Saturday, May 1, 2010

Not Exactly

It was 7 years ago today that President George W. Bush stood in front of the "Mission Accomplished" photo-op banner displayed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln's superstructure to announce an end to major combat operations in Iraq.

As of May 1, 2003 the death toll for the invading coalition was 172.

As of April 30, 2010 reported that figure is 4,712... 4394 of them Americans.

The good news is that the death rate has declined drastically... Only 6 per month on average so far this year.

The bad news is that 4540 families have suffered the loss of their beloved in service to a policy and President wrong, not only in declaring the false end we remember today, but from the very start.

Drill Bits

The Former King


A Chicken in Every Crackpot

Nevada has a nasty habit of nominating people who look good, but don't stand up to closer scrutiny... Sue Lowden is the latest one.

Among Democrats, two 2004 candidates for higher office were convicted of taking bribes from strip clubs while serving on the county council in Las Vegas. The Republicans actually elected an incompetent accused molester Governor and an admitted adulterer/accused influence-peddler as Senator.

And now there's chicken lady:

The former Suzanne Pluskoski began competing in beauty contests (recorded on the Internet) while enrolled at American University, in Washington DC. She won Miss District of Columbia USA in 1971 (at 19), then became a top 12 semi-finalist 5/22/71, in the Miss USA 1971 pageant in Miami, hosted by spay & neuter champion Bob Barker & Lassie's mom, June Lockhart.

Sometime during college there was a name change to Suzanne Plummer before becoming Miss Cape May County, then Miss New Jersey (at 21) in 1973, where she won the preliminary swimsuit competition (36 1/2-23-36, coral colored) and became 2nd runner-up (September 2, 1973) to Miss America 1974.

She told a reporter: "I have never been stereotyped as a dizzy blonde." And it was true... THEN. She graduated AU magna cum laude with a BA in elementary education (in 1974) and went on to get an MA from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Rutherford, New Jersey.

But by the time she had the education, she also had an itch for stardom.

Suzanne moved from New Jersey to Las Vegas in the late '70's and the teaching career vanished completely.

She auditioned as a newsreader for local TV (Vegas was comparatively tiny back then) and became a local host for the MDA telethon starting in 1978.

She became Suzanne P. Lowden (in 1983 at age 31) through marriage to a businessman with connections in Republican politics. In 1992, after having 4 kids, Sue Lowden ran for the Nevada State Senate in a heavily Democratic district. She won that campaign by defeating the Nevada State Senate Majority Leader, and was more recently chosen by Nevada's current Republican Governor to be chairwoman of the state party.

She's had a lot of work done.

Nobody can spend 32+ years living in the Mojave and look like her at age 58 without being buffed, lifted, tucked & 'toxed. And now she needs more work to overcome the inanity of her recent pronouncements that have earned her title: "The Chicken Lady."

But this is Nevada, where dumbass voters often fall for someone who looks good... But only from afar, and only for a while.

Closer To A Finish Line

An Announcement Of Progress

Another Day To Run

They're out there again, today.

Before the day heats up a predicted crowd of 17-20,000 will participate in the 15th Annual Southern Nevada Race for the Cure. Last year, they took more than 80 minutes to pass by the Cheese Factory, which sits along the course for the 5K run & walk, but also has a view that includes the 1-mile fun walk course.

Waves in colors designating schools, sororities, their companies or teams formed in honor of loved ones lost, struggling or saved... And wearing pink shirts, ribbons, socks, scarves and even capes in honor of the cause.

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure raises significant funds for the fight against breast cancer, celebrates breast cancer survivors, and honors those who have lost their battle with the disease. Here, they promise 75% of funds raised stay in Southern Nevada, while the other 25% goes toward research.

Dennis Hopper

"He was in great health and had enormous charisma when we were shooting - he eagerly worked long days, so this has all come as a nasty shock," said director of Linda Yellin of Dennis Hopper while making a movie called "The Last Film Festival" playing a Robert Evans-like producer. Yellin told the New York Post: "He is a brilliant, brilliant man. The younger cast members absolutely worshipped him."

The 73-year-old acting legend was diagnosed with prostate cancer last October... It's terminal.

On April 14th, the incoming director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, announced his first show would be an art world-meets-Hollywood spectacle... Dennis Hopper in paint, assemblages and portrait photography opens July 11.

Let's hope he can attend.

According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, it's the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting 1 in 6 men.

Of several major factors that influence risk, age is the greatest which cannot be changed.

Although only 1 in 10,000 men under age 40 will be diagnosed, the rate shoots up to 1 in 38 for ages 40 to 59, and 1 in 15 for 60 to 69.

In fact, more than 65% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. The average age at diagnosis of prostate cancer in the United States is 69 years. After that age, the chance of developing prostate cancer becomes more common than any other cancer in men or women.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Spill Baby Spill

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

Damage Control

Every sailor in the Navy knows it. And so do those who climb mountains or mine beneath them... Along with ranchers, farmers and entire communities with volunteer fire departments. There are times when you must be your own "first responder" because the distance between you and those who would help, exceeds the limited time in which they could help.

In those circumstances, with lives on the line, everyone is a multi-tasker, and whatever your nominal role, your mission's priorities change. First duty is first response and that's critical, because in isolated circumstance first response may also be your last chance.

And damage control? You're still in an emergency until the danger of greater casualties has ceased, you can account for all hands and are safe & ready to make repairs.

Our recent explosive experience with mines and offshore oil reminds us that energy comes at a far greater cost than we can measure by the price per barrel, gallon or kilowatt-hour. There will be years of litigation and attempts at mitigation, but neither will ever completely restore what was there before.

Trying to save lives is the first priority... Trying to save revenue and reputation through public relations is a necessary eventuality. It is never a correct first response. To confuse that with true damage control dishonors our dead and the lives of all brave first responders.

US Navy photo: Damage Control exercise on board USS Stethem (DDG 63)

It Takes Two, Or More

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
California's Proposition 14 - Abel Maldonado
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

A system in which two major political parties dominate voting in nearly all elections, at every level, results in nearly all elective offices being held by those parties' candidates. In other countries coalition governments are rare... In the United States, virtually impossible.

Is the result really small-D democratic?

There is no Constitutional reason for it in America... It's just a tradition, reinforced over time by partisans who benefit from limiting choice. But as a whole, there are now more people with no affiliation, or membership in other parties, than the total of registered Democrats & Republicans combined.

Why only two, Mr. Maldonado? How about 3, 4 or 5 advancing beyond a non partisan preliminary. Computer data is stored in either/or logic, but people can process more choices.

The performance of Nick Clegg in Britain's first ever televised debates among party leaders has raised the clear possibility of a "hung Parliament" in which the Liberal Democrats will hold the balance of power in forming a coalition with current PM Gordon Brown of Labour or Conservative David Cameron.

In America, independents may well hold the balance of power in the Senate after this year's election. Their choice of which caucus to join could be the factor which determine who controls the body.

The iPire Strikes Back

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

When We Was Fab

Now that the public has seen his face, he'd better get used to looking over his shoulder... Or maybe he just likes the video.

Fabrice Tourre, the sole Goldman Sachs executive named personally in the SEC's civil suit, prepares to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Investigations Subcommittee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, via AC 360/CNN)

SECs Drive

Watchdogs, Horn Dogs & Their Hard Drives

They'd Spend All Day In Search of a Bone
Audio: Berger & Prescott, not to be confused with British Petroleum, publish podcasts on Facebook. They live in visually stimulating Southern California, where starting a meaningful conversation can easily deflate your weenie before hitting the 4-hour permanent damage threshold... Illustration from Gawker's list of NSFW sites the miscreant wankers visited on your time. (For info only!)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Go To The Mattresses!

Turns out the best way to advance Wall Street reform, or beat any filibuster, is the threat of keeping Senators up all night.

You know there is a real place where Wall Street meets Main Street right in the middle of Fairfield County, southwestern Connecticut, where lots of Wall Street lives.

Main Street & Wall Street intersect in Norwalk, CT 06850. As you might expect Wall Street wins... Main Street ends right there.

It doesn't look as bad now as it did in this U.S. Coast Guard photo from from October 16, 1955, but it's still not the best neighborhood.
From Wikipedia:

Over the weekend of October 14–17, 1955, 12-14 inches of tropical storm rain caused the 23 mile long Norwalk River, along with many other Connecticut rivers, to severely flood (the state-wide destruction prompted President Eisenhower to declare a disaster area in Connecticut). The flooding caused the most severe damage of any flood in the history of Norwalk. From the heavy rains some dams along the Norwalk River broke, sending walls of water surging downstream, knocking out bridges and additional dams. Many of the Norwalk River’s neighboring towns and communities suffered widespread devastation. Several lives were lost in addition to millions of dollars worth of damage along the Norwalk River watershed alone.

NIMBY: Nantucket Sound

Not In My Back Yard!

It's a common reaction from those who support an idea in theory, but oppose the same thing if it'll be up close. If you live on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, you've paid through the nose to buy your back yard, and may not be happy about seeing anything not suitably quaint:

When you add the tendency to this map of the heavily tourist dependent area, you get an idea why a proposal to go green with an offshore windmill farm met with opponents' "go to hell" reactions.
Audio: CBS Radio's Osgood File 4/12/10.

The NIMBY crowd wasn't happy with Secretary Salazar's decision:

Boston's WBUR serves the impacted area and has archived coverage.

The station is also home base for Here & Now, which presented WBUR's Business & Technology reporter Curt Nickisch and Cape Wind president Jim Gordon with instant reactions to the news.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 4/28/10, Host: Robin Young.

In Europe, where energy alternatives are already considered mainstream, blades began turning at Germany's first offshore wind farm Tuesday (4/27/10)..., 45 kilometres (28 miles) off the coast in the North Sea, with 12 turbines producing energy for 50,000 households... None of whom will see the wind farm over the horizon.

The turbines, near the North Sea island Borkum, are each 150 metres high (a bit taller than the ones proposed for Cape Cod), produce 12 megawatts of power and the total cost of the project was 250 million euros (332 million dollars). The project, financed by Germany's number one energy provider, aims to achieve a capacity of 25,000 megawatts in offshore wind energy by 2030.. But it's also designed as a "test ground" and Germany's Environment Ministry will closely examine the impact on local species.

Thomas Dolby's "Windpower" was a hit in 1982 Deutschland...
Not so much in the USA.

Across The Great Divide

Arizona vs Aliens Law Polarizes Politics

In Loving Rearview

“In Living Color” Debuted 20 Years Ago...
Feel Older Just Thinking About That?

The Fox Network's edgy sketch comedy show ran from April 15, 1990 to May 19, 1994, and launched the careers of the Wayans family, Jamie Foxx, Jim Carrey and Jennifer Lopez. Pop culture writer Renee Graham says it pushed barriers with its edgy humor... Working into our collective consciousness and vocabulary.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 4/28/10, Host: Robin Young.

American Idol

Gives back? We were hoping they'd give up.

Mike is the married one with daughters so he's seen American Idol while swimming in the pool of estrogen that is his life at home...
Jeff is divorced with a son, and says he hasn't, but knows way too much about it for a straight man. He overcompensates with sports.
Audio: Berger & Prescott publish podcasts on Facebook, and have finely tuned senses that allow them to tell the difference between the hits & the pits.

Robocop's Deadly Foe

The "Too Many Donuts" T-Shirt by Glenn Jones costs $19.95, unless you've made too many stops at Tim Horton's, Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme, in which case the 2X & 3X sizes will run you $21.95.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Art of Evasion

Tuesday 4/27/10 was the day the crew at Goldman Sachs went before a Senate committee hearing to get sworn in and cussed out.

Holy Sh*t, They said "sh*tty" 13 times on C-SPAN!

Art of Deception

"Investment banking has become to productive enterprise in this country what mud wrestling is to the performing arts."
-- American humorist Mark Russell on Reagan era corporate raiders.

The times and culprits have changed, but the principle holds true today... Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) quoted Russell in respect to derivatives, the side bets enabled by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

In the late 90's, Dorgan was a lead voice against the bill (it passed anyway) which removed protective barriers between commercial bank lenders & investment bank gamblers... Essentially allowing opaque hedge funds to set up shop in-house to gamble with the bankrolls of Citibank, Bank of America, and other major banks, dragging them down in interconnected fraud-fueled groupthink.

From a Las Vegas perspective, investment bankers don't run a casino. Their derivative business is more of a bookie joint... Taking a lucrative cut on matching up bettors who take opposite positions on the same wager. And, to Las Vegas, investment bankers are mud wrestling match promoters.

Calling Wall Street casinos deeply offended Senator John Ensign (R-NV) from Vegas, whose family fortune, and ex-mistress hush money, comes from his casino executive dad.

Hey, Senators! Somebody should keep an eye on that shit.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Who Wants to Beat a Millionaire
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sex-curities XXXchange Cumission
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

I'll Be Watching You

If you don't know Jeff Quon by name, you've probably heard about his case before the Supreme Court. He's the guy busted for sexting both his wife and girlfriend on the pager issued by his employer.. The Ontario California Police, where he was a SWAT sergeant.

Quon sued the city for violating his privacy. New communication methods always raise issues about who in authority can look at what, when & why. The state of the law trails behind what's state of the art.

For example, the 1986 Stored Communications Act allows the government to obtain emails hosted on the internet more easily than they would those stored on your computer. Ryan Singel, blogger for, talks about how this law came to exist, and why it has advocacy groups and mail hosts like Google and Yahoo up-in-arms.
Audio: WNYC's On The Media 4/24/10, Host: Bob Garfield.
Illustration from WordLab (2007).

An Improvisation by Colin Parrish

Tangled Up In You

"Connected," a self portrait by LA artist Kasey McMahon (2010), made of steel, CAT-5 & other data cables. Photo by Kevin Rolly.

Brilliant Ballpoint

Johannes Vermeer's masterpiece "Girl with a Pearl Earring" recreated by James R. Mylne using a single BIC. It's no fluke, photo-realistic pen drawings are a specialty of the London-based artist.

Around the World

Inspired by Jules Verne... But Much Faster

Directed by Romain Pergeaux & Alex Profit, the project took a leisurely 3 weeks of jet travel to duplicate Phineas Fogg's frantic adventure to win a bet: London - Cairo - Mumbai - Hong Kong - Tokyo - San Francisco - New York - London via train & steamship depicted in Jules Verne's 1873 book "Le tour du monde en 80 jours."

Ticket For Two

Diagnostic Dissection

Did characters of classic literature display symptoms described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association's DSM?

Was Bartleby the Scrivener depressed? Did Clarissa Dalloway need lithium? Do you need aspirin?

It's not the type of analysis professors expect, or want, but today's English lit students, raised in an era of widespread psychopharmacology, routinely write as if they seem to want to medicate away the problems of classic literary characters.

Studio 360's Eric Molinsky explores the phenomenon with help from NYU professor Elayne Tobin and novelist Michael Cunningham.
Audio: PRI & WNYC's Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen, 4/24/10.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Somewhere in an Arizona lab guarded & cleaned by Mexicans, an inventor is tweaking a breathalyzer to detect elevated cilantro levels.

Meanwhile, surprising news for anyone guilty of driving while black:

And it's one, two, three, what are we fighting for?

Space Aliens!

Stephen Hawking says we might want to rethink meeting up with ET.

The way he sees it, aliens might be traveling the cosmos right now - not for exploration's sake but because they've run out of resources at home. And if that's the case, their intentions wouldn't be all that benevolent if they came to Earth.

His thoughts on space aliens appeared in his new Discovery Channel series, "Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking," on Sunday 4/25.

Meating The Alien Challenge!

Who'd really get the wurst of an alien encounter?

Making "The Starship Meaterprise" from Spackonauten (2008).

If you build it, will they come?

Note To Self

Post-It Notes were introduced across the county in 1980 when scientists at 3M discovered a new kind of adhesive that could stick to many surfaces and be easily repositioned. The little sticky pads now come in eight sizes, and dozens of shapes and colors.
Audio: NPR's Morning Edition 4/26/10. Post-it images from the Web Urbanist.

Homemade Inventions

In garages and basements all over, amazing science and invention is happening without corporate, institutional or government funding.
Audio: PRI & WNYC's program Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen,
Reporter: Matt Cavnar. Cartoon by Chris Madden.

Cut The Carp

Roughly 600 million invasive Asian Carp have made themselves at home in Midwestern Rivers. As officials struggle to keep them out of the Great Lakes, one Illinois company has a solution. It's started to ship the carp back to China, where they're considered a delicacy.
Audio: PRI's Living On Earth 4/24/10, Reporter: Jeff Young.

Monday, April 26, 2010


How Far Apart?

How Far Does The Fraud Go?

Vicky Ward: The Devil's Casino

Indian Givers

Arizona State University has agreed to pay 41 members of the Grand Canyon-based Havasupai tribe to settle claims the university misused DNA samples given by tribe members in 1990, for a diabetes study.

Tribal members learned that samples of their DNA had been analyzed further, without their knowledge or specific approval, for research on schizophrenia and inbreeding... But what upset them the most was genetic evidence of Asian origin, negating a key myth essential to their identity as guardians of the Grand Canyon.
Audio: PRI & WNYC's program The Takeaway 4/22/10,
Host: Celeste Headlee.


Johnny Hart's BC comic strip had been my absolute favorite anteater until contributor Ken Morgan sent this along this serious contender...

Funny Pictures

When the pic first appeared at Daily Ha Ha the amazed poster said:
"I haven't decided if that's really hot or really gross."
What do you think... Could you handle kissing a girl like these?

Views On News

As polls find that trust in government is near record lows, audiences seem skeptical of getting credible information, and mistrust media.
Audio: NPR's All Things Considered 4/23/10, Reporter: David Folkenflik.