Archive for January, 2011

Well, well.  On January 25 a federal grand jury indicted an Apache Junction man on counts of possession and transportation of IEDs.  That’s right, folks, a guy who may live down the street from me built and carried around an “improvised explosive device.”   Apparently he had a dozen of these little goodies, filled with gunpowder and stuffed with ball bearings in order to most efficiently rip apart whoever they are thrown at.  (You can read more at ABC15.com, or at the AJ News website).

The guy’s name is Jeffrey Harbin.  He is a Nazi, and probably a Minuteman, too.  (You know, the guys who busted into a private home and killed a father and his daughter.  She was nine years old, just like Christina Green, but her name was Brisenia Flores).  Harbin was reportedly recruited into the National Socialist Party by J. T. Ready, pictured below with a friend:

That’s Ready on the left, all dolled up perhaps from the days when he was a Republican operative.  (To their credit, the Rethugs kicked him out when they discovered his ideological affinities).  Do you recognize the distinguished gentleman on the right?   If not, here’s a hint:  it’s Russell Pearce.

Now you might think that this pic resulted from a photo op, where Pearce was at a public gathering of some sort and had his picture taken with a fan.  Or a Republican operative.  Until you do a bit more research, as I did, and discover that one of Ready’s best buddies is a guy named Sean Pearce.  Yup, spawn of Russell.

Here’s Ready in somewhat less civilized duds:

The photo does not show whether he’s packing heat at what is obviously a public gathering.  But he could be, given that his buddy Russell has made it okay for Arizonans to carry concealed.   Or maybe he has one of those IEDs handy.  Now that’s truly a scary thought.


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I suppose there’s no point in rehashing all the historical gaffes made by Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann recently–you know, the Soviets won the space race;  John Quincy Adams was a Founding Father rather than the son of a founder (doesn’t she watch HBO?);  the Founding Fathers ended slavery, yadda yadda.  But I can’t resist pointing y’all to Gail Collins’ column in the NYT today, where she notes a wonderful irony:

“And not a single one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence envisioned in any way, shape or form a democracy in which people of Michele Bachmann’s gender would sit in the halls of Congress.”  Zing!  So much for Bachmann’s crusade to rewrite American history so that it conforms to Christian mythology.  I wonder if she knows there were crazy Christian zealots around while the Constitution was undergoing ratification, and they scared the crap out of James Madison.

Probably not.  Here I have to recommend Pauline Maier’s new book called, appropriately enough, Ratification.

Collins also tells us that Bachmann was turned off of liberalism by reading Gore Vidal’s novel Burr.  Now I’ve read Burr, and I can tell you that Michele Bachmann is no Gore Vidal (sorry about that:  I’m writing about paraphrase for the textbook).  According to Collins’ account, here’s how Bachmann “reasoned:”   Gore Vidal is a snot, therefore all liberals are snots.  Conclusion:  I’ll become a wingnut so I can hang out with thugs and thieves and sex offenders and woman-haters instead!

I suppose Vidal is something of a snot.  I suspect, though, that Bachmann knows very little about him.  I’d guess that she hasn’t read any of his other work, because if she had, she would know something abut American history.  But her real beef seems to be that Vidal depicts Burr and Hamilton and the rest behaving like actual human beings, with lusts and failures, rather than as the mini-deities her theology requires.

Let’s face it:  both of these women are dumber than posts, and not just because they are ill-educated.  Worse, they give women a bad name.  Or rather, they reinforce thinking about women that’s been around forever.

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Way to go, Obama!  I haven’t read many particulars from his speech last night but I did learn that he suggested cutting $40 billion in subsidies to the oil companies.  As if I think there’s a chance in climate-change hell that this will ever come about.  But still, nice one!  What’s not to like about this, Repugs?  You’re serious about reducing the deficit, right?  This is a nice chunk of change that’s not going to put anyone on the street if it’s cut from the budget.  Somehow I doubt even Exxon and its fellow boss-monsters will feel obliged to cut their workforce out of pique from not being able to beat their own world record shattering profits. And hey, Repugs!  You want to root out socialism?  $40 billion in subsidies – that’s some socialism for you.    Lets allow some capitalist, free market action here, Repugs.

Oh, but I forget.   Corporate socialism is different from social socialism.  You corporate shills really need to get on with making this clearer to us.  Now that the supreme court has verified that corporations are people, you might want to encourage them to proceed with ordaining that we human beings, by contrast, are not people.  We’re consumers; we’re here for the corporations, not the other way around.  You need to help us stop having these silly ideas about rights and votes and such.  For our own peace of mind.

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Exit, Laughing

So this morning I am looking for illustrations of the figure “irony” to use in the revision of our textbook.   After reviewing Colbert and Stewart, and listing some funny T-shirts, I link over the The Onion to look for a longer excerpt displaying use of this figure.

And here’s what turns up on my screen:

This Day In History: The Invention Of The Handjob

Handjob inventor Fred Gilgoff describes the inspiration for the two-person masturbation technique.

This is complete with video, to which you can link if you like.   I nearly fell off my chair, laughing.

I guess I won’t be using this in the textbook.


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Random Act of Beauty

Sunset a couple of evenings back.

Not much by way of a blog post, but it’s sumthin’!

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The Treadmill Saga

Well, I went out and bought myself a treadmill, for all the reasons I told you on the phone, Trep–I won’t have to get dressed to go to the gym, it’s hot there in the summer, and at home I can watch or listen to whatever I want while I walk (nothing dampens my enthusiasm for a warm workout more than Regis and Kathy Lee blaring from the teevee).  Besides that, the only walking shoes I could find that have arch support have pink trim in honor of breast cancer awareness.  I know that’s a good thing, but I also know that I will hear about  that pinkitude from my fellow gym-rats.

Anyhow, Sears had a nice sale, and the seventy dollars they charged to deliver it didn’t even bring the cost up to its pre-sale price.  I asked at the store if they would assemble it.  I was told that would cost  $191.  So I declined, hoping that my rudimentary skills with wrench, screwdriver and (if necessary) hammer would do the trick.

Last week I got a series of calls from Sears telling me the date of delivery.  The voice was so stern that I began to wonder what the punishment was for failure to be home at the appointed time–the rack?  thumbscrews?  permanent raising of the incline on the treadmill?   With the last call, the voice warned me that Sears would call the night before, giving me a window of time in which my treadmill would be delivered the next day.

They did, and it was.  Two nice guys delivered it right on time, and neatly placed the huge box in the spare bedroom.  They even suggested I lay down a towel so as not to dirty the rug.   I signed my name, and they went off, no doubt to deliver with unfailing good cheer another instrument of torture somewhere down the road.

That evening, a lovely deep male voice called to ask me how the delivery went, and how was I enjoying my treadmill?

“Well,” I said, hoping to keep him on the line so I could listen to more dulcet male tones.  “I haven’t got around to assembling it yet.”  “What?”  he dulceted.  “You mean they didn’t assemble it?”  I told him what the store guy had said.  “Hmm,” he mused.  “That doesn’t sound right.”

Today he called again.  Two guys will be at my house tomorrow to assemble the treadmill!   Wow!  “What will that cost?” I wondered.  “Not a dime,” he triumphed.  “Woot!”  I hollered.

I must say:   Sears (or this guy) give customer service that is way beyond my expectations.  I’ve dealt (as have you) with any number of companies that make you swim through a sea of recorded voices.  Here is a real person who gives real service, and he sounds like Vaughn Monroe into the bargain.

By the way:   do you like my title?    I was trying to riff on Robert Ludlum.  You know:   The Bourne Identity, The Matarese Papers, The Treadmill Saga.

Stay tuned for chapter two.

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Twilight: Ewwwww!

Showtime, a pay channel provider, had a freebie last weekend so I recorded several offerings that I thought I might want to see.  For example, The Road, from Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel and starring Aragorn himself.  I haven’t watched it yet.  I’m waiting for some time when I’m relatively not depressed so I can afford the downer I know it will bring upon me.

I also recorded two of the Twilight films, and I watched them on two successive evenings last week.  My title captures my reaction, then and now that I’ve had a couple of days to recover.  You and I have discussed the plot, Trep, so I’ll confine myself to reviewing the films.

The heroine, Isabella Swann–Bella for short–is played by Kristen Stewart, of whom I had never heard prior to her work in this film, although I gather from IMDB that she is regarded as a decent actress in some quarters.   If so, she was poorly served either by the directors or the material of the Twilight films.  Bella is a lump.  It’s hard to see why Edward, let alone the buff and cheery Jacob of the second movie, would be interested in her for any reason at all.  She sulks, mopes, pouts, and breathes through her mouth (my mother would have called her “adenoidal”).

Bella leaves Phoenix or some vaguely desert locale where her mother has just remarried, happily so, to move to the Northwest to live with her dad.  Dad is a good cop who goes fishing  and drinks Ranier beer on his days off.  He doesn’t know how to cope with Bella, and I don’t blame him.  He buys her a great old truck, for which she can barely muster a “thank you.”  Otherwise, when she’s not in school, she hides in her room, gazing out the windows, watching the seasons change.

At school, Bella is quickly accepted by the local kids, who are lively and fun, and who like her for reasons that are unfathomable to me.  She expresses some laconic curiosity about the Cullens, a handsome group but for their general pale-facedness, who hang out only with each other.   Soon she is drawn to Edward, played by Robert Pattison,  he of the sexily mussed hair, and he to her.   He can’t read her mind, and I guess that why he likes her because I can see no other earthly or unearthly reason for his attraction to her.  He is nearly a hundred years old, after all, and you’d think he were long past feeling the sort of teenage angst that immobilizes Bella.

In the second film, Edward leaves Bella and moves to Italy for  some murky reason.   And so she picks up the slack by flirting with Jacob, a Native American kid who is, frankly, a lot sexier and certainly more fun than Edward.   Bella leads him on to the point where he’s literally salivating with lust, because,well, he’s a werewolf, as are several other members of his tribe.  It’s in the genes, you see.  The CGI wolves are expressive, but in general the CGI really sucks for a film with a budget like this one.   After teasing him into distraction, Bella inevitably dumps Jacob for Edward,  who, for some reason, has decided to kill himself (wasn’t he already dead?)

The moral compass of this film is seriously out of whack.  Bella treats Jacob and her girlfriends very badly.  And in the course of the two films she regularly puts her parents in danger.  She lies to her father, telling him he is leaving home for the same reasons her mother left him–a low blow to a guy who’s just trying to do the right thing by his daughter–in order to fly off to find Edward.   She leads a marauding vampire right to her mother, thus endangering her life.

The best scene in either film occurs when Edward, carrying Bella on his back, climbs a very tall tree overlooking the Columbia Gorge.  The sweeping panorama is simply glorious.   And it reminds us, by contrast, that we are watching a very dreary film indeed.

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