Thursday, June 30, 2005

Presto

If I could wave my magic wand
I'd make everything all right

But I can't. Things are as they are. People do what they do.

I'm not one to believe in magic
But I sometimes have a second sight
I'm not one with a sense of proportion
When my heart still changes overnight

But one must have a sense of proportion. Even if someone has, or appears to have, wronged you -- how you respond speaks not only of them, but of you.

I had a dream of the open water
I was swimming away out to sea
So deep I could never touch bottom
What a fool I used to be

I've been there. I know how it feels to feel betrayed and feel bitter and angry. I know how it feels to think that the only satisfaction that could be had would be to exact revenge. Not just an eye for an eye, but the whole head for an eye. It doesn't help. What do you gain? What do you accomplish?

I'm not one to believe in magic
Though my memory has a second sight
I'm not one to go pointing my finger
When I radiate more heat than light

I've done my fair share of things that, if I could do them all over again, I wouldn't. I can argue and make justifications for that conduct, but I wouldn't repeat it. Whatever you do, you have to live with the consequences. And there are consequences to our actions.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

Discretion is the better part of valor.

Turnabout is fair play.

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

All the animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Don't give into hate. That leads to the dark side.

How can anyone be enlighted? Truth is after all so poorly lit.

I know the pain of too much tenderness.

We don't see things as we are; we see them as we are.

(Good writers borrow; great writers steal.)

Don't ask me
I'm just sympathizing
My illusions a harmless flight
Can't you see
My temperature's rising
I radiate more heat than light

Someone, maybe several someones, are bound to be badly burned. Harmless? Mostly harmful.

Enough.

The "New" Freedom Tower

The design for NYC's new skyscraper for the WTC site has changed.

A glimpse of it can be found here.

It is less hideous than original design. Less interesting too.

I think they need to keep working at it.

Buh-bye MBNA

If you haven't heard, MBNA is being bought out by Bank of America.

Good riddance, MBNA! MBNA and its terrible credit card terms, mandatory arbitration of all disputes, jacking up interest rates at will, and onerous repayment terms.

Yes, I had a bad experience. Yes, I once had an MBNA card. And one time, a few years ago, they jacked up my interest rate -- more than doubled it -- to 28%. I hadn't missed a payment, hadn't been late. But they pulled a credit bureau and decided they didn't like my debt to income ratio or some other nonsense. I had that card paid off within three months, and cancelled it.

You can be a big bad fish, but you can still get gobbled up. BOA -- I've never had one of their cards. They may be no better. But I have no grudge against them. MBNA, I dance on your grave.

There are two things I have to say to BOA ... if your terms are better, please pass along those better terms to your new customers (and if they aren't, shame on you). Oh, and my cousin, BBP, who works for MBNA in Delaware -- if you can find a way to avoid laying him off, that would be most appreciated.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Redpop Goes the World

For MJ...

Had Faygo Redpop with lunch today. Twenty-four ounces of stawberry soda goodness for one American dollar.

It went well with my chicken salad. Indeed, it goes well with everything.

Next time you are dining at a fine establishment, be sure to ask for it by name.

Why, when we were at one of Put-In-Bay's finer restaurants, MJ got all excited because there was Redpop on the menu. She extolled the virutes of Faygo Redpop to JD, AJ and me. She asked the server, "Is it Faygo Redpop?" She checked and came back and said, no, its _______. (Might have said "Barq's" but don't remember, and I'm not sure if they make a red pop.)

So JD and AJ and I all ordered the Redpop. And MJ glummly had a Diet Coke.

Well, I am finishing a bottle of the real Redpop. Mmmmmmmmm. I can taste Michigan from here. And I didn't even have to go to Meijer.

I'd Like Some Onion with That...

And speaking of the UN and the like.

A Matter of Trust-ee

The search has begun to find someone to fill that vacancy on the
LEIMUN Board of Trustees. Under the present by-laws, there is a
fairly limited universe of people eligible to fill that position.
Happily, every member of the organization who is technically qualified
is also fully qualified to undertake the task, provided the interest
is there.

While I will have nothing to do with the actual selection, if there
are any members who would like to discuss the rewards and
responsibilities of the position with someone who has previously
served, please feel free to contact me. Having served a full three
year term, I am not looking to jump back in myself. But I think that
the 16 months or so that remains in the existing term would provide an
excellent opportunity to one of the other members.

Belated Congratulations

To my friends, Christie and Tom, a belated offering of congratulations
for their wedding last Saturday. While MJ and I weren't able to
attend, we are happy for you, and wish you long life, health and
happiness for all of the years to come.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I HATE TOPS!

I hate Tops -- the grocery store at Severance Town Center. What a dump. I prefer Zagara's and Heinen's -- both family owned and locally owned -- but there is no Heinen's in my neighborhood and Zagara's isn't open late. (Actually, neither is Heinen's.)

So that leaves Tops -- open all night. So I keep ending up there. This evening, I stopped to buy cat food. I wouldn't have stopped there except I'm all out. And I didn't buy much, because Fancy Feast is cheaper at Target!

The last three times I've gone to Tops, I've been harassed and/or panhandled. WTF!?! Does the management not realize they have people hustling outside the store, or don't they care?

Three trips ago -- I had kids begging to let them help me load my car, so I could tip them. Worse, this Tops doesn't let you take the shopping carts into the parking lot (because if the carts could leave, there wouldn't be any!) Since I'm by myself, and have more groceries than I can carry, I run over, get my car, and pull up to my cart, where there is some hoodlum standing by it. He tells me he was watching it for me, and for this unsolicited service, he expects to be paid. I told him to move along. He says but I watched your stuff. And I tell him very firmly and very loudly, with the wide-eyed look I get when I'm pissed off to MOVE ALONG RIGHT NOW!

Two trips ago -- I gotta tell you this is one of those bullshit stores that has the U-scan registers -- apparently, they'd rather have you scan your own shit than HIRE MORE PEOPLE and GIVE THEM JOBS. Well, the goddamn thing was malfunctioning. I scan the first item: a dozen eggs, and I place it in the bag. The bags all sit on a scale, so it is SUPPOSED to know when you've put an item in the bag, because the weight changes. Well, after I put the eggs in the bag, the computer commands me to PLEASE PLACE THE ITEM IN THE BAG. Well, its already in the bag! What am I supposed to do? So I try to scan my next item: some Morningstar Breakfast Links. And the whole damn thing shuts down. And here is the brilliant conversation I had with the help, once someone could be bothered to come over:

You need to put the item in the bag.
The item IS in the bag.
No its not, its on the scanner (pointing at the box of links).
I haven't scanned that yet. I've only scanned the eggs. They're in the bag.
Well the thing works on weight.
Well I can't help it that eggs don't weigh much.
Well, you need to put it in the bag.
It IS in the bag.
Then you need to take that box off the scanner (pointing at the links) -- that's why it shut down.
I didn't put the links down until you came over here!

Finally, the machine just seemed to reset itself.

So -- despite all this -- I go there AGAIN! Yes, as a matter of fact I am an idiot.

Tonight I go. I get the cat food. MJ asks me to pick up tortilla shells, so ok, I get those too. And Peter Pan, its on sale! And chocolate milk -- why not??? And I get to the U-Scan ... and it WORKS. And the chicky who has me sign my credit slip tells me have A GOOD NIGHT! And then... and then...

I am walking out of the store, and there are two teenage boys sitting in the exitway. They ask me for change. I am not kidding. They ask me for change RIGHT IN THE GODDAMN STORE. And you know what happens? I lose it.

WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU, BEGGING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GODDAMN STORE. GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!

And the kid looked at me like I was mad. And I'll admit, this kid looked like he could have cut me.

So I left. Drove home. Fed the cats. And typed this.

Fucking Tops. I can't wait to move.

Right Flight

The Republican Party is a little bit dumber today -- because right thinking people like this have had enough.

Money quote:

Republican decisions made in 2002 and 2003 have killed almost 2,000 of the most capable patriots our country has to offer - volunteers, every one. Support for those decisions was gathered through what appeared at the time to be spin and marketing, but which now turns out to have been deliberate planning and falsehood. The Blair government's internal documentation only confirms what has been suspected for years: Americans are dying every day for Republican lies first crafted in 2002, expanded and embellished upon in 2003, and which continue to this day. This calculated deception is now burned into the legacy of the party, every bit as much as Reagan's triumph in the Cold War, or Nixon's disgrace over Watergate.

...

We're poisoning our planet through gluttony and ignorance.

We're teetering on the brink of self-inflicted insolvency.

We're selfishly and needlessly sacrificing the best of a generation.

And we're lying about it.

Monday, June 27, 2005

househunting

Ok, I've been looking for a house. Been looking with MJ. Been
looking for a few weeks now. We thought we found one we really liked,
but, now I'm not so sure. And I think you have to be pretty darn sure
before you buy something like a house.

We looked at one last night that is in the "wrong neighborhood" -- the
price is quite nice, but will it appreciate? The current owner is
asking less than what he paid four years ago. That's unheard of! So
what's wrong with this place? Did he pay too much? Is there
something horrible on the disclosure form (which I hope to see today).
Why is he asking $12,000 less than what he paid for it in 2001???

SCOTUS Watch (Recycled)

Chief Justice Rehnquist may very well step down today or tomorrow.

My pick to replace him, as discussed earlier this month.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sonenshein!

An old friend of mine from college, Jason Sonenshein, has just entered the blogosphere. Check him out!

Good Luck Moving On

In response to Jessica.

LEIMUN is a dysfunctional family, and it has been long before it had the name LEIMUN.

You've done your part on the Board of Trustees, and you've moved on. I can't and won't argue with that.

As one of the original five founding trustees of LEIMUN, I'll admit that there were times I was ready to throw it in before my term was up in November 2003. I ended up sticking it out, but, for the last few months I was busy with my career and other concerns and interests. Perhaps if I had stepped down, I would have given someone else a chance to step up and attack the position with new energy and enthusiasm.

I hope that such a person will step up now. Who exactly? It may not be apparent just yet. But so far, someone always has stepped up in this organization, whenever it was needed.

This organization and the program has survived and even thrived over the years, LEIMUN since 2000, and the program for over a quarter century now. Jess, no one can dispute that you have contributed and left your mark on the organization. Now someone else will get a turn to do the same.

Poorest City?

Kristen brings up some points in her comment to my "Take" East Cleveland post. So I thought I'd address them here.

First, we all have fallen into saying that Cleveland is the poorest city in America. What do we really mean by that? That the total population of Cleveland is the poorest? No. That is definitely NOT what is meant by that. Cleveland has a wide array of demographics, rich and poor. And do note that when I write "Cleveland" I mean the city of Cleveland proper, not the surrounding suburbs.

Cleveland is the "poorest city" by this definition alone: that it has the largest percentage of its population below the poverty line. In Cleveland, its 31.3%, according to the US Census Bureau as of 2003 -- the most current figures available.

East Cleveland, on the other hand, has 28.0% living below the poverty level (US Census Bureau, 2000 figure.) So the percentage of people living below the poverty line in both Cleveland and East Cleveland is about the same.

But one of the many things that Cleveland has that East Cleveland does not is a tax base. The state of Ohio declared East Cleveland to be in a state of economic emergency in 1988 -- and that remains in effect today. East Cleveland NEVER has more than two police cars on patrol at a time -- for a city of over 27,000 people. That's how bad it is there. East Cleveland doesn't have the money to take care of its share of Forest Hills Park -- the land donated by John D. Rockefeller where his mansion once stood. Instead, a small group of retirees and other volunteers take care of the park in their spare time.

The street I live on is half in Cleveland Heights (south end), half in East Cleveland (north end). The differences on the street from the north end to the south end are night and day. While the entire street is made up of multi-family homes (including mine), many on the East Cleveland are falling apart, boarded up, and/or vacant.

So yes, the question can be raised, where are the poor people supposed to live? In East Cleveland, the question is well beyond that. Drive down any street in East Cleveland -- except for the Forest Hills neighborhood -- and you will find boarded up, vacant houses. No one is living in these houses. And its a damn shame too -- East Cleveland has some beautiful architecture, but so much of it has been lost due to neglect. East Cleveland IS Cleveland's Harlem.

What happened? I am not even sure. The other Cleveland suburbs have taken steps to prevent becoming the "next East Cleveland." This is why Cleveland Heights has a seemingly onerous housing code -- and why Mayor Ed Kelley wants all section 8 tenants to take a course on how to be a good neighbor before being permitted to move into the city. I know a few people on my street could use that course now, and many of them don't live on the north end of the street.

But this I will tell you: East Cleveland has been in a death spiral for a long time. And something ought to be done. The first step, it seems to me, is to somehow grow the tax base, so that the city can once again provide basic services. So was I kidding when I wrote that hopefully some developer will come along and make East Cleveland a sweet deal to redevelop a portion of that city. No, I wasn't kidding. The problem is, it probably won't happen. As badly as East Cleveland needs a transfusion, the patient just looks too sick.

Red Light Camera STOP!

For those of you like me who drive in the city of Cleveland, you need to know where the new traffic cameras are being installed.

Here is the list!

East Side:
Chester Avenue at Euclid Avenue
Chester Avenue at 71st StreetEast
55th Street at Carnegie Avenue
Carnegie Avenue at East 30th Street
East 131st at Harvard Avenue
East 116th at Union Avenue
Carnegie Avenue at East 100th Street
Carnegie Avenue at ML King Junior Drive
Lakeshore Blvd at East 159th Street
Saint Clair Avenue at London Road
Chester Avenue between East 55th Street and East 40th Street
Woodland Avenue between East 66th Street and East 71st Street
Broadway between Harvard Avenue and Miles Avenue
Lee Road between Tarkington Avenue and I-480 Ramp
Shaker Blvd. at Shaker Square
Shaker Blvd. At East 116th Street
Cedar Road at Murray Hill Road
Euclid Avenue at Mayfield Road
Prospect Avenue at East 40th Street

West Side:
West Blvd. at North Marginal Road
West Blvd. at I-90 Ramp
Grayton Road at I-480 Ramp
Warren Road at I-90 Ramp
West 117th Street at I-90 Ramp
Pearl Road at Biddulph Road
Memphis Ave. At Fulton Road
Clifton Blvd between West 110th Street and West 104th Street
West Blvd. between I-90 Ramp and Madison Avenue

Look at that: twice as many cameras on the East Side of town! I wonder why THAT would be?

And on my typical commute, I would go through about four of these intersections, twice a day.

I really wish I could vote for mayor of Cleveland this year.

Friday, June 24, 2005

"Take" East Cleveland

The Supreme Court yesterday released a rather nasty decision in the
case of Kelo v. City of New London. The Supreme Court, by a 5-4
majority, has just widely broadened eminent domain. Arguably, it
would appear that a city can take even nice homes through eminent
domain now, not to build roads or highways, but to turn over the land
to developers to redevelop.

In the Kelo case, homeowners were fighting off a plan to have their
homes taken to build new retail and an office building for Pfizer, the
drug company!

Around town, this will have huge implications. Lakewood's West End
homeowners, which fought hard to fight the designation of "blighted"
over the last couple of years to prevent the city from taking their
homes to build their own mini Legacy Village type shopping center --
they should get ready to lose for real now.

Out in Mayfield, Progressive wants to expand. This will certainly
grease the skids. Tax revenue related to Progressive makes up more
than half the city budget. The city council will be hard pressed not
to take a few homes to allow Progressive another building.

And finally, my favorite little tragic suburb, East Cleveland. Would
the East Cleveland city council please take the entire suburb "down
the hill" -- take it through eminent domain and turn it over to some
developers to raze the whole damn thing and start over? Save the
homes up the hill in Forest Hills, and the rest of it, BRING ON THE
BULLDOZERS BABY!

I always used to joke that the highest and best use for East Cleveland
would be flatten it and build a new airport. Under the Kelo case, we
could flatten it and turn it over to developers. It is a HORRIBLE
loss to the property rights of homeowners. But before Congress steps
in, and before the Supreme Court balance changes, someone PLEASE take
advantage of this travesty and take and redevelop East Cleveland.

East Cleveland Follies

Honest, I meant to veto that yesterday!

Where's Mayor Jane Campbell when you need her ... to make another dumbass comment about being on time?

Sad Songs (Say So Much), Parts I and II

"Sugar Mice"

I was flicking through the channels on the TV
On a Sunday in Milwaukee in the rain
Trying to piece together conversations
Trying to find out where to lay the blame

But when it comes right down to it there's no use trying to pretend

For when it gets right down to it there's no one here that's left to blame
Blame it on me, you can blame it on me
We're just sugar mice in the rain

I heard Sinatra calling me through the floorboards

Where you pay a quarter for a partnership in rhyme
To the jukebox crying in the corner
While the waitress is counting out the time

For when it comes right down to it there's no use trying to pretend
For when it gets right down to it there's no one really left to blame
Blame it on me, you can blame it on me
We're just sugar mice in the rain

'Cos I know what I feel, know what I want I know what I am
Daddy took a raincheck
'Cos I know what I want, know what I feel I know what I need
Daddy took a raincheck, your daddy took a raincheck
Ain't no one in here that's left to blame but me
Blame it on me, blame it on me

Well the toughest thing that I ever did was talk to the kids on the phone
When I heard them asking questions I knew that you were all alone
Can't you understand that the government left me out of work
I just couldn't stand the looks on their faces saying, "What a jerk"

So if you want my address it's number one at the end of the bar
Where I sit with the broken angels clutching at straws and nursing our scars
Blame it on me, blame it on me
Sugar mice in the rain

Your daddy took a raincheck

-- Derek Dick


"The Start of Something Beautiful"

Always in my thoughts you are
Always in my dreams you are
I got your voice on tape
I got your spirit in a photograph
Always out of reach you are

Cold inside my arms you are
Simple like a child you are
I remember when you took my hand and led me through the rain
Down inside my soul you are

The more I show the way I feel the less I find you give a damn
The more I get to know the less find that I understand
Innocent, the time we spent, forgot to mention we're good friends
You thought it was the start of something beautiful?
Well think again.

Mother lost her looks for you
Father never wanted you
I trust to love and then I find you never really felt the same
There's something in your heart so cruel

The more I show the way I feel the less I find you give a damn
The more I get to know the less find that I understand
Innocent, the time we spent, forgot to mention we're good friends
You thought it was the start of something beautiful?
Well think again.


-- Steven Wilson

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Taft, Daft, Graft ... and Down the Drain Jane

How sad it must be to be both ineffective AND criminal!

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050622/NEWS01/506220409

And thanks to the new budget, I'd be just as happy to call him
Governor Tax. What's the point of electing Republicans if we still
end up paying higher taxes. The sales tax is the highest ever under
Taft. The cigarette tax too. New taxes on dry cleaning and haircuts
under Taft. New line on the tax form to collect sales tax on internet
and out of state purchases under Taft.

This man has all a politician's worst attributes with none of the
positives. He is a coward. He has a temper. He looks and talks
goofy. He stands on the shoulders of his great grandfather and
grandfather, squandering a great family name. And, he is a crook.

"Equal time" time:

Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell just set up her campaign HQ in a closed
down bookstore in the Galleria. For those of you who don't know
downtown Cleveland, the Galleria was once a high end retail center.
Once it boasted Williams Sonoma, Franklin Covey, Casell-Massey,
Brookstone, and other stores of that caliber. The place has all but
failed as a mall, many stores closing since Jane became mayor. And
where does she set up her HQ? At the scene of the crime.

Is she nuts, placing her HQ at a downtown site that continues to ail
under her "leadership"?

The worst part for me personally -- I have to walk past the damn thing
every day to get lunch. Maybe I'll lose some weight. The old
Brentano's bookstore, loaded with empty shelves, now the home of the
vacant and pointless reelection campaign of the worst mayor since
Dennis Kucinich.

Campbell and Taft -- two things wrong about Ohio that need to be
righted, the sooner, the better.

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Vapor Trailer Is on the Block

Placed an ad in the PD today to sell her.

"Her" being my 1997 Chrysler Sebring. Green with a new tan cloth top.
Tan leather, power seat, power windows and mirrors, AC, ABS, alloy
wheels. V6 engine. Had the transmission rebuilt, and its still under
warranty (and I still owe on that too, ugh). 117,000 miles. Kelly
Blue Book says the car should sell in a private sale between 4600 and
5300. I am asking $4900.

Why am I selling her? I don't need her anymore. Bought a new car in
February. And I though about keeping them both, but I don't feel like
paying for insurance on two cars. MJ doesn't really want it. Time to
unload it.

I Can See for Miles and Miles and...

MJ and I joined JDG and AJZ for a day trip to Put-In-Bay on South Bass
Island off of Port Clinton. We had never been to the islands of Lake
Erie before.

The main purpose of the trip: to visit the Perry's Victory and
International Peace Memorial. It was built in 1912-1915 to
commemorate Commodore Perry's victory over the British in 1813 in the
Battle of Lake Erie. It is also supposed to commemorate the lasting
peace with Canada ever since.

http://www.nps.gov/pevi/pphtml/activities.html

The memorial consists largely of a doric column, 352 feet tall. The
observation deck is located at 317 feet. The view is incredible. It
was a clear and sunny day. We could see the shores of Ohio, Michigan
and Ontario all from this point. We could see Canada's Pelee Island,
as well as Ohio's Middle and North Bass Islands. We could see Cedar
Point amusement park. We could see TWO nuclear plants, Davis-Besse
near Toledo and whatever nuke plant is near Monroe Michigan. We could
even see, just barely, Cleveland! It was so small we really could not
take a picture of it, but the guides on hand confirmed that it was
indeed Cleveland.

We had lunch on the island, too. Saw enough that day to know that an
overnight trip back might be fun.

I didn't even get sick on the ferry -- though it did rock a little bit
more than I'd like on the way back. I do get sea sick.

But I have to recommend the trip, if only to see the view. $11 round
trip on the Miller Ferry. $2 each way on the bus from the Lime Pier
to downtown Put-In-Bay. $3 at the monument to go to the top.

Maybe I'll try posting pictures later.

Friday, June 17, 2005

American Foreign Legion

Here's something I just thought of. The military is having difficulty meeting its recruiting goals. Americans aren't signing up, even with enlistment bonuses of $20,000 now. Senator Joe Biden says we may haveto have a dialog about instituting a draft.

I have another idea.

Illegal aliens are in this country "doing the jobs no one else wants to do." How about we make them an offer?

Why don't we offer American citizenship to any foreign citizen -- if they agree to a four year tour in the military? Yeah, we'll have to screen them carefully, so we don't signup a bunch of al Qaida.

They would have to be a separate force. Not to discriminate, but trying to integrate them into the regular army could be disasterous. Put all the Mexicans into one army, for instance.

Then, I suppose, if we march those Mexicans into Tehran, and 95% don't make it back, we'll have a real PR problem.

Never mind. What would the draft cutoff age be again?

Destination: Cleveland

Today's Plain Dealer features the latest convention center proposal on the front page. Meanwhile, charity Texas Hold'em tournaments will be held every weekend this summer in the flats under an air-conditioned tent. At the Galleria, the signature drive proceeds for a statewide initiative to allow certain cities (including Cleveland) to legalize casino gambling.

That's all great. But there are two big problems that stand in the way, one old, one new.

1. The old problem: the AIRPORT. The movement to expand the airport started by Mayor White has died under Mayor Campbell. In short: it doesn't matter what you build here for a convention center, because if inexpensive direct flights aren't available, people aren't going to fly to Cleveland. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh have large regional airports, and Cleveland does not. We need to expand the airport if we want to compete.

2. The new problem: ADULT ENTERTAINMENT. Convention attendees want it. And Ohio is coming dangerously close to losing what adult entertainment it has, as reported in this article in the Cleveland Scene.

If Cleveland wants to be a destination city, then it has to provide not only a convention center, but a cheap way to get to it, so that a convention attendee has extra money to gamble, and then blow his winnings on a surgically enhanced bleach blond who rubs her boobs in his face. It all goes together. Take any part of it out, and why bother?

Cold Fire

Inspired by the discussion on the "Lies I Once Believed, Part IV," I present "Cold Fire."

It was long after midnight
When we got to unconditional love
She said, 'Sure, my heart is boundless
But don't push my limits too far'
I said, 'If love was so transcendent
I don't understand these boundaries'
She said, 'Just don't disappoint me
You know how complex women are'

I'll be around
If you don't let me down too far
I'll be around
If you don't let me down

It was just before sunrise
When we started on traditional roles
She said, 'Sure, I'll be your partner
But don't make too many demands'
I said, 'If love has these conditions
I don't understand those songs you love'
She said, 'This is not a love song
This isn't fantasyland'

(Don't go too far)
A phosphorescent wave on a tropical sea is a cold fire
(Don't cross the line)
The pattern of moonlight on the bedroom floor is a cold fire
(Don't let me down)
The flame at the heart of a pawnbroker's diamond is a cold
fire

(Don't break the spell)
The look in your eyes as you head for the door is a cold
fire


Love is blind if you are gentle.
Love can turn to a long, cold burn.

-- Neil Peart

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Terri Schiavo Could Not Improve

There can be no difference of opinion now. The autopsy is conclusive.
She never would have recovered. It was impossible. And everything the
parents fought for, everything that Congress and Bush did, everything
that Dr./Sen. Bill Frist said -- it was all WRONG.

Not only was Terri's brain half the normal size, but we now know she
was blind. So those creatively edited video tapes that made it appear
that she was responding to stimuli -- no question now they were just
random acts. She couldn't see the balloon. She couldn't see her
mother. She couldn't see anything.

Oh but most thinking people knew already that she couldn't be saved,
right? Yet, they did find a couple of quack doctors to view the tape
and say she looked like she could improve. And Senator Frist, also a
doctor, said back in March:

"She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli."

Remember that when Frist runs for president in 2008.

This is one of those unique instances where, now that it is all over,
it can be said conclusively who was right and who was wrong. And now
that it is known, do you think they will apologize to Michael Schiavo
for calling him an abuser, a wife-beater and a murderer? And will they
apologize for needlessly dragging the whole nation through one
family's personal tragedy? They should. They won't.

Yay to JWB!

JWB starts a new job. On Monday. In New York City.
I am VERY excited for him!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Lies I Once Fell For, Part IV

1. The public should pay for stadiums and other sports facilities as these facilities promote economic development.

2. He should be happy to pay more taxes because it means we are making more money.

3. The War on Drugs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Marillion NYC Set List (Spoilers)

The June 12 NYC show began with just H on the keys:
Hollow Man
Cover My Eyes

Pete took the stage, and they play:
The Bell in the Sea (at the NYC show, H flubs the lyrics and they start again)

Steve Rothery then appears

Dry Land
You're Gone (very nice!)
Sugar Mice (someone yelled for Fish, H says something to the effect of, what'd you have to mention him for?)
Fantastic Place
This Is the 21st Century (without all the solos, it was lean and wonderfully short)
Marbles I
Don't Hurt Yourself
Easter (a fresh and different take on it!)
Answering Machine
Tumble Down the Years
80 Days (a little story about how they wrote this song for the fans.)

Encore One

Ocean Cloud (!) (just a few minutes of it)
as a medley with
Enlightened

King of Sunset Town (with a story about how this was the first song they wrote together after H joined the band)

Encore Two

Made Again

Some more spoliers:

While billed as an acoustic tour, Rothers does use an electric guitar now and then. He plays the bass on DHY while Pete plays guitar.

A Mac laptop mounted next to H and the keyboard is used to trigger some basic drum tracks, used only occassionally and sparingly. Clearly not meant as a substitute for Ian.

NOTHING off of AoS. While I would have liked to have heard Afraid of Sunlight, I was not left wanting. It was a wonderful show.

H's voice was in top form. It was supple and nuanced, and you could hear it all with the minimalist accoustic accompanyment.In the lounge after the show, H said it was the best he ever sang. He said it several times to several of us.

Lies I Once Fell For, Part III

1. The mainstream media has a liberal bias.

2. Civil unions are good enough.

3. Gun control.

Lies I Once Fell For, Part II

1. The Democrats are for the working man.

2. The Republicans are for fiscal responsibility.

3. A flat tax would be regressive and hurt the poor.

I'm back...!

Back from NYC.
Back from my mom's.
Back from seeing Glengarry and Glen Ross.
Back from Marillion. (what a show)
Back from Seanchai.
Back from many pints of Brooklyn Lager, Brooklyn Brown Ale and Guinness.
Back from the ESPN Zone.
Back from Chinatown.
Back from Ground Zero.
Back from the Rushtour meetup.
Back from the Tower Records Signing.
Back from John's Pizza.
Back from Loreley.
Back from the Dallas Barbeque.
Back to work. Ohhhhhhh, back to work...!

(but home to MJ -- great to be home)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Open Road Is Infinitely Hopeful

In about 10 hours, I'll be on the road to NYC.

Why: to see Los Trios Marillos ... otherwise known as three fifths of Marillion. They are doing a short tour of acoustic shows. They open in New York on Sunday at The Bowery Ballroom.

They are doing a special appearance at Tower Records in the Village (692 Broadway) at 6pm Friday evening. That's why we're leaving in the early morning -- to make it to the in store acoustic/signing session.

New York City

You called me last night on the telephone
And I was glad to hear from you 'cause I was all alone
You said, "It's snowing, it's snowing! God, I hate this weather."
Now I walk through blizzards just to get us back together

We met in the springtime at a rock-and-roll show
It was on the Bowery when it was time to go
We kissed on the subway in the middle of the night
I held your hand, you held mine, it was the best night of my life.

'Cause everyone's your friend in New York City
And everything looks beautiful when you're young and pretty
The streets are paved with diamonds and there's just so much to see
But the best thing about New York City is you and me

Statue of Liberty, Staten Island Ferry, Co-op City, Katz's and Tiffany's*
Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, The Empire State where Dylan lived**
Coney Island and Times Square, Rockefeller Center
Wish I was there

You wrote me a letter just the other day
Said, "Springtime is coming soon so why don't you come to stay."
I packed my stuff, got on the bus, I can't believe it's true
I'm three days from New York City and I'm three days from you

'Cause everyone's my friend in New York City
And everything looks beautiful when you're young and pretty
The streets are paved with diamonds and there's just so much to see
But the best thing about New York City is you and me


Going to NYC tomorrow with Haves and George.

Going to see Los Trios Marillos!

Won't be back till Monday.

I wish MJ could come along too -- not going to work out this time. I'll have to get her to the city next time.

Deep Thoughts

You don't have to forgive someone or concede to their position in
order to accept them for who they are and the circumstances under
which they are toiling.

(something I just wrote to someone ... quoted verbatim, complete with
inconsistent singular/plural structure.)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

TMI

A blogger goes too far.

The Folly of Single Party Rule

The scandals in Ohio continue. Now we learn that the state lost $215 million from the Bureau of Workers Compensation fund, which noteably, remains solvent. The loss was done at the hands of a poltically connected investment firm. And this loss comes on the heels of the millions lost in the "rare coin" investments by Noe, who has also contributed money to the campaigns of most or all of the statewide GOPs office holders.

Ohio ceased being a two-party state in any meaningful way in the mid 90s. There are numerous reasons for this. First, the Ohio Democratic Party is in shambles. Second, the Ohio Republican Party is well organized and very well led by Bob Bennett -- a man I have met on several occasions and for whom I have much respect. (That's not name dropping ... that's full disclosure.)

Even with the partisan calls for a recall of Governor Taft, I cannot recall a less effective governor of this state or any other. He has the family name, and besides that, he is tax-raising doofus of a Republican. And the fact that the he won reelection shows how terribly disorganized the Democratic party is in Ohio. A competent candidate with even average funding should have been able to take him. Taxin' Tim Hagan and his "Taft-quack" internet ads were not enough (but those ads were well done! if only they'd been on TV!)

How bad are things here in Ohio? The idea of Jerry Springer running for governor seems less and less preposterous every day. And if he can parlay the tone he has taken in his radio show to a governor's race, who knows? He might actually be the next governor of Ohio. He could not be less effective than Taft.

But it probably won't happen. The Ohio Dems are and have been sadly anemic, bereft of interesting or talented candidates (or of funding to let anyone know anything about them.) Jerry has money, but most voters probably won't remember him as the former mayor of Cincinnati who contended against Dick Celeste in the Democratic gubernatorial primaries back in the 80s. They will remember him as the Ringmaster and the antics of his daytime show that showcased the worst elements of societal decay. Nevermind his moralizing sermons at the end of those shows -- that is not what people remember, as it is not what they tuned in for.

The Ohio GOP, while ripe for a fall, may get away unscathed -- because the Ohio Dems have yet to prove that they can take down even a wounded giant. Taft et al have provided more than adequate ammunition. Let's see if the Dems remember how to shoot. Other than themselves in the foot.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

America's Greatest Pastime

Last night I went and watched a little minor league baseball. Met up
with JJH and went to see the Lake County Captains pound the snot out
of the Delmarva Shorebirds. The Captains took the lead in the first
inning and never looked back. It was 18 to 4 when we finally left.

After the game we stopped off for a drink and to view the local color.
Enjoyed a ride in JJH's new sporty ride, a bright yellow Toyota
Celica -- wonder he he got the keys away from the wife!

I introduced him to Peter Gabriel's "Up" CD -- he had "Shaking the
Tree" in the car.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Fallen Twins

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."
-- Anais Nin

It was on September 11, 2001 that I knew I had lost my best friend.
The world was crashing down on every channel, and the enormity and
humanity of watching the towers fall still paled to what I had lost at
home.

His birthday was on September 10. We didn't get together to
celebrate. I had sent him a card, and it went unnoticed, or at least
without comment.

While the specific details aren't so important now, suffice it to say
that I did something that hurt him and hurt others dear to him,
something he did not respect, something he could not understand. And
I'll admit that I had not been much of a friend for some time. My
marriage had ended and, while he had been the best man at my wedding,
he could not agree with how I went about my affairs. I had ended the
marriage as I had given up on it, and I had moved on.

When I left that part of my life behind, I didn't intend to leave him
with it. It wasn't part of the plan. But it still happened.

Like burrs in velcro, I don't detach and let go so well. I somewhat
admire those who can. But I also know what you lose when you lose
someone you once counted on, someone you considered the best among all
of your friends. No matter how close you think you are, a friendship
can fall into disrepair and ruin. It can seize up and destroy itself
without proper maintenance. And it can take a part of you with you.

This has been on my mind for some time anyway. And then I see two
other friends of mine, once inseparable, now seemingly separate in
every way. Sometimes this is the way it has to be. And with these
two, I really don't know if it has to be so. It is not my call.
Indeed, I have had my share of differences with them too over the
years, but apparently, nothing so fatal.

I have probably meddled too much already.

But if my old friend called me, I could forgive four years of silence,
if he could somehow accept (even if not forgive) the stupid and
hurtful things I once said and did. While I have many other friends I
value and cherish, I do not take them for granted as I once took him
for granted.

It is a hard lesson learned if you must lose someone you care about to
learn it.

I hate to see anyone I care about repeat what was, for me, a horrible mistake.

The Full (Fool?) Article: Museum takes a biblical path, Critics say creationists

I got this email from "Newsbank"... unsolicited. It is the full article from the PD about that "science" musuem. So here it is for your consideration.

If the PD or the reporter have any issue with me reposting it here, kindly advise, and I'll take it down.

Be sure to check out my rant against this museum.

Paper: Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH)
Title: Museum takes a biblical path, Critics say creationists put religion over science
Author: FRANK BENTAYOU
Date: June 3, 2005
Section: ARTS & LIFE
Page: E1

A sign marked “Truassic Park” on a building in rural Summit County is as close as Bill Sanderson comes to irony.It’s a pun on “Jurassic Park,” Michael Crichton’s 1990 science-adventure novel, which became a Steven Spielberg film. Sanderson, a Protestant, calls himself a biblical literalist. It’s the perfect fit for the founder of the new Akron Fossils and Science Center, Ohio’s first museum dedicated to an unvarnished interpretation of the Genesis account of creation.

Truassic Park is a playground, done in dinosaur motif, outside the museum. Surrounding it is a stockade fence painted with dinosaur and human footprints scattered together.

Scientists identify the Jurassic Period as the geologic time 200 million to 145 million years ago when great reptiles roamed. Sanderson, a 54-year-old financial planner, doesn’t buy it. He doesn’t believe that the Earth or anything else was here then.

Displays tell visitors that all being – stars, Earth, life, even dinosaurs – sprang into existence during one week 8,426 years ago, he says.

“The Earth is much younger than scientists tell us,” Sanderson says. The museum’s position is that creation days were 24 hours each, “sunrise to sunrise” and were not figurative.

Exhibits, which use a few fossils, casts, reproductions, some pottery and poster-size graphics, argue that science got it wrong on everything from the Big Bang to Darwinian evolution.

Hands-on exhibits are sprinkled among the bones and stones and some sometimes funky displays. Sanderson, who started his career as a middle school science teacher, delights in his pool table and 17 painted blocks. Visitors hurl them across the felt and imagine the probability that the same pattern might occur again in a few more tosses. The odds against such a repeat are vast. It’s an illustration, he says, “of how unlikely it is that, even if over millions of years, chance occurrences would create something as complex as a living cell.”

Other exhibits focus on inconsistencies science has spawned over time, different estimates of age using carbon-dating technology, revised calculations of when the solar system coalesced.

Aside from discounting scientific findings, the museum’s big message is this: Life requires a designer’s vision.

The scientific process hasn’t pointed to a designer, Sanderson says, but the Bible has. And if the Bible says God summoned the universe into being just as it is, “that’s evidence enough for me,” he says with a gentle smile.

He’s not alone in advocating the faith-based message. The center, which will have its grand opening Thursday, June 16, is only the latest in a growing network of displays disputing the scientific notion that the Earth is old, that life evolved over eons of natural selection.

Intelligent-design believers have launched information centers that widen the decades-old chasm between science and some religious beliefs, according to Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, Calif., a nonprofit group working to keep sectarian beliefs out of schools.

Though Sanderson says his only formal scientific training came as an undergraduate education major at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in the 1970s, he hammers on a central theme of intelligent design: The cosmos and life are so complex that physics, random events and natural selection can’t account for them.

Weaving features of intelligent design into public schools has become a political issue in the United States, heightening debate about where to draw a line between science and religion.

Cosmologists and geologists say evidence shows that the Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago, the universe 10 billion to 15 billion years before that. Biologists, astrophysicists and earth scientists have shown how change has been the only constant since those origins.

Sanderson and fellow believers insist the Christian god created stars, planets, oceans, humans, just as they appear today. Moreover, he says, views contrary to his threaten religion and morality.

“If you come from a blob,” Sanderson says, “what’s the point? Morality is anything you say. If you’re here because of an accident, what do we have from that? But if we were endowed by our creator with values and consciousness, created in his image, it’s a whole different thing.”

Critics of the “young-Earth creationism” say anti-evolutionists are demonstrably wrong in virtually all their claims about how the universe and life came to be. Some say creationists have pushed religious ideas by attacking scientific methods and substance. And their efforts “exacerbate the problem of science illiteracy,” Scott says, at a time when the United States already falls behind other countries in science education.

Physicist Mano Singham, director of Case Western Reserve University’s Center for Innovation in Teaching and Education, says evangelical fervor fuels “a well-funded movement” to dispute science.

“They fear adoption of Darwinian evolution means people are not special; they’re free to do anything they like, act like monkeys, because God is being taken out of the public sphere,” he says.

Sanderson has invested $60,000 to $80,000 of his own money in the museum (“and it’s going up,” he says with a laugh). He is donating 5,000 square feet of his office building on Cleveland-Massillon Road (also the site of his company, Independence Financial Group). And he has put his own collection of artifacts on display.

He hopes school groups will frequent the center.

Exhibits divide into two sections, one he calls a science portion and another he drew from Genesis. “You can go through this part, on the right, and learn a lot of science,” he says.

A ceramic display shows peoplelike figures fighting large reptiles. “That right there shows humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs.”

“If you want answers science can’t provide, you can go through the section here, the God part.” He points toward the room to the left, where displays enumerate the six days of creation, citing the Genesis scripture and putting his spin on what it might mean.

Other Bible passages tell him the world might not last much longer, “maybe a couple of generations.” But that’s not a topic for a creationist museum.

Akron Fossils and Science Center is at 2080 Cleveland-Massillon Road, Copley. Call 330-665-3466. To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: fbentayou@plaind.com, 216-999-4116

Copyright, 2005, The Plain Dealer. All Rights Reserved. Used by NewsBank with Permission.

Upcoming Horse Races

Saturday, June 11, 7:00 pm - Battle of Lake Erie Pace at Northfield (free hat to first 2000 fans)

Saturday, July 2, 12:55 pm - Ohio Derby at Thistledown

Sunday, August 14, 2:00 pm - West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park

Saturday, August 20, 7:00 pm - Miller Lite Cleveland Classic at Northfield

Saturday, October 15, 7:00 pm - Courageous Lady Pace at Northfield

(thanks to JS for the list!)

Tiananmen v. Abu Ghraib & Gitmo

The U.S. State Department has called on the Chinese Government to "fully account for the thousands killed, detained, or missing, and to release those unjustly imprisoned" in connection with the 1989 pro-democracy crackdown at Tiananmen.

Money quote from the official Xinhua News Agency:

"[Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan] asked the United States for a better governance on its own affairs, suggesting it pay more attention to activities which `severely violated' human rights in its own country."

Just like in the old Westerns, the guys that shoot people in the back don't get to wear the white hats. It is not as if Beijing would have cooperated otherwise, but with the officially sanctioned torture at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, the U.S. has lost the moral authority to question what other countries do in the name of security.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Lies I Once Fell For, Part I

Recycling.

"I will always love you."

"Your American Express Card has no pre-set spending limit."

SCOTUS Watch

The sun is setting on Chief Justice Rehnquist's tenure on the U.S. Supreme Court. Expect him to retire this summer. And expect one or two confirmation battles to ensue. Two? Yes. Because the new appointee may or may not be brought in as Chief Justice. If the new appointee is brought in as an Associate Justice, then one the the present associates will be nominated Chief, just as Rehnquist was in 1986.

So here is my prediction, from the buzz I've been listening to.

George W. Bush will appoint Michael W. McConnell to the U.S. Supreme Court. Bush appointed McConnell to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and was confirmed in 2002. An intellectual conservative, McConnell is widely respected by both liberal and conservative legal scholars. The DOJ still had on its website biographical information about McConnell pertaining to his appointment to the Tenth Circuit, and you may view it here.

The question is, will Bush bring in McConnell as Chief Justice, or will he seek to appoint one of the other Justices as Chief? In 1986, Reagan appointed Scalia and moved Rehnquist to Chief. But if I remember my history, that was unusual. Usually, when a Chief Justice is replaced, the replacement was made the Chief.

So, will Bush make McConnell the Chief, or ask the Congress to confirm Scalia as the Chief? I can see either happenning. Scalia is brilliant, but has plenty of dings in him that have little or nothing to do with his legal opinions, and he is bound to get the treatment that Bolton's been getting.

By the way, Scalia is 69 years old. McConnell is only 50. Whether McConnell enters as Associate or Chief, W's mark on the Supreme Court will likely last decades. And McConnell's opinions are, for the most part, solid and thoughtful.

Why I like McConnell: he has distinguished himself on the issue of religious freedom. McConnell has held consistently that all relegions must be treated equally by the government. While that does not mean an absolute divide between church and state, it does mean that no one religion may be allowed to gain the upper hand within the state. Because of this, he has been critical of allowing school prayer and prayers at graduation commencements. Indeed, McConnell even criticized the Employment Division vs. Smith case (authored by Scalia) -- which upheld the Oregon law prohibiting the religious use of peyote. McConnell has been called "the most prominent scholarly critic" of the decision by none other than Scalia himself.

By now you may be asking: where does he stand on Roe? Well, he doesn't like it. He thinks it was a bad decision. No surprise. But not being a judicial activist, don't expect that he'll reverse an established precedent. And since he'll be replacing Rehnquist, it doesn't change the balance on the Court one bit.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Creationist "Science" Museum in Akron

I wish I could post a link to this article, but the Cleveland Plain Dealer didn't see fit to make it available -- I can't find it anywhere in Cleveland.com despite the fact that it is the featured, above-the-fold article in the June 3, 2005, Arts and Life section.

Friday's Plain Dealer features an article about a new museum, the Akron Fossils and Science Center. William Sanderson, Copley financial planner and former middle school science (!) teacher, has opened "Ohio's first museum dedicated to an unvarnished interpretation of the Genesis account of creation."

The museum's founder insists that the Earth was created in one week 8,426 years ago, and that those creation days were 24 hours each and were not figurative.

I am not going to retype the whole article here. But some other points: the museum's big message is that life require's a designer's vision, and the founder says that the biblical account is "evidence enough for [him]." The museum is divided into two sections: a "science" section and a "God" section. The "science" section is obviously crap though, because it states as fact that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs. As for the "God" section -- I won't comment on whether that's crap, because that's a matter of faith. But the junk science? Bullshit.

Mr. Sanderson "hopes school groups will frequent the center." I say to him, live and let live if you choose to be an ignorant fool. But when you want to spread your ignorance to the children, you are a dangerous man. I would no sooner allow you teaching science to the children than I'd allow the KKK teaching race relations to the children. If my children went to a school that would take a field trip to your museum, I would not rest until everyone responsible was dismissed from that school. Being that you are a FORMER middle school science teacher, I'd be curious to know the circumstances under which you left teaching.

In ancient times, we had myths to account for that which ancient people could not otherwise explain. We had Apollo and his chariot, moving the sun across the sky. We had the story of Persephone to explain the seasons. But through SCIENCE we now know such radical ideas as the earth spinning on its axis, and that the axis has a slight tilt. We don't have believe in myths to explain these natural phenomena. Even the Catholic Church, by 1992, conceded it had erred in pronouncing Galileo a heretic for promoting the radical idea that the earth revolves the sun.

But the scientific process has not pointed to any designer of life, so people like Mr. Sanderson cling to and spread the biblical creation myth. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you DON'T CALL IT SCIENCE. And if Mr. Sanderson wants to avoid black cats, and don't want to step on cracks because that might break his mother's back, be my guest.

Intelligent design and the creation myth do not belong in any science museum. And they don't belong in any science classroom either. If there is any classroom in which intelligent design and the creation myth belong, it is the political science and civics classroom, to show what damage organized, well-funded, yet willfully ignorant people can do to our society.

Geek Happiness II

The new PC is a dream! Quick, clean and unencumbered by all the crap
that will eventually bog it down.

It used to be that my home PC was the quick one, and my work PC the slow one.

That changed today.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A Lesson in Evil from Sith

Is George Lucas some sort of misogynist?

Anakin loved his mother and loved his wife, and because of this he
turned to the dark side.

Women will make you do that, seems to be Lucas's message.

geek happiness

Getting a new PC for work!

It is here. It may even be installed tonight!

Getting a new flat screen too. Yee-haw!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I Agree with Roeper on Sith

Richard Roeper called Revenge of the Sith the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. I agree.

We all knew that Sith would end up setting the stage for Episode 4 -- the question was, how would it get us there? And watching it unfold, the story was good. The dialogue, however, was laughably bad. Lucas has never learned the concept of "show, don't tell." Throughout this movies, characters say how they are feeling, instead of showing their feelings. Don't have Natalie Portman say she is afraid; show her in fear! Because of this, a lot of talented actors are again thrown away. Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits -- these guys are capable of so much more, but there is only so much they can do with what they have to work with. But dialogue was never the strong suit of these movies.

Yes, there are few lines that are vaguely reminiscent of things that have been said by Bush and his administration since 9/11. It is not an allegory, and it was never meant to be. But certain elements are present, including the idea that liberty and freedom can be given up for the sake of security.

I'm glad I finally saw it. I was not disappointed. Unlike Episodes 1 and 2, I already want to watch it again.