Sunday, August 31, 2014

In the News

Photo: Rarmin
Many of you will recognize this little ditty as the Kingston Trio, but it's actually a song by Sheldon Harnick of Fiddler on the Roof fame.  It is also seemingly as relevant today as it was when it was written in 1949: The Merry Minuet

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Sessions: Michael Lee Aday


Born Marvin Lee Aday, best known as Meat Loaf, with a three octave vocal range, is one of the best selling artists of all time with over 80 million in record sales.  Here are a few of my favorites:


Sorry Ducky, I looked for the Dick Stockton version but couldn't find it, you'll just have to put up with Phil Rizzuto.

(Bat Out of Hell II) 

Which raises the ever present question of what "That" is.  Now if you pay attention to the lyrics "That" is:

 forget the way you feel right now 
forgive myself if we don't go all the way tonight 
do it better than I do it with you, so long 
stop dreaming of you every night of my life

What "That" is became such a constant source of confusion that in 1998 Meat Loaf explained it on stage using a blackboard and a pointing stick.

 From The Monster is Loose
(Bat Out of Hell III)

Since I consider the first Bat Out of Hell album to be the best of the three (although there are many more Meat Loaf albums), I'll leave you with this one:


Friday, August 29, 2014

What is


What began in 1986 with less than two dozen people has morphed into an event in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada that last year drew almost seventy thousand people.  It's not the first giant effigy burned, Santa Fe has been holding the Fiestas de Santa Fe since 1712 and burning a figure of Zozobra... "Old Man Gloom" since 1926.  The festival in Santa Fe generally draws a crowd of about fifty thousand, which Burning Man exceeded first in 2010.

The event does charge admission for the week long event, $380 this year.  Might be steep but last years 69,613 participants paid the same price.  The event organizers discourage commercial ventures under the principle of decommodification although some drinks, ice, fuel, and RV dump are run commercially with most of the proceeds going to charity. Participants are asked to be self-sufficient, bringing everything they may need with them.  Participants must also sign a contract ceding copyright to Burning Man for all photographs and videos.

Basically it's a big week long party in the desert, celebrating art, music, and billed as an experiment in temporary community.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's Simple Math

The Washington Times reports that there are 300 Americans fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

USA Today reports that a second American Islamist fighter has been killed.

By my count that means just 298 left to go.

As to today's illustration, I suggest checking to see if you can run toilet paper through your printer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm

After they've seen Barrie?

Burger King announces $11.4 billion dollar purchase of Tim Horton's and its move and reincorporation in Canada.



The nominal corporate tax rate in the US (totaling national, state, and city taxes) is 39.1%, the highest of all OECD nations.  By comparison, France, which you've been hearing so much about lately vis a vis tax refugees, is 34.4%.  Canada in comparison is only 26.3%.  Washington Post

And now a little light entertainment...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cartographer's History of the Mid East

A quick (and simplified) history...

We start in 330 BC with the First Persian Empire

Who were about to meet a man named Philip
Map: Marsyas

And his son Alexander
Generic Mapping Tools

This was followed by the Parthian Empire
Map: Keeby101

Which would eventually meet the Romans
Map: Tataryn77

This would split into the Western Roman Empire (395 AD)
Map: Geuiwogbil. & Mackay 86

And the Eastern Roman Empire
Map: Tataryn77
Then in the 630's they'd meet a guy named Muhammad

Followed by the Rashidun Caliphate (632-661)
Map: Mohammad adil

The Umayyad Caliphate (661-750 AD)

The Abbasid Caliphate (750 -1517 AD)

Meanwhile in the Eastern Mediterranean 

The Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire was about to be replaced by the Ottoman Empire

Which would eventually fall to the remnants of the Western Roman Empire at in WWI and be divvied up among the victors.

Map:Don-kun, TUBS, NordNordWest

And following WWII

And then came ISIS...

Map: NordNordWest, Spesh531

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wherever you go

Your Phone Goes With You

Exploiting the SS7 network
The tracking technology takes advantage of the lax security of SS7, a global network that cellular carriers use to communicate with one another when directing calls, texts and Internet data.

Users of such technology type a phone number into a computer portal, which then collects information from the location databases maintained by cellular carriers, company documents show. In this way, the surveillance system learns which cell tower a target is currently using, revealing his or her location to within a few blocks in an urban area or a few miles in a rural one.  

Washington Post

Sunday, August 24, 2014

By Decree of the Emperor

Photo: Katie Chao

On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

John Prine, The Great Compromise

The more things change...

Your thoughts?

And since John Prine and his songs are deeply political, I will withhold my usual crabby admonition to refrain from political comments, but please, no tired partisan chants.

Friday, August 22, 2014

I just threw up in my mouth, a bit.

I was reading an article about Saturday Night Live in the Hollywood Reporter and came across this from James Downey, a producer-writer for the show:

If I had to describe Obama as a comedy project, I would say, "Degree of difficulty, 10 point 10." It's like being a rock climber looking up at a thousand-foot-high face of solid obsidian, polished and oiled. There's not a single thing to grab onto — certainly not a flaw or hook that you can caricature.

Need I say he couldn't get more obsequious, unctuous, or oleaginous if he was on his knees with his mouth open.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Photo: 10 Downing St.

An American journalist is beheaded by ISIS and the British PM cancels his vacation...

What more can I say?

So, David, may I call you David? What are you doing in 2016?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

You can't negotiate with rabid dogs

ISIS released a video yesterday purporting to be the beheading of American journalist James Wright Foley along with the threat of a similar fate awaiting missing journalist Steven Joel Sotloff with the following comment:

‘The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.’

The law of armed conflict is an anachronism, based on mutually agreed upon principles by consenting civilized parties, when one one party completely disregards jus in bello it is absurd to expect other parties to be hamstrung by it.

First, the United States ought to recognize Kurdistan as it exists outside the borders of Turkey.

Second, the United States ought to recognize the Shia state of Iraq as it exists in the southern and southeastern territory controlled by the Iraqi government.

Third, all surrounding nations are to be notified of our intent of recognizing the Islamic State of Iraq as it exists as controlled territory at the end of ninety days.

Fourth, at the end of ninety days we recognize the Islamic State of Iraq and declare war on it, demanding their unconditional surrender.

After that, any violation of international law committed by the Islamic State of Iraq shall be met with military reprisal.  First any identifiable military equipment goes, then the airports, power plants, dams, bridges, railroads, highways... treat them as we treated the axis in WWII.

Of course as the odds have it, Obama's decision will be no decision at all, it will be inaction and meaningless words.  The Islamic State of Iraq is betting that we lack the will to do anything, and also as the odds have it, they're probably right.

You can't negotiate with rabid dogs, all you can do is put them down.

Update: US officials confirm
              ISIS exterminates entire Yazidi village 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Looting Tourism

Photo: loavesofbread

Setting aside the guilt or innocence of either Michael Brown or Darren Wilson, a rational fact-based opinion not being possible to formulate from the inflammatory splash of infotainment in this country. 

I could certainly grind my axe on the stone wheel readily provided by President Obama in his statement:

Calling for a sharp separation between the nation's armed forces and local police, President Barack Obama on Monday urged a re-examination of programs that have equipped civilian law enforcement departments with military gear from the Pentagon. 

By snidely asking, really?  This only came to your attention now, and not once in the past six years, but better late than never I always say.

That leaves us with the response.  Large numbers protest, and perhaps rightly so, against a shooting and what is undoubtedly an ineptly handled amateurish police public relations campaign.  'He robbed a convenience store', 'the officer didn't know he robbed a convenience store', 'he noticed the cigars from the convenience store robbery',  really? Is that the best the Ferguson PD can do?  

But lets talk about the response, not that of the peaceful protestors during the day, but of the rioting and looting that seems to commence under the veil of darkness each night.  The Washington Post made an interesting observation:

Some of the men are from the area — Ferguson or surrounding towns also defined in part by the gulf separating the mostly white law enforcement agencies from a mistrusting African American public. Many others — it is hard to quantify the percentage — have arrived by bus and by car from Chicago, Detroit, Brooklyn and elsewhere.

Ferguson police officials would not quantify how many looters have been arrested since the Brown shooting but presented a Washington Post reporter with a stack of roughly 50 arrest reports. While some of those arrested for stealing are from Ferguson, a large number have addresses listed in Illinois or in Texas.  

The people of Ferguson are entitled to protest, entitled to be angry and upset at the treatment of this case.  The people coming from Texas, or Brooklyn, or Chicago who come to riot or to loot are another story, and should be dealt with under the full breadth and scope of the law.

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. 18 USC 2384

Like the 27 year old who traveled from Chicago said:

“This is not the time for no peace,” 

And he probably doesn't even realize how wise his words are. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Abuse of Power or Effective Government?

Photo:Gage Skidmore
Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg, whose office runs the corruption unit, was arrested on a drunk-driving charge in April, 2013, after being caught by Austin police with an open bottle of vodka in the front seat of her car. She was caught in a church parking lot in Austin. Jailhouse video and images show that her behavior was anything but Godly; Lehmberg is not a happy drunk. Story

A Grand Jury indited Governor Perry on two felony charges: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. Mr. Perry is accused of improperly vetoing $7.5 million for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, which handles Texas political-corruption cases, after a Democratic prosecutor refused to resign following a drunken-driving arrest. Story
“I very clearly, I very publicly, said that as long as that individual is going to be running that agency, I had lost confidence in her, the public had lost confidence in her and I did what every governor has done for decades, which is make a decision on whether or not it was the proper use of state money to go to that agency.  I stood up for the rule of law in the state of Texas, and if I had to do it again, I would make exactly the same decision,”

Was he right?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Modern Science meets the Middle Ages


Mob destroys Ebola treatment center in Monrovia

‘The president says you have Ebola, but you don’t have Ebola, you have malaria. Get up and go out!’

A mob descended on the center at around 5:30 p.m., chanting, “No Ebola in West Point! No Ebola in West Point!” They stormed the front gate and pushed into the holding center. They stole the few gloves someone had donated this morning, and the chlorine sprayers used to disinfect the bodies of those who die here, all the while hollering that Ebola is a hoax.  ~Buzzfeed

Then the mob left with all of the patients.

“Everybody left with their own thing,” she said. “What are they carrying to their homes? They are carrying their deaths.”

What good is modern science when your patients are living in the dark ages?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday Sessions: Haywire Mac

Harry Kirby McClintock 1882-1957, known as Haywire Mac ran away from home as a boy to join the circus, became a hobo in the truest sense, a migratory railroad worker.  He worked as a mule train driver for the US Army in the Philippines, a cowboy, union organizer, author, poet, and musician.  He is most famous for the song Big Rock Candy Mountain.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lectured by the French

Laurent Fabius Photo: Mattho69

Wow, Obama sure can piss everybody off...

I know it's the holiday period in our western countries, but when people are dying, you must come back from vacation.

~ French Foreign Minister and Socialist Laurent Fabius

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Foreign Entanglements

Photo: José Cruz/ABr

Integrate them into your own damn country

Carlos Slim, Mexico's richest man and second richest billionaire in the world announces plan to integrate criminal aliens into the American workforce.

“This is a population of great potential, and our goal is to reduce the access barriers for them to reach this potential, we want to incorporate them to the formal workforce"
 ~Robert Tapia-Conyer CEO, Carlos Slim Foundation

If they're a population of such great potential, why don't you integrate them into Mexico instead?

Carlos Slim, worth $73 billion according to Forbes, amassed in a country whose per capita income was $12,800 (and you thought the wealth gap in the US was bad), and in which Mexico's own government declared in 2013 42% were living below the national poverty line.  Those of a certain political bent are fond of tossing around the term "robber baron", you need look no further than the photograph above to see one.

Decorum precludes sharing my opinion of Carlos Slim and his plan, what do you think?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Don't Do Stupid Stuff

"Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."
 Hillary Clinton has taken her furthest, most public step away yet from President Barack Obama, rejecting the core of his self-described foreign policy doctrine and describing his decision against backing Syrian rebels early on as a “failure.” Politico

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said. The Atlantic 

Well you knew it was going to happen


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rest In Peace Robin Williams

I chose this Good Morning Vietnam clip because it seemed to me to most accurately reflect how he was in person.  I had the privilege of seeing him perform live once, his brain seemed to run much faster than the rest of us, his performance was a staccato presentation at a mile a minute, and god forbid, take my word for it... you would never want to heckle him.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Supporters of the ISIS terror group tweeted thousands of messages on Friday bearing the hashtag #AmessagefromISIStoUS featuring gruesome photos and threats to U.S. soldiers and citizens after American airstrikes took out terrorist targets in Iraq for the first time.  Daily Mail


There are no problems in Iraq that couldn't be solved by one American Peacekeeper

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bit of a Stretch, No?

James Brady's death ruled a Homicide... 33 years after he was shot by John Hinckley.

Now my heart goes out to the Brady family, but it's a bit of a stretch to declare a gunshot 33 years earlier as the cause of death of a 73 year old man.  Heck, Reagan died of Pneumonia and he was shot in the lung in the same incident... why wasn't that homicide.

The Medical Examiner isn't talking, referring all questions to the DC District Attorney.

The interval of time yields an almost infinite number of what ifs... would Reagan have gotten Pneumonia if he hadn't been shot?  Would Brady have died years earlier if he hadn't been shot.  It is plausible, the increased medical attention he received due to his injury over the years could certainly have caught something earlier than would have been done otherwise... lipids, blood pressure, who knows? He was 40 when he was shot, he could have been dead at 62 if he hadn't been.  Even if he died of a ruptured aneurysm in a blood vessel damaged in the shooting, who's to say it wasn't medical malpractice by the surgeon who executed the repair.

Too many variables, too many possible outcomes.

As Hilary Clinton would say, "What difference does it make?"  Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity of shooting him... can you charge him with murder now?

Thomas Delahanty, the DC police officer also shot is now 80, will his death be a homicide when it occurs?  How about Tim McCarthy, the secret service agent also shot, he's currently 65.

The median life expectancy of a white American male is 75.7, is his death surprising?

What do you think?


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday Sessions: The Who

This will probably make you feel old if nothing else will:

The Who turns 50 this year.

Oct 1973



2001 The Concert for New York City

12-12-12  The Concert for Sandy Relief

2014-2015 The Who Hits 50

Alas, the concert currently only includes tour dates in Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Cardiff, and London.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Apparently he's out of Cheeks.

Photo: Casa Rosada

Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians fled an advance by the insurgents into the country's Christian heartland in the north. WSJ

Islamic State jihadists who took over large areas of northern Iraq overnight have forced thousands of Christians to flee and occupied churches, removing crosses and destroying manuscripts. Telegraph

"His Holiness addresses an urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway, to act to protect those affected or threatened by violence and to provide aid, especially for the most urgent needs of the many who have been forced to flee and who depend on the solidarity of others," the Vatican said in a statement. Reuters

Thursday, August 7, 2014

To Kill a Gnat


In the 70's the US averaged 2.6 terrorist attacks per year.

In the 80's the US averaged  1.8 terrorist attacks per year.  

In the 90's the US averaged 1.4 terrorist attacks per year.

In the 00's the US averaged 2.6 terrorist attacks per year.

So far the 10's are shaping up to be on par with 1990.

Following the September 11th attacks we passed the Patriot Act, created the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA.  The NSA is spying on everyone... and yet, we are no better or worse off now than we were in the 1970's when Nixon was the only one spying. 

Had all the terrorist plots we foiled, succeeded, it wouldn't significantly alter the statistics or the risk.

Why then are we doing this to ourselves?


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Take a Good Look in the Mirror

We're not violating your privacy... the server is.

Google scanning emailed photos -Washington Post

Google, You have no expectation of privacy - Business Insider

Yahoo, Google, and Apple claim right to read email - Guardian

Microsoft defends right to read email - CNN

Well you get the idea.  The government doesn't have to violate your privacy, they can get companies to do it for them.



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Who's Racist Now?

Our schools need teachers who reflect the ethnic and racial background of its students.

Stop for a second and consider what the reaction would be if this statement was made in regards to, and by community members of an affluent white neighborhood.  

"We're just saying what the community wants. We didn't fight for a white male or female teacher to educate our babies" Rev. Karen Crozier

Read more here:
District spokeswoman Micheline Golden said Beck was the best pick for the job and one of only four teachers in Fresno Unified with experience teaching the three cultural studies classes he'll be responsible for at Gaston.

Rev. Paul McCoy of New Light for New Life Church of God said he met Beck this month at a meeting with one of Gaston's principals and found him "highly intelligent." He's qualified for the job, McCoy added, but said, "we told him it's not about him."

Now suppose how many African American teachers heard that in Neshoba County Mississippi in say the 1950's.

Racism is Racism, no matter the color of your skin.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Enough Already !!!

Once upon a time, we were a nation of immigrants. We came for freedom, we came for opportunity, but we came most of all to become Americans. To espouse and live out the idea that no matter where we came from we could unite as one people, and live out the dream together. The latest trend however seems to be bent upon making us a nation of strangers huddled under one roof.

You can imagine my dismay to come home the other night, flip on the TV and find my hometown team, the Phillies had taken the field against "Los Mets".

 So I wonder. When are the rest of us going to receive equal time in America's most cosmopolitan city? To help out the Mets front office in that endeavor I've done a little research for them.

 Arabic: ميتس, Chinese: 大都會, Dutch: de Mets, French: les Mets, : Greek: Η Μετς, Italian: i Mets, Irish: an Mets, Japanese: メッツ Portugese: os Mets, Russian: Мец, Serbian: Тхе Метс, Slovenian: Metsi,  Welsh: Mae'r Mets

Of course, coming from Philadelphia my favorite would have to be German: Die Mets!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Mind's Eye

Official White House Photo: Pete Souza

There is often a stark contrast 
between how we view ourselves 
and how others perceive us.

As Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin's Twitter post illustrates, with the caption "We have different values and allies".

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Saturday Sessions: The Talking Heads

Formed at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) as the Artistics, by David Byrne and Chris Frantz after moving to New York the band morphed into The Talking Heads with the addition of Tina Weymouth, Frantz's girlfriend. The got their start opening for the Ramones at CBGB. Their first charting song from their first album, Talking Heads 77, was Psycho Killer, released coincidentally at the time the Son of Sam was stalking NYC, although it was written years earlier.

Pairing up with producer Brian Eno for their album More Songs About Buildings and Food, their cover of Al Green's Take Me to the River hit #30 on the billboard charts.

 Their followup album, Fear of Music and its single Life During Wartime produced the catch-phrase "This ain't no party, this ain't no Disco".

More albums followed; Remain in Light, Speaking in Tongues, and at the height of their popularity in the mid-eighties, Little Creatures with the hit singles, Road to Nowhere, and And She Was

These were followed by True Stories and their final album Naked from which this last song, Totally Nude, comes.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Things that make you go Hmmm?

Brigadier General Markus Laubenthal recent commander of the 12th Panzer Brigade named Chief of Staff, US Army Europe.  The first non-American named to the post.

Scientists Invent See-Through Mice

Giraffe dies after hitting head on low overpass a la Hangover III

Feel free to add to the list.