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Friday, December 29, 2006

Dana Carvey Movie Comes to Life 


It's a wonder that no one has attached the suffix "gate" to this little issue.

Careful readers of the Washington Post obituary for Gerald Ford will notice that said obituary was written by J. Y. Smith and Lou Cannon.

However, I kinda sorta suspect that it was Cannon, not Smith, who made the final revisions to the obituary copy.

Why do I suspect this? Because J. Y. Smith himself died almost a year ago.

Wonkette provides details:


As Drudge so cruelly notes, Washington Post obituary writer J.Y. Smith died nearly a year before he reported on Gerald Ford’s tragic death in today’s paper. How did Joe Smith do it? Did he return from Beyond the Grave, possibly to help the ghost of James Brown in killing the 93-year-old ex-prez?

Probably, but this is also another reminder that obits are waiting on pretty much every public figure — especially anyone older than 50.



So why does Smith still get credit for something that he drafted some time ago? Because it turns out that Smith was Mr. Obituary:


J.Y. Smith, 74, a former foreign correspondent who transformed the backwater reputation of The Washington Post obituaries desk as its first official editor, died Jan. 17 at his home in Annandale. He had lung cancer....

Mr. Smith helped cover the trial of the Hanafi Muslims who in 1977 armed themselves heavily, took hostages and shot up a city government building, the Islamic Center and B'nai B'rith International. One person was killed.

Until that time, Metro editors routinely tapped young, inexperienced or bored-looking staffers to write the major obits that flashed across the wire. The "anybody free?" method had persisted even as The Post emerged as a national newspaper in the early 1970s by publishing the Pentagon Papers and breaking the Watergate scandal.

The Post's obit tactics at the time contrasted embarrassingly with policies in force at other leading papers, from the Times of London to the New York Times, which had dedicated staff members to craft prominent obituaries....

In 1977, [Leonard] Downie [Jr.] had a large part in Mr. Smith being named the obituaries editor.

The beginning was not particularly easy, with Mr. Smith writing on deadline about figures as diverse as silent-film genius Charlie Chaplin and Hitler associate Albert Speer. He managed many gems despite the immediacy of deadlines....

The job was often filled with pressures, but he was attuned to the necessity of compassion and appreciation of a life. "The occasion for obituaries is death, which is sad. But the subject of obituaries is life itself, which is wonderful," he once wrote....

His tenure as The Post's obituaries editor from 1977 to 1988 coincided with the first deaths from AIDS. Mr. Smith retained a staunch belief that "the newspaper has a duty to reflect the world as it really is," he wrote in The Post in 1987. "That is the whole point of journalism, and it is the single best reason for citing AIDS as a cause of death."

He suggested that those wishing to conceal information or have entire control over content could buy a paid death notice.

"People try to deny painful memories," he wrote. "In this way death is the enemy of common sense and, unless one is very careful, death always wins. Denying painful memories is to deny part of the life itself."



Witness the following in Smith's own obituary:


Mr. Smith had a complex history at The Post. He was admired for the crispness of his storytelling and the breadth of his capabilities, but he also was an alcoholic and his addiction made him erratic for years until he joined Alcoholics Anonymous and quit drinking in 1983....

In 1989, when Redskins player Dexter Manley was disciplined by the National Football League after he tested positive for substance abuse, Mr. Smith discussed publicly his own addiction to alcohol and his recovery.

"I first hit bottom when I was arrested for driving while intoxicated," he wrote. "Some years later, after another period of drinking and recovery, I found myself living in a dark little room in a blighted neighborhood where not even the best days found much of happiness and where the police were always in the local convenience store and fast-food outlet to keep peace among the inhabitants.

"My anchor at that time was the people who could help me with alcoholism. The truth is that because I asked every day for help I wasn't even tempted to pick up a drink."



Smith's obituary, incidentally, was written by Adam Bernstein.

I think.

Incidentally, there is no evidence that either Smith or Ford died from being eaten by wolves.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Information on the greatest 20th century U.S. president here)

(0) comments links to this post

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Rest of the Bob Woodward Interview 


Until I returned home from my trip to Las Vegas, the only part of the Bob Woodward interview of Gerald Ford that was receiving coverage was Ford's criticism of the Bush administration stance on Iraq. From the article:


Ford "very strongly" disagreed with the current president's justifications for invading Iraq and said he would have pushed alternatives, such as sanctions, much more vigorously....

"Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction," Ford said. "And now, I've never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do."...

"Well, I can understand the theory of wanting to free people," Ford said, referring to Bush's assertion that the United States has a "duty to free people." But the former president said he was skeptical "whether you can detach that from the obligation number one, of what's in our national interest." He added: "And I just don't think we should go hellfire damnation around the globe freeing people, unless it is directly related to our own national security."



But other portions of Woodward's article were equally fascinating - at least to me. Here's part of what Ford said about Henry Kissinger:


"I think he was a super secretary of state," Ford said, "but Henry in his mind never made a mistake, so whatever policies there were that he implemented, in retrospect he would defend."...

Kissinger remained a challenge for Ford. He regularly threatened to resign, the former president recalled. "Over the weekend, any one of 50 weekends, the press would be all over him, giving him unshirted hell. Monday morning he would come in and say, 'I'm offering my resignation.' Just between Henry and me. And I would literally hold his hand. 'Now, Henry, you've got the nation's future in your hands and you can't leave us now.' Henry publicly was a gruff, hard-nosed, German-born diplomat, but he had the thinnest skin of any public figure I ever knew."

Ford added, "Any criticism in the press drove him crazy." Kissinger would come in and say: "I've got to resign. I can't stand this kind of unfair criticism." Such threats were routine, Ford said. "I often thought, maybe I should say: 'Okay, Henry. Goodbye,' " Ford said, laughing. "But I never got around to that."



But Ford was also critical of himself:


He recalled, for example, his unsuccessful 1976 campaign to remain in office, when he was under enormous pressure to dump Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller from the Republican ticket. Some polls at the time showed that up to 25 percent of Republicans, especially those from the South, would not vote for Ford if Rockefeller, a New Yorker from the liberal wing of the Republican Party, was on the ticket.

When Rockefeller offered to be dropped from the ticket, Ford took him up on it. But he later regretted it. The decision to dump the loyal Rockefeller, he said, was "an act of cowardice on my part."



And Ford held his tongue on one other matter:


After Saigon fell in 1975 and the United States evacuated from Vietnam, Ford was often labeled the only American president to lose a war. The label always rankled.

"Well," he said, "I was mad as hell, to be honest with you, but I never publicly admitted it."



From the Ontario Empoblog (Information on the greatest 20th century U.S. president here)

(1) comments links to this post

Is this progress? 


Perhaps this belongs in the Technoblog, but I'm not sure.

I was looking at Wikitree's genealogical entry for Leslie Lynch King, Sr. and noticed the following (emphasis mine):


Gender (at birth): male


And no, I was unable to find a Walter Carlos entry in Wikitree.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Information on the greatest 20th century U.S. president here)

(0) comments links to this post

Alexander Cockburn Raked the Lawn 


Let's look at this, which was written after the November 2000 elections:


And our greatest president? One who never even received a popular mandate either as veep or president: Gerald Ford. Here's fresh evidence of his sterling merits, just in from a new report by the House Budget Committee's Democratic minority staff tabulating growth of non-defense appropriations by presidency. Average annual percent change in real outlays, adjusted for timing shifts. Ford (1973-1977) -- 7.2 percent; Nixon (1969-1973) -- 4.3 percent; Bush (1989-1993) -- 3.8 percent; Johnson (1965-1969) -- 2.7 percent; Carter (1977-1981) -- 2.2 percent; Clinton (1993-2001) -- 2.0 percent; Reagan (1981-1989) -- -1.3 percent. A true heir to FDR in public disbursements and the only White House denizen indisputably elevated to that position without vote fraud.


From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)


[12/28/2006 - my del.icio.us tags for Gerald R. Ford Jr. are here.]

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I'm Gerald Ford And You're Not 


From a live chat that Scholastic held in 1995 with Gerald Ford:


Question: Really, what DID you think of Chevy Chase's impersonations of you? Did you ever meet him? -- Mrs. Arlene Gaudioso's Fifth Grade, Rohrerstown Elementary School, Lancaster, PA.

President Ford: I enjoyed, up to a point, Chevy Chase's impersonations. Yes, my wife and I have met and had an opportunity to get acquainted with Chevy Chase. He is a very skillful entertainer who had a sharp and penetrating sense of humor. I have learned over the years in the political arena that you cannot be thin-skinned. You have to take the good with the bad.



From Reuters/Yahoo:


Comedian Chevy Chase...praised the former president on Wednesday and said they later became friendly in spite of the biting comedy routines....

"He had never been elected period, so I never felt that he deserved to be there to begin with," the actor said about Ford, who died on Tuesday at age 93. "That was just the way I felt then as a young man and as a writer and a liberal."

"Later on we became friends and he was a very, very sweet man," Chase said in a telephone interview from a Colorado ski resort. "He took my wife and I on a whole lovely trip through Grand Rapids to show us where he had been as a child and what not. We kept in touch and he was just a terrific guy."



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)


[12/28/2006 - my del.icio.us tags for Gerald R. Ford Jr. are here.]

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A Non-Beltway Perspective on the Death of Gerald Ford 


When you're traveling, you're cut off from your usual information sources. As a result, I learned of Gerald Ford's death from a news break on ESPN Radio 920 in Las Vegas.

For those who don't know, there was a reason that ESPN Radio covered the Ford story:


Ford was one of the nation's fittest and most athletic presidents.

Ford, who has died at age 93, played center on the University of Michigan football team, where he was a three-year letter winner. His teams enjoyed consecutive undefeated, national championship seasons in 1932 and 1933. He was the Wolverines' most valuable player in 1934 and, on Jan. 1, 1935, he played in a college all-star game known today as the East West Shrine Game....

After graduating from Michigan, Ford turned down offers from the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers to play in the National Football League, said Don Holloway, curator of Ford's presidential museum in Grand Rapids.

Instead, Ford went to Yale University to become an assistant football and boxing coach, with the hope that it would help him get accepted into Yale Law School. Ironically, his coaching duties delayed his acceptance until spring 1938.



And the rest is, quite literally, history.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)


[12/28/2006 - my del.icio.us tags for Gerald R. Ford Jr. are here.]

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New York Times - Gerald Ford Was Right, Part Two 


Here comes another one, courtesy the New York Times obituary:


Mr. Ford’s decision to back the 1975 Helsinki Accords was furiously criticized in 1976 by both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. They complained that it had legitimized the post-World War II borders in Europe. But in his book “The Cold War: A New History” (Penguin, 2005), John Lewis Gaddis of Yale wrote that the pact’s commitment to “human rights and fundamental freedoms” became a trap for the Soviet Union, which was facing ever-bolder condemnations by dissidents.

“Thousands of people who lacked the prominence of Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov began to stand with them in holding the U.S.S.R. and its satellites accountable for human rights,” Mr. Gaddis wrote. The Helsinki process, he added, became “the basis for legitimizing opposition to Soviet rule.”



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)


[12/28/2006 - my del.icio.us tags for Gerald R. Ford Jr. are here.]

(0) comments links to this post

New York Times - Gerald Ford Was Right, Part One 


Any discussion of the White Album will have to wait.

From the New York Times:


The pardon, intensely unpopular at the time, came to be generally viewed as correct. In May 2001, Mr. Ford was honored with a “Profile in Courage” Award at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. Senator Edward M. Kennedy spoke and said he had originally opposed the pardon. “But time has a way of clarifying past events,” he said, “and now we see that President Ford was right.”


From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)


[12/28/2006 - my del.icio.us tags for Gerald R. Ford Jr. are here.]

(0) comments links to this post

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Name of the Blog is James Brown, James Brown 


Christmas brought me, among other things (one very pertinent to this blog) the CD with the enhanced version of "The Name of This Band is Talking Heads," something that I owned (in its unenhanced version) on cassette years and years ago. More about this CD later, but for now suffice it to say that the concerts on the CD predate the "Stop Making Sense" concert, which included one non-Talking Heads, song, "Gratuitous Name-Dropping." No, that was not the official name of the Tom Tom Club song, but it might as well have been, with the references to Sly and Robbie Shakespeare, etc., etc. ad nauseum, concluding with Chris Frantz repeatedly saying "James Brown...James Brown...."

Credit Michael Hanscom for bringing this piece of relevant news to my attention this Christmas day:


James Brown, the dynamic, pompadoured "Godfather of Soul," whose rasping vocals and revolutionary rhythms made him a founder of rap, funk and disco as well, died early Monday, his agent said. He was 73.

Brown was hospitalized with pneumonia at Emory Crawford Long Hospital on Sunday and died around 1:45 a.m. Monday....

Along with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and a handful of others, Brown was one of the major musical influences of the past 50 years. At least one generation idolized him, and sometimes openly copied him....

His rapid-footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson among others. Songs such as David Bowie's "Fame," Prince's "Kiss," George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" and Sly and the Family Stone's "Sing a Simple Song" were clearly based on Brown's rhythms and vocal style....



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

(2) comments links to this post

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Snohomish Responds to the Post-Brett Karch Characterization of Their Town 


Remember how I said that there could be more to this story than meets the eye? Well, the mayor of Snohomish and the superintendent of schools have responded to the negative picture of the citizens of Snohomish.


DRAFT 12/21/06
Op-Ed Submission to the Post-Intelligencer
By Randy Hamlin, Mayor of Snohomish and Dr. William Mester, Superintendent
of Schools for the Snohomish School District

We read with great interest the article in the Seattle P-I about the threats made
against Brett Karch, a student and JROTC member whose leg was severely
injured when a ceremonial cannon exploded near him during a Snohomish High
School football game. As a result of an ongoing investigation, criminal charges
have been forwarded to their prosecutor by the City of Everett against one of the
two individuals who apparently placed threats against Brett while he was
hospitalized in Everett.

Like many of the P-I’s readers, we are both saddened and angry about this
incident. It appears that Brett Karch has been victimized by one or two
individuals who displayed an inhuman lack of compassion and a wildly misplaced
sense of values. We were shocked to read that an injured high school student
would be threatened—while still in his hospital bed—by one or more adults more
concerned about maintaining the tradition of this cannon’s use during football
games than they are about his well-being and recovery.

The P-I story and its blog site resulted in generating nearly 400 emails sent to the
City of Snohomish. Many of these email messages understandably expressed
outrage at the idea of a student being threatened by adults who wanted to ensure
the continuance of this football game tradition. We were dismayed, however, in
seeing that many of these emails also asserted that such behavior by these
individuals may somehow represent the values of our community.

We would encourage the P-I’s readers to not judge an entire community by the
actions of a very few. Snohomish is a town of 9,000 people and the school
district area that feeds our single high school contains 30,000 people. In fact, the
Snohomish community and school district have reached out to support Brett
Karch and his family.

In the two weeks of hospital confinement Brett received regular visits from
teachers, school and district administrators and students representing JROTC
and student body. Several hundred get well cards were sent to Brett from the
high school students; the football team sent Brett an autographed football to
express their support. In November, JROTC students went to Brett’s house to
bring his recliner from home to the school so he could attend the JROTC annual
ball. He was also warmly greeted by his high school peers at the annual
Veterans’ Day Assembly, where he was honored for his service to JROTC and
Snohomish High School. Additionally, significant assistance to the Karch family
has been coordinated through a local community church. Unfortunately, it
appears one or two people have tarnished this reputation by their behavior.

Most people of our community were unaware of what was happening because
the City of Everett police have investigated quietly as is the normal course in
such criminal matters. We anticipate now that information is being released, our
community will continue to reach out to Brett and his family during his recovery.

We encourage Brett Karch and his family not to be intimidated by anyone who
would expect anything less than honesty in this matter. We also urge swift and
just outcomes for any individuals found guilty of making threats against this
young man. These are the values that we believe truly represent the vast
majority of our community.



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

(2) comments links to this post

The Power of the Media - Are the People of Snohomish, Washington TRULY Evil Grinches Who Want Brett Karch to Die a Miserable Death? 


I forget who said that if it's in print, it must be true, but that person would certainly take note of the snowballing ramifications of a single news article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. (Thanks to Michael Hanscom for tagging this particular item.)


The cannon shot that ripped into Brett Karch's leg, causing a gaping combat-style wound, has also torn a hole in his hometown community of Snohomish.

Karch, whose leg was nearly amputated and who faces more than a year of physical rehabilitation with an uncertain outcome, has been the target of physical threats because of fears his injury will jeopardize the community's tradition of firing the ceremonial cannon before each high school football game and after touchdowns....

But the shot that nearly took off Brett Karch's leg now leaves the fate of that tradition in the air, and that has upset some in the community.

According to Karch's medical records, security guards notified police after Karch received disturbing phone calls and visits from parents and students, some of whom threatened to "break his other leg" or worse, if he didn't keep quiet about the accident. Hospital staff had to move him to a secure room where they monitored visitors.

Callers and visitors told Karch they would "make sure his other leg got blown off," and that "there would be retaliation" if the family cooperated in an investigation that could end the cannon tradition, said Mary Bissel, Karch's mother. "That's when I kind of got a little upset," Karch said.


The threats also included mention the family would be "banned from the town," Bissell said. She's been warned not to talk to a lawyer, or reporters.

The allegations of threats, as well as the cause of the accident, remain under investigation. Hospital security reported the threats to the Everett Police Department, but police, who came to the hospital to interview Karch and his mother, won't release the incident report, citing the open investigation into the cause of the accident.



The article, written by Carol Smith, is the only media coverage that I have been able to find of this incident, although other media sources have derived stories based upon Carol Smith's article (but adding no new information).

For what it's worth, one should note that a news report often only gives part of the full story of what's going on. Carol Smith concentrated her story on the perspective of Brett Karch and his mother. I don't believe that Smith had any journalistic obligation to interview every resident of Snohomish, but I believe that we the readers of the story had an obligation to realize that parts of the story may not yet have been told.

However, some readers have taken Smith's story as the full and complete gospel truth, and drawn conclusions about the residents of Snohomish.

Exhibit One: a petition against the ridiculous acts of Snohomish:


Many people through news communities on the internet such as Fark and Digg (others may be unlisted) and other news headlines on the internet were VERY upset to read what the community of Snohomish has actually done. Through these articles we found out the true nature of many in the Snohomish community, eager for football and willing to risk a life for it. This petition is being started to show every single person who cares about a sport over the well-being of a human being, that there are A LOT of people out there who think they are irrational and are the best examples of the sad people in this world.


Now, when did Carol Smith claim that the entire town of Snohomish exhibits this so-called "true nature"? Assuming the facts in the story are accurate, it's likely that only a few people made the threats. Does that mean that the entire town should be tarred and feathered?

Let's move on to Exhibit Two, a fundraiser:


Brett Karch, an ROTC student, almost lost his leg due to a cannon explosion at a football game. The town's reaction? Threaten to break his other leg if the story gets out to the media causing them to possibly lose their ritual shooting of the cannon during football games....Just because a small ignorant town turns their back on Brett does not mean we will.


Again, how do we conclude that the entire town of Snohomish is united in their contempt of Brett Karch? I'll grant that no one came to his party, but perhaps there are other reasons for this that Carol Smith was unable to uncover.

Let's give Snohomish the benefit of the doubt. I can't fathom that the entire town is football-happy. In fact, if you go to the school district itself, you'll see that they are devoted to general education, and in fact have set up a scholarship fund:


The Dick Armstrong Memorial Scholarship Fund is dedicated to the memory of Dick Armstrong, former Snohomish High School teacher and football coach. The Snohomish Education Foundation is working in cooperation with a group of alumni to create a scholarship fund in his honor. The Fund has been established to help create a life-size bronze statue of Armstrong at Veterans Memorial Stadium....


Um...umm...yeah, Snohomish is...dedicated to education! Yes, that's wonderful! Let's read on for the educational content:


Snohomish High School alumni spanning 32 years are working together to honor their former football coach and teacher, Dick Armstrong.

Armstrong started his career in Snohomish in 1963 as a biology and physical education teacher and—unforgettably—as head football coach.



Note the importance of Armstrong's work as a biology teacher, and the lasting impact that this has had on the community - impact that lasted for nearly half a sentence.

OK, maybe I chose a bad example.

Let's see the initial local coverage of the explosion. This was published on Friday, October 13, 2006:


Future of school cannon unclear
The Snohomish High School cannon blew up during a game last week.

By Melissa Slager
Herald Writer

It remains to be seen if a 36-year-old tradition will go by the wayside next week when Snohomish High School holds its next football game.

A smoke-blowing, booming cannon that marked the start of each home game and Panther touchdown since 1970 blew up at the homecoming game Oct. 6, seriously injuring one student and causing minor injuries to four others.

"At this point we have not determined anything with the cannon," said Shannon Parthemer, a spokeswoman for the district. "The school district's primary concern remains the welfare of the students involved."

A sophomore boy remains hospitalized at Providence Everett Medical Center's Colby campus after being injured by the blast.

He has had multiple surgeries on his leg, according to school staff. The family requested his name not be released.

Four other students received minor injuries and were released at the game to their parents....

Mack and other school staff have visited the injured boy in the hospital.

"He seemed upbeat, was talkative and alert," Mack said. The boy's hospital room is decorated with "Get Well" cards. "He thinks the hospital food is great."



Again, if you look at Melissa Slager's article, you get an entirely different perspective of the same situation. The boy is getting a a lot of visitors. People are sending "Get Well" cards. Things sound wonderful.

Of course, you can read between the lines of Slager's article, and note that there's no evidence of anyone other than school staff visiting the boy. And why is the boy anonymous?

Frankly, I think that Slager and Smith are probably missing a huge chunk of the story. For example, what if the ROTC members are considered the school nerds, and Karch is considered the nerdiest of the nerds? Or perhaps Karch's mother caught Snohomish's mayor snorting cocaine under the football bleachers. We just don't know.

But I suspect that the popular vision of an entire town wanting to break both of Brett Karch's legs is not the truth.

[FOLLOWUP: SNOHOMISH RESPONDS.]

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

(3) comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My name is Michael, I've got a nickel 


I just wanted to say that this "Bean Runt" thing probably won't go anywhere. After all, my Rita Moreno of Arte thing never took off.

Postscript - now I know why Clint Holmes is famous.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

(0) comments links to this post

Does Bean Runt wear small shoes? 


If this were a hospital, I would present the material below in an orderly fashion.

I am capable of doing this, as my previous post about Joyce "Troutgirl" Park indicates.

Actually, I am presenting this in an orderly fashion, but perhaps the order isn't apparent to the casual reader. (Think of the order of the White Album and you'll be in sync.)

Let's start with this blog post written on November 14, 2006:


If you want further proof that this language of ours is utter chaos, then here is something that was written by Dr. Gerald Nolst Trenite (1870-1946), a Dutch observer of English.

Try reading this aloud and try and imagine how hard it would be for a NON native english person. Apparantly a Frenchman said he’d prefer six months at hard labor to reading six lines aloud. Try them yourself....

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.



You caught the key word in that post, didn't you? Hint: rhymes with booze.

Now let's go to the same blog and find a poultry joke from October 4, 2006.


Over the coming weeks I am going to be attempting my very first viral campaign.

A viral campaign is something that has interested me for a long time, and if done properly it can be one of the most powerful tools any webmaster has.

So what is a viral campaign?

For this viral campaign I have chosen Bird Flu. My aim will be to get an infected chicken and take it to Asda with me at peak hours.



Laugh with me.

Now let's move to a post on another blog dated December 13, 2006:


[S]ome no-name just getting started in the world of SEO...recently posted a letter that he claims to have received from an on-line business owner. In the letter, the business owner says that [no-name's] site is ranking better on some term (we’re not told) that is important to his business, and asks [no-name] to remove himself from the rankings on that term.

[no-name] wrote the man back and told him to stuff it, basically. The man wrote back again and this time threatened legal action if he does not remove himself from the google rankings.

I call BS.



But on the very same day, InfoWorld covered the story differently:


Suppose you're an online vendor who's displeased with the ranking of your business Web site on Google. Well, you could try tweaking your ad words. Perhaps you could consider better marketing. Heck, maybe you could contact Google for answers or guidance. You might get lucky.

Or you might conclude that the best approach is to ask that people with higher-ranked sites de-Google themselves immediately.

Astonishingly, an unnamed e-merchant out there in cyberspace has taken the latter approach, sending threatening letters to blogger [no-name]. ([no-name's] blog, by the way, is called "[no-name-o's] World - Internet Marketing, Madrid, Life, SEO & More." It appears to cover all types of topics.)



Including search engine optimization. Here's more from InfoWorld:


While we wait to hear from Mr. Nutjob's attorney, how about we speculate on just what search term he wants to claim as his own? My co-worker Stephanie suggested it's SEO, which is in the title of [no-name's] blog. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and apparently, [no-name] knows a thing or two about that subject -- at least relative to others out there.


On a completely related topic, your National Institutes of Health is reporting things that real or ersatz online shoe salespeople need to know:


BJU Int. 2002 Oct;90(6):586-7. Links
Can shoe size predict penile length?Shah J, Christopher N.
Department of Urology, St. Mary's Hospital, London, UK. jyoti.shah@ic.ac.uk

OBJECTIVE: To establish if the 'myth' about whether the size of a man's penis can be estimated from his shoe size has any basis, in fact. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Two urologists measured the stretched penile length of 104 men in a prospective study and related this to their shoe size. RESULTS: The median stretched penile length for the sampled population was 13 cm and the median UK shoe size was 9 (European 43). There was no statistically significant correlation between shoe size and stretched penile length. CONCLUSION: The supposed association of penile length and shoe size has no scientific basis.



Postscript: as far as I know, I am the first person to use the phrase "Bean Runt" as a proper name. Other persons interested in viral marketing may want to jump on the bandwagon also.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ecosexuality 


I'm glad I'm not dating today. I'd have to worry about ecosexuality.


San Francisco designer Rachel Pearson, 33, owns a successful line of children’s clothing made of organic cotton that also meets international fair-trade rules. For herself she favors clothing from thrift stores—“Not buying new,” she says, “eases the toll on the earth.” A vegetarian, she recycles religiously and loves to pamper herself with yoga and meditation.

There’s another arena in which Pearson upholds green values, and it can create a bit of an etiquette problem. “I won’t date a guy who doesn’t recycle,” she says. “He doesn’t have to wear nonleather shoes, but he has to get it.” And woe betide the guy who doesn’t.

For a while she was happily dating a film producer from Los Angeles who, she thought, was definitely on her eco-wavelength. But one morning they went out for breakfast, and Mr. Right ordered an all-meat meal and doused his coffee with several packets of Equal. “I was dumbstruck,” says Pearson. “I think I ate my entire meal in silence. Pork plus NutraSweet? That was definitely our last date.”



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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I'm not a cowboy. I'm a treeherder. 


Got a danged song stuck in my head again.

Wikipedia:


A Forest is a song by British rock band The Cure. It was released as a single on April 8, 1980, and was the only single from their second album Seventeen Seconds....

The song is fairly upbeat compared to the other material on the album, and Lol Tolhurst's machine-like steady beat together with Simon Gallup's minimalistic bassline gives this nervous chase more depth and keeps the song on the edge of a frantic groove until the end.

Though not their biggest hit, it is regarded by many fans and critics as the best example of The Cure's sound....

[T]he most notorious performance of this song is the so-called "Robert Palmer"-version, performed at the Werchter Festival in Belgium, July 5, 1981. Everything was late at the festival, and the crowd was mostly there to see artists that were at the time bigger than The Cure, like Dire Straits and Robert Palmer, of whom the latter happened to be the next on stage after The Cure. After twelve songs, Palmer's roadies said that if The Cure didn't stop playing soon, they would pull the plug. They reached a compromise that they would play one song before they left, opting for "A Forest", which they decided to play a lot longer than what was normal at the time, with Robert Smith adding some lyrics improvised on the spot (including the words: "Such a long end" repeated several times). When the band finally finished, bass player Simon Gallup yelled into the microphone....



Well, let's just say that Gallup wasn't addicted to Robert Palmer.

rateyourmusic.com:


Cold, dark, monochrome and downright creepy, 'A Forest' was a blast of genius from a band I was convinced would never be heard of again....Robert Smith's vocal here was plaintive and other-worldly..


allmusic:


[I]n its original studio form "A Forest" is and remains a surprisingly spare song, suggesting rather than directly producing its astonishing overall effect. Starting with a low, steady four-note synth hook from Matthieu Hartley, Robert Smith then adds an equally stripped-down guitar line, with slight variations popping up when bassist Simon Gallup adds a brief quote. Lol Tolhurst's reverse-echoed drums then set the nervous, uncertain pace for the remainder of the song, while Smith quietly lays down a series of chugging, psych-via- surf rock guitar melodies that would swiftly become the group's overall trademark. The overall performance is remarkably straightforward and unassuming, making it remarkably catchy and artistic angst....


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In which I again visit Blogpatrol and use the opportunity to veer into tangential commentary 


According to Blogpatrol, I have crossed the 100,000 visitor mark. So this is as good a time as any to see what is on the minds of the Americans, Sumois, and Ivory Coasters that are coming here:


christopher nance


Don't know if there's a new court date or not, because his website doesn't appear to have been updated. Incidentally, I happened to see one of his books, something along the lines of "I'm going to see the weatherman today, and he is my hero and is completely wonderful." Kinda sad when you write a fiction book to promote hero worship about yourself. Willard Scott, for all his faults, looks better and better every day.


Angi Taylor


Haven't heard if she's working full time or not.


Helen Marnie


She is DEFINITELY working. Since Ladytron is one of my close personal MySpace friends, I'm informed of their touring schedule. And no, I didn't see Ladytron in Hollywood on Halloween. It requires a major effort to even see my cousin when she's playing out that way.


krystal fernandez


This is probably as good a time as any to note that AM 570, purportedly a sports station, has now actually shifted to a sports format. Phil Hendrie has been replaced by Joe McDonnell, and Greasemancow or whatever (Mancow) has been replaced by a local show with Fred Roggin, T. J. Simers, and Tracy Simers. As far as I know, no Krystal Fernandez on the air out here (except perhaps in Lancaster).


michael jackson


Mama, tell us 'bout the good ole days.


bart mckay


McKay is with McLane Company. (Wonder if you have to be Irish to work there.) See here and here.


nikki cappelli


Again I'm going to go off on a tangent. It's early December, and already people are afraid to say the dreaded words "Super Bowl." Just heard a Troy Aikman commercial in which he referred to "the big game." (Website here.) What is this, a lion safari? (Bears maybe, but not lions.)


lee klein( Klac)


Sorry Lee, I'm usually asleep by that time. Or I'm not listening to radio at any rate.


are enya and sinead o'connor cousins


No, but the Edge and Bob Geldof are stepbrothers.

I'm kidding. Actually, Andrew McCluskey is Paul McCartney's love child.


confetti pyrotechnic


I don't even remember talking about this. Did I talk about the Pepsi commercial or something?

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Music - Want or Need? 


Heard part of Adam Carolla's Free FM show this morning. The bit that I heard involved the banning of songs from the radio that either
  • never were good to begin with, or

  • sounded good the first twenty-five times that radio played them, but became tiring with repetition.

During the course of the discussion, the following songs were mentioned:
  • Led Zeppelin, "Stairway to Heaven"

  • Depeche Mode, "People Are People"

  • Bob Seger, "Old Time Rock N Roll"

  • Eagles, "Heartache Tonight"

  • Bruce Springsteen, "Born in the USA"

  • Billy Idol, "Mony Mony"

There were several others, but I guess Carolla's citation of "People Are People" got under my craw. Carolla stated that he knew of no one who would play that song at home. Carolla must have selective memory, since he did work at KROQ around the time that Richard Blade was there, and I personally suspect that Blade has "People Are People" permanently loaded in every CD changer he owns.

For the record, I do not own "People Are People." For some reason, this song was not included on "Catching Up With Depeche Mode", which is a pity. There are times when a band just gets into a groove, and everything that they release turns to gold, or platinum. Take a look at the singles that Depeche Mode released in 1983 and 1984:
  • "Get the Balance Right!" 13 on UK singles chart

  • "Everything Counts" 6 on UK singles chart

  • "Love, in Itself" 21 on UK singles chart

  • "People Are People" 4 on UK singles chart, 13 on US Hot 100

  • "Master and Servant" 9 on UK singles chart, 87 on US Hot 100

  • "Blasphemous Rumours / Somebody" 1 on UK singles chart

Similarly, look at New Order's singles released between 1983 and 1987.

But Depeche Mode and New Order, hot as they were, were not the top musical artists of the 1980s. This article illustrates who the 1980s triumvirate really was:


It's difficult to get across to students the full impact of Michael Jackson in the early 80s. They've all grown up in a post-Michael world ... they've seen the moonwalk a thousand times ... and Michael himself has gotten a bit weird over the years. And so students bring their preconceived notions of Michael Jackson to the table, and they don't get the revolutionary nature of his work, and they see elements of today's Michael whenever they watch early-80s Michael, and so they think "yeah, I remember back in the day when Michael Jackson was the shit" as if he was just the R. Kelly of his day.

Well, that's not true. The early/mid-80s were, among other things, one of the key periods in recent American pop culture not just for stars, but for SUPERSTARS. There were artists like Prince and Bruce Springsteen, transcendent figures, for better or worse. Bruce sold 15 million copies of Born in the USA, then released a live box-set that at the time was claimed to have kickstarted the CD revolution (people bought CD players just to make it easier to listen to Bruce Live). Prince sold 13 million copies of Purple Rain, the movie grossed $68 million in the States, and Prince got himself an Oscar in the process.

And yet these guys were pikers compared to Michael Jackson. Thriller has sold something like 26 million copies. Michael Jackson was the crossover act supreme, arguably the last such musician America has seen. His music was popular with a diverse audience.



For another view of Jackson, Nelson, and Springsteen, take a look at the top albums of 1984, week by week. The "Footloose" soundtrack held the top spot for ten weeks, and Huey Lewis & the News held the top spot for one week. For the rest of the year, the top spot was oocupied by Thriller, Born in the U.S.A., and Purple Rain.

But Depeche Mode did have one thing in common with the 1984 triumvirate - none of them played at Live Aid.


Several major artists did not perform at Live Aid for a variety of reasons. Bruce Springsteen, Prince, and Michael Jackson, who were the three hottest stars at that time, did not participate at Live Aid. Springsteen was touring England even up to seven days before the concert, but as he was in the middle of an eighteen month tour and had just got married, he couldn't work it in. Geldof keep working on Springsteen, and even had dinner with him as an effort to get him to play. Even hours before the finale in Philadelphia rumors were circulating that he was going to show up; it never happened. Prince had just retired from public performance; however, he would return to the stage soon after his retirement. "Michael Jackson just didn't seem to want to do it."


This reminds me of a Saturday Night Live sketch with, if I recall correctly, Billy Crystal, Mr. T., and Hulk Hogan, in which Crystal (as P.R. Nelson) sang "I Am Also the World." (I did recall correctly.)

Which gets us to the story of Band Aid and Live Aid:


At a time of famine in Africa, you see, and Midge Ure and Bob Geldof didn't like the idea of people starving in Africa while people were getting fat in England. So they wrote a nice Christmas song and they called up their friends to help them record it, and the money they made went to African famine relief.

Thing was, they didn't invite the Americans to help, which is odd because the Americans are notoriously fatter than the English. Not to be outdone, a bunch of American singers got together and recorded their own African famine relief tune. They called themselves USA for Africa - the USA officially stood for United Support of Artists, but after being excluded by the Brits everyone knew exactly what the USA really stood for.

To make a short story slightly longer, the song - which was not even almost as good as Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" - was a really big hit and sold a lot of copies. The combined success of both tracks was so impressive that a big concert was held, simultaneously here in the States and in London. All the big names showed up, Bowie and Jagger made a cheap video, people phoned in contributions, advertisers coughed up for commercial spots, and a mountain of money was made.



A lot of money. Loads of money. Heh.

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The Personal Politics of Guilt 


Yea, we laugh at the nonsense in a parent telling a kid to clean his plate and eat his green onions because children are starving in [enter name of Fourth World country here.] As if the kid's failure to eat the food will lead to widespread death and starvation in the non-American areas.

Well, allposters.com has taken the concept and run with it:



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Still hungry? 


Followup.

A few days ago, I noted that McLane had issued no press release concerning the Taco Bell E. coli situation. Well, now they have. Excerpts:


McLane Foodservice, Inc., the distributor to the Taco Bell restaurants reportedly linked to the recent E. coli outbreak in several northeastern states, announced today that a site investigation by the New Jersey Department of Health and Environmental Services (NJDHES) has found no evidence of improper storage or handling practices by McLane....

"We are extremely pleased the State of New Jersey's investigation appears to have confirmed what we at McLane already believed, namely, that any contamination in all likelihood occurred at a source other than McLane," said Tom Zatina, President of McLane Foodservice. "Because all green onion products arrive to us in sealed cellophane bags inside sealed corrugated boxes, we have felt from the beginning it was highly improbable that McLane caused or contributed to any E. coli contamination."



So the green onions may have been contaminated before McLane (or Taco Bell) even got them. So, let's ask Annys Shin at the Washington Post where the green onions were grown:


The strain that caused September's spinach outbreak, which killed three and sickened about 200, has been found in cattle feces near a California spinach field and in wild pigs that roamed through it.

The source of the Taco Bell outbreak has not been found, but the company suspects green onions -- also from California.



While John and Ken will probably blame the problem on illegal immigration, there are those that say that the government, or the industry, or whoever should do something about it. This issue forms the...um...meat of Shin's article.


The patchwork of federal and state regulations that is supposed to ensure food safety has become less effective as the nation's produce supply has grown increasingly industrial. Three months after the spinach scare, there is no agreement on what should be done to reduce health risks from the nation's fruits and vegetables even as each episode of illness has heightened a sense of urgency....

Although meat and dairy products are regulated by the Department of Agriculture, the safety of fruits and vegetables is the responsibility of the Food and Drug Administration and the states. But they have jurisdiction only over processing plants. Food safety at the farm level is largely self-regulated.

That has left government regulators in the position over the past eight years of nagging the produce industry to improve food safety by publishing voluntary guidelines and sending letters of admonishment.

The FDA's critics say the agency doesn't have the manpower to do more. From 2003 to 2006, the budget for the agency's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has fallen 37 percent, according to agency data. That has meant fewer inspectors and less frequent inspections. In 2005, the FDA conducted 4,573 inspections of domestic food-processing operations. For 2006, the agency said, it hopes to conduct 3,400. There are more than 12,000 such plants in the nation.

"The reality of FDA's situation is they don't have the basic inspectors to inspect the food supply they're in charge of," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "They just don't have the people . . . to manage this problem at the farm level."

In mid-November, the CSPI petitioned the FDA, as well as the state of California, to set mandatory safety standards for fruits and vegetables. Consumer advocates also want Congress to give the agency more resources and enforcement powers.



Think about this for a moment from an anti-vegetarian perspective. It turns out that so-called healthy vegetarian fare is less regulated than evil meat and dairy output. (Listen to the baby seal clubbers chortle.)

Speaking of baby seal clubbers, the non-neo-conservatives who believe that private industry can solve all problems will be happy to know that private industry is trying to get its act together:


In October, executives of eight supermarket chains and distributors, including Safeway, Sysco, Wegmans and Kroger, sent a letter to growers and packers, demanding that they develop a food safety program for lettuce and other leafy greens by Dec. 15. The program has been drafted but is still being reviewed by regulators.

Not content to let the growers write their own standards, the Food Marketing Institute, which represents large retailers and wholesalers, and the National Restaurant Association are developing separate guidelines to update those used by private auditors.



And the neo-conservatives will be happy to know that other segments of private industry want government to solve the problem:


The growers, led by two trade groups, Western Growers and the United Fresh Produce Association, have responded with standards that government regulators would enforce through a marketing order -- an agreement farmers pay to participate in designed to stabilize market conditions for certain commodities. Such orders are enforced by the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service, not the FDA, and food safety is not typically their main purpose.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is considering the growers' proposal and could put an order in place as early as late January, spokesman Steve Lyle said.

The federal Agricultural Marketing Service hasn't responded yet, a Western Growers spokesman said.

Officials at the FDA who are reviewing the proposal have so far welcomed the market-order approach as part of the solution. "If you look at what might be able to happen before next growing season . . . a rule is not a practical proposition," Acheson said.



It's enough to make you sick.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Did Mr. Spock Recite Country? 


Followup on pain.

I Dished (not Tivo'ed) a good Reno's Bluegrass Festival this week. Let's start with a song popularized by the A*Teens - wait, I think someone did it before them.

For the record, "The Letter was originally done by the Box Tops, with a famous cover by Joe Cocker.

Well, the less famous cover version was performed at the beginning of Reno's Bluegrass Festival, as Ronnie Reno and his band took an acoustic take on it. The lyrics work well in a bluegrass format, and musically the genre allows some nice solos.

The special guests on this week's Reno's Bluesgrass Festival were referred to as "Cordele and Duncan" in the program listing. Shame on you, Ronnie. Larry's last name is Cordle, not Cordele. Yet Ronnie was very appreciative of the vocal and songwriting talents of Larry Cordle, and the instrumental talents of Glen Duncan.

They, along with their band, performed two songs off of their 1992 album "Lonesome Standard Time" - the title track (which, in an Icehouse kind of way, also became the name of the band), and the absolutely haunting track "The Fields of Home" (audio sample here). The song was also included on the 1989 Ricky Skaggs album Kentucky Thunder.

In my research, I found out an interesting thing about Larry Cordle. While everyone loved him back in 1992-1993, he later angered some segments of Nashville:


Cordle later made news with a song that some listeners thought might be biting the hand that fed the songwriter. "Murder on Music Row," a song Cordle co-wrote with Larry Shell, makes no bones about criticizing Nashville for drifting away from the roots of country music. Plenty of people in the industry were aghast and angry over the song's condemnation of the town and of the turn country music had taken in recent years. Probably just as many cheered it. The song wasn't released to radio as a single, at least not officially, and there wasn't even any real promotion to speak of. But the duet by George Strait and Alan Jackson raised the song's profile. It hit a nerve and it hit deep. The song made it onto the airwaves, landed in the Top 40, and made a lot of people sit up and take notice of the things Cordle had to say about the state of country music. The ripples that spread from the song's impact even led the very industry that the song condemns to acknowledge and honor its honesty. The Country Music Association bestowed a pair of nominations in 2000, one for Vocal Event of the Year and another for Song of the Year.


But there was a lot of pain in the process. From acousticmusic.com:


It has come to my attention (way over in Germany) that the title song covered by George Strait and Alan Jackson is raising quite a stir in the world of countrypoprock and is being boycotted by commercial country radio. I guess the lyrics bemoaning the pop influence on today´s country music hit too close to the truth.


From songfacts:


Having been a professional musician for over 35 years, I must say that this song is spot on. There are a handful of people who, by whatever means possible, attempt, usually successfully, to control what songs make the charts and what songs don't. In Nashville, it's not about ability but about marketability. They can take horrible singers and make them sound good in a studio and then promote them exclusively. The record companies are losing thei power a little at a time die to online music. It's about time the real talent got a chance to shine.

- Randall, Chattanooga, TN
The songwriter had it nailed on the head no doubt. The song points out the downward spiral of today's music. Sex is the big seller now. And I applaud Strait and Jackson for speaking out like they did. Country music has certainly taken a dive with bands like Big and Rich (who haven't done a decent song yet) and wannabe's like Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow.

- Terry L. Kiser, Sr, Tifton, ID



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Generic Aurothots, and an Obbzervashun 


Superior acoustic traditional music incorporates and administers intense, searing pain. (More later.)

Why is black iced tea caramel in color?

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Damon Wayans is Now the Leper and Scum of the Earth? 


Let's see if I need to create a del.icio.us tag for hypocrisy. (I could apply it to that KFI post I wrote about a year ago, I guess.)

Before I launch into this, let me state my views.
  • In my view, the U.S. government does not have the right to ban the use of the word "nigger" (although there are exceptions, not always enforced, for media outlets controlled by the FCC).

  • In my view, private organizations (such as the Laugh Factory) have the perfect right to ban the use of that word, or any other word such as "dessert" or "Madonna."

  • In my view, private individuals have the right to ridicule private organizations who impose such a ban.


And, of course, private individuals may oppose the whole thing on moral grounds:


When I first read the news reports about the incident, I assumed Richards had a bad slip of the tongue. A horrible slip, but nothing more. Then I watched the actual video on You Tube, and was revolted. I was stunned speechless. I've never seen anything so vile. I also saw his "apology" on Letterman, and it made me wonder what kind of crack the guy is on. It was no apology at all. And for the first time in my life, I actually agree with what Rev. Al said. Richards' career is over, and rightfully so.


However, this cracker respectfully disagrees with Jennifer on this particular topic. While I agree that the word "nigger" can be used in a damaging way, I also believe that it can be used in a non-damaging way.

With that, let's move to Damon Wayans, who took to the stage at the Laugh Factory and said the following:


Club owner Jamie Masada had imposed fines and a ban for any performers who used the word 'nigger' in the wake of Richards' tirade. But Wayans fell foul of it the moment he took to the stage and said: 'Give yourselves a big round of applause for coming down and supporting Nigger Night.'

'I'll be damned if the white man uses that word last,' he told the audience. 'This is part of our culture now... don't take that from us.' According to the LA Times, the actor used the word another 15 times during his 20-minute set, costing him a $320 fine.



In addition, Wayans has been banned from the Laugh Factory for three months.

Well, I don't know if Gloria Allred will represent the victims of Wayans, but there is some real outrage regarding Wayans' comments. From The Think and Racialicious:


Sorry Mr. Wayans, but for you to stand up and say that “this is part of our culture now”, I hope you never see the light of day with a trademark for the word “Nigga” in your hands. At this point, I understand why white people chastise blacks for being so damned hypocritical when it comes to this issue. Yes, it is hypocrisy.


This cracker isn't chastizing Wayans for hypocrisy. While there is legitimate debate over whether Wayans (and Richards) were funny, Wayans (and possibly Richards) were pursuing a long-standing form of comedy. Brian Christgau knows about the tradition:


Author: Brian Christgau
Date: Dec 6, 2006 09:24

This damn saga just keeps getting funnier and funnier! Where's Lenny
Bruce when we need him? Oh, that's right - he got driven to his own suicide
by being persecuted for saying dirty words, silly me.



And I return to what Paul Rodriguez said:


“Once the word comes out of your mouth and you don't happen to be African-American, then you have a whole lot of explaining,” Rodriguez told CNN. “Freedom of speech has its limitations and I think Michael Richards found those limitations.”


Well, unlike the racist Paul Rodriguez, it's apparent that the Laugh Factory believes that the limitations to freedom of speech apply to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, religious preference, sexual orientation, weight, eye color, and sports team preference. In that regard, the Laugh Factory was consistent in banning Damon Wayans from its premises for three months - a consistency that I have not, so far, seen from Gloria Allred, Jesse Jackson, and the like.

But I can still make fun of the Laugh Factory for making such a ridiculous rule. And Damon Wayans is probably laughing at the whole "sanitized comedy" movement also.

P.S. Direct from Malawi (credit Jenice Armstrong):


It's a word that people pay attention to. Maybe that's why comedian Damon Wayans, star of "My Wife and Kids," tried to patent it so he could affix the racial epithet onto a line of clothing. He knew it would sell.

It probably would in some parts of Africa, too. I'll never forget hearing how Philly's David Hale Sylvester, a personal trainer, was bicycling across the continent when he came across a store named "Niggas." It was a rickety stand with the letters printed on a sign.

When Sylvester asked one of the proprietors, "Whassup with the name, dude?" he was told, "P. Diddy. New York City! We are the niggers!" Sylvester tried to laugh it off, but there really was nothing funny about how hip-hop music had infected those misguided Malawi residents.



Incidentally, when will be ban people of all races from using the words "whassup" and "dude"?

Actually, that's easy to implement. It's called the "old uncool" strategy. Inasmuch as I'll celebrate my 45th birthday this month, I am qualified to speak on this strategy. Therefore, I will admit that I use the words "whassup" and "dude" with some frequency. This admission itself will cause millions of people under the age of twenty to drop the words like a bad case of acne.

My next project - the next time someone drives by with a radio set at 11 blasting rap, rock, or ranchera, I'll start my geeky dance. That'll shut'em up.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This is a test 

This is a test of remote blog posting, which could theoretically let me blog from anywhere that my Motorola Q gets a signal. So, if I'm in the middle of the desert and see an alien spaceship, I can broadcast this news immediately.


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Hungry? 


Hot off the press - Taco Bell removes green onions from its restaurants:


A number of restaurant chains, including Taco Bell, are now joining Chi-Chi's in removing green onions from menu items as a precaution.

Health officials in Pennsylvania said the number of Hepatitis A infections is likely to continue rising through this week, peaking about November 22, 2003. While the Chi-Chi's restaurant has been closed since November 2, the virus can take nearly a month to exhibit its early flu-like symptoms.



OK, so maybe it isn't so hot off the press. Here's the 2006 version:


Taco Bell ordered the removal of green onions from its 5,800 restaurants nationwide Wednesday after tests suggested they might be responsible for the E. coli outbreak that sickened at least three dozen people in three states.


But read on:


Meanwhile, the company that distributes food to the region's Taco Bells said federal investigators planned to test five produce items _ green onions, regular onions, cilantro, tomatoes and lettuce _ from its southern New Jersey warehouse....

On Tuesday, Taco Bell representatives and state and federal health inspectors visited a food distribution center in Burlington, N.J., that supplied the Long Island and New Jersey restaurants patronized by people who were sickened.

Texas-based McLane Co., which owns the distribution center, selected the produce items for federal investigators to test Wednesday, said Bart McKay, a lawyer for the company.

McKay said the federal investigators were to pick up samples of green onions, regular onions, cilantro, tomatoes and lettuce. No meat samples were requested, he said.

"By all appearances, the focus seems to be on one or more produce supplies," McKay said.



And Bart McKay has also appeared in Forbes (emphasis mine):


On Tuesday, Taco Bell representatives and state and federal health officials toured a 192,000-square-foot Burlington, N.J., food distribution center that supplied the Long Island and New Jersey restaurants associated with the outbreak. The center, run by Texas-based McLane Co., distributes food to over 1,100 restaurants, including Taco Bell and other fast-food retailers.

Bart McKay, associate general counsel for McLane, told the Times that the company had joined the investigation into the source of the E. coli outbreak at the request of Taco Bell's parent company, Yum! Brands. "We're beginning with Burlington," he said....

Medical officials in New Jersey and New York were teaming with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to try to pinpoint the cause of the outbreak.

Dr. Patricia Dillon, director of epidemiology and communicable diseases for Suffolk County, Long Island, said health authorities are focusing now on the central food distributor rather than improper handling as the probable source of the outbreak.

"You could not have improper handling occur at so many restaurants," she told the Times.



This raises the question - what about the other 1,000+ restaurants that received food from McLane's Burlington facility? Well, if you go to McLane's press releases page, you can see their latest public statement on the issue:







So, now that Taco Bell has stepped up to the plate and McLane hasn't, what reward has Taco Bell received?


In New York, Irene Abbad stopped at a Taco Bell on Long Island on Tuesday, but she was afraid to eat the food and ordered only a soft drink.

After hearing about the outbreak, she called her son, who she said is a frequent Taco Bell customer. "I said, `Don't eat Taco Bell for a while.'"



Courier News Online had a little more detail about the logic of Irene Abbad:


Krishna Badhi of West Windsor said he was unaware of the E. coli outbreak when he drove up for a late lunch with a co-worker Tuesday afternoon.

"We had no idea about it," he said, adding that he also tried to get lunch at the same location on Monday with no luck.

"I thought it might be some sort of holiday," he said.

In New York, Irene and Dell Abbad of Islip Terrace both went to the Taco Bell in Patchogue on Tuesday but ordered only soft drinks.

"I just got a drink, that's it," Dell Abbad said.

Asked if she was afraid to eat at Taco Bell, Irene Abbad said, "Of course of I am."

"In fact I called my son because my son loves Taco Bell, and I said don't eat Taco Bell for a while."



Now some of you may be wondering whether the Abbads are going to use common sense and refuse to eat at any food facility supplied by McLane. In my case, I'm wondering about a different question: Who ordered the soft drink? Was it Irene Abbad, Dell Abbad, or both of them? We need to get Harvey Levin on the case.

Luckily, we don't have to rely on Harvey Levin. We have Jim Prevor:


Yesterday we mentioned an E. coli outbreak at Taco Bell. Today there was more news.

Some of it was bad news for the produce industry as word leaked out that investigators were focusing on non-meat items as possible culprits in the Taco Bell/E. coli outbreak in New York and New Jersey. The focus was on non-meat products because several of those who have fallen ill report that they are vegetarians.



After talking about McLane, Prevor continues:


Bill Marler of Marler Clark, a law firm specializing in cases involving foodborne illness and who is representing many of the plaintiffs in litigation related to the spinach/E. coli crisis, fingers salsa as a likely cause. He notes that salsa contains cilantro, green onions and tomatoes, all of which have been implicated in previous situations where E. coli was a factor.

Of course others claim salsa can fight foodborne illness.



However, I disagree with the following statement:


Taco Bell seems to be taking a very unusual PR path on this crisis. They haven’t offered to pay any medical bills. They didn’t close down the restaurants until two days after they learned of the first case. You have to search around and click on press releases on the Taco Bell web site to find any reference to the outbreak, and the web site of the parent company, Yum! Brands, has no mention of the problem at all.

We suppose they must have very clever consultants who told them this is really a smart way to handle things.

The Pundit thinks that every time someone in the food business behaves this way, it is bad for everyone as it builds up consumer doubt about how important the consumer is to the industry.



Compared to McLane, Taco Bell is an open book. And look how Irene and/or Dell Abbad have reacted to the open book policy. Makes you think that a Nixonian stonewalling strategy may be in your best interest.

[UPDATE 11 DECEMBER 2006 - MCLANE HAS SPOKEN. SEE FOLLOWUP.]

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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When Commutes Get Fun (Fight the Power) 


Although I spend 2+ hours commuting from Ontario to Orange County every day, I actually like it. I can relax (to a point), listen to the radio or to a CD, yell my fool head off, or whatever.

One of my usual commute routes takes me through Carbon Canyon. I've found that State Route 57 is often jammed, and State Route 91 is often jammed, so I frequently cut through the middle and take Carbon Canyon to work. It's only a two lane road, and frankly it's often crowded itself, but at least the drive is fairly scenic.

So this morning I'm driving through Chino Hills, getting ready to cut through Carbon Canyon, when I ran across huge signs saying that SR-142 is closed. Unfortunately, by the time you reach the signs, you've pretty much committed yourself to the Carbon Canyon route, and you have one of three choices to recover:
  • Turn around and head back to southbound State Route 71 and take it to State Route 91.

  • Keep on going and hop on State Route 60 and take it to State Route 57.

  • Go a little bit, then head westbound on Grand Avenue into Diamond Bar, then proceed from there via the 57 or via surface streets.

I chose the third option, as did several hundred of my closest friends.



It took me almost an hour to get to the southern tip of Diamond Bar. Not a good commute day.

So, after all of that, I figured I'd go to the Vons at Placentia and Bastanchury and grab a bagel. This late in the morning, they may even be fresh.

Well, they weren't fresh at all - this particular Vons closed nearly three months ago. While driving through the empty lot, I thought of all the picketers who hung out at that Vons during the 2003 strike; wonder how they feel now?

When I finally got to work, I was curious regarding why my morning commute had been altered. So I checked:


SR 142
[ORANGE CO.]
IS CLOSED AT THE ORANGE/RIVERSIDE CO LINE - DUE TO DOWNED POWER LINES -
A DETOUR IS AVAILABLE

[SAN BERNARDINO & RIVERSIDE CO.'S]
NO TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS ARE REPORTED FOR THIS AREA.



Well, I'm glad I didn't go that way...

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What the Ontario Mountain Village Association May Do If Their Beloved Graffiti-Ridden Empty Lot Becomes a Wal Mart 


Courtesy Coqueto and the Garrison dude:


Mr. and Mrs. Fenton are retired. Mrs. Fenton insists that Mr. Fenton go with her to Walmart. He gets bored with all the shopping. He prefers to get in and get out, but Mrs. Fenton loves to browse. Here's a letter sent o her from the store.

Dear Mrs. Fenton,

Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behavior and may ban both of you from our stores. We have documented all incidents on our video surveillance equipment. All complaints against Mr. Fenton are listed below.

Things Mr. Bill Fenton has done while his spouse wasshopping in Walmart:

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.

3. July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to the restrooms.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone, 'Code 3' in housewares ... and watched what happened.

5. Aug 4: Went to the Service Desk and asked to put a bag of M&M's on layaway.

6. Sept 14: Moved a 'CAUTION - WET FLOOR' sign to a carpeted area.

7. Sept 15: Set up a tent in the camping department and told other shoppers he'd invite them in if they'll bring pillows from the bedding department.

8. Sept 23: When a clerk asks if they can help him, he begins to cry and asks, 'Why can't you people just leave me alone?'

9. Oct 4: Looked right into the security camera; used it as a mirror, and picked his nose.

10. Nov 10: While handling guns in the hunting department, asked the clerk if he knows where to find the antidepressants.

11. Dec 3: Darted around the store suspiciously loudly humming the "Mission Impossible" theme.

12. Dec 6: In the auto department, practiced his "Madonna look" using different size funnels.

13. Dec 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browse through, yelled "PICK ME!" "PICK ME!"

14. Dec 21: When an announcement came over the loud speaker, he assumes the fetal position and screams "NO! NO! It's those voices again!!!!"

And last, but not least ....

15. Dec 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door waited awhile, thenyelled very loudly, "There is no toilet paper in here!"



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Monday, December 04, 2006

But 


So I watch Pop Up Video and end up getting all excited about "Torture". The only songs I've heard off the Victory album are "Torture" and "State of Shock." The consensus is that most of the album blows, and I can attest that "State of Shock" is pretty worthless, but "Torture" bowls me over every time I hear it. Reviews vary:


Victory was merely solo tracks by various brothers with Michael & Jermaine as reluctant participants.Though the other brothers lack distictive vocal chops,they perform admirably.Jackie wrote Torture for Michael & Jermaine to sing,while Randy contributed One More Chance(later covered by Janet for a B-side),and Marlon,known as the vocally weak Jackson,shines on Body,though repetitive,recall those glory days.The weakest cuts surprisingly all came from Michael.Be Not Always is his worst piece of writing(with Little Susie from HiStory),and State of Shock sounds like Michael and Mick Jagger having fun on a 4-track,then tossing it on the album to get his family off his back.In the end it sold but left many feeeling short-changed.
But there's some really good stuff, here, and most of it doesn't even involve Michael. Randy stands out pretty well in "One More Chance" (which Janet would later cover as a b-side); "Body" is a funky uptempo stomper, and I really loved "Torture," which features lead vocals from Michael and Jermaine (The video features all Jackson brothers sans Michael. Go figure).
Though everybody seem to dislike this album i think it's great! Torture is a strong and sharp song with a sort of "rock-feelin" over it. Another really good song is State of shock with Michael and Mick Jagger. Also a "rock-feelin" over this one.
This isn't a reunion album at all. More like a high tech compilation disaster and Jermaine is only included in 1 track and Michael, only in 3. Although no video availbale, I love the Mick Jagger colab "State of Shock" (#3 on billboard and #4 on Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles) which was a celebrated pop/rock celebration and leading single off of lp. "Torture" was torture and so was the video. Although top 20 hit, it was so horrible that Jermaine and Michael did not join their brothers in the video (although they provided lead vocals) and the later was replaced by a wax dummy.



From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Because 






From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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