30 April 2008

The camel's nose under the tent

Back on 22 April, 1864, the United States Congress, in its less-than-infinite-wisdom, added In God We Trust to all United States coins, and we've been stuck with it ever since. The religious, of course, think nothing of it. The rest of us cringe and bear it.

Rico says he's still unclear as to exactly what we're supposed to be trusting in God for... Cancer? Poverty? Crime? It always seems like they want to give God the credit for all the good stuff, but never the blame for the bad stuff. Not a bad job, being god, if you can get it...

Code Blue

Seems, according to the Daily Cal newspaper in Berkeley, that the Republicans are going to apply for the same permit privileges that Code Pink got from the city council: "Working with Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the group is asking for sound waiver permits and a parking spot reservation outside the center on Wednesdays from 12 to 4 p.m., the same time Code Pink protests outside the center, said Kimberly Wagner, activism chair for the Berkeley College Republicans."

Rico says this'll be interesting; the council will undoubtedly say no, and then we're straight into Federal court...

It's like those candidates

In the what's it like being Rico? category, Rico says he feels like the presidential race: sometimes he's cold and calculating like Hillary Clinton, sometimes he's emotional and smart like Barack Obama, sometimes he's stupid like Ron Paul, sometimes he's clueless like John McCain, and sometimes he's just portly and out of it like Fred Thompson...

If Obama can make it, why not Jindal?


He even looks kinda like Bobby (Kennedy), if you squint a little. They're saying maybe McCain's running mate, but Rico says he's pitching his hat into the Jindal in 2012 ring early...

O'Reilly eats Clinton live on television

From Newsmax.com: "Sen. Hillary Clinton is going where she's never gone before -- the "the no-spin zone" with Bill O'Reilly. Clinton and O'Reilly, of Fox News, will get together in South Bend, Ind., on Wednesday for an interview, which will air in two parts, on Wednesday and Thursday's "O'Reilly Factor." Clinton, who has never been a guest on O'Reilly's show, is hoping to build momentum going into the May 6 primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. Democratic strategist Kirsten Powers told Fox News that Clinton is trying to present herself as the "tough" candidate. "I think it's a really smart thing for her to do," Powers said.

Rico says that, unless O'Reilly wimps out, it may not end up being a smart move; he's been known to eviscerate people on his show.

500 years early, Michelangelo caught it

It took a lifetime's work, but finally Rico looks like that damned statue. (Michelangelo made the thighs too heavy, but then he wasn't working from the original...)

29 April 2008

An oldie but a goodie

Happened upon Behold a Pale Horse on television this afternoon, and forestalled my nap to watch it. How can one not? Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif. I ask you, does it get any better than that?

Much ado about very little

The whole Vanity Fair flap is nigh unto ridiculous. Okay, she's fifteen. But a) she's an entertainer who prances about on stage in skimpy outfits, b) it's hardly a revealing photo, c) it's what the public wants to see anyway, and d) who the fuck really cares?

As the New York Times noted, fer crissakes: "Last week, the public relations problem du jour was a green bra; photos online showing Ms. Cyrus pulling away her tank top to flash her underwear."

Rico says quick, which is worse, a flash of brassiere, or a stately Annie Leibovitz showing your back? Phaw. They're all morons... (Besides, have you seen the photos of her lolling seductively in her father's lap? Rico says there's more there than meets the eye.)

Why Rico loves it

This, from the Day By Day cartoon in my sidebar:

Rico is a big believer in the .40 Glock; up until recently, he had three of them.

28 April 2008

Still come to his senses, apparently







My friend Bill, as of last report, is still disavowing his belief in the whole Mormon ideology. Rico says he could not be more proud of him; there's nothing harder than realizing that nearly your entire adult life has been structured by a delusion, and still letting go of it...

Schweet

From Apple Insider, an overview of the latest upgrades to the iMac line:
The new 20-inch 2.4 GHz iMac, for a suggested retail price of $1,199 (US), includes:
20-inch widescreen LCD display
2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a 1066 MHz front-side bus
1GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable to 4GB
250GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm
a slot-load 8x SuperDrive® with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT with 128MB GDDR3 memory
built-in iSight video camera
built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
mini-DVI out (adapters for DVI, VGA and Composite/S-Video sold separately)
built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and
the Apple Keyboard, Mighty Mouse and infrared Apple Remote.

The new 20-inch 2.66 GHz iMac, for a suggested retail price of $1,499 (US), includes:
20-inch widescreen LCD display
2.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a 1066 MHz front-side bus
2GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable to 4GB
320GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm
a slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB GDDR3 memory
built-in iSight video camera
built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
mini-DVI out (adapters for DVI, VGA and Composite/S-Video sold separately)
built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and
the Apple Keyboard, Mighty Mouse and infrared Apple Remote.

The new 24-inch 2.8 GHz iMac, for a suggested retail price of $1,799 (US), includes:
24-inch widescreen LCD display
2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a 1066 MHz front-side bus
2GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable to 4GB
320GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm
a slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB GDDR3 memory
built-in iSight video camera
built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
mini-DVI out (adapters for DVI, VGA and Composite/S-Video sold separately)
built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and
the Apple Keyboard, Mighty Mouse and infrared Apple Remote.

The new 24-inch 3.06 GHz iMac, for a suggested retail price of $2,199 (US), includes:
24-inch widescreen LCD display
3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a 1066 MHz front-side bus
2GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM expandable to 4GB
500GB Serial ATA hard drive running at 7200 rpm
a slot-load 8x SuperDrive with double-layer support (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GS with 512MB GDDR3 memory
built-in iSight video camera
built-in AirPort Extreme 802.11n wireless networking & Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
mini-DVI out (adapters for DVI, VGA and Composite/S-Video sold separately)
built-in stereo speakers and microphone; and
the Apple Keyboard, Mighty Mouse and infrared Apple Remote.

Very nice, but Rico says he'll take a new MacBook Air, thank you very much, in black.

Bring back cruel and unusual punishment

Some crimes just cry out for torture and dismemberment on national television (hey, think of the pay-per-view money). This guy doesn't deserve any less.
"We are being confronted with an unfathomable crime," Austrian Interior Minister Guenther Platter said. "The entire nation must ask itself just what is fundamentally going wrong," the newspaper Der Standard said Monday in a commentary.

Rico concurs. Monsters are born all the time, the trick is recognizing them; in the old phrase, specialists should be 'brought in from the Old Country' to determine precisely how to torture this asshole... (Given that it happened in Austria, Rico isn't sure which 'old country' would apply, but he's told the Chinese knew a thing or two about torture, and maybe some of those emerging countries in Africa...)

Chump change

In the latest issue of Philadelphia magazine, Tom McGrath wrote an article about his daughter's appendectomy, trying to figure out how it cost $29,000.
29 grand. Ha. Rico says ha. Piker. Kid stuff.
Not that it's anything to brag about, but Rico's recent incarceration in Jefferson Hospital cost his insurers on the order of a million, plus or minus. Rico hasn't been forced to go through the details (though his long-suffering ladyfriend has), but he's heard the word 'million' bruited about on more than one occasion.

Was it worth it?
Rico doesn't know if the insurers think so, but he does, and so do several people who know and care about him.
But at least McGrath's kid came out of it okay, and is back to kindergarten with no long term problems.
Rico? He's got long-term problems. Hell, he's got short-term problems.
But getting a second life? Priceless.

Another good one gone, again

Rico always knew him as Charlton Heston, but it turns out he, like a lot of other actors, changed his name once he got to Hollywood; he was actually born John Charles Carter in 1923. Like him as an actor or not, like his political bent or not, like his support for guns or not, he was a force to be reckoned with, and Rico will miss him...

Maybe there's a connection

The Republican convention in Reno was halted on Saturday night, without electing delegates to the national convention, mostly to fend off the Ron Paul supporters who'd packed the place. The same night there's a 4.9 earthquake west of Reno. Maybe all those Ron Paul supporters stamping their feet in frustration?

Doesn't sound so scary

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the bete noir of Barack Obama, addressing the NAACP dinner in Detroit. He sounds stuffy, and overtaught, but not scary, to Rico. You don't have to agree with him, but you don't have to brand him as a maniacal racist...

Civil War for the day

Rico, at center, with two of the other 1st NYVE volunteers at Fort Clinch.

27 April 2008

Apple makes blackberry pie

According to this story from the International Herald Tribune, the iPhone is poised to seize the market share of the ubiquitous BlackBerry smartphone. "The vultures are circling," says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates, a research firm in Wayland, Massachusetts. "There is this sense that the RIM franchise is under assault." "Two independent developers writing software for coming RIM devices say that a touch-screen BlackBerry is in the works, and that RIM engineers privately refer to it as the A.K. — for Apple Killer." "Analysts say that RIM's greatest challenge in a consumer-driven smartphone industry may simply be creating devices that people admire and covet as much as the iPhone. Despite the faithfulness of its flock, RIM is not there yet. In a survey this year of 3,600 professionals by ChangeWave, a research company, 54 percent of BlackBerry users said they were very satisfied with their devices. Even so, the BlackBerry was a distant second in the survey: the comparable figure for the iPhone was 79 percent."

Rico says he wouldn't take a fucking BlackBerry as a gift...

Still not enough dead in Afghanistan

Some latent Taliban took a shot at Hamid Karzai recently. They missed. The International Herald-Tribune has the story: Karzai and hundreds of Afghan and foreign dignitaries had been preparing to take to their seats across from Kabul's largest mosque. They were marking the 16th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet-backed communist regime in Afghanistan. The gunfire broke out as a marching band was playing the national anthem.

Rico says we still have some mopping up to do...

Waiting for the crash

According to AFP, Miley Cyrus is not only cute, fifteen, and popular, she's now a billionaire from the sale of her 'memoirs'. In addition to doing concerts around the world, she also has a hot television show, Hannah Montana, in which she basically plays herself and has her real father, Billy Ray (who's a bit famous himself), play her father. "Disney has not held back when it comes to packaging the brown-haired, blue-eyed teenager's brand, which can be bought in the form of dolls, bed sheets, clothes, schoolbags and even video games." "She is likely to remain Disney's darling only so long as she remains young, cute, and perfect."

Rico says he's unclear on how any fifteen-year-old can have 'memoirs', but these days he'll believe anything...

Hey, it can't all be sweetness and light, you know

People have taken Rico to task for his 'downer' attitude in this blog.
What the fuck do they expect from a curmudgeon? Remember, too, I was a curmudgeon before all this...
Besides, there are one or two things out there to be curmudgeonly about: there's a war on (in case you hadn't noticed), there's this little global warming thing (imagine how the polar bears feel about it), there's been a major earthquake in Reno (wonder how the San Andreas Fault is doing), and then there's apparently a little issue with the rice crop (which only feeds about half the world's population)...

Move over for Bill

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bill Clinton is taking on a larger role in the Hillary campaign. "Dubbed the 'Billification' of Sen. Clinton's campaign by some insiders, Mr. Clinton has become something of a strategist-in-chief in recent weeks. He has been pushing for harder and sharper attacks on Sen. Obama. While she has jabbed her opponent over his 'elitist' tone and controversial statements by his former pastor, Mr. Clinton delivers his own slams on the stump, calling Obama ads misleading." "The campaig is continuing the same intense schedule as the race moves to North Carolina, which holds its primary May 6th, and other remaining states. Mr. Clinton's appearances are designed to boost Sen. Clinton's appeal with working-class and so-called "Bubba" voters, older white men who are likely to sympathize with Democratic economic policies but supported Ronald Reagan and other Republicans. Mr. Clinton is also sending out fund-raising appeals, with strong results, two operatives say." "His role has come at a cost -- to morale among some campaign staff, relations inside the Democratic Party and with African-American leaders, and in the view of some, his own legacy. He has lost considerable credibility with many party leaders, who, as "superdelegates" to the party convention, will be crucial in determining who is the Democratic presidential nominee." "For this time in our history, I believe that Hillary will be a better president than I was," Clinton told a crowd in Asheboro. "Not all the hastily arranged appearances for the ex-president have maximum impact. This past Monday, in Greensburg, Pa., so few people showed up for his appearance that the organizers unloaded the entire high school to fill up the gymnasium. The students, thrilled to be allowed to bring in their cellphones to take Mr. Clinton's photograph, talked among themselves during most of Mr. Clinton's remarks." "At several moments in the campaign, Mr. Clinton has raised hackles with offhand remarks. He offended some African-Americans when he compared Sen. Obama's eventual victory in the South Carolina primary to Jesse Jackson's victory there 20 years earlier. Some black leaders considered that a slight against Sen. Obama's success. A few weeks ago, he tried to explain away Sen. Clinton's remarks about a trip to Bosnia, in which she mistakenly said she faced sniper fire when getting off a plane. Instead of clarifying the matter, Mr. Clinton bungled his explanation of how his wife had made the slip, putting renewed attention on an issue the campaign had wanted to put behind it."

Rico sighs; imagine four years (worse yet, eight years) with Bill in the East Wing...

And they say there's no money around

"Anyone can buy a watch that tells time — only a truly discerning customer can buy one that doesn’t."

This from an article in the Wall Street Journal about a watch that has no display for hours, minutes, or seconds — it merely displays whether or not it's daytime or nighttime. "What’s most impressive about the Day&Night is its complexity, given its absolute uselessness. The watch features two tourbillons — devices that overcome the ill effects of earth’s gravity on a watch’s accuracy — connected by a differential mechanism." And, by the way, did Rico mention that the watch costs $300,000? (Yeah, six Porsches, one nice house in Hawaii, or one very nice house almost anywhere else...)

It's batten down the hatches

From the Wall Street Journal: Microsoft Corp.'s deadline to reach a friendly deal with Yahoo Inc. in its takeover bid expired without comment from either party, setting the stage for a hostile acquisition attempt. The issue of price has been a main sticking point, with Microsoft's cash-and-stock offer valued at $29.68 a share as of Friday's market close. Yahoo's directors have rejected the offer as undervaluing the company, and major Yahoo holders have signaled they want closer to $35 a share. If Microsoft were to walk away, Yahoo's share price likely would fall from its level of $26.80, down 50 cents, in 4 p.m. Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading Friday. It was trading at $19.18 before Microsoft's offer, which carried a 62% premium at the time it was announced.

Rico says it's a case of two drunks trying to hold each other up long enough for the other guy to fall down...

A certain 'messiness'

The Houston Chronicle has a column about the Clinton campaign that pretty much sums it up: "There's a certain style to the campaign, and it shows what we might expect in a Clinton presidency: a lot of viewpoints and a messiness," said James McCann, a political science professor at Purdue University in Indiana... A few months ago, Clinton was the front-runner, with a 30-point lead in national polls, $118 million raised in 2007 and the backing of most Democratic power brokers. Today she trails Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in convention delegates, campaign cash and the popular vote... From the time the former first lady announced her White House bid 15 months ago, her strategy was driven by three ideas: Clinton was the inevitable Democratic nominee so everyone should jump on her bandwagon; she had a seasoned team adept at finding and appealing to wide varieties of voters; and she could outraise and outspend all rivals. "The bottom line is that she went in with a set of assumptions that proved to be false," said John Geer, the editor of the Journal of Politics.

That's Rico, laughing silently...

OYAT

Mark should have his computer back on line after tonight and I hope this will give him the incentive he needs to keep in touch via email.
I know I've said this many times before, but please feel free to visit Mark on Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Please call first and we will make sure to be home. He really is missing you all.
Maybe you're holding back and think that we must be inundated with visitors. This couldn't be further from the truth.
I want to thank you all for reading this blog and all the good wishes that you've left for him. He's still not ready to read them yet but we did look at all the pictures. He's just now realizing what a long journey this has been and it's still too much for him to absorb right now.

Rico says it's a year later, and we're still not inundated with visitors, and (just like your dreams in that commercial) he misses you... (And, yes, still true: "he's just now realizing what a long journey this has been and it's still too much for him to absorb right now".)

Civil War for the day

Confederates in a reenactment past.

26 April 2008

Bodacious tatas

Okay, so Rico is a sucker for puns. But when Ford, in a misguided attempt to raise cash, sells off two high-end brands to Tata of India, some things just cry out to be punned.
Now Tata owns Jaguar, Rover, Daimler (not the Daimler of DaimlerChrysler), Land Rover, and Lanchester (a division of Daimler), all for something less than $300 million. (The Rover of the deal is the old BMW brand, not the traditional Rover, which is owned by Nanjing Auto of China, which can't call it Rover.)

Rico says, having owned a Land Rover, he can't imagine what the Indians are going to do with it, but he supposes they won't want to close the UK factories and incur the wrath of the unions... (Of course, given the relative pay scales, they may just say fuck it and move the factories to India.)

Okay, I'll bite; what was he thinking?

Makes you wonder. Of course, it is a Princess phone, and maybe he likes his princesses upside down. Rico does...
This was posted on My cowboy way just 23 days before the land mine went off in my head. It is so ugly, it may well have contributed...

Now that is cool

According to the New York Times, there's a new instrument out there: "Earlier this week, The Sharper Image began selling a laser harp called the beamz. The 18-inch high, $600 device, shaped like a W, connects to the USB port of your PC. It has six invisible laser beams that function as 'strings', each programmed with sounds. Breaking any of the beams by putting a hand into it triggers the system and gives the impression of a string being 'plucked'... The price does seem steep for what is essentially a high-end toy and has a very good chance of ending up on the high shelf of a storage closet."

Rico says he will avoid the obvious pun on being 'plucked' for six hundred bucks, though reluctantly, but it does look extremely cool...

Another celebrity moron

According to the AP, British singer Amy Winehouse was arrested on suspicion of assault Friday, following reports that she scuffled with two men during a night out in a trendy north London neighborhood.

Rico says she does win, however, the "looks like shit when showing up for court" category hands down...

Well, that'll teach him

According to the New York Times, the great actor and obvious moron Wesley Snipes was just convicted of failure to file tax returns and was sentenced to three years. Mr. Snipes was a member of American Rights Litigators. Prosecutors have described that organization and its successor company, Guiding Light of God Ministries, as illegal tax-evasion schemes.

Rico says he's always like Snipes as an actor, but since this is a self-correcting thing (the IRS bitches, you file your returns, you pay your penalty, game over), now he has to not only serve the time, but "Mr. Snipes, who has built a worldwide following acting in films like the Blade vampire trilogy, must pay up to $17 million in back taxes plus penalties and interest". Moron.

Another great one gone, except virtually

Via the Lawdog, a link to some forgotten history that should not stay forgotten: " In one week in the summer of 1936, on the sacred soil of the Fatherland, the master athlete, J.C. Owens, humiliated the master race." "When Owens finished competing, the African-American son of a sharecropper and the grandson of slaves had single-handedly crushed Hitler's myth of Aryan supremacy. He gave four virtuoso performances, winning gold medals in the 100- and 200- meter dashes, the long jump and on America's 4x100 relay team. Score it: Owens 4, Hitler 0." "That was supposed to be the end of Owens' Olympic participation. But from out of the blue, Owens and Metcalfe replaced Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, the only Jews on the U.S. track team, on the 4x100-meter relay. The rumor was that the Nazi hierarchy had asked U.S. officials not to humiliate Germany further by using two Jews to add to the gold medals the African-Americans already had won. Glickman blamed U.S. Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage for acquiescing to the Nazis."

Diplomatic whining of the first order

According to the New York Times, "the United Nations nuclear watchdog pledged Friday to investigate whether Syria had secretly built an atomic reactor with North Korean help, but the agency also criticized the United States for delaying the release of intelligence." "Syria pledged to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency investigation. 'Syria has nothing to hide', its United Nations envoy, Bashar Jaafari, told reporters on Friday in New York."

Still fighting the good fight

According to UPI, five men were arrested Saturday at the Olympic torch relay in Nagano, Japan, as protesters demonstrated against the Chinese crackdown in Tibet. As the torch made its way through the city, human rights activists decrying the Chinese government's treatment of the Tibetans clashed with pro-China demonstrators, who echoed the governments claims that the Tibetans are seeking to break away from Chinese rule.

Rico says the torch protestors should be careful: according to UPI, Nepal says torch protesters will be shot. Chinese climbers are set to carry the Olympic flame to the top of Everest as part of a worldwide relay before the Aug. 8 Olympic Games. "About 25 soldiers and policemen have established camps on the mountain and they have been ordered to use force if necessary to stop any anti-Chinese activities. This could mean shooting if necessary," Home Ministry spokesman Mod Raj Dotel said Sunday.

That'll teach him

Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, an actor, comedian and long-running member of the supporting cast for radio host Howard Stern, has died at age 39. Kallenbach, who was arrested in March for allegedly trying to lure an underage girl into his car, contracted pneumonia at a prison outside Philadelphia and died Thursday morning at a suburban hospital, his mother said.

Rico says he's sorry he can't get Howard on his radio any more; this would probably rate a few minutes of ugly humor on the show...

Another movie Rico won't see

Just like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the new movie of The Hobbit, while Rico is sure it will be wonderful, won't be on his gotta-see-it list.
The versions of the books playing in the movie theatre in Rico's head are, alas, far better than anything that Peter Jackson ever made...

Eating yesterday's lunch

Microsoft, having failed in its takeover bid for Yahoo, will now go after them the hostile-takeover way: buying shares on the open market. That'll drive the price up, presumably, but Microsoft has the money to do it if they want to. But even if they do, they're not going to win the search engine war with Google, which has transmogrified itself into far more than just a search engine. "Microsoft's proposal is seen as far more than a pure business decision at Yahoo, which prides itself on a quirky, fun style that it fears would be crushed under the corporate feet of the world's largest software maker. Analysts believe that Google only benefits while Yahoo and Microsoft are distracted by the takeover quest. Google has steadily increased its share of the online search market and Yahoo is said to be losing value as workers leave for jobs elsewhere to avoid becoming part of the Microsoft machine." Yahoo posted unimpressive earnings in the first three months of this year, indicating to Enderle and other analysts that Microsoft's offer of 31 dollars per share is too high and that Ballmer might simply walk away from a deal. Yahoo's stock price has been propped up by investors banking on Microsoft's offer becoming successful and could collapse if the bid is withdrawn, analysts say. Such an outcome would surely trigger lawsuits by Yahoo stockholders accusing the board of directors of failing in its duty to maximize the value of their investment. Microsoft reported Thursday that its profits slipped to 4.38 billion dollars in the first three months of the year despite revenues rising slightly to 14.45 billion dollars.

Rico says it's not going to taste good when Microsoft finally swallows Yahoo; if everyone at a software company bails (except the idiots, who stay for the money), what did you buy?

Not my dad, fortunately

Per the AP, the beaches of San Diego are closed due to a shark attack that killed a 66-year-old swimmer there on Friday. But it is the first such attack in the region since 1994.

Quote for the day

From this blog: "Windows is collapsing under the weight of legacy support and bad coding. Quick! Run!" "Let’s assume for a moment that Windows has come to the end of the line and the whole deck of cards is collapsing. Where are users (both consumer and enterprise) going to go? The alternatives are pretty obvious. There’s Mac and there’s Linux."

Rico says he couldn't agree more...

Civil War for the day

From the visit of the 7th PA Cavalry Association to Murfreesboro in 2003.

Quite a ship, the Freedom, almost

Moments before the launching on Sept. 23, 2006, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chief of naval operations, told the festive crowd of shipbuilders, politicians and Navy brass assembled at the Marinette Marine shipyard, “Just a little more than three years ago, she was just an idea; now Freedom stands before us.” The ship is the first of a new class of versatile, high-speed combat vessels designed to operate in coastal waters. With an alternate General Dynamics prototype similarly struggling at an Alabama shipyard, the Navy last year temporarily suspended the entire program. The coastal ships — called littoral combat ships — are especially important to the Navy, which has struggled to retain a central role in American military operations after the cold war. In part, they are a response to the Navy’s own Sept. 11 moment, which came in October 2000, when two terrorists in a bomb-laden rubber dinghy rammed the destroyer Cole, killing 17 sailors and wounding 39 more. To Navy planners, a ship designed for coastal combat could neutralize hostile submarines, surface warships, mines, and terrorist speedboats, clearing the way for other combat ships to operate in offshore waters and support combat ashore. “We needed to figure out how to asymmetric the asymmetric guys,” recalled Adm. Vern Clark, who championed the ships as chief of naval operations from 2000 to 2005. The Navy also wanted ships that could travel fast, better than 40 knots. And they needed to be easily outfitted with different weapons and surveillance systems. A removable package of mine-sweeping equipment, for instance, could be replaced with a package of special-operations gear used by a SEAL team. Each ship would carry an uncommonly small crew, about 40 sailors. The Lockheed proposal called for a steel single-hull ship 378 feet long and 57 feet wide. It would have a spacious flight deck and space for two helicopters, a stern ramp and side door near the waterline for launching and recovering small boats, and large interior compartments that could be quickly reconfigured for different weapons systems.
The competing General Dynamics ship, the Independence, an aluminum trimaran considerably bigger than the Lockheed model, is to be launched on Saturday in Alabama. Even though General Dynamics had more time to digest the Navy’s design changes before starting construction, its ship ran into many of the same problems and delays as Lockheed’s. The price tag also more than doubled.

Rico says there'll be hell to pay about the money, but he hopes the Navy ends up with some good ships; they'll need 'em.

Surprise, surprise, surprise

Seems a judge acquitted the three officers who shot the crap out of Sean Bell on 25 November 2006, according to the New York Times. Even Rico thought they'd get convicted of this one; they only shot the poor bastard fifty times. Predictably, Rev. Al Sharpton, a spokesman for the Bell family, called for street protests and said people should get themselves arrested, “whether it is on Wall Street, the judge’s house, or at 1 Police Plaza.”
Also "legal hurdles remain for the officers: federal authorities said they would now investigate the case, and the Police Department is mulling internal charges. A $50 million lawsuit against the city, filed last year by Mr. Bell’s fiancée, who had two children with him, along with the two men wounded in the shooting, may now begin moving forward." "Further, trial testimony showed that Mr. Bell may have played some role, however unwitting, in the shooting, as he was drunk by legal standards when he pressed down on the accelerator of his fiancée’s Nissan Altima and struck Detective Isnora in the leg in an attempt to flee." "Rather than call the shooting justified, the judge said that the prosecution failed to prove it was unjustified, as was its burden. Indeed, his ruling was far from approving of the detectives’ conduct during the undercover vice operation that night. 'Questions of carelessness and incompetence must be left to other forums', he said. He never mentioned the high number of shots fired, or the fact that Detective Oliver had fired 31 of them." "The verdict came 17 months to the day after five officers pointed their pistols at the car Mr. Bell was driving and opened fire. The shooting followed a confrontation between Mr. Bell and a stranger outside the Club Kalua, where Mr. Bell had attended his bachelor party. During the confrontation, Detective Isnora said, he heard the threat about getting the gun. In the events that followed, Mr. Bell’s car struck the detective’s leg and, twice, a police van. Detective Isnora said he saw Mr. Guzman reach for his waistband, shouted “Gun” and fired. The three detectives who were brought to trial fired 46 of the 50 rounds, killing Mr. Bell and wounding Mr. Guzman and Trent Benefield, another friend of Mr. Bell’s." "The United States Department of Justice issued a statement announcing its own investigation. “The Civil Rights Division and the United States attorney’s office have been monitoring the state’s prosecution of this case and, following the review of all the evidence, will take appropriate action if the evidence indicates a prosecutable violation of federal criminal civil rights statutes,” the statement said."

Rico says he's glad he wasn't there that night, having to make instantaneous life-and-death decisions, but he's still surprised the officers didn't get nailed. The Feds will probably take them to task for violating Bell's civil rights, though...

25 April 2008

Quote for the day

From Lie in the Dark, a great cop book by Dan Fesperman: "Cops and reporters, Vlado mused, love-hate partners in the weary fraternity of those who'd seen too much."

Rico says if you like world-weary cops just trying to survive, buy this book. The author does for Sarajevo what Martin Cruz Smith did for Moscow with Gorky Park.

Civil War for the day

These, along with hundreds of others, are on the wall of a restaurant we frequent on the way home from Fort Shendandoah. How Rico has been able to resist a massive midnight breaking-and-entering job on this place, he'll never know...

24 April 2008

Painful memories

Having just rewatched Memento, it's bizarre to realize that it's a movie (quite good, actually) about a guy with serious short-term memory loss. The joke is, I'd seen it a few months back, and have essentially no recollection of seeing it. Oh, a glimmer here and there, but I didn't remember where the story was going or who these characters were. So, in a sense, it's as if I'm living his life, or he's living mine, I can't tell which. Fortunately I can get by on my note-taking, and haven't resorted to the body tattoos that he did...

Radar blip

video
Still a classic.

OYAT

Well, yesterday, to be precise:
"The party was great despite the rain and we all had a good time. Mark is waiting for pictures to remind him of the day. With his short term memory problems, he has a hard time remembering who was here.
Mark's doing well at rehab. He even remembers where we're going in the mornings. During the first few weeks he would ask me a half a dozen times where we were going. Now he even remembers where to go when he gets in the door. He's even remembering his therapists names at times.
I think he's getting used to all his medications too. He's not nearly as sleepy as he was although he goes to bed between 8 and 9 at night. And we must have complete silence, thanks I'm sure to the hospitals inability to control the night noises - usually their voices yelling to each other up and down the halls.
Mark's taste buds seem to be recovering too. He's vigilant about his weight and weighs himself every day and keeps a log."

Rico says he's still too fat, but he continues to weigh himself and prod the process. Given his recent visits to the sleep clinic, sleeping may well improve, too...

Civil War for the day

Having had a long conversation with Dave Matt of the 17th PA Cavalry last night, Rico thought it'd be nice to have this photo of him and his horse at the 140th of Gettysburg. Looks like Dave might be joining the CWgasm troop for our jaunt through the War in 2011 through 2015...

Too scary

This is a story from the New Yorker about a poor schmuck how got onto the wrong elevator and didn't get off it until 41 hours later. The inevitable lawsuit didn't get him a lot of money, and he's now unemployed and broke.

Rico says how they built and installed an elevator without a formal intercom (apparently just one of those "yell vaguely into the air and hope someone hears you" intercoms), he'll never understand, but he'll never get into another one...

23 April 2008

Mountaineering and scuba diving, sort of

In the "what's it like being Rico" category, some things I used to do have now transmogrified.
I used to do some scrambling (not really what you'd call mountaineering; I've never driven a piton, for instance), and I remember the admonishment to always maintain three points of contact (your feet and a hand, or a foot and two hands). Now I do it in the shower, lest I have a dizzy moment (especially when I have my eyes closed, like when I'm shampooing) and go over sideways.
Then there was the scuba moment at the sleep clinic the other night, when they put the big face mask on me with the air compressor blowing in my face. It will, long term, allow me to sleep without snoring, so the ladyfriend can stop sleeping on the couch out of desperation.
So, it's like that in here; the same, only different.
It is often, as I've noted before, just like being drunk without the privilege of drinking...

Makes you wonder

Some emails just come out of the blue, and offer stuff you didn't even know you wanted. Rico says he has no idea what he'd do with this thing, but it is cool...

GREAT DEAL!!!
BRAND NEW 2009 - BENSON 524 – 48’ X 102”
ALL-ALUMINUM FLATBED
$30,800 Including F.E.T.
F.O.B. – CADIZ, KY
IN STOCK AND READY FOR SHIPMENT – NO WAITING
FEATURES INCLUDE:
*52,000# RATING IN 4’ *16” CROSS MEMBERS
*8,680# WEIGHT *2 APITONG NAILERS
*8 SLIDING WINCHES *ALL LED LIGHTS
*DURA-LITE HUBS *CENTRIFUSE DRUMS
*INTRAAX SUSPENSION *HLS HUB ENDS
*ALUMINUM OUTER WHEELS *22.5 LOW PRO TIRES
*BENSON 5-YEAR WARRANTY *TIRE CARRIER
ACT QUICKLY AS ONLY 9 ARE LEFT AT THIS PRICE
CONTACT:
Rick Bivens
Central States Regional Manager
1-270-316-3560

The bitch won, sort of

Ten points. Just enough to keep her in the race, not enough to change the outcome. Per Slate: "There seems to be a consensus that this margin of victory is exactly within the range of what Clinton needed to stay in the race, but fell short of a landslide that could have really changed the shape of the contest." Even though it seems nearly impossible for Clinton to catch up to Obama as far as the pledged delegates are concerned, her victory "does reinforce questions she has raised about whether the Illinois senator can appeal to white working-class voters and carry the big industrial states," says USA Today.

Rico says now we'll have to hear from the two of them for at least another couple of weeks, but at least the bombardment of Pennsylvania ads and phone calls from the campaigns will stop...

21 April 2008

Campaign karma


Okay, so Rico has to get up from his desk, walk into the kitchen, answer the ringing telephone, and only then does he find out it's a recording.
Not once but twice, within five minutes of each other.
First time? Barack Obama.
Second time? (And, no, I'm not making this up.) Hillary Clinton.
(And, yes, the video is a spoof.)

But Fred never called...

And on the other hand

Sometimes 'Next Blog' just gets you disgustingly cute odes to someone's kids, like this. The internet is not infallible...

On the other hand

Sometimes 'Next blog' gets you a Hungarian jeweler, who seems to do nice stuff. Ain't the internet amazing?

Civil War for the day

I'm back, the Civil War is back, and all's right with the world.

20 April 2008

In the 'only in Japan' category

Sometimes hitting the 'next blog' button gets you more than you expected. This site is just one such:

Live penguin
Like Sleep penguin Eat penguin Write penguin Think penguin Talk penguin

Rico says he was in Japan for awhile, and thought he understood them, but he still gets amazed by the Japanese...

It is to laugh

Rico says he remembers Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as a rather useless supervisor of the City of San Francisco. Now that's she's speaker of the house (and how did that happen? She doesn't hold a candle to previous Speakers, including Henry Clay, Sam Rayburn, Carl Albert, and Tip O'Neill), of course, she plays in different circles:
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), a prominent opponent of the Iraq war, said: "She reminded the rank-and-file here not only do we matter, but we're an equal branch of government, and she reminded the president we're no longer a cheap date."
"I think it's important for the government of Iraq to know that they're going to have to take responsibility for the security of their own country, and soon," Pelosi said.

Frighteningly, according to the federal succession statute currently in effect, "the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress is second in line for succession to the presidency; should the president and vice president be unable to serve, the speaker would become president."

Wimps

Other sites have disclaimers like this one: "Comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site."

Rico says, on the other hand, that profanity, personal attacks, and inappropriate comments or material are not only allowed but welcomed on his site...

Important stuff

Rico buys books all the time, and sometimes he gets more than he anticipated. Redemption is just such a book. His original premise was, as the subtitle of the book says, to investigate "The Last Battle of the Civil War", which took place, according to the cover, in 1874, when whites rose up to put down some 'uppity nigras' in Mississippi.
But there's more to it than that, of course.
You'll find a lot of famous names in this book, including President U.S. Grant, Adelbert Ames (a former Union general), Jefferson Davis, and a host of other Civil War notables.
But there's a lot of history that even a historian like Rico didn't know, mostly about the failure of Reconstruction. The central figure is Adelbert Ames, a war hero who fought to preserve the Union, despised abolitionists, and (at first) considered African-Americans an inferior race. Appointed provisional governor of postwar Mississippi, he is horrified at the violence that whites, a minority in the state at the time, use against blacks trying to vote. As military commander, he provides enough security to ensure a Republican victory in the state elections of 1869 (blacks voted Republican until the 1930s), became an advocate of civil rights, and was elected senator in 1870 and governor in 1873.
In July, 1874, A. K. Davis, the-then lieutenant governor of Mississippi and, amazingly, a black man, wrote to President Grant that "armed bodies of men are parading the streets" of Vicksburg and the authorities are "utterly unable to protect the lives and property of the citizens", by which he meant, primarily, black citizens.
Grant, lamentably, does not show well here; he fumbled the use of Federal troops to put down an obvious insurrection, and allowed black rights, including the right to vote, to be eroded by state legislatures dominated by unreconstructed whites.
Rico says he learned a lot about Americans and American history from this book, and advises you to go out and buy a copy today; whether you're interested in Civil War history or not, there are things that occurred back then that are resonating through our national life to this very day. (Barack Obama, for one, would not be a candidate were it not for Adelbert Ames and a myriad others.)

What are they, nuts?

According to the Kansas City Star, "Hillary Clinton leads among bowlers, gun owners and hunters in Pennsylvania, a blue-collar trifecta that is helping her hold an edge over rival Barack Obama heading into Tuesday's pivotal primary."
"I would be surprised if Obama won Pennsylvania," an observer said. "There are not enough African-American and young voters. It's one of the older states."
Clinton seems to have won the better part of the culture clash, leading among hunters by a margin of 56-31 percent, among bowlers by 54-33 percent, and among gun owners by 53-28 percent.

Rico says don't these idiots read? (He knows, they're gun owners, they don't read anything but gun magazines, but really...)

Civil war for the day

Rico says he will be home and able to access his Civil War images later today. Then things will be all right with this blog and the world again...

19 April 2008

Just in case you missed it

Sometimes anonymity is a good thing

One of my sidebar bloggers, Wyatt Earp, doesn't post his photo on his blog. At first I thought it was because he's a Philly cop and didn't want people to be able to identify him. But then I followed a link to one of his articles in another website, and now I see why...

Useful knowledge

Because you never know when you might need one.

Churchill remembered

John from Carolina posts this about an incident where Winston Churchill was armed with the right tool for the job: a Mauser broomhandle:

Mourning the dead

From CBS News: "It’s hard to believe that exactly 13 years have passed since Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and perhaps “others unknown” orchestrated the destruction of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. At the time of the truck bombing, on April 19, 1995, the crime was the worst in American history - 168 people were killed and hundreds more wounded and scarred. Since then, of course, we have come to know mass criminality on a much larger scale. The terror attacks on America on September 11, 2001 were an order of magnitude more profound and deadly than the homegrown terror that spurred McVeigh and Company into action.

(Oddly enough, McVeigh was executed [the first federal execution since 1963] four months before the 9.11 attacks. His final meal? Two pints of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Typical...)

Rico says it doesn't matter if you get killed by stupid white punks in Oklahoma or stupid Arab punks in New York, you're still dead and they're still stupid terrorists...

And you think we have bad government

This blog has a great post about the madness of the Swedish government: "Bertil and Elly Jacobsson of Sweden were robbed of 18,000 kronor (about $3,000) in cash from their home. They duly reported the theft and the thieves were caught soon thereafter, with the Jacobsson's cash in their possession. But rather than having their 18,000 kronor promptly returned by police, Bertil and Emily instead received some disturbing news from a representative of Sweden’s national debt collection agency, Kronofogden. This woman came by out of the blue and said that the thieves had over 200,000 kronor in tax debts and that we wouldn’t be seeing any of our money because it would first go toward paying down those debts,” Bertil explained.

Rico says the Renaissance Man put it well: "if the State tried that where I live, there'd be tarring, feathering and probably lynching going on all over the place", but then he's kinder than Rico...

Missed seeing him

Rico was in Massachusetts this week, and thus missed the Democratic candidates' swing through eastern Pennsylvania. Not that he would have gone to the front door to see Hillary, but seeing Barack would only have required crossing the street:
"In Wynnewood, several thousand supporters lined the tracks for the first stop on his daylong whistle-stop tour aboard a royal blue train car that pulled out of Philadelphia in late morning."

Rico says he's sorry he missed Obama; one of his treasured childhood memories is having seen JFK speak at the airport in Wilmington, back in 1960. (Yes, Rico was only eight at the time, but his long-term memory is fine, thank you.)

Unloved, unwanted, and unlamented

An industry observer sees a death knell for the new Mac clone: "I’m now in agreement with Larry Dignan that, at best, the company is run by amateurs. And amateurs that have made some pretty major mistakes at that. You can’t change the address of your company four times in the matter of a few hours without attracting some level of negative attention. You can’t bad-mouth your credit card payment processor and say that it couldn’t handle the volume of transactions when that is a lie. "

Rico says he won't stay up late, worrying about the death of Psystar. (And they need to change the model name to the Mac POS...)

Lucky

Sandra Bullock and her husband, Jesse James, were hit in Gloucester, Massachusetts by a drunk driver (Lucille P. Gatchell, 64 years old, from Gloucester). The two walked away from the accident and were not even examined, police said.
Gatchell failed a field sobriety test and blew a .20 on the breathalyzer, two and a half times the legal limit. She was arrested, taken to the station, and booked on driving under the influence of alcohol and failure to stay in marked lanes. She was released on her own recognizance and will be arraigned on the charges Tuesday.

Rico says he likes both of them, and is glad they're fine; he does not, on the other hand, like drunk drivers at all, and hopes Masschusetts throws the book at her. She probably won't get any jail time, unfortunately, but it'd be nice to see her sorry ass picking up garbage along the roadside for the next year or so...

The age war

Seems Jack Murtha (D-PA), who's 75 himself, thinks the 71-year-old John McCain is too old to be running for president. Hillary, of course, is a near-baby at 60 (though she doesn't look a day over 65), and Barack is a child at 46 (and, lest there be any argument, according to the Constitution "no person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.").

Just for comparison's sake: here are the ages of previous Presidents when elected (six VPs weren't elected; their president died from any of several causes):
George Washington 56
John Adams 61
Thomas Jefferson 57
James Madison 57
James Monroe 58
John Quincy Adams 57
Andrew Jackson 61
Martin van Buren 54
William Harrison 67
John Tyler
James Polk 49
Zachary Taylor 63 (died on 4 July from eating cherries and milk)
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce 47
James Buchanan 65
Abraham Lincoln 51
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant 46
Rutherford B. Hayes 54
James Garfield 49
Chester A. Arthur (because Garfield was assassinated)
Grover Cleveland 47
Benjamin Harrison 55
William McKinley 53
Theodore Roosevelt 42 (because McKinley was assassinated)
William Taft 51
Woodrow Wilson 55
William Harding 55
Calvin Coolidge (because Harding died in office)
Herbert Hoover 54
Franklin Roosevelt 50
Harry Truman 60 (because Roosevelt died in office)
Dwight Eisenhower 62
John Fitzgerald Kennedy 43
Lyndon Johnson 55 (because Kennedy was assassinated)
Richard Nixon 55
Gerald Ford 61 (because Nixon resigned)
James Carter 52
Ronald Reagan 69
George Herbert Walker Bush 64
William Clinton 46
George Walker Bush 58

So, of the 37 presidents actually elected to office, eight were in their forties, nineteen were in their fifties, ten were in their sixties, and none were in their seventies when elected.
Does that make McCain too old?
Given that everyone is living longer these days (my parents outlived theirs by over a decade, and even I might do that well), perhaps it's high time we elected someone of august age, if only as inspiration to the rest of us.
On the other end of the spectrum, Obama is both legally and experientially old enough to be elected.
Fred Thompson, of course, was ten years older than Rico when he bowed out of the race, which would otherwise have been about fucking perfect...

A good year, 1936

There's an on-going internet war over what John McCain is older than, as if it's a bad thing that he's old.
There's an ad that notes that John McCain is older than the Golden Gate Bridge, plutonium, Coke in a can, McDonalds, and velcro.

Rico says, hell, he's older than all those except plutonium and the bridge.

The blog where I found this lists other things that McCain is older than:

John McCain is older than betraying national security secrets on the front page of the New York Times.
John McCain is older than the fundamental break-down of family structure among the poor.
John McCain is older than the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
John McCain is older than having to explain to your children why everyone on the TV is talking about the President’s penis.
John McCain is older than the ban on lawn darts.
John McCain is older than 9/11 Troofers.
John McCain is older than the ACLU being taken over by radicals.
John McCain is older than Hillary’s secretive health-care task force.
John McCain is older than the public sphere being filled with near-pornographic advertising that is impossible to avoid.
John McCain is older than facial moisturizers for men.
John McCain is older than Gangsta Rap.
John McCain is older than politicized CIA agents distorting a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran’s nuclear program because they don’t like the policies of the President (their boss).
John McCain is older than Roe v. Wade.
John McCain is older than Michael Moore.

Rico says being old isn't the problem; thinking old is...

It worked for Truman

According to the London Telegraph, while his own campaign is downplaying his chances in Pennsylvania ("Ain't gonna happen", Jen Psaki, an Obama spokesman, said), a win in Pennsylvania, where Mrs. Clinton enjoyed a 20-point lead a month ago, would all but give Mister Obama the Democratic nomination. Even a narrow defeat could fatally wound the former First Lady in her quest to face John McCain, the Republican nominee, in November.
A growing perception in some quarters of Hillary as pandering to working-class voters could damage her in Pennsylvania.
The Erie Times-News published a cartoon yesterday in which Mrs. Clinton was portrayed saying: "Heres a little song I just made up 'bout being a simple gun-lovin', church goin', whiskey drinkin' small town kinda gal with tons of real world experience."
Time is against Mrs. Clinton, who needs to prolong the struggle until the party convention in August. Howard Dean, the Democratic National Committee chairman, is piling on the pressure for an earlier decision from the 300 or so out of 796 super-delegates who remain undecided.
"I need them to say who they're for starting now," he told CNN. "We cannot give up two or three months of active campaigning and healing time. We've got to know who our nominee is."

Rico says by all means, as long as it's not her...

Rico watches Katie anyway

According to the LA Times, some viewers of the recent Democratic debate are faulting the interviewers, rather than the candidates:
"Anger at ABC News over the approach its moderators took in this week's Democratic debate continued to spill forth online Friday, with many people writing that they will no longer watch the network's newscasts. "I can't trust that you could ever deliver a fair and balanced news story after the debate," read one comment posted Friday morning. "My choice will be to tune in elsewhere."
Said Rick Kaplan, executive producer of CBS Evening News: "It's never a good idea to irritate the audience."

Quote for the day

Within days after 9.11, the CIA launched a well-planned, comprehensive, covert operation in Afghanistan to decapitate al Qaeda and deliver Osama bin Laden’s head “in a box” to the White House.
Americans would never have blindly charged into Iraq if bin Laden’s head had been properly stored in a refrigerator at the Smithsonian.

Rico says that's the truest thing he's seen on the internet in ages...

And I used to like Ben Stein, too

Seems the multi-opinionated Mister Stein has weighed in on evolution in a new movie:
"Droning funnyman Ben Stein monkeys around with evolution with the new documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, a cynical attempt to sucker Christian conservatives into thinking they're losing the 'intelligent design' debate because of academic 'prejudice'.
Expelled is a full-on, amply budgeted, Michael-Moore-styled mockery of evolution, a film that dresses creationist crackpottery in an 'intelligent design' leisure suit and tries to make the fact that it's not given credence in schools a matter of 'academic freedom'.
Using loaded language and loaded imagery, Stein and Company (Nathan Frankowski is the credited director) equate evolution with atheism, lay responsibility for the Holocaust at the feet of Charles Darwin, and interview and creatively edit biologists and others (scientists cast for their eccentric appearance) to make them look foolish for insisting that science, not religion, can explain creation.
Stein and friends use animation (shades of Bowling for Columbine), amusing chunks of B-movies, and even The Wizard of Oz and classic propaganda techniques to undercut 150 years of peer-tested research. Their goal? Create just a sliver of doubt about evolution. It's a classic Big Tobacco/Inconvenient Truth denial tactic.

That'll shake things up

Seems there was a magnitude 5.2 quake in the Midwest yesterday (not felt in Philly, thus my ignorance until this moment) in the Wabash fault in Southern Illinois.
For a California boy who lived through the last big one there, that's not terribly exciting.
But the Wabash fault may be part of the New Madrid fault zone in the same area.
The New Madrid fault zone produced a series of quakes in 1811 and 1812 that reached an estimated magnitude 7.0, putting them among the strongest known quakes to have occurred east of the Rockies. The quakes changed the course of the Mississippi River and were felt in New England.

And she should stay there

From Boston.com: "In a campaign where the Iraq war, the mortgage crisis, and the economy have been tops in the minds of voters, the two Democratic contenders yesterday sparred over a less weighty question: Who is the bigger whiner?
Clinton made her pitch yesterday in a high school gymnasium, winning cheers from a mostly teenage audience as she castigated the Illinois senator as the class wimp.
"Did you see the debate the other night?" Clinton asked at Radnor High School. "I know that some of my opponent's supporters, and my opponent, are kind of complaining about the hard questions," she said.
"Having been in the White House for eight years, and seen what happens in terms of the pressures and stresses on a president, that was nothing," the New York senator added. "I'm with Harry Truman on this: If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Speaking for myself, I'm very comfortable in the kitchen."

Another rat off the ship

Seems Robert Reich, formerly of the Clinton cabinet, has now endorsed Barack Obama rather than Hillary.
The endorsement underscored one of the difficulties that Clinton faces as she struggles to overtake Obama, who leads the Democratic contest in pledged delegates and the popular vote with just a few major primaries remaining. The more aggressive her tack, polls suggest, the higher she drives her own negative standing with voters.
Clinton leads among superdelegates, 257 to 231, but Obama leads in the overall delegate count, 1,645 to 1,507, according to the Associated Press; it takes 2,025 delegates to win the nomination.
Along with Reich and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, the others who served in the Clinton Cabinet and now support Obama are former Commerce Secretary William M. Daley, former Commerce Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, and Federico Pena, who held two posts under Clinton as Transportation secretary and Energy secretary.
"She's in a box," said Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. "The more she does the things she has to do, the more people don't like her."

Rico says that's because people are smart, in the end...

American humor

"You're in control now," Whitson said. "You have the sauce."

With that phrase, the outgoing commander (an American) of the space station officially handed over control to the incoming commander (a Russian).
Expedition 16 has now been replaced by Expedition 17, and took home with it, in a Soyuz capsule back to Kazakhstan, the first South Korean astronaut.
They landed safely but, for still-unknown reasons, 295 miles off-target...

Civil war for the day

Tomorrow the war comes back. I promise.

18 April 2008

My art hero

The original is here. Rico says he knows it's simplistic and not very avant-garde, and he doesn't give a shit; he likes it, therefore it's good...

Lest we forget


April is the 'anniversary' of the liberation of a number of concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen. If you can watch it without crying, you're tougher than Rico...

Politics makes surprises

The Dread Pundit Blutto blogs the perfect rejoinder to the recent Democratic 'debate' (aka 'train wreck'):

Winner of the Democratic Debate? John McCain.

Rico says he could not concur more...

Civil war for the day

Down to only two days without any Civil War images. Hang in there.

Oohrah for Oprah

My friend Esha, an expert in All Things Wacky, sent me a link to an article about Oprah's latest 'find'. Seems the Big O is off on another 'religious' tear, this time with a vagabond philosopher spewing the same old New Age crap, "making Tolle no different than Scientology, Kabbalah, or any other shiny new religion". (Both of which, Scientology and Kabbalah, Oprah has promoted on her show before.)

Rico says he likes that phrase: 'shiny new religion'. He doesn't like any of the old, tarnished ones either, but the new ones are scary...

17 April 2008

That would be me

Rico has just been awarded a new moniker, The Great Exotherm, in honor of my ability to raise the local temperature no matter where I am. Given the longing of some women to curl up next to me during cold nights, it's probably as true as it gets. Given that I've just asked my host to turn on the overhead fan, and it's barely mid-April in coastal Massachusetts, it's probably truer than some people would like. The interest of ladyfriends in lying alongside me will now decline until the Fall...

Condition of negritude

Via the Gates of Vienna blog, this from a guest blogger:
"Let’s please have it understood that Barack Hussein Obama is not black. He is, by proper definition, a mulatto, being descended from both black and white parents. Rest assured that Obama plays himself up as a black man, but that in no way changes his actual genetic and ancestral heritage. What it does signify is that Barack Hussein Obama is more than willing to ignore racial realities within his own personal realm when they conflict with his overall political vision.
What this bodes in terms of how he will deal with racial issues upon becoming President is not at all heartening. Furthermore, it is a bellwether of even more disturbing possibilities with respect to how such a man might seek to run this world’s greatest superpower.
In an obscene reinvention of Jim Crow doctrine, the thoroughly reviled One-Drop Rule has found new life in American liberals, and with Barack Hussein Obama in particular: the 'one-drop rule' is an historical colloquial term in the United States whuch holds that a person with any trace of sub-Saharan ancestry (however small or invisible) cannot be considered white, and so, unless the person has an alternative non-white ancestry that he or she can claim, such as Native American, Asian, Arab, or Australian aborigine, the person must be considered black.
By Obama’s own reasoning, it would seem as though this long discredited and viciously racist notion — that even the slightest bit of black ancestry makes a person entirely black — suddenly has new validity and pertinence in our time. Perish the thought that, as black Supreme Court jurist Thurgood Marshall insisted, “classifications and distinctions based upon race or color have no moral or legal validity in our society.”

Rico says you can't have it both ways...

It's not just Rico

Via Gates of Vienna, this quote from Global Jihad: The Future in the Face of Militant Islam by Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo:
…[T]he war on Islamic terrorism is just one aspect of a “long war” which has lasted 1400 years already. This is the history of Islamic expansion and pursuit of political dominance which are best expressed in the Islamic doctrine, institution, and practice of jihad. Based on the models of Muhammad and the early Islamic state, jihad has determined the relations of Muslims to non-Muslims ever since, including the theory, ideology, rules, and practicalities of waging war. The foreign policy of the Muslim state is linked to jihad which is the basis of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims.
While modern Muslim apologists try to reinterpret jihad in purely defensive modes (in a moral sense as against evil in society and in a spiritual sense as the individual’s fight against temptation and personal sin), there is no doubt that in Islamic history jihad has normally been viewed, both in traditional Islamic law (shari’a) and in Islamic practice, as the armed conflict against non-Muslims (and against heretical or apostate Muslims) permanently waged to ensure the victory of God’s chosen community and religion, the umma (the whole body of Muslims worldwide), over all polytheistic powers, peoples, and lands.

Using our own against us

The fact that Pakistan and Iran are members of the United Nations human rights council is laughable all by itself. The fact that they are using that august body to try to prosecute Geert Wilders for inciting hatred worldwide is an even better joke.
Via Gates of Vienna, we find that “despite an impressive number of laws, and many plans to prevent racism and xenophobia, recent actions of certain individuals inciting racism and religious intolerance have shocked the Muslim world,” said Pakistani ambassador Masood Khan to the UN Council for Human Rights, meeting in Geneva. "A slanderous documentary (Fitna; already blogged below) by a Dutch parliamentarian meant only to vilify Muslims and subvert the message of the Koran is condemned worldwide,” according to Khan.

Newest book

My latest novel (well, it's really my first novel, but the latest one published) At All Hazards, is finally up on Amazon for you to buy. (Hint, hint...)

Can you say clusterfuck?

From the CDR Salamander blog, about the war in Afghanistan:
"Including the Marines, there are 17,522 allied troops in southern Afghanistan, including British, Dutch, Canadians, Danes, Estonians, Australians, Romanians, and representatives of nine other nations, according to the high command. These coalition military forces are assembled under the banner of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), commanded by U.S. Army Gen. Dan K. McNeill, headquartered in Kabul with an international staff.
Beneath McNeill are five regional commands and numerous national military commands. Henderson's Marine battalion and its parent task force, the 24th MEU, officially are under the command of ISAF and McNeill. But they are assigned to work in conjunction with the regional command here and other coalition forces.
Coordination on long-term strategy is complex, staff officers here said, because the commanders and staffs at each level regularly rotate. Regional command south here, for instance, changes every nine months between British, Canadian and Dutch officers."

Rico says this is the 'good war' that everyone wants us to get out of Iraq to fight...

Civil war for the day

Still no images.
More next week.

Kell's videos

video

Check out my friend Kelley's video blog at http://kelleythennow.blogspot.com/ for more neat stuff like this. In return for learning (well, a little) Animation Master, I'm helping him design his stuff.(And, yes, it's a real airplane, and you can see it in this book:

16 April 2008

Can't take any more, gik

Rico gave the Democratic debate an hour. Now he's walked away, the shovel-on-a-rock voice of Hillary ringing in his ears. While Barack has a much better voice (one that Rico would at least be willing to hear on the nightly news for the next four years), they're both clueless about the future of the war in Iraq and the ancillary war on terrorism.

Rico says he would pimp-slap both of them, given the opportunity. (Note to Secret Service: not really intended as a threat against a presidential candidate, sorry; Rico fulminates, but he knows the law.)

A pope's welcome

The CDR Salamander blog asks the age-old question How many divisions does the Pope have, anyway?

Rico says it doesn't matter, no one's going to listen to him anyway...

Quote for the day

cabbage, n: A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head.
Ambrose Bierce

Another bad one soon gone

According to the New York Times the senior senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Spector, has had his Hodgkin’s lymphoma recur.
At age 78, that's not a good sign.

Rico says he doesn't like to wish bad things on anyone, but if it's going to happen to anyone, surely a benighted fool like Spector is a better target than, say, your mom or mine... (Though I have a dear friend, suffering through the late stages of his mother's Alzheimer's, who'd probably be willing for her to get Arlen's disease. Me, too, as long as Arlen gets to keep some for himself...)

Quote for the day

"The vagina is Satan's playground. Which, of course, it totally is. But in a good way." Mark Morford, columnist for SF Gate

Rico says that's brilliant, and wishes he'd said it...

Roll, al-Obama, roll

That's an old Civil War song title, for those of you who didn't recognize it (Alabama, of course; Rico is a sucker for puns).
But, since Hillary and Barack will be going at it tonight in a debate in Pennsylvania, the notion of a civil war might apply.

Rico says hide and watch; it should be interesting...

Just what they didn't need

Seems China is planning a new major airport in the West, close to areas previously dominated by Tibetans. This will enable them to ship more Han (that they're breeding faster than rabbits, of course) out to the desolate, underpopulated (unless you're Tibetan, of course) western parts of the country.

Rico says a hundred 747 flights a day would be required just to stay even with the increase in population in the rest of China; they're never going to get ahead this way.

Important distinctions

Seems that Wired has compiled a field guide to the world of nerds and geeks.

Rico says you may not like them (hell, he doesn't like them), but they're your children...

Out from behind the shoji

Seems the Japanese have had their first sexpo in Tokyo, according to Wired magazine: "Japan recently had its first-ever adult expo at the Makuhari Messe convention center near Tokyo. In a press release, the organizers of the Adult Treasure Expo vowed to "draw the adult industry out of the darkness and secrecy which has traditionally surrounded it, to the place of honor and value which it deserves."

Rico says for a sample of the merchandise on offer (these are sites not for the easily shocked), go to www.aidoll.4woods.jp/en/index.html or www.piston-r.net/spaceFiles/robo-isu.html or http://homepage2.nifty.com/tm-office/ or www.fuckingmachines.com

Hackintosh? Not for long, it seems

Wired magazine says Apple will come up with some techie solution to killing the new Mac clone, rather than pursue legal means: "The emergence of an unlicensed Mac clonemaker is a sign of Apple's growing market power. The Cupertino company sold more than 2.3 million Macs during the first quarter of 2008 -- a growth rate that's more than 2.5 times that of the overall PC market, according to research firm IDC. Apple had an official clone-licensing program in the mid-1990s, but Steve Jobs killed it in 1997 after returning to lead Apple. Based on the company's website claims, engineers at Psystar appear to be emulating parts of the Mac firmware on a Windows PC -- fooling Leopard into thinking it's running on top of genuine Apple hardware."

The bitch is back

From the Chicago Sun-Times: Throughout his campaign in Pennsylvania, Obama took the high road. He left race out of the conversation, and focused on the issues that voters raised during town hall meetings. Clinton, who not once has challenged Rendell's disgraceful stereotype of Pennsylvania voters as racist, has consistently seized upon polarizing issues in an effort to boost her campaign. Obama has tried to end this latest battle of words, saying: "If I worded things in a way that made people offended, I deeply regret that."
He had no reason to apologize. In attacking Obama as "elitist" and "arrogant," Clinton is again appealing to the lower nature of voters. She has once again proved that she is willing to feed the ignorance of voters like the ones Rendell has described. But, worse yet, Clinton is now communicating to these voters that she that can put an "uppity" black man in his place.

Rico says if Barack is 'uppity', then he's all for uppity nigras as President, but not stupid white bitches...

Il Papa no papa of mine

The Kraut Pope has come to the United States. One of his first messages, while still on the plane, was in answer to a reporter's question about pedophiles in the priesthood:
"“It’s difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way their mission to give healing, to give the love of God to these children,” the pope said, adding that the church would work to exclude pedophiles from the priesthood. “It is more important to have good priests than to have many priests,” he said.

Rico says it's more important to have no priests, but that's not going to happen anytime soon; humans like their delusional structures, and the Catholic Church is one of the finest.

As for the immigration issue, in the longer-term, the pope said, the solution is creating enough development in poor countries “so there would be no need to immigrate because there would be sufficient jobs.”

For once Rico says he agrees with the pope. If we can create jobs (farming, manufacturing, whatever), without crippling our own workforce in the process, those people will be happy to stay home and do something, anything, rather than starve.
 

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