Sunday, November 30, 2008

Venus And Jupiter Will Shine Monday Night

Every once in a while, something will appear in the night sky that will attract the attention of even those who normally don't bother looking up. It's likely to be that way on Monday evening, Dec. 1.

A slender crescent moon, just 15 percent illuminated, will appear in very close proximity to the two brightest planets in our sky, Venus and Jupiter.

People who are unaware or have no advance notice will almost certainly wonder, as they cast a casual glance toward the moon on that night, what those two "large silvery stars" happen to be?

Sometimes, such an occasion brings with it a sudden spike of phone calls to local planetariums, weather offices and even police precincts. Not a few of these calls excitedly inquire about "the UFOs" that are hovering in the vicinity of our natural satellite.

Very bright objectsVenus has adorned the southwestern twilight sky since late August. No other star or planet can come close to matching Venus in brilliance. During World War II, aircraft spotters sometimes mistook Venus for an enemy airplane. There were even cases in which Venus drew antiaircraft fire.

This winter, Venus is the unrivaled evening star that will soar from excellent to magnificent prominence in the southwest at nightfall. The interval by which it follows the Sun will increase from nearly three hours on Dec. 1 to almost four hours by Jan. 1.

It's probably the first "star" you'll see coming out after sunset. In fact, if the air is very clear and the sky a good, deep blue, try looking for Venus shortly before sunset.

Jupiter starts December just above Venus and is moving in the opposite direction, dropping progressively lower each evening. By month's end Jupiter meets up with another planet — Mercury — but by then Jupiter is also descending deep into the glow of sunset. In January, Jupiter will be too close to the Sun to see; it's in conjunction with the Sun on Jan. 24.

Earthlit ball A very close conjunction of the crescent moon and a bright star or planet can be an awe-inspiring naked-eye spectacle. The English poet, critic and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) used just such a celestial sight as an ominous portent in his epic, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

In addition, there are juxtaposed crescent moon and star symbols that have appeared on the flags of many nations, including Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia, Algeria, Mauritania, and Tunisia.

Also on Monday evening, you may be able to see the full globe of the moon, its darkened portion glowing with a bluish-gray hue interposed between the sunlit crescent and not much darker sky. This vision is sometimes called "the old moon in the young moon's arms." Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was the first to recognize it as what we now call "earthshine."

As seen from the moon, the Earth would loom in the sky some 3.7 times larger than the moon does for us.

In addition, the land masses, the oceans and clouds make the Earth a far better reflector of sunlight as compared to the moon. In fact, the Earth's reflectivity varies as clouds, which appear far more brilliant than the land and seas, cover greater or lesser parts of the visible hemisphere.

The result is that the Earth shines between 45 and 100 times more brightly than the moon.
The Earth also goes through phases, just as the moon does for us, although they are opposite from what we see from Earth. The term for this is called "complementary phases."

On Nov. 27, for example, there was a new moon for us, but as seen from the surface of the moon that day, there appeared in the lunar sky a brilliant full Earth. A few nights later, as the sliver of a crescent moon begins to appear in our western twilight sky, its entire globe may be glimpsed.

Sunlight is responsible for the slender crescent, yet the remainder of the moon appears to shine with a dim blush-gray tone. That part is not receiving sunlight, but shines by virtue of reflected earthlight: the nearly full Earth illuminating the otherwise dark lunar landscape. So earthshine is really sunlight which is reflected off Earth to the moon and then reflected back to Earth.

Keeping it all in perspective Keep in mind that this head-turning display of three celestial objects crowded together will be merely an illusion of perspective: the moon will be only about 251,400 miles from Earth, while Venus is nearly 371 times farther away, at 93.2 million miles.
Meanwhile, Jupiter is almost 2,150 times farther away than our natural satellite at 540.3 million miles.

Those using binoculars or a small telescope will certainly enjoy the almost three-dimensional aspect of the moon, but Venus will be rather disappointing appearing only as a brilliant blob of light, for right now, it's a small, featureless gibbous disk.

That will change in the coming weeks, however, as Venus approaches Earth and the angle it makes between us and the Sun allows it to evolve into a "half-moon" phase in mid-January, and a lovely crescent phase of its own during the latter part of February and March.

Jupiter, on the other hand, is a far more pleasing sight with its relatively large disk, cloud bands and its retinue of bright Galilean satellites.

All four will be in view on Monday evening, with Callisto sitting alone on one side of Jupiter, Ganymede, Io and Europa will be on the other side. Io and Europa will in fact, appear very close to each other, separated by only about one-sixth the apparent width of Jupiter.

Venus 'eclipse' for Europe As beautiful as the view of Venus, Jupiter and the moon will be from North America, an even more spectacular sight awaits those living in parts of Western Europe where the moon will pass in front of Venus.

Astronomers refer to this phenomenon as an "occultation," taken from the Latin word "occultÄ re," which means "to conceal."

This eye-catching sight will be visible in complete darkness across much of Eastern Europe. Farther west, Venus will disappear behind the dark part of the moon either during evening twilight or just before the Sun sets.

When Venus emerges, it will look like a brightening jewel on the slender lunar crescent. For virtually all of Europe, the Sun will have set by then, the exception being southern Portugal (including Lisbon).

Such favorable circumstances are quite rare for any given location. For example, the last time London was treated to such a favorably placed Venus occultation such was back on Oct. 7, 1961.

And after 2008, there will not be another similarly favorable Venus occultation for the United Kingdom until Jan. 10, 2032.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Most Favorite Holiday

Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday. Of course it has to do with all the different food - it's my favorite meal of the year.

Oh That Chelsea!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bush 'Very Pleased' With Iraq War Outcome

Some 4,200 US soldiers have been killed in the country in a war which has also cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars, and President Idiot is pleased!

On the evening news tonight in Southeastern Massachusetts was a little girl - maybe about 11 or 12 who was crying over the death of her big brother who died in Iraq. She was trying to tell what her big brother had taught her; respect and being a good person was his message to her.

Another needless death at the hands of George W Bush, who is, by far, the worst president we've ever had. I have loathed him since the first time I saw him, just before he stole the 2000 election. As bad as I thought he would be at that time, I never imagined the reality we've been forced to live with for the past 8 years. He absolutely should be tried for crimes against humanity. I would be more than happy to be the one to pull the lever, or administer the drug, or whatever is done for criminals when they are put to death.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963

On November 22, 1963, when he was hardly past his first thousand days in office, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed by an assassin's bullets as his motorcade wound through Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was the youngest man elected President; he was the youngest to die.

Of Irish descent, he was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, on May 29, 1917. Graduating from Harvard in 1940, he entered the Navy. In 1943, when his PT boat was rammed and sunk by a Japanese destroyer, Kennedy, despite grave injuries, led the survivors through perilous waters to safety.

Back from the war, he became a Democratic Congressman from the Boston area, advancing in 1953 to the Senate. He married Jacqueline Bouvier on September 12, 1953. In 1955, while recuperating from a back operation, he wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer Prize in history.

In 1956 Kennedy almost gained the Democratic nomination for Vice President, and four years later was a first-ballot nominee for President. Millions watched his television debates with the Republican candidate, Richard M. Nixon. Winning by a narrow margin in the popular vote, Kennedy became the first Roman Catholic President.

His Inaugural Address offered the memorable injunction: Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." As President, he set out to redeem his campaign pledge to get America moving again. His economic programs launched the country on its longest sustained expansion since World War II; before his death, he laid plans for a massive assault on persisting pockets of privation and poverty.

Responding to ever more urgent demands, he took vigorous action in the cause of equal rights, calling for new civil rights legislation. His vision of America extended to the quality of the national culture and the central role of the arts in a vital society.

He wished America to resume its old mission as the first nation dedicated to the revolution of human rights. With the Alliance for Progress and the Peace Corps, he brought American idealism to the aid of developing nations. But the hard reality of the Communist challenge remained.

Shortly after his inauguration, Kennedy permitted a band of Cuban exiles, already armed and trained, to invade their homeland. The attempt to overthrow the regime of Fidel Castro was a failure. Soon thereafter, the Soviet Union renewed its campaign against West Berlin. Kennedy replied by reinforcing the Berlin garrison and increasing the Nation's military strength, including new efforts in outer space. Confronted by this reaction, Moscow, after the erection of the Berlin Wall, relaxed its pressure in central Europe.

Instead, the Russians now sought to install nuclear missiles in Cuba. When this was discovered by air reconnaissance in October 1962, Kennedy imposed a quarantine on all offensive weapons bound for Cuba. While the world trembled on the brink of nuclear war, the Russians backed down and agreed to take the missiles away. The American response to the Cuban crisis evidently persuaded Moscow of the futility of nuclear blackmail.

Kennedy now contended that both sides had a vital interest in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and slowing the arms race--a contention which led to the test ban treaty of 1963. The months after the Cuban crisis showed significant progress toward his goal of "a world of law and free choice, banishing the world of war and coercion." His administration thus saw the beginning of new hope for both the equal rights of Americans and the peace of the world.

Friday, November 21, 2008

It Was 40 Years Ago This Week - The White Album

Tomorrow the Beatles will release their first album in a year, titled simply The Beatles.

Copies of the album, one of their most unusual although not one of their best, will be delivered to most New York City record stores tomorrow according to Capitol Records, the distributor.

The album, on the Apple label, has received heavy play on several local FM stations for the last week. It consists of 30 songs on two records, including one long electronic-and-taped-noise composition.

In it, the Beatles sample from most every phase of popular music that it has gone through in the last 40 years, and imitate many of its heroes. There is Chuck Berry, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Robert Goulet, Bill Haley and Mantovani. Everywhere there are traces of the Beach Boys, but mostly there lingers the Beatles of 1965.

The album has nothing new and very little that is even recent. The main sound is pre-Rubber Soul. In the year before their Rubber Soul album was released in 1965, there was little but the Chuck Berry era, that long stretch where almost everything done by the Beatles seemed liked bleached Memphis. (Mr. Berry is a black singer and guitarist, who set the style for much rock music in the late 1950's.)

In The Beatles the group takes this old, basic rock sound and sees how many different superstructures are compatible. There are blues, country, easy listening, folk and 1955-to-1962 rock. There are a number of electronic distortions, and there are many put-ons.

Many songs are either so corny or sung in such a way that it is hard to tell whether they are being serious. In most cases, they seem not to be. In an act of lyrical overstatement, they sing "Have You Seen The Bigger Piggies In Their Starched White Shirts?" And it doesn't matter if the words--"Now it's time to say 'good night, good night, sleep tight'"--are sung as a put-on, they still are painful to hear.

It is a light record. The music is light, clean and crisp. The lyrics are light. Usually they are happy but often they are lacking in substance, rather like potato chips.

This new album sounds spectacular at first, but the fascination quickly fades. Where the best American groups--Jefferson Airplane and Blood, Sweat and Tears --produce substantial music that can be lived with, the Beatles tend to produce spectacular but thin music that is best saved for special occasions.

The Beatles, though they might not have intended it, have in essence produced hip Muzak, a soundtrack for head shops, parties and discotheques.

The Beatles is a continuation of the Beatles mystique, or maybe an attempt to ride on its coattails. The Beatles mystique was bolstered in mid-1967 when Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was released and hailed by the underground and music press as the rock album of the decade. It has been a year and a half since that album was released. And one wonders how much the praise heaped upon Sgt. Pepper's was deserved.

Once they were crowned as geniuses, there developed the self-fulfilling expectation of genius that the Beatles now enjoy, a factor that probably will help make this new album a million seller.

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was good, and maybe it was the best rock album of the decade. But it wasn't as good as its press. The new album is not nearly as good as Sgt. Pepper's.

The new album has no "A Day In The Life." Considering non-Sgt. Pepper's material, the new album has nothing to compare with "Strawberry Fields" and not even a passable "Penny Lane."
It is hard and exciting in parts ("Back In The U.S.S.R.") and funny in others ("Why Don't We Do It In The Road?")--but only in parts.

It lacks the originality of Music From Big Pink, by the Band, and the all-over excitement of Cheap Thrills, by Big Brother and the Holding Company. It doesn't have the emotion of the Doors or the musical expertise of Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield. And by any measure of pure rock power, Blood, Sweat and Tears is far better.

The Beatles' double "White Album" is deemed an eclectic classic today. It's intriguing and amusing, therefore, to revisit Mike Jahn's contemporary New York Times appraisal of The Beatles on the eve of its US release in November 1968.--Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock's Backpages.

Friday, November 14, 2008

How To Save A Major Automobile Company

by Neil Young (acdc note: A couple of weeks ago, for who knows what reason, this thought popped into my head - I wonder what type of house Neil Young lives in? I hadn't just heard his music or read anything about him. I just wondered as the original grunge rock legend, is it a raised ranch or maybe a cape cod style. Ya see, if you think about it, ya kind of have to wonder what it's like. So I chuckled a little when I read his post on the Huffington Post website. Maybe I will find out what his house is like.)

Find a new ownership group. The culture must change. It is time to turn the page. In the high technology sector there are several candidates for ownership of a major car and truck manufacturer. We need forward looking people who are not restricted by the existing culture in Detroit. We need visionary people now with business sense to create automobiles that do not contribute to global warming.

It is time to change and our problems can facilitate our solutions. We can no longer afford to continue down Detroit's old road. The people have spoken. They do not want gas guzzlers (although they still like big cars and trucks). It is possible to build large long-range vehicles that are very efficient. People will buy those vehicles because they represent real change and a solution that we can live with.

The government must take advantage of the powerful position that exists today. The Big 3 are looking for a bailout. They should only get it if they agree to stop building autos that contribute to global warming now. The stress on the auto manufacturers today is gigantic. In order to keep people working in their jobs and keep factories open, this plan is suggested:

The big three must reduce models to basics. a truck, an SUV, a large family sedan, an economy sedan, and a sports car. Use existing tooling.

Keep building these models to keep the workforce employed but build them without engines and transmissions. These new vehicles, called Transition Rollers, are ready for a re-power. No new tooling is required at this stage. The adapters are part of the kits described next.

At the same time as the new Transition Rollers are being built, keeping the work force working, utilize existing technology now, create re-power kits to retrofit the Transition Rollers to SCEVs (self charging electric vehicles) for long range capability up to and over 100mpg. If you don't think this technology is realistic or available, check out the Progressive Insurance Automotive X prize. Alternatively, check out or other examples.

A bailed out Auto manufacturer must open or re-purpose one or more factories and dedicate them to do the re-power/retrofit assembly. These factories would focus on re-powering the Transition Rollers into SCEVs but could also retrofit and re-power many existing vehicles to SCEVs. These existing vehicles are currently sitting unsold at dealerships across America.

Auto manufacturers taking advantage of a government bailout must only sell clean and green vehicles that do not contribute to global warming. No more internal combustion engines that run exclusively on fossil fuels can be sold period.No Big Three excuses like "new tooling takes time".

New tooling is not a requirement for SCEV transition rollers.

Build only new vehicles that attain the goal of reversing global warming and enhancing National Security.

Government legislation going with the bailout should include tax breaks for purchasers of these cars with the new green SCEV technology. The legislation accompanying the bailout of major auto manufacturers must include directives to build only vehicles that attain the goal of reversing global warming while enhancing National security, and provide the financial assistance to make manufacturing these cars affordable in the short term while the industry re-stabilizes.

Eventually the SCEV technology could be built into every new car and truck as it is being assembled and the stop gap plan described above would have completed its job of keeping America building and working through this turbulent time. Detroit has had a long time to adapt to the new world and now the failure of Detroit's actions is costing us all. We pay the bailout.

Let's make a good deal for the future of America and the Planet. Companies like UQM (Colorado) and others build great electric motors right here in the USA. Use these domestic electric motors. Put these people to work now. This plan reverses the flow from negative to positive because people need and will buy clean and green cars to be part of World Change.

Unique wheel covers will identify these cars on the road so that others can see the great example a new car owner is making. People want America to win!

This plan addresses the issue of Global warming from our automobiles while enhancing our National Security and keeping Detroit working.

Neil Young, activist (Bridge School, Farm Aid) rock legend, has assembled a team that in the process of transforming his gargantuan 1959 Lincoln Continental from a gas guzzler into a showcase for green technology and sustainability. The car will be entered into the Automotive X Prize that offers a $10 million prize to develop a vehicle that can get 100 miles per gallon or better. The almost 50 year old Lincoln, one of the biggest, heaviest production cars of all time, has been re-named "Linc Volt" and is the subject of a feature documentary called "Repowering The American Dream" that is now in production under the aegis of Young's Shakey Pictures.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Today In History

On Nov. 12, 1927, Josef Stalin became the undisputed ruler of the Soviet Union as Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party.

1954 - Ellis Island closed after processing more than 20 million immigrants since opening in New York Harbor in 1892.

1987 - The American Medical Association issued a policy statement saying it was unethical for a doctor to refuse to treat someone solely because that person has AIDS or is HIV-positive.

1996 - Jonathan Schmitz was convicted of second-degree murder for shooting Scott Amedure, a gay man who'd revealed a crush on Schmitz during a taping of "The Jenny Jones Show."

1997 - Ramzi Yousef was found guilty of masterminding the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

2004 - A jury in Redwood City, Calif., convicted Scott Peterson of murdering his pregnant wife, Laci, and dumping her body in San Francisco Bay. (Peterson was later sentenced to death.)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do Or Go Without

It's been one heck of a week. Other than the economy, we've pretty much gotten good news this week. Mr. President-elect Obama hasn't wasted any time, that's for sure. His transition team has made a list of 200 Bush actions to overturn. Among them are stem cell research (yeah!!) climate change (double yeah!!) and re-productive rights (infinitesimal yeah!!!) He's particularly looking to undo Bush regulations imposed for "overly political" reasons!! So far, so good.

One of the things that I hope happens under the Obama Administration (oh, I love saying that) is a nationwide recycling plan. There are many states that have no recycling programs in place.

Recycling is not only environmentally important, but it is also cost effective. It reduces the amount of waste for disposal, saves space in landfills, is more energy-efficient than burning materials, and conserves natural resources and, at this truly difficult time in the economy, would create new jobs.

Here in Rhode Island, many city and towns have been recycling for years. Hopefully the cities and towns that do not recycle will soon begin recycling!

I'll be the first to admit that it can be a pain in the neck to recycle at times. It's both convenient and annoying to always have a paper bag next to or under my desk for recycling papers. Every little piece of paper goes into that bag, and I mean every little piece of paper! Whether it's an envelope or a grocery list, it goes right in. And I always seem to have a pile of broken down cereal boxes and other paper packaging on the sideboard in my kitchen. It's just a few feet to the paper bag at my desk, but it sometimes takes a few trips before I remember to bring the paper packaging with me. Once the paper bag is filled, I take it out to the recycle container by the front steps.

Also on the kitchen sideboard are assorted plastic, aluminum and glass jars, jugs and containers that need to go into the plastic and glass wastebasket that's located in the front hall of my house. Again, once that wastebasket is filled, I transfer the contents to the recycle container outside.

So, while it's a little bit of work and a little bit of inconvenience having the recyclables hanging around the house, the satisfaction of being responsible and not adding more trash to the landfill makes it all worth it!

Another way to save the landfills from exploding is "Source Reduction" which is defined as reducing the volume of and decreasing the toxicity of your waste. It can be achieved through product design, package design, or by actions taken by individuals to reduce their waste. It is sometimes referred to as "waste reduction" or "pre-cycling." Reducing the amount of waste you create is more important than recycling or reusing because you can save money, energy and raw materials.

I've decided that I am going to join the organizations that are already lobbying for nationwide recycling. Here are some websites that have good information on how you can start recycling:

What grows in Rhode Island:

Grass Roots Recycling Network - Kids Recycle!:

Friday, November 7, 2008

You Can Forget My Taxes

by Melissa Etheridge, an Academy Award-winning and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter

Okay. So Prop 8 passed. Alright, I get it. 51% of you think that I am a second class citizen.

Alright then. So my wife, uh I mean, roommate? Girlfriend? Special lady friend? You are gonna have to help me here because I am not sure what to call her now. Anyway, she and I are not allowed the same right under the state constitution as any other citizen. Okay, so I am taking that to mean I do not have to pay my state taxes because I am not a full citizen. I mean that would just be wrong, to make someone pay taxes and not give them the same rights, sounds sort of like that taxation without representation thing from the history books.

Okay, cool I don't mean to get too personal here but there is a lot I can do with the extra half a million dollars that I will be keeping instead of handing it over to the state of California. Oh, and I am sure Ellen will be a little excited to keep her bazillion bucks that she pays in taxes too.

Wow, come to think of it, there are quite a few of us fortunate gay folks that will be having some extra cash this year. What recession? We're gay! I am sure there will be a little box on the tax forms now single, married, divorced, gay, check here if you are gay, yeah, that's not so bad. Of course all of the waiters and hairdressers and UPS workers and gym teachers and such, they won't have to pay their taxes either.

Oh and too bad California, I know you were looking forward to the revenue from all of those extra marriages. I guess you will have to find some other way to get out of the budget trouble you are in.


When did it become okay to legislate morality? I try to envision someone reading that legislation "eliminates the right" and then clicking yes. What goes through their mind? Was it the frightening commercial where the little girl comes home and says, "Hi mom, we learned about gays in class today" and then the mother gets that awful worried look and the scary music plays? Do they not know anyone who is gay? If they do, can they look them in the face and say "I believe you do not deserve the same rights as me"? Do they think that their children will never encounter a gay person? Do they think they will never have to explain the 20% of us who are gay and living and working side by side with all the citizens of California?

I got news for them, someday your child is going to come home and ask you what a gay person is. Gay people are born everyday. You will never legislate that away.

I know when I grew up gay was a bad word. Homo, lezzie, faggot, dyke. Ignorance and fear ruled the day. There were so many "thems" back then. The blacks, the poor ... you know, "them". Then there was the immigrants. "Them.” Now the them is me.

I tell myself to take a breath, okay take another one, one of the thems made it to the top. Obama has been elected president. This crazy fearful insanity will end soon. This great state and this great country of ours will finally come to the understanding that there is no "them". We are one. We are united. What you do to someone else you do to yourself. That "judge not, lest ye yourself be judged" are truthful words and not Christian rhetoric.

Today the gay citizenry of this state will pick themselves up and dust themselves off and do what we have been doing for years. We will get back into it. We love this state, we love this country and we are not going to leave it. Even though we could be married in Mass. or Conn, Canada, Holland, Spain and a handful of other countries, this is our home. This is where we work and play and raise our families. We will not rest until we have the full rights of any other citizen.

It is that simple, no fearful vote will ever stop us, that is not the American way.

Come to think of it, I should get a federal tax break too...
A personal note: I'm no fan of marriage, that's for sure. But what I don't understand is how it's anyone's business who gets married. Two women, two men or a man and woman, who should care? acdc

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Good Morning

Wow!! It's a new day, a great day for us all.

I honestly feel like a new person - that there's a new purpose in life!

As difficult as the campaign was - I first supported Hillary - but then John Edwards decided he'd run and I thought he was the best candidate (what did I know!) But when he dropped out a week before Super Tuesday, as upset as I was at the time (again, what did I know) I supported Hillary, whom I have always admired. I wasn't crazy about how her campaign was run and, ultimately, others felt the same way, I think.

I didn't really like Obama as a candidate at first. I thought he should have waited and run in 2012 (again, what the heck did I know.) I liked him as a person just fine, and really admired what I knew of his wife. But little by little he sold himself to me. Then I (finally) realized that he was exactly who we needed to repair the messes created by Bush and his cronies.

Of course, Barack Obama has a monumental job ahead of him, but I can actually feel and sense possibility in the air! He's smart enough to make some good decisions, unlike his predecessor.

I feel so happy for black Americans! How, just overnight, the world has changed for them - now it will be easier for them to feel as white people have always felt; they can become anything they want, with hard work - even President Of The United States! Just by being elected, Obama has shown other people of color that anything is possible. I can only imagine how wonderful that feeling is for them today! Two of my nieces, who, like Obama, have a white mother and a black father, are overjoyed at this victory. They had favored Obama all along and it's now easy to understand why. They look like him - with that same beautiful skin color. Their lives will be enriched by Obama as my life never will. I am overjoyed with that thought.

I'm looking so forward to watching those two beautiful little girls grow up - it's crazy, insane, and wonderful that a black family will be living in the White House! That just makes me smile.

It's truly a great day for America and the world. Anything is possible.

Election Day Wrap-Up

I've spent the better part of the last 2 hours wiping tears from my eyes. Hey, I knew an Obama win would be emotional for me, but I didn't actually realize just how much.

Watching the Obama family and then the Biden family come out made my heart fill with pride and hope.

Technology is crazy. As I was blogging during Obama's victory speech, I was able to get a picture of him giving the speech off the web to add to my blog. That's crazy, man!

The coverage on NBC and MSNBC was pretty good - but without Tim Russert, it just wasn't the same. I truly missed his wisdom, experience and humor. He would have loved tonight and with his love of history, we would have heard some stories, for sure.

I'm not an alcohol drinking person, but I did raise my water bottle to the memory of Tim Russert tonight. I'm sure I wasn't the only person missing him.

I'm tired, but not sure if I can sleep.

Finally, There Is Hope

President Elect Barack Obama has said that "Change has come to America" and asks us to "Put your hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day."

And Malia and Sasha are getting a puppy to bring to the White House!!

"This is your victory," Obama said. "So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after, not only ourselves, but each other."

"A new dawn of American leadership is at hand."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President Barack Obama

MSNBC has just announced that they project Barack Obama as the next President Of The United States.

I cannot believe that this has happened in my lifetime. When you think of what black people have gone through through the years - it's just incredible. The work and sacrifices of Martin Luther King Jr., one of my personal heroes, has hit a historic and special significance tonight.

I cannot wait until January 20th, when President Obama's inauguration takes place. We can only wait to see what he is able to do to change our world.

Dare I Say It

President Barack Obama??? It's looking good so far! Obama now has 207 of 270 electoral votes needed to win. The crowd in Grant Park in Chicago is really something to see. There were 70,000 invitations sent out, but it seems like most of the city of Chicago has gathered on this unbelievably historic night for our country.
and Vice President Joseph Biden!

First Vote

My brother Patrick voted tonight for the first time in his life! He's 41 years old, has a developmental disability and never had any real interest in politics.

But this year he's paid a little bit of attention. When I took him a few months ago to get his photo identification card, the woman at the Registry of Motor Vehicles asked him if he wanted to register to vote. He said yes, even though I had asked him a day before we went - he told me NO.

So he registered and a few days later he got a voter card for Michael (his twin brother who lives in another city.) I called Nancy down at the town clerk's office and she had no idea how that happened. The only thing Patrick and Michael have in common besides their last name is their birthdate. So a few days later Patrick got another voter card for Michael. I called Nancy at the town clerk's office again and she asked me to give her a few days.

Sure enough, three days later Nancy called me and said everything was okay. Patrick should (and did) get the correct voter card. I called Michael and told him that he should confirm that he was still registered in his city (he was!)

Patrick was undecided about who he was going to vote for President - I reminded him of President Idiot's last 8 years. I showed Patrick the booklet and described to him what he would need to do. When we got to the school, I greeted the folks that were working there earlier when I voted. I walked Patrick through what he would need to do and one young guy who helped me earlier in the day took several minutes to explain to Patrick what he needed to do.

Patrick voted - for Obama, I'm happy to say - and we were home in less that 30 minutes from when we left.

My Historic Vote

Today is one of the happiest days of my life!

My eyes welled up as I proudly placed my vote for Barack Obama!

Here's the proof:

After placing my voting ballot in the machine (#601) I looked around for some "I VOTED" stickers. As I placed the sticker on my shirt I told the group of workers "I've waited 8 years for this!" They all laughed as I left the gymnasium.

Don't Forget To

The Big Day Is Finally Here

I feel like a kid on Christmas eve. I know something big is going to happen, but I'm not entirely sure I'll get what I want. It makes me think about how badly I wanted the album Chicago at Carnegie Hall back in my teens. It was either 1971 or 1972 and I really thought that life wouldn't be worth anything if I didn't get that album for Christmas.

So, I have waited a very long 8 years for this election day. I still remember how I sobbed through Al Gore's concession speech almost 8 years ago; my spirit crushed and the incredible anger I felt at the Supreme Court's wrong decision. I was pretty angry at Gore too, his concession speech that Wednesday night was the best speech he had ever given. I wondered why we hadn't seen that side of him throughout the election.
So many people have told me over these past 8 years that I shouldn't take Bush's policies so personal - but they have always felt personal to me; the invasion of a sovereign country, and the unnecessary loss of so many lives; the loss of personal freedoms, the constant threat of reversing Roe v. Wade and all of the other injustices that have taken place. It's been hard, the depression and despair that I have felt has, I'm certain, had much to do with my deteriorating health and the illnesses that I now deal with on a daily basis.

Then, four years ago when Kerry was up in the polls and then lost. I couldn't believe the stupidity of half of the U.S. population - weren't they paying attention to the first 4 years? I almost didn't make it - thinking of what another 4 years would do to me and my country.

As bad as I thought Bush would be, he has proven to be far, far worse. And while I don't like to say "I told you so" I'll say it anyway - "I told you so!" I have been proven absolutely correct by this shoddy, corrupt administration. I learned over these difficult 8 years that if a friend or relative felt that Bush was doing a good job, they became former friends. That proved to me that we didn't have any values in common and that I didn't want to surround myself with those who followed that inept idiot. It's really hard to describe just how deeply I hate Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez, Holmes, Rove, Card, etc. etc... And how angry I am at what they have done to the world that my nieces and nephews live in and how changed it now is for them as they go through their teenage years and become adults.

So, I'm really, really hoping and wanting an Obama win - a big one, actually - to show those stinking republicans that it's not just me who is tired of them, it's almost everyone. And while I know that Obama has a really tough road ahead, I suspect that many of the citizens of this (to be great again) country will hang tough with him, knowing we're all going to have to pitch in to fix the mistakes of the last 8 years. It's not going to be easy and it's not going to be quick - but at long last we will be heading in the right direction.

And as for Chicago at Carnegie Hall - I did get it for Christmas and I listened to that album until I couldn't listen any longer! And I enjoyed every minute of it - just as an Obama administration should help to heal me and my attitude.

On the other hand, if McSame wins, I'm out of here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Daughter Of Slave Votes For Obama

Amanda Jones, 109, the daughter of a man born into slavery, has lived a life long enough to touch three centuries. And after voting consistently as a Democrat for 70 years, she has voted early for the country's first black presidential nominee.

The middle child of 13, Jones, who is African American, is part of a family that has lived in Bastrop County for five generations. The family has remained a fixture in Cedar Creek and other parts of the county, even when its members had to eat at segregated barbecue dives and walk through the back door while white customers walked through the front, said Amanda Jones' 68-year-old daughter, Joyce Jones.

For at least a decade, Amanda Jones worked as a maid for $20 a month, Joyce Jones said. She was a housewife for 72 years and helped her now-deceased husband, C.L. Jones, manage a store.
Amanda Jones, a delicate, thin woman wearing golden-rimmed glasses, giggled as the family discussed this year's presidential election. She is too weak to go the polls, so two of her 10 children — Eloise Baker, 75, and Joyce Jones — helped her fill out a mail-in ballot for Barack Obama, Baker said. "I feel good about voting for him," Amanda Jones said.

Jones' father herded sheep as a slave until he was 12, according to the family, and once he was freed, he was a farmer who raised cows, hogs and turkeys on land he owned. Her mother was born right after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Joyce Jones said. The family owned more than 100 acres of land in Cedar Creek at one point, she said.

Amanda Jones' father urged her to exercise her right to vote, despite discriminatory practices at the polls and poll taxes meant to keep black and poor people from voting. Those practices were outlawed for federal elections with the 24th Amendment in 1964, but not for state and local races in Texas until 1966.

Amanda Jones says she cast her first presidential vote for Franklin Roosevelt, but she doesn't recall which of his four terms that was. When she did vote, she paid a poll tax, her daughters said. That she is able, for the first time, to vote for a black presidential nominee for free fills her with joy, Jones said.

One of Amanda Jones' 33 grandchildren, Brenda Baker, 44, said the family is moved by the election's significance to the matriarch.

"It's awesome to me that we have such a pillar of our family still with us," Baker said. "It's awesome to see what she's done, and all her hard work, and to see that she may be able to see the results of all that hard work" if Obama is elected, she said.

Jones lives in a small gray house with white trim just off Texas 21. These days, a curious white kitten and a sleepy old black dog guard the house. Inside are photographs and relics of a long, full life, including a letter from then-Gov. George Bush in 1998 commemorating her 100th birthday. A black-and-white picture of her in a long flapper-style dress was taken between 1912 and 1918 — no one can remember the exact year, Baker said with a chuckle.

Jones is part of a small percentage of active voters above the age of 100 in the state — and the country.

Sister Cecilia Gaudette, a 106-year-old nun born in New Hampshire but living in Rome, made recent national headlines as the nation's oldest voter. But if Texas records are any indication, that's hard to validate.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Ashley Burton said Texas can't confirm whether Jones is the state's oldest active voter because there is too much voter information to sort through. At the county level, there are other challenges. An election official in Hays County said its records are not searchable by age, and Bastrop County elections administrator Nora Cano said that some counties automatically list voters who were born before the turn of the 20th century with birth dates of January 1900.

The oldest active voter in Travis County is 105, officials said, and in Williamson County the oldest is 106 — making Jones the oldest-known active voter in Central Texas.

Making it to see the election results on Nov. 5 is important, but Jones is resting up for another milestone: her 110th birthday in December. "God has been good to me," she said.


A very sad piece of news, Barack Obama's beloved grandmother has died, just one day before the election.

Madelyn Payne Dunham died peacefully Sunday night after a battle with cancer, Obama said. She was 86.

"She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength, and humility. She was the person who encouraged and allowed us to take chances," his statement said. "She was proud of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and left this world with the knowledge that her impact on all of us was meaningful and enduring. Our debt to her is beyond measure. "

I think tomorrow will be such a bittersweet day for Barack Obama.

An Election Day To Remember

For legendary newsman Walter Cronkite, Election Day is not the only event on tomorrow's calendar. It's also his 92nd birthday.

Cronkite, born November 4, 1916 in St. Joseph, Missouri, will begin his day "with a trip to the voting booth," says his Chief of Staff, Marlene Adler. Adler tells TVNewser that "given his long political news seems quite fitting that for his birthday this year he will be getting a new president!"After voting, Adler says, "if the weather permits, family members will join him for an afternoon sail in and around New York City's waterways, followed by a private dinner. At some point in the evening, (probably around cocktail time), he will tune into the election coverage on television."

"Family, friends, sailing, and a presidential election — one could not design a more perfect birthday for Walter Cronkite!," Adler says.

The Top 5 Reasons To Vote In Rhode Island

1. Big margin = big mandate. The popular vote doesn't put anyone in the White House, but it affects what presidents can do when they get there. Want Obama to be able to actually do the stuff he's been talking about? Pass universal health care? End the war? Then we need a landslide.

2. The other things on the ballot matter! For example: Congress. Without more support in the House and Senate, Obama will have a hard time getting progressive laws passed. Plus, there are other important local races and ballot questions in some places.

3. If you don't vote, everyone can find out. Voting records are public. (Not who you voted for, just whether you voted.) Pretty soon, finding out whether you voted could be as easy as Googling you.

4. Help make history. You could cast one of the votes that elect the first African-American president. If we win, we'll tell our grandchildren about this election, and they'll tell their grandchildren. Do you really want to have to explain to your great-great-grandchildren that you were just too busy to vote in the most important election in your lifetime?

5. People died so you'd have the right to vote. Self-government—voting to choose our own leaders—is the original American dream. We are heir to a centuries-long struggle for freedom: the American revolution, and the battles to extend the franchise to those without property, to women, to people of color, and to young people. This year, many will still be denied their right to vote. For those of us who have that right, it's precious. If we waste it, we dishonor those who fought for it and those who fight still.

Live your values. Love your country. Vote.