Monday, May 31, 2004

Memorial Day.

Fish ladder before and after. The water is still very high.

Yahoo! News - Cheney Office 'Coordinated' Halliburton Deal -Time
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Pentagon e-mail said Vice President Dick Cheney's office "coordinated" a multibillion-dollar Iraq reconstruction contract awarded to his former employer Halliburton, Time magazine reported on Sunday.

The e-mail, sent by an Army Corps of Engineers official on March 5, 2003, said Douglas Feith, a senior Pentagon official, provided arrangements for the RIO contract, or Restore Iraqi Oil, between Halliburton and the U.S. government, Time said.

The e-mail said Feith, who reports to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, approved arrangements for the contract "contingent on informing WH (White House) tomorrow. We anticipate no issues since action has been coordinated w VP's (vice president's) office."

A spokesman for Cheney said his office had no role in the contract process.

"Vice President Cheney and his office have had no involvement whatsoever in government contracting matters since he left private business to run for vice president," said Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for Cheney.

Everyone who is surprised by this please raise you hand....

City to split sewers from storm water
Expect dust, dirt and detours on Grand Rapids' Southeast Side during the next couple of years -- all to clean up the Grand River.

It's the $53 million "EastSide CSO Control Program" aimed at ending the combined sewer overflows, or CSOs, that dump sewage into the Grand River when the city gets hit with a big rainstorm.

On Tuesday, city commissioners are expected to award the program's first contract -- a $4.3 million project to replace sewers, water mains and pavement along Franklin Street SE between Fuller and Eastern avenues.

The project will replace old sewers that combined storm water with raw sewage and overwhelmed the city's Waste Water Treatment Plant during rain storms, said Rick DeVries, city project engineer.

By separating the storm water and sanitary sewers, the city should eliminate overflows into the Grand River like those that occurred last week, DeVries said.

Combined sewers are typically found in neighborhoods that were developed before 1920, DeVries said. The separation project also will end many of the sewage backups that flood basements.

After last weekend's deluge, city officials said they were forced to dump 151 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the river. Of that, at least 5.6 million gallons were untreated.

And how many gallons are being dumped after this morning's hard rains?

Glad that they are finally doing something about this problem. I would hate to live downstream of Grand Rapids. What good is a river if you can't get in it and enjoy the water?

Prior 'feels good' after rehab start
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Chicago ace Mark Prior struck out 10 and allowed three hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings while making a rehab start for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs on Sunday.

"I felt I was my normal self," he said. "I felt good. I think that's the most important thing, is I felt good. I feel like if I need to take the next step, I could do it right now."

Prior flew to Chicago immediately after the game and will meet Monday with Cubs president Andy MacPhail, general manager Jim Hendry, manager Dusty Baker and the training staff to determine his next step.

If they decide he's ready to return to the big leagues, Prior would pitch at Wrigley Field against the Pittsburgh Pirates next weekend.

If he says he's ready, he's ready. Betcha we will see him next weekend. How sweet that will be.

Too much rain.

Yahoo! News - Catholic Gay Activists Denied Communion in Chicago
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Priests denied Holy Communion on Sunday to a group of rainbow sash-wearing gay activists who showed up to protest a directive from Chicago's prelate that they violated church teachings by advertising their homosexuality.

The volatile issue of denying Communion to Catholics who disagree with church teachings, a controversy that has recently entangled U.S. politicians, was fueled in Chicago after Cardinal Francis George sent a memo to priests in the second-largest U.S. archdiocese, ordering them not to offer Communion to sash-wearers.

More than a dozen men and women activists sang and prayed with other parishioners filling the pews at Holy Name Cathedral but were offered only blessings when they sought to receive Communion with the others.

"It's sheer hubris," said Lonnie Chafin, who -- like more than a dozen other gay Catholics -- came to the most visible church in the diocese to display his displeasure. He wore a rainbow ribbon, a gay symbol, and was given Communion after some hesitancy by the priest.

"Who is the church to say who can and cannot get communion?" said Greg Van Hyfte, 27, carrying a rainbow-hued umbrella prior to the services to fend off a driving rain.

Hey! How come the guy with the ribbon got Communion? And how 'bout all those women using birth control? What about them? I would think that we could find a whole bunch of folks who "disagree with church teachings" in one way, shape, or form.

I guess a better question is, why are the Catholics being such a pain in the ass after all the crap the pedophile priests have put the Church through? Are they trying to drive away members?

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Yahoo! News - WWII Vets Gather for Memorial Dedication
WASHINGTON - America dedicated a memorial to the fast-thinning ranks of World War II veterans, a poignant last hurrah drawing together tens of thousands of old soldiers, sailors and heroes of the home front.

Frail now, full of spunk then, they were thanked Saturday for service that "helped save the world."

The National Mall, where huge numbers usually gather in protest, instead offered a last-of-a-lifetime scene of commemoration as veterans assembled by the sweeping monument of granite and bronze that was more than a decade in the planning.

Many veterans gripped canes. Others sat in wheelchairs. The hardiest among them grabbed their wives and danced in the aisles when 1940s swing music wafted over the crowd. Young people came up to old people and said thanks.

The Veterans Affairs Department deployed several dozen counselors to help people deal with the emotions of the day. Counselor Arto Woods talked with a distraught veteran who sat by a tree after telling his war story to others in a tent.

"He just needed someone to talk with," Woods said. "He was thinking, why did he survive compared with others he knew in his unit?"

It's about time we honored "the greatest generation". Thanks go to all the vets on this Memorial Day!

Yahoo! Sports - MLB - Pirates 10, Cubs 7
The Cubs have lost five straight, the first time that's happened since Sept. 22-27, 2002.

And if they lose today, they will be in the basement of the NL Central.

I can't believe this.

Maybe this means there will be some tickets available in September after all.

Saturday, May 29, 2004


Before the game.

As Satan Scrubbed My Toilet / It's a slew of new, disposable products that really scream "Screw the planet, I'm an American!" Life is good
See, now, the happily narcotized, entirely sexless, vaguely bulbous modern housewife in the recent TV commercial as she finally tosses away her angry, growling, animated (!) toilet brush (see how it snaps and snarls at her like a drunken deadbeat dad! See her toss it into the trash can and then plop her butt down on it in satisfied glee!) in favor of -- say it with me -- disposable toilet scrubbers you use once and throw away!

Just watch that brush head break apart in a swirl of pulpy chemical fibers in the toilet. Look at the nifty cheap-ass landfill-plastic handle -- remember, it's not a brush, it's a "toilet-cleaning system." Look at the shiny plastic tub of refills you have to buy every month just to keep the goddamn thing stocked before the handle snaps in half and you have to buy a whole new one because it's actually worth about seven cents and is made by disposable factory workers in Malaysia who die of petroleum-related cancer even faster than BushCo can decimate the Clean Air Act. Neat!

This is how I would have done "The Day After Tomorrow", a movie so incredibly bad that I'm still laughing about it 24 hours later. If they would have written a dark comedy on the "disposable lifestyle", as opposed to the sanctimonious, finger-waggin', whiney "I told you so", boring, predictable characters with a cliche' for every impossible, implausible situation, piece of schlock that it was, it might have been an enjoyable time. As it stands, it was the kind of disaster movie that you just pray mankind dies so they can't write any more melodramatic disaster movies, just as long as all the computer animators are whisked off the planet before it goes.

If you watch the clip in the hyperlink, you will see most of the cool parts in the movie. QuickTime 6 required. The website itself is pretty good. I recommend that and save yourself $8.
One More Shot:

No fishing.

Go to Riverside with a big net and you don't need no stinkin' bait.

Friday, May 28, 2004

WINDOWS ON THE WATER: Downtown office workers are fascinated by up-close view of river
Normally, tenants of the Riverfront Plaza building, which is across the Grand River from Van Andel Museum Center, can see pedestrians along the riverwalk. But when the river crested at 19.54 feet Thursday -- a 19-year high -- the walkway was submerged. The only thing moving outside their windows had webbed feet.

"Here comes the duck again"

Goose attack! This family of geese saw me and literally rushed toward me, the one in the lead bobbing her head like she was going to charge. For a moment I thought we might have a "situation", but she changed her mind and I went around them. Note the water in the background. I was only about 30 feet from Monroe Ave. at this point.

The National Weather Service had predicted floods not seen in West Michigan since 1948, but in Grand Rapids and Comstock Park the water stopped rising just short of the flood levels of 1985. The levels were the highest since 1960 in Ionia, 1976 in Lowell and 1986 in Ada.

Thursday's swift current drew scores of people to the river's banks.

The city's fish ladder was crowded with families, fishermen and other river watchers. Even firefighters watched the river with interest, eyeing how they'd safely launch a rescue boat if someone got too close in their zeal to be one with nature.

"It's beautiful and cool, but it's dangerous," said Fire Capt. Tom VandeWater of the Monroe Street station.

Fishing guy b&w.

Teens brought their fishing poles and found much of the fish ladder and the surrounding banks submerged.

Fish ladder.

Most of my pictures come from Riverside. I saw jet-ski's in the middle of the park, but unfortunately couldn't get a shot of them.

Boat launch.

Bike path.

Water's edge.

The picnic is cancelled.

Wellemeyer headed to DL
HOUSTON -- The Chicago Cubs are expected to put another pitcher on the disabled list Thursday -- and they have another player who could join him, which would give them nine on the DL at the same time.

Reliever Todd Wellemeyer flew back to Chicago on Wednesday to be re-evaluated Thursday by team physician Dr. Stephen Gryzlo. Wellemeyer threw two shutout innings last Friday against St. Louis but has been unable to pitch since then. He has a strained right shoulder and could undergo an MRI on Thursday.

Might as well just call up the whole Iowa team and be done with it. Dammit!

Yahoo! News - Calif. Senate OKs E-Mail Scanning Limits
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California Senate approved a measure Thursday that would curtail a new e-mail service from Google Inc. that scours messages to tailor advertisements for users of the service.

The bill, approved 24-8, is a reaction to the Internet search powerhouse's plan to start a free e-mail service, "Gmail," that gives users a gigabyte of storage but attaches ads for products related to what's discussed in the e-mail.

Technology that allows e-mail content to be scanned could allow companies to "use our e-mails to create profiles on us, based on our most personal and intimate thoughts," said the bill's author, Sen. Liz Figueroa, a Democrat from Sunol.

The bill allows the e-mails to be scanned for marketing purposes, but prohibits companies from compiling the information into a database. It also bans companies from selling or sharing the information it gleans to third parties.

Well, if they can do this, why not just open up the snail mail, too? Read the letters, stick a few flyers in the envelope? *shudder*

Yahoo! News - Smoking Affects Entire Body - Report
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Smoking causes a range of diseases never before suspected, including cataracts, acute myeloid leukemia and cervical, kidney, pancreatic and stomach cancers, U.S. Surgeon-General Richard Carmona said on Thursday.

The report coincides with a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that in 2002, 22.5 percent of U.S. adults described themselves as smokers, down slightly from 2001.

Smoking kills an estimated 440,000 Americans a year, Carmona said. He said men who smoke cut their lives short by 13.2 years on average, and female smokers lose 14.5 years.

The poor and less educated continue to be the biggest smokers, and more efforts need to be directed at these groups to encourage them to quit smoking, the CDC said.

Nearly 33 percent of adults living below the poverty level smoked, compared with 22 percent of those above the poverty level.

How can people living below the poverty level afford to smoke? I also wonder if you can show a corrolation between stress levels and smoking- people living at the poverty level are living under a lot of stress, and smokes are one great stress-reducer.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Just one of the guys.

Warmup watercolor.

Yahoo! News - U.S. Warns of Al Qaeda Attack, Offers No Specifics
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Al Qaeda plans to attack the United States in the next few months, top U.S. officials warned on Wednesday citing "credible intelligence," but the threat was not enough to raise the national terror alert level.

Would this be the same credible intelligence that told us of the WMD's?

"Credible intelligence, from multiple sources, indicates that al Qaeda plans to attempt an attack on the United States in the next few months," Attorney General John Ashcroft told a news conference.

"This disturbing intelligence indicates al Qaeda's specific intention to hit the United States hard."

But yet not hard enough to justify paying people overtime, right John?

Mueller urged Americans to be particularly alert in the coming months. "Over the next few months we have reason to believe that there will be a heightened threat to United States interests around the world," he said. "Unfortunately, we currently do not know what form that threat may take."

Well, no shit, now that we've gone and pissed off just about everyone. Seems to me we can expect a "heightened threat to United States interests " for many years to come. We probably should be at a permanent Code Orange for the next 50 years or so.

Yahoo! News - Study: Aspirin May Cut Breast Cancer Risk
CHICAGO - An effective weapon against many women's most feared disease might be as close as their medicine cabinets, according to new research linking aspirin with a reduced risk of breast cancer.

Women who frequently used aspirin were less likely than nonusers to get the most common type of breast cancer, but faced no reduced risk for developing another form of the disease — a distinction the researchers said may explain why previous studies had conflicting results.

Similar studies have suggested that aspirin might reduce the risks of developing other kinds of cancer, including cancer of the pancreas, cancer of the ovaries, and Hodgkin's disease.

But these studies could not say definitively whether other factors might explain the results. And like the new breast cancer research, many of these studies relied on people's recollections of how often they took aspirin.

With all the benefits related to taking aspirin, I wonder if I should start taking one a day along with my vitamin.


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

It's All About Time:

Yesterday was the eight year anniversary of a day that changed the course of my life.

Leaving a 3-2 Whitecaps victory at what was then called Old Kent Park, I was forced by traffic to take a right turn onto West River Drive. Usually I would turn left and head through town, but this night I was aimed toward the Beltline. (fate?)

That turn changed the direction of my life, as I was subsequently arrested, decided to quit drinking for good, lost my license, met Kristin, bought the house I did for it's location, got the job I now have for it's location, etc. etc., on and on, the infinite changes that came about as a result of that one action. That moment, that one right turn, put me on the path that I am on today.

I found it very fitting to be at a Whitecaps game last night. I found it even more fitting that I had to drive to Lansing to be at a Whitecaps game last night. The fact that I was watching Mark Prior (who was 15 years old eight years ago) pitch seemed to be some sort of cosmic reward for the choice to quit drinking. Coincidence? Yes...but it's all about me, remember? Heh heh.

I thought my life was over on May 25, 1996. I knew I was headed for jail, knew I would lose my driving privledge and my car, and I couldn't foresee the day I would get my freedom back. I also was very afraid that I wouldn't be able to quit drinking. I think it was that fear, felt deep down in my soul that night sitting in that jail cell, that prompted me to change my life.

For the most part, the change was a good one. Who knows where I would have ended up had I continued to drink. Maybe dead (or worse) by now. In some respects I am still paying for my crime, but I have to believe that my life is definitely better than what it might have been.

Thanks go to Mark Prior, the Lugnuts, Oldsmobile Park, the West Michigan Whitecaps, the State of Michigan, my Dad, myself, and the "powers that be" for a truly enjoyable anniversary.

(BTW, The Whitecaps blew a four run lead in the bottom of the ninth and lost 7-6 in 11 innings. They aren't very good this year. You can't have everything.)

Prior fans eight in rehab start
LANSING, Mich. -- Mark Prior didn't feel good on the mound on Tuesday night, but neither his Achilles nor his elbow was the problem.

"I felt fine physically," said Prior after allowing two hits and a run in 4 1/3 innings for the Lansing Lugnuts in a Class A Midwest League game against the West Michigan Whitecaps. "I don't know if I felt kind of dead. I don't know if I had the life I usually do. ... I just didn't have the adrenaline going as much as I usually do."

The Chicago Cubs right-hander has been sidelined all season because of the sore Achilles and elbow, and Tuesday night was his second start for Lansing. He didn't allow a hit in three scoreless innings this past Thursday.

Prior, who was 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 2003, threw 62 pitches and 48 strikes. He struck out eight and didn't walk a batter.

"I feel like I'm getting closer," said Prior. "I feel like I'm getting back to where it needs to be to get back and compete at that (Major League) level."

He added: "(I) keep getting my endurance and keep getting in shape."

Cubs' director of player development Oneri Fleita said that Prior's fastball ranged from 89-93 mph.

Fleita also said that if things continued to go well, Prior would pitch for the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate -- the Iowa Cubs -- on Sunday.

"Looks like he's right on target to me," Fleita said. "He looked free and easy again tonight."

Prior said he threw around 10 changeups on Tuesday night, which is more than he did in his previous start and was happy with the way he threw most of them.

"I felt like my breaking ball was better than the last start," he said, "with the exception of that batter in the last inning."

That was to Whitecaps second baseman Kody Kirkland, who led off the fifth by lining a pitch up the middle and off the glove of Lansing second baseman Robinson Chirinos. It was originally called an error, but was later changed to a hit by the official scorer.

Prior also got a chance to work more from the stretch and reacted perfectly when a runner took off early from first on a steal attempt.

That came in the first inning when he ran the ball at West Michigan designated hitter Juan Francia, who had reached on an error by Lansing shortstop Carlos Rojas, and tossed the ball to first baseman Brian Dopirak, who tagged Francia out.

"I was glad the guy took off early and I was able to react properly and not balk," said Prior.

He added he's really getting antsy to get back to pitching in the Majors.

"I'm getting a little anxious," Prior said. "I'm getting closer."

He looked ready to me! I got some pretty good shots of him, will post them later. Glad that Lansing is so close, and I hope to get down there again sometime.

Yahoo! News - Report: al-Qaida Ranks Swelling Worldwide
LONDON - Far from being crippled by the U.S.-led war on terror, al-Qaida has more than 18,000 potential terrorists scattered around the world and the war in Iraq is swelling its ranks, a report said Tuesday.

Al-Qaida is probably working on plans for major attacks on the United States and Europe, and it may be seeking weapons of mass destruction in its desire to inflict as many casualties as possible, the International Institute of Strategic Studies said in its annual survey of world affairs.

The report suggested that the two military centerpieces of the U.S.-led war on terror — the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — may have boosted al-Qaida.

It could take up to 500,000 U.S. and allied troops to effectively police Iraq and restore political stability, IISS researcher Christopher Langton told the news conference. Such a figure appeared impossible to meet, given political disquiet in the United States and Britain and the unwillingness of other nations to send troops, he said.

The United States is al-Qaida's prime target in a war it sees as a death struggle between civilizations, the report said. An al-Qaida leader has said 4 million Americans will have to be killed "as a prerequisite to any Islamic victory," the survey said.

"Al-Qaida's complaints have been transformed into religious absolutes and cannot be satisfied through political compromise," the study said.

Welcome to WWIII. Thanks George.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Yahoo! News - Bush Vows to Stay Course; Car Bomb Explodes in Iraq
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A car bomb exploded on Tuesday outside a Baghdad hotel used by foreigners and U.S. tanks fought Shi'ite militia, hours after President Bush vowed America would stay the course to build a stable Iraq.

In a televised address to assure voters that his project in Iraq was on track, Bush conceded there could be more violence to come ahead of a planned handover of formal power to an interim Iraqi government on June 30 and Iraqi elections in the new year.

What I found very interesting is that none of the big four (CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX) carried this speech. Apparently things like "Fear Factor" and "Yes, Dear" have more ratings appeal than this "war-time" president does.

Bush said he would demolish Saddam's former torture center at Abu Ghraib, outside Baghdad, which has become newly notorious as the site of humiliating torments inflicted by American soldiers on naked and terrified inmates and captured on camera.

Demolishing the prison would be a "fitting symbol of Iraq's new beginning," said a somber sounding Bush, who stumbled three times over the pronunciation of Abu Ghraib.

As he spoke, word came from a senior defense official that the Pentagon is considering replacing Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez as the top military officer in Iraq. The official denied however that the move was linked to the Abu Ghraib affair.

I'm sure we can build a "bigger and better", wait...."rehabilitation"....yeah, that's it.... facility somewhere close by. Maybe it will even have a pool table and cable TV.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Yahoo! News - Iraq Wedding Film Challenges U.S. on Air Strike
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - New video showing Iraqis singing and dancing at a desert wedding begged more questions on Monday about a U.S. air strike last week that killed about 40 people.

The U.S. military has insisted most of the dead were foreign guerrilla fighters who had slipped over the nearby Syrian border. Local people say the Americans massacred wedding guests.

Ultimately the truth may count for less than the perception; many Iraqis, exasperated by 14 months of occupation and by a scandal over the abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers, find it easy to believe a tale of American brutality or incompetence.

Deny, obfuscate, or just plain-old lies, that's the American way. Zero credibility on anything we claim anymore, and that is the ultimate danger. Even if we are telling the truth, we will never be believed.

Yahoo! News - Morgue Records Show 5,500 Iraqis Killed
BAGHDAD, Iraq - More than 5,500 Iraqis died violently in just Baghdad and three provinces in the first 12 months of the occupation, an Associated Press survey found. The toll from both criminal and political violence ran dramatically higher than violent deaths before the war, according to statistics from morgues.

There are no reliable figures for places like Fallujah and Najaf that have seen surges in fighting since early April.

Indeed, there is no precise count for Iraq as a whole on how many people have been killed, nor is there a breakdown of deaths caused by the different sorts of attacks. The U.S. military, the occupation authority and Iraqi government agencies say they don't have the ability to track civilian deaths.

My guess is 20,000 or more.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Mom's day at the game.

Yahoo! News - Iran Sends Diplomatic Warning to U.S. Over Iraq
TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) - Iran said Sunday it had sent a formal message of warning to the United States about its actions in neighboring Iraq.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi also denied suggestions made by some U.S. officials in recent days that Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi had passed sensitive U.S. intelligence about Iraq to Iran.

"We have warned the Americans about Iraq," Asefi told a weekly news conference. "It is natural for two countries which do not have diplomatic relations to exchange messages."

Asefi said the accusations against Chalabi, a former favorite of the Pentagon (news - web sites), were part of an effort to deflect attention away from Washington's problems in Iraq.

"The Americans have in recent months lied about several issues and failed to prove them," he said. "It seems that lying is becoming institutionalized in American policy."

Oops! They're on to us about the lying stuff. Damn.
It's All About The Cats:

After the past two days of being woken up at 3:30-4:00 in the morning, I have come to the conclusion that the cats need to go out into the perpetual thunderstorm. Except that they have already been fed and are now falling back asleep, while I, of course, am wide awake.

Little shitheads.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Yahoo! News - Iraq Prison Torture Was for Fun, Not Results-Paper
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. soldiers who abused prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were not always preparing them for interrogation but were punishing them or simply having fun, The Washington Post reported on Saturday.

Seven U.S. soldiers, four men and three women, are facing courts-martial for abuses at Abu Ghraib and one, Spc. Jeremy Sivits, pleaded guilty on Wednesday. Another of them, Spec. Charles Graner, was identified in statements by eight detainees and is facing more charges than the others.

Graner's attorney has said previously that Graner was following orders of military intelligence officers.

The abuse was first reported by Spc. Joseph Darby, who is quoted by the newspaper as saying he found out about it when he began checking into a shooting at the prison.

Darby said he asked Graner if he had any photographs of the cell where the shooting occurred. Graner gave him two compact disks loaded with digital photos.

On them, he found hundreds of photographs showing naked detainees being abused by U.S. soldiers.

Darby quoted Graner, a former Pennsylvania prison guard, as saying: "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself."'

*sigh* Good clean fun. I'm ashamed and embarassed for my country. I'm starting to think the best thing we can do for the Iraqi people would be to get the hell out of their country. They might be better off even if the whole place implodes into chaos.

Yahoo! News - DeGeneres Wins Daytime Emmy for Talk Show
NEW YORK - Doing her own daytime talk show, Ellen DeGeneres (news) says, is its own reward. Still, a trophy or two doesn't hurt. "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" capped a successful rookie year with the Daytime Emmy award for best talk show, one of four awards overall.

Yea for Ellen!

Yahoo! News - Tornado Hurts 15 in Iowa; 4 Die Elsewhere
Destructive straight-line winds hit parts of Michigan. Gusts of 95 mph hit the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and 99 mph gusts hit in Berrien County, Mich., the National Weather Service and police said.

In western Michigan, lightning struck transformers, setting buildings on fire. Up to 3 inches of rain fell in a 45-minute period — the equivalent of about 3 feet of snow — while gusting wind snapped trees and power lines. About 220,000 Michigan customers lost power.

Debra Joyce Simpson, 50, of Coloma, Mich., was killed when an oak tree was blown onto the car she was driving in Berrien County, the sheriff's department said.

Two other people killed in southwest Michigan died in separate incidents, St. Joseph County Emergency Services Coordinator Jim Barnes said. He would not provide further details Friday evening.

Timing is everything. I missed all of this yesterday. Except for a little drizzle and fog in Benton Harbor in the morning, I had completely dry roads. As I came back through in the afternoon, I noticed numerous trees down in southern Michigan.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Lansing State Journal:Prior nearly perfect in Olds Park start
Nine batters and nine outs.

No more and no less was expected out of Chicago Cubs right-handed pitching ace Mark Prior when he took the mound for a rehabilitation start for the Lugnuts at Oldsmobile Park on Thursday night.

And Prior delivered - 42 times in fact - in Lansing's 2-1 victory.

In three hitless innings, Prior struck out five batters, walked one, induced three flyouts and helped catcher Jake Fox with a quick pitch to nab a base stealer.

"I wasn't holding anything back," Prior said. "I went out there and pitched like it was a real game ... like I was at Wrigley."

Yahoo! News - Traffic Is Horrible! I'll Just Think About Sex...
BERLIN (Reuters) - A third of German motorists fantasize about sex when stuck in traffic while only 10 percent think of finding an alternate route, according to a motor club survey published Thursday.

Eight percent think about how much petrol they have, seven percent about their next meal, and seven percent about going to a toilet. Six percent think about their careers.

One in ten caught focus on their families, seven percent on shopping lists and another seven percent worry about the damage the traffic jam might do to their clutch. Only six percent said they don't think about anything in traffic jams.

I can honestly say I think about all these things (except the clutch, thank God I'm not driving a stick) and the Cubs too when I'm stuck in the brutal Chicagoland traffic. Wish me luck today.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Yahoo! News - Kerry, Rival Nader Discuss White House Bids
Although Iraq has emerged as a major issue between the two campaigns -- Nader has called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and Kerry, like President Bush, wants to stay the course -- the aide said the two men did not discuss their differences during the hour-long meeting.

Ignoring pleas from Democrats earlier this year to stay out of the race, Nader threw his hat into the ring saying he wanted to challenge the two parties' stranglehold on the political process and their shared addiction to corporate interests.

The Kerry aide, who was in Wednesday's meeting, said Nader made that same argument.

"He believes he is helping John Kerry by doing this," the aide said. "That he can provide a sharper counterpoint to Bush and that the Democratic Party over the past 10 years has not been particularly tough on these issues."

While the right embraces it's radical members, the left seemingly ignores the concerns of it's own in a bid to capture the "moderates". This, to me, is where the Democratic Party is failing. Even I want to vote for Nader. He speaks more to me than Kerry ever will.

Will he throw his support to Kerry in the end? I hope so. His anti-war message will grow more appealing and siphon more votes as time goes on.

Yahoo! News - U.S. Aircraft Reportedly Kills 40 Iraqis
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.S. aircraft fired on a house in the desert near the Syrian border Wednesday, and Iraqi officials said more than 40 people were killed, including children. The U.S. military said the target was a suspected safehouse for foreign fighters from Syria, but Iraqis said a helicopter had attacked a wedding party.

APTN video footage showed mourners with shovels digging graves over a wide dusty area in Ramadi, the provincial capital where bodies of the dead had been taken to obtain death certificates. A group of men crouched and wept around one coffin.

Iraqis interviewed on the videotape said revelers had fired volleys of gunfire into the air in a traditional wedding celebration before the attack took place. American troops have sometimes mistaken celebratory gunfire for hostile fire.

Al-Ani, the doctor, said American troops came to investigate the gunfire and left. However, al-Ani said, helicopters later arrived and attacked the area. Two houses were destroyed, he said.

"This was a wedding and the (U.S.) planes came and attacked the people at a house. Is this the democracy and freedom that (President) Bush has brought us?" said a man on the videotape, Dahham Harraj. "There was no reason."

We will not be able to tell the good guys from the bad, and more stories like this one will happen if we use overwhelming force against any perceived threat. As more innocents are killed, more will join the resistance and this war will be never-ending.

Good God, what have we done.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

It's All About My Past:
Somewhere on this earth Wendy VanProoyen turns 55 today. Happy Birthday dear, wherever you are. I will always remember you.

Yahoo! News - Arizona Johnson Pitches 17th Perfect Game in History
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Randy Johnson pitched the 17th perfect game in major league history to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 2-0 win over the host Atlanta Braves in the National League (NL) Tuesday.

Johnson, 40, also became the oldest player to toss a perfect game. Cy Young held the previous record after achieving the feat in 1904 at the age of 37.

Five-times Cy Young Award winner Johnson retired all 27 batters he faced while striking out 13. He threw 117 pitches, a remarkable 87 for strikes.

And I was thinking at the beginning of the season Randy might be washed up. Ha! WTG guy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004 & WOOD TV8 - Grand Rapids news and weather - Cigarette tax vote may occur this week
Raising the tax on cigarettes could raise between $295 million and more than $300 million. If the tax is raised by 81 cents, as proposed by some, it would make Michigan's tax the highest in the nation.

Governor Granholm has said it's a matter of public health, but increasingly, it's a simple matter of public finances. It's also a matter of who will get the credit or blame for raising the taxes.

Another reason I can't quit my job. I need to "wanDERRR IndiANAAAAA". I bet a lot of people will be border hopping in a big way. Will we see stings set-up if this passes? Or will we see a lot of people quit as NYC has seen? - Lugnuts welcome the Prior spectacle
Mark Prior's road to recovery is generating serious interest beyond the Cubs, Chicago and the National League.

Prior, rehabbing his Achilles' tendon, will make his first minor-league start Thursday night for the Lansing Lugnuts, the Cubs' affiliate in the Class A Midwest League.

He is to throw two innings that night and is to make another start for Lansing on May 25. The appearances will be his first against live batters after a succession of simulated workouts over recent weeks.

Within minutes of Lansing's announcement that Prior would start—the Cubs wanted to wait until midday Monday to confirm that Prior had no elbow soreness—the Lugnuts had more than 100 Internet ticket requests, most from the Chicago area.

Whine! I want to go! Why oh why are we stuck with the Tigers?

Yahoo! News - Dozens of Gays Wed Legally in Massachusetts
BOSTON (Reuters) - Dozens of gays exchanged wedding vows on Monday when Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to allow same-sex marriage, a move hailed by some as a civil rights milestone and denounced by others as a fatal blow to a centuries-old tradition.

President Bush renewed his call for a constitutional amendment banning the unions as Massachusetts joined Belgium, the Netherlands and two Canadian provinces in legalizing gay marriage.

In a written statement, Bush said marriage should not be "redefined by a few activist judges" -- prompting a gay rights group to liken his stance to the attacks on the justices who upheld African-Americans' civil rights a half-century ago.

"These are different issues and a different generation, but the same old smear tactic," said Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal.

Go fuck yourself George. Then you can get back to fucking the country, you bigoted warmongering little asshole.

Monday, May 17, 2004

It's All About Shania:

Wow! Is she HOT or what? Great show, had a lot of fun!

Yahoo! News - McCain Urged to Join Ticket with Kerry
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sen. Joseph Biden, a senior Democrat, on Sunday urged Republican Sen. John McCain to run for vice president with the Democratic hopeful, Sen. John Kerry, in order to heal the "vicious rift" dividing America.

McCain, of Arizona, "categorically" ruled out standing with Kerry, but Biden, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he had no second choice.

"Do I think it's going to happen? No," he said. "But I think it is a reflection of the desire of this country and the desire of people in both parties to want to see this God-awful, vicious rift that exists in the nation healed, and John and John could go a long way to heal in that rift."

I think it's sad that the Dems can't come up with appealing candidates- that the idea of inviting a Pub on the ticket is the most exciting thing we can muster. It sure would be strange and weird and fascinating all at the same time.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Yahoo! News - Smarty Jones Sets Preakness Record
BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones rolled to a record-setting 11 1/2-length victory at the Preakness Stakes Saturday and moved within a race of becoming U.S. racing's first Triple Crown champion in over 25 years.

A flaming chestnut colt bred in Pennsylvania, Smarty Jones bolted cleanly from the sixth gate and was content to sit in second and stalk race-leader Lion Heart through the backstretch.

With Lion Heart fading, Smarty Jones grabbed the lead at the top of the stretch with a move to the inside and blew away the rest of the field to claim the largest margin of victory in Preakness history.

He blew them away. What a horse! Hope he gets the Crown.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Yahoo! News - Path Clear for Same-Sex Marriages in Mass.
BOSTON - With the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to step in and block gay marriages in Massachusetts, same-sex couples planning to marry could be confident that, beginning Monday, they could tie the knot.

Without comment, the justices declined Friday to block municipal clerks from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, clearing the way for the nation's first state-sanctioned same-sex weddings.

Speakers railed against what they called "sexual sin" and warned that gay marriage could have negative effects on families.

"The problem is they're being told that their sin is wonderful and fine," said Sandy Rios, former president of Concerned Women for America, a conservative public policy organization. "May 17, two days from now, will be a day that will change the world."

Yes! If the world ends on Monday then don't have to worry about the hell I'm going through at work anymore. Everybody say Hallelujah!

Will sucking down endless stories of tragedy and war and BushCo poison the human soul?
Hey, it happens. I understand the sentiment. I know its impetus. It all follows the same rule: If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If all you have is a narrow media-saturated tragedy-thick anger-ravaged abuse-drenched worldview, everything looks like a crime against the spirit and everything is something meant to induce peril and everything is something that will completely piss you off, somehow.

Or, to put it more gently, if you saturate yourself with only one perspective, or you choose a path wherein you are blasted to the core every moment with the worst humanity has to offer, well, the world responds in kind and is nothing but bleak and sad and torturous, full of little tiny leeches with sharp jagged teeth and Lynne Cheney's face that devour your large intestine while you sleep.

Guy has a way with words.

Yahoo! News - Bush Says Zarqawi Killed Berg, Cites Saddam 'Ties'
MEQUON, Wis. (Reuters) - President Bush on Friday blamed al Qaeda supporter Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for beheading American Nicholas Berg and cited him as an example of Saddam Hussein's "terrorist ties" before the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Bush's revival of accusations linking Saddam to terrorism comes as the president faces growing doubts among Americans over his Iraq policy.

At a fund-raising lunch in Bridgeton, Missouri, Bush said Zarqawi was an example of the threat posed by the ousted Iraqi leader. "We knew he (Saddam) had terrorist ties. The person responsible for the Berg death, Zarqawi, was in and out of Baghdad prior to our arrival, for example," Bush said.

Hey George! That drum you are beating has a huge hole in the center now. Nobody buys this anymore.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Yahoo! News - Sophisticated 'Frasier' signs off
When Frasier was at its best, no sitcom was better.

As smart and crisply written as Seinfeld, as warm and well-cast as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and as out-and-out funny as I Love Lucy, Frasier represents the American sitcom at its creative peak. No, it didn't remain at its peak for its entire 11-year run; neither did Cheers, the show that gave it birth. But the legacy of those first five or six blissful seasons is undiminished, and their shimmer has sustained the show through to tonight's unpreviewed two-hour NBC conclusion.

Goodnight, Frasier. Thanks for years of laughs.

Yahoo! News - Judge Denies Bid to Stop Gay Marriages
BOSTON - A federal judge Thursday rejected a last-minute bid by conservative groups to block the nation's first state-sanctioned gay marriages from taking place in Massachusetts on Monday. U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro said the state's high court acted within its authority in interpreting the Massachusetts Constitution.

The plaintiffs immediately announced they would take their case to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — and to the Supreme Court if necessary. The 1st Circuit agreed to review the case on an expedited basis.

Tauro heard arguments Wednesday on a petition sprearheaded by the Florida-based Liberty Counsel and joined by the Catholic Action League, 11 state lawmakers and conservative legal groups in Boston, Michigan and Mississippi.

I still find it interesting that groups from other states can come in. I certainly don't want a bunch of nuts from Florida coming into Michigan and trying to over-ride my Supreme Court decisions.

Granting a stay of the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling "would be to deprive that court of its authority and obligation to consider and resolve, with finality, Massachusetts constitutional issues," Tauro wrote.

That court "has the authority to interpret, and reinterpret, if necessary, the term marriage as it appears in the Massachusetts Constitution," Tauro wrote.

Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of the Liberty Counsel, had argued that the state's high court overstepped its bounds when it ruled in November that gay marriage should be legal in Massachusetts. He said only the Legislature should define marriage, and urged the federal judge to "prevent this constitutional train wreck."

A state attorney arguing on behalf of the Supreme Judicial Court said the court based its 4-3 decision on the Massachusetts Constitution and that the case did not belong in federal court.

"If that goes into effect it will cause social unrest and the explosion of litigation throughout the United States," Staver said Thursday after the ruling was released. "This shows how four individuals can affect the entire country."

For that reason alone this should be tossed out.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Yahoo! News - U.S. Offered Berg a Flight Out of Iraq
WASHINGTON - The U.S. government warned a young American to leave Iraq, and offered him a flight out of the country, a month before his grisly beheading was broadcast on an al-Qaida-linked Web site, officials said.

But authorities in Baghdad denied that Nicholas Berg, 26, was held in U.S. custody before he disappeared in early April, despite claims to the contrary by his family. He had been held by Iraqi police for about two weeks and questioned by FBI agents three times.

The final movements of the telecommunications businessman from suburban Philadelphia remain unclear as officials in Washington and Baghdad try to piece together how Berg crossed paths with a group of Islamic militants who savagely decapitated him in a video released Tuesday bearing the title "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi shown slaughtering an American." It referred to an associate of Osama bin Laden believed to be behind a wave of suicide bombings in Iraq.

Dammit, kid, I wish you had gotten out of there.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

It's All About Me:

I only got about four hours of sleep. Wish I hadn't seen the video, but I was more worried about Bo than anything else. And then Kerry Wood proceeded to get shellacked by the Dodgers. Yeesh.

Maybe I'll blog something later, after WWIII starts.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Yahoo! News - Qaeda Leader Beheads U.S. Civilian in Iraq -Web Site
DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq beheaded an American civilian and vowed more killings in revenge for the "Satanic degradation" of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers, an Islamist Web site said on Tuesday.

A poor quality videotape on the site showed a man dressed in orange overalls sitting bound on a white plastic chair in a bare room, then knelt on the floor with five masked men behind him.

"My name is Nick Berg, my father's name is Michael... I have a brother and sister, David and Sarah," said the bound man, adding he was from Philadelphia.

One of the masked men read a statement urging Muslims to seek revenge after pictures were published of Iraqi prisoners being abused by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

The masked men then pushed the 26-year-old American to the floor and shouted "God is greatest" above his screams as one of them sawed his head off with a large knife then held it aloft for the camera.

The Web site said Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a top ally of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites), was the man who cut off Berg's head. The statement in the video was signed off with Zarqawi's name and dated May 11.

Just when I think this situation can't get any worse....

Yahoo! News - U.S. Uninsured Health Care Cost Put at $125 Billion
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The cost of providing health care for U.S. citizens who have no insurance will total $125 billion this year, with taxpayers and private entities footing most of the bill, a report issued on Monday said.

"Leaving 44 million Americans uninsured exacts a substantial price on society as well as individuals, while covering the uninsured would improve their health care without generating large increases in overall health spending," said Diane Rowland, executive director, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.

The nation would have to spend an extra $48 billion to cover the so-called newly uninsured, the report said. But that would only increase health care spending's share of gross domestic product by 0.4 percent.

Partly because they lack insurance, an additional 18,000 adults die each year, the report estimated, citing figures from a branch of the National Academy of Sciences.

People who have no health insurance typically get less preventive care, are diagnosed with more advanced diseases, and "tend to receive less therapeutic care and have higher mortality rates," the report said.

Hospitals will spend billions of dollars treating the uninsured, though these organizations typically get big government subsidies, the report said. In 2001, hospitals accounted for more than 60 percent of what was spent on uncompensated care.

Monday, May 10, 2004

It's All About Promotion:

Major League Baseball should be so creative. Spiderman on the bases? Bah. You ain't seen nothing yet.

The Daytona Cubs Professional Baseball Team has announced a 2004 Funeral Promotion sponsored by Pinello Funeral Home of Daytona Beach. The promotion gained national attention in 2003 as it won the ESPN Veeckie Award for Best Promotion of the Year, when it was promoted in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Willing participants are asked to submit a two-page, typed essay describing their ideal funeral. Essays can be submitted to the Daytona Cubs Front Office or to Pinello Funeral Home at 1036 Derbyshire Road, Daytona Beach, FL 32117, attention: Funeral Give-Away.

The winner will receive a casket, funeral service and viewing with a traditional service or cremation.

THAT will get the kids in the park.

Yahoo! News - First GI Faces Court-Martial Over Abuse
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The U.S. military next week will begin the first in a series of courts-martial in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse allegations, trials that could bring new revelations on whether the mistreatment of Iraqis was an aberration or stemmed from pressure from commanders.

Spc. Jeremy C. Sivits of Hyndman, Penn., a member of the 372nd Military Police Company, will face a military court in Baghdad on May 19 — less than a month after photos of prisoners being abused and humiliated were first broadcast April 28.

Both the speed of the trial's scheduling and the venue in the Iraqi capital underscore the military's realization that it must demonstrate resolve in prosecuting those responsible for a scandal that threatens to undermine the U.S. mission in Iraq and President Bush's re-election chances.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, announcing the trial date, said the proceedings would be held in the Baghdad Convention Center, which houses the coalition press office, and be open to media coverage.

Bush promised Saturday that "we will learn all the facts and determine the full extent of these abuses. Those involved will be identified. They will answer for their actions."

Yeah George, when will you answer for yours?

Let's throw these kids to the wolves, even though the abuse was widespread and condoned by leadership. We need a couple of sacrificial lambs.

Take note everyone. You may be next. Follow orders, get a court martial. This should also do wonders for morale.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Yahoo! News - Nancy Reagan Calls for Stem Cell Research
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Reuters) - Former First Lady Nancy Reagan made an impassioned call for taking controversial stem cell research out of the political arena, saying it could help cure illnesses like Alzheimer's which so sorely afflicts her husband.

With the Bush administration and anti-abortion groups strongly opposing stem cell research, Mrs. Reagan at a celebrity-packed dinner in Beverly on Saturday night lent a powerful conservative Republican voice to the debate.

She added after accepting the group's "Care Giver's Award," "Science has presented us with a hope called stem cell research, which may provide our scientists with many answers that for so long have been beyond our grasp. I just don't see how we can turn our backs on this.

"We have lost so much time already. I just really can't bear to lose any more."

One has to wonder if Nancy would feel this way had Ron not been afflicted with such a terrible disease.

No matter, go get 'em Nancy.
It's All About Mom:

Other people get together with Mom and the family to have dinner, give cards and presents, etc. etc. What does my Mom do? She leaves town! Bye Mom, have a safe trip.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's.

Yahoo! News - Cheney Defends Rumsfeld, Says 'Get Off His Case'
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney rushed to the aid of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- under fire over Iraqi prison abuses -- by saying people should "get off his case" and let Rumsfeld do his job.

"Don Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had," Cheney said in a statement from his office late on Saturday. The statement appeared to signal a White House push to rally Republicans behind the embattled Rumsfeld.

"People ought to get off his case and let him do his job," said Cheney, a Republican.

"Get off his case"? Whuzzup dawg, da homeys been dissin' your boy? Yo, man, betta get back to da crib, have a few squares and jus chill.

Tell ya what Dicky- why don't we get on your "case" instead, fool? Or perhaps we go for da man with da keys to da war machine, Grandmaster Trasher Boy George hisself. You like dat betta, Homes?

Y'all are dissin' our colors, man. A change in leadership just might be in order. Best be watchin' yo back.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Yahoo! News - US Soldier Says Her Job Was to Make Prison 'Hell'
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Her job was to "make it hell" for Iraqi prisoners so they would talk, one of the six U.S. soldiers accused of prisoner abuse was quoted as saying on Friday.

The Washington Post reported that Spec. Sabrina Harman told it in e-mail interviews that detainees were handed over to her military police unit at the Abu Ghraib prison by military intelligence officers, or by civilian contractors who conducted interrogations.

Excuse me? Do we "contract" out interrogations? Who won (or was granted) the bid, "Thugs R Us"?

A Pentagon spokeswoman declined comment on the Post article, saying the matter was under investigation.

The spokeswoman also declined comment on whether military intelligence officers or civilian contractors delivered prisoners to the Abu Ghraib prison. The issue of who was in charge of the prison during the reported abuse was a prominent one in hearings on Capitol Hill on Friday.

I think we need an investigation of all the "contractors". Who exactly are they, and what is their role there? 60 Minutes, are you listening?

Friday, May 07, 2004

Yahoo! News - Rumsfeld: 'Deepest Apology' for Iraq Prison Abuse
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld took responsibility on Friday for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops and offered his "deepest apology" to the victims, but said he would not resign just to satisfy his political enemies.

These events occurred on my watch as secretary of defense. I am accountable for them. I take full responsibility," Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Warning that he had seen new photographs and a videotape not yet made public that were hard to believe, Rumsfeld said more damaging revelations were coming that could inflict even more damage on the reputation of the United States.

"I feel terrible about what happened to these detainees. They are human beings, they were in U.S. custody, our country had an obligation to treat them right. We didn't. That was wrong," Rumsfeld said, adding that the United States would seek to compensate victims of abuse.

Rumsfeld repeatedly said he had not realized the extent of the abuse until he saw the photographs. He said he had seen more horrific images on Thursday evening that he hoped would never be leaked to the media because they would do much more damage to the United States.

Damage to the United States? How about damage, in the form of death, to some poor shlub still over there?

Oh dear. They must be horrible if this administration, the one that never accepts any responsibility for anything ever, is apologizing all over itself. Holy shit. & WOOD TV8 - Dateline NBC investigation of Quixtar's "get rich quick" scheme
(May 6, 2004, 6:55 p.m.) Amway and Quixtar are about to make national news with a Dateline NBC investigative report that promises to expose how well known Amway success stories really make their money.

24 Hour News 8 learned of the investigation Wednesday and worked with Dateline NBC to obtain pieces of their report today. NBC's report calls Ada based Quixtar, the mother of all get rich quick schemes.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people flock to arenas across the country, convinced they've found the true path to financial salvation. The people on stage are distributors for a company called Quixtar, which says it has had $3 billion in sales since 1999. They say the company's special formula for success has made them rich.

Dateline NBC says when it brought its hidden cameras to a recruitment meeting, they too were promised easy money. Eric Scheibeler told NBC's Chris Hansen he heard a similar pitch when he signed up. "What do you have today?" asked Hansen. "Financially we have nothing as a specific result of this," replied Scheibeler.

Quixtar tells NBC that this is not a get rich quick business. In fact, some of its own literature says the average distributor makes about $1,400 a year. But this former high-ranking insider told the network wealth is routinely dangled in front of the loyal followers.

"Is that actually achievable by selling Quixtar products?" Hansen asked. " "Based on my experiences, no," answered Bo Short.

The world is finally catching up to this??? We've been calling them "Scamway" for years.

They built my city on this scheme, so I have a hard time being critical. When the Van Andel Institute makes some breakthrough on cancer research, maybe we can say that something good (for the world, not just pretty buildings downtown) came out of all this deception.

Yahoo! Sports - MLB - MLB decides not to place Spider-Man ads on bases
NEW YORK (AFP) - A firestorm of controversy has spelled doom for Major League Baseball's plan to place artwork for the movie "Spider-Man 2" on bases in ballparks the weekend of June 11-13.

One day after unveiling the plan as part of a reported 3.5 million dollar marketing deal, MLB reversed itself and announced Thursday that the promotion will be limited to signs in stadiums and trailers that will be shown on video boards.

"The bases were an extremely small part of this programme; however, we understand that a segment of our fans was uncomfortable with this particular component and we do not want to detract from the fans' experience in any way," MLB president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said.

YES! Thanks in no small part goes out to the Yankees for pitching a fit about this.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Dandy flower.

(OK, this could have been better. Wasn't feeling well.)

WASHINGTON - On Saturday, May 8, you can make a difference for thousands of Americans by donating food as part of the National Association of Letter Carriers' (NALC) 12th annual "Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive." Nearly 229,000 letter carriers are preparing for the nation's largest one-day food drive in more than 10,000 cities and towns across America.

Since the NALC Food Drive began in 1993, letter carriers and other Postal Service employees have collected and delivered 587 million pounds of food to help feed America's hungry. The U.S. Postal Service and Campbell Soup Company (half of your daily sodium allowance in one can!) will once again partner to produce and mail 105 million postcards during the week of May 3 to encourage Americans to participate.

"Many of the recipients are from working families-people who just need a helping hand to get through some tough times," said NALC President William H. Young. "In the 2003 drive, letter carriers collected more than 61 million pounds of donations, an incredible result. This year we are determined to go even higher."

Making a donation is easy. Customers can leave their non-perishable food donation in a bag near their mailbox Saturday, May 8, before their letter carrier arrives. Letter carriers will collect the donations during normal deliveries. Postal customers in New York City and Chicago can take their donations to their local Post Office during the week of May 3-8. Customers who live on rural routes that are not part of the NALC national food drive can still participate by contacting their local food banks.

One in nine Michigan families hungry. In a country as wealthy as this, that's appalling. Wonder what Meijer's has on sale- maybe I'll get a bag full.

Yahoo! News - 1970s FBI File Pegs Kerry As Moderate
WASHINGTON - The FBI, closely tracking the anti-war movement in the 1970s, concluded John Kerry was a glib, moderate figure in a Vietnam veterans group that took a radical turn around the time he left it, documents show.

The FBI file on Vietnam Veterans Against the War says the organization swung toward "militant and revolutionary-type activities" but accuses Kerry, now the Democratic presidential candidate, of little more than charisma.

Campaigning Wednesday in Los Angeles, Kerry welcomed the release of the records.

"I think it's great," he said. "I'm very proud of my efforts to end the war. I welcome anybody's perusal of them. I'm proud that I stood up to Richard Nixon. And you know, I personally have also requested those documents. So I'm happy to have them out there. It's terrific."

Now John can stand up to George Bush. Or can he? C'mon John, you've seen the latest polls. The majority are against this war now. It's OK. Run with it.

Yahoo! News - Reggae Icon Coxsone Dodd Dies at 72
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Producer and label operator Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, one of the great architects of reggae music, died of a heart attack Tuesday at his studio in Kingston, Jamaica. He was 72.

A jazz fan, Dodd originally was a DJ who operated one of Kingston's first popular sound systems, Coxsone Downbeat. He began recording R&B-styled material by homegrown talent in 1959, and worked with virtually every significant Jamaican performer of the '60s and '70s.

Dodd's major early discovery was the Wailers. The trio of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston recorded such early "rude boy" ska hits as "Simmer Down" at the producer's Brentford Road studio.

This one is for you, Dad.

Yahoo! News - New Iraq Prison Photos Emerge -Washington Post
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A new batch of photographs obtained by The Washington Post includes more graphic images of apparent Iraqi prisoners at a U.S. military jail in Iraq, the newspaper reported on Thursday.

The photographs are similar to those broadcast on CBS's "60 Minutes II" and published by the New Yorker magazine showing Iraqi prisoners in various images of humiliation, The Washington Post reported.

The new collection included more than 1,000 digital images ranging from scenes of mundane military life to pictures showing crude simulations of sex among soldiers. Among the images is a picture of a soldier holding a leash tied around a man's neck in an Iraqi prison. The man is naked, grimacing and lying on a floor. There are photographs of naked men, apparently prisoners, sprawled on top of one another while soldiers stand around them.

I'll bet Saddam wasn't stupid enough to take this many pictures. Good God, what were these idiots thinking?

Yahoo! News - The End of "Friends"
A decade of inner-group dating, Ross and Rachel's on-again, off-again romantic saga, $1 million per episode salaries, trendy haircuts, a ubiquitous tabloid presence for the cast and the consumption of a whole lot of Central Perk coffee comes to an end Thursday night with the series finale of NBC's long-running hit sitcom Friends.

At first I was reluctant to watch this show, I can't remember why. My Mom talked me into it. The first episode I saw was the one with "drunk Bobby", who "wasn't fun anymore" when he stopped drinking. Having stopped drinking recently myself, I was livid. I thought the show was sending the wrong message on alcohol abuse. I ranted at my Mom, she suggested I try the show again.

I did, and I liked it. It was a funny show, good writing, and gradually it made it's way into my viewing every Thursday, although it never was a "must see" such as Seinfeld or Cheers. Those days are over now. There is no show I "must see", except perhaps the "Daily Show", my new favorite.

What will I do without Jennifer Aniston to look at every week?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Yahoo! News - Bush Promises Justice After Iraq Abuse
WASHINGTON/BAGHDAD (Reuters) - President Bush (news - web sites) sought to repair America's image among Iraqis on Wednesday by making a personal pledge on Arab television that soldiers who murdered and abused Iraqi prisoners would be punished.

A week after pictures were published of grinning soldiers abusing naked Iraqis at a prison once used by Saddam Hussein's torturers, the U.S. army revealed that 25 prisoners have died in Iraq and Afghanistan in U.S. custody, including two Iraqi prisoners murdered by Americans and one ruled a justifiable homicide.

Last week's pictures sparked worldwide outrage and a hasty damage-control exercise in Washington, where official inquiries into the allegations began in January.

I just realized I hadn't blogged anything about this. I guess nothing fazes me anymore when it comes to this war.

Yahoo! News - Bush Seeks $25 Billion More for Iraq, Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Wednesday asked Congress for an additional $25 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, breaking a pledge not to seek more money before the November election.

The White House had long insisted it would not need extra money until next year, but the surge in violence in Iraq and pressure from fellow Republicans forced Bush to reverse course. If approved by Congress as expected, the $25 billion would become available to the Pentagon from Oct. 1, the beginning of the 2005 fiscal year.

And if ya don't vote for it, we're going to call you a traitor. Ante up, gentlemen.
It's All About Follow-up (see previous entry):

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167
Phone: (212) 931-7800

Thinking of calling. No e-mail address. (damn)

Yahoo! Sports - MLB - Baseball sells 'Spider-Man' ads on bases
NEW YORK (AP) -- Spider-Man is coming to a base near you.

Was that the runner's shoe on base? Or was it Spiderman's face? Will players wear shoes to match the ads and blend in a little better?

Ads for "Spider-Man 2'' will be placed atop bases at major league ballparks during games from June 11-13 as part of a promotion announced Wednesday. The move is the latest push by baseball to increase its marketing to younger fans -- and make money along the way.

"I guess it's inevitable, but it's sad,'' said Fay Vincent, a former baseball commissioner and former president of Columbia Pictures, which is releasing the movie. "I'm old-fashioned. I'm a romanticist. I think the bases should be protected from this.''

The "Spider-Man'' promotion has been in the works for more than a year and will include ad buys and ballpark events, such as giving masks to fans, said Jacqueline Parkes, baseball's senior vice president for marketing and advertising. The ads, about 4 inches long, won't appear on home plates.

Who can I complain to?

All true baseball fans should BOYCOTT the Spiderman movie. (OK, so I wasn't planning on seeing it anyway. Big deal.)

Will I be receiving an e-mail from MoveOn about this too?

Ralph Nader, a presidential candidate and consumer advocate, criticized the deal. He wrote Tuesday to baseball commissioner Bud Selig, denouncing the decision to have ads on uniforms during the season-opening series in March between the Yankees and Tampa Bay in Tokyo.

"It's gotten beyond grotesque,'' Nader said. "The fans have to revolt here. Otherwise, they'll be looking at advertisements between advertisements."

Oh God....maybe I should vote for Ralph after all. The voice of sanity.

This is like selling ad space on the American flag. Sacrilege.

Yahoo! News - Lab Creates Babies As Stem-Cell Donors
CHICAGO - In a growing practice that troubles some ethicists, a Chicago laboratory helped create five healthy babies so that they could serve as stem-cell donors for their ailing brothers and sisters.

The made-to-order infants, from different families, were screened and selected when they were still embryos to make sure they would be compatible donors. Their siblings suffered from leukemia or a rare and potentially lethal anemia.

This is the first time embryo tissue-typing has been done for common disorders like leukemia that are not inherited, and the results suggest that many more children than previously thought could benefit from the technology, said Dr. Anver Kuliev, a Chicago doctor who participated in the research.

The Chicago doctors said the healthy embryos that were not matches were frozen for potential future use. But some ethicists said such perfectly healthy embryos could end up being discarded.

"This was a search-and-destroy mission," said Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The chosen embryos "were allowed to be born so they could donate tissue to benefit someone else."

For some reason I'm a bit troubled by this also. I can't quite put my finger on why. On one hand, I'm happy for the families that have found a cure for the ailing child and I marvel at the technology that is being advanced. On the other, it's disturbing that we create the embryos as a commodity, and again it's a commodity for the rich only. Look for lots of confusing legislation on this one.

Yahoo! News - Senate Votes to Block New Overtime Rules
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A divided U.S. Senate defied the Bush administration on Tuesday by again voting to block its new rules for white-collar workers that foes said could cost millions of Americans overtime pay.

Backers argued recent changes in the pending regulations addressed election-year concerns and limited the impact. But opponents denounced the revisions as inadequate and confusing.

On a largely party-line vote of 52-47, the Senate approved an amendment by minority Democrats to stop implementation of the regulations, set to take effect on Aug. 23. Five Republicans crossed over to provide the winning margin.

I'm sure this issue to be addressed again in a non-election year. Nobody wants to be accused of taking overtime away RIGHT NOW. In 2005 it will be a done deal.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

It's All About Mom:

I can't do it.

Mom wants an "O'Reilly (sp?) Factor" mug for Mother's Day. Why? I don't know. I think she's gone insane.

I can't do it. I can't bring myself to give any money to that pompous, overbearing, whiney blowhard. I can't give any money to the Bush propaganda channel. I just can't. The thought of them having my name and address scares the crap out of me.

I went to the website and they asked me to "pledge my allegiance". No. Uh-uh. Never.

Sorry Mom. Flowers instead? How about a nice "Air America" cup?

Edited at 8 pm. Mom is receiving Bob Woodward's book instead. I also should add that my Mom is a Liberal (with a capital "L") Democrat, but likes to watch Fox for the laughs.

Scientists Grow New Teeth Using DNA
Dentures could soon be a thing of the past thanks to some British scientists.

A team of researchers in London have the ability to grow teeth in laboratories because of advances in stem cell research. Scientists at London's Kings College believe these latest developments mean people could someday grow their own replacement teeth at home.

So far, researchers have successfully grown molars, but the incisors and canines are proving more difficult.

Perhaps eventually we will be able to grow a new everything; heart, lungs, liver, kidney, etc. etc. eliminating the need for organ donations. Will your insurance cover it? Heh.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Yahoo! News - Bush Administration Under Fire for Iraq Spending
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration is under fire from U.S. lawmakers who complain that only a tiny portion of the $18.4 billion to rebuild Iraq has been allocated and some funds are being diverted for security and administration costs.

As of March 24, only $2.24 billion has been earmarked according to an early April report prepared for Congress by the White House.

"They appropriated $18.4 billion for Iraq and precious little of it is being spent for reconstruction," said Dave Helfert, a spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee said on Friday.

According to the report, $184 million is being diverted away from the water sector to pay for the costs of operating the successor to the Coalition Provisional Authority. A further $29 million is being reallocated "from various lines" to pay for administrative expenses at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

I'd love to see someone sit down and follow the paper trail on ALL the money. Let's nail these guys.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Yahoo! News - American Hostage 'Escapes' from Iraqi Captors
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. hostage Thomas Hamill is free three weeks after television pictures showed him being driven away by armed men following an attack on a convoy in Iraq, the U.S. military said Sunday.

Mississippi farmer Hamill was a truck driver for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root, which has a major logistics contract with the U.S. military as well as another deal rebuilding the country's shattered oil infrastructure.

Happy for his family. Will we turn him into "An American Hero" even though he worked for Halliburton and not the military? (translation- will Bush somehow take credit for this?)
It's All About The Cubs:

Jon Connolly shuts down Lakeland

In his first start as a Cub against his old team, Jon Connolly pitched 5 innings- giving up one hit while striking out 8.

Maybe this kid's got something after all.

Clement, Ramirez rain on Cards

Now 4-1, he scattered five hits over eight innings and struck out five. Opponents were batting .159 against the right-hander, and he continued his stingy ways. Clement did not give up a hit to a right-hander, either. For the season, righties were hitting a measly .128 off him.

Our secret weapon....Matt Clement? Hee hee.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Being around 10.

Lansing State Journal:Callers put on 'hold' get cooler Muzak thanks to Granholm
Last summer, the state Department of Management and Budget got an unusual request from the governor. Jennifer Granholm called to ask if something could be done about the boring acoustic music that people heard when they called the state and were placed on hold.

"She thought we should have cool music," said DMB director Mitch Irwin.

It seems that the "hold" music had been set on piano and guitar instrumental since 1996 during Gov. John Engler's administration.

First, officials tried to rock the phones, but after a few caller complaints, Led Zeppelin's and Jimi Hendrix's music got dumped because "it was a little too hot," Irwin said. Then, they tried all-Michigan artists, but abandoned the idea because "it was too limiting."

Finally, they settled on 1950s and '60s oldies.

Provided by Muzak, as was the former music, the service costs the same as in the past - $800 a year - but it seems to be getting good reviews from callers.

"I've had people say, 'Hey, put me back on hold, I wanna hear the end of that song,' " said Jeanette Doll, who works as a secretary at the DMB.

Rock on, Jennifer.


Yahoo! News - Saddam's Old Soldiers Patrol Falluja in U.S. Deal
FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - Soldiers of the old Iraqi army led by one of Saddam Hussein's generals patrolled the city of Falluja Saturday, a year after George W. Bush declared the U.S. "mission accomplished" in ousting the Iraqi regime.

Mired in a bloody, month-long siege that was costing lives on both sides and outraging Iraqi and wider Arab opinion, U.S. Marines pulled back Friday and entrusted security to local police and a new force of ex-soldiers under General Jasim Mohamed Saleh, formerly of Saddam's feared Republican Guard.

A Pentagon spokesman said the United States, which had made a point of excluding senior figures from the old regime, was going in to the deal in Falluja with its "eyes wide open," aware of the risks of dealing with the relatively unknown Saleh, whose influence over -- or links with -- the insurgents are unclear.

And U.S. efforts to maintain the goodwill of those Iraqis who did welcome the overthrow of the Baathist state, such as the Shi'ite majority to the south, have been hampered most recently by a scandal over the abuse of prisoners by military jailers.

The whole Arab world was outraged by photographs published this week showing U.S. troops abusing detainees in Saddam's once notorious Abu Ghraib prison. Saturday, a London newspaper published images showing British troops, who control the Shi'ite south of Iraq around Basra, engaged in similar ill treatment.

"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss...." Dammit Roger, it looks as if we were fooled again.