Attu Sees All
Res Ipsa Loquitur
Rachel Lucas (on hiatus)
a small victory
Curmudgeonly & Skeptical
The Laughing Wolf
Not Quite Tea and Crumpets
On The Third Hand
Right We Are (Closed)
The Country Store
Single Southern Guy
The Spoons Experience
Jay Solo's Verbosity
Sketches of Strain (Closed)
In Sheeps Clothing
The Accidental Jedi (on hiatus)
Straignt White Guy
The Cheese Stands Alone
Trying to Grok
~ Thursday, July 31, 2003
He's: (a) Clinton's former Secretary of Labor, and (b) an aggravating little bastard.
Another Bike Suggestion for Spoons.
If the 400 mph crotch rocket I suggested a couple days ago is too pricey or too hard to handle, this one should be a snap to drive, even with its 320 horsepower Chevy V8 engine. However, if neither of those is acceptable, there is always this.
via Attu Sees All
~ Wednesday, July 30, 2003
The Telephone Lady – Disconnected.
“The number you have reached has been changed. The new number is …” How many times have you heard that message? It turns out that the voice you (and approximately 22 million other people per day) heard belonged to Jane Barbe. She died yesterday at age 74. Ms. Barbe had been recording messages for phone companies around the country for more than 40 years. Pretty amazing.
I wonder if Ms. Barbe ever met AOL’s “You’ve got mail” guy, maybe at some kind of convention of people who make recorded messages heard by gazillions of people every day.
Link via My So-Called Blog
What Celebrities Would You Like to Have a Beer With?
TJ at Twisty asked herself this question and identified the five living and five deceased celebrities she chose.
One of the five deceased celebrities she chose was “grandma.” She conceded that “grandma” was probably only a celebrity to her, but that she “would love to watch her smoke, slug back a brew and listen to her sassy, colorful commentary about the afterlife.” I would love to have a beer with her too, although I always called her “mom.”
TJ made my heart smile.
Ya Gotta Be In It to Win It.
Several people, all of whom used to be friends, are parties to a New Jersey lawsuit over the ownership of a $25 million lottery ticket. It seems that the fellow who regularly collected a couple bucks each week from a group of co-workers (these days he is called “defendant”) is being sued by his co-workers who claim that he passed off the winning ticket to a former neighbor (he also is known as “defendant”) and shared the winnings with him.
Not surprisingly, the facts are hotly disputed, and no one’s story seems perfect. However, for what it’s worth, the Lottery’s Deputy Director believes the former neighbor who says he has no relationship with the office pool guy, and he doesn’t know anything about any office lottery pool. A Superior Court judge will have to sort it all out.
The moral of the story is that if you take people’s money for a lottery pool, after you buy the tickets, run – don’t walk - to a photocopy machine, make copies and see that everyone in the pool gets copy of the tickets you bought for the pool. This is particularly true if you also buy your own tickets. Cover your ass, because when $25 million is involved, lawyers are easy to find.
Another Dubious Distinction for the Garden State.
It’s not bad enough that New Jersey has what the DOT considers to be lousy roads, and that it leads the nation in car thefts, now we learn via DynamoBuzz, another Jersey Blogger, that we pay the highest auto insurance premiums in the nation. I have a feeling that these three things go together.
Would somebody please call Tony Soprano to get this straightened out. Oh, I forgot. He’s vacationing with the governor.
~ Tuesday, July 29, 2003
It’s a bitch when you’ve written something, and you take a look at the several hundred words on the screen that are supposed to be the finished product, and there’s no denying it. It stinks. I just created such a beast. I tinkered with it for a few minutes and finally came to the conclusion that it was just plain lousy. It seemed like a good idea a few hours ago as it began to take shape in my head. Maybe it was even a great idea, but ideas aren’t worth spit if you cannot bring them to life with words.
I closed the document, and the pop-up message taunted me: “Do you want to save the changes you made to Document 1?” No thanks. A blank screen is far more interesting.
Maybe my literary beer fart was the result of having seen a good bit of a perfectly idiotic television show called “Dog Eat Dog.” Now there's a real stinker. Buff contestants, stupid stunts and a hostess with a body to kill for and the brains of a piss clam.
I’m sure of it. That damned fool television show turned my brains to shit.
I hope it’s only temporary.
~ Monday, July 28, 2003
How Many Blogs?
Right We Are pointed to a post on Outside the Beltway discussing TTLB’s reporting of traffic statistics. TTLB tracks almost 3,600 sites. Of those, Outside the Beltway notes, there are 985 sites that have open Site Meter traffic statistics.
All this counting leads one to wonder just how many bloggers are out there (out here) plugging away.
According to information published at Blogcount, a site that is chock full of blog and blogger demographics, it turns out that the 3,600 blogs tracked by TTLB are but a tiny fraction of the estimated 2.4 to 2.9 million bloggers in the blogosphere. Imagine that. There are 2.9 million similarly situated nutbars out there (out here).
That would make one helluva long blogroll.
Parkway Rest Stop Logo.
OK, here is the logo, but you may never see it where it belongs, because for two nights I have been pulling out my gott-damned hair (Did I mention that I have great farookin' hair?) trying to get it to come up on the page correctly.
Right about now I am fresh out of patience, and I'd like to find the person who dreamed up HTML and hang my foot in his/her ass.
A Motorcycle for Spoons.
Spoons recently received his motorcycle license and purchased a used Kawasaki. However, he has his sights set on something a little spiffier. This one is perfect. It is the Dodge Tomahawk. It boasts 10 cylinders, 500 horsepower, and will accelerate from zero to sixty in about 2.5 seconds (hold on!), with a theoretical top speed of 400 mph (really hold on!).
Unless Spoons is representing Kobe Bryant, he may need a weekend gig to pay for this silver beauty, which carries a price tag of $250,000.
Check out all the details here.
Link via The Presurfer
“Surefire” Way to Deal with Bad Drivers.
So, you’re driving down the Garden State Parkway, doing a respectable 65 mph, when you notice, in your rear view mirror, some maniac weaving across four lanes, doing 90 mph. In a flash, the jerk is one foot from your rear bumper, but not for long, because he swerves to the right, then swerves back into your lane, cutting you off. He bolts into the left lane, where he tailgates someone who is already doing 75, until the lunatic does the same maneuver to the left lane guy, obviously set on breaking the sound barrier and endangering everyone else on the road in the process.
In those circumstances I find myself hoping that a state trooper catches this NASCAR driver wannabee idiot before he kills someone.
Well, if I had one of these specially equipped SUVs, I wouldn’t need no stinkin’ trooper. This also would be very nice to have on just about any day on Route 22.
Link via Country Store
~ Sunday, July 27, 2003
Wacko German Dogs and Sunny the Terminator
Rachel Lucas has a funny story about a pack of obviously pissed off dogs in Bavaria that is running around attacking parked cars and causing lots of damage. The animals have not been captured, nor is there any explanation for their verrueckte behavior. I figure they must have gotten into a bad batch of beer.
This comes on the heels of Rachel’s Friday post, in which she chronicles the ongoing saga of her dog Sunny, the Grackle Terminator. I hope for the sake of those dumb ass birds (“Satanic minions” to use Rachel’s term) they don’t follow her to her new digs.
~ Saturday, July 26, 2003
Another Nice Saturday.
It’s another nice Saturday here, so I have decided to opt for pool bobbing and vodka sipping over sitting at the keyboard. So, here’s a little something you might enjoy. Go take a look at the site that has tons of information and great graphics and tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the game Monopoly. I particularly liked the images of the old “Chance” and “Community Chest” cards.
via The Ultimate Insult
~ Friday, July 25, 2003
Quote of the Day.
Go read the Quote of the Day at On the Third Hand. I wish I would have said that.
The Governor’s Mea Culpa.
Today, Governor McGreevey, amid the controversy surrounding his recent acceptance of a six-day family trip to Puerto Rico – all paid for by the International Longshoremen’s Association (“ILA”) -- characterized his acceptance of the trip as an “honest mistake.” He stated that he would reimburse the ILA from his “personal funds” for the cost of the trip, which was had been cut short due to governor’s having to attend the funeral of an unidentified staffer’s daughter.
The governor had accepted the invitation to be the keynote speaker at the ILA’s annual convention, this despite the ILA’s well-known history of having ties to organized crime. A bad situation became even worse when, during the opening session of the convention, the ILA president, John Bowers, announced that he expected the ILA to be named in a federal racketeering suit.
Assuming, as I think we must, that the governor was surprised by Bowers’ announcement, and further assuming that the governor was unaware of the ongoing investigation of the ILA by four state and federal law enforcement agencies, it is still difficult to understand how he could not have known that this year his own attorney general indicted seven alleged Genovese crime family members, including the president of a New Jersey ILA local, for allegedly shaking down dock workers.
The editorial in today’s Star Ledger stated:
Bad as this trip smells, the governor is unlikely to get into any legal trouble. The state’s ethics rules have creative escape hatches. The governor appointed all the members of the Executive Commission on Ethical Standards, the group that is investigating. And since Attorney General Peter Harvey recently accepted high-priced boxing tickets paid for by promoters and was forced to pay his own reimbursement, he is not likely to make much fuss over the governor’s transgressions.
Not only will the governor avoid any legal trouble, but he will also avoid suffering any serious political consequences stemming from this. As I have said before, the democrat voters in this state (the same folks who brought us Robert Torricelli and Frank Lautenberg) will give him a complete pass on this one.
Because I figure that I’m going to be stuck with Mr. McGreevey for quite some time, I offer him some unsolicited advice for the future:
1. Try to choose your friends a bit more wisely. Even the normally democrat-leaning Star Ledger noted your “bad taste in friends.”
2. Hire yourself a lawyer or political advisor who will provide you with honest advice, rather than giving you the answers you want to hear, which results in after-the-fact legal justifications that are, on their face, ridiculous.
3. Follow the example set by the overwhelming majority of state employees, who understand the ethics rules and, accordingly, will not accept a free lunch or even a free cup of coffee while on state business (I’ve seen this myself).
4. Pay for your own damned vacations.
5. Pray regularly that your democrat constituents continue to remain willfully blind.
Living in Jersey…It’s an adventure.
~ Thursday, July 24, 2003
ABC "News" with Peter Jennings.
Perhaps it was the product of a brain fart, but I actually watched Peter Jennings’
Lest there be any doubt about which
The Truth Laid Bear Undergoing Repairs.
For those of you who have been wondering what’s up with the Blogosphere Ecosystem, N.Z. Bear lays it out in a post called “Everything is Wrong.” He describes the problem (which is way, way beyond my grasp) and is providing updates on the repairs.
Given that I am not long on content at the moment, I thought I would pass this along. I received it from a friend, and it cracked me up. Supposedly these questions about Australia were posted on an Australian website, and the answers were provided by an Aussie with a terrific sense of humor.
1.Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, so how do the plants grow? (UK)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.
2. Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.
3. Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles. Take lots of water.
4. Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Australia? (Sweden)
A: So its true what they say about Swedes.
5. Q: It is imperative that I find the names and addresses of places to contact for a stuffed porpoise. (Italy)
A: Let's not touch this one.
6. Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?
7. Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the pacific, which does not... oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.
8. Q: Which direction is North in Australia? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 90 degrees. Contact us when you get here, and we'll send the rest of the directions.
9. Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.
10. Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is...oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys’ Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.
11. Q: Do you have perfume in Australia? (France)
A: No, WE don't stink.
12. Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.
13. Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? (UK)
A: You are a British politician, right?
14. Q: Can you tell me the regions in Tasmania where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.
15. Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France)
A: Only at Christmas.
16. Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney, and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilisation of vegan hunter gatherers. Milk is illegal.
17. Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca, which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.
18. Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.
19. Q: I was in Australia in 1969 on R+R, and I want to contact the girl I dated while I was staying in Kings Cross. Can you help? (USA)
A: Yes, and you will still have to pay her by the hour.
20. Q: Will I be able to speek English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first.
Thanks to Barbara for passing this along.
Broadway Show Recommendation.
Next time you find yourself in New York City, or if you are planning a trip there. You absolutely have to go see this show. It is pee in your pants funny.
~ Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Governor McGreevey – Reaching New Heights in Low Class.
Just when we thought our governor could not be more of a national embarrassment, it gets even worse. It turns out that the International Longshoremen’s Association (“ILA”), the labor organization that paid for the six-day vacation in Puerto Rico for the Gov and his family (see yesterday’s post), is under investigation by four (count ‘em) four federal and state agencies for possible connections with the Genovese crime family.
The President of the ILA, John Bowers, announced at the start of the organization’s convention in Puerto Rico (the event attended by our governor) that he expects that the ILA may soon be named in a federal racketeering suit. Presumably the suit he referred to is an outgrowth of the investigation being jointly conducted by the New York Statewide Organized Crime Task Force, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, and the FBI.
This certainly is not the first time that organized crime has been linked to the ILA. In the 1970’s fully 117 ILA officers, dockworkers and shipping executives were successfully prosecuted, fined or jailed for racketeering. In fact, reports The Star Ledger, “Four straight general organizers, the third-ranking post at the ILA, were toppled by racketeering or corruption charges.”
Mr. Bowers, prior to the current investigation, was no stranger to law enforcement agencies. In 1990 Bowers settled a suit brought by the Justice Department to remove the influence of the Gambino and Genovese crime families from New York and New Jersey’s ports. Bowers settled the suit and relinquished one of his three presidencies.
Much of Bower’s current trouble apparently stems from the testimony given by a former Genovese crime family member who turned state’s evidence and testified about the cozy relationship between Bowers, the ILA and the Genovese crime family.
McGreevey’s press secretary (not an enviable job these days) issued the following spin, “The governor’s trip is not about whether one officer is under investigation. The governor’s trip is about the thousands of people who work in the ports of New Jersey.” I guess if you get paid to be the governor’s press secretary, you have say something.
However, in a twisted sense, he is partially correct. The governor’s trip is not about one officer being under investigation. Rather it is about the governor’s shamelessly accepting large gifts from an organization with a long, sordid history of close ties with organized crime families, whose members over the years have been successfully prosecuted for racketeering, shakedowns and various other crimes including conspiracy and arson.
In the end, it won’t matter. He’ll get a pass from New Jersey’s democrats.
~ Monday, July 21, 2003
The Governor and his Bottomless Pit of Gall.
You simply cannot make this up.
How would you like to fly to Puerto Rico and spend six days with your family in the Caribe Hilton Hotel? The resort boasts “17 acres of lush tropical gardens beachfront” and is located on a private peninsula. Every room has an ocean view, and, of course, your stay includes meals and a rental car.
How much might such a wonderful vacation set you back? I’m not sure. However, if you are the Governor of New Jersey, it won’t cost you a dime.
It seems that the International Longshoremen’s Association, a large democrat party campaign contributor, is picking up the tab for this trip. It’s also paying for the hotel rooms of a Governor’s staff member and a couple state troopers.
All the Gov has to do to earn this free family vacation is to make a speech at the Longshoremen’s Association convention.
Of course, the Governor’s staff is already out there trying to put a positive spin on the trip - a trip that anyone with three living brain cells instantly knows stinks to high heaven. Get this: The Gov’s spokesperson said that the “trip is important to New Jersey because we have such a large Puerto Rican population. I think it’s important to have good relations because so many New Jerseyans still have familial and cultural ties to the island.”
What??? The Longshoremen’s Association is paying for this trip, and the Governor and his family are taking this trip, because New Jersey has Puerto Rican residents?? Did this spokesperson recently suffer massive cranial trauma?
What about the conflict of interest inherent in taking big gifts from groups with a distinctly political agenda (and, I might add, a most unsavory history)? Jersey’s conflicts=of-interest law clearly prohibits state employees from accepting gifts or any “thing of value.” Last time I checked, the Governor is a state employee, and also last time I checked, a six-day family vacation in Puerto Rico, with airfare, meals and car included is a “thing of value.”
No problemo. The Governor is relying on an exception to the law that permits the acceptance of “reasonable fees” for making speeches.
What??? The price of a six-day family vacation constitutes a “reasonable fee” for making a speech? Even granting that idiotic proposition for argument’s sake, do we want our Governor in the speech selling business? I think we have a right to expect the Governor to devote all his time to … well, …governing.
One would think that after taking a beating in the press for spending the state’s taxpayers money for a lavish trip to Ireland, which included a family reunion dinner party, he would have a little more sense.
I can only assume that he thinks this latest jaunt is O.K., because it isn’t the taxpayer, but rather a large campaign contributor that is footing the bill. Does he believe that we are dumb enough to think that he will not be beholden to the Longshoremen’s Association when future port-related legislation surfaces.
He most certainly does believe that, and the said thing is that he is right. The majority of New Jersey’s voters are that goddamned dumb. They elected him, didn’t they?
~ Saturday, July 19, 2003
Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of
Craig at mtpolitics pointed to this site, where one answers a series of questions in order to have one’s pirate name chosen in a most scientific fashion.
Craig ended up with a cool name, “Dirty Jack Cash.” I wanted a cool name too.
I headed to the site and answered all the questions, including the one about the parrot and the one about penguins. Mind you, I took this test without studying even a little bit, which is pretty gutsy for me.
I finally reached the point where I was one click away from getting my really cool pirate name. I paused before clicking, hoping that I got a name as cool as Craig’s.
My pirate name? “Mad Morty Cash.” Morty??? A Jewish pirate? I can hear it now. “Oy, ye stinkin’ sea rats. I’ll keelhaul the next man who I sees eatin’ meat and dairy together!”
I suppose this could mean that Craig and I are related. Jack and Morty Cash sailing the seven seas in search of the perfect pastrami.
After reading this, Craig (the seadog Mensch, a/k/a “Dirty Jack Cash”) took things one step further and wrote “The Adventures of Jack and Morty Cash, P.C.,” the story of the pirates who insist that everything be glatt Kosher.
Swallow your coffee before you start reading.
A Bit of Housekeeping.
What with the departure of Life After Fifty and Mean Mr. Mustard, I have removed them from my blogroll. I’ll keep a light on for them, should either decide to return.
I’ve added two new links, both of which have been bookmarked for a while. I think you’ll like them.
Side Salad. Regular doses of fun stuff, with creative use of images.
Bloviating Inanities. Great writing that is laugh out loud funny. Anyone who can find hilarious things to say about nose hair and gout definitely gets blogrolled.
~ Friday, July 18, 2003
~ Thursday, July 17, 2003
I got to play golf today in an outing that was attended by a bunch of these guys. Matt Snell was in my foursome. Here he is (no. 41) about to score a touchdown in Super Bowl III. What a nice guy (and he can hit a golf ball a mile). Oh yeah, this guy was also there and still looks damned good.
People who know me know that I am not much of a sports fan, but it was quite something to be among these guys, all of them still friends and all of them gentlemen.
The outing was a fundraiser for Freedom House, an organization that provides a no-bullshit residential rehabilitation program for men who are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs. Many of the program graduates were in attendance, and they are living proof of the excellent work that Freedom House does.
I had planned to write some thoughts on golf from the perspective of a lousy golfer, but I’m a tad tired, so I’ll save that for another day.
~ Wednesday, July 16, 2003
RSS Feeds and Aggregators –Talk about making my hair hurt!
The other night, a reader dropped me a line suggesting that I really ought to have an RSS feed. I bared my clueless soul and confessed that I had heard the term “RSS” before and I had even seen those three letters smooshed together on other people’s blogs, but I had no idea what RSS meant. How could I even begin thinking about having an RSS feed when I didn’t know what the hell an RSS feed is?
The patient (and by now sorry he mentioned it, I’m sure) reader wrote back and explained that, with an RSS feed people like him who have “aggregators” to get the RSS feeds can see instantly which of their favorite blogs have been updated, and they can even read a bit of each updated blog to see if it is “clickworthy” (my term – he was being nice). He even sent me a link about “aggregators.” This was a good thing, because “aggregators” are as foreign to me as are “RSS feeds.”
I figured, hell, I should just go out there on the web and get me one of those RSS feeds and one of those really cool aggregators.
I went to this site. The site has five pages, and this appeared on the first page.
For rss2html.pl to work on your system, you should have a recent version of Perl installed, 5.003 or better. 5.005 is recommended. You will also need the XML::Parser and XML::RSS modules installed.
To install the modules on a *nix system, type:
perl -MCPAN -e "install XML::Parser"
perl -MCPAN -e "install XML::RSS"
If you're using a win32 machine (Win95/98/NT), you have a recent installation of Activestate Perl. If you don't have a recent version, visit http://www.activestate.com.
I clicked my way through the next four pages, becoming more depressed and lost with each click.
I did, however, get the sense that in order to talk RSS, one must know what XML is. So, I went to this site, where I was enlightened by:
XML specifies neither semantics nor a tag set. In fact XML is really a meta-language for describing markup languages. In other words, XML provides a facility to define tags and the structural relationships between them. Since there's no predefined tag set, there can't be any preconceived semantics. All of the semantics of an XML document will either be defined by the applications that process them or by stylesheets.
You’ve GOT to be shitting me.
OK, so what about aggregators? Maybe if I got one of those, this RSS and XML stuff would make more sense. So, I went here and saw this:
First of all, before installing Syndirella, you will need to have the Microsoft .NET Framework runtime version 1.0 installed. This is a 20 Megabyte download. If you do not already have it, you can either install it through Windows Update or download it from the Microsoft web site.
The latest beta version of Syndirella is the version 0.9b beta, released on January 19th, 2003. You can download it here:
· Syndirella 0.9b (250K)
· Source code of Syndirella 0.9b (101K)
· List of changes in version 0.9b
On second thought, I think I’ll just go into the kitchen and put my head in the farookin’ oven. I don’t have to download anything to do that.
Oh no, Mr. Bean.
I survived this year’s cold rain-soaked, non-spring in Jersey.
Summer came like a sucker punch, bringing with it sweltering days with suffocating humidity. Finally, we were treated to a couple nice (albeit hot) weekends, and we are bracing for yet more hot days, possibly into mid September.
So, what comes in the mail a day or so ago? The L.L. Bean FALL Catalog.
Fall? Did you say Fall? No way, Mr. Bean. I’m just not ready.
Page 4. Long sleeve turtlenecks. Nice colors, but not now, please.
Page 14. Adirondack Barn Coats Coats?? Hell, I just broke out the sunscreen two weeks ago!
This baby goes to the back of the bathroom reading basket until the frost is on the punkin’.
Maybe then we can talk coats. Right now, I’m thinking shorts and tank tops.
~ Tuesday, July 15, 2003
All the hoorah over the business of shooting-naked-women-with-paintballs (which now appears to have been 24 carat caca) got me to thinking of a story a good friend told me many years ago while he was a student at NYU in the sixties. You’ll see in a moment that the connection between the paintball-naked ladies story and the following is anything but obvious, but humor me, please. It’s just the way my cruller works.
So, this friend of mine told me (and swore that it was true) that there was a guy in Greenwich Village who would pay people to throw cabbages at his bare ass. My friend thought the guy was some kind of artist. I figured him to be a nut.
I often wonder whether he is still at it. He would have a pretty old ass now, and I’m pretty sure he would have to pay the cabbage throwers considerably more than he did in the sixties when a buck went a lot further. Now that I think about it, the cost of cabbage has probably also risen quite a bit. Art can be expensive, I suppose. So can being a nut.
I always thought the guy should have called himself “The Kapusta Kid.” It sounds great and would look swell on a tee shirt.
…And Some Return.
Well, we lost Mean Mr. Mustard and Life After Fifty, but the news isn’t all bad, because Spoons is back. I will happily put him back on the blogroll and even more happily read his stuff every day.
Some Have Gone…and Some Remain.
We read today that Mean Mr. Mustard, the ass-kicking, non-liberal who is being held hostage in Berkeley, is calling it quits, having decided to devote his blogging time to the study of law at Boalt School of Law, to which he was recently accepted. Recently we also learned that Gary at Life After Fifty has taken down his blog, having been hounded from the blogosphere by trolls
While we will miss them both and wish them the best, the contrast surrounding the circumstances of their decisions to cease blogging is painfully obvious. One voluntarily departed to explore new intellectual challenges, but the other was – to use an employment law analogy – an “involuntary quit,” which was caused by a “hostile blog environment.”
Rita, in her usual no-baloney fashion, has lamented the negative effect that trolls have had on the blogosphere, and there is no better example of that than the case of Gary at Life after Fifty. The vast majority of Gary’s recent posts were anything but controversial or confrontational (the kind that are most likely to attract the attention of trolls). Rather, they were deeply personal and moving observations – the kind that, some might say, reflect the wisdom and sensitivity born of the author's having spent five decades on the planet. Gary wrote about his bittersweet re-acquaintance with any Army buddy who was terminally ill. He shared with us his devastation following the recent death of his handicapped son. He let us look in regularly on his wonderful grandchildren and made no bones about how much he loved them.
Nevertheless, he was targeted for harassment by a couple hate-spewing trolls. For the life of me, I cannot fathom how cowardly and evil one would have to be to get some sort of gratification from leaving mean-spirited and hateful comments in Gary’s blog. Did these wastes of oxygen celebrate when they learned that they drove this man off the internet? Could it possibly have made them feel good about themselves? Can we chalk it up to the foolishness and insensitivity of youth? I don’t know, because we have no way of knowing their ages. We do know that, whatever their ages, they are genuinely evil.
And, the thing I know for sure is that not one of them is worth the sweat off Gary’s ass.
~ Monday, July 14, 2003
The Tax Man Cometh.
Papers filed with the Federal Election Commission revealed that presidential candidate Al Sharpton is being audited by the IRS. The audit covers several years during the 1990's. The document provides a rare peek into the rather mysterious world of Mr. Sharpton’s finances, and how it is he manages to put bread on the table.
We learn that last year Mr. Sharpton reported having earned $381,900, which is broken out as follows:
$120,000 from "Reverend Al Productions" for speeches and sermons;
$ 78,000 from the National Action Network, a non-profit organization founded by Mr. Sharpton;
$ 75,000 from the publisher of his book "Al on America.";
$ 30,000 from SPN Broadcasting, described as a suburban Detroit firm;
$ 25,000 from PepsiCo for his work as a member of the company's “black advisory board.”;
$ 25,000 for "consulting services" provided to Global Hue, Inc., a marketing company;
$ 25,000 for "consulting services" provided to Hawkins Food Group (here is a pic of Mr. Sharpton, Mr. Hawkins and others - scroll to 2nd photo), and
$ 3,900 (at least) from Inner City Broadcasting.
This is not Mr. Sharpton's first encounter with the IRS.
He was indicted in 1989 for income tax fraud and stealing money from charitable donors, but he was acquitted of the charges in a jury trial.
In 1993, he pleaded guilty of failing to file a tax return in 1986.
In a December 2000 Deposition [depositions are given under oath], Mr. Sharpton testified that he had not filed a tax return since 1998.
Read about the tax audit here (Newsday may have already taken the article down) and here.
So, with reported earnings of almost $400K, Mr. Sharpton does pretty well for himself. I note that he received a hefty $120,000 for speeches and sermons. I believe that it is fair to ask what particular academic or other credentials “Reverend” Sharpton has to be giving sermons. Although biographical information on Mr. Sharpton is scarce, he credentials as a “Reverend” are clear. He was “licensed and ordained” at age 10. I am green with envy. I wish I could have been licensed as a lawyer (no ordination necessary, thank you) at age 10. I could have saved myself all the needless expense and work getting an education.
As for Mr. Sharpton’s education, we are told that he “attended Brooklyn College” between 1973 and 1975. No transcript was included with the biographical information. It is more likely that he honed his skills that qualify him to be president by serving as James Brown’s road manager from 1973-1980 (maybe he took those classes at Brooklyn College on those occasions when the Godfather of Soul’s tour hit New York City).
I also find myself being not just a little curious about why PepsiCo has something called a “black advisory board,” and what type of services Mr. Sharpton rendered for his $25,000. We’ll never get a look at Mr. Sharpton’s records concerning his consulting income, presumably including those records relating to his services to PepsiCo, Global Hue, and the Hawkins Food Group. His campaign reported that the records were lost in the fire at the headquarters earlier this year at the National Action Network headquarters in Harlem. I'm sure that those three companies have records, and I'm sure that the IRS knows how to get them. Oh, and one wonders why he would have used the offices of a non-profit organization to house the records of his profit-making activities, and one also wonders if he administered or conducted any of his profit-making activities from the non-profit organization’s office. If so, I can only presume that he reimbursed the National Action Network for the use of its facilities.
Not filing tax returns in 1986, 1998, and 1999? I guess he just plain forgot.
Mr. Sharpton’s income may well soar in the future if he is successful in his $1 billion defamation suit against HBO. The suit arises from HBO’s broadcasting in 2002 of an old FBI tape showing Mr. Sharpton participating in a discussion with an FBI informant and an undercover agent about laundering money from mafia-connected drug deals. Mr. Sharpton has claimed that he was “play acting” on the tape in order to extricate himself from the meeting. He also claims that HBO has one or more additional tapes that are exculpatory, and he has demanded that they be aired as well. When asked why he didn’t report the money-laundering meeting to the police, he stated that he did not do so because the police would not have believed him (scroll down to "Rev. Sharpton Tells the Rest of the Story"). I cannot imagine why.
And now he wants to be President of the United States. It would be funny, if it weren’t so damned pathetic.
Zogby Blog has Moved.
Zogby has moved off BlogSpot and now has nice new digs. Please check it out and adjust your bookmarks and links accordingly.
~ Sunday, July 13, 2003
Here's the dilemma. Stay inside and blog, or be outside with a bunch of friends bobbing about in the pool and sipping vodka and seltzler with chunks of lemon?
Maybe I'll be back later tonight. Depends on how much pool and how much vodka.
Enjoy the day.
~ Saturday, July 12, 2003
Academia – Why am I not Surprised?
TJ tells a perfectly vexing story about a “professor” who obviously doesn’t understand the difference between “teaching” and “preaching.”
~ Friday, July 11, 2003
I have to be away from the keys a bit, so here is some stuff I liked. I hope you will too..
Rachel Lucas writes a screamingly funny letter to her dog. I admit it. I had to Google “Grackle.”
The Country Store has a great, old picture of John Kerry (looking like a real doofus) with John Lennon. It would appear that this photo appears on a John Kerry campaign flyer. Why?
Zogby is featuring a picture and description of a Bill Clinton Action Figure. He even shows you where you can beat the rush and order yours today.
Bogie is blogging on the TypePad Beta Test Site. Overall, it looks good. Drop by for a visit while TypePad works out some of the kinks (the comments don’t seem to work too well).
Maybe I’ll catch ya later.
~ Thursday, July 10, 2003
Jersey Oenophiles Phile Suit.
So, you are sitting at your computer in New Jersey, and you decide that you want to buy some wine to have delivered as gifts to your friends in New Jersey.
One of your friends is a true blue Jersey Guy – so much so that he even prefers to drink wine from one of Jersey’s couple dozen wineries. You locate the Jersey winery online, and with a couple mouse clicks the wine will be on its way.
Your other friend prefers California wine from a small vineyard he visited several months ago. You’re in luck. The vineyard has a website. You locate your friend’s favorite vintage, and when you click to make the purchase, a window pops up informing that you that direct shipments of wine into New Jersey are prohibited by New Jersey law. Sorry, pal.
It’s true. New Jersey’s alcoholic beverage laws prohibit direct shipments of wine to consumers from out of state wineries.
Recently these laws have come under attack by a California winery and four New Jersey residents, all of whom are plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The lawsuit, like several others pending in other states, claim that the New Jersey laws violate the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, which states that it is the federal government and not the states that has the power to regulate interstate commerce.
Out of state wineries, particularly those that are not large enough to sell through New Jersey licensed distributors, want a share of the approximately 10 million bottles of wine Garden Staters buy each year.
New Jersey’s wine distributors oppose changing the law, lest they lose the revenue that would sail through cyberspace to out of state wineries, which, some estimate, could be as much as $500 million to $1 billion annually. It is also urged that lifting the prohibition of direct shipments from out of state would deprive the New Jersey of tax revenue, hurt local businesses, and result in illegal sales to minors.
It’s been quite a while since I spent any time reading the Commerce Clause cases in which constitutional issues of great import are spawned by things like apples and mud flaps on trucks. I also don’t know whether there are any recent decisions by the Supreme Court that may be dispositive of the issue, although I doubt it, because apparently similar cases in other federal districts have produced disparate decisions.
It seems to me that those who oppose New Jersey’s laws may have the better argument. Jersey’s laws do seem to be grounded solely on protecting its economic interests. And, while the argument that out of state direct shipments will lead to illegal sales may have some sex appeal in suggesting a legitimate state interest, it does not square with the laws' permitting in-state wineries to sell wine online.
Soooo, I think I’ll have a nice glass of merlot and watch what happens.
Oh, yeah. That wine will be from some place other than New Jersey. As much as I love the Garden State, Jersey wine ….. oy!!!
Rita, the Weather Babe.
We all know that Rita at Res Ipsa Loquitur, is multi-talented. For instance, we know that she’s a lawyer and now college student (again), an algebra whiz, and the winner of an Excel “attagirl” sticker. We also are aware that she is pretty handy with a shootin’ iron and grown’ ‘maters. But we (at least I) did not know that she is also a weather maven.
In the wee hours of this morning Rita reported that she saw “a nasty looking bow echo on the radar headed our way,” signifying the possibility of a tornado. Bow echo??? Huh? I’m damned impressed.
I’m more than impressed; I’m envious. The truth is that I do not believe I have ever managed to be able to stay focused on a weather report for more than ten or fifteen seconds. As soon as the weather person walks up to the map and starts pointing out the “high pressure trough sweeping in from the northeast, bumping into the low pressure front…” blah blah blah, I mentally go to another place. Believe me. I try to pay attention, but it just doesn’t work. In fact, I used to think that nobody (except meteorologists and maybe pilots and sailors) paid attention to, or understood, any of that. Obviously, I was wrong. Rita has this shit wired!
I’m not worthy.
~ Wednesday, July 09, 2003
First Geese. Now, Bears are in the Bull’s-eye. The Jersey Bear Hunt.
I suppose it is a natural consequence of New Jersey’s being the most densely populated state in the Union that the rights of people and animals vying for the same limited space sometimes collide. As noted here, New Jersey recently gassed a couple thousand Canada Geese when the other less drastic measures failed to convince the birds to leave the State's parks and recreation areas, where they regularly were depositing literally tons of goose doody.
So now, it's the bears. It seems strange, even to me - a lifelong Jersey resident, that in this highly industrialized, seemingly always-too-crowded state, we would have a farookin' BEAR problem. Perhaps that’s because I have never run into one on my street.
Well, it turns out that there are an estimated 3,300 black bears in the state. The population increased from an estimated 2,600 last year. (Obviously bears are doing more than just shitting in the woods). While black bears have been seen in 15 of the state’s 21 counties, the greatest concentration is in the northwest quadrant of the state.
Unfortunately for residents and for the bears, there have been an increasing number of bear-human confrontations, including a bear’s swatting a two year old while he sat on the front porch of the family home. More tragic, was the mauling of 5 five month old in New York State last August.
Citing “public safety” concerns, the state’s Fish and Game Council has decided to authorize the first bear hunt in New Jersey in more than thirty years. Seventy percent of the approximately 2,300 residents who submitted comments, reports and data in connection with the public hearings concerning the hunt favored permitting the hunt to take place.
Not surprisingly, animal rights groups that three years ago successfully pressured the state to cancel a planned hunt, oppose this year’s hunt and have threatened legal action.
The state plans on issuing 10,000 (yes, 10,000!) permits to hunt bear for a six-day period in December that coincides with the state’s traditional deer hunting season. Bear hunters must attend a training seminar, and only shotguns with slugs or muzzleloaders will be permitted. The hunt will be monitored through a system of tagging to avoid overkilling.
The state claims that there are no good alternatives to the hunt, and I did not see any offered by the anti-hunt people, other than simply asserting that reducing the population will not stop the bear-human confrontations.
I know people who have seen bears around their homes with some regularity, and most of them are afraid to allow their small children to play in the yard unattended. I think most people would agree that the bears typically are only seeking to rummage through garbage, or are just “passing through.” However, I can understand the concern of those who regularly find bears on their property. Recently, this problem came to a rather nasty head when police filed criminal charges against a resident who shot a bear that he claimed was threatening his family. The debate raged, much of it not very civil.
I don’t pretend to have an answer, but there is one thing I know for damned sure. With 10,000 people hunting bears and God knows how many thousands hunting deer all at the same time in a small section of our state, it will not be safe for bears, deer or PEOPLE. During that week in December, I plan on staying away from any piece of ground that contains more than one tree.
~ Tuesday, July 08, 2003
The Ultimate Insult, who introduced us to “Wing Sings,” now brings us Sauna Pants.
Quite simply, sauna pants are to haberdashery what Wing’s singing is to music.
Enter the Sauna Pants site, and select “English.” Scroll down for a description of the product. Here is just a wee sample:
"WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF SAUNA PANTS !!!
AFTER YOU READ THIS MESSAGE, YOU'LL SURPRISE AND REALIZE THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN ROUGHLY, AND SO, YOU'LL EXAMINE YOURSELF AGAIN.
BUT, ANYWAY, I'M SURE THAT THE READING WILL MAKE YOU FRUITFUL.
DIDN'T YOU TAKE YOUR TESTICLES ROUGHLY WHEN YOU ENJOYED HOTBATH, SAUNA, HOTSHOWER, FAR-INFRARED RAYS? NEWSPAPER SAYS THAT THE TESTICLES OF THE WORKERS AROUND THE KILM, FURNACE, OVEN AND MELTING TANK ARE WEAKEN SLOWLY DAY BY DAY."
I have no doubt that you have taken roughly, so what the hell are you waiting for?
You absolutely must, I say, MUST check this out.
~ Monday, July 07, 2003
What is it About Blogging?
Let me begin by saying that I am on the wrong side of 50. I have had the good fortune of being fairly well educated. Hell, one of my degrees (plus a passing grade on a bar exam) even permits me to practice law. I think I’m a fairly reasonable sort.
So, with that said, why do I catch myself quietly rejoicing to see that, at least for now, I have transcended the status of “Flappy Bird” in N.Z. Bear’s Blogosphere, and I am now one of the “Adorable Little Rodents?” Why is it that I unhappily catch myself wondering whether I have any shot in the foreseeable future at becoming a “Marauding Marsupial?” I take no pleasure in admitting to myself that it somehow matters that any notion of my becoming a “Large Mammal,” or a “Playful Primate” seems hopelessly remote, or that my becoming a “Mortal Human” or a “Higher Being” seems about as likely as a powerball win.
Flappy Bird? Adorable Rodent? Marauding Marsupial? What’s going on here? I’m a grownup, for Chrissake!
So, this morning I made a very grownup decision to cease expending any energy thinking about such silly things. Grownups, especially ones with some gray in their hair (luxuriant though such hair may be), should not bother themselves with such trivia.
Links schminks. Hits schmits, I say.
Then, later this morning I saw that N.Z. Bear also now ranks blogs by traffic.
~ Sunday, July 06, 2003
Happy Blog Anniversary!
Before I head out to take advantage of the nice day here in the Garden State, I want to congratulate Cousin Jack on the one-year anniversary of his blog. Prior to having launched Jack Bog’s Blog, Jack had created a web page, which he still maintains, that is primarily devoted to providing useful information to his students. However, even there, with his “Gallery of Jacks,” he found a bit of room to display his first-class sense of humor.
Jack is a nationally respected legal scholar, a consistent winner of teaching awards from his students, a terrific storyteller (one had to be in order to hold one’s own at family gatherings), and an all around nice guy. Oh, and did I mention that Jack can write his ass off? One of my favorites is his remembrance of being a sixth grader the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Great stuff.
Finally, as many of you know, but for his deciding to blog one year ago, I wouldn’t be writing here today.
Thanks, Jack and, again, congratulations.
~ Saturday, July 05, 2003
Noodling - of the Fishing Kind.
One of the greatest things about living is that, if you keep your eyes and ears open, you truly can learn something new every day.
Last night, having been intrigued by the curious title of the documentary “Oakie Noodling,” I tuned in towards the end of the film. I have always used the term “noodling” to describe something akin to surfing the Internet. I doubted that something so mundane would have piqued the interest of a documentary filmmaker. And, I wondered why “Oakie” noodling? (I believe that this refers to the documentary I watched.)
I soon learned that the “noodling” that was the subject of the documentary had nothing to do with computers or “noodles,” of the pasta kind.
Noodling is the art/sport/activity, practiced in a handful of southern states, which involves hopping out of a boat in pretty nasty looking water to catch catfish with one’s hands. Not being a fisherman, I watched a bit, imagining that in a minute or two one of these guys (they noodle in teams) would pop out of the water with a catfish, maybe a foot long, wriggling in his hands. WRONG!
One of the noodlers dragged a fish out of the water that required three men to toss into the nearby boat. It must have exceeded 100 pounds. I have since done a little reading on the subject here, and here, and I learned that the technique of noodling is to try to get one of these monster fish trapped in an underwater hole and to hope that he/she takes a shot at biting the noodler's hand, at which point, the noodler blocks all avenues of escape and tries to grab the fish by the side of the mouth (to avoid the multiple sand papery-like teeth that fill the fish’s mouth) and the gills. A miss could mean that the fish grabs the noodler by the hand or arm and either causes a nasty injury or, in the worst case, prevents the noodler from breaking the surface thereby drowning the noodler. A few people die each year noodling.
To see a photo of the size of the fish that noodlers drag by hand out of the water, click here.
As for me, I think I will restrict my noodling to the computer.
~ Friday, July 04, 2003
At the Sound of the Tone….
The following was sent to me by my friend Brian, who is an Air Force Veteran and a retired police officer. Enjoy.
Police Department's Answering Machine
Hello, you have reached the Police Departments' Voice Mail. Pay close attention as we have to update the choices often as new and usual circumstances arrive. Please select one of the following options:
To whine about us not doing anything to solve a problem that you created yourself, press 1.
To inquire as to whether someone has to die before we'll do something about a problem, press 2.
To report an officer for bad manners, when in reality the officer is trying to keep your neighborhood safe, press 3.
If you would like us to raise your children, press 4.
If you would like us to take control of your life due to your chemical dependency or alcohol, press 5.
If you would like us to instantly restore order to a situation that took years to deteriorate, press 6.
To provide a list of officers you personally know so we will not take enforcement action against you, press 7.
To sue us, or tell us you pay our salary and you'll have our badge, or to proclaim our career is over, press 8.
To whine about a ticket and/or complain about the many other uses for police rather than keeping your dumb ass in line, press 9.
Please note your call may be monitored to assure proper customer support and remember...we're here to save your ass, NOT kiss it!
Thanks for calling your local police dept. and have a nice day.
~ Thursday, July 03, 2003
Great Way to Start the Weekend.
In grade school, we were forced to learn the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence by rote. As we got older, we sometimes thought a bit about what those words we memorized so long ago really meant (e.g. the right to the “pursuit” of happiness versus a right to a free lunch). However, many of us do not often read the entire document.
Here is your chance. Cousin Jack has posted the text of the Declaration of Independence in its entirety. Read it, and I dare you not to be taken with the passion expressed in the document, the profundity of the issues raised, and the courage displayed by the men who put pen to paper and signed the document.
The Declaration is not a stodgy bit of flowery prose, difficult to understand and even more difficult to relate to today. On the contrary, it is a brilliantly written, angry, scathing, and highly particularized indictment of the King of England, who is referred to in the document simply as “He.”
Read it and be proud. Very proud
Read it and be thankful. Very thankful.
~ Wednesday, July 02, 2003
American troops to Liberia? Bad idea. I believe that country has been a mess since 1822. Sounds to me like a job for the French.
Duck and Cover.
Acidman has requested (challenged) Maripat and Lori, from Right We Are, to subject themselves to his 25 question interview. They are to answer the questions without consultation with each other, and Acidman reserves the right to offer some “comments.”
They have accepted.
~ Tuesday, July 01, 2003
New Jersey - Still “In Business.”
Narrowly avoiding a threatened state shutdown, New Jersey’s Legislators finally passed a budget several hours after constitutionally mandated deadline of July 1.
It is sickening.
In order to fund the $24 billion price tag, the budget includes $600 million in new taxes. While the complete list of new taxes remains to be seen, a large portion of the money will come from New Jersey’s casinos, with Donald Trump and his three casinos somehow paying about half of what the Las Vegas-based casinos are paying. During the partisan fight that preceded the budget sessions, Republicans had charged that Governor McGreevey was doing his buddy, The Donald, a huge, political favor. I suspect that the criticism was well placed.
In their never-ending quest for money for the state to piss away, the Legislators turned to the old-standby. Yep. Let’s tax the smokers yet again. Now, smokers will pay an additional $0.55 in tax on a pack of cigarettes. This brings the State’s cut per pack up to $2.05, the highest in the nation. Taxes on hotel stays and billboards were also included in the legislation.
About $80 million of the new taxes will be used to fund “pet projects” in the home districts of the horse-trading pols in Trenton. Approximately one third of that amount will go to Camden County, which just happens to be the home district of both budget committee chairmen.
The Governor had threatened to shut down the state, except for essential services, if a budget was not passed by the deadline. It would appear that this threat was not getting sufficient attention from the people and the casinos, so he decided to play hardball and announced that the first state workers who would ordered to stay home would be the casino regulators. This would have shut down Atlantic City’s casinos and prevented the newest one from opening this coming Thursday. Apparently Garden Staters who didn’t much give a damn if the Division of Motor Vehicles shut down or other state agencies, where employees are not known for doing much heavy lifting, gave their employees an unpaid vacation. But, shut down the casinos? Horror of horrors. That got everyone's attention, and it served to remind the casinos that the Governor is the Capo when it comes to the action in Atlantic City.
New Jersey’s voters, who would elect Dart Vader if he ran as a democrat, are getting exactly what they deserve. Unfortunately, the rest of us are just getting hosed.
I, for one, will never forget the contempt for New Jersey taxpayers that Governor McGreevey showed when he blew $105,000 of taxpayers’ money on a trip to Ireland that included a family reunion for a dozen or so of his relatives. I am sure that they are still talking about the day their rich American cousin came to town and threw a helluva party.
If they only knew.