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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Debbie Acker's endorsement for Ontario City Council 

No, Acker is not endorsing Sam Crowe for Council (I speak, of course, of Sam Crowe Ontario). She endorses another candidate:

Name: Tony Ballardo

Occupation: Retired law enforcement officer, adjunct college professor

Family: Two adult children

Age: 62

Education: Associate degree from Cerritos Community College; bachelor's degree from Cal State Fullerton

Political experience: None

Membership in local organizations: American Legion

Key endorsements: Former Ontario Councilwoman Debbie Acker

Statement: I feel the present council looks after special interest groups and not the constituents of Ontario.

Acker has endorsed Ballardo in the past - specifically, 2004. Here's what David Kocot has to say about Ballardo and other candidates from that election year:

State Assembly, 61st District

Ah, my old district. I'd rather cut my own throat than vote for the crookedest politician in the country, Alan Wapner. I'll also never forgive him for hitting on my 'ex'. Gloria Negrete McLeod beat me for this seat in 2000; she seemed nice, but I can't for the life of me find a reason to vote for her.

Board of Supervisors, District #4

Sadly, Gary Ovitt is the second crookedest politician in the country. Why do all the crooks come from my city? Oh well. I don't know anything more than the basics about Eunice and Maurice, but either of them would be better than Ovitt.

Ontario City Council

I stopped reading newspapers and attending city council meetings a while back, so I'm not informed enough to make an informed decision, but I do know that Paul Leon is the third crookedest politician in the nation, and this Jason Anderson character seems to be backed by the "good 'ole boys" network in the county. Anyone who has Debbie Acker's endorsement, however, can't be too bad, so I might vote for this Tony Ballardo guy and Debra Dorst-Porada (who I used to talk to every now and then at city council meetings and seemed OK)

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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And there are other candidates 

As you know, I've written a bit about Sam Crowe Ontario (as opposed to Sam Crowe Bird Dude), who is mounting a Sam Crowe for Council campaign.

There are other candidates, and they all had a gabfest not too long ago.

Police and economic development were on the minds of the six City Council candidates who spoke at a pre-election forum Thursday night....

The subjects of discussion ranged from hot topics in the community - such as the contentious Wal-Mart proposal and the sports arena - as well as tried-and-true issues of public safety and schools....

Each candidate at the forum reiterated his or her support for the police and fire departments, and several suggested the city needs more police officers, though a recently completed study by an outside consulting firm found Ontario could improve public safety without hiring more officers.

"I remember when it was safe to walk in our streets and play in our parks," said candidate Josie Estrada. "I am tired of hearing promises from the politicians about what they're going to do about it."

Several candidates said they opposed the Wal-Mart Supercenter proposed for Mountain Avenue near Fifth Street, while others offered a more nuanced position on the project.

"We as a city need to use whatever authority we have to mitigate the impact of any development, whether it's a Sears, Nordstrom, or in this case, a Wal-Mart," said Gabe Chavez, who until this month was a city planning commissioner.

Similarly, the planned Citizens Business Bank Arena drew ire from several candidates, who said Ontario should not sink $55 million into building such a facility in the face of lukewarm public support.

"I've been involved with sports arenas in my practice for many, many years," said candidate Sam Crowe, a former councilman and city attorney. "None of them make money. The ones that do, they go back to the city and say, We're making some money, and we're going to leave if you don't give us more money.'"

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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It's October 31, and You Know What That Means 

From spurgeon.org:

Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences Commonly Known as The 95 Theses
by Dr. Martin Luther

Out of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it, the following heads will be the subject of a public discussion at Wittenberg under the presidency of the reverend father, Martin Luther, Augustinian, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and duly appointed Lecturer on these subjects in that place. He requests that whoever cannot be present personally to debate the matter orally will do so in absence in writing.

1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

2. The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.

3. Yet its meaning is not restricted to repentance in one's heart; for such repentance is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh.

4. As long as hatred of self abides (i.e. true inward repentance) the penalty of sin abides, viz., until we enter the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law.

6. The pope himself cannot remit guilt, but only declare and confirm that it has been remitted by God; or, at most, he can remit it in cases reserved to his discretion. Except for these cases, the guilt remains untouched.

7. God never remits guilt to anyone without, at the same time, making him humbly submissive to the priest, His representative.

8. The penitential canons apply only to men who are still alive, and, according to the canons themselves, none applies to the dead.

9. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit, acting in the person of the pope, manifests grace to us, by the fact that the papal regulations always cease to apply at death, or in any hard case.

10. It is a wrongful act, due to ignorance, when priests retain the canonical penalties on the dead in purgatory.

11. When canonical penalties were changed and made to apply to purgatory, surely it would seem that tares were sown while the bishops were asleep.

12. In former days, the canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before absolution was pronounced; and were intended to be tests of true contrition.

13. Death puts an end to all the claims of the Church; even the dying are already dead to the canon laws, and are no longer bound by them.

14. Defective piety or love in a dying person is necessarily accompanied by great fear, which is greatest where the piety or love is least.

15. This fear or horror is sufficient in itself, whatever else might be said, to constitute the pain of purgatory, since it approaches very closely to the horror of despair.

16. There seems to be the same difference between hell, purgatory, and heaven as between despair, uncertainty, and assurance.

17. Of a truth, the pains of souls in purgatory ought to be abated, and charity ought to be proportionately increased.

18. Moreover, it does not seem proved, on any grounds of reason or Scripture, that these souls are outside the state of merit, or unable to grow in grace.

19. Nor does it seem proved to be always the case that they are certain and assured of salvation, even if we are very certain ourselves.

20. Therefore the pope, in speaking of the plenary remission of all penalties, does not mean "all" in the strict sense, but only those imposed by himself.

21. Hence those who preach indulgences are in error when they say that a man is absolved and saved from every penalty by the pope's indulgences.

22. Indeed, he cannot remit to souls in purgatory any penalty which canon law declares should be suffered in the present life.

23. If plenary remission could be granted to anyone at all, it would be only in the cases of the most perfect, i.e. to very few.

24. It must therefore be the case that the major part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of relief from penalty.

25. The same power as the pope exercises in general over purgatory is exercised in particular by every single bishop in his bishopric and priest in his parish.

26. The pope does excellently when he grants remission to the souls in purgatory on account of intercessions made on their behalf, and not by the power of the keys (which he cannot exercise for them).

27. There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately the money clinks in the bottom of the chest.

28. It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest avarice and greed increase; but when the church offers intercession, all depends in the will of God.

29. Who knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed in view of what is said of St. Severinus and St. Pascal? (Note: Paschal I, pope 817-24. The legend is that he and Severinus were willing to endure the pains of purgatory for the benefit of the faithful).

30. No one is sure of the reality of his own contrition, much less of receiving plenary forgiveness.

31. One who bona fide buys indulgence is a rare as a bona fide penitent man, i.e. very rare indeed.

32. All those who believe themselves certain of their own salvation by means of letters of indulgence, will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

33. We should be most carefully on our guard against those who say that the papal indulgences are an inestimable divine gift, and that a man is reconciled to God by them.

34. For the grace conveyed by these indulgences relates simply to the penalties of the sacramental "satisfactions" decreed merely by man.

35. It is not in accordance with Christian doctrines to preach and teach that those who buy off souls, or purchase confessional licenses, have no need to repent of their own sins.

36. Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence.

37. Any true Christian whatsoever, living or dead, participates in all the benefits of Christ and the Church; and this participation is granted to him by God without letters of indulgence.

38. Yet the pope's remission and dispensation are in no way to be despised, for, as already said, they proclaim the divine remission.

39. It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, to extol to the people the great bounty contained in the indulgences, while, at the same time, praising contrition as a virtue.

40. A truly contrite sinner seeks out, and loves to pay, the penalties of his sins; whereas the very multitude of indulgences dulls men's consciences, and tends to make them hate the penalties.

41. Papal indulgences should only be preached with caution, lest people gain a wrong understanding, and think that they are preferable to other good works: those of love.

42. Christians should be taught that the pope does not at all intend that the purchase of indulgences should be understood as at all comparable with the works of mercy.

43. Christians should be taught that one who gives to the poor, or lends to the needy, does a better action than if he purchases indulgences.

44. Because, by works of love, love grows and a man becomes a better man; whereas, by indulgences, he does not become a better man, but only escapes certain penalties.

45. Christians should be taught that he who sees a needy person, but passes him by although he gives money for indulgences, gains no benefit from the pope's pardon, but only incurs the wrath of God.

46. Christians should be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they are bound to retain what is only necessary for the upkeep of their home, and should in no way squander it on indulgences.

47. Christians should be taught that they purchase indulgences voluntarily, and are not under obligation to do so.

48. Christians should be taught that, in granting indulgences, the pope has more need, and more desire, for devout prayer on his own behalf than for ready money.

49. Christians should be taught that the pope's indulgences are useful only if one does not rely on them, but most harmful if one loses the fear of God through them.

50. Christians should be taught that, if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence-preachers, he would rather the church of St. Peter were reduced to ashes than be built with the skin, flesh, and bones of the sheep.

51. Christians should be taught that the pope would be willing, as he ought if necessity should arise, to sell the church of St. Peter, and give, too, his own money to many of those from whom the pardon-merchants conjure money.

52. It is vain to rely on salvation by letters of indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity.

53. Those are enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others.

54. The word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word.

55. The pope cannot help taking the view that if indulgences (very small matters) are celebrated by one bell, one pageant, or one ceremony, the gospel (a very great matter) should be preached to the accompaniment of a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

56. The treasures of the church, out of which the pope dispenses indulgences, are not sufficiently spoken of or known among the people of Christ.

57. That these treasures are not temporal are clear from the fact that many of the merchants do not grant them freely, but only collect them.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, because, even apart from the pope, these merits are always working grace in the inner man, and working the cross, death, and hell in the outer man.

59. St. Laurence said that the poor were the treasures of the church, but he used the term in accordance with the custom of his own time.

60. We do not speak rashly in saying that the treasures of the church are the keys of the church, and are bestowed by the merits of Christ.

61. For it is clear that the power of the pope suffices, by itself, for the remission of penalties and reserved cases.

62. The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.

63. It is right to regard this treasure as most odious, for it makes the first to be the last.

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is most acceptable, for it makes the last to be the first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which, in former times, they used to fish for men of wealth.

66. The treasures of the indulgences are the nets to-day which they use to fish for men of wealth.

67. The indulgences, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favours, are seen to be, in fact, a favourite means for money-getting.

68. Nevertheless, they are not to be compared with the grace of God and the compassion shown in the Cross.

69. Bishops and curates, in duty bound, must receive the commissaries of the papal indulgences with all reverence.

70. But they are under a much greater obligation to watch closely and attend carefully lest these men preach their own fancies instead of what the pope commissioned.

71. Let him be anathema and accursed who denies the apostolic character of the indulgences.

72. On the other hand, let him be blessed who is on his guard against the wantonness and license of the pardon-merchant's words.

73. In the same way, the pope rightly excommunicates those who make any plans to the detriment of the trade in indulgences.

74. It is much more in keeping with his views to excommunicate those who use the pretext of indulgences to plot anything to the detriment of holy love and truth.

75. It is foolish to think that papal indulgences have so much power that they can absolve a man even if he has done the impossible and violated the mother of God.

76. We assert the contrary, and say that the pope's pardons are not able to remove the least venial of sins as far as their guilt is concerned.

77. When it is said that not even St. Peter, if he were now pope, could grant a greater grace, it is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.

78. We assert the contrary, and say that he, and any pope whatever, possesses greater graces, viz., the gospel, spiritual powers, gifts of healing, etc., as is declared in I Corinthians 12 [:28].

79. It is blasphemy to say that the insignia of the cross with the papal arms are of equal value to the cross on which Christ died.

80. The bishops, curates, and theologians, who permit assertions of that kind to be made to the people without let or hindrance, will have to answer for it.

81. This unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult for learned men to guard the respect due to the pope against false accusations, or at least from the keen criticisms of the laity.

82. They ask, e.g.: Why does not the pope liberate everyone from purgatory for the sake of love (a most holy thing) and because of the supreme necessity of their souls? This would be morally the best of all reasons. Meanwhile he redeems innumerable souls for money, a most perishable thing, with which to build St. Peter's church, a very minor purpose.

83. Again: Why should funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continue to be said? And why does not the pope repay, or permit to be repaid, the benefactions instituted for these purposes, since it is wrong to pray for those souls who are now redeemed?

84. Again: Surely this is a new sort of compassion, on the part of God and the pope, when an impious man, an enemy of God, is allowed to pay money to redeem a devout soul, a friend of God; while yet that devout and beloved soul is not allowed to be redeemed without payment, for love's sake, and just because of its need of redemption.

85. Again: Why are the penitential canon laws, which in fact, if not in practice, have long been obsolete and dead in themselves,—why are they, to-day, still used in imposing fines in money, through the granting of indulgences, as if all the penitential canons were fully operative?

86. Again: since the pope's income to-day is larger than that of the wealthiest of wealthy men, why does he not build this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of indigent believers?

87. Again: What does the pope remit or dispense to people who, by their perfect repentance, have a right to plenary remission or dispensation?

88. Again: Surely a greater good could be done to the church if the pope were to bestow these remissions and dispensations, not once, as now, but a hundred times a day, for the benefit of any believer whatever.

89. What the pope seeks by indulgences is not money, but rather the salvation of souls; why then does he suspend the letters and indulgences formerly conceded, and still as efficacious as ever?

90. These questions are serious matters of conscience to the laity. To suppress them by force alone, and not to refute them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christian people unhappy.

91. If therefore, indulgences were preached in accordance with the spirit and mind of the pope, all these difficulties would be easily overcome, and indeed, cease to exist.

92. Away, then, with those prophets who say to Christ's people, "Peace, peace," where in there is no peace.

93. Hail, hail to all those prophets who say to Christ's people, "The cross, the cross," where there is no cross.

94. Christians should be exhorted to be zealous to follow Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hells.

95. And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Monday, October 30, 2006

How to Choose Candidates in an Election 

I just wrote this in response to an Annika post.

(1) Unless there's some absolutely pressing need, don't vote for incumbents. They have to earn their keep, and normally they don't.

(2) Whoever strikes with the first negative ad loses. If you're getting enough money to air negative ads, then someone's funding you who probably doesn't have my best interests in mind.

(3) Don't be afraid to write in candidates that you like (Deborah Acker, here we come). It won't make a difference, but you'll feel better.

Regarding Acker, see my posts on 5/16/2005, 6/5/2005, 6/7/2005, and 6/8/2005.

This is probably as good a time as any to note that if you know my Ontario Emperor e-mail account, don't pat yourself on the back. I hardly ever check it. This message is for you, Sam Crowe.

Volume 1 September 26, 2006

Sam Crowe Announces His Candidacy

Former Ontario Councilman and City Attorney, Sam Crowe has announced his candidacy for City Council in November's election. "I'm running for Ontario City Council in order to restore the public's confidence in the Council, and to refocus the priorities of the City," announced Crowe.

"It's time we focused on quality-of-life issues in Ontario, like traffic congestion, faster emergency response times, a new hospital and solving our homeless problems. I also think we need a limit on campaign contributions to reduce the influence of special interests on the priorities of the City Council," said Crowe.

"As a resident of this community for over 50 years, I believe I understand the needs and the desires of our residents. I have served on the Planning Commission and the City Council. For nearly 20 years, I was the City Attorney. I played a significant role in the expansion of the Airport, development of Ontario Mills and the creation of our successful auto dealerships. The revenue those projects brought to the City have enabled us to prosper without tax increases. I'm proud of those achievements."

Crowe has been endorsed by hundreds of Ontario residents. In addition organizations representing working families in Ontario have endorsed Crowe's election, including the Central Labor Council AFL-CIO, Operating Engineers and Teamsters. Additionally, Sam has many supporters in the Fire Department, on the Police Force, in the Business Community and in the Teaching Profession that endorse him as well.

This is the first of a series of Newsletters you will receive from Friends of Sam Crowe. They are designed to keep you informed about the race for two open seats on the Ontario City Council.

We will send these Newsletters on a regular basis (about three times a month) to keep you informed about Sam's campaign until the election in November. After the election, Sam plans to write three or four issues a year because it is so difficult to get certain types of accurate and truthful information from the City without filing a lawsuit.

See Sam's plan for the community, read his ballot statement, and review a list of endorsements, all at the croweforcouncil.com web site.
Volume 2 October 10, 2006

Sam Crowe speaks out regarding vital Ontario issues

The process of informing residents of issues facing our City needs to be improved considerably. Backroom deals and favors to developers must go. When major decisions come before City Council, our elected representatives should hold deliberations in public and they should always ask, “How will this decision benefit our residents and how could it possibly hurt our residents and their quality of life?” We need to go back to including the public in the decision making process and do away with private deals, conflicts of interests and special favors to large political campaign contributors.

"I need your support to put the resident’s interests first. Public debate and an open forum should be welcomed, not discouraged."

Let’s join together to insist that all major projects be aired in public well in advance of the Council’s final approval, and in many cases before the Planning Commission makes its recommendation. We also need to put a rein on the City Staff so that they do not place their desire for the economic development of the City before the economic interests of our residents who may be negatively impacted by their decisions.

Many residents feel disenfranchised by city officials because they are often times cut off from speaking at public meetings, and many residents feel that they are discouraged from participating in the democratic process in other ways as well. For example, several years ago the filing fee to run for City Council was approximately $700. Right before this election they more than doubled the fee to a whopping $2,840. It is painfully obvious the City Fathers (and one Mother) are making it a lot more difficult for the average qualified resident to run against them for public office. We must insist they roll this fee back to the more reasonable pre 2006 level.

I need your support to put the resident’s interests first. Public debate and an open forum should be welcomed, not discouraged. I promise, as your representative, to be responsive to your interests and that is why I am running a grass roots, people first, campaign. I have a dedicated and hard working committee of volunteers that I am proud to call my friends. Please see their message below and feel free to contact me at any time. Thanks for your time and I look forward to working with you to make sure Ontario stays a great City.

A message from the Committee to elect Sam Crowe

The Friends of Sam Crowe, is the official name of our committee to elect Sam Crowe. We would like to thank you for the outpouring of support many of you have given to our campaign. It is especially gratifying to see that we are number one on "Google", the world’s premier web site Search Engine. We appear to have been number one since the publication of our first newsletter over a week ago. If you want to see for yourself, type these key words into your Google Search. Enter either, "Sam Crowe Ontario" or "Sam Crowe for Council" and see if we are still at the top of the list.
See this now >

We have web page hits from far away places like Israel, China, France, Germany and a lot of hits from Great Britain and other western European countries. We also have a lot of hits from the United States and presumably from many of you, our Ontario subscribers. Even more important than being number one on Google is being number one on election day. If you can help us you are certainly invited to do so.

To see a more detailed plan for the future of our community, read Sam’s ballot statement, or review his list of endorsements, at the crowe4council.com website. If you would like to be included in Sam’s list of supporters please go to the "Contact Sam" page and fill in the contact form and click "submit." Be sure to include your phone number (so we can verify your request) and in a few days we will include your name along with those of your friends and neighbors. Thanks for looking and more importantly thanks for your vote. We sincerely appreciate your support.
Volume 3 October 17, 2006

Early Voting for Ontario Residents

Early voting has begun for Ontario residents who want to test the new electronic voting machines purchased by San Bernardino County.

Beginning on Monday, October 16th, and running through Thursday, October 19th, residents will be able to vote at the Ontario City Library from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM. “This is a great opportunity for voters to test drive the future of voting,” said Sam Crowe, candidate for Ontario City Council. “It’s one more way for Ontario residents to participate in selecting City Council members. I’d encourage everyone to try it.”

For those who wish to vote by absentee ballot, a request form can be downloaded by clicking here.

For those who wish to vote at the polls on election day, a list of polling places will be posted on our web site as soon as they are available.

Thank you for your interest.

Sam Crowe
Volume 4 October 26, 2006

A Message from Sam Crowe

My staff of Volunteers at Crowe for Council has compiled a list of items that do not impress them with this campaign. They are not impressed with:





On the other hand we are impressed with the following:





If you agree with my staff of volunteers please mark your ballot for Sam Crowe, Candidate for Ontario City Council

A Message from the Committee to Elect Sam Crowe (also known as the Friends of Sam Crowe)

We have received two other important endorsements. Sam has been endorsed by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in an editorial published October 11, 2006. They also endorsed challenger Jim Bowman over incumbent Alan Wapner. The second important new endorsement is from the Southern California Pipe Trades District Council 16. We received this just a few days ago although the endorsement letter was dated September 21, 2006.

We are still number one on "Google", the world’s premier web site Search Engine. We appear to have been number one since the publication of our first newsletter almost four weeks ago. If you want to see for yourself, type these key words into your Google Search. Enter either, "Sam Crowe Ontario" or "Sam Crowe for Council" and see for yourself.

Thank you for your support. Sam and his Committee appreciate it very much and together we will continue to earn your trust and support by speaking for the common good of the community as a whole.

So I went to Google and tried typing in the name "Sam Crowe," quoted, with no other descriptive information. The first hit was against "Sam Crowe's Arkansas Birding." An English Sam Crowe on MySpace was number 5. croweforcouncil.com was number 6. Ironically, the first listing for the Ontario Sam Crowe wasn't from Crowe for Council, but from The Black Voice News. The post is over a year old and concerned the prior mayoral election:

Sam Crowe for Mayor

Posted on May 24, 2005 - 08:57 AM by blackvoice

On June 7, 2005 the citizens of o­ntario will go to the polls and cast a vote for the leadership of the city in the position of mayor. This is a special election because the position was vacated when Gary Ovitt became a Supervisor for the County of San Bernardino.

There are two fine people seeking the office, o­ne is Paul Leon currently occupying a seat o­n the city council and Sam Crowe, Esq., who served o­n the council from 1964 through 1972 and has served as the city attorney for over thirty years.

I am encouraging the citizens to give their vote to Sam for some of the reasons that have been beneficial to the Black community. When Senator Nell Soto was looking for someone to head up the Inland Empire Small Business Financial Development Corporation that would be inclusive for all ethnic groups she turned to Sam. Sam helped her assemble a diverse group of citizens from across the Inland Empire to charter this business to make loans to small new and old businesses. Mike Teer of Riverside and I were selected to be a part of that group.

When Governor Gray Davis was looking for someone to appoint to the Superior Court in San Bernardino County the name put forth was Katrina West, Esq. of the Covington & Crowe law firm of o­ntario. Katrina West, an African American, was appointed and currently serves as a Judge. With the rise in diversity it is critical to have leadership that has a proven track record with diverse populations.

Therefore I want you to join with me and endorse Sam Crowe for Mayor of ontario.

You have to get to entry 232 in the search before you see me (namely, the June 2005 archive of this blog). This is what I said. This is what Ontario Emperor said:

I'm no big fan of Crowe....Public financing of elections? Opposition to Wal-Mart (and the implicit endorsement of Stater Brothers, Albertsons, Vons, Ralphs, and all the other companies that have displaced mom and pop shops in the past)? Please.

And here's what a Daily Bulletin letter-writer said:

As an Ontario resident and longtime observer of Ontario politics, I found the Daily Bulletin profiles of Ontario’s two mayoral candidates to be quite telling.

Of particular concern to me was the Sam Crowe piece....

Accusations of overbilling by his law firm and a city audit did reveal discrepancies to the tune of some $500,000-plus a year. According to your article, this was because of a questionable billing system that allowed junior associates to work for the city at the same rate as the senior partners. Not illegal but certainly unethical.

Councilman Jerry DuBois, a current Crowe campaign crony, claims the overbilling was due to a misunderstanding caused by several changes in city managers.

Now doesn’t that raise a whole new batch of questions? Does that mean that Mr. Crowe felt free to overbill with his knowledge of the unstable situation? I had been led to believe it was due to Mr. Crowe’s firm not correctly billing the city. Now Councilman DuBois says it was due to the city not watching the till. Let’s see – inability to adequately manage, or severely ethically challenged? Neither is a trait I’m looking for as my mayor.

For his part, Mr. Crowe does not address the over-billing issue, instead claiming he resigned because of Brown Act violations. Now there’s a campaign statement for you. Does anyone remember him claiming that eight years ago? I sure don’t....

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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More on the IOC decision 

How is the International Olympic Committee's decision to hold the swimming finals in the morning (in an apparent sop to NBC) affecting the athletes?

From Al Jazeera:

The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) decision to hold swimming finals in the morning at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games to suit US television schedules is unlikely to change Swimming Australia's Olympic trials schedule.

US television rights holder NBC had been lobbying heavily for early finals in Beijing to coincide with prime-time viewing hours in the United States, with many observers feeling the IOC caved to the broadcaster rather than taking athletes' preferences in to consideration.

Alan Thompson, Australian head coach, had anticipated the IOC's decision, but his swimmers are unlikely to have a practice run at the upside-down schedule at their national trials, which normally aim to simulate the Olympic program, reports said.

Glenn Tasker, Swimming Australia chief executive, said he expected opposition from coaches, but could not see how the trials could be run successfully with main events held in non-peak viewing times.

"We have only discussed this informally, but internally our discussions have been, 'If we turn our trials upside down, we will struggle to make them commercially viable'," Tasker told The Melbourne Age on Saturday.

"We swim our trials at the Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre, which is still the best pool in the world, but when you go to the best pool in the world, you pay a fairly steep price for it.

"If we swam finals at 10 o'clock in the morning, our athletes would be swimming in front of next to no one. There would be no atmosphere, we wouldn't get a gate, so commercially it would hurt us.

"It would hurt the athletes from having no atmosphere. So without finalising our discussions, I would be very loath to change our trials," Tasker added.

Of course, we have to ask - do the Australian officials care about the "atmosphere," or about the gate receipts?

Swim News reports a slightly different story:

Many of the world's top swimmers will rise as early as 4am, train hardest at dawn not dusk, eat three breakfasts a day, skip lunch, have dinner at noon, sleep in recovery suits and spend much of their time in the China time zone in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics following the International Olympic Committee's decision to switch finals from their traditional evening slot to mornings in the pool in 2008.

Bill Sweetenham, performance director of Britain, assembled a think-tank of coaches, swimmers, sports scientists and support staff at Loughborough, England, on Friday for three days of talks aimed at planning a response to an IOC decision that has incensed the world swimming community.

The outcome of the talks and expert advice from specialists in sleep and diet is likely to be a radical overhaul of training, eating and sleeping regimes, while the domestic race calendar will be turned on its head, with finals held in the morning at "five or six" events, including the national championships, BBC allowing....

[T]he USA has already announced that it is sticking to evening finals for its Olympic trials.

And before one accuses the IOC of being money-grubbing evil people, remember how high minded they are:

The IOC has often declined higher offers for broadcast on a pay-per-view basis or because a broadcaster could reach only a limited part of the population, as this is against Olympic Broadcast Policy. This fundamental IOC Policy, set forth in the Olympic Charter, ensures the maximum presentation of the Olympic Games by broadcasters around the world to everyone who has access to television. Rights are only sold to broadcasters who can guarantee the broadest coverage throughout their respective countries free of charge.

Of course, these free of charge broadcasters can then choose what they want to broadcast. Any attempt by the IOC to demand that international Olympic coverage be - well, international - would immediately be met with replies of censorship.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Olympic Television Woes Revisited 

And my favorite Olympic network is involved. Here's the story:

The European Broadcasting Union protested the IOC's decision to hold some Olympic swimming and gymnastic finals during the morning at the 2008 Beijing Games.

The International Olympic Committee announced the changes last week in a concession to NBC, but the EBU said the timing of the finals will put them in the middle of the night in Europe. The events will be shown during prime viewing hours in the Americas.

My question on this topic - since when has NBC ever chosen to show a major event live? Does this mean that NBC plans to show these events live on the West Coast? I seriously doubt it; we'll probably get a tape delayed broadcast.

But coverage, live or taped, will not address Dave Taylor's concerns:

Every four years I get to remember why I really hate watching the Olympics on television. It's not about the advertising, it's not even the endless parade of "background" vignettes instead of showing us more events, it's not the non-family-friendly previews for movies and TV dramas slipped into the advertising stream, it's not even the talking heads in their quasi-newsroom sets telling us what we need to know about the day.

No, what drives me completely batty are the commentators....

Last night's coverage of the men's figure skating was a classic example of the terrible pontificating coverage of the Olympics. Russian Yevgeny Plushenko was skating to a well-deserved gold medal and the commentators were busy telling us how he can't "integrate his hand motion with his jumps" and how he has a "dull routine" and how he's "worked since childhood to be here" and on and on.

Then next up was American Johnny Weir, whose father was watching him compete at this level for the first time, "something that's probably causing Weir more anxiety than being here at the Olympics" one of the commentators blithly informed us. How do they know? Why would we care? Did I sign up to get insipid psychological commentary during skating events too?

Oh, how I wish that the commentators could be pushed to a separate audio track, like SAP, so I could turn them off and just watch the skating and listen to the music and the cheers of the crowd!

And for those who have not had the...privilege...to listen to NBC's Olympic coverage, here's part of a parody of the 1996 Olympic coverage.

BOB COSTAS: Good evening, and as you can tell by the sound of the Olympic Theme Song that we play almost as much as we show Kerri Strug's historic vault, it's time for our broadcast of The Recently Videotaped Olympic Games Featuring Americans. We're going to start by taking you right to the track-and-field stadium, where the men's 100-meter dash is about to get underway (despite the fact that it actually happened four hours ago).

TRACK COMMENTATOR: Bob, this promises to be an exciting race, featuring Americans.

COSTAS: And what are the obstacles that these Americans have overcome to create a Human Interest Factor for our broadcast?

TRACK COMMENTATOR: Bob, from left to right, they have overcome psoriasis, vertigo and a bad allergy to vinaigrette dressing.

COSTAS: We'll come back to the men's 100-meter final, but right now we're going to replay the video of Kerri Strug, an American, overcoming her ankle injury to make her courageous vault.

(Kerri Strug vaults.)

COSTAS: What a human moment! Time for a commercial....

COSTAS: We'll have more on that exciting cycling race, but right now we're going to return to the Olympic track stadium for an update on the men's 100-meter dash.

TRACK COMMENTATOR: Bob, the race started about two seconds ago and should be over in about eight more seconds. None of the Americans has fallen down.

COSTAS: We're going to break away from the men's 100-meter dash at this point, but we will be covering it throughout the course of the evening. Right now, however, we want you to see this moment, captured by our NBC cameras.

(Kerri Strug vaults.)

COSTAS: Now let's head out to the pool to check on the progress of the American swimmers, all of whom have overcome asthma.

SWIMMING COMMENTATOR: Bob, here we see an American swimmer winning a race. This happened earlier.

COSTAS: How much earlier?

SWIMMING COMMENTATOR: Twenty-four years, Bob. This is Mark Spitz.

And if you suspect that I'm still P.O.'ed that NBC offered more coverage of Michelle Kwan (who didn't compete in the 2006 Winter Olympics) vs. Kiira Korpi (who did)...well, let's just say I have a long memory.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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No, this doesn't mean that the Rams will beat the Lions in the Super Bowl - both are NFC teams 

It is an eerie coincidence.

Last week, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Detroit Tigers in baseball's World Series.

This week, the city of St. Louis defeated the city of Detroit in the race to be the most dangerous city in the U.S.

Here are the most dangerous cities (with 371 being the worst):

362. Gary, Ind.
363. Youngstown, Ohio
364. Oakland, Calif.
365. Cleveland
366. Birmingham, Ala.
367. Camden, N.J.
368. Compton, Calif.
369. Flint, Mich.
370. Detroit
371. St. Louis

And the safest:

1. Brick, N.J.
2. Amherst, N.Y.
3. Mission Viejo, Calif.
4. Newton, Mass.
5. Troy, Mich.
6. Colonie, N.Y.
7. Irvine, Calif.
8. Cary, N.C.
9. Greece, N.Y.
10. Coral Springs, Fla.

Ontario, California was number 204. Chino Hills was 21, Rancho Cucamonga 62, Chino 88, Fontana 167, Pomona 255. Claremont, Montclair, and Upland were not listed.

Interestingly enough, El Monte was higher than Ontario (163), and Santa Ana was also higher (170). And Berkeley was lower (226).

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Straight from Dilbert's mouth 

That's a joke. Or it isn't:

[Scott] Adams, 49, appears to be a rare example of someone who has largely — but not totally — recovered from Spasmodic Dysphonia, a mysterious disease in which parts of the brain controlling speech shut down or go haywire....

One of the most peculiar aspects of SD is that victims are typically unable to have intimate conversations in their normal voice. Yet they can speak under different circumstances, such as immediately after sneezing or laughing, or in an exaggerated falsetto or baritone, or while reciting poetry....

Patients are often so anxious about their speech that they stop breathing or have heart palpitations before trying to articulate their thoughts. There is no known cure — but many victims have improved their speech by changing tenor or pitch, or doing special breathing and relaxation exercises....

SD may be caused by a chromosomal abnormality that results in spasms of the vocal chords. It may cause spasms in the eyes, arms, legs and mouth. Many victims suffer multiple dystonias, or movement disorders.

Nearly three years ago, Adams developed a tremor in his right pinky whenever he tried to put pen to paper. He turned to a digital drawing tablet and stylus, and the spasms disappeared. Dilbert has been computer-generated ever since.

Then, Adams lost his voice in early 2005 following a bout with bronchitis and laryngitis. He withdrew; the thought of going to the grocery store without saying "hi" or "thank you" was depressing. Being unable to scream "fire!" or "watch out!" terrified him.

A specialist finally diagnosed Adams with SD and he began treatments of the tissue-paralyzing drug botulinum toxin [Botox]....

Adams...hated the injections.

His only comfort was that he could sing and recite poetry with only minimal gasping and stammering. He decided to recite nursery rhymes every night in hopes of "re-mapping" his brain.

Last weekend, Adams was chanting "Jack Be Nimble" for the umpteenth time when it dawned on him: He wasn't having a stitch of difficulty.

He's been talking ever since — albeit with a raspy, tinny voice that sounds as if he's still recovering from the flu.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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So, who HAVE I met? 

Now I've gotten to thinking of all of the famous people that I have met personally. Here are a few names that come immediately to mind. I'll grant that not every one of these people is of Gerald Ford stature, but they're still famous. And, as I've already noted, I met most of these people before they became famous (for example, I met DelBene in college, before she became DelBene), or after their fame had passed (for example, by the time I met President Ford, he was no longer president).

Suzan DelBene, technology executive
D. C. Fontana, television writer
Gerald R. Ford, Jr., former President of the United States
Lucy Garcia, television host and model
Jeff Henley, Chairman of the Board, Oracle
Chris Hesse, drummer, Hoobastank
Kiira Korpi, ice skater
Van McCoy, musician
Slim Whitman, musician

In addition, I've met famous family members, such as the son of George Shultz and the daughter of Richard Allen (although I didn't know it at the time).

So how did I meet these people? In most cases, it was the result of being at the right place at the right time. Van McCoy didn't visit a lot of junior high schools, but he chose to visit mine for personal reasons. I was invited to a holiday dinner once, and someone's sister Dorothy showed up. Funny how these things happen.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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More encounters with the famous 

I have encountered famous people on many occasions. However, with some exceptions, I usually encounter them before they become famous, or after their fame has faded. For example (emphasis mine):

[T]he David Tupaz Couture runway show...took place at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, of “Pretty Woman” fame. Preparations for the show began five hours in advance. Crew members prepared the posh ballroom which was lit white and gleaming with a crystal chandelier.

Though the show would no doubt be marked by excitement, a strange calm seemed to settle over the scene in the afternoon. Models lounged about with their hair would in miniature curls, pinned tightly in spiral shapes to their skulls. The male models gathered on the floor and engaged each other in idle conversation, the sounds of their words punctuated by hissing bursts from aerosol cans that were emanating from somewhere in the background.

I was there with my friend Lucy Garcia – a host on “Estudio Dos” - a Spanish music and variety show. On this particular day she was swapping hosting duties for modeling duties. Like many of the other models selected to don the clothes of Filipino designer David Tupaz, Lucy - with her rich olive-toned skin and dark and sultry eyes - exhibited an ethnic beauty. Among her compatriots was one young lady from the Ukraine, several African American and Latino models, and a handful with Mediterranean and Pacific Islander backgrounds.

The show went off splendidly - the models each doing justice to the exquisite creations of David Tupaz. The roster of celebrity guests in attendance was as multicultural as the roster of models. After the show I was delighted to find myself rubbing elbows with the likes of Jennifer Paz – a notable Broadway actress of Filipino descent who rose to stardom playing one of the female leads in “Miss Saigon” years ago – and Bai Ling – Chinese bombshell and Playboy bunny.

If the movie Zoolander has entered anything into the sphere of public knowledge, it is that any and every occasion in the fashion world is followed up with an after-party. The after-party for the Tupaz show took place in a packed hotel suite and was catered, to my surprise, with Filipino fare. I helped myself to skewers of barbequed meats, fluffy pan de sal, and sticky-sweet ensaymada (the models, of course, did not). In the afterglow of the show, I soaked up the atmosphere and reflected on my experience in a strange land in to which I was only a visitor, and one that was unnaturally common at that. If I clicked together the heels of my gaudy Payless shoes, would I be transported home?

Whereas I was impressed by it, the internationality of the whole affair seemed lost on everyone else, and appropriately so. At the end of the day, I was left with the overwhelming impression that in the world of high-fashion, to care too much about differences in ethnicity represented extremely bad form.

Ultimately, I could not decide whether the “colorblindness” of this world was a thing to be marveled at or lamented. Was ethnicity to be celebrated here only to the extent that it could lend distinctive beauty to one’s appearance? And if so, was the culture that lay behind a strikingly ethnic face being eclipsed so that the surface could shine more brightly?

No, I haven't seen Lucy Garcia in years. However, I am able to add one tidbit of information for those who are dying to know everything about Lucy. Lucy has flown an airplane. Ask her about it.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Nazi of the Day 

Here's an example of a corollary of Brendan Nyhan's argument, from Israel:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday compared Iran's nuclear ambitions and threats against Israel with the policies of Nazi Germany and criticized world leaders who maintain relations with Iran's president....

Israel has identified Iran as the greatest threat to the Jewish state. Israel's concerns have heightened since the election of Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who frequently calls for the destruction of Israel and has questioned whether the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews took place....

Olmert said Iran's nuclear program is designed to secure "conventional weapons with delivery systems" to annihilate Israel. He also criticized world leaders for maintaining relations with the Iranian president.

"It is the first time that a leader of a very big and important nation openly and publicly declares that an aim of his nation is to wipe off the map," Olmert said. "And this nation continues to be a legitimate member of the United Nations and leaders of many of the countries in the world receive the leader. They hardly do anything."

Olmert had a valid point - Iran is a destabilizing threat - but why did he have to drag Adolf Hitler into this? Oh, wait a minute - back in 2002, Iran did the same thing:

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused President Bush Wednesday of using the same language as Adolf Hitler to bully the world....

"Arrogance has drawn the bullying West into disgrace," the official IRNA news agency quoted Khamenei as saying, "and the president of a country which claims to support human rights and freedom speaks the same language to the people of the world as Hitler used."

Well, I'm glad we don't do this in the United States. Whoops:

"Ahmadinejad -- I call him Ahmad-in-a-head -- I think he's a Hitler type of person," Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

And all sorts of guerilla fights occur:

A now discredited article by Iranian-American and neocon chum Amir Taheri that appeared last Friday in the Canadian National Post suggested that new legislation in Iran would require Jews and other religious minorities to wear distinctive color badges....

In the case of the National Post story, blogger Taylor Marsh phoned the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which had confirmed Taheri's story after the report came out. A researcher Marsh spoke with on Friday "was eager to confirm it, using words like 'throwback' to the Nazi era, 'very true' and 'very scary.' ... "

Within the day, the story was repudiated. Middle East expert Juan Cole revealed that there was no evidence of any such anti-Jewish Iranian legislation, citing a report in the Australian press that quoted an Iranian politician denying its existence. Later in the day, Marsh again called the Wiesenthal Center and got the runaround. Looking at a fax the researcher sent her as background, Marsh discovered that the National Post had suggested to a rabbi at the Wiesenthal Center that it was important to "draw attention" to Taheri's report, exposing the scaffolding behind the propaganda effort.

Marsh concluded with the pointed question, "Who got the Simon Wiesenthal Center to stick their necks out on this bogus Iranian badge story, risking their very reputation and funding credibility, and who had what to gain by doing so?"

So if Bush isn't the new Hitler, and Ahmadinejad isn't the new Hitler, who is? Time to turn to Googlism. Excerpts below:

new hitler is foreign
new hitler is less of a danger to the world than "sane" world leaders with their fingers on the nuclear button
new hitler is slobadan milosevic
new hitler is born and the experiments are serbs
new hitler is a dangerous rhetorical device because it sets the stage for making his removal a criterion of success in nato's war against
new hitler is even more ruthless than his father
new hitler is popping up

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More on Justin Timberlake's "My Love" 


From the ASCAP perspective, "My Love" is a song by Clifford Harris, Timothy Z. Mosley, N. Hill, and Justin R. Timberlake. Yeah, and Undercover is a project of Messrs. Joseph Taylor and James Nicholson - sounds like barristers.

Here's Justin in Japan, singing "My Love."

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Who wrote that headline? 

Warning - this post goes all over the place. Fasten your seat belts now.

Reuters writer Ben Blanchard wrote a story that begins as follows:

BEIJING (Reuters) - Humans are stripping nature at an unprecedented rate and will need two planets' worth of natural resources every year by 2050 on current trends, the WWF conservation group said on Tuesday.

Populations of many species, from fish to mammals, had fallen by about a third from 1970 to 2003 largely because of human threats such as pollution, clearing of forests and overfishing, the group also said in a two-yearly report.

By the time I read the story on Yahoo, the following headline had been attached to the story:

Humans living far beyond planet's means: WWF

When I first read that headline, I began thinking that "humans living far beyond" refers to humans living too long. Then, when I noticed that the article was datedlined Beijing, the solution became obvious. Humans shouldn't live too long. Sounds like a solution, doesn't it?

Obviously, Beijing has already made wonderful progress on ensuring that humans aren't born in the first place (emphasis mine):

China.org.cn: Although the Population and Family Planning Law was formally implemented on September 1 [2002], family planning has actually been practiced as a basic policy of the nation for more than 20 years, proving highly effective. What was the central government’s original intention in creating such a law?

Zhao [Bingli, vice minister of the State Family Planning Commission]: Family planning affects all households since each person and each family must contend with the issue. Such a broad action needs a law to standardize its implementation. For example, what exactly are the people's rights and responsibilities in family planning? And what responsibilities should the government undertake in the process of implementing the law? All these aspects should be standardized by an act of law.

Actually, the government considered and discussed the legislation on family planning 20 years ago. Deng Xiaoping promoted the idea of family planning legislation as early as 1979. Chen Yun, another late Chinese leader, was also active. But conditions were not ripe at that time. The final promulgation and implementation of the Population and Family Planning Law was due to three factors: the central government attached a great deal of importance to the work; after years of implementing the basic policy it is now widely supported by the people; and a set of successive experiences have been formed which suit the country's current situation and modern economic and social development....

China.org.cn: Thirty years have passed since China introduced family planning policy. What is the country's population situation like today?

Zhao: After 30 years of efforts, exponential population growth has been effectively controlled, and some 300 million births have been prevented. Under undeveloped economic circumstances and in a relatively short period of time, the country has realized a remarkably low birth rate.

However, taking care of things at the beginning of life only addresses part of the WWF-identified problem. Despite the efforts of many, including Dr. Jack Kevorkian, humans are still just living too danged long. But "The Militant" disagrees:

A chorus of capitalist politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, is warning that the Social Security system will become bankrupt in the coming years because of the growing numbers of older workers. Seventy-seven million “baby boomers” are approaching retirement by the end of the decade, and young workers will bear an undue burden caused by older generations, they argue.

The old myth of overpopulation, of too many babies, is being replaced by the new myth of “too many old people.”

In the name of “saving” Social Security, some in ruling-class circles, such as Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan, have proposed raising the retirement age. Others, such as President George Bush, play on workers’ insecurity about the future in proposing individual retirement accounts, which they claim would give people more control over their own retirement money. But such “savings” can evaporate during a sharp financial crisis.

Democratic presidential contender John Kerry, like Bush, disingenuously declares that he would not cut current Social Security benefits. But Kerry has not rejected the proposal—designed to pit younger against older workers—to cut benefits for those who will retire in the coming decades.

The renewed assault on Social Security builds on an earlier attack that the Clinton administration launched in 1996 with virtually no opposition: the elimination of “welfare as we know it.” Abolishing Aid to Families with Dependent Children was the biggest single success of the U.S. rulers in beginning to erode the federal social security system, a conquest won by working people through the struggles that built the industrial unions in the 1930s and substantially expanded through the mass civil rights movement of the 1960s. Shortly before the end of his term, Clinton bragged that 8 million people had been slashed from state welfare rolls. It was the first time an entire category of working people was eliminated from such a social entitlement....

The capitalists view it as a “problem” that we are living longer. In the 1930s, life expectancy was below 65, so the government did not expect to have to pay more than a few years of Social Security benefits. Their hope is that after having squeezed as much labor out of us as possible for 50 or so years, we will die quickly and stop cutting into their profit margins.

The assault on the social wage is accompanied by a propaganda campaign to convince people that the conditions faced by the elderly are not a concern of younger or middle-aged workers. This is one of the various ways they try to tear up our class solidarity.

But there are plenty of non-militants that disagree. Take Baroness Mary Warnock:

A prominent British lawmaker has triggered an outcry by implying that elderly and very ill people should not only have the right, but the obligation to kill themselves rather than become a nuisance. The furor erupted as British lawmakers prepared to vote on a bill that critics worry could be used to sanction the killing of patients in a vegetative state.

"I couldn't bear hanging on and being such a burden on people," said Baroness Mary Warnock, an 80-year-old medical ethicist, philosopher and member of the upper House of Lords, in a weekend newspaper interview.

"In other contexts, sacrificing oneself for one's family would be considered good," she told the Sunday Times. "I don't see what is so horrible about the motive of not wanting to be an increasing nuisance."

"If I went into a nursing home, it would be a terrible waste of money that my family could use far better," Warnock added.

Later in the interview she said: "I am not ashamed to say some lives are more worth living than others," before conceding that "if someone else decides your life is not worth living, that is very dangerous."

And this unmilitant idea from avant.net:

Look for the exciting new campaign, crossing political, social, and psychological folkways, in this innovative new ideology. Appropriately, the Kill Old People campaign, (KOP), is about changing society's archtypes on the nature of the aging process and social standards associated with it. The antinomy of our troubled society is poignant in the dying misery found in the retirment communities, creating a mis-allocation of resources to fund the dying members of society so that the process can be a torturous one.

Bluegalaxy talked about a writing assignment:

This assignment we had to write why we should kill everyone when they turn seventy. Obviously, he had a warped sense of humor. I guess I did too.

Perhaps Winston heard another person from the same class:

Last night I heard, for the first time I am aware of, someone publicly promte killing old people to balance the budget.

..I don't think I got the guy's name, but I do remember part of his shtick...

.."Old people are too damn expensive to keep alive!! I don't want to give half my salary to keep useless old people alive!!!

..How long does the government say we should live? 75? Is that about it? OK, the next time I see some old man or woman shuffling across the crosswalk...I run over him/her!! If they're over 75...I get a pass. If they are say, 72...then I get a credit!!! You just collect those credits for long enough and they add up. Imagine you have a glovebox full of credits and your 17 year old tells you to STUFF IT!!! when you tell him to cut the grass. Normaly, you couldn't kill him and get away with it. But with enough credits ...you could!!"...

And the people laughed. But they didn't laugh in the Netherlands:

The Dutch have already progressed quite far down the slope that the opponents of euthanasia fear. It is estimated that at least twice as many people are now polished off by their doctors in Holland as are admitted to in the official figures; and most of the 'extras' are killed not because they want to die, but because their doctor (or legatee) wants them to die. Many old people in Holland are now afraid to go to their doctor in case they are (to use the term invented in Argentina during the Dirty War there) `suicided'.

Moreover, doctors have already killed people in Holland who were depressed or who merely feared that they would become disabled. It is as if the death-- dealing doctors are looking for new fields to conquer, as a prop to their own selfimportance. Who, after all, can be more important than a person with a licence to kill?

We may be sure also that the proponents of euthanasia will not rest on their laurels: they will want euthanasia to become a human right, like that of freedom of speech or assembly. In other words, doctors will not merely be permitted to kill their patients; they will be bound, legally, to do so. Any doctor who failed in this regard would face disciplinary action. Already Dutch doctors who are opposed to euthanasia have been informally penalised.

But you know that you've hit a hot button when the fascist label is attached:

"Nazi legislation and Hitler's ideas are reemerging in Europe via Dutch euthanasia laws and the debate on how to kill ill children." ... Carlo Giovanardi. Italian Parliamentary Affairs minister, March 2006.

Well, this wasn't written by a militant, nor was it written by a fascist:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

Carrie Gordon Earll, at Focus on the Family, answers a question about assisted suicide:

Q. Is there an example of assisted suicide in the Bible?

A. There is an account of reported voluntary euthanasia (in which one person asks another to kill them, ostensibly in order to alleviate the first person’s suffering) involving King Saul and an Amalekite (2 Samuel 1:1-16). The unnamed Amalekite tells King David that he killed Saul at Saul’s request, as Saul was wounded in battle. David’s response is to kill the Amalekite for touching God’s anointed. If euthanasia were a beneficial practice, David would have rewarded the Amalekite, not sentenced him to death.

But are we practicing other forms of assisted suicide? Ponder that question in light of what Pacific Views says:

"Gluttony — Wasting of food, either through overindulgence in food, drink or intoxicants, misplaced desire for food for its sensuality, or withholding food from the needy ("excessive love of pleasure" was Dante's rendering)."

Yes, we have a country that does indeed overindulge, but what I found interesting about this definition is that is goes right to the heart of another area where we are failing if we are truly to be an example of a “Christian nation”. We are miserly when it comes to sharing food with others that are poor in this country. And as our "faith-based" government cuts food stamps for the poor while giving tax breaks for the extremely wealthy, it is clear that this sin is another real problem for this government.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Continuing on the adoption thread 

While I've been talking about Steve Jobs' adoption, there's this other itty bitty adoption story that has made the headlines. I haven't said anything about it because I haven't really been following it. But that didn't stop me this morning.

While at church, I was talking to someone who is familiar with the Romanian adoption process (but not, as it turns out, with the Madonna Malawi story). I told her that I wasn't really familiar with the Madonna Malawi story either, other than knowing that the child's natural father is still living, and that he had consented to the adoption.

My friend explained to me that there are actually two kinds of orphanage placements. The first, with which I was familiar, is when no one claims parental rights for the child in the orphanage. This is true either in cases in which the parents are not known, or when the parents have legally signed away all rights to the child.

The second type of orphanage placement is when parents place the child in the orphanage, but do not sign away parental rights. In this case, the orphanage takes care of the child (presumably because the parents are unable to do so, because of poverty or other reasons), but the child is not a candidate to be adopted by other parents.

My friend guessed (again, neither of us knew the situation) that the child adopted by Madonna fell into the first category, in which the parent had signed away rights to the child, allowing Madonna to legally adopt the child (I'm dodging the question about foreigners adopting Malawi children here, which is a different issue).

Several hours after this conversation, I ran across this new bit of news:

A Malawian man who gave up his 13-month-old son to be adopted by Madonna said Sunday he had not realized he was signing away custody "for good."...

"Our understanding was that they would educate and take care of our son just as they were doing at the orphanage," the 32-year-old illiterate peasant farmer told The Associated Press....

Until now, [Yohane] Banda has said his decision was in the best interests of his motherless son and criticized local charities who have started legal proceedings to challenge the adoption.

Banda said his understanding was that "when David grows up he will return back home to his village." He said the director of Child Welfare Services, Penston Kilembe, and the retired pastor who heads the orphanage where David spent most of his life never told him by "adoption" it meant David will cease to be his son.

"If we were told that she wants to take the baby as her own we could not have consented, because I see no reason why I should give away my son," he said.

Banda's wife died shortly after childbirth...and he left his son with the orphanage....

Banda said he was illiterate and so had no idea of the significance of the adoption papers he signed....

"Mr. Kilembe and the pastor explained to me that Madonna would take care of my son; I am just realizing now the meaning of adoption," he said, claiming that he has no copies of documents pertaining to the adoption. "All the documents are with Mr. Kilembe," he said.

Kilembe refused to comment on Sunday....

Banda's claims were corroborated by his cousin, Wiseman Zimba, and mother, Asineti Mwale.

"Our understanding as family is that David is still part and parcel of our clan," Zimba said. "After the good woman nurtures and educates him, he will return back."...

However, the family insisted that it did not want David to return to the orphanage.

"We are still thankful Madonna has rescued him from poverty and disease; we pray for the good Lord to keep blessing her for her benevolence," Banda said.

But this isn't just an issue in Malawi. The Australian government issued a report on the forcible removal of indigenous children. Here are some brief excerpts:

A common practice was simply to remove the child forcibly, often in the absence of the parent but sometimes even by taking the child from the mother's arms. The law firm Phillips Fox advised the Inquiry that `[o]ne of our clients had instructed us that he was taken from his parents while his mother was in hospital having her fourth child. Another client was one of six children taken from their home by the police while their mother was in hospital having her seventh child' (Phillips Fox Melbourne submission 20 page 5, both clients named).

In a letter to the WA Commissioner of Native Affairs in November 1943, Inspector Bisley of Port Hedland wrote, `I recommend that this child be removed when she is old enough as she will be probably handed over to some aged blackfellow at an early age'....

"I remember another friend of mine in St Ives. She wanted to adopt a little Aboriginal baby. And she was telling me when she got this little one that she went out to the mission and said she wanted a little baby boy. The mission manager said, `Mrs J has a couple of boys [already], we'll take her third one'. So they adopted that child. If Mrs J would have objected, she said the welfare officer says, `Well, if you don't give us that child, we'll take the other two'."...

The `Harold Blair Holiday Schemes', which was basically run by Mr Killoran in Brisbane through the Queensland Aboriginal Affairs Department, would organise holiday homes over the Christmas holidays in Melbourne [for Queensland children]. After three weeks ... the couple would say, `I'd love to keep little Mary for a little longer'. `Sure you can keep Mary a little longer.' No reference to the parents. Within a few months the next question, `Could I adopt Mary?'. `Yeah, you can adopt Mary.' This was not an AWB [Aborigines Welfare Board] Victorian adoption. It was done through the Queensland Native Affairs Department, direct adoption kind of by mail order and by phone call....

And for those who think that placing a poor kid in a rich family will give them opportunities, the Australian data suggests otherwise:

A three-year longitudinal study undertaken in Melbourne during the mid-1980s revealed the numerous differences between respondents removed in childhood (33%) and those who were raised by their families or in their communities (67%). Those removed were,

* less likely to have undertaken a post secondary education;

* much less likely to have stable living conditions and more likely to be geographically mobile;

* three times more likely to say they had no-one to call on in a crisis;

* less likely to be in a stable, confiding relationship with a partner;

* twice as likely to report having been arrested by police and having been convicted of an offence;

* three times as likely to report having been in gaol;

* less likely to have a strong sense of their Aboriginal cultural identity, more likely to have discovered their Aboriginality later in life and less likely to know about their Aboriginal cultural traditions;

* twice as likely to report current use of illicit substances; and

* much more likely to report intravenous use of illicit substances (Dr Jane McKendrick, Victorian Aboriginal Mental Health Network, submission 310 page 22).

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Adoption, Reed College, Nurture, and Nature 

I've been blogging a lot about college in one of my other blogs, but I never got around to excerpting from this Steve Jobs address.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

Incidentally, Frederic Alan Maxwell provides the other half of the adoption story:

While this anecdote made a compelling opening for Jobs’ bravura speech to a football stadium full of new college graduates and their parents, the details that Jobs left out are even more intriguing. The missing piece is the identity of his biological father, whose strange story, uncovered here for the first time, provides fresh insight into the sources of character that have made Steve Jobs one of the greatest icons of American business....

And it turns out that Jobs, arguably the most fascinating figure in both Silicon Valley and Hollywood, can make yet another claim to exceptionalism: he is the most prominent living Arab-American. His biological father, Abdulfattah Jandali, immigrated from his native Syria at the age of 21 in 1952.

His identity was outed, albeit obscurely, by Jobs’ sister, Mona Simpson, the critically-acclaimed, best-selling novelist. She was born two and a half years after Jobs to the same parents, who chose to keep and raise their second child.

I'll return to this shortly, but back to Jobs and college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it....So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting....

And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Back to one of the tangential ramifications of the Frederic Alan Maxwell material:

The family’s saga is also a revealing case study in the classic debate of nature vs. nurture. Jobs’ personality—his intelligence, creativity, ambitiousness, charm, egomania, iconoclasm, and risk-taking—seems drawn almost entirely from those of his birth parents, whom he never knew growing up, rather than the adoptive parents who raised him.

And Mona Simpson?

Mona Simpson was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1957; when she was ten, her parents separated and she moved with her mother to California....

After getting her B.A. in creative writing at Berkeley, she did an M.F.A. at Columbia, where she began work on Anywhere But Here. Upon finishing her M.F.A. she worked for several years as an editor at the Paris Review. Since the enormous success of Anywhere But Here, Simpson has written The Lost Father and A Regular Guy, which have contributed further to her impressive critical reputation.

In an article that was written at the time of Jobs' return to Apple, the dots were connected:

Adopted as a baby, Jobs was reared in a middle-class household in Los Altos by Clara, an accountant, and Paul Jobs, a machinist for a company that made lasers. (Both of them are deceased.) Steve remembers Paul as a "genius with his hands." He bought junkyard cars for $50, fixed them up and sold them to students for a profit. "That was my college fund," Jobs says. He was clearly close to his adoptive father. Asked what he wants to pass onto his children, Jobs answers: "Just to try to be as good a father to them as my father was to me. I think about that every day of my life."

But, Jobs says, since he was a teen-ager he had made occasional efforts to locate his biological family. He had nearly given up when he discovered, at the age of 27, that his biological parents had another child later whom they had kept, his younger sister. For reasons of privacy, Jobs explains, he won't discuss his biological parents or how he ultimately tracked down his sister.

As it turns out, his sister is the novelist Mona Simpson, whose new book, "A Regular Guy," is about a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who bears a striking resemblance to Steve Jobs. After they met, Jobs forged a relationship with her, often visiting her in Manhattan, where she lived and still maintains an apartment. Theirs is a connection that, to this day, neither Jobs nor Simpson have discussed in the press, and now do so sparingly. "My brother and I are very close," Simpson says. "I admire him enormously."

Jobs says only: "We're family. She's one of my best friends in the world. I call her and talk to her every couple of days."

For years, the two kept their relationship to themselves. Then, in 1986, George Plimpton, for whom Simpson had worked at The Paris Review, gave a party for her first novel, "Anywhere but Here." Simpson arrived with her mother, Joanne, and Steve Jobs. "I had known Mona for quite a while," recalls Amanda Urban, Simpson's literary agent. "She had said she had a brother who worked in the computer industry. But that party was the first time I learned that her brother was Steve Jobs."

Simpson and Jobs decline to discuss the circumstances that led their biological parents to put Steve up for adoption. When he was born, his parents were unmarried; they had married by the time Mona was born, two and a half years later. She grew up in Green Bay, Wis.; according to a biographical blurb in a literary magazine, her father was a political science professor and her mother was a speech therapist. Simpson's novels tend to be populated by eccentric mothers and absent fathers (her second book is "The Lost Father"); her parents separated when she was 10, and she moved to Los Angeles with her mother as a teen-ager.

Jobs will say nothing about his biological father, but says that he does keep in touch with Joanne Simpson and invites her to some of his family gatherings. (She declined to comment for this article.) He seems grateful for her long-ago decision to have him and put him up for adoption. "There was never any acrimony between us," he says. Yet, biological roots aside, Jobs holds a firm belief that Paul and Clara Jobs were his true parents. A mention of his "adoptive parents" is quickly cut off. "They [were] my parents," he says emphatically....

"A Regular Guy," published last fall by Knopf, has received mixed reviews. It is about a Silicon Valley biotech entrepreneur named Tom Owens who becomes wealthy and famous and then loses control of his company to more practical business types. But the novel is primarily a dissection of relationships, the central one being the uncertainly developing bond between Owens and Jane, his out-of-wedlock daughter who shows up at his doorstep, unbidden, at the age of 10. Owens is an eccentric egotist: he's too busy to flush toilets, doesn't believe in deodorant and lives in a couple rooms in a sprawling mansion. He treats people, including Jane, with an emotional coolness that borders on cruelty. Eventually, though, Owens slows down, marries and embraces family life. "It's a lot more important than work," he says.

Given the similarities between Tom Owens and Steve Jobs, most of the book's reviewers have mentioned the Simpson-Jobs family tie. (Though never officialy confirmed, the relationship has been well known in publishing circles.) It would be hard not to notice: Owens is a vegetarian, blue-jeans-wearing iconoclast who believes in the virtues of market competition in business, education and elsewhere; ditto Jobs.

How much of himself does Jobs see in Tom Owens? "About 25 percent of it is totally me, right down to the mannerisms," he says. "And I'm certainly not telling you which 25 percent." Simpson must have known that people would make the comparison, often to Jobs's detriment; does he feel she exploited or betrayed him? "Of course not," he says with a dismissive wave. "It's a novel."

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Rhythmic Gymnastics 

I have a friend of a friend who is heavily into rhythmic gymnastics - something about which I know nothing. Enter Wikipedia:

Rhythmic gymnastics is a sport in which single competitors or groups of two or more manipulate five types of apparatus: Ball, Clubs, Hoop, Ribbon, and Rope. It combines elements of ballet, gymnastics, theatrical dance, and apparatus manipulation. The victor is the participant who earns the most points, as awarded by a panel of judges, for leaps, balances, pivots, flexibility, apparatus handling and artistic effect.

Here's a sample of rhythymic gymnastics (with emphasis on flexibility):

rythmic gymnastics competition

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And here's another:

Alexandra Orlando

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The sport was even featured in a Bernie Mac episode:

'Eye of the Tiger' (episode #45)

Shaquille O'Neal has a cameo, and Jordan drops basketball for rhythmic gymnastics, to the horror of Bernie, who finds it embarrassing and effeminate. Jordan: Jeremy Suarez. Vanessa: Camille Winbush. Wanda: Kellita Smith.

Back to Wikipedia:

Rhythmic gymnastics is largely a sport for women and girls, but a growing number of men participate. The Japanese's version of Men's rhythmic gymnastics includes tumbling and is performed on a spring floor. Points are awarded based a 10-point scale that measures the level of difficulty of the tumbling and apparatus handling. Individuals compete in four types of apparatus: rope, stick, double rings and clubs. Groups do not use any apparatus. Japan hosted the first men's world championships in 2003, drawing teams from Canada, Korea, Malaysia, and the United States.

Whew. And I thought bellydancing was hard.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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