Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Yahoo! News - Flu Deaths Hit Epidemic Level in U.S.
ATLANTA (Reuters) - The flu is widespread in almost every U.S. state and the number of deaths due to pneumonia and influenza is now at an epidemic level, federal health officials said on Wednesday.

Hope you are feeling better Pop.
It's All About Me:

Good Thoughts for 2004

Refinish the floors! Yes, I have been saying this for four years, I know, but I really, really want to see it done. Maybe posting it will spur me on.

Paint my office and the upstairs bathroom. Soon!

Play guitar more. Pick up that bass maybe, once in awhile? Wouldn't hurt to keep fresh.

Appreciate my time with my loved ones. Get back in touch with my friends more often. Stop being such a hermit. (OK, maybe after winter.... :~)

Read. Write. Think. Explore.

Cut the smoke numbers down. (ha ha ha!)

Get serious about finding a new job. (ha ha ha, what jobs?)

Happy B-day to Mom, today. She's 59. We went and had a nice lunch at Red Lobster- it was a beautiful, bright day today, almost like we were in Sarasota! We've promised to be in Florida this time next year. Fingers crossed that "good thought" comes true.
Today's thought is:

Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations.
--Faith Baldwin

Each stage of life brings its own gifts. Every age gives us a chance to examine where we are right now. When we were young, many of us insisted that we could change the world. We even thought we could change people. The next stage in life may have given us the gift of seeing that we could only change ourselves.

Whatever stage we are in right now is the perfect place to reassess our priorities again. It has become obvious to us by now which things we cannot change, and we are busily accepting that truth.

Time itself alters us and our expectations. The time we have lived has already created change, and the passing of time will create more. The alterations we make today can help us accept this stage in life as being the best place to be.

Now is the time to alter my expectations of myself, to tailor them to my current needs.

Sometimes it's hard to determine exactly what those needs are. I find that most of my "needs" are actually "wants". The next few days I will be looking long and hard at my life to try to separate the two, and determine a list of goals for the New Year.

Yahoo! News - U.S. Military Ending Halliburton Iraq Oil Deal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. military energy unit announced on Tuesday that it was taking over the task of providing fuel for Iraq, ending a Pentagon deal with Vice President Dick Cheney's former company Halliburton amid allegations of price gouging by the Texas-based energy services giant.

The Pentagon's Defense Energy Support Center said it had been directed to assume control of rebuilding Iraq's oil industry and that it would award new contracts through a competitive bidding process.

Can't find the angle here. Spreading more money around?

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

It's All About Me:

Totally blocked this morning. Yet another slap in the face from Kristin has left me reeling. I must get past this self-loathing and MOVE ON. But how.


Love sucks.

Monday, December 29, 2003

The mind of the sage is
Empty and calm,
Profoundly calm,
Dealing with the world
Like bellows taking in air,
Like pipes containing music.

- Chen Ting- Van

I am so not there today. Post Xmas blahs maybe?
It's All About Me:

I'm bored! with the this year over yet?

Chicago Cubs Year In Review

"It was a wild ride, and one to build on."

Sunday, December 28, 2003

It's All About Me:

The Top 10 of 2003 (in no particular order except the first)

My Dad surviving a near stroke in early July. Everything that came after would have been altered immeasurably had that gone bad. The joy of the Cubs would have been hollow, seeing the final LOTR would have been empty, the Republicans would seem more evil…. Words cannot describe how my life would have been changed, so I’ll leave it at that. I am one lucky person.

Finding out what was wrong with EC (my 17 yr old cat-she has CRF) and beginning treatment that has improved the time and life she has left. She still is doing pretty well, and to think that I had her written off. God bless the fine folks at the Plymouth Road Animal Clinic.

This computer and subsequently getting cable Internet. Zoom! Changed the direction of my life, good or bad, I’m not sure yet. Good because I am writing more, tapping my creativity, bad because I have become an Internet junkie. I can’t imagine life without it now.

The purple Saturn, Barney. I love this car! It got me to many ballgames, out to visit Scott, all around town and once to the Lake, it has just improved my life ever so much. It’s great to drive.

Meeting Ryne Sandberg. ‘Nuff said.

The blow-up on my birthday with Kristin. While it definitely wasn’t a “good time”, it did interrupt what was becoming that all too familiar pattern with her- if there is even to be a friendship between us (yet another) break was needed. I actually had a great b-day though, (I think it was in spite of Kristin- I felt "free" in a way), lunch and stuff from Mom, the Whitecaps won the game…

The drives to Chicago on Fridays. I really enjoy doing this- it gets me out of the workplace, out of the state, and into thinking about the great big old world. It’s meditative in a way, and I hope that I can continue to do this as long as I am at AE.

Baseball been berry, berry good to me. The Cubs…what can I say. So proud of their accomplishment. What a team. What a year. What a lot of fun. Although the Whitecaps weren’t a very good team this year, I enjoyed every minute I spent out at 5/3rd Park- 39 games total. I’m grateful I had the time, money (it's so cheap!) and opportunity to do that. I love the place. I can’t wait for spring. (Special sports nod to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who won the Super Bowl last January. Way to go guys, that was a great time!)

Waking up early New Year’s Day and walking the beach on Anna Maria, in the light of the rising eastern Sun and the western setting of the Moon over the clear Gulf of Mexico. It was gorgeous, magical, invigorating. One of those flashbulb memories. (I hope that I make next year’s top 10 from that location!)

Sitting five feet away from Shawn Colvin on Labor Day weekend. It was like being at the foot of a God. The woman is awesome.

Honorable mention: Jennifer Granholm and her amazing job with the cuts facing the State of Michigan. She got the Repubs to give up 25 whole dollars! That has to count for something.

( I reserve the right to add to this if I remember anything else in the next few days)

Yahoo! News - Top Wild Card Titans Trounce Bucs 33-13
The loss made Tampa Bay (7-9) the first defending Super Bowl champion with a losing record since Denver in 1999.

"Dynasty". The word I used most often after the Super Bowl was "dynasty".

Look how wrong you can be.

Yahoo! News - U.S., Canada at Odds Over Mad Cow Origin
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Saturday the Washington state dairy cow infected with mad cow disease had probably been imported from Canada but Canadian authorities called the statement premature.

"Your cow!" "NO, your cow!" Big trouble for the beef industry, no matter where the cow came from.
It's All About Me:
Yes, I know, I haven't blogged anything yet Pop. Nothing in the news has captured my interest.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

It's All About Me Again:
you are lavender

Your dominant hue is blue, making you a good friend who people love and trust. You're good in social situations and want to fit in. Just be careful not to compromise who you are to make them happy.

Your saturation level is very low - you have better things to do than jump headfirst into every little project. You make sure your actions are going to really accomplish something before you start because you hate wasting energy making everyone else think you're working.

Your outlook on life is bright. You see good things in situations where others may not be able to, and it frustrates you to see them get down on everything.
the html color quiz

It's All About Me:

Friday, December 26, 2003

Yahoo! News - Brain Rewards Us for Laughing: Study
Humor is no laughing matter, according to Dr. Allan L. Reiss of Stanford University in California, who led the research.

"Humor has significant ramifications for our psychological and physical health," he told Reuters Health. Our sense of humor, he said, "often dictates if, how and with whom we establish friendships and even long-lasting romantic relationships." Humor is also a "universal coping mechanism" for dealing with stress, Reiss added. Despite the importance of humor, Reiss said that little is known about the brain mechanisms that underlie humor.

Researchers found that when a cartoon made a person laugh, a brain network that is known to be involved in reward was activated. In fact, the areas activated by humor have been shown previously to be activated by amphetamines and cocaine, according to a report in the December 4th issue of the journal Neuron.

Hmmmm, very interesting....
From the "I Guess They're Serious" Dept. comes this:

Zone Alarms user agreement:

In addition, the Software may not be downloaded or otherwise exported, reexported, or transferred to an end-user engaged in activities related to weapons of mass destruction. Such activities include but are not necessarily limited to activities related to: (1) the design, development, production or use of nuclear materials, nuclear facilities, or nuclear weapons; (2) the design, development, production or use of missiles or support of missile projects; and (3) the design, development, production, or use of chemical or biological weapons. By downloading or using the Software, you are agreeing to the foregoing. You are also warranting that you are not (i) located in, or a resident or national of, a restricted country; (ii) on any of the U.S. lists of restricted end-users; or (iii) engaged in any activity related to weapons of mass destruction. You understand that the requirements and restrictions of U.S. law as applicable to you may vary depending on the software downloaded and may change over time, and that, to determine the precise controls applicable to the software, it is necessary to refer to the U.S. Export Administration Regulations and the U.S. Foreign Assets Control Regulations.

Yahoo! News - Big Iran Quake Kills 'Thousands' in Ancient City
Iranian television said about 70 per cent of the buildings in Bam, a popular tourist destination some 1,000 km (600 miles) southeast of the capital, Tehran, had collapsed in the earthquake which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale.

"Thousands of people have been killed," television said. A local official said earlier that 2,000 people were confirmed dead.

"So far we can only confirm 2,000 dead but the number is sure to rise," a senior official from Kerman province, where Bam is situated, told Reuters in Tehran by telephone.

Governor not sure yet if she'll endorse in Democratic presidential race
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt put in a personal call to Gov. Jennifer Granholm last week, the same day candidate Howard Dean's campaign manger flew in from Vermont to meet with her in her office.

Both men - and the seven other candidates hoping to win the Democratic presidential nomination - are industriously courting Michigan's Democratic governor, hoping for an endorsement that could help them win the state's Feb. 7 Democratic presidential caucuses and give them a boost nationwide.

So far, Granholm isn't sure she'll endorse. But she hasn't ruled it out. She also declines to name a favorite - or even several possible favorites - at this point.

Political observers see Michigan as a must-win state for whichever Democrat wins the task of taking on President Bush next year, so all the candidates are starting to line up supporters in this critical industrial swing state.

We are an important piece of the puzzle for 2004. Wait for the best offer, Jennifer.

Michigan Governor Bans Anti-Gay Bias
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm has issued an order banning discrimination against gays in state employment, a move critics condemned as a first step toward legalizing gay marriage.

The order issued Tuesday covers the executive branch, which has about 55,000 employees - about 95 percent of all state workers.

"The employment practices of state government should promote public confidence in the fairness and integrity of government and should reflect a commitment to equal employment opportunities," Granholm spokeswoman Liz Boyd said in a news release.

Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, told the Detroit Free Press the move "is simply the first step in a stepping stone strategy for legalizing homosexual marriage."

The order bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. Michigan is the 10th state to adopt such a gay rights policy, according to the Triangle Foundation, a gay rights advocacy group.

Granholm called for extending civil rights law protection to gays when she ran for governor in 2002. She also called for recognition of civil unions for same-sex couples.

OK Gary, explain to me how banning discrimination in state employment automatically leads to "gay marriage"?

Next thing you know we will want to use the drinking fountains too!
It's All About Me:

At 6:05PM yesterday, CBS local news, there was, indeed, a story about "all those people who have to work on Christmas".

I had a wonderful Christmas. I am so lucky to have my parents still with me, lucky that they get along with each other, lucky that they love me so much. I had all three of my "furbabies" with me, and spoiled 'em silly. We got a couple inches of snow Christmas Eve, perfect timing because it will all melt today. I went to see LOTR with Dad, what will we do next year now that the series is complete? How did three years go by so fast?

Presents- Buffy Season Two DVD's, Sarah Michelle Gellar at her finest! Yum! A recorder that I hope I can put to use to capture some of the things that I think; I have to get used to hearing my own voice first. It's kinda creepy. Another gold necklace. I asked my Mom if wearing three gold chains made me look like a pimp. Some Halston perfume; I haven't had that in years. It reminds me of Wendy. A pretty Fenton cat. And, of course, I can't forget this wonderful computer that has become so central in my life. Hope she doesn't go bad on me! Still looking for that smokeless ashtray...

Cool stuff, man. I am blessed.

Never heard from any of my friends, that made me kind of sad. I'm never more acutely aware of how alone I feel in this world until a holiday comes along and reminds me of it. I realize that it is a busy day, and, hey, I could reach out, too, but I don't want to bother anybody. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

I'm going to enjoy these next few days off...

Yahoo! News - Officials Feared Las Vegas a Target, Paper Says
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. government officials were concerned some passengers boarding one of the Air France flights from Paris to Los Angeles that were canceled this week for security reasons might intend to crash-land it in Las Vegas, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

On Thursday, a day after Air France canceled six flights between Paris and Los Angeles at U.S. urging, officials said terrorists may be seeking a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed about 3,000 people.


Thursday, December 25, 2003

At last, Santo home for the holidays

(Stolen from my Dad's blog- Thanks Pop- nice Christmas story)

The timing is never good for this sort of thing, but this was just too much, and Ron Santo could have cursed the gods. Two years ago, he spent Christmas in the hospital after losing his right leg to diabetes. Last Christmas, he was back in the hospital again to have the left leg taken.

This past fall, Santo's beloved Cubs finally were headed for that big season Santo has promised himself for more than 40 years, the season that has helped to keep him alive, frankly. And at the most important time, he was told he had bladder cancer. Leave Wrigley Field's playoff dreams now and go home to have your bladder removed? Santo could have cursed the gods.

He survived that surgery, and his vital organs did not shut down, as was possible. But then he developed a staph infection last month. He was back in the hospital, and Christmas was coming again, and ...

And Santo is home today for Christmas. He could be cursing the gods, but he instead is walking without a cane. His wife will be there. So will his daughter and his 4-year-old grandson, Sam Brown, and it's a good bet that Ron will take Sam to the park and push him on the swings.

Merry Christmas Ron, see you next year!

Granholm signs budget-balancing bills
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed several bills intended to balance the state budget by cutting spending and delaying January's income tax cut by six months.

Seventy-five percent of 600 likely voters who responded to a telephone poll conducted by Lansing-based EPIC/MRA said they did not consider the income tax cut delay a tax increase. Thirteen percent said they did consider it a tax increase and 12 percent either did not know or were undecided. The statewide poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points, was conducted Dec. 17 through Tuesday.

Another tax credit signed Tuesday is intended to keep Swedish-owned Electrolux AB at its refrigerator manufacturing plant in Greenville rather than move production to Mexico. The credit is for businesses that make a capital investment of $100 million over five years and have agreed to maintain at least 1,500 jobs at the facility without permanent reduction in full-time employment except through attrition or retirement.

"They honestly said this is purely an economic case," Granholm told The Grand Rapids Press in Greenville. "If we could put enough assistance on the table that was annualized, they would certainly consider staying."

I wonder about the precedent set with the Electrolux deal. Will every business now want state money to stay in the country? Can we afford that?

Congrats to Gov. Granholm on getting the tax pause through! Merry Christmas Republicans!


War is over , if you want it...

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

What cartoon dog are you?

Brought to you by the good folks at

You're a Hog-Nosed snake!
Hanging low, and going with the crowd -
You dont like to buck the system too much, and
would rather roll over and play dead than make
a fuss. But forewarned, should be, people who
take your pleasant care free nature for
granted, Because they should'nt forget you are
capable of delivering a venomous bite. Eastern
hognose snakes, like the one pictured here, are
small, rear fanged, mildly venomous, toad
eaters from the Sandy woodlands of Eastern
North America -

What kind of reptile are you most like ?
brought to you by Quizilla
It's All About X-mas:

I would love to get through JUST ONE Xmas without a story about last minute shopping at the 7-11.

Tomorrow will be the story about "all those poor folks who have to work on Christmas". I guarantee it.

Yahoo! News - U.S. Says Terror Threat Serious in Run-Up to Xmas
LONDON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said a threat of possible year-end terror attacks against the United States was serious, while other parts of the world were also on alert on Christmas Eve.

"You ask, 'Is it serious?' Yes, you bet your life," Rumsfeld told a Pentagon briefing.

One defense official said U.S. authorities believed Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda or other extremists might be planning attacks against key infrastructure sites, such as nuclear power plants, electric power stations, dams and oil industry facilities.

"No, we are not kidding here, really, honest." I find it amusing that now everybody questions whether or not the government is serious about this. - Beef import bans could cost U.S. billions - Dec. 24, 2003
The United States is the leading exporter of beef in the world, totaling about $3.5 billion for 2003, according to Philip Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation in Denver.

"This would be significant if we were to lose even half our export sales," he said. "This would be a very debilitating development in the United States."

I hope this doesn't make the prices start to rise again. I like my little t-bones once a week.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Cubs sign Walker to one-year deal
CHICAGO -- Todd Walker turned down more money and a guaranteed starting job to sign with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday because he feels they are close to getting to the World Series.

"It's a great signing for us," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "Who wouldn't want a bat like Todd Walker's?

"We felt we were in need of another left-handed hitter, and to get somebody of Todd's quality is outstanding," Hendry said. "He's a career .290 hitter. He was the toughest guy in the American League to strike out last year. This is not a reflection on what we had."

Walker, 30, batted .283 in 144 games with the Boston Red Sox last year, hitting 13 homers and 38 doubles while driving in 85 runs. He struck out 54 times, an average of once every 12 plate appearances.

Nice pick-up Jim. Now where's Pudge?

Lofton agrees to $6.2 million, two-year contract
NEW YORK (AP) -- Kenny Lofton completed his $6.2 million, two-year contract with the New York Yankees on Tuesday.

Lofton hit .296 last season for Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs with 12 homers, 46 RBIs and 30 steals. He and incumbent Bernie Williams will compete for the center field job in spring training, manager Joe Torre said.

DAMN! Oh well, good luck Kenny. Unless we meet in the playoffs...

Yahoo! News - Favre Overcomes Emotional Loss to Lead Packers to Victory
OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) - Brett Favre overcame the emotional loss of his father to complete his first six passes for two touchdowns to set the Green Bay Packers on their way to a 41-7 win over the Oakland Raiders Monday.

Favre had considered taking the night off but remained focused enough to throw for four touchdowns, all scored in a first-half in which he amassed a personal-high 311 yards.

He finished the game with 399 yards, finding 12 different receivers while earning the highest quarterback rating of his 13-year career. With the victory, the Packers (9-6) pulled level with the Minnesota Vikings (news) in the NFC North Division to remain in the hunt for a playoff spot.

"I didn't expect this type of performance," a teary-eyed Favre said. Asked about his decision to play, he said: "I knew my dad would want me to play. I love him so much and I love this game.

"I know he was watching."

WTG Brett.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Yahoo! News - Constitutional Amendment Proposed in China
BEIJING - China's leaders sent its legislature a proposed constitutional amendment on Monday to protect private property for the first time since the 1949 communist revolution — a key step toward cementing the status of capitalism in a nation undergoing radical change.

Approval seemed certain. Communist leaders who control the legislature already have endorsed private property as essential to pushing ahead economic reforms that have let millions of Chinese lift themselves out of poverty.

Look out, here comes China.
It's All About The Blog:

Reading yesterday in one of my forums, I came across a post that pointed out that posting pics from other sites is a theft of bandwidth and a possible copyright violation. I guess I knew this on some level, but didn't really think about it.

So, as cool as it was to post pics from news stories here, I will hereby cease and desist before someone tells me to cease and desist in a lawsuit.

I'll check into copyrights- they might not mind me using pics, but I'd have to find a place to store them online.

CBC News: Gay couple Time's Canadian newsmaker for 2003
TORONTO - A court ruling declaring Canada's legal definition of marriage a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was the inspiration behind Time magazine's 2003 Canadian "newsmaker of the year."

The publication chose Michael Leshner and Michael Stark as top newsmakers for playing a key role in the legal battle for same-sex marriage rights.

"The two men have come to symbolize something much bigger: the unprecedented acceleration of social liberalism in Canada in 2003. From gay marriage to moves to decriminalize marijuana and provide supervised injection booths for drug addicts in Vancouver, 2003 will go down in history as the year that Canada rethought what was taboo."

Thanks to Dad for this story. Canada is leaving us in the dust when it comes to progress in social issues. I wonder in they are taking applications?

Sunday, December 21, 2003

It's All About The Republicans:

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:

1. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

2. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

3. Government should relax regulation of Big Business and Big Money but crack down on individuals who use marijuana to relieve the pain of illness.

4. "Standing Tall for America" means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.

5. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

6. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

7. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

8. Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins unless you someday run for governor of California as a Republican.

9. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

10. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

11. HMOs and insurance companies have the interest of the public at heart.

12. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.

13. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

14. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden"? diversion.

15. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

16. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

17. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

18. You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have a right to adopt.

19 What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

20. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

Yahoo! News - Nation's Threat Level Rising to Orange
WASHINGTON - The government on Sunday raised the national threat level to orange, indicating a high risk of terrorist attack, and said threat indicators are "perhaps greater now than at any point" since Sept. 11, 2001, with strikes possible during the holidays.

Some of the intelligence information gathered in the past few days suggests that "extremists abroad" are anticipating attacks that will rival or exceed the scope of those of Sept. 11, Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge said.

"Rival or exceed". Those are pretty big words there, Tom.

Yahoo! News - The U.S. Soldier Is Time Person of Year

NEW YORK - The American soldier, who bears the duty of "living with and dying for a country's most fateful decisions," was named Sunday as Time magazine's Person of the Year.

Soldiers were singled out as the top newsmakers of the year because "the very messy aftermath of the war made it clear that the mission had changed, that the mission had not been completed and that this would be a story that would be with us for months, if not years, to come," Time Managing Editor Jim Kelly said.

Very nice!

Cubs non-tender Simon
CHICAGO -- The Cubs on Saturday did not tender a contract to first baseman Randall Simon and were expected to sign catcher Michael Barrett. Teams had until Saturday to decide whether to offer contracts to unsigned players on the 40-man roster. Any player not retained as a result of a non-tender will be granted free agency.

The Cubs were interested in keeping Simon, but he would've had to accept a part-time role because the team added first baseman Derrek Lee.

I hope we do find a way to keep this guy, but it's doubtful if he's on the market.

Yahoo! News - Democrats Chide Republicans on Jobless Benefits
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats on Saturday chided the Republican-controlled Congress for recessing for the holidays without extending an emergency benefits program for jobless workers, which is set to expire this weekend.

The program, started in March 2002, allowed for an additional 13 week of payments after normal benefits expired. It has been extended twice, but Republicans argued another extension was not needed because the economy is improving and unemployment is trending downward.

Ho ho ho! Merry Xmas from the Repubs! Now go get a job.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

It's All About Winter:

"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." -- Rogers Hornsby

Michigan Settles on Welfare Drug Testing
DETROIT (AP) -- The State of Michigan on Thursday agreed not to resume its sweeping drug-testing program for all welfare recipients, drawing to a close a four-year lawsuit between the state and the American Civil Liberties Union.

In Thursday's out-of-court settlement, the state retained the right to test some welfare recipients if they are suspected of having substance abuse problems. However, Michigan has no plans to do so, said Family Independence Agency spokeswoman Maureen Sorbet.

God bless the ACLU.

U.S. House of Reps. Approves Bill to Censor American Citizens from Voicing Opposition to U.S. War on Drugs
WASHINGTON - December 9 - A little-known provision buried within the omnibus federal spending bill that the U.S. House of Representatives approved yesterday would take away federal grants from local and state transportation authorities that allow citizens to run advertising on buses, trains, or subways in support of reforming our nation’s drug laws. If enacted, the provision could effectively silence community groups around the country that are using advertising to educate Americans about medical marijuana and other drug policy reforms. Meanwhile, this same bill gives the White House $145 million in taxpayer money to run anti-marijuana ads next year.

Yahoo! News - Record Industry May Not Subpoena Providers
WASHINGTON - The recording industry can't force Internet providers to identify music downloaders, a federal appeals court said Friday in a major decision shielding online privacy while undercutting the industry's anti-piracy campaign.

The ruling does not legalize distributing copyrighted songs over the Internet, but it will greatly increase the cost and effort for the Washington-based Recording Industry Association of America (news - web sites) to track such activity and sue those who are swapping music online.

Let's hear it for privacy!

Yahoo! News - More Women Report That They're Homosexual
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Young women are much more likely than are older women to say they're homosexual or bisexual, a time trend not seen among men, according to an Australian study.

The findings are similar to those from studies in the U.S. and Great Britain, suggesting that at least in certain countries, social changes are influencing women's reports of sexual orientation.

Well it's about time.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Yahoo! News - New Infrared Telescope Lifts Universe's Dusty Veil

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new space telescope that looks at the cosmos with infrared detectors has lifted the dust veils from newborn stars and a bumptious comet, and revealed the detail in the spiral arms of a neighboring galaxy.

One of the new telescope's first images shows a favorite of astronomers, the nearby galaxy Messier 81, located in the constellation Ursa Major (Great Bear), which includes the Big Dipper.

Messier 81 is about 12 million light-years from Earth -- a stone's throw in cosmic terms. A light-year is about 6 trillion miles, the distance light travels in a year. - MLB - Price for infamy: Bartman ball sells for $106,600
The ball was purchased by Grant DePorter, a friend of the late Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray and managing partner of Harry Caray's Restaurant Group in Chicago.

DePorter told ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg on "Mike & Mike In The Morning" that the restaurant will display the ball and ask for customers to come up with the best way they can think of to destroy it.

DePorter has already planned the destruction date -- February 26, 2004 -- when the restaurant will lead its annual toast to Harry Caray. He said that Bartman, whose current place of residence is unknown, is invited to the destruction site.

"There will be no pardon on this ball," DePorter told Greenberg.

This one is for you Harry!

Yahoo! News - Court Rulings Slam Bush's Terror Strategy
SAN FRANCISCO - Two federal courts ruled that the U.S. military cannot deny prisoners access to lawyers or the American courts by detaining them indefinitely, dealing twin setbacks to the Bush administration's strategy in the war on terror.

One of Thursday's rulings favored the 660 "enemy combatants" held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The other involved American citizen Jose Padilla, who was seized in Chicago in an alleged plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" and declared as an enemy combatant.

In Padilla's case, the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the former gang member released from military custody within 30 days and if the government chooses, tried in civilian courts. The White House said the government would appeal and seek a stay of the decision.

In the other case, a three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base should have access to lawyers and the American court system.

The White House said the ruling was inconsistent with the president's constitutional authority as well as with other court rulings.

This is shaping up to be an interesting battle. Are we going to let "due process" fall by the wayside?
It's All About Evil:

"He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into you." - Friedrich Nietzsche

This sums up my feelings about the Republicans right now. How do you fight them without sinking down to their level?

Believe nothing because a wise man said it.
Believe nothing because it is generally held true.
Believe nothing because it is written.
Believe nothing because it is said to be divine
Believe nothing because someone else believes it.
But believe only what you yourself judge to be true.

- The Buddha

Gotta love The Buddha. Righteous dude. - State budget belt-tightening squeezes health care for kids
WASHINGTON — Children across the country are being cut off from doctors because cash-strapped states are rolling back health insurance for the working poor, an investigation by Gannett News Service has found.

Twenty-two states have restricted children's health insurance programs over the past 18 months. More cuts are possible in 2004 as states face another round of daunting budget deficits.

For many families, especially those with chronically ill children, the state cutbacks have resulted in immediate hardship. Parents of sick, uninsured children also are likely to seek medical care through hospital emergency rooms and public clinics, even though they can't pay for it. An increase in so-called uncompensated care will translate into higher prices for families with health insurance, health professionals warn.

This will happen on the "adult" level too, driving up the cost of private insurance. Eventually we will have "socialized" health care because no one will be able to afford private insurance.

Pay now, or pay later.

Yahoo! News - Man Faces Jail for Car Sticker
TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian man faces a possible lengthy prison term or even the death penalty for attaching a sticker to the rear window of his car proclaiming "The era of arrogant rulers is over," his lawyer said Thursday.

"My client faces jail for acting against national security just because of that sticker," attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told Reuters.

The charge of acting against national security normally carries a hefty prison sentence and in some cases has led to the death penalty being imposed.

Dissent a threat to national security? Watch out Americans, this seems to be the path we are heading down.

Yahoo! News - Mercker Signs One-Year Deal with Cubs
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Chicago Cubs agreed to terms with pitcher Kent Mercker on a one-year deal Thursday.

Mercker, 35, who has been relegated to the bullpen for the last two years, was with Cincinnati and Atlanta last season. He made 67 appearances, recording a healthy 1.95 ERA, with opponents hitting .227 against him.

Once upon a time this guy could really pitch. This looks to be a good deal. (Edited at 5:15 AM- Hey Pop- I think Hollandsworth is a fine addition too. We are building quite the ballclub here.)

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Yahoo! News - Halliburton Tells Military Auditors It Saved Money
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney's former firm Halliburton said on Thursday it had told Pentagon auditors the company had saved the U.S. government money in Iraq and strongly rejected price gouging allegations.

Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root was awarded a no-bid contract in March to rebuild Iraq's oil industry, including importing fuel to alleviate dire shortages in the oil-rich nation.

"We believe our response proves KBR delivered fuel to Iraq at the best value, the best price and the best terms," said Randy Harl, KBR's president and chief executive.

HAHAHA! I knew they would deny it, I didn't think they would actually claim that they saved us money.
Budget Deal Reached To Eliminate Budget Deficit

LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, and Speaker of the House Rick Johnson today announced that they have reached an agreement to eliminate a $920 million deficit in the 2004 fiscal year budget.

“This bipartisan deal is a fair compromise that will allow us to minimize the cuts to education and the social safety net while allowing businesses to provide health care to their employees at a lower cost,” said Granholm. “This is a victory for the families of this state who depend on the essential services that are preserved within this deal. I applaud the Legislature for their willingness to protect the priorities of Michigan’s citizens.”

Terms of the agreement include a six-month pause in the income tax rollback with the money to be used to offset the shortfalls in the School Aid Fund, payments to local units of government, and institutions of higher learning. Also included in the deal is an additional $12 million in administrative cuts to state government spending as well as a four-year phase-in of the health care tax deduction for businesses.

Yea! for my Governor. WTG Jennifer. Get them piggy Republicans.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

It's All About My Uncle Dan:

...who passed away today at the age of 48.

I love ya, man. I will miss you.

If there is a reason to believe in heaven...

Yahoo! News - U.S. Appeals Court Sets Aside Federal Marijuana Law
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A federal appeals court allowed two very sick California women on Tuesday to use marijuana, setting aside longstanding federal drug laws that bar such cultivation even for medical purposes.

Growing marijuana for medical purposes is legal in California under a 1996 voter-approved state law, but the measure clashes with federal law.

Angel (news - web sites) Raich, who has an inoperable brain tumor, and Diane Monson, who suffers from severe back pain, last year sued U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (news - web sites). They sought an injunction against the act, saying the 1970 federal Controlled Substances Act was unconstitutional.

A district court ruled against the women in March, but in a rare afternoon ruling, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reversed the decision.

"We find that the appellants' class of activities -- the intrastate noncommercial cultivation, possession and use of marijuana for personal medical purposes on the advice of a physician -- is, in fact, different in kind from drug trafficking," the three-judge panel ruled.


Yahoo! News - Bush Says He Could Back Gay Marriage Ban
WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) said Tuesday that he could support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Bush has condemned the ruling before, citing his support for a federal definition of marriage as a solely man-woman union. But though he has said he would support whatever is "legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage," he and his advisers have shied away from specifically endorsing a constitutional amendment asserting that definition.

But on Tuesday, the president said he endorsed a constitutional amendment "which would honor marriage between a man and a woman." At the same time, however, he also seemed to leave the door open to different arrangements in different states.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Cubs acquire Barrett from A's
CHICAGO -- The Cubs added a right-handed hitting catcher on Tuesday, but it wasn't Pudge Rodriguez.

The Cubs acquired Michael Barrett from the Oakland Athletics for a player to be named later. Barrett didn't start looking for a home in the Bay Area. The Montreal Expos dealt him to Oakland on Monday at the Winter Meetings for a player to be named, and Barrett said he guessed his stay would be short.

This year was an injury-riddled season for Barrett, who hit .208 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs in 70 games. He spent much of the year on the disabled list because of a right hip flexor suffered July 26 against Atlanta.

Who? Why? Another light hitting catcher?

Yahoo! News - Detroit Lions exec apologizes for gay slur
Matt Millen, president of the Detroit Lions, said in a statement that he was expressing his "frustration and disappointment" at being ignored by Kansas City Chiefs receiver Johnnie Morton after the Lions-Chiefs game. (The Chiefs won, 45-17).

According to the Kansas City Star, Morton walked past Millen and ignored his greeting. The player had been cut from the team by Millen in 2001.

Millen first responded with sarcasm to Morton's silence, then after a brief exchange yelled, "You faggot! Yeah, you heard me. You faggot!"

"Unfortunately, I retaliated with a derogatory term directed toward Johnnie," Millen said. "I apologize if I offended anyone."

Matt Millen has to be the biggest asshole ever in Detroit sports history. They can't get rid of him soon enough for my taste.

Yahoo! News - US Considers Nonprescription 'Morning-After Pill'
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Making a "morning after" pill available without a prescription would provide more timely access to the emergency contraceptive, U.S. Food and Drug Administration staff said in a preliminary analysis released on Monday.

A U.S. panel of scientific advisers will meet on Tuesday to debate whether to recommend that the controversial pill be sold without a doctor's prescription for women to use shortly after intercourse to prevent pregnancy.

Women's Capital Corp. has asked regulators for permission to sell its emergency contraceptive called Plan B over the counter. Supporters say women need easy access to the pills after unprotected sex or when a condom breaks.

Opponents worry women will rely on Plan B instead of regular contraception, and some view use of the emergency pills as equivalent to an abortion.

I can hear the screams from the right already.

Monday, December 15, 2003

It's All About Me:

Ideology Selector Results:

#1: Liberal
#2: Radical
#3: Third Way
#4: Left-libertarian
#5: Neoconservative
#6: Centrist
#7: Libertarian
#8: Paleoconservative
#9: Conservative
#10: Paleo-libertarian

Yahoo! News - Saddam Arrest Cheer Fades Into Iraqi Ire at U.S.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Joy at the capture of Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) gave way to resentment toward Washington Monday as Iraqis confronted afresh the bloodshed, shortages and soaring prices of life under U.S. occupation.

"The Americans promised freedom and prosperity; what's this? Go up to their headquarters, at one of those checkpoints where they point their guns at you, and tell them that you hate them as much as Saddam, and see what they do to you," said Mohammad Saleh, 39, a building contractor.

"The only difference is that Saddam would kill you in private, where the Americans will kill you in public," he said.

"A lot of things -- safety, freedom, prosperity -- that we were supposed to have are gone. They promised many things, and now that they have caught Saddam maybe they kept one."

Maybe I'm wrong for saying this, but, when are the Iraqi's going to get off their ass, get back into their army, and start helping secure the future of their own country? It's going to be up to them if they want their soverignty. Perhaps they would prefer to have Saddam back in power? Let's get going guys.

Yahoo! News - Hey Sweeties, Get Ready for the Return of 'AbFab'
Yes, sweetie darling, "Absolutely Fabulous" is set to return Jan. 2 on the Oxygen network with a fresh batch of misadventures featuring those wickedly funny fashion victims, Patsy and Edina, as embodied by actress Joanna Lumley and series creator/writer Jennifer Saunders.

It's been a decade since "AbFab" first made noise in this country (the series bowed in 1992 on the BBC and in 1994 on Comedy Central), but Saunders has not lost any of her touch for melding satire and social commentary with slapstick and gross-out humor. No one working in English-language television today offers a more unvarnished look at how women of privilege grapple with the aging process than Saunders.

Now THIS is news. Jennifer Saunders is a God.

Yahoo! News - Saddam's Capture Roils 2004 White House Race
With the U.S. economy on the upswing and now the former Iraqi dictator in jail, the nine Democrats vying for the right to challenge Bush next year are once again having to refine their arguments for replacing him.

I'm glad this happened now. It will be forgotten next November.

Yahoo! News - Saddam Tells Troops He Wants to Negotiate
Eventually, Saddam could be tried for war crimes by a new Iraqi tribunal. More immediately, the Americans made clear he faces intensive interrogation — foremost, to find out what he knows about the ongoing rebellion against the U.S.-led occupation and later, about any weapons of mass destruction his regime may have had.

The former dictator — one of the world's most-wanted fugitives was captured by Special Forces along with the 4th Infantry Division conducting a massive raid on a farmhouse near Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, according to Capt. Desmond Bailey.

The more I think about it- how is it that this guy had only two aides with him- no protection? Very curious.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Grand Valley St. 10, North Dakota 3 - Second Straight N-C-A-A Division Two Title.
Florence, Alabama-AP) -- Mike Hoad's interception with 27 seconds left, ended the game against North Dakota at ten-three, giving Grand Valley State its second straight N-C-A-A Division Two title.

Fourteen-and-one Grand Valley dominated most of the defense-heavy game played in the rain. The lone touchdown came off a fumble recovery returned 59 yards.

Congrats Grand Valley!

Yahoo! News - Saddam Captured Alive, Iraq Official Says
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Saddam Hussein has been captured alive in his hometown of Tikrit, a member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council said Sunday.

In Baghdad, residents fired small arms in the air in celebration, and gunfire echoed in neighborhoods across the city. Earlier in the day, rumors of the capture sent people streaming into the streets of Kirkuk, a northern Iraqi city, firing guns in the air in celebration.

Good for them. Good for us. Good thing all around. Maybe he has the WMD's in his pocket.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Pudge could have Cubs on his mind
NEW ORLEANS -- If the Chicago Cubs need an endorsement to pursue free agent catcher Ivan Rodriguez, all they need to do is ask Ozzie Guillen.The new Chicago White Sox manager, who was a coach on the World Champion Florida Marlins last season, said Rodriguez wants to play for the Cubs.

"He's looking to go there. He wants to go there," Guillen said Saturday at baseball's Winter Meetings. "He knows they have a good team."

I get chills when I think of him in the line-up.
It's All About Me:

Party Compatibility Table:

1) Green Party 87%
2) Reform Party 87%
3) Democratic Party 60%
4) Natural Law Party 60%
5) Libertarian Party 47%
6) Constitution Party 47%
7) Republican Party 33%

Only 60% Democrat? Wow, guess I'm a Greenie after all.

Bush Plan Would Halve Deficit in 5 Years
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush's next budget will propose spending restraints (Ed. Note: HAHAHAHA!) and other steps as part of a plan to slash federal deficits in half in the next five years, a White House budget official says.

White House budget officials have said they expect this year's deficit to be around $500 billion - shattering last year's record shortfall of $374 billion. That means the goal would be around $250 billion in red ink by 2009, they said.

In an interview Friday, Joel Kaplan, deputy director of the White House budget office, said Bush would halve the deficit "by pursuing very aggressively his pro-growth economic policies, and by leading the Congress toward overall policies of fiscal restraint. (Ed. Note: HAHAHAHA!) And if the Congress adheres to those two programs, we'll be successful in halving the deficit from its '04 peak within that time period."

Kaplan provided few specifics about how the deficit would be cut in half.

The president will once again propose that tax cuts first enacted in 2001 be made permanent, instead of expiring as this decade ends, Kaplan said. That could cost $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years, boosting the deficit, according to congressional budget analysts.

Yes! Brilliant! Stop the money from coming in! Genius...

Yahoo! News - Iowa Judge Grants Lesbian Divorce
DES MOINES, Iowa - An Iowa judge's divorce decree for two women has sparked a legal challenge that could help decide whether some states can bar same-sex unions while others permit it.

Gay rights activists say the divorce between Kimberly J. Brown, 31, and Jennifer S. Perez, 26, does not open the door to recognition of same-sex relationships, but a conservative group said Friday it will ask the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn the decree.

"We believe the judge exceeded his authority," said Chuck Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center, a family advocacy group.

Hurley and other conservatives fear the judge's decree, which refers to the union as a marriage, could be a step toward legitimizing same-sex unions, which are not permitted under an Iowa law passed in 1997.

Get over it, Chuck.

Yahoo! News - Bush: Halliburton Must Pay for Overcharge
"If there's an overcharge, like we think there is, we expect that money to be repaid," the president told reporters Friday when asked about the contract controversy.

Pentagon (news - web sites) auditors say Houston-based Halliburton charged up to $61 million too much for delivering gasoline to Iraqi citizens under a no-bid contract to rebuild Iraq's dilapidated oil industry. The company denies overcharging.

I can hear the paper-shredders whirring to life. What do you want to bet that the overcharges are going to turn out to be totally justified because of "security reasons"? Is there anyone out there who still doesn't believe this war was soley for the money? Read on:

Meanwhile, an Army spokesman disclosed that companies from France, Germany, Russia and Canada won't be eligible to replace Halliburton as the recipient of the oil reconstruction contract.

The Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing bids and hopes to decide this month who will get the oil reconstruction deals worth up to $800 million in northern Iraq and $1.2 billion in the south.

The decision means that an additional $2 billion in contracts in Iraq, not disclosed before, would be forbidden to countries that opposed the war, along with the $18.6 billion in Iraq work the administration declared off-limits earlier this week.

My guess is these contracts will go to more subsidiaries of Halliburton or other Bush campaign contributors. Plenty of opportunities for yet more overcharges! What's a few dead American boys when there are billions of dollars to be made?

"Steal a little and they throw you in jail
Steal a lot and they make you king"

-Bob Dylan

Friday, December 12, 2003

Michigan GOP asks for governor's travel records
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The Michigan Republican Party has used the state's Freedom of Information Act to obtain copies of Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's travel records.

Copies of the records, obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, show Granholm has traveled slightly fewer miles and spent slightly less on travel during her first 11 months in office than did her Republican predecessor, Gov. John Engler, during the same January through November period in 2001 and 2002.

State GOP spokesman Jeff Stormo said Thursday that he made the request Nov. 13 after the governor began holding a series of budget forums with citizens statewide to discuss how to deal with a $920 million shortfall.

"At a time when we needed to save money, we wanted to see if she was doing what she was asking other people to do," Stormo said.

So, instead of working for the citizens of Michigan and helping to solve the budget crisis, the Republicans were busy looking for "issues" to bash the governor with. Typical of the Republican Party. If they can't be in power, then they have to try to thwart the progress of someone who is just doing their job. After critizing Granholm's tour of the state in the first place, it's obvious to me that the Republicans care nothing about hearing the voice of the citizens of Michigan, they only care about serving their own power mongering self interests.
Governor Granholm Proposes Funding to Bring Guardsmen Home for the Holidays
LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm has asked state lawmakers to approve funding so nearly 900 Michigan National Guardsmen can be with their families for the holidays later this month before they are deployed overseas.

The funding, which the Granholm administration included in a supplemental appropriation approved by the State Senate and now awaiting approval by the House of Representatives, will enable citizen soldiers to come home during their December 23-27 furlough recently approved by the U.S. Department of Defense. - Light brought to a halt in scientific first
AP) -- Physicists say they have brought light to a complete halt for a fraction of a second and then sent it on its way, an achievement that could someday help scientists develop powerful new computers.

Harnessing light particles to store and process data could aid the still distant goal of so-called quantum computers, as well as methods for communicating information over long distances without risk of eavesdropping.

How very cool.

Yahoo! News - Pettitte Completes Switch to Astros
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Andy Pettitte turned his back on the New York Yankees Thursday and joined the Houston Astros on a three-year contract.

Pettitte, a left-handed pitcher who won four World Series championships during nine active seasons at Yankee stadium, will earn $10.5 million a year in Texas.

Damn. I don't want him in our division. Wish he'd gone American. (Note to Dad: Hahaha! No, I hadn't read your blog when I posted this)

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Yahoo! News - Halliburton May Have Overcharged in Iraq -Sources
Democratic lawmakers had raised questions over KBR's pricing for fuel being trucked into Iraq, an oil-rich country that is suffering a fuel shortage until its refineries can be restored to full capacity.

KBR has been bringing fuel into Iraq either from Turkey or via Kuwait and has defended its pricing by citing the high cost of security in a dangerous environment and a shortage of trucks.

Shocked! Shocked I tell you!
It's All About USP:

After my little tirade the other day, I am happy to say that I have successfully stayed away for the past twenty-four hours. I wanted to make sure that I could do it. The term "addiction" is bandied about quite a bit on these forums, that is intriguing to me- is it a true addiction? What the hell do I get out of it? A sense of community? These are people that I would run from in real life, why would I seek them out on the Internet? It would probably feel better to just hit my head against the cement sidewalk, at least doing that would knock me out after awhile so I wouldn't have to listen anymore.

I have very valid reasons for staying semi-conscious during the 80's.

GOP conservatives assail Bush - 12/10/03
WASHINGTON — President Bush is a "fraud" and a "disaster." He’s betraying the Reagan Revolution. He has turned the Republican Party into the "the new welfare state party."

Those are Republicans talking. And that rage from Republicans who favor small government and fiscal restraint, in Washington and the heartland, could mean trouble for Bush’s re-election.

"This administration has presided over one of the most massive expansions of the federal government in history," said Phil Heimlich, a Republican who is a Hamilton County, Ohio, commissioner. He grades Bush a D.

Heh heh heh. Go get 'im boys.
It's All About Me:

Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey. - `Third' of new Iraqi army quits
WASHINGTON—Plans to deploy the first battalion of Iraq's new army are in doubt because a third of the soldiers trained by the U.S.-led occupation authority have quit, defence officials said yesterday.

Touted as a key to Iraq's future, the 700-man battalion lost some 250 men over recent weeks as they were preparing to begin operations this month, Pentagon officials said.

"We are aware that a third ... has apparently resigned and we are looking into that in order to ensure that we can recruit and retain high-quality people for a new Iraqi army," said Lt.-Col. James Cassella of the Pentagon.

It was uncertain exactly why they abandoned their new jobs, though some had complained that the starting salary — $60 a month for privates — was too low, officials said. Iraqi police are paid $60 a month and the Civil Defence Corps $50, officials have said.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Granholm, Senate GOP leader reached deal on budget deficit
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Jennifer Granholm and GOP Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema reached a budget-deficit deal Tuesday that includes delaying an income tax cut by six months and giving businesses a tax break.

"It's a good compromise," Sikkema said. "To get to a solution, there has to be a little give and take. I think this is very fair. I applaud the governor for coming to the middle ground here."

Granholm said she was optimistic the deal would go through, although there was still uncertainty about what House Republicans will do.

Oh, alright. *sheesh* The things ya have to do to appease the greed...

The Onion | Report: Poor People Pretty Much Fucked
WASHINGTON—According to the results of an intensive two-year study, Americans living below the poverty line are "pretty much fucked," Center for Social and Economic Research executive director Jameson Park announced Monday.

"Although poor people have never had it particularly sweet, America has long been considered the land of opportunity, where upward class mobility is hard work's reward," Park said. "However, our study shows that limited access to quality education and a shortage of employment opportunities in depressed areas all but ensure that, once fucked, an individual tends to stay fucked."

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, 34.6 million Americans were living below the poverty line in 2002.

True. - Support for Bush, war going back up
Political analysts suggest the positive impact from President Bush's surprise Thanksgiving Day trip to Iraq and a relatively low level of U.S. deaths over the past two weeks might be driving the rise. But they note that injuries to 61 U.S. soldiers Tuesday by two suicide bombers in Iraq might trigger reassessments.

The SOB picks up a fake turkey and all is good with the American people. Ugh. I guess we deserve what is coming next. Karma is a bitch.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003 : Bush Whacked Online,
Search Engine Trick Lists President as ‘Miserable Failure’

Dec. 8 — President Bush is a miserable failure.

How much one agrees or disagrees with that statement is a matter of personal opinion. But according to the Internet's most popular search engine, it is cold, hard fact.

Go ahead, try it.

Type in "miserable failure" on the Google Web site and the first Web link most likely to show up will take you directly to the official online biography for the current occupant of the Oval Office. (The trick will also sometimes work on Yahoo! and other search engines.)

I could have told you this without doing a web search. :-) : Gore to Endorse Front-Runner Howard Dean
NEW YORK Dec. 9 — Former Vice President Al Gore is endorsing Howard Dean for the Democratic presidential nomination, adding momentum and political prestige to Dean's front-running campaign.
Five weeks before Iowa's kickoff caucuses, Gore is appearing with his former party rival in New York City's Harlem neighborhood before flying with Dean to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for a formal endorsement, several Democratic officials said Monday on condition of anonymity.

I think this makes Dean a shoo-in. We will see.

Yahoo! News - Fear of New Things May Shorten Life: Study
"Young rats identified as fearful produce more stress hormones across the life span," Dr. Sonia Cavigelli of the University of Chicago's Institute for Mind and Biology told Reuters Health. The increased production of stress hormones may accelerate aging, she said.

Whether the same is true in people is uncertain, but studies have shown that shy children experience a surge in stress hormones when confronted with something new.

Ruh roh.

Monday, December 08, 2003

It's All About The Funnies:

Here's my vote in no particular order:

For Better or For Worse
Peanuts (sentimental reasons)
Tank McNamara
Foxtrot (I'm familiar with this from The Freep- it's pretty good)
Big Top (wanted to vote for something new, "Buckles" and "Grand Avenue" looked OK, too)

The light of awakening
Appears when it has been
High and vast the mountain
Lifts forth the moon
I myself have climbed
To the summit
In the world outside of things
There is nothing to get in the way.

- Muso Soseki (1275-1351) - Survey: No Relief In Health Care Costs
The cost of health care benefits continued to gallop at a double-digit pace this year and promises to get worse in 2004, a survey released today found.

Nationwide, employers' health benefit costs rose 10.6 percent in 2003, and companies aren't expecting any let-up, predicting a 12.5 percent increase in 2004, according to the Mercer Human Resource Consulting annual health care survey.

I pray I don't get seriously ill. It would destroy me financially for the rest of my life probably. - Severed ties for Maddux, I-Rod
Maddux, who helped the Braves reach the playoffs during his 11 seasons in Atlanta, was not offered salary arbitration by Sunday's midnight deadline and can't re-sign until May 1.

Last year, the four-time Cy Young Award winner was offered arbitration and accepted. The sides later agreed at $14.75 million — the largest one-year contract in baseball history.

The 37-year-old right-hander went 16-11 last season, moving within 11 wins of 300.

That's why we can't get Maddux. Too much. BUT- there are lots of juicy names available, including Pudge and Javy Lopez. Let the feast begin.
It's All About Me:

A rant-

"These Stepford Republican women with their painted-on smiles, their "perfect" lives and their red, white and blue pom-pons always shaking, creaming their jeans for Bush and his marauding band of murderers and thieves, pretending that everything is just OK, fine and dandy, and that they can never, ever be wrong, are as FAKE as can be. They have no heart. They have no soul. They are as plastic as that Anne Coulter doll."

(I grow weary of raging at the machine. There must be another way.) - CD prices hit sour note with retailers, buyers
Music executives blame rampant piracy and file sharing across "peer-to-peer" networks, such as Kazaa, for a staggering 31% sales drop in the last three years. Piracy now costs artists and record labels $700 million per year, according to Forrester Research, and the industry has started suing individual users who share files.

But lost in the furor about piracy is the fact that many consumers are buying less music because they believe CD prices are too high. Some have shifted their entertainment dollars to competitors, such as DVDs and video games.

Also lost in the furor is the fact that there are really no "supergroups" left or interesting new trends such as "grunge" etc., to bring people in. The music today, well, sucks.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Cubs agree to terms with free agents Mark Grudzielanek and Tom Goodwin
The Chicago Cubs today agreed to terms with infielder Mark Grudzielanek on a one-year contract for the 2004 season with a club option for the 2005 season. The club also agreed to terms on a one-year contract for the 2004 season with Tom Goodwin. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In addition, the Cubs announced they will not offer arbitration to the following nine free agents: Antonio Alfonseca, Shawn Estes, Doug Glanville, Mark Guthrie, Eric Karros, Kenny Lofton, Troy O'Leary, Dave Veres, and Tony Womack.

I hate to lose Lofton and Karros. "The team with Kenny makes the playoffs." Mark my words.

Report: Osbourne was taking lots of pills during T-V series
Los Angeles-AP -- As star of the reality series "The Osbournes," rocker Ozzy Osbourne was often seen staggering around his mansion, mumbling and falling over.

Now an investigation by the Los Angeles Times reports on why. Osbourne tells the paper he took as many as 42 pills a day -- prescribed by a Beverly Hills doctor he didn't realize was under investigation for overprescribing drugs to other celebrities.

Shocked! Shocked I tell you! - Cubs hike ticket prices
The average ticket price figures to rise to more than $28 per game, the second-highest in baseball behind Boston's, which will be at around $45 after a 5 percent increase at Fenway Park. The New York Yankees are expected to pass the Cubs when they announce their price hike for 2004.

Prices for bleacher tickets and club boxes have increased the most over the years. A bleacher seat was $4 in 1987, when a club box cost $10.50. With the three-tiered structure in place, a bleacher ticket for a premium date is nearly nine times higher than it was in '87, while the most expensive box seat is nearly five times higher.

*Sigh* Wonder if I won the lottery last night...

9 kids found dead after U.S. air strike in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Nine children were found dead Saturday after an American air raid in eastern Afghanistan, and the military was investigating whether U.S. forces were responsible, a spokesman said.

An American A-10 aircraft struck a site south of Ghazni, 100 miles southwest of the capital, Kabul, where a ''known terrorist'' was believed to be hiding, Army Maj. Christopher E. West said.

''We regret the loss of any innocent life, and we follow stringent rules of engagement to specifically avoid this type of incident while continuing to target terrorists who threaten the future of Afghanistan,'' West said.

And if we get 'em while they are kids, they can't "threaten the future", can they? My tax dollars in action.
It's All About My Random Thoughts:

"And the man in the back said everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz"

This morning my disjointed thoughts are as follows:

What did the Cubs do last night? No news so far this morning.
What did the Republicans do last night? No news so far this morning.
Has Will & Grace jumped the shark?
Does my car have enough oil in it?
Will Steve just show up one of these Sundays because I haven't answered the phone? The past two weekends I have taken long afternoon naps.
Is EC reaching the end stage of kidney disease? She has been shaking her leg funny this morning. I'm gonna stick her pretty soon. Funny, when I put her saline bag on the heat grate in the kitchen she disappears.
Will popular music continue it's downward slide? Will anybody ever use orchestras with rock-n-roll again?
Is my checking account overdrawn? I don't think so.
How is Kristin? Haven't heard a word.

"Together we move like spirits in the night"

I love early Sunday morning. It seems like nobody is awake, or even alive. I am alone with my rambling, caffeinated thoughts. How this differs from the rest of the week, I'm not sure. :~)

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Mich. Gov. Slams GOP Over Income Tax
LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm unleashed a blistering attack against Republican lawmakers Friday, saying they'd rather resolve a budget deficit by cutting heating aid for seniors and assistance to homeless shelters than delay an income tax cut.

"I am not going to stand for cutting out the legs from the social safety net, balancing the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable citizens because they (Republicans) don't have the guts to pause a rollback in an income tax that equates to $11 a person," Granholm told reporters.

She said an effort by the state Republican Party to discourage GOP lawmakers from supporting the tax cut delay "is irresponsible and cruel."

Take that Betsy. I believe the words I used were "irresponsible and greedy" Heh heh.

Cubs face decisions by Sunday
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs are still talking to free agents Kenny Lofton, Tom Goodwin and Mark Grudzielanek and may reach an agreement with them before Sunday's deadline. The trio are among the 10 free agents the Cubs must decide on by Sunday. If the team does not come to terms with those players, the team loses negotiating rights until May 1.

Fingers crossed on Grudzie and Lofton. C'mon guys, cough some money!
It's All About Me:
Happy Birthday Herm, wherever you are.

I'm half-way to 39 today. Eeeek.

Santo resting, recovering
Santo, 63, the former Chicago Cubs third baseman and current WGN Radio broadcaster, is recovering from a surgical procedure Oct. 28 to remove cancerous tumors on his bladder. The tumors were discovered during a routine physical, and Santo had to miss most of the Cubs postseason games to prepare for the operation.

Santo has endured his share of offseason operations the last three years. In December 2001, he had one leg amputated below the knee because of complications with diabetes. After the 2002 season, he had to have the other leg amputated, also because of diabetes. The bladder cancer is not diabetes-related, he said.

Even if they cut Ron up into little itty bitty peices, he will find a way to make it to next year. Hang in there Ron!

Texas and Boston talking A-Rod for Ramirez
NEW YORK (AP) -- A-Rod could be the next big star moving to the AL East as the Boston Red Sox try to beat the New York Yankees in a heated game of ``Can you top this?''

The Red Sox are discussing acquiring the AL MVP Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers for Manny Ramirez in what would be a swap of the only $20 million-a-year players in baseball history.

The Red Sox are apparently very serious about next year.

Yahoo! News - Socks With Explosive Residue Discovered
WASHINGTON - The discovery of a pair of stretched-out socks with traces of explosives in them has prompted a government warning that al-Qaida may still be planning to use personal items to blow up a plane, according to the Homeland Security Department.

Maybe we should make everybody fly naked.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Yahoo! News - Woman Gets 10 Years for Drive-Thru Rage
Waynetta Nolan, 37, has said she didn't mean to run over Sherry Jenkins, who was dragged across the burger chain's parking lot during the incident and broke her pelvis.

After ordering at the drive-thru April 23, Nolan became angry when she was told the restaurant's cheeseburgers didn't come with mayonnaise. Witnesses said she threw the burger back through the drive-thru window. The manager offered her another burger but Nolan then complained about her french fries and drink.

Guess my job isn't so bad after all.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

GOP balks at freezing tax cut
The state GOP's governing committee passed a resolution opposing any pause in the rate cut on Nov. 22. On Tuesday, GOP Chairwoman Betsy DeVos sent a memo to Republican lawmakers telling them "we need to stand firm to keep the income tax rollback in place."

Democrats charge that DeVos' outspoken opposition to tampering with the tax cut is intimidating to GOP lawmakers worried about future political career options.

"She apparently carries the big stick in the party," said Sen. Robert Emerson of Flint, the Democratic leader in the Senate.

I've got a big stick I'd like to give to Betsy, problem is I'm not sure how I'd "hand" it to her. I'm thinking about sending her a check for 83 cents every week if she promises to keep her big, greedy yap shut.

I have just three things to teach:
Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
You return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
You accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
You reconcile all beings in the world.

- Lao Tzu

Yahoo! News - Music Industry Targets Even Computer-Less
Among the RIAA's recent targets is retiree Ernest Brenot, 79, of Ridgefield, Wash., who wrote in a handwritten note to a federal judge that he does not own a computer nor can he operate one.

Brenot was accused of illegally offering for download 774 songs by artists including Vanilla Ice, U2, Creed, Linkin Park and Guns N' Roses.

Brenot's wife, Dorothy, said she and her husband were stunned by the claims, offended at the suggestion they listened to such music. Brenot was targeted in the previous round of 80 suits the recording organization filed late in October.

Brenot and her husband said their son-in-law briefly added Internet service to their own cable television account while living with the couple because Comcast Cable Communications Inc. said it would add a surcharge to send separate bills to the same mailing address.