Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Seismologists Tried for Manslaughter for Not Predicting Earthquake

by Dick Mac

In Italy, six seismologists and one government official are being tried for manslaughter because of their failure to accurately predict the ferocity of the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake, and by extension forewarn the citizenry.

Three hundred people died during the quake.

This wasn't the first major earthquake the area had seen in recent years. A 6.0 quake struck just North of the L'Aquila quake, in 1997.

Two small earthquakes occurred in hours before the 2009 catastrophe. Such foreshocks are not unusual, and are not immediately indicative of a larger, more deadly quake to follow.
"This is a really complex region," said Stuart Sipkin, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). . . . "We certainly see foreshocks," Sipkin told LiveScience. "It's not real common, but it's not uncommon either."

The notion that the scientists should be tried due to nature is absurd, especially when the officials running the governments of Western Civilization so readily dismiss findings of the scientific community on a regular basis.

Anti-science, pro-business, quasi-Christian leaders like Silvio Berlusconi want to blame scientists when nature strikes, but ignore scientists when they warn of impending doom based on the activities of industrialization. Let's ignore the scientists when their predictions are unpopular with the business community, and then blame them when it costs money to fix what they are unable to predict.

*sigh*

Seismologists Tried for Manslaughter for Not Predicting Earthquake

Seismologists Tried for Manslaughter for Not Predicting Earthquake



Friday, May 27, 2011

Goldfish and Sculpture, Henri Matisse, 1912

by Dick Mac

Henri Matisse is one of my favorite artists. OK, he might be my favorite painter. Why? The colors.

No other painter was using these pinks and blues like Matisse in the early part of the 20th Century.

Matisse seems to have seen colors that others weren't seeing. Futuristic colors, if you will.

MoMA, even though it is terribly Picasso-centric (to the point of embarrassing themselves by hanging more Picasso works than even a Picasso aficionado can enjoy), hangs a fair amount of their Matisse collection. This painting is there, and is hung on the Fifth Floor.

I love this painting, and you should go see it.



Join MoMA.

Visit MoMA.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rare Photos of Famous People

by Dick Mac

I don't know if Crack Two is the site that originally published this collection of photographs, but I have always enjoyed it.

Of particular interest to me are the photos of Cher, Sony Bono & Bob Dylan, Brigitte Bardot (well, all photos pf Bardot are interesting to me), a young Clint Eastwood looking like an old David Bowie, Andy Warhol and John Lennon groping each other, John Waters autographing the bottom of a stripper, Angelina Jolie as a baby (that is not collagen), Liza and Judy (a religious icon?), Bob Marley and crew with the Jackson 5 (sitting in a tree? really? whose idea was this?), Audrey Hepburn feeding a split of champagne to a fawn, Che Guevara (shirtless and looking more like Che portraying Benicio del Toro than the opposite, which happened in a movie), Marilyn and JFK, a hirsute Mick Jagger, and a shirtless Bruce Lee.

Enjoy!

Rare Photos of Famous People




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Randall's Wild Wild World of Animals

by Dick Mac

The Crazy Nasty Ass Honey Badger is narrated by Randall and is just one of many amazing wildlife videos he narrates.

Randall says aloud all the things we think while watching nature shows about animals killing, eating, fornicating, socializing, and hiding in fear.

He is particularly enamored of this honey badger.



Click through to see his wonderful videos about flamingos, bats, frogs and more.

Randall's Wild Wild World of Animals

Find Randall on Facebook

Thanks to Melinda for the heads-up!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CO2 Is A Natural Byproduct of Nature

by Dick Mac

I know this is an old video, but I just can't get enough of it.

I know there are people who think this woman is brilliant, who want to vote for her, and think she will make a good President.

Michelle Bachmann is an amazing example of just how stupid Americans have become. She is convinced that if she says "the world is flat" enough times, then the world will be flat. So she keeps repeating that carbon dioxide is not dangerous, and eventually everybody will believe her. Well, those people who think the world is flat, like the people of Minnesota!

If you look at the periodic table above, you will see that carbon (C) and oxygen (O) are both natural elements, so that means that CO2 must be twice as safe as anything else in nature, like methane, for example.



Here is an excerpt about carbon dioxide that appears to be non-partisan (that is, it does not appear to be presented by anybody that opposes the tea party):

Carbon dioxide and health

Carbon dioxide is essential for internal respiration in a human body. Internal respiration is a process, by which oxygen is transported to body tissues and carbon dioxide is carried away from them.

Carbon dioxide is a guardian of the pH of the blood, which is essential for survival.

The buffer system in which carbon dioxide plays an important role is called the carbonate buffer. It is made up of bicarbonate ions and dissolved carbon dioxide, with carbonic acid. The carbonic acid can neutralize hydroxide ions, which would increase the pH of the blood when added. The bicarbonate ion can neutralize hydrogen ions, which would cause a decrease in the pH of the blood when added. Both increasing and decreasing pH is life threatening.

Apart from being an essential buffer in the human system, carbon dioxide is also known to cause health effects when the concentrations exceed a certain limit.

The primary health dangers of carbon dioxide are:

- Asphyxiation. Caused by the release of carbon dioxide in a confined or unventilated area. This can lower the concentration of oxygen to a level that is immediately dangerous for human health.

- Frostbite. Solid carbon dioxide is always below -78 oC at regular atmospheric pressure, regardless of the air temperature. Handling this material for more than a second or two without proper protection can cause serious blisters, and other unwanted effects. Carbon dioxide gas released from a steel cylinder, such as a fire extinguisher, causes similar effects.

- Kidney damage or coma. This is caused by a disturbance in chemical equilibrium of the carbonate buffer. When carbon dioxide concentrations increase or decrease, causing the equilibrium to be disturbed, a life threatening situation may occur

Carbon dioxide, at the Lenntech site






Monday, May 23, 2011

Sex and The Bible

by Dick Mac

Offering multiple-choice questions, the New York Times published a quiz on sex and the Bible, that sheds light on some amusing facts.

Sodomites were not condemned for participating in "unnatural" sex acts, but for failing to provide for the needy from their untold riches, and for worshiping idols, and being unwelcoming to strangers. Sounds sort of like Twenty-First Century America. The word "sodomy" was not used to describe a sex act until the 11th Century!

The Bible's position on abortion is never a surprise to me, but the Christian, specifically Catholic, stance on abortion is always a surprise to me. There's nothing odder than seeing a woman with a boob job and face lift (elective plastic surgery) condemning a medical procedure like abortion. I think God would look more kindly on a woman who has had to make the difficult choice of terminating a pregnancy than he would on a woman so spiritually bankrupt that she has to change her physical appearance to feel good about herself.

And divorce? The bible says a man can divorce his wife if she has been unfaithful! Bring that to The Vatican!

Religion and Sex Quiz



Friday, May 20, 2011

"Will You Be Raptured?" Flowchart

by Dick Mac

Now and then the Internet produces brilliance.

With all the talk about the rapture taking place tomorrow, it is no wonder that all of us are jumping on the bandwagon.

Personally, I hope that the Rapture happens for those who believe in that sort of thing, and the rest of us are left alone to get on with trying to restore civilization to a nation destroyed by so-called "conservatism."

To all of you who believe in that sort of thing: I wish you the best tomorrow and hope everything works out for you.

Today, I offer a link to the full "Will You Be Raptured?" Flowchart graphic at Peas and Cougars.

I was unable to secure permission to publish the image here, so please go to their site to see it. It's worth the click!


Remember Mark Twain's take: "I'll take Heaven for the climate and Hell for the company."

You can always visit the blog at http://peasandcougars.wordpress.com/

Thanks to Celia for the heads-up.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rolling Confusion

by Dick Mac

From Mark Vidler and Go Home Productions, here is a cut from the collection "Spliced Krispies."

Go Home Productions uses the existing music of popular artists and mixes them together to create new songs. There is no charge for these recreations.

Some of the cuts are predictable, but most of them are remarkably amusing. Like this one: a mash-up of the Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and The Temptations' "Ball Of Confusion."

Is there any performer who can command a stage of any size like Mick Jagger? And is there a male singing group as tight and talented as The Temptations?

I answer NO to both questions!



Go Home Productions "Rolling Confusion" Rolling Stones-Temptations

Go Home Productions



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Is It About Black People You Don't Like?

by Dick Mac

It's hard to say anything about this.

I mean . . . watch the video. Either this guy is amazingly stupid or borderline sociopathic.

I know that we all harbor prejudice and we fail to keep it private, to some degree, now and then. Yet, in polite company (that is, among other human beings), even I manage to maintain some filter that prevents me from alienating absolutely everyone at the table.

But, to have absolutely no filter in front of a television camera is astounding to me.



The possibly silver lining in this story is that in the Comments section for this video at YouTube, a contestant insists that this guy had a change of heart during the show.

Well . . . OK!

Still . . . there really are people out there who feel this way, and they are getting bolder and bolder about spreading their hate (which they call freedom of speech). These days they've got it all couched in finances and economics, but it's just plain old racism.

Like this guy!



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Boehner In Trouble With Sister Superior





by Dick Mac



The National Catholic Reporter, that bastion of liberal, socialist, secular humanism, has been discussing an open letter sent from a group of Catholic educators and academics to the Speaker of the House.

Republicans are neither Catholic nor catholic. They neither follow the teachings of Christ, nor are they universal in their thinking. These are the only things that can make a person a Catholic or help a person have a catholic view.

Sure, the politicians and bankers in The Vatican might be fans of the politicians in the Republican Party; but that makes neither group terribly Catholic or catholic.

A group of Catholic educators in the United States sent the following open letter to the Speaker of the House:

Dear Mr. Speaker,

We congratulate you on the occasion of your commencement address to The Catholic University of America. It is good for Catholic universities to host and engage the thoughts of powerful public figures, even Catholics such as yourself who fail to recognize (whether out of a lack of awareness or dissent) important aspects of Catholic teaching. We write in the hope that this visit will reawaken your familiarity with the teachings of your Church on matters of faith and morals as they relate to governance.

Please help us improve our Web site by taking this brief survey. Your answers will be kept completely anonymous, and the survey will take 1-2 minutes. Thank you!

Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the Church’s most ancient moral teachings. From the apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.

The 2012 budget you shepherded to passage in the House of Representatives guts long-established protections for the most vulnerable members of society. It is particularly cruel to pregnant women and children, gutting Maternal and Child Health grants and slashing $500 million from the highly successful Women Infants and Children nutrition program. When they graduate from WIC at age 5, these children will face a 20% cut in food stamps. The House budget radically cuts Medicaid and effectively ends Medicare. It invokes the deficit to justify visiting such hardship upon the vulnerable, while it carves out $3 trillion in new tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. In a letter speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Stephen Blaire and Bishop Howard Hubbard detailed the anti-life implications of this budget in regard to its impact on poor and vulnerable American citizens. They explained the Church’s teachings in this regard clearly, insisting that:

A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.
Specifically, addressing your budget, the letter expressed grave concern about changes to Medicaid and Medicare that could leave the elderly and poor without adequate health care. The bishops warned further:

We also fear the human and social costs of substantial cuts to programs that serve families working to escape poverty, especially food and nutrition, child development and education, and affordable housing.

Representing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishops Hubbard and Blaire have now endorsed with other American Christian leaders a call to legislators for a "Circle of Protection" around programs for the poor that you, Mr. Speaker, have imperiled. The statement of these Christian leaders recognizes the need for fiscal responsibility, "but not at the expense of hungry and poor people." Indeed, it continues, "These choices are economic, political—and moral. As Christians, we believe the moral measure of the debate is how the most poor and vulnerable people fare. We look at every budget proposal from the bottom up—how it treats those Jesus called 'the least of these' (Matthew 25:45)."

Mr. Speaker, we urge you to use the occasion of this year’s commencement at The Catholic University of America to give fullest consideration to the teachings of your Church. We call upon you to join with your bishops and sign on to the "Circle of Protection." It is your moral duty as a legislator to put the needs of the poor and most vulnerable foremost in your considerations. To assist you in this regard, we enclose a copy of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Published by the Vatican, this is the “catechism” for the Church’s ancient and growing teaching on a just society and Catholic obligations in public life.

Catholic social doctrine is not merely a set of goals to be achieved by whatever means one chooses. It is also a way of proceeding, a set of principles that are derived from the truth of the human person. In Pope Benedict’s words: "Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way... the word "love" is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite."

We commend to you the Compendium’s discussion of the principles of the common good, the preferential option for the poor, and the interrelationship of subsidiarity and solidarity. Paragraph 355 on tax revenues, solidarity, and support for the vulnerable is particularly relevant to the moment.

Be assured of our prayers for you on this occasion and for your faithful living out of your vocation in public life.

Sincerely,

Stephen F. Schneck
Director, Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

Ken Pennington
Kelly-Quinn Professor of Ecclesiastical and Legal History
The Catholic University of America
School of Canon Law
The Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America

Karen M. Korol
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies
School of Theology and Religious Studies
Catholic University of America

Rett R. Ludwikowski, Ph.D.
Comparative and International Law Institute
Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America

Patricia C. McMullen, Ph.D., JD, CRNP
Dean
School of Nursing
The Catholic University of America

Kenneth P. Miller, Ph.D, RN, CFNP, FAAN
Associate Dean for Administration
School of Nursing
The Catholic University of America

Timothy J. Meagher
Associate Professor
Department of History
The Catholic University of America

Sr. Ann Patrick Conrad, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

Sr. Vincentia Joseph, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

Maryann Cusimano Love, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Politics
The Catholic University of America

Stephen McKenna, Ph.D.
Associate Professor & Chair
Department of Media Studies
The Catholic University of America

Linda Plitt Donaldson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

Margaret Martin Berry
Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America

Leslie W. Tentler, Ph.D.
Ordinary Professor
Department of History
The Catholic University of America

Rev. Anthony J. Pogorelc, Ph.D.
Fellow
Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

William V. D’Antonio, Ph.D.
Fellow
Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

William Barbieri, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
School of Theology and Religious Studies
The Catholic University of America

Enrique Pumar, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
The Catholic University of America

Joseph J. Shields
Associate Professor
The National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

Ellen M. Scully
Assistant Clinical Professor
Columbus Community Legal Services
Columbus School of Law
The Catholic University of America

Marie J. Raber, MSW, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Associate Dean and MSW Program Chair
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

Michaela L. Zajicek-Farber, MSW, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

William D. Dinges, Ph.D.
Ordinary Professor
School of Theology and Religious Studies
The Catholic University of America

William P. Loewe, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology
The Catholic University of America

Karlynn BrintzenhofeSzoc, Ph.D., MSW, OSW-C
Associate Professor
Director, Data Management & Outcomes Assessment
National Catholic School of Social Service
The Catholic University of America

James A. McCann, Ph.D.
Professor of Political Science
Purdue University
Visiting Fellow, Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

Chris Grech
Associate Professor
School of Architecture and Planning
The Catholic University of America

Ernest M. Zampelli, Ph.D.
Ordinary Professor
Department of Business and Economics
The Catholic University of America

David A Lipton
Director, Securities Law Program
School of Law
The Catholic University of America

Murry Sidlin
Professor, School of Music
The Catholic University of America

John Sniegocki
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Kristin Suna-Koro, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Theology
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Jean Lim
Visiting Professor, Theology
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Arthur T. Dewey
Professor of Theology
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Edward P. Hahnenberg, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Theology
Xavier University
Cincinnati, OH

Vincent J. Miller
Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Una M. Cadegan
Associate Professor, Department of History
University of Dayton

Francis Xavier Doyle
Former Associate General Secretary
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Arturo Chavez, Ph.D.
President and CEO
Mexican American Catholic College

Gary Macy
John Nobili, S.J. Professor of Theology
Santa Clara University

Gerald J. Beyer
Associate Professor of Christian Social Ethics
Department of Theology and Religious Studies
Saint Joseph's University

Dr. Eugene J. Halus, Jr.
Associate Professor of Politics
Department of History and Politics
Immaculata University

Kristin Heyer
Associate Professor
Religious Studies
Santa Clara University

Bryan N. Massingale
Associate Professor of Theological Ethics
Marquette University

Dolores L. Christie
CTSA/John Carroll University

Alex Mikulich, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University
New Orleans, LA

Daniel K. Finn
Professor of Theology and Clemens Professor of Economics
St. John’s University
Collegeville, MN

Terrence W. Tilley
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Professor of Catholic Theology
Chair, Theology Department
President, Society for Philosophy of Religion
Fordham University, Bronx, NY

Thomas J. Reese, S.J.
Senior Fellow
Woodstock Theological Center
Georgetown University

Bruce T. Morrill, S.J.
Professor, Theology Department
Boston College

Nancy Dallavalle
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Religious Studies
Fairfield University

Lisa Sowle Cahill
Monan Professor of Theology
Boston College

Bradford Hinze
Professor of Theology
Fordham University

Mary Ann Hinsdale
Associate Professor of Theology
Boston College

Paul Lakeland
Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Professor of Catholic Studies
Director, Center for Catholic Studies

Jeannine Hill Fletcher
Associate Professor of Theology
Faculty Director, Dorothy Day Center for Service and Justice
Fordham University

Paulette Skiba
Professor of Religious Studies
Clarke University

Dennis M. Doyle
Professor
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Maura Donahue, Ph.D.
Director, Program for Christian Leadership
University of Dayton

Richard R. Gaillardetz
Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies
University of Toledo

Christopher Pramuk
Assistant Professor of Theology
Xavier University

Marie Dennis
Director
Maryknoll Office for Global Concern

Mary Ann Brenden MSW, LICSW
Associate Professor of Social Work
St. Catherine University/University of St. Thomas School of Social Work

Mark Ensalaco, Ph.D.
Director, Human Rights Studies program
University of Dayton

Dr. Marie J. Giblin
Associate Professor
Theology Department
Xavier University

Frank Farrell, Ph.D.
Chair- Liberal Arts Division
Senior Associate Professor, Religion
Manor College

Rev. Joseph Nangle, OFM
Our Lady Queen of Peace
Arlington, VA

Todd Whitmore
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Department of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Christine Firer Hinze, Ph.D., B.A, M.A, CUA
Professor of Theology
Director, Francis & Ann Curran Center for American Catholic Studies
Fordham University

Ed Kelly
Adjunct Professor
University Writing Program
University of Notre Dame

Maria McKenna, Ph.D.
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Africana Studies
University of Notre Dame

Sr. Mary Hughes, OP
President
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Ron Pagnucco
Chairman
Department of Peace Studies
College of St. Benedict/St. John's University

Michael A. Zampelli, SJ
Paul Locatelli, SJ Professor
Department of Theater and Dance
Rector, Santa Clara Jesuit Community
Santa Clara University

John A. Coleman, SJ
Casassa Professor of Social Values, Emeritus
Loyola Marymount University

Jim Hug, S.J.
President
Center of Concern

Lew Daly
Director, Fellows Program
Demos
Author of God’s Economy: Faith-Based Initiatives and the Caring State

John A. Barba
will receive Ph.D. in Historical and Systematic Theology at Catholic University graduation on Saturday

Mary Paterson
Professor, School of Nursing
The Catholic University of America

H├ęctor Lindo-Fuentes
Professor of History, Fordham University

Douglass Alvarado
Human Services Judge
Minnesota Department of Human Services

Robert A. Krieg
Professor of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Vytenis Gureckas, RA
Associate Professor
School of Architecture and Planning
The Catholic University of America

Catholic Academics Challenge Boehner

These educators point out the teachings of Christ and the wholly un-Christian approach to government that the Speaker and his cohorts in the Republican Party espouse, while they claim the mantle of the Christus.

Critical Letter By Catholics Cites Boehner On Policies

Initial Thoughts on Letter to Boehner

Thanks to Adam for the heads-up




Monday, May 16, 2011

A Liar Or An Idiot

by Dick Mac

I guess the above title implies that he can't be both. I do not intend that implication.

John Boehner insists that everything is the government's fault, and he is posturing at the expense of the average American.

The problem with using tea leaves and tea bags to make your economic forecasts and calculations is that the resulting answers, and all related analyses, are completely wrong ALL the time. No matter how much it is couched in patriotism, or cloaked in the mantle of the Constitution, it's all just lies being told by liars.

Even the real-life capitalists like Bloomberg, Buffet, Gates and the other richest, most successful capitalists in the world, know that people like Boehner are liars. (Or idiots.) (Or both.)

Boehner’s Views on Economy Contradicted by Indicators, Studies



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Favorite Spoof Of My Favorite Welfare Queen

by Dick Mac

As bad a human being, and I mean "bad" in a moral context, as he is, I can't stop thinking about Donald Trump.

Yesterday, this was posted on Facebook and I watched it twice.

In a row.

I was having trouble figuring-out if there were any lines the dummy was using that Donald Trump might not use. Perhaps he wouldn't make as many racist remarks as the dummy; but, he would certainly make inappropriate remarks about people of color.

This dummy's fiscal planning is as sound as Trump's, so there is a correlation there. Actually, this dummy isn't planning on declaring bankruptcy. Or is he.

Bankruptcy.

That's what Donald Trump does best.

He builds a company until it has a cash flow, he sucks it dry of its profits, runs it into debt and ruin, then declares bankruptcy, keeps all the money and real estate, and the working stiffs of America pay his bills.

This guy is considered a successful businessman? Sounds like a criminal!







Collation

by Dick Mac

About 30 years ago I started reliving part of my childhood by collecting baseball cards.

I knew about Topps Bubble Gum Company; and two upstarts forced their way into the market in 1981: Fleer and Donruss.

When I was a boy, I would buy a pack of baseball cards for a nickel and hope for a Carl Yastrzemski, Willie Mays, Tony Conigliaro, Mickey Mantle, Willie McCovey, Harmon Killebrew, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks, or Pete Rose card.

Completing a set was never a goal, and cards were won and lost in the hallways of the projects as they were flipped against a wall and scooped up by the winner. The balance of power changed daily, and the same Yaz card could pass through many collections between July 4th and the World Series.

And then, of course, there was the checklist or league leaders card that was clipped with a clothes pin to the spokes of the bicycle wheel.

I would collect a handful each of Phil Roof, Ted Abernathy, Wes Parker, and Joe Schulz cards for every Orlando Cepeda, Sandy Koufax, Roberto Clemente, and Hank Aaron card I coveted. And although I was never trying to complete a set, I would faithfully check-off each card on the checklist with a ballpoint pen.

I'm not sure why I checked-off the cards. I guess it was because I had gotten a checklist, and I thought of it as a verb as well as a noun.

Each year, after the World Series was complete, my mother would scoop up all the baseball cards, throw them in the trash and explain that I would be able to get new cards next year. The notion of next year's cards and the anticipation of opening that first pack was plenty enough logic to throw away my 1964 Pete Rose, my 1965 Willie Mays, and my 1966 Mickey Mantle! And out they went.

In the early 1980s, it was suggested to me by a mature adult that perhaps I needed a hobby, since I had so much free-time on my hands. I had tried hobbies in the past, and always lost interest. Then one evening after work I was buying a pack of cigarettes in Fermoyle's Drugs in Brigham Circle and on the counter near the register was a box of baseball card packs. I bought a handful of packs, put them in my briefcase or jacket pocket and promptly forgot about them.

Later that night I opened them. The smell of the bubble-gum and the feel of the gloss on the front of the cards transported me back more than twenty years to a spot behind 104 McGreevey Way, near Oregon Court, during the Summer of 1964.

I was hypnotized by these new baseball cards. I looked at every single card, front and back, over and over again. I examined the statistics (vital and baseball), admired the design, which actually wasn't that nice, and started checking the boxes of the one checklist I had gotten.

The next day I bought more, and then the following week there were different baseball cards by different manufacturers, and I bought some of them.

By 1984, I was purchasing whole boxes of wax packs (36 packs to a box, 10 cards to a pack). I started compiling sets, instead of just randomly sorting through the packs. I began to notice that some brands had better collation than others. Donruss, seemed to package all cards in the same sequence all the time. It got so that collectors could open the first package in the front right corner of the box, and be able to determine exactly which packs below would have a Don Mattingly rookie card inside.

This is when I learned about collation, and I didn't think much about it at the time, as I acquired a quarter-million baseball cards in the course of ten years. I was acquiring so many packages of cards that collation really didn't matter: I was going to complete my sets, no matter the cost.

Eventually, I lost interest in the hobby, not because I lost interest in the game or the cards; but, because the industry had become absurd. By the early nineties there were a half-dozen card manufacturers, each releasing multiple sets of cards, charging two or three dollars a pack.

The market had become saturated and it stopped being fun.

I continued to acquire some cards from the early 20th Century, and kept the cards from the 50s and 60s; but, the vast majority went into storage for more than a decade, until I handed it all over to my nephews. 25-year-old baseball cards are like history to them, and they represent the 80s to me. Letting go of the collection was also made easier by my total lack of interest in the sport. Baseball has become so dull, so tediously long, with so many commercial interruptions, and run by such a lot of dullards, that I just can't be bothered anymore.

Recently, a friend gave me a gift: a 1967 Pele card, by Italian card manufacturer, Panini.

It is beautiful and unique. It is a card I would never dream of buying for myself these days, now that I am a dad. So, when I received it, I almost wept. Actually, later that night when I was home at this keyboard looking at the card, I did weep. I almost sobbed, actually, not only because I owned such a beautiful little piece of paper; but that someone thought enough, cared enough about me that he decided to give me that gift. Somewhere inside me there is still that six-year-old that gets an incredible sensation from holding a baseball card, or in this case, a soccer card.

Now that I had a Pele card, I had to have a Thierry Henry card.

I started searching the internet, starting with eBay, until I landed at the Upper Deck site where they advertised: Buy 2 boxes of last year's (2010) MLS cards, at a deep discount, and receive the special-edition Thierry Henry MLS card, not available any other way except through this offer. The 2011 cards were not yet released, so I did it. Now, I have a card of Titi dressed in a Red Bull New York kit (and two unopened boxes of 2010 MLS cards).

Last week, while looking for something else, I saw a listing for the 2011 MLS cards: one box, 36 packages containing 6 cards each, for $36.00 plus shipping. The set is 200 cards, and this box would give me 216 cards. I knew it was unlikely that I would get all 200 different cards from a pool of 216, but I thought it would be fun to try and assemble a set with my daughter (who is a big MLS fan, especially of RBNY, and assorted handsome players like Andrew Boyens, David Beckham, John Rooney, Rafa Marquez, Johnny Gilkerson, Michael Palacio, Titi, Austin Da Luz and others).

Sport card manufacturers are notoriously, and historically, bad with the collation of cards in the packages, and the notion that you might collect 200 unique cards out of a pool of 216 is absurd, at best.

I opened 30 packs, one-at-a-time as you are supposed to do, glanced at each picture, and sorted them by number in groups of ten.

I pulled the cards of Juan Agudelo, Titi, Backham, Tim Ream, and Rafa Marquez, and slid them into rigid plastic holders.

I sorted the cards as they came out of the packs and I was surprised to see that I only had a few doubles. With six packs yet to open, I was pretty close to having a complete set. Then, with the 35th pack open, I had successfully collected all 200 cards, and gotten a Brian Ching special insert card!

I couldn't believe it! I collected a full set of cards from a single box of packs, and still have an unopened pack!

So, it looks like Upper deck has solved the collation problem, and now that cards cost upwards of twenty-cents apiece, they have made it easy (and relatively cheap) to complete and entire set of soccer cards.

Which I have done.




Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Subway Sign Mystery

by Dick Mac

My friend, Tony, posted a picture of the Spring Street subway station with the name of The Bronx spelled The Broncks.

The Bronx was named for a man named Jonas Bronck, so it is a historically accurate, if not currently correct designation for the borough.

The picture is not doctored or photoshopped. So I wonder if this is some sort of campaign about the history of the city's boroughs, or guerrilla art, or just a plain-old misspelling?

I found an older picture of the same subway stop with The Bronx spelled correctly.

What's going on here?

Will the name of the city revert to New Amsterdam?

If you have any facts about this, or have heard any rumors, or have any thoughts, or have just made-up some interesting and engaging story about the sign, please send it to me, or post it as a comment.

It is my sincerest hope that this is not a misspelling.


Inventory
Tony Visconti

Monday, May 09, 2011

It has been my experience . . .

by Dick Mac

I know my life-experience is limited by the boundaries of my life.

I like to think I have had a broad range of experiences: living in different cities, states, countries; travelling as much as I can, reading many different kinds of writings, eating many kinds of foods, meeting people from all walks of life, trying different varieties of spiritual experiences (gnostic and agnostic alike), dating different kinds of people, investigating many forms of art, music, theater, cinema. I like to think I have a broad range of experiences.

That said, there is a constant that has developed in recent years: every person I know who is opposed to labor unions, federal-guaranteed mortgages, government programs, and affordable education, all come from families who lived in suburban developments funded with tax dollars, in homes mortgaged with federal security, got educated with federal loans, all with money earned by parents who were members of labor unions.

Now that these people have gotten their slice of the pie: done their sucking off the taxpayers, they don't think anyone else should have a shot. They don't want the government to finance any more developments, or guarantee any mortgages, or protect the rights of workers.

These people have joined a group of billionaires and media outlets and formed a minority political movement they quaintly refer to as a tea party.

They are hypocrites - every last one of them.

And that is part of my experience.



Friday, May 06, 2011

Socialist America

by Dick Mac

In the early-1980s, the American Congress, at the beck of the President, began implementing change that the fringe right-wing, newly installed in power, insisted was the will of the American people.

What had to be done, it was explained, and what has been done for the ensuing thirty years, is that the federal government (the government by, for, and of the People of the United States) needed to be down-sized, if not outright eliminated. That taxes on the wealthiest Americans had to be slashed, to stimulate economic growth, and that regulations (including drug, food, and safety regulations) that had been developed over the previous half-century years had to be rescinded.

The fringe-right, which today is the mainstream of the Republican Party, convinced Americans that their own government was the problem, and if only more money was given to the rich, then everything would be better for everybody.

Pundits of all stripes went crazy for this, the most contested issue since the Vietnam War. Two writers at the vanguard of American journalism, whose opinions were revered and sought-after, each put forth their analyses.

Often in the past, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Gore Vidal had appeared together to "debate"' issues of the day. By the 1980s, they no longer appeared together and there appeared to be quite a bit of animosity between them.

Buckley saw Reagan's American vision as the only hope for a limping nation. Vidal felt otherwise.

Buckley believed that "Reaganomics" was the epitome of free-market policy. Vidal explained, one night on television: "It is clear that in America we have socialism for the rich, and free-enterprise for everybody else."

Now, thirty years into the fiasco that is implementation of supply-side economic theory, Vidal is shown to have been correct.

The richest Americans have been relieved of their tax burden (and the fringe-right wants to relieve them even further), the wealth of the rich is protected by law, corporate governance allows those sitting on the boards to take as much money as they choose while denying profits not only to their workers, but at this point, even to their shareholders.

We all know that economic safety nets have been, and continue to be, eliminated for working people (poor people, the middle class). Add to that the ever-increasing elimination of jobs by those who can earn more by moving jobs off-shore, and you have Vidal's nightmare reality:

A political and economic system that protects the income of some (socialism) while forcing others to fight for what little is left over (free-enterprise).

Tea party supporters and other radicals on the fringe-right will tell you all kinds of tales about this situation reflecting the intention of the founding fathers and the Constitution and the Bible.

All the while, these radicals tell us to be wary of socialists who want to destroy our nation; yet, the people who fund the Tea Party, the GOP, and the social-conservative movements in the United States, are all living in a socialist dream where their income, profits, and lifestyle is protected with the tax dollars of working people, and working people pay a greater portion of their salaries to maintain the American standard of living.

This is socialism for the rich.

Everybody who votes Republican because they are afraid of homosexuals, feminists, foreigners, and medical advancement, but who still have to work for a living, are shooting themselves in the foot by supporting the party of socialism!

Welcome to Socialist America: where the richer you are, the more we give you!

Welcome to Socialist America!



Thursday, May 05, 2011

Disappointed

by Dick Mac

Well, it's not like Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the 2008 MLS Cup final in Los Angeles, or the early-round elimination from last year's MLS playoffs, but it is disappointing.

There are so few opportunities to see really, truly relevant documentation. We get so much schlock delivered as news that I am always excited when something really unique appears.

I watched the grainy video of Saddam Hussein's hanging, and regretted watching the beheading of a hostage in Pakistan.

Perhaps it's because the news during my childhood featured live action footage from Vietnam, that I expect to see details that might be considered off-putting.

So, yesterday's final declaration by the White House that President Obama would not allow the pictures of a dead Osama bin Laden to be released leaves me feeling disappointed.

I don't care if the pictures are gruesome. The networks showed the World Trade Center attacks twenty or thirty times an hour on 9/11. THAT was gruesome!

I expected to see the pictures because I don't trust the President. I mean, I trust him more than the last President because he isn't such a blatant liar (or he's a better liar); but the whole 'burial at sea' thing aroused my suspicions and I have decided that once I see the photos of the dead bin Laden, I will be staisfied.

So, although I don't think they are lying about bin Laden's death, I am disappointed that I will not see photographic evidence.



Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Luck

by Dick Mac

The only reason I celebrate the assassination of Osama bin Laden, is because George W Bush let him escape with the explanation that the mission was bigger than just one man. I have always believed, and will always believe, that since the bin Laden family are international developers, and the Bush family is connected to other families that are international developers (and enjoy a warm relationship with the Saudi royal family) that Bush let Osama bin Laden escape as a favor to those with whom he is close.

I have no proof, and perhaps I am clutching at straws; but I just have a nagging hunch about it. Why else would our commander-in-chief allow the world's most wanted man to walk away.

I will not let those thoughts detract from the glee I feel and the gloating in which I revel over the fact that Bush and his traitorous Administration failed to catch the world's most wanted man, and Barack Obama's Administration has succeeded.

Perhaps it's all just luck!

Speaking of luck . . .

This goalkeeper had the good fortune of stopping a penalty shot, which is a very difficult thing to do. Unfortunately, he decided that the most next important thing to do was to celebrate his immediate victory without considering what the aftermath might bring. Sort of like George W Bush:



What's worse, is that the same goalkeeper was equally unlucky a few days later:



Is Khalid Askri, the George W Bush of soccer?



Tuesday, May 03, 2011

While the birthers look for a new issue, I will gloat . . .

by Dick Mac

While all the loonies on the right-wing were making a fuss about the President's birth certificate, and Donald Trump turned it into a cottage-industry, it seems the Commander-in-Chief couldn't be bothered with addressing the issue because he was . . . well . . . commanding the nation's military and killing the world's most wanted criminal.

The criminal that his predecessor allowed to live when he was cornered.

That's right: the traitors, George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld, let Osama bin Laden go free to continue leading the Taliban in their criminal campaign to disrupt the world's workings and impinge on our freedoms. Yup! The Bush administration and Osama bin Laden, together, made the world a much more dangerous place for nearly a decade.

Fortunately, those traitors are out of power (but not yet on trial), and a real leader, a real President, a real patriot, a real American, President Barack Obama, has captured and killed Osama bin Laden.

So, you see, my dear Republicans, the President ignored your babbling about his birth certificate because he was saving the world. As soon as that was in the bag, he released the birth certificate.

So now, why don't all the Republicans go back to little lives filled with little NFL and MLB games, get back to raping the economy, and sucking off the taxpayers, and let the rest of us get on with putting our nation back on track.

I plan to gloat about this until even I am sick of hearing me talk about it!



Monday, May 02, 2011

Osama bin Laden (March 10, 1957 – c. April 25, 2011)

by Dick Mac

The end of an era is always followed by the beginning of a new era.

In the mid-1980s, we formed an anti-Communist alliance with a group of Muslims fighting the Soviet take-over of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union bordered almost all of the "-stan" countries and systematically folded them, as undeveloped countries into the USSR.

When they moved on Afghanistan, we were prepared for them. We armed and financed the Taliban, whose military was led by a charismatic young leader with strong familial connections to Western development throughout West Asia and the Middle East.

The bin Laden family is very wealthy and is connected to all of the other wealthy, powerful families throughout the world. In the 1960s, as their fortune grew, their children spread far and wide, mostly to America, to be educated. They were a Saudi Arabian family who embraced Western technology and business. They drove a station wagon and wore European clothes. They were a smart, hard-working, forward-thinking family with the means to have anything they wanted.

The patriarch Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden had multiple wives and his tenth wife, Hamida al-Attas, bore him a son, Osama, who was his father's tenth child.

Osama bin Laden was born in 1957, and his formal education began at the elite Al-Thager Model School, where he was enrolled from the ages of 10 to 18. He is alleged to have earned a degree in civil engineering in 1979, or a degree in public administration in 1981. Although none of this is confirmed, it appears that his main interest was religion.

bin Laden was one of many religious Muslims who were offended by non-Muslim takeovers of Muslim land throughout that part of the world; although, like most religious hypocrites, he was perfectly comfortable with Muslim invading armies occupying those same regions.

When the Taliban defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, they set-up shop and used American tax dollars to develop and build a theocratic state, so brutal in its authority that most Americans will not even discuss it. Contemporary information about the brutality of the Taliban is readily available in the European press, but was not really covered in the United States.

Perhaps the greatest symbol of the Taliban's brutality was the huge soccer stadium built with funds from Western countries that was used not for soccer matches, but for military executions of citizens accused of religious crimes. The executed were primarily women and homosexuals, but thieves and other petty criminals were also put on center stage so that throngs of onlookers could watch them be maimed or executed.

Emboldened by support of the West, bin Laden began to spread his holy war throughout the world and decided that all enemies of Islam had to be destroyed.

The greatest enemy of Islam, it was decided, was their primary benefactor: the United States. Attacks on United States installations throughout the Middle East led to the withdrawal of all American troops from Saudi Arabia; but that retreat did not satisfy bin Laden and the Taliban, and attacks on US interests increased.

Silent through all of this was bin Laden's homeland, Saudi Arabia, a nation that is alleged to be one of our strongest allies. As is often said: "With friends like that, who needs enemies."

On my birthday in 1993, the holy war against the United States came to our front door when a bomb was detonated in the parking garage of the World Trade Center. Seven people were killed and many injured.

On that day, the WTC became the standing symbol of American strength and resolve against this new military campaign draped in the teachings of Islam. More attacks against the United States followed, but all took place on foreign soil.

Eight years later, I was sitting in my office at 1 Undershaft, in London, chatting on AIM with my friend Elizabeth, in New York City. She typed: "Uh-oh! Something's happening at the World Trade Center; get to a television."

Within moments, the entire 17th floor was abuzz and a television was being set-up in a conference room. We all huddled around and watched the horrible image of one of the buildings burning, then a second plane hit the other building, then it was announced that The Pentagon had been attacked in the same manner.

America was under attack and the English prepared for the same to happen in London. The City was officially closed and everybody began making their way home. Helicopters criss-crossed the London sky and there was a silent, but deliberate exodus out of the City.

Eventually we were shown pictures of Osama bin Laden, a man unknown to the vast majority of Americans, and he became the face of the attack, the face of jihad, the face of al-qaeda, the personification of all evil.

The United States military began a campaign to find bin laden, who was last-known to be in Afghanistan. That campaign, in nascent stages, was stopped, just as the military was closing-in on bin Laden; and America's military might was sent to attack Iraq.

Our war against bin Laden and the Taliban was mysteriously ended and we began fighting a war against a fictional enemy inaccurately named "al-Qaeda" by the government and the media in a place that was no threat to the United States.

Somehow, we all accepted this and the Taliban continued operating and making money, and funneled that money to terrorist organizations throughout Western Asian and the Middle East.

Our greatest enemy, Osama bin Laden, although alleged to be "on-the-run" was still operating his holy war against America, and we were doing nothing about it.

Eventually, there was a change in American leadership and as the oil men left the White House, the military was instructed to focus less on the oil-rich holdings of Iraq and to use their resources in Afghanistan to root out the world's most wanted man, and to stabilize the area.

For the past couple of years, both tasks have seemed impossible; but, at least we were no focusing on the enemies of the United States, instead of the acquisition of oil for a few Texans.

Then last night, it was announced that Osama bin Laden had been found and killed by the United States military, in Pakistan. We were, it was reported, in possession of his body, and the President made the announcement we have been awaiting for ten years.

This morning it was reported that large gatherings had assembled at the WTC and at the White House to celebrate bin Laden's death and remember the tragic events that he master-minded.

Then it was reported that one of his son's was also killed, along with a number of advisers, and that bin Laden had been "buried at sea"

I became suspicious immediately. I have read "[t]here are photographs of the body with a gunshot wound to the side of the head that shows an individual who is not unrecognizable as bin Laden . . ." [U.S. forces kill elusive terror figure Osama bin Laden in Pakistan], and I hope this is true.

So, my conclusion is that President Obama has succeeded at doing what his predecessor refused to do, that this is further proof that his predecessor is a traitor, and that although the world may not really be any safer today than it was yesterday, we have finally killed the most evil man the public has ever loved to hate.

Perhaps this will mean the start of a new chapter in global safety. I certainly hope so. Perhaps, now that this man - this symbol - of some of the worst crimes in my lifetime is dead, the international community can come to an agreement that terrorism is a global problem that benefits nobody; and that as a species, we can hammer-out our differences without hatred and violence.

It is the end of an era. What will the new era bring?