie Hall" album. The record spent almost two years in the Billboard charts, was certified gold, and won four Grammy Awards including Album of the Year and Best Female Vocal of the Year.

Remarkably the album has never been out-of-print. My mother had a copy of it. Did yours?

I can find no video recording of this performance, but this video slide show includes what I consider the greatest version of this great song:

A few years later, the Judy Garland Show began a run on CBS. Archival footage of shows from this era share one characteristics: terrible audio quality. In this video, Judy sings "Chicago" on her show.

All videos and recordings used without permission.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

When he got there what did he see? The youth of America on LSD.

by Dick Mac

The anti-drug hysteria of the 1950s and '60s led to absurd law enforcement campaigns like New York's Rockefeller Laws, wasteful military campaigns like the "War on Drugs," and some of the most absurd social movements such as "Just Say No" and Art Linkletter's campaign against LSD.

Art Linkletter was a television personality of the 1960s, and his daughter committed suicide. Diane Linkletter's suicide was a tragedy, as suicide, especially the suicide of a young person, always is.

Diane Linkletter likely suffered the emotional and psychological problems that many of us face. Some of us find demons in our mental instability, some learn to manage within the confines of mental illness, some find help and conquer those demons, and some succumb to the horror of mental illness.

Because of the government's fear of LSD in the early 1960s, fear rooted in total ignorance, and our society's complete inability to manage any position besides total acceptance or total proscription, the general public opinion about LSD is that it leads to mental illness, insanity, or death.

I am neither a proponent nor an opponent of LSD use. I don't use it; I have no interest in it. I think there are people who enjoy it and people who fear it. There are people who can handle it and people who can't handle it. Just like booze.

Art Linkletter's campaign against LSD was passionate and quaint, and it was a part of the way he mourned the loss of his daughter. We all deserve to mourn in the way we see fit.

Linkletter's campaign, though, went a bit over-the-top, and whipped America's television-viewing population into a hysterical frenzy against the dangers of LSD.

Frankly, although LSD is a very powerful drug that should be approached with extreme caution, I don't think LSD is anywhere near as dangerous or destructive as cocaine, cigarettes, and alcohol.

During Linkletter's televised campaign against the use of LSD, television producers and their stars were getting fabulously wealthy with the money generated by ads like this:

and this:

They denounced one drug while promoting others.

The hypocrisy of American television producers, anti-drug campaigners, elected officials and law enforcement is almost laughable today: Drink and smoke as much as you want because it's your right, but don't take an acid trip or smoke a joint or we'll put you in jail.

Sadly, this is still true to some degree. We just don't advertise cigarettes on television anymore, and some civilized states have changed drug laws to basically decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Still, billions are spent on the unwinnable "War On Drugs" and politicians can still milk the fear of drugs to be elected to office.

But, I digress. I am really only interested in my memories of the Diane Linkletter tragedy, and the ghoulish exploitation of it by her father. Linkletter went on to make a lot of money and gain a certain amount of prestige with his anti-LSD campaign. He regularly invoked the memory of his daughter in his speeches, telling people she died from using LSD. In reality, it was not ever known if Diane Linkletter was on LSD when she killed herself. It is known that she had taken LSD at some point in the weeks before her death. There has never been any public discussion about her mental health at the time of her suicide; the father made a decision that because his daughter had taken LSD she decided to jump out a window; and that became fact.

Many spoke out against Linkletter's campaign, highlighting the lack of actual information, and questioning the conclusion that it was LSD that caused her death. The media, however, could make more money siding with Linkletter's campaign than offering any investigation into his daughter's life and death.

One critic was the young filmmaker John Waters, who in 1969 made a 16mm film titled "The Diane Linkletter Story" starring Divine, David Lochary, and Mary Vivian Pearce. It is a scathing indictment of the conservatism of the day, the failures and shortcomings of parenting, and the hypocrisy of cigarette-smokers denouncing drug use.

It is a short film, and it is available on I publish it here (without permission):

The title of this article is lifted from the lyrics of "Initials" from the Broadway show "Hair":

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Dark Sky

by Dick Mac

A dark sky can be seen only in a place not inundated with light pollution, also known as photopollution or luminous pollution.

Light pollution is defined by the International Dark Sky Association:
Light pollution: Any adverse effect of man made light. Often used to denote urban sky glow.

See, the IDSA Glossary of Basic Terms, Lighting

Having grown-up in a city and having lived all of my life in places no more rural than the Town of Brookline, Massachusetts, and the Borough of Brooklyn, New York, I have rarely seen a dark sky.

As a child, I recall going on camping trips to an island in Boston Harbor and the hills of Northern New Hampshire. I don't remember paying any attention to the stars in the sky. I spend almost all of my time, and except for some vacations, under the urban sky glow.

I was in my late teens when I was camping in the Mojave Desert. It was my birthday, and I was a little buzzed on champagne (cheap champagne), reefer (twenty bucks for a half-pound of decent quality Mexican weed), and chocolate cake. Laying out under the stars was an amazing experience, because the Milky Way covered the sky like a blanket.

In the mid-1990s, I spent a winter weekend in Maine, and the night sky was clear and crisp and filled with stars. The sky seemed alive, it seemed to undulate with the glow of distant stars, and the closer stars and planets pierced the night like bright pinpoints.

When I look up to the sky in New York City, I see the planets, a few of the brighter stars, the moon, and lots of aircraft. I've always known that this is because the ambient light generated in the city washes-out the lights in the sky.

The International Dark-Sky Association:
. . . is the recognized authority on light pollution. Founded in 1988, IDA is the first organization to call attention to the hazards of light pollution, and in 22 years of operation our accomplishments have been tremendous.

We promote one simple idea: light what you need, when you need it. We know some light at night is necessary for safety and recreation. We work with manufacturers, planners, legislators, and citizens to provide energy efficient options that direct the light where you want it to go, not uselessly up into the sky.

Our approach of public awareness and extensive partnerships is improving nighttime lighting on six continents. IDA acts on numerous issues to create a platform as expansive as the sky itself. . . .
See, About IDA

This is a noble undertaking. If we stop unnecessarily lighting the Earth, we might see the universe more fully.

The IDA has created the International Dark Sky Places Program, which designates parks, reserves, and communities as "dark sky" locations. Flagstaff, Arizona, is a dark sky community!

Recently, a small, rocky chunk of land in the English Channel has been named the world's first dark sky island, a distinction awarded because its low levels of light pollution allow stunning views of the night sky.

The IDA recognized Sark Island for its breath-taking night sky. Sark becomes the newest in the group of dark sky places around the world, and the first island.

Perhaps it's because most of us don't see anything but humanity happening in the sky that we fail to have a more global, or universal sense of ourselves. If that massive sky, heavy with the Milky Way, bore down on us regularly, we might be humbled by its majesty and we might see power as something more dynamic than human invention and bigger than God.

Although we seemed to develop a sense of being responsible custodians of Earth in the latter half of the 20th Century, it is now popular to dismiss the impact of humans on the planet, belittle the science and scientists who have made their life work the investigation of conservation, and promote unregulated exploitation of the planet's resources.

We have replaced the movement to "save the planet" with a movement to "secure our way of life" which has come to mean, it seems, the avaricious accumulation of vast riches without regard to anyone or anything around us. It is what many might call The American Way.

Still, do we need to make bad choices at every turn? Can we consider alternatives at any point, and not be called names by those who would call themselves "conservatives" (even though they want to conserve nothing).

Perhaps the IDA's notion that we needn't light every square inch of the planet could be embraced by "conservatives" under the auspices of "smaller government" (a phrase they like to throw around as they expand the government and its intrusion into the private lives of taxpayers).

If we stop lighting everything, using only the light we need to remain safe and enjoy life, perhaps the government would install and maintain fewer lights. That would then save taxpayer dollars that can be funnelled to the military and privatized government services. "Conservatives" and conservationists then might get what they want, and we might make the planet a slightly nicer place to live.

The IDA has a noble mission, and there is no reason it could not be embraced by everyone

Welcome to the Dark Side: British Isle Named Skywatching Paradise

International Dark Sky Association

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

You know you're getting old when . . .

by Dick Mac

Some humorous emails that are forwarded from one recipient to another are worth sharing.

I enjoyed all of this.

Perhaps things like these true stories happened when I was 20 years younger than I am today; but, for some reason they seem even funnier and more absurd today than they might have back then:

* * *

Recently, when I went to McDonald's I saw on the menu that you could have an order of 6, 9 or 12 Chicken McNuggets. I asked for a half dozen nuggets.

"We don't have half dozen nuggets," said the teenager at the counter.

"You don't?" I replied.

"We only have six, nine, or twelve," was the reply.

"So I can't order a half dozen nuggets, but I can order six?"

"That's right."

So I shook my head and ordered six McNuggets.

* * *

I was checking out at the local Wal-Mart with just a few items and the lady behind me put her things on the belt close to mine. I picked up one of those 'dividers' that they keep by the cash register and placed it between our things so they wouldn't get mixed together.

After the girl had scanned all of my items, she picked up the 'divider' looking it all over for the bar code so she could scan it.

Not finding the bar code, she said to me, "Do you know how much this is?"

I said to her "I've changed my mind; I don't think I'll buy that today."

She said "OK," and I paid her for the things and left.

She had no clue to what had just happened.

* * *

A woman at work was seen putting a credit card into her floppy drive and pulling it out very quickly.

When I inquired as to what she was doing, she said she was shopping on the Internet and they kept asking for a credit card number, so she was using the ATM 'thingy.'

* * *

I recently saw a distraught young lady weeping beside her car.

"Do you need some help?" I asked.

She replied, "I knew I should have replaced the battery to this remote door unlocker. Now I can't get into my car. Do you think they (pointing to a distant convenience store) would have a battery to fit this?"

"Hmmm, I don't know. Do you have an alarm, too?" I asked.

"No, just this remote thingy," she answered, handing it and the car keys to me.

I took the key and manually unlocked the door, I replied, "Why don't you drive over there and check about the batteries. It's a long walk."

* * *

Several years ago, we had an Intern who was none too swift.

One day she was typing and turned to a secretary and said, "I'm almost out of typing paper. What do I do?"

"Just use paper from the photocopier," the secretary told her.

With that, the intern took her last remaining blank piece of paper, put it on the photocopier and proceeded to make five blank copies.

* * *

A mother calls 911 very worried asking the dispatcher if she needs to take her kid to the emergency room, the kid had eaten ants.

The dispatcher tells her to give the kid some Benadryl and he should be fine, the mother says, "I just gave him some ant killer."

Dispatcher: "Rush him in to emergency!"

* * *

Perks of reaching 50 or being over 60 and heading towards 70:

01. Kidnappers are not very interested in you.

02. In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.

03. No one expects you to run--anywhere.

04. People call at 9 PM and ask, "did I wake you?"

05. People no longer view you as a hypochondriac.

06. There is nothing left to learn the hard way.

07. Things you buy now won't wear out.

08. You can eat supper at 4 PM.

09. You can live without sex but not your glasses.

10. You get into heated arguments about pension plans.

11. You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.

12. You quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks into the room.

13. You sing along with elevator music.

14. Your eyes won't get much worse.

15. Your investment in health insurance is finally beginning to pay off.

16. Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the national weather service.

17. Your secrets are safe with your friends because they can't remember them either.

18. Your supply of brain cells is finally down to manageable size.

19. You can't remember who sent you this list.

20. And you notice these are all in Big Print for your convenience.

A final piece of advice: Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

Thanks to Dave for sending this along!