Back to my true love, pastels, for this pic.
The Prairie Angel returns from her galactic wandering and finds mischief afoot!
In other news, the Justice Department does an about-face, redefines torture as 'bad'. My sister remarked that she would take this as a sign of an improving outlook, if the administration had not also promoted everyone who initially redefined torture as legally acceptable. C'est la vie.
Noted around town
Just a couple things I noticed on my day off yesterday...
First I drove Miss Sally (the car) to the DMV to get her '05 stickers. Waiting at the drivethru window, I noticed the little pop-out thing through which you can pass your registration and check, etc, was made by Diebold. I surrendered my stuff, and waited and waited for the woman inside to do whatever it is they do with it. Had a terrible waking dream that she was going to come back and tell me that the pop-out had eaten all my paperwork and that Diebold now owned my car and was going to send it to Afghanistan. Fortunately, this didn't happen.
Later, leaving the parking lot of the mall that is also home to Sterling's Cyberclub, I noticed a sign about their 'afterschool program'. Seems that for $65/week, they will pick up your 6-13 year-old-child and keep them in broadband comfort from 2:30 to 6:30. I suppose for working parents, it's quite a service, and their website seems to indicate that it's not just unsupervised gaming and porn-ogling. And my first reaction, of course, was 'cool! four hours of gaming a DAY'. Then I got to thinking - given the state of my wrists, and I've been keyboarding for about twenty years, what's in store for today's teen? Carpel-tunnel syndrome by 19? Useless claws on the ends of their wrists by the time they're thirty? Or stylish CyberHands (tm)?
A Lingering Bad Attitude
Found this cartoon; must share. Karl Rove Explains All.
Begging Bowl Redux
I hate to bring this up after the Asian situation, and I hope you've all visited your favorite site to donate something for the relief efforts...
That said, and thanking the two donors who heard my earlier appeal, I need to explain why I'm going to be mindlessly busy, and will probably not be able to post here as often for a while.
I mentioned earlier that I had a 1300 dollar car repair bill. I'm not sure how you're fixed financially, but that wiped me out. $1300 constitutes the BULK of my take-home pay for a month. I've managed to scrounge enough to pay the mortgage this month, and one utility bill, but frankly, that's it.
What I typically do when the ends don't meet in the middle is start hitting all the thriftstores, buying up used books for fifty cents that I think I can sell on eBay for three-five dollars. This is a good way to make up a fifty-buck shortfall, or get some grocery or gas money, but it takes a hell of a lot of 3 buck books to make up a 1300 dollar shortfall. Even so, it's better than nothing.
So I point out again the 'tip jars' to the right of the screen. If you enjoy reading my posts, and have five bucks to spare, please tip the blogger. Each 5-10 dollar donation will be the equivalent of some HOURS of work building eBay listings. (Don't think people make more than minimum wage on eBay - they don't.)
If you don't mind dropping a few bucks but want a little something in return, please check out my giftshops, the WooWoo Room, and the Wonkery. I get a buck or two out each purchase made there; all the items feature Prairie Angel Exclusive Photoshop creations (and even some of my original 'real' art; ie my watercolors and pastels). And yes, you can get the Prairie Angel herself on tees and mugs.
Anyone need any website work done? Will freelance for reasonable rates. My Signature Piece is here: the store's website. If you like that kind of thing, shop my store's online shop here - if you don't like that kind of thing, at least tell your friends who do. This will make a small business prosper to the benefit of all my employees, and perhaps I'll be able to give myself a small raise someday before I'm ninety.
... and now if you'll excuse me, I have listings to build.
The Gravitational Constant of the Universe
Kind of a companion piece to the quote below... Just when you think things can't get any worse, comes word that Gravity may be weakening... Or maybe it's just Dark Matter, pshew.
The Gravity of the Situation
The current situation in Asia reminds me of a problem faced by JeanLuc Picard's Enterprise. (Yeah, I know, my geek is showing... what's it to you?) They were racing to the rescue of an inhabited planet which was right in line for a comet strike. Also on board was the Omnipotent and Annoying Alien, Q, temporarily de-powered and quite impotent. As the scientists and engineers looked for a solution to save the people on the planet (far too many to be evacuated), we have this exchange:
Q: It's simple. Just change the gravitational constant of the universe.
Q (slowly, as if speaking to someone incredibly dense): Change the gravitational constant of the universe.
Geordi (exasperated): We can't DO that!
Q: Oh. Well then. Never mind.
I can't say Q reminds me of anyone in particular... just that the arrogance rings a bell.
If you're looking to help out, DailyKos has a plethora of links to worthy causes for you to choose from.
The Bush administration more than doubled its financial commitment yesterday to provide relief to nations suffering from the Indian Ocean tsunami, amid complaints that the vacationing President Bush has been insensitive to a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions.
Although U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland yesterday withdrew his earlier comment, domestic criticism of Bush continued to rise. Skeptics said the initial aid sums -- as well as Bush's decision at first to remain cloistered on his Texas ranch for the Christmas holiday rather than speak in person about the tragedy -- showed scant appreciation for the magnitude of suffering and for the rescue and rebuilding work facing such nations as Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Indonesia.
... In Britain, the predominant U.S. voice speaking about the disaster was not Bush but former president Bill Clinton, who in an interview with the BBC said the suffering was like something in a "horror movie," and urged a coordinated international response.
Earlier yesterday, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.' "
Perhaps if it were pointed out to him that Bill Clinton never ONCE jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge?
Nice to know that Hastert is looking out for what's really important...:
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is leaning toward removing the House ethics committee chairman, who admonished House Majority Leader Tom DeLay this fall and has said he will treat DeLay like any other member, several Republican aides said yesterday
The effort by DeLay and his allies to preserve his leadership post, even if he faces criminal charges, is one of the most sensitive issues facing Republicans as the new Congress begins. If Hefley is replaced by Smith, it is another signal by House leaders that they will stand by DeLay. "It certainly seems they're circling the wagons," said a GOP staff member who declined to be identified.
Next on the agenda - figuring out how DeLay can retain his position and his perks and run his office from the inside of a prison cell...
Iraq: Our Fifty-first State?
We certainly seem to be buying it out from under the indigenous population...
WASHINGTON - The United States is helping the interim Iraqi government continue to make major economic changes, including cuts to social subsidies, full access for U.S. companies to the nation's oil reserves and reconsideration of oil deals that the previous regime signed with France and Russia.Full story here.
During a visit here this week, officials of the U.S.-backed administration detailed some of the economic moves planned for Iraq, many of them appearing to give U.S. corporations greater reach into the occupied nation's economy.
For example, the current leadership is looking at privatizing the Iraqi National Oil Company, said Finance Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi.
The government, which is supposed to be replaced after elections scheduled for January, will also pass a new law that will further open Iraq's huge oil reserves to foreign companies. U.S. firms are expected to gain the lion's share of access in a process estimated to be worth billions of dollars.
"So I think this is very promising to the American investors and to American enterprises, certainly to oil companies," Abdel Mahdi said at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on Tuesday.
Fun with Photos
More on the Mystery Bulge can be found here. Apparently Bush wears a portable defibrillator. I gotta say, the photos are interesting... not to say conclusive, but it's the best match I've seen yet.
The Eight-Percent Idiots
From a week-old news story:
A majority of Americans now say the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, a view that has driven down the ratings of President Bushand Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Monday.Since 48% of the population voted for Kerry, this seems to me to indicate that there is a set of people in the country who voted for Bush or someone other than Kerry, while disapproving of Bush's major, nay, his signature policy, vis, the purely-optional war in Iraq.
Fifty-six percent of those questioned, a new high, said that the cost of the war outweighs the benefits and is not worth it. It marked a gain of seven percentage points from a poll conducted in July.
Question for those eight percent - What were you thinking?
And guess what? There's going to be years and years more of it. All because of you. Sleep well...
Savor the irony
Back home from away, and what should meet my eyes but this delicious story off the wire:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House went all out to showcase the advantages of U.S. President George W. Bush's ambitious financial agenda this week, but in the end the "challenges" proved too much.Betcha dollars to doughnuts (and you can hold the stakes in your mouth) that the Bushies will think this story is 'cute'...
The word "challenges" -- a main theme of a two-day White House economic conference that ended on Thursday -- was misspelled on a large television monitor that stood in front of Bush during a panel discussion.
"Financial Challanges for Today and Tomorrow," the message proclaimed in dark blue capital letters against a bright yellow background.
The conference, which critics derided as a public relations event devoid of serious discussion, spotlighted a second-term Bush agenda that would reform Social Security and the tax code while making tax cuts permanent and cutting the deficit in half.
The White House had no immediate comment on the misspelling.
But dang, it's such a metaphor, it's almost a META-metaphor.
My Inner Conservative
Things you think about while driving through the countryside...
Just as my main crush, the General, has an Inner Frenchman he sometimes speaks for, I find that I have an Inner Conservative. My inner conservative was pointing out that the current adminstration can NOT be considered Totalitarian, because if they were, they'd not only support gun control, they'd insist on it. This made me go 'hmm'.
And my conclusion wasn't quite as positive as that of my IC... I can't be entirely certain that if the Junta currently in control were positive that they could steal any election they needed to for the foreseeable future, they wouldn't jettison concern for their base and move to consolidate their hold by banning the private ownership of firearms.
Please note that the tinfoil isn't quite firmly in place - I don't really think that the Bush MalAdminstration is in a position to do anything that would piss off the NRA. What I am saying is, should it come to pass that they make the entirely off-the-wall 'reaching out to the opposition' move to, say, propose adding further regulations on the sale and ownership of firearms, the left may want to consider saying, "you know, on second thought, we changed our minds". Might not be a bad idea to go out immediately thereafter and purchase a handgun. (Gad, can't believe I'm typing this.)
Bush negotiates with himself, from Rising Hegemon.
... I now have a shiny new exhaust system and a car that passes the Virginia emissions inspection.
You know, having been in the 'comfortable' range for most of my life, and now flirting with the lower ranges of the 'middle class', I find myself growing more... anarchic about the entire range of government mandated inspections on vehicles. What do the truly poor do to keep themselves mobile? Do safety inspections actually make vehicles safer? Are emissions standards benefits to the air in line with the amount of money they take out of the economy? Or is enriching the inspectors and the inspection system 'fueling' a portion of the economy? Atrios, you're an economist - any ideas?
That said, I'm kind of disillusioned with the online 'community'. A twenty-something spendthrift with a Gucci habit can apparently pull in over $17,000 to pay off her creditcard debts, but an extremely frugal middle-aged small-business owner with a huge car repair bill gets... zippo.
So how 'bout this? Forget everything you thought you knew about the Prairie Angel. I'm not a middle-aged small business owner of the liberal persuasion. No, in fact, I'm a Young Republican, putting on this huge act. But I've got bills, see - it costs a lot to hang out with all the really cool Republicans and act like you were born rich, and of course all us YRs go through blow like candy. So help out a Defender of Truth and Justice by donating to help me Keep Up With the Coulters and Carlsons.
Now I'm taking my newly legal car and my two cats and retreating to the countryside for a few days. Have a Cool Yule.
If you're wondering what to get me...
... for the holidays, I would not say no to the universal gift certificate, the US dollar. Ordinarily I would shrink from posting this, but having received a $1200 car repair estimate, and not knowing how to pay both that and my mortgage and utilities, I take the plunge. I've moved the so-far ignored 'tip jar' to the top of my sidebar to increase its visibility. If George Soros is out there, he can certainly afford to buy me a NEW car; for the rest of you, if the spirit of giving is in full flower, a five or a ten in my direction would certainly help.
Symptoms of a Mandate
From Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington via Josh Marshall, this 'help wanted ad':
Viacom's Gail McKinnon sent an e-mail this week to offices in the U.S. House of Representatives regarding a job opening in Viacom's government relations department. The e-mail calls for a male, Republican to fill the open position and reads as follows: "Importance: High We need to hire a junior lobbyist/PAC manager. Attached is a job description. Salary is $85-90K. Must be a male with Republican stripes."
If anyone had any possible doubt that full Republican take-over of all branchs of government meant you can kiss the last fifty years of progress goodbye, think again.
Next up on the chopping block, we'll kill off the social security program...
Last Days of the Confederacy
Atrios points us to this news story about a retired Army colonel being recalled to active duty in Afghanistan. The one startling fact about the otherwise now-routine recall is the colonel's age - the gentleman is seventy.
If you read the article, you discover he's quite willing to go - he's a retired oral surgeon and a loyal citizen glad to be doing his part. I would find the article rather heart-warming if the doctor had seen the need and volunteered. As it is, reaching into the ranks of the retired elderly to fill the needs of our currently overstretched military to feed the rapacious maw of the admin's hunger for war rather reeks of desperation. How long will it be before they're calling up the fifteen year old cadets from the Virginia Military Institute?
Return of the Borgias
It seems as if poisoning your opponent is back in style. Witness:
VIENNA, Austria - Dioxin poisoning caused the mysterious illness of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, a doctor said Saturday, adding that the poison could have been put in his soup.
"There is no doubt about the fact that Mr. Yushchenko's disease has been caused by a case of poisoning by dioxin," said Dr. Michael Zimpfer, director of Vienna's private Rudolfinerhaus clinic.
Zimpfer said Yushchenko's blood and tissue registered concentrations of dioxin — one of the most toxic chemicals — that were 1,000 times above normal levels.
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Yasser Arafat's nephew said Saturday the lack of a clear reason for his uncle's death raised suspicions the Palestinian leader died of "unnatural" causes.We've all heard the jokes telling prominent admin critics to avoid small aircraft; maybe they should employ tasters?
The comments by Nasser al-Kidwa, after he handed over the 558-page medical dossier to Palestinian officials in Ramallah, were certain to fuel speculation that Arafat was poisoned. Arafat died in a French hospital on Nov. 11.
Today's Krugman is a Must-Read.
The National Association of Securities Dealers," The Wall Street Journal reports, "is investigating whether some brokerage houses are inappropriately pushing individuals to borrow large sums on their houses to invest in the stock market." Can we persuade the association to investigate would-be privatizers of Social Security?
For it is now apparent that the Bush administration's privatization proposal will amount to the same thing: borrow trillions, put the money in the stock market and hope.
You gotta pause and wonder what's going to be left of our nation after all the raping and pillaging is done?
Historical Cat Blogging
Blast from my past; my original tabbies:
Cobol liked to repose in cool comfort...
... while Pascal always lent a hand helping me pack for trips.
Okay, WHO dresses him?
When you're finished gawking at the leader of the free world looking like Peter Sellers playing a bumbling dictator, go over the Nick's Blog and see his photo of the week. Powerful commentary, Nick.
A "Model City"
From yesterday's Boston Globe:
FALLUJAH, Iraq -- The US military is drawing up plans to keep insurgents from regaining control of this battle-scarred city, but returning residents may find that the measures make Fallujah look more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised.
Under the plans, troops would funnel Fallujans to so-called citizen processing centers on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses that they must wear at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.
One idea that has stirred debate among Marine officers would require all men to work, for pay, in military-style battalions. Depending on their skills, they would be assigned jobs in construction, waterworks, or rubble-clearing platoons.
"You have to say, 'Here are the rules,' and you are firm and fair. That radiates stability," said Lieutenant Colonel Dave Bellon, intelligence officer for the First Regimental Combat Team, the Marine regiment that took the western half of Fallujah during the US assault and expects to be based downtown for some time.
Bellon asserted that previous attempts to win trust from Iraqis suspicious of US intentions had telegraphed weakness by asking, " 'What are your needs? What are your emotional needs?' All this Oprah [stuff]," he said. "They want to figure out who the dominant tribe is and say, 'I'm with you.' We need to be the benevolent, dominant tribe.
US commanders and Iraqi leaders have declared their intention to make Fallujah a "model city," where they can maintain the security that has eluded them elsewhere.
I've got an idea, guys. Why don't you try out your theories on, say, Phoenix or Boston first. See how they like it, none of that Oprah-stuff...
What next? Battalions of Iraqi 'comfort women' for our victorious troops? Hey, we'll PAY them; that makes it okay, doesn't it?
Truth in unexpected places
Today seems to be the day to find unusual pockets of truth-telling. First, from the Takes One To Know One category, we find this:
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Friday of pursuing a dictatorial foreign policy and said mounting violence could derail progress toward bringing peace and democracy to Iraq.
"Even if dictatorship is packaged in beautiful pseudo-democratic phraseology, it will not be able to solve systemic problems," Putin said. "It may even make them worse."
Then this, from the Now He Tells Us files:
Starr said his role in a yearslong investigation of Clinton should have focused instead on Clinton's role in the failed Arkansas land deal known as Whitewater.
Whatever next? Truth from the White House??
.... naaaah. Too farfetched.
Yes, our elected representatives are Renaissance Men all, Leonardo-like in the depth and breadth of their knowledge and abilities. For proof, here's this, from NYT:
Abortion opponents say there is particularly strong support for one of their newest legislative initiatives, the proposed Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, which would require women seeking abortions after 20 weeks to be told that Congress has determined that the fetus can feel pain and to be offered pain-relieving medication for it.
I'll bet their lab is in a hidden underground facility. Don't you think Denny Hastert looks just adorable in a labcoat?
Thanks to No Capital for the tip.
Gag me plenty
Coming next July - Baby Jesus Lawn Ornaments and fireworks for your Fourth of July celebrations.