Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Hmmm, seems the Pentagon is now saying the bills asking soldiers for reimbursement of their recruitment bonus because they didn't finish their sentences, um, I mean, tours of duty was a mistake!

They will, from now on, only bill for reimbursement of soldiers who didn't finish their tours of duty if they weren't injured, or, if their reimbursement was deferred.

I just wanted to set the record straight.

Who said you can trust a man in uniform? Never mind a pentagon of them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just When You Think You've Heard It All

According to the Pentagon’s SEB Bonus Division, wounded soldier Jordan Fox owes the military $3,000 because he was unable to serve his full tour in Iraq and had to go home three months early.

The reason he was unable to serve his full tour in Iraq and had to go home three months early, you ask?

He was injured, that's why. An IED exploded causing him to lose the sight in his right eye, among other injuries.

The bill was for the recruitment signing bonus they felt was due for the three months that he didn't stay in Iraq fighting. And the letter the Pentagon sent accompanying the bill stated "indebtedness due us" insinuating that Jordan Fox's service and sacrifice wasn't debt enough!

The Poop Is About To Hit The Fan

"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

There was one problem. It was not true.

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the president himself."

These are the words of Scott McClellan, in his book to be published in spring, 2008 who is the former and first White House press spokesman under the (now almost sure) criminal Bush administration. We can hope criminal conspiracy charges to soon follow.

Have Laptop, Will (well, can) Travel

This is my very first post on my very new laptop computer!! It was delivered about an hour ago and I just finished setting it up and am now good to go.

Now I can post from anywhere; living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and even in bed!

Maybe now I can even go out of town for awhile, though, we'll have to see on that.

Monday, November 19, 2007

First Our Rights, Soon Maybe Much More Of Our Money

When George Bush took office in 2001 the cost of a barrel of oil was $28.00.

Today, the cost of a barrel of oil is $98.00, with the threat of Chavez and the guy from Iran (whose name I cannot pronounce, remember nor do I have the desire to look up) to double the price to $200.00 per barrel.

It's their threat if the US takes military action against Iran.

Are these two dictators any worse than the dictator we are stuck with? Think about it.

Sleepless In Johnston

I sleep all crazy times, as most of you know. And I always seem to be tired. So when my doctor requested a sleep study a few weeks ago I was looking forward to it.

In May of 2000 I had spent two Monday nights in a row at RI Hospital hooked up to wires for a determination of why I didn't sleep. I always felt it was insomnia because taking a Tylenol PM would help. I also knew it was a "control" thing. When you live alone it's difficult to get into a deep sleep because you need to be aware of what's going on around you at the same time.

So I went to the sleep study back then and it was determined that I had sleep apnea and if I bought a $1,200 CPAP machine I'd sleep well. I didn't believe it was apnea and I was proven right a few weeks later when Veronica and I headed north to Maine for the July 4 weekend. We spent one night at Lil's house in Goodwin's Mills, where I slept like a baby for the first time in years. The next day we drove further north to spend the next 3 days with Auntie Rita and Uncle Larry in their RV at Happy Horseshoe Campground in Embden, where again I slept like a baby. Then back to Lil's house for one more night, then back home. For years after that I slept pretty well.

More recently, not so well. So I go off to RI Hospital last Monday night only to find that the 3rd floor - Room 302 - is what I was told was completely deserted. I called the number that (thankfully) I had saved in my phone which confirmed it was room 302. The guy said he'd come open the door. Didn't happen. I called him back only to find out they moved to Johnston on Atwood Ave.

So off I go to Atwood Ave where I find Brian, a nice sleep tech, who hooked me up to all the wires. He had me try on several (like 12 or so) masks so that when it was determined that I did have sleep apnea (again!) he would know which one was more comfortable on me. So I watched some TV, read for awhile and I was so not tired. After all, it was only 11pm about 3 - 4 hours before my regular bedtime.

I tried to go to sleep without much success. Brian, who was monitoring my sleep (or lack of) came in a couple of times because one of the wires came unhooked, never returned to put the mask on me. At 5 am he came in to say we were done and after unhooking me (and leaving gobs of gloop in my hair) he said he was not able to give me any results because of federal laws (! freaking GWB again!!) so we had a few minutes of conversation about THAT, and I was free to go. I was looking forward to getting home because my new fridge and stove were to be delivered first thing!!!

Where Have I Been?

I know, it's been awhile since I've blogged. Between being busy AND sick with a cold it's been a crazy couple of weeks.

So I'm gonna try to catch up by posting new blogs with pictures (of course) of what's been going on in my life.

Matthew and Emilee slept over on Sunday, Veterans Day and we spent the Monday hanging around at my house. Emilee, the little dynamo that she is, decided she wanted to clean my living room and put away stuff that I haven't done since moving in. Her excitement was pretty contagious so Matthew and I installed a weather strip along the bottom of the door which has made an enormous difference in the living room. We then moved, sorted and put away CD's, VHS tapes and some ablums (as Emilee pronounced them.)

Then they discovered that the furniture polish that we found here foams up when you spray it, so pretty much every surface of my house got polished, including my desk so that my mouse wouldn't work anymore. I need to get a mousepad because even though I've tried to undo the polish on my desk, the mouse only works in one little corner that seemed to be missed by the polishing demons.

I took them home in time for supper and then I was off to a sleep study...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Name Initials May Influence Grades

Certain initials may look better than others as monograms but they can also have an impact on how well a person performs in a sport or at school, according to a new study.

Researchers who studied the impact of initials found that baseballs players whose first or last name starts with the letter K, which signifies a strikeout, tended to strike out more often than other players.

And students whose names start with the letters C or D, which denote mediocre marks in some grading systems, did not perform as well as other pupils with different initials.

"Just having the right initial doesn't spontaneously make you a better baseball player, but it can spontaneously make you a slightly worse baseball player," said Leif Nelson, of the University of California, San Diego.

Nelson and Joseph Simmons, of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, studied the effect of first or last-name initials in situations where letters corresponded to an undesirable outcome.

They found that people whose initial matched a negative label performed more poorly than others. The findings suggest that the unconscious mind finds one's own initials appealing even when it compromises success, according to the study that will be published in the journal Psychological Science.

The researchers examined the effect in baseball, in academia and in a lab setting where a reward-based test was performed.

"These are domains where people really, really focus on top performance and still this unconscious desire to match their initial seems to be undermining their performance," Nelson explained in an interview.

In baseball, players aim to avoid striking out. But after looking at 93 years of Major League baseball data and poring over more than 6,000 player names, the authors found that those whose names began with a K struck out more than others.

The effect was the same in a study of the grade point averages of 15,000 graduate students over a 15-year period.

"Cs and Ds do reliably worse than everyone else," said Nelson.

"All the students are working very hard to succeed as much as possible, it just happens to be that if you find failure less aversive than someone else, you'll fail slightly more often," he added.

The researchers said their findings are in line with the name-letter effect, in which a person's favorite letter is often one of their initials. The favored initial may influence life outcomes, such the city a person lives in or the choice of occupation.

Nelson said the study demonstrates the power of the unconscious mind in controlling behavior in certain situations.

"Certainly, my wife made sure we didn't name our daughter with a C or a D after reading the paper," Nelson said.

Finally, something to explain why I was such a poor student! ACDC

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Grand jury indicts Barry Bonds on perjury, obstruction charges.

That pretty much says it all!

Psycho Connection

This afternoon I took a nap. That in itself is nothing new as I take a nap pretty much every day. Today my nap was different because I had a crazy dream, which I won't go into here and bore you with the craziness of it.

During my dream I was trying frantically to reach my friend Microwe. All the numbers for him weren't working, some women would answer and say the phone numbers no longer worked for him.

A couple of minutes after that Hannibal started barking because the UPS truck was in the driveway, which woke me up.

When I looked at my phone there was 1 missed call - from Microwe - who had called at exactly the same time I was trying to reach him in my dream. Woooohooooo.

When I called him back he said he was a little bit psycho and maybe psychic too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Sound Of Silence

What's that I hear??

Just the quiet hum of a NEW refrigerator!

Pictures to be posted soon, it's nap time!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Veterans Day?

See George laugh.

See the look on the soldiers' faces.

See Alice see red.

The photo just about says it all. It was, unbelievably, released by the White House – a photo op that this idiot cannot refuse. I can't imagine that they thought it would help his image.

For Veterans Day, the idiot holding the T-shirt visited a privately funded rehab hospital in Texas that has state-of-the-art equipment to treat the men and women who have been forced to (mis)serve our country.

Privately funded, as in the government had and has nothing to do with it other than to send men and women there for medical treatment.

Throughout my entire life I have been surrounded by active military and/or veterans. My father’s two brothers served as I was growing up – Tom was Air Force and Marines, Bob was Air Force. My mother’s brothers served – Higgy, Pat and Peter were Navy veterans. My mother’s older brother served and was killed aboard the USS Luce DD-522 in WWII. My Uncle Larry (Auntie Rita’s husband) served in the Navy during WWII.

Many cousins and friends served in Vietnam. My brother Jack is an Air Force veteran. Dennis is a veteran of the Army.

So I have nothing but admiration and respect for the men and women who have served our (once) great country. At the very least, they deserve a holiday to thank them for their service.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Self CPR

Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, this information may be helpful.

Without help, the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness. However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously.
A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A breath and a cough must be repeated about very two seconds without let up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.

Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a hospital.

Tell as many other people as possible about this, it could save their lives!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Life's Good - To Be Delivered

Today, at least so far, is a good day!

I checked the balance in my checking account and some of the $$ I've been waiting for had been deposited overnight.

Of course, the first thing I did was to order and pay for my brand new refrigerator - yeah!!!

I cannot wait until it is delivered - along with my new stove - on Tuesday morning.

The fridge was delivered to the appliance store on Tuesday and I was sweating it out as to when the money would be available - I did not want to lose the fridge and have to wait for another to come in. Because it's a scratch and dent place - Danny's Appliance - they're never quite sure what's coming in or when it's coming.

So I was able to get the white LG (life's good) fridge with the bottom freezer. Now the kids, when they visit, will be able to help themselves to waffles, ice cream or whatever they want out of the freezer without having to bother Auntie!!

The new stove is nice - self cleaning - and that's about it for extras. No sense going all out for my cooking abilities, that's for sure. I wish that it had a timer, because that's part of my burning the food problem, but I can always buy one to sit on top.
I know this is the long weekend, with Veterans Day being observed on Monday, but it will be an especially loooooooong weekend for me listening to the noise of the fridge in my house. I just hope it doesn't actually drive me crazy in the meantime.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Blogspot World

Sometimes I go to other blogs to see what people are writing about and doing in their lives. Here's a few that I enjoy and you might also. With any blog, it's best to start at the beginning, which means that sometimes you need to go through lots of posts, but it's worth it.

The blog of unnecessary quotation marks: I love this one, pictures from all over the world showing "quotations" that don't need "quotations!" Very "clever."

Nice and not so nice bathrooms from around the world:

A blog about how to live a "green" life. Quite interesting and very good information:

Interesting blog about WW1:

A Girl and her netflix account: for people who like movies and discussing them.

For Red Sox fans:

I LOVE this blog. Most people don't even know of Bonobo's!! Bonobo's share 98.7% of our DNA, equal to chimps. This is one woman's journey with these wonderful animals in the Congo:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Price For 'PREMIUM' Text Messages? $10,000

Sean Clark pays extra each month for his cell phone service so his daughter Amanda can enjoy unlimited, no-charge text messaging. So the Bothell, Wash. man was stunned when his Sprint bill for September showed with nearly $10,000 in text message charges.

"When I opened the bill, it was just pure shock," he said. "There were pages and pages and pages of things on there."

He called Sprint immediately looking for an explanation. Clark knew ringtones and Web-based downloads could get expensive, so he had turned off Web access from Amanda's phone. He also knew that Amanda, a developmentally disabled 18-year-old, liked to send text messages so he "protected himself" by signing up for unlimited messaging. The bill for his family plan was normally a couple of hundred dollars per month.

Initially, a Sprint customer service agent agreed with Clark’s guess that he was a victim of fraud. But a bit of research revealed that he was instead the victim third-party providers who offer services on Sprint's network. And he quickly learned that not all text messages are equal.

Amanda had signed up for a series of so-called "premium" text message services. Premium texts cost typically $1-$2 each and are not covered by monthly bundling plans.

It's hard to imagine one teenager running up $10,000 in text charges in a month -- until you consider the services she used. Amanda had signed up for text-chatting services, lured by ads promising romantic dialogs with "cool guys." With each message costing $1-$2 a pop, such chats can easily cost hundreds of dollars a day.

Clark asked his daughter about the services, and then found the advertisements which had led her to sign up. He discovered a pile of magazines aimed at teen-age girls in his daughter’s room, all crowded with advertisements full of smiling teen-age boys bearing headlines like "Hook a hottie.""She had no understanding of the repercussions," Clark said. "… My conversations with the phone company customer service lines have been laughable."

Clark asked Sprint to waive the charges, saying he hadn't authorized them; the company countered by offering to cut his bill by 50 percent.

U.K-based company He also contacted the third-party text providers. One, Switchfire Ltd., a British firm, had charged for 642 messages sent from Aug. 14 to Sept. 5. At $1.99 a message, Clark's total Switchfire bill was nearly $1,300.

The company refused to offer a refund, saying Amanda had knowingly authorized the charges. Clark provided with e-mails he said were sent to him by Switchfire customer support manager named Dace Viesture.

"Having checked the history of your daughter's number, it shows that she signed up for the service on 15 August by texting us 'guys.' In response to the request we then sent her the following text message:

‘Almost there! Please text the letter: 'Y' to: '74447' to start. 14+ Help?1-866-662-7132. Send STOP to end.100c per msg rcvd + std msg fees,’ which she answered to with 'yes'. This proves that she had read the previously sent text and confirmed she agreed with the information we sent to her," the Switchfire e-mail said. "As to the age of your daughter - she has said in chat on various occasions that she is 18 years old, besides, the services she was using were not adult ones. As the service has been initiated and used, we are sorry to inform that you are not entitled to a refund."

Providers could do more to stop surprise bills, advocate saidStill faced with a huge $5,000 bill, Clark contacted consumer advocate Edgar Dworsky looking for advice.

"I feel helpless," Clark said. "I have tried to get in contact with an attorney, but I can’t seem to find anyone in this area of work, and I’m not sure the dollar amount is significant enough."

Dworsky, who has written about confusion surrounding premium text messaging services on his Web site and, said the services frequently bring surprise cell phone bills. There are some laws and regulations governing advertising to children, but none that specifically address premium text messages, he said. And since Amanda was 18, regulations that cover children-focused advertising wouldn’t apply anyway. Still, he thinks cell phone companies could do more to help parents.

"Unfortunately, kids are enticed by a particular service and sometimes ignore the fact that there's a price associated with it," he said. "Also, looking at the ads (Amanda answered), they really did not have clear disclosures." Only at the bottom of the ads, in very small print, were the per-minute charges revealed, he said.

Clark, meanwhile, says it’s unfair that Sprint never warned him as the third-party charges on his bill skyrocketed far beyond his normal monthly usage. Some kind of fraud controls should have kicked in, he said.

"I received no alerts from the phone company of this escalating bill," he said. The cell phone text message trade association, called the Mobile Marketing Association, does publish best practice guidelines that call for such warnings. In the most recent guidelines, published July 16, it actually addresses text chat services, advising firms to send warning messages to consumers every time a $25 threshold is reached.

"To me, this makes it seem as though Sprint was not fully acting within (the association's) best practice suggestions," Clark said.

Sprint representative Emmy Anderson would not discuss Clark's account, citing privacy rules. She suggested parents use online billing access to monitor their kids' cell phone usage. Some Sprint plans also allow parents to turn off their kids' text message feature, or limit them to communicating with only certain pre-approved phone numbers.

Technology improvements, such as the invention of five-digit shortcut short-codes for joining third-party services, have led to an explosion of premium text message business. One mobile phone industry veteran, who requested that his name be withheld, said all cell phone providers are struggling with ways to appropriately screen third-party firms before giving them access to customers. But for now, it’s up to parents to monitor their kids cell phone use closely and to keep up with any new services that become available on their kids’ handsets.

• Most important: Know that premium texts are not covered by monthly text message plans.
• Ask your carrier to block premium text messages from your phone. Not all of them will.
• Use other tools to limit and keep track of kids' cell phone use.
• When asking for a refund, be persistent but polite. Dworsky said some consumers have been refused any refund, while others have received full reimbursement. "Apparently it depends on who you speak to," he said. "One representative might say we can't do anything for you, while others might say (they) can waive some or even all of it." So if you don't get the answer you want right away, keep trying.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I'm Always MADD And I'm Not A Mom

Another teenage death in Barrington because of drinking and driving. Another friend now arrested and charged with his death. When will these kids learn?

I went to a party,
And remembered what you said.
You told me not to drink, Mom,
so I had a sprite instead.

I felt proud of myself,
The way you said I would,
that I didn't drink and drive,
though some friends said I should.

I made a healthy choice,
And your advice to me was right.
The party finally ended,
and the kids drove out of sight.

I got into my car,
Sure to get home in one piece.
I never knew what was coming,
Mom, something I expected least.

Now I'm lying on the pavement,
And I hear the policeman say,
the kid that caused this wreck was drunk,
Mom, his voice seems far away.

My own blood's all around me,
As I try hard not to cry.
I can hear the paramedic say,
this girl is going to die.

I'm sure the guy had no idea,
While he was flying high.
Because he chose to drink and drive,
now I would have to die.

So why do people do it, Mom
Knowing that it ruins lives?
And now the pain is cutting me,
like a hundred stabbing knives.

Tell sister not to be afraid, Mom
Tell daddy to be brave.
And when I go to heaven,
put "Mommy's Girl" on my grave.

Someone should have taught him,
That it's wrong to drink and drive.
Maybe if his parents had,
I'd still be alive.

My breath is getting shorter,
Mom I'm getting really scared
These are my final moments,
and I'm so unprepared.

I wish that you could hold me Mom,
As I lie here and die.
I wish that I could say, "I love you, Mom!"
So I love you and good-bye.

This Stupid Friggin War

BAGHDAD - The U.S. military on Tuesday announced the deaths of five more soldiers, making 2007 the deadliest year of the war for U.S. troops, according to an Associated Press count.

Five U.S. soldiers were killed Monday in two separate roadside bomb attacks, said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, director of the Multi-National Force-Iraq’s communications division.

“We lost (lost???? sacrificed is more like it!) five soldiers yesterday in two unfortunate incidents, both involving IEDs,” Smith told reporters in Baghdad’s heavily-guarded Green Zone.

At least 852 American military personnel have died in Iraq so far this year — the highest annual toll since the war began in March 2003, according to AP figures. Some 850 troops died in 2004.


By Keith Olbermann

It is a fact startling in its cynical simplicity and it requires cynical and simple words to be properly expressed: The presidency of George W. Bush has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush.

All the petulancy, all the childish threats, all the blank-stare stupidity; all the invocations of World War III, all the sophistic questions about which terrorist attacks we wanted him not to stop, all the phony secrets; all the claims of executive privilege, all the stumbling tap-dancing of his nominees, all the verbal flatulence of his apologists...

All of it is now, after one revelation last week, transparently clear for what it is: the pathetic and desperate manipulation of the government, the refocusing of our entire nation, toward keeping this mock president and this unstable vice president and this departed wildly self-overrating attorney general, and the others, from potential prosecution for having approved or ordered the illegal torture of prisoners being held in the name of this country.

"Waterboarding is torture," Daniel Levin was to write. Daniel Levin was no theorist and no protester. He was no troublemaking politician. He was no table-pounding commentator. Daniel Levin was an astonishingly patriotic American and a brave man.

Brave not just with words or with stances, even in a dark time when that kind of bravery can usually be scared or bought off.

Charged, as you heard in the story from ABC News last Friday, with assessing the relative legality of the various nightmares in the Pandora's box that is the Orwell-worthy euphemism "Enhanced Interrogation," Mr. Levin decided that the simplest, and the most honest, way to evaluate them ... was to have them enacted upon himself.

Daniel Levin took himself to a military base and let himself be waterboarded.

Mr. Bush, ever done anything that personally courageous?

Perhaps when you've gone to Walter Reed and teared up over the maimed servicemen? And then gone back to the White House and determined that there would be more maimed servicemen?

Has it been that kind of personal courage, Mr. Bush, when you've spoken of American victims and the triumph of freedom and the sacrifice of your own popularity for the sake of our safety? And then permitted others to fire or discredit or destroy anybody who disagreed with you, whether they were your own generals, or Max Cleland, or Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, or Daniel Levin?

Daniel Levin should have a statue in his honor in Washington right now.

Instead, he was forced out as acting assistant attorney general nearly three years ago because he had the guts to do what George Bush couldn't do in a million years: actually put himself at risk for the sake of his country, for the sake of what is right.

And they waterboarded him. And he wrote that even though he knew those doing it meant him no harm, and he knew they would rescue him at the instant of the slightest distress, and he knew he would not die — still, with all that reassurance, he could not stop the terror screaming from inside of him, could not quell the horror, could not convince that which is at the core of each of us, the entity who exists behind all the embellishments we strap to ourselves, like purpose and name and family and love, he could not convince his being that he wasn't drowning.

Waterboarding, he said, is torture. Legally, it is torture! Practically, it is torture! Ethically, it is torture! And he wrote it down.

Wrote it down somewhere, where it could be contrasted with the words of this country's 43rd president: "The United States of America ... does not torture."

Made you into a liar, Mr. Bush.

Made you into, if anybody had the guts to pursue it, a criminal, Mr. Bush.

Waterboarding had already been used on Khalid Sheik Mohammed and a couple of other men none of us really care about except for the one detail you'd forgotten — that there are rules. And even if we just make up these rules, this country observes them anyway, because we're Americans and we're better than that.

We're better than you.

And the man your Justice Department selected to decide whether or not waterboarding was torture had decided, and not in some phony academic fashion, nor while wearing the Walter Mitty poseur attire of flight suit and helmet.

He had put his money, Mr. Bush, where your mouth was.

So, your sleazy sycophantic henchman Mr. Gonzales had him append an asterisk suggesting his black-and-white answer wasn't black-and-white, that there might have been a quasi-legal way of torturing people, maybe with an absolute time limit and a physician entitled to stop it, maybe, if your administration had ever bothered to set any rules or any guidelines.

And then when your people realized that even that was too dangerous, Daniel Levin was branded "too independent" and "someone who could (not) be counted on."

In other words, Mr. Bush, somebody you couldn't count on to lie for you.

So, Levin was fired.

Because if it ever got out what he'd concluded, and the lengths to which he went to validate that
conclusion, anybody who had sanctioned waterboarding and who-knows-what-else on anybody, you yourself, you would have been screwed.

And screwed you are.

It can't be coincidence that the story of Daniel Levin should emerge from the black hole of this secret society of a presidency just at the conclusion of the unhappy saga of the newest attorney general nominee.

Another patriot somewhere listened as Judge Mukasey mumbled like he'd never heard of waterboarding and refused to answer in words … that which Daniel Levin answered on a waterboard somewhere in Maryland or Virginia three years ago.

And this someone also heard George Bush say, "The United States of America does not torture," and realized either he was lying or this wasn't the United States of America anymore, and either way, he needed to do something about it.

Not in the way Levin needed to do something about it, but in a brave way nonetheless.

We have U.S. senators who need to do something about it, too.

Chairman Leahy of the Judiciary Committee has seen this for what it is and said "enough."
Sen. Schumer has seen it, reportedly, as some kind of puzzle piece in the New York political patronage system, and he has failed.

What Sen. Feinstein has seen, to justify joining Schumer in rubber-stamping Mukasey, I cannot guess.

It is obvious that both those senators should look to the meaning of the story of Daniel Levin and recant their support for Mukasey's confirmation.

And they should look into their own committee's history and recall that in 1973, their predecessors were able to wring even from Richard Nixon a guarantee of a special prosecutor (ultimately a special prosecutor of Richard Nixon!), in exchange for their approval of his new attorney general, Elliott Richardson.

If they could get that out of Nixon, before you confirm the president's latest human echo on Tuesday, you had better be able to get a "yes" or a "no" out of Michael Mukasey.

Ideally you should lock this government down financially until a special prosecutor is appointed, or 50 of them, but I'm not holding my breath. The "yes" or the "no" on waterboarding will have to suffice.

Because, remember, if you can't get it, or you won't with the time between tonight and the next presidential election likely to be the longest year of our lives, you are leaving this country, and all of us, to the waterboards, symbolic and otherwise, of George W. Bush.

Ultimately, Mr. Bush, the real question isn't who approved the waterboarding of this fiend Khalid Sheik Mohammed and two others.

It is: Why were they waterboarded?

Study after study for generation after generation has confirmed that torture gets people to talk, torture gets people to plead, torture gets people to break, but torture does not get them to tell the truth.

Of course, Mr. Bush, this isn't a problem if you don't care if the terrorist plots they tell you about are the truth or just something to stop the tormentors from drowning them.

If, say, a president simply needed a constant supply of terrorist threats to keep a country scared.

If, say, he needed phony plots to play hero during, and to boast about interrupting, and to use to distract people from the threat he didn't interrupt.

If, say, he realized that even terrorized people still need good ghost stories before they will let a president pillage the Constitution.

Well, Mr. Bush, who better to dream them up for you than an actual terrorist?

He'll tell you everything he ever fantasized doing in his most horrific of daydreams, his equivalent of the day you "flew" onto the deck of the Lincoln to explain you'd won in Iraq.

Now if that's what this is all about, you tortured not because you're so stupid you think torture produces confession but you tortured because you're smart enough to know it produces really authentic-sounding fiction — well, then, you're going to need all the lawyers you can find … because that crime wouldn't just mean impeachment, would it?

That crime would mean George W. Bush is going to prison.

Thus the master tumblers turn, and the lock yields, and the hidden explanations can all be perceived, in their exact proportions, in their exact progressions.

Daniel Levin's eminently practical, eminently logical, eminently patriotic way of testing the legality of waterboarding has to vanish, and him with it.

Thus Alberto Gonzales has to use that brain that sounds like an old car trying to start on a freezing morning to undo eight centuries of the forward march of law and government.

Thus Dick Cheney has to ridiculously assert that confirming we do or do not use any particular interrogation technique would somehow help the terrorists.

Thus Michael Mukasey, on the eve of the vote that will make him the high priest of the law of this land, cannot and must not answer a question, nor even hint that he has thought about a question, which merely concerns the theoretical definition of waterboarding as torture.

Because, Mr. Bush, in the seven years of your nightmare presidency, this whole string of events has been transformed.

From its beginning as the most neglectful protection ever of the lives and safety of the American people ... into the most efficient and cynical exploitation of tragedy for political gain in this country's history ... and, then, to the giddying prospect that you could do what the military fanatics did in Japan in the 1930s and remake a nation into a fascist state so efficient and so self-sustaining that the fascism would be nearly invisible.

But at last this frightful plan is ending with an unexpected crash, the shocking reality that no matter how thoroughly you might try to extinguish them, Mr. Bush, how thoroughly you tried to brand disagreement as disloyalty, Mr. Bush, there are still people like Daniel Levin who believe in the United States of America as true freedom, where we are better, not because of schemes and wars, but because of dreams and morals.

And ultimately these men, these patriots, will defeat you and they will return this country to its righteous standards, and to its rightful owners, the people.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dumb Luck

I rarely feel bad for anyone. Most of us make our own troubles and I just don't think that feeling bad is productive when that happens. Myself included.

However, you do hear of things happening to people that are not of their own doing. This is the case with my landlord Gordon and his wife Cheryl.

Earlier today, amid all the carnage of the thousands of trees being cut down on their property, somehow a telephone pole (why do we call them telephone poles when they carry wires for cable and electricity too?) got knocked down. With the dozens of trucks that have been going in and out of their driveway, I guess it wasn't that surprising that something like this would happen, but dumb, dumb, dumb on the part of the guy who was driving the truck that did this. The wires are less than 6 feet from the ground and, of course, they have lost power, phone and cable.

So the trucks have been lined out there; National Grid (the ones that started this entire mess,) Cox Cable and Verizon.

I called Cheryl to see if there was anything that they needed (a place to warm up, for instance) or if there was anything I could do for them, and Cheryl, who was in a much better frame of mind than I would be, said they were okay and coping well. This all happened around noon and they are just hoping that their utilities are back on soon.

I know all too well how a situation can go from bad to worse and I sincerely hope their nightmare ends soon. Let's just hope no one gets hurt.

UPDATE: 18:22 power is finally back on, Patrick's house was affected also. Only one electric company truck remains at this time - hopefully it will be gone soon

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Fall Back

Today is one of my favorite days of the year! It's when we put the clocks back one hour.

I have a technique that is different from most which allows me to get several extra hours throughout the day.

When I first wake up I see what the time is by the bedroom clock. It's easy to lean over and turn it back one hour and go back to sleep. When I wake up again and go into the living room, I then turn the living room clock back one hour and, presto, I've gotten two hours so far.

It takes me some time to go into the kitchen and, again, when I turn back the clock there, I've just gotten another hour of time.

Depending on how many clocks you have, you too can get several extra hours throughout the day. Unfortunately, I live in a much smaller house this year than the last few years so I'll probably only get 4 or 5 extra hours. In the past, I've gotten at least two extra hours by heading down into the basement where there were 2 clocks.

Now if we could do this in the spring, instead of springing ahead and losing time, I'd be a happy person!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sneakers Madness

A few weeks ago Veronica was at my house for a visit. She ran out to her car to get a change of clothes and brought in a pair of sneakers that I absolutely loved. I thought they were about the cutest sneakers and I decided I wanted a pair for myself.

She immediately got on the computer and showed me how many choices there were at They really had some great choices, but I really loved the ones that she had. My friend Micro and his son Josh were here at the same time and Josh mentioned that although there was no support in those sneakers he liked them also. (Josh turned 14 just a couple of days ago on 11/1.) So with my credit card number in hand she ordered me up a pair exactly like hers.

Several days later a package arrived and my mailman, Frank, actually hand delivered them to me, as I guess the package wouldn't fit in the mailbox. I ripped open the package and there they were - part of the Red project - where much of the proceeds will go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a worthy cause.

I didn't actually have the opportunity to try them on for a few days, but one day before I was heading out I decided this would be the day to wear them. So I strung up the laces, took the little Converse label off and put one on my right foot.

First of all, I forgot how much I hated high tops - always have and always will! Secondly, the shoe looked ridiculous and I looked and felt like an idiot.

What the heck was I thinking??!! For some reason I keep forgetting how old I am. It's been years, no decades, since I was a teenager as Veronica is. And these shoes are clearly for young people. I felt like the old guy with an earring that we all run into now and then. Hello? You are old! Have you forgotten that?! What are you thinking?

As these thoughts were running through my head I took the sneaker off, put the little Converse label back on and put the pair into the cute little drawstring pouch that they came in. I knew, without a doubt, that I would never wear these cute things again. I figured that Vanessa might like them.

A couple of nights ago, Halloween actually, when Vanessa and Ryan brought JaeMae over in her ladybug costume, I gave the pouch to Vanessa. She tried one sneaker on, it fit great and looked even better! So two of my girls will have those cute shoes to wear.

So, even though in my head I still think that I am young, the reality is that I'm not and I can't help but say again; What the hell was I thinking? Obviously, I wasn't!