Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My pal, Truman, working his way to his 15th birthday (next month)

Truman > Oct 2010

Tankersly as Best Man > A bouvier rescue story

Past Joys > Sesame Street Season 1 (1969-1970)

Thank goodness for our middle east allies. The following two UAE rulings should give you even more confidence in this particular relationship. 

From Gawker

The United Arab Emirates' top religious authority has issued a fatwa against those annoying plastic horns everyone blows at the World Cup, citing possible hearing damage

The United Arab Emirates' Supreme Court ruled today that a man can beat his wife and kids—as long as he leaves no visible marks

Friday, October 15, 2010

A remarkable photo........well, not really.

This is an oil painting. Click here for more of Gregory Thielker's work. Click here for Max Read's interesting article on photorealistic-style artists. 

car-nage > If the entire U.S. shared New York’s traffic death rate, we would save more than 25,000 lives per year.

[...] sprawl has quietly been identified as a central cause behind a growing list of mounting national crises including foreign oil dependency, climate change, and the obesity epidemic. With economists, environmentalists, and epidemiologists all bemoaning suburbia, it is a good time to step back and remind ourselves what we're still up against. Read the entire article on suburbia by Jeff Speck by clicking here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Church and 30th St. San Francisco MUNI Construction from Ken Murphy on Vimeo. Or, how to spend $3 million in just over 12 minutes (actually, about 3 1/2 days). 

This is a time-lapse video showing the replacement of the MUNI tracks in front of my house. Demolition began on the evening of Friday, October 8, and work continued around the clock until early in the morning of Tuesday, October 12. The MUNI folks were nice enough to distribute earplugs to those of us in the immediate vicinity.

This was shot using a Canon A590, with CHDK installed (a firmware replacement for Canon cameras that enables all sorts of additional features). An image was captured approximately every 15 seconds.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Hundred Million Porcelain Sunflower Seeds Are Like Twitter

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei carpeted the Turbine Hall in Britain's prestigious Tate Gallery with a sunflower seeds [...] one hundred million painted porcelain replica sunflower seeds. It's like Twitter, Ai says. [...] The seeds were individually made and hand-painted by artisans in the city of Jingdezhen (some 1,600 people were involved) who were paid a living wage. Here are all 100,000,000 seeds.

Paladino for Presid.....er....Governor > It only gets better & better. You can't make this stuff up. That's the trouble w Hollywood.

From the Daily Beast
He Likens Himself to General Patton

Paladino often refers to his 10-year military career—he retired as a captain—on the campaign trail, even likening himself to General Patton. However, Paladino was no Patton: The politician trained troops at New Jersey’s Fort Dix in personal hygiene. 

Friday, October 08, 2010

Sorry, I just couldn't help myself & I can't decide whether to laugh or not.

Please assure me this wastrel is NOT accessorizing herself with a baby rabbit.

Here's an example of some right wing logic that scares the crap out of me. Am I paranoid or just plain crazy?

From the Associated Press:

LAS VEGAS — U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle told a crowd of supporters that the country needs to address a "militant terrorist situation" that has allowed Islamic religious law to take hold in some American cities. [...]

In a recording of the rally provided to The Associated Press by the Mesquite Local News, a man is heard asking Angle : "I keep hearing about Muslims wanting to take over the United States ... on a TV program just last night, I saw that they are taking over a city in Michigan and the residents of the city, they want them out. They want them out. So, I want to hear your thoughts about that."

Angle responds that "we're talking about a militant terrorist situation, which I believe it isn't a widespread thing, but it is enough that we need to address, and we have been addressing it." [...]

Angle, a Southern Baptist, has called herself a faith-based politician. Among her positions, she opposes abortion in all circumstances, including rape and incest and doesn't believe the Constitution requires the separation of church and state.

My question: What's the difference between Sharia law & Sharron Angle's position on the separation of church & state?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Contest > Write the First Page of Snooki’s Novel So She Doesn’t Have To. Really !!

From GalleyCat [...] Jersey Shore star Nicole Polizzi (a.k.a. Snooki) scored a book deal to write a new novel.

Today, a piece of Snooki-related news broke. Gawker has sponsored a contest to write the first page of Snookie’s novel.

Read the full article & some samples that other people have written by clicking here & here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is this what our world is coming to? Sheeesh.

Anti-Theft lunch bags make thieves think your sandwich Is moldy. Here's the website if you want to order some..... but as of 2010/09/29 they are temporarily out of stock but you can reserve some.

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" > Change the lyrics to include the word "PRIVACY"

Broad new regulations being drafted by the Obama administration would make it easier for law enforcement and national security officials to eavesdrop on Internet and e-mail communications like social networking Web sites and BlackBerries, The New York Times reported Monday. Click here to read the entire article.

Fox pays GOP presidential hopefuls

Fox News ChannelImage via Wikipedia
Fox News faces a dilemma as the 2012 presidential campaign, which traditionally starts right after midterm elections, nears: The network has four potential candidates on its payroll in Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum. That’s every major contender save Mitt Romney who’s not currently holding office. The politicians’ paid contributor deals have caused a rift within Fox News and frustrated competitors, because the candidates are contractually forbidden from appearing on another news channel. [...]  Fox says that once the Republicans declare they’re running for office, they’ll have to sever their ties to the channel. But they’re likely to delay that announcement, as Fox offers an unparalleled platform to spout an unfiltered message to conservatives. 

News democracy may be coming to America

“As more people get news from cable channels and websites that offer a particular point of view 24/7, it becomes increasingly important for viewers to sample multiple sources in order to best understand the issues and proposed solutions,” said Michael Freedman, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington and executive director of its Global Media Institute. “This trend is only increasing.”

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More than 45% of dogs & 59% of cats are overweight

From the Daily Beast
“Jamal, he’s a super-handsome guy and he comes in and he does a combination of things,” says personal trainer Jessica Waldman, 34 years old, talking about one of her favorite clients. “He does 30 minutes of exercises that are core strengthening, and he’ll also do instability work.” That is, he’ll balance or power walk on an unstable surface to strengthen his back and stomach muscles. Then he does an obstacle course to limber up, or some endurance work on the treadmill.
And then he gets a treat. Read the rest of the article.
 Other information on this important subject

(Senator) Christine O'Donnell on Evolution, circa 1998. > Really?

O'DONNELL: You know what, evolution is a myth. And even Darwin himself...
MAHER: Evolution is a myth? Have you ever looked at a monkey?
O'DONNELL: Well then, why they -- why aren't monkeys still evolving into humans?
If you need to watch her say it click here.
The Huffington Post has some more that may be of interest.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

For all you detail oriented people out there.

So there I was, smug in my personal blogisphere, diddling myself with some pseudo intellectual drippings from my scattered mind & I receive the following note from a person I hadn't seen in 30 long years.
Just noticed a misprint on your blog...I believe it's "piqueing" not "peaking". [...] the "offending" word is right below the tital on your blog.
So I looked and sure enough under that majestic title of JAN RIFKINSON'S UNIVERSE, I had painstakingly written:
"Items peaking my interest. Videos, links to interesting or topical stories, my movie & book reviews, essays, commentary, humor and photos."
It really pissed me off because it took me a long time to come up with that line. I wanted to explain my blog in a single line, no word wrap.

By nature I'm a pretty anal person -- no, no -- I mean I'm very detail oriented so this was a thunderbolt that struck me both in head & heart. BUT I respect accuracy more than embarrassment so, in shame, I jumped back into Google's Blogspot > Edit layout & started fiddling again. So now the line reads:
Items that pique my interest. Videos, links to interesting or topical stories, my movie & book reviews, essays, commentary, humor and photos.
Please note that I've use both an ampersand and the word "and" in the same sentence. Lest you think I was not paying attention, you're WRONG. I had to do that so it would fit on one line, i.e. no word wrap.

So Peter Brinkerhoffenswine, you turned out to be more anal than I am but now I'm even more satisfied that I took you on a re-doubled bet in backgammon 30 years ago.  Yeah !!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Whatza a Goolsbee? The last line may explain it all.

Breaking news from Politico
President Barack Obama will announce Austan Goolsbee as the new chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers at an East Room news conference on Friday, providing continuity in the face of a political storm. A senior administration official said Goolsbee, 41, will succeed Christina Romer. Goolsbee is a member of the CEA, and staff director and chief economist on the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. As a University of Chicago economics professor, he advised Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign and 2008 presidential campaign. Last year, he won a “D.C.'s Funniest Celebrity” contest.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

That dreaded Lyme disease & those damned ticks

While most people worry about tick bites after outdoor activities like camping, hiking and golf, the majority of bites happen close to home.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are investigating an alarming rise in several different types of tick-borne infections including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis. Not only are more diseases being spread by ticks, but more species of ticks are transmitting disease, including some, like brown dog ticks, not previously considered a danger to humans. The blood-sucking parasites are the leading carriers of disease in the U.S. and second only to mosquitoes worldwide.
The CDC is promoting "integrated tick management," which includes the use of landscaping to discourage ticks and recommending people treat yards in affected areas with pesticides. Studies by Kirby Stafford, chief entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, show that 82% of ticks on a property are within three yards of the lawn perimeter, particularly along woodlands, stone walls, and ornamental plantings.

Dr. Stafford's recommendations include making a barrier of wood chips made of cedar—a natural tick repellent—between wooded areas or stone walls and lawns heavily used by the family, keeping pets out of woods, and avoiding vegetation that attracts deer. As an alternative to chemical pesticides, Dr. Stafford is also working with the CDC to field-test the effectiveness of new organic repellent products that use such substances as rosemary oil, Alaskan cedar and garlic. Some are already on the market.

Often victims aren't aware they've been bitten. Most ticks are hard-backed and can be the size of a pinhead. They may not be noticed until they have embedded themselves in the skin, growing larger as they gorge themselves on blood. Disease can often be avoided if ticks are removed within 24 hours.

To combat the spread of ticks on animals, the CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been working with state and local officials to study applying insecticides directly to animals in the wild. For deer ticks, which carry three types of disease including Lyme, studies show that feeding stations armed with pesticide can sharply reduce ticks on deer. When the deer eat corn in the feeders, four paint rollers filled with pesticide brush against their ears, neck, head and shoulders. Bait boxes that apply pesticides to mice have also worked. In Arizona, the CDC has been fighting an outbreak of Rocky Mountain spotted fever spread by brown dog ticks by going door-to-door to place tick collars on dogs.
Behind the rise in ticks and the diseases they carry: More homes are being built near wooded areas and on land once used for farming that has reverted to secondary forests. The deer population around the country has exploded. Infectious disease experts also cite warming temperatures and increasing humidity.

"The more people study ticks, the more new pathogens are discovered," says Joseph Piesman, who oversees tick-borne diseases at the CDC.

While some tick-borne infections cause only mild illness that can be treated with antibiotics, others can require hospitalization and cause serious long-term health issues. There are few vaccines for tick-borne diseases.

Reported cases of Lyme, the most prevalent of tick-borne diseases, have risen sharply over the last decade, with 35,198 cases in 2008 compared with 13,000 cases in 2000. The CDC says because of under-reporting, the actual number of cases may be three times as high. Though still largely a problem in the Northeast and upper Midwest, Lyme is turning up all over the U.S. If not correctly diagnosed and treated, Lyme can cause chronic joint inflammation, neurological symptoms such as facial palsy, impaired memory and heart-rhythm irregularities.

Other tick-borne illnesses, though less widespread, are also on the rise. In 2008, there were 2,563 reported cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever , compared with 579 in 1999. The fever can be quickly fatal unless treated with a powerful antibiotic. Last May, Wisconsin and Minnesota warned about a new species of the tick-borne bacteria ehrlichia, not previously found in North America, which can cause flu-like illness. The disease is transmitted by lone star ticks, which have spread to more states in recent years and are also linked to a new illness, called STARI, for southern tick-associated rash illness.

Tick-borne diseases often exhibit symptoms that look like something else. Without rapid or reliable tests for some diseases, it can be hard for doctors to suspect and diagnose, says David Davenport, an infectious disease specialist at the Michigan State University Center for Medical Studies. "These are rare diseases most physicians don't know much about, or they learned in medical school that the diseases only occur in certain areas," says Dr. Davenport. "But these patterns are rapidly changing and a whole lot of what we are trying to control is a moving target."

Connie Sargent, a nurse at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Mich., was admitted to the hospital as a patient last summer after she spiked a fever of 104, became sick to her stomach, and a red rash spread all over her body. Dr. Davenport diagnosed Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Ms. Sargent did notice some bites, but wasn't sure if she got them gardening in her yard or while at her lake cottage in Traverse City. She was successfully treated with the antibiotic Doxycycline. It took her several weeks to recover. Now, she uses tick repellent when gardening, dons long sleeves and examines herself when she comes inside.

On Wild Horse Island in Montana's Flathead Lake, soft-backed ticks bite quietly in the night, typically inside cabins in wooded areas, leaving people infected with relapsing fever that can cause repeated illness over years. Scott MacDonald, whose family developed the island and sold part of it to the state as a park, was infected with relapsing fever along with several relativesin a 2002 outbreak. Everyone recovered after treatment, he says.

Tom Schwan, an expert in tick-borne diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' Rocky Mountain Laboratories, who first identified the outbreak on the island, has helped property owners rid cabins of ticks with pesticides and remove rodents' nests that harbor ticks. He is now studying how animals and birds may be spreading the disease in Western states.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The Kit Thomas Affair

Before our first class at St. John's, we sat in a stairwell of a private apartment building near school and communed about this or that and maybe shared from a small waxed paper bag of deep fried banana chips. It was a private time between us. This was in Puerto Rico, in the mid 50's.

Once, at my house in Cupey Alto (in the country), she leaned over and, to my great surprise, kissed me although I can't remember where she planted it. However, I do remember it was a very special, gentle moment. Even today, I can see us sitting on that tree trunk. I was probably 12 or 13 at the time. I think she was too.

Her name was Kit Thomas and she was my girl friend. We never had sex. I don't think we even petted – just look at the picture; there wasn't that much to pet, anyway -- but our bond was tight. It was very serious even though she was about a head taller than I was.

I don't know how long our 'affair' lasted but I think it was a long while but at that time of life, days were long (unlike how short they seem when you get older) so maybe our relationship lasted only for a few weeks or months, instead of years.

Anyway, Kit's dad had been temporarily transferred from -- was it White Plains? -- to organize the a Boy Scouts of America chapter in Puerto Rico and he had an office in Old San Juan, the very quaint, cobble stoned, 500 year old city which is the capital of Puerto Rico. Sometimes we'd go into Old San Juan just to wander about and to visit Mr. Thomas which, ultimately, gave us the idea.

You see, at the end of 9th grade, I was leaving for a summer school-camp in Vermont to prepare for my transfer into a rather fancy Pennsylvania prep school the following academic year.

By this time, Kit and I had sworn our love to each other, proclaimed our joint fidelity while apart and to formalize that promise, we each removed our exchanged rings which we wore around our necks (a public demonstration of our commitment to one another) and placed them into two little envelopes and onto the bottom shelf of Mr. Thomas' big black safe with the gold writing on it, behind his office desk. It was a solemn ceremony and Mr. Thomas looked on, quietly, respecting the moment.

For me there was a slight let down after that as I liked 'belonging' to Kit but I knew everything would be okay; somehow it would work out. Who understood or even thought about the future in those days.

Then I went off to camp.

There I got 'prepared' for prep school, was taught speed reading, played with an old, four door, black Mercury and learned about "Jew shoes" but that's an altogether different story.

At the beginning of the summer, I was able to communicate with Kit by the single public telephone that lived in a cramped booth in the main building.

I 'paid' for these calls by providing my grandfather's telephone number in New York to the long distance operator (nobody asked him if he could or would accept those charges) but finally, one day, I was informed that Kit had  left Puerto Rico to spend the summer with friends in her hometown.

I had no further contact with her until summer's end. Strangely, I don't remember how I felt about that loss but, with current introspection, it probably gnawed at me as that's my personality.

Finally, by summer's end, I reconnected with Kit only to discover that our little world had been invaded by another male; not by the home town hero, the high school president, the homecoming king, the varsity baseball, basketball player or quarterback, but by a lowly soda jerk who worked at the local hangout.

There was no going back.

So much for that romance which I still remember fondly.

Monday, September 06, 2010

NPR > What do a Saudi Prince, Fox News & the New York mosque have in common?

The proposed construction of an Islamic center and mosque close to ground zero in New York City has inspired intense scrutiny from news outlets this month — and few have outstripped the Fox News Channel in their interest.

That's especially true on Fox's opinion-driven shows in the morning and evening hours. Familiar figures including Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have repeatedly asked where the money for the center will come from. Yet the parent company of Fox News shares a financial backer with the imam who is at the center of the firestorm. The second-largest holder of voting stock in News Corp. is Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a nephew of the Saudi king. And through his philanthropies, Waleed has given generously to initiatives pursued by the imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf. But that connection has not been spelled out by Fox to viewers. 

[...] according to the latest filings with the SEC, Waleed now holds 7 percent of the voting stock in News Corp., more than any other person not named Rupert Murdoch .....

Read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The 10 highest paid CEOs who laid off the most workers

A grim fact of the recession is that it pays to lay people off.

The CEOs who laid off the most employees during the recession are also the CEOs who took home the biggest pay checks, according to a study released last week. 

Discovery News > Resort attracts men with virtual girlfriends

Sad, sick, weird, funny or what? I dunno.

A resort in Japan is offering young men a tourism destination to frolic with their virtual girlfriends. The resort is based on a game called "Love Plus," which encourages players to develop long-term relationships with virtual women. Read the rest of this story here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Attention winos > The fine wine market has recovered

From Financial Times: Bouyed by an increasingly feverish Bordeaux en primeur campaign, there is now no doubt that the fine wine market has [...] recovered from the doldrums at the end of 2008 when it plunged by 25%.  After small but steady incremental growth last year, the Liv-ex 100 Index has begun to accelerate. Since, January it is up by nearly 24 per cent and in April it sailed past its previous peak of June 2008.  Read the rest here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Proud to be an American? Islamaphobia spreads.

Various News Reports:
From sea to shining sea: Mosques are being vandalized across the country, with the latest incidents at mosques in Queens and Fresno, California on Wednesday. In Fresno, Imam Abdullah Salem discovered a pair of signs at the Madera Islamic Center, one of which read, "Wake up America, the enemy is here"; a week earlier, a brick was thrown at a window at the center. Meanwhile in Queens, a man barged into the Iman Mosque in Astoria, shouted anti-Muslim slurs at the worshippers, and peed on prayer rugs. "He calls us terrorists, yet he comes into our mosque and terrorizes other people," said one worshipper. "This is a true hate crime."
Some intelligent discussion(s) on the subject

Monday, August 23, 2010

What !! > a Japanese flying pig twenty-seven feet in the air.

August 19, 2010 > a wedding story 38 years later as published in the Ridgefield Press

38 years ago, I married 24 year old Carol Renee Phillips in a teeny ceremony on a sultry day in an Universalist Church in Miami Florida. The witnesses, two friends, flew in for the secretive occassion. The date, August 19th, selected because it fell between the Democratic and Republican Conventions, both in Miami that year. No, Carol nor I was a delagate, rather we both worked at CBS News.
The minister read from a prepared script that I had written -- an intricately woven combination of Navajo & Zuni marriage ceremonies -- in a fenced garden in the back of the church, under the shade of a Flamboyan tree. It was steamy hot & I was sweating in an open Ralph Lauren sport shirt, blue jacket & tan slacks while my beautiful bride was dressed head to toe in a tailored white lace Mexican wedding dress that fit every curve of her young body.

Afterward we toasted with champagne, signed some papers and went back to our apartment to change into shorts & tees to rest & prepare for the evening's party.

The deal was this: none of our guests could know it was a wedding party as we didn't want them to bring gifts, just themselves.

"Can't I tell anyone I just got married?", my soon-to-be bride had asked during the closely held planning sessions? Only if they ask "what's new or what you did today", I had replied smartly.
At the start of the evening, as guests began arriving, I stood outside directing traffic as many merry pranksters had been invited. A few who went in came back out to offer their congratulations. "What for?", I'd ask. "Didn't you have a special event earlier today?" they replied, wondering if they made some embarrassing mistake.

Sensing a rat, I walked into the party only to find my newly minted wife re-dressed in her Mexican wedding gown, waving her left hand around, talking animatedly to our guests.

How in the world could anyone have walked into that room and not have asked a question leading to the formerly unmentionable reply: "Yes, I got married today."

And so gentlemen & young marrieds I say to you 38 years later, the lesson I learned that day is that your better half is, indeed, your better half & you'd best not forget it.

Why Doesn't the World Care About Pakistanis? > a moral question

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Book Review > "Innocent" by Scott Turow

406 pp
Other books by Scott Turow
  • Limitations
  • Ordinary Heroes
  • Ultimate Punishment
  • Reversible Errors
  • Personal Injuries
  • The Laws of Our Fathers
  • Pleading Guilty
  • The Burden of Proof
  • Presumed Innocent
  • One L

This book had 3 distinct story parts:

1. A love affair between an aging judge & a young lawyer
2. A court case
3. The relationship between a father & son

There are only a few characters in this book; the main ones are father, son, lover, DA.

For me, the core of this book is the relationship between the father and the son; both lawyers. The father, a well known & respected Prosecutor & Judge, about to be elevated from the Court of Appeals to the Superior Court, finds himself deliciously & troublingly embroiled in a great love affair and has to confront his demons.

That confrontation unfolds in a courtroom as Judge Rusty Sabich, once accused & acquitted of a prior murder charge, is again charged of murder; this time of his own wife.

The prosecutor's explanation of the murder plot takes shape as the reader is follows step by step through the logical questioning of the Judge and as he testifies to those questions put to him by the current DA, his prior & current nemesis. Of course, there are two sides to every court case & the defense side is just as convincing.

In the beginning of this novel Turow provides the back story of the prior murder charges (& acquittal) brought by Tommy Molto against Rusty Sabich; details not permitted into evidence at the second trial for fear of prejudicing the jury. It also puts the reader on the the emotional roller coaster that is the intimate & sincere love affair between Rusty & Anna. As a senior citizen, myself, reading about this sexy love affair produced some longing in me. Of course, it is immoral by our puritanical social standards but it is also very real, desirable and special for both participants. Unfortunately, it could never have ended well and didn't.

Nevertheless this secret affair, to all except the participants, plays a pivotal role in Rusty's wife's demise and the strengthening of Rusty's  relationship with Nat, his  overshadowed son (who is clerking in the Superior Court), and who hasn't quite found his place in life when the story begins.

The dialog between father & son seems haltingly genuine as does the court testimony and other relationships in the book. None was a real stretch for this reader. It all seemed so credible, thanks to the author's talent. It will probably make an excellent movie one day.

I consider "Innocent" a thoroughly enjoyable read; once I got into it, I could hardly put it down. For anyone who likes a process piece, like a CSI or seeing how lawyers present opposing views of the same evidence, this is a definite read. I'm giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A perfect NY story > Starbucks' strange vernacular finally drove a customer nuts.

Lynne Rosenthal, a college English professor from Manhattan, said three cops forcibly ejected her from an Upper West Side Starbucks yesterday morning after she got into a dispute with a counterperson -- make that barista -- for refusing to place her order by the coffee chain's rules.

Rosenthal, who is in her early 60s, asked for a toasted multigrain bagel -- and became enraged when the barista at the franchise, on Columbus Avenue at 86th Street, followed up by inquiring, "Do you want butter or cheese?"

"I just wanted a multigrain bagel," Rosenthal told The Post. "I refused to say 'without butter or cheese.' When you go to Burger King, you don't have to list the six things you don't want.   Read the rest of this delicious story here.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunday morning viewing

Christian Amanpour's "This Week" covered one important & terribly sad issue: Army suicides. But it struck me that in her interview with vice chief of staff of the army, General Peter Chiarelli, who is in charge of solving this problem, I heard more from Amanpour than I did from Chiarelli. Not good for an interviewer.

I forgot about 'Face The Nation' & felt like I had 'been there, done that' with David Gregory's "Meet the Press" so I didn't bother.

On the other hand, Chris Matthews and his merry band voted 7 to 5 that Hillary Clinton would run as Obama's Vice President in 2012, switching jobs with Joe Biden.

And then Mathews ran some absolutely charming stories told by Bob Smith, the former White House pianist who entertained presidents from Nixon through Clinton.

Mr. Smith told the story about Richard Nixon used to order aboard empty bottles of very expensive vintage wines when entertaining on the Presidential yacht, Sequoia.. Then, before his guests arrived, he would stand at the bar with a funnel, filling the bottles with swill akin to Carlo Rossi. And when all his guests later rose in a toast, relishing their fine wines, he'd wink at the piano player as if to say: "Got 'em!".

Cary Grant ducked out of a White House dinner to sit down & play a few tunes with Mr. Smith. When dinner was announced, Cary Grant, who had been standing next to the piano with his cocktail, didn't follow the crowd into the next room. 'Mr. Grant', said the piano player, 'aren't you hungry? Don't you want any dinner?' 'No', Mr. Grant replied, explaining he was tired of everything, including being Cary Grant. All he wanted to do was to be Archie Leach (his real name), to listen to Cole Porter music & to reminisce -- which is exactly what he did for the next hour or so.

And finally, Mr. Smith told the following anecdote. After Bush senior won the presidency, the entire Bush clan came back to the White House to celebrate. And as Smith explained it, he recognized everyone: sister Dorothy, brothers Jeb, Neil, etc. etc. & then there was this guy who sat in the corner....

Chris Wallace of Fox News had an interesting interview with Ted Olsen, a conservative, who successfully argued for the rights of gays to marry (in opposition to California's Prop 8) before a gay, Republican Federal Judge. It was Olsen's contention, as a conservative, that this right is granted under the 14th amendment to the constitution & that the judge was anything but an activist judge; more to the point: he was following the original meanings of the 14th amendment.

It was clear that in the interview that Chris Wallace was totally outmatched by Ted Olsen who is used to this question and answer format, having argued so many cases before the Supreme Court. Chris Wallace tipped his hat to Olsen at the end of the interview.

Fareed Zakaria, of CNN, had two interesting interviews: one with Hamid Gul, the 74 year old former Pakistani ISA chief who is named in the WikiLeaks documents as plotting with the Taliban against Allied interests, particularly the United States. But as Gul pointed out in the interview, the U.S. pays for information & the Afghanies, a 'wily bunch who will do anything for money', simply manufacture information to get the money. Given the poverty in Afghanistan, this probably makes some sense. On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that these tips aren't well corroborated. However, I was surprised to hear Gul TOTALLY dismiss Hamid Karzai and call the Afghanies a 'treacherous' bunch. It seems there's no love lost there. Gul is credited with helping to organize the  Mujaheddin to fight against the, then, Soviet Union.

The second interview was with Serbia's well spoken, 35 year old Foreign Minister, Vuk Jeremic,  (someone I knew nothing about) who stated categorically that the current government is committed to solving all their problems with breakaway Kosovo diplomatically and legally; dismissing any & all military options as a thing of the past. If this is so, it would be a tremendous advance in Balkan politics.

This was one of those Sunday mornings when I actually felt I had learned a thing or two watching the boob tube.

Friday, August 06, 2010

The great depression > rare images 1939-1943

Faro Caudill family eating dinner, Pie Town, NM, Oct. 1940
From the Denver Post Plog. These images, by photographers of the Farm Security Administration, Office of War Information, are some of the only color photographs taken of the effects of the Depression on America’s rural and small town populations. The photographs are the property of the Library of Congress and were included in a 2006 exhibit Bound for Glory: America in Color.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wired > Gadget Lab > Robotic Eye


The eye has a transparent-plastic inner sphere with a set of magnets around it, painted to look just like a human eye. It is suspended in fluid and has a transparent outer shell. Using electromagnets from the outside, the eye is moved sideways or up and down, giving it a smooth and easy motion. “It is as fast as the human eye and as good as the human eye." The pupil and the back of the eye are clear. A camera placed at the rear of the eye helps the eye see. Read more here

The road to serfdom > A blog entry by an ex-Goldman Sachser

Charlie Chaplin stands on Douglas Fairbanks' s...Image via Wikipedia
[...] If Wall Street investment bankers were dogs, they would flaunt their expensive collars and leashes as marks of status, [...] we were basically the trader’s little bitches, and any quant who’s honest with himself realizes that. In time, we quants developed knee callouses from genuflecting to service the traders, on whose profits our livelihoods depended. 

[...] The sad truth is: quants were the eunuchs at the orgy. We were the ever-present British guy in every Hollywood WWII film: there to add a touch of class and exotic sophistication, but not really matter much to the plot.

[...] Your entire worth as a human is defined by one number: the compensation number your  boss tells you at the end of the year. See, pay on Wall Street works as follows: your base salary is actually quite modest, but your ‘bonus’ is where the real money is. That bonus is completely discretionary, and can vary anywhere from zero to a manifold multiple of your base salary.

So, come mid-December, everyone on the desk lines up outside the partner’s office, like the communion line at Christmas Mass, and awaits their little crumb off the big Wall Street table. An entire year’s worth of blood, sweat, and tears comes down to that one moment. And the entire New York economy marches to the beat of that bonus drum. [...]  Read the rest of this interesting blog @ Adgrok

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010

The New Yorker > The Empty Chamber. Just How broken is the Senate?

An excellent article by George Packer & a must read for anyone who is truly interested in understanding why nothing gets done in Washington, DC.
[...] In general, when senators give speeches on the floor, their colleagues aren’t around, and the two or three who might be present aren’t listening. They’re joking with aides, or e-mailing Twitter ideas to their press secretaries, or getting their first look at a speech they’re about to give before the eight unmanned cameras that provide a live feed to C-SPAN2. The presiding officer of the Senate—freshmen of the majority party take rotating, hour-long shifts intended to introduce them to the ways of the institution—sits in his chair on the dais, scanning his BlackBerry or reading a Times article about the Senate. Michael Bennet, a freshman Democrat from Colorado, said, “Sit and watch us for seven days—just watch the floor. You know what you’ll see happening? Nothing. When I’m in the chair, I sit there thinking, I wonder what they’re doing in China right now?”
Between speeches, there are quorum calls, time killers in which a Senate clerk calls the roll at the rate of one name every few minutes. The press gallery, above the dais, is typically deserted, as journalists prefer to hunker down in the press lounge, surfing the Web for analysis of current Senate negotiations; television screens alert them if something of interest actually happens in the chamber. The only people who pay attention to a speech are the Senate stenographers. On this afternoon, two portly bald men in suits stood facing the speaker from a few feet away, tapping at the transcription machines, which resembled nineteenth-century cash registers, slung around their necks. The Senate chamber is an intimate room where men and women go to talk to themselves for the record. [...]

Beautiful Spaces > Design Is My Muse

Library of the Future > The Mansueto Library in Chicago

Movie Review > Salt

Salt: She's beautiful, there's a plot about Russian sleeper agents & complex action sequences. It's a  thriller. What more can anyone ask from this genre? I think it's a 'go-see' if you like this type of movie. Angelina Jolie carries the film, plays it to the hilt & is... well, sort of believable, as a REALLY tough CIA operative named Evelyn Salt. This is the 'pilot' film. Expect sequels; I'd bet money on it. Would 3.5 stars (of 5) be too much? Nah. I enjoyed it. It was fun. Here are a couple of other reviews. 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Truman is making me crazy

His body clock is unbelievably accurate whether it's @ first light (time for me to wake up), his mid day snack or dinner time. If he weren't such an old sweetie (he will be 15 Nov 29) I would lose patience. For now I think of it simply as a wonder to enjoy. And I do, no matter how much I whine. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

I love women > Troy Patterson, a man who speaks my language...

From a Slate article written by Troy Patterson: "I write to you at one of the three peak seasons for girl-watching in North America. Sweater-sheathed Ms. October will knock 'em out in the fall, and the darling buds of May will spring fresh in their sundresses all too shortly, but meanwhile this is sultry deep August—impossibly flimsy fabrics, exquisite lengths of limb. Addled by murderous heat, provoked by brutal hot-to-trotness.... & now you can read the rest of the Slate article.

Huffington Post > Warren Buffett's Successor?

A photo of the crowded Tiananmen Square during...Image via Wikipedia
Serving up some historic irony: "Warren Buffett is in the hunt for a successor. How do you secure yourself a spot atop his list of choices to take over as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway? Make him a cool $1.2 billion within three years. That's what Li Lu, who participated in the historic Tiananmen Square protest as a student, did."

We are -1 centenarian after the world's oldest condor passed away at age 100


Brooklyn Representative Anthony Weiner's UTube Moment..... Whew

Sign of the Times > the iStory, a narrative in 150 words of less

Here are 3 neat examples from Narrative

[1] Idolatry
by Sherman Alexie

Marie waited for hours. That was okay. She was Indian, and everything Indian--powwows, funerals, and weddings--required patience. This audition wasn't Indian, but she was ready when they called her name.

"What are you going to sing?" the British man asked.

"'Every Reservation Girl Loves Patsy Cline,'" she said.

"Let's hear it."

She sang only the first verse before he stopped her.

"You are a terrible singer," he said. "Never sing again."

She knew this moment would be broadcast on national television. She'd already agreed to accept any humiliation.

"But my friends, my voice coaches, my mother, they all say I'm great."

"They lied."

How many songs had Marie sung in her life? How many lies had she been told? On camera, Marie did the cruel math, rushed into the green room, and wept in her mother's arms.

In this world, we must love the liars. Or live alone.

[2] Resolution
by Kay Eldredge

Did you make any New Year's resolutions? he asked her.

Have I ever, since we've been together? No one keeps them.

Well--I have one for you.

Make your own.

I have: to say what's on my mind.

And you think I need improving . . .

Just . . . your walk.

What's wrong with my walk?

It's okay, but . . .

You know, someone's walk is pretty much who they are. I mean, you have your walk from the beginning.

Yours is a little--I don't know--stiff. You could try swinging your arms more. Or leading with your pelvis, like models do.

Runway models? You ever seen them in life, without makeup, walking in, like, a grocery store?

Listen, if you're satisfied with yourself . . .

Alright, alright. You mean something like this?

Yeah, that's it!

Like it from the back?

Fantastic. Really sexy and . . . Wait, where are you going?

I've just made a resolution: I'm walking.

[3] Friendship and Art
By Alan Ziegler

The buzzer rings near midnight. It is Robert, distraught. He has had a fight with his girlfriend and walked out. Can he stay with me?

Sure, I say, and put on some tea. We talk for a while. He leaves, and when I next see him, he says everything is all right. I feel good about helping to save a relationship.

Two years later I run into him on the subway. He tells me he is writing poems. He asks if I want to see one. As I read I realize it is about that night. I am portrayed as a cold person who barely tolerates the intrusion and says good-sounding things only to get rid of him.

"What do you think?" Robert asks, as if the poem were about roses in winter.

"It's nice," I reply, the words you use when you want to break a poet's spirit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

NY Observer > the guido effect

New York Stock Exchange LC-USZ62-124933Image via Wikipedia
Written by Max Abelson. [...] the cast of MTV's The Jersey Shore rang the New York Stock Exchange's opening bell. [and] the appearance of Snooki, The Situation and all their pals inspired those gloriously astute market masterminds at the Village Voice to craft a phenomenon named The Guido Effect.

Picking one stock each from the categories of Gym, Tan, and Laundry, the Voice saw a post-bell boost for the stocks of Nautilus Fitness, Energizer (which owns Playtex, which makes Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic) and Proctor & Gamble (the makers of Tide and Gain soap, plus, of course, Venus shaving products).