29 December 2004

more sad news from SE Asia

Dead Are Put at 57,000 as Bodies Wash Ashore — Many Missing By DAVID ROHDE

As local officials struggled to account for the dead and missing, another challenge began to loom: heading off disease. [Source: New York Times 12/29/04]

27 December 2004

Update on Tsunami in Asia

See the World Changing website for info from on the spot bloggers on the quake and the resulting tsunami. As of this morning the New York Times put the death toll as 19,000 people, more recent reports from the affected areas suggest the number is closer to 23,000. NYT also has an informative interactive graphic on their main page and a video report.

From the Associated Press newswire comes: "COLOMBO, Sri Lanka(AP) Rescuers piled up bodies along southern Asian coastlines devastated by tidal waves that obliterated seaside towns and killed more than 22,000 people in 10 countries, and officials indicated Monday that the death toll could climb far higher." [Source: AP news wire, on Road Runner.com]

Also from WorldChanging.com: "Read Keith Taylor's understanding of the magnitude of the devastation both immediate and longer term, and a detailed explanation on tsunamis. Excellent coverage at The Command Post, a first-hand account here, updated death tolls here and how you can help [Source : Keith Taylor]."

As a sort of side note, Last fall I attended an exhibition opening at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History featuring photos of the Yangtze River, before and after the Three Gorges Dam was built. One gentleman there was an environmental engineer, who in conversation said that dams cause earthquakes. I wonder. Could the Dam on the Yangtze be putting pressure on the same tectonic plate that caused the earthquake? Could it cause an earthquake? BTW, the Cleveland Museom of Natural History has an upcoming lecture on the subject of earthquakes and volcanoes on Jan. 26th, 2005. I think I will go ask the questions there.

US gov requires Loyalty Oath from overseas importers?

I remember the first time I read a tax form and noticed the line on it that asked me to report all my illegal income. It led me to speculate about really stupid criminals ("Hey guys, do you remember how much profit we took in on that liquor store heist? Let's see, deduct for stocking masks and bullets, depreciaton on my street piece. . . Damn! I am going to have to pay taxes on that job, and I was just hoping to break even.") and even stupider government clerks who expected such items to be reported. Now we've done it again.

Seems that our government might want packages from overseas shippers to include a sort of loyalty oath (shades of McCarthy! ) First I want you to take a good close look at this note found in a package recieved from an Italian distributor of DVDs. Now think about it. Yep, you can rest easy folks, our administration is out there collecting loyalty oaths from anyone who might ship an Osama bin Laden video to the unsuspecting liberal media where they might accidentaly infect us all with the urge to commit treason.

I find this potentially disturbing. I looked at the Senate and House pages looking for the law that required this "declaration," but no luck.

So I tried the Fedex pages for copies of international documents, but there was no info on "Video Declaration" forms. I tried looking at Snopes.com which is the best rumor buster site out there, but again no info. So is this something dreamed up by some bizarre government idea that terrorists and pornographers (talk about strange bedfellows) are going to identify themselves in their shipments of videos to the USA?

Read the the original post from the blog of Matteo Bittanti where I first found out about this (copied below): http://mbf.blogs.com/mbf/2004/12/no_sex_please_w.html

the copy of the letter in his shipment is here:

Anotice_1"Attached is a notice contained in the package. Its a hoot--its just like the 1950s. I am so glad that the government is protecting me from the nasty old terrorist propaganda--not to mention sleazy, indecent, decadent, European smut/porno merchants" (John)

I love the Americans. I mean, who else would require any visitor to specify on a green form if he or she is a terrorist or a Nazi supporter and submit it to the custom clerks before entering the country? (Well, the Russians, for instance - they started using the same forms a while ago). I did not know, however, that when you buy DVDs from Italy and have them shipped overseas, the seller has to declare that the movies do not contain obscenity, illegal matter, or "anything that could lead to treason or insurrection against the US". And what about "Bodily harm"? Now, I ordered many movies through Amazon.com, but I never found a note saying, for instance, that The Godfather does not represent a menace to the Italian republic ;-)

21 December 2004

Buy Blue

Still upset about the election? Maybe you should KNOW YOUR COMPANIES! Don't shop at WalMart! Drink lots of Starbucks!

Buy Blue

Why was BuyBlue.org started?

On the morning after the 2004 election, half of the country woke up in disbelief and disgust. Shortly afterwards it turned to anger and bitterness and many were entertaining moving to another country. It didn't take long for all of us to collectively realize that we had lost our country to the other side and we wanted, no needed to do something about it. It was at that moment that the original idea for BuyBlue.org was born.

What is BuyBlue.org all about?

Mission Statement: BuyBlue.org supports businesses that share our progressive values and ideals. BuyBlue.org uses our power as consumers to vote with our wallets, supporting businesses that abide by sustainability, workers' rights, environmental standards, and corporate transparency. At the same time, BuyBlue.org organizes vast boycotts against businesses that violate the essential values of a sustainable, fair and profitable society through their policies and the politicians they support.

Visit these BUY BLUE Links! Learn who's funding the kind of politics you don't want supported . . . .

Download the full Buy Blue flyer! Post it around town in appropriate spots!

Buy Blue

Very Special Thank Yous to the good folks at Buy Blue for all their hard work! And thanks, Matt, for telling me about this site!

13 December 2004

Holiday Eating Tips

The Holiday Season is upon us so listen up. . . .

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of the year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-aholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it! Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy! Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. Or better yet, cream. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost! I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, drink of choice in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming "WOO
HOO what a ride!"

(author unknown, sent to me by a very wise-in-the-ways-of-pleasure friend,

12 December 2004

Canada Busy Sending Back Bush-Dodgers

The Op-ed piece below was sent to me by a friend. After posting it on my English Department office door (and after all the hysterical laughter died down) I decided it was too good to just keep to myself. Joe, thanks! We needed that. . . .

Canada Busy Sending Back Bush-Dodgers
by Joe Blundo The Columbus Dispatch 11/16/04

The flood of American liberals sneaking across the border into Canada has intensified in the past week, sparking calls for increased patrols to stop the illegal immigration. The re-election of President Bush is prompting the exodus among left-leaning citizens who fear they'll soon be required to hunt, pray and agree with Bill O'Reilly.

Canadian border farmers say it's not uncommon to see dozens of sociology professors, animal-rights activists and Unitarians crossing their fields at night. "I went out to milk the cows the other day, and there was a Hollywood producer huddled in the barn," said Manitoba farmer Red Greenfield, whose acreage borders North Dakota. The producer was cold, exhausted and hungry. "He asked me if I could spare a latte and some free-range chicken. When I said I didn't have any, he left. Didn't even get a chance to show him my screenplay, eh?"

In an effort to stop the illegal aliens, Greenfield erected higher fences, but the liberals scaled them. So he tried installing speakers that blare Rush Limbaugh across the fields. "Not real effective," he said. "The liberals still got through, and Rush annoyed the cows so much they wouldn't give milk."

Officials are particularly concerned about smugglers who meet liberals near the Canadian border, pack them into Volvo station wagons, drive them across the border and leave them to fend for themselves. "A lot of these people are not prepared for rugged conditions," an Ontario border patrolman said. "I found one carload without a drop of drinking water. They did have a nice little Napa Valley cabernet, though."

When liberals are caught, they're sent back across the border, often wailing loudly that they fear retribution from conservatives. Rumors have been circulating about the Bush administration establishing re-education camps in which liberals will be forced to drink domestic beer and watch NASCAR.

In the days since the election, liberals have turned to sometimes-ingenious ways of crossing the border. Some have taken to posing as senior citizens on bus trips to buy cheap Canadian prescription drugs. After catching a half-dozen young vegans disguised in powdered wigs, Canadian immigration authorities began stopping buses and quizzing the supposed senior-citizen passengers. "If they can't identify the accordion player on The Lawrence Welk Show, we get suspicious about their age," an official said.

Canadian citizens have complained that the illegal immigrants are creating an organic-broccoli shortage and renting all the good Susan Sarandon movies. "I feel sorry for American liberals, but the Canadian economy just can't support them," an Ottawa resident said. "How many art-history majors does one country need?"

In an effort to ease tensions between the United States and Canada, Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Canadian ambassador and pledged that the administration would take steps to reassure liberals, a source close to Cheney said. "We're going to have some Peter, Paul & Mary concerts. And we might put some endangered species on postage stamps. The president is determined to reach out."

For all you Blue States

Found this on the internet (thanks to Lisa, and to Amy who shared it with her) and, well, it speaks to me. . . .

I've Got the Blues and Love'n It

By Ray Di Fazio

After stumbling through a few days of post-election disbelief, disappointment and denial, I now find myself feeling strangely liberated.

I've come to realize I've been worrying unnecessarily about a lot of people--e.g., young draft age folks, people in poverty, soldiers in Iraq, women at risk for unwanted pregnancy, people without health insurance, etc. -- who do not give a damn about themselves or others like them. As long as they can keep gay people from marrying, they're apparently content to live in ignorance, ambiguity and squalor, and have their children come home from Iraq without arms and legs.

When an anti-gay marriage amendment (which included removal of all civil union protections and legal rights for children of gay parents) can pass in Georgia by 79%, I can now stop worrying about helping people in that state. Clearly, the people in the "red" states have decided that poverty, war, illiteracy, job loss, no health insurance and reduced civil rights are less important than keeping Adam and Steve (or is it Steven?) from living next door.

Alabama defeated a proposition to eliminate Jim Crow era segregation language from its Constitution! That means the folks in Alabama are still undecided if African Americans are actually people!

When I learned that 99% of soldiers serving in Iraq voted for Bush again, I realized I can stop worrying about them or trying to bring them home. They are doing what they want to be doing and they voted accordingly.

If younger voters couldn't put aside their Playstations long enough to actually vote, then their choice will have consequences. If they face a draft (which is probably imminent), well, they can blame themselves.

In fact, all of these groups will have to face the consequences of their choice to support George W. Bush. Thankfully, I can breathe a sigh of relief. They will get exactly what they wanted.

I think us "blue" voters should stop trying to reason with the unreasonable and encourage like minded blue people to leave those red states. Let's invite them to California or to the rest of the blue states. Let them bring their creativity, economic clout, compassion, charity, tolerance, ideas, belief in science, etc. to states which think rationally and leave the rest of the freaks to fend for themselves.

What? Your trailer park in south Florida got swept away by a tornado and you need food, clothing and donations? Sorry. Don't look at me. Ask the red neck next door to put down his six pack and get you a money order and bail you out.

We are often discouraged because we continue to look to these people to have a light bulb moment -- but let's face it: it's not going to happen. There will be no epiphany. They will not realize their own hypocrisy. They will never realize that democracy applies to everyone. They will never understand that poverty and ignorance damages a society beyond belief. They will never acknowledge that a personal belief in God is just that, a personal belief, not a legislative one. They will never acknowledge that a single mom choosing between paying the electric bill and providing medical care for her child is not a moral failing on her part, but on society's.

There's an expression that says you should never wrestle with a pig, because the pig likes it and you just end up getting dirty. Sounds a little crazy, right? I've never felt more free.

Life is tough. It's tougher if you're stupid.

09 December 2004

Something to think about . . .

Humor helps

There is something hopeful in the rash lately of political humorists who have come out of the woodwork wielding the sword of satire in artwork. Thank you Old American Century!

And also in the media. Thank you Jon Stewart for The Daily Show! I still get most of my news from NPR, but I get hope for the future from you!