Saturday, August 9, 2008

Blog #48: Mouth Bleeding + Wikipedia

Sorry if this week’s post is a bit short and/or choppy. During lunch Friday I evidently punctured my tongue with my lower denture. Wounds inside the mouth bleed profusely, and you can’t stop the bleeding with a bandaid, like on other skin of the body. And so I spent the afternoon at our local emergency room, where blood was taken, and some kind of thinner was added, and eventually the bleeding stopped of its own accord. And so it was soup for dinner, and no foods requiring dentures until after my doctor visit on Monday morning. So here it is Saturday morning, and I try and bring this week’s post to life.
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Two stories I would like to refer you too, without spending much time on them myself, lead off. The first one is a priceless look at Wikipedia, and the process which is gone through to edit and approve edits. As soon as he became president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad touched off a boisterous debate on Wikipedia – a conflict as unruly and entertaining as the online encyclopedia itself. The story is entitled: World War III on Wikipedia:
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And for yet another Comcast (my cable company, telephone provider, and internet service provider) horror story we would like to direct you to the Consumerist website. The tale therein told is a fascinating example of the arrogance of the ill-informed, in this case a service technician who cut off a 72 man’s cable claiming it was illegal, and who refused to look at a Comcast bill which would have proven the man’s claim.

Comcast has been much maligned lately. In its favor it has at least one employee who moniters blogs and twitter accounts for Comcast gripes, and who upon finding one immediately contacts the grieved one and helps correct the person’s situation. Also I would note that since Comcast was caught messing around with its customers’ bit torrent connections, and was told to quit the practice by the FCC, my own bit torrents downloads have improved measurably. Thanks FCC.
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I’m still extolling the virtues of Stumble Upon, a new (to me) website in which in exchange for you telling it what your interests are, takes you to exotic places on the web. It’s certainly not something I would want to fool with every time I’m on the web, but it makes a nice pastime when I’m in the mood for some discovery. I have its logo on my Firefox toolbar, and although I do most of by surfing in Camino (the Mozilla foundation’s Mac OS X centric browser) when I’m in FF and the mood strikes me I click on the SU icon. The other day I Stumbled Upon a website which publishes metaphors written by high school students in essays. Some of them are priceless, try these on for size:

• His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
• He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
• She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli, and he was room temperature Canadian beef.
• She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
• Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
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The new book by Ron Suskind which claims that the CIA forged a letter purportedly written by the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein, claiming that “9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had trained for his mission in Iraq – thus attempting to show, finally, that there was an operational link between Saddam and al Qaeda, something the Vice President’s Office had been pressing CIA to prove since 9/11 as a justification for the Bush administration’s plan to invade Iraq.” The book goes on to state, “There is no link.” The White House hotly denies all of the allegations of the book, of course, as they either denied or pooh-poohed all those of the incidents that former White House spokesperson Scott McCellan, who wrote his own tell all book about his experiences on the job, reported on. Not to mention the assertions of a military strike on Iran as alleged by Seymour M. Hersch in his recent New Yorker article. And cynics who doubt the usefulness of such books and such articles, will note that a military strike against Iran went from being an almost certainty before the appearance of Hersch’s article, to a virtual 180% change in position by the administration, even to the point of including a negotiator in recent talks with Iran. If any kind of full disclosure rule had been in force during the run up to the Iraq invasion there would likely have been no invasion.

Reviews of Suskind’s book and comments about it dominated the blogosphere the first part of this week. The book reinforces what many of us had already assumed, that the only signs in the White House which are truthful are the ones directed men and women to their respective water closets. And in these days of a Dick Cheney vice presidency, who knows if you can even believe in those. Raise your hand if you still believe the White House is operating in the best interests of the people of this country.

The Republicans got Bush elected in 2000 by Supreme Court fiat, and got him reelected in 2004 through, among other things, lies perpretrated by the so-called Swift Boat Veterans. However, who in Republican politics ever said that “truth” had no place in a political campaign? If Republicans actually ran on what they really believe in and practiced, then their membership would probably rank somewhere well below the Green Party. But lying about their beliefs and practices has done them quite well in years past, thank you very much, and from their point of view there’s really not much reason for them to change their ways. The only hope is for the American people to wise up to their lying ways.

Considering the recent resurgence in Democratic registrations, even in Republican strongholds like Alaska, you would think that in a case like the present where the stands of the two major parties presidential candidates are so clearly delineated, that the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, should be towering over John McCain in the polls. However, I am forced to admit that is not the case. In some polls Obama’s lead is within the margin for error, in one McCain actually leads Obama by four percentage points.

Scary thought, isn’t it? For McCain is making no secret of the fact that he is running as a means of continuing the Bush foreign policy. And as a man from a family steeped in admirals and generals, he also esp0uses victory as the only honorable outcome for the war in Iraq. And McCain’s promise of balancing the federal budget all the while continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, fighting tooth and nail to victory in Iraq, while righting the mortgage crises and helping the nation solve the problem of the high cost of gasoline, his protestations sound downright laughable if they weren’t so pathetic. And McCain makes no secret of the fact that if elected he will tilt the Supreme Court further to the side of conservatives, very probably signaling the end of Roe V. Wade and a woman’s right to choose. As George Carlin once said, “These people call themselves ‘right to lifers.’ don’t you love that phrase? Don’t you love the fact that most of the right to lifers are in favor of the death penalty, and they support the South American death squads, and they’re against gun control and nuclear weapons control? When they talk about right to life they’re talking about their right to decide which people should live or die.” . . . “Did you ever look at these people?” Carlin went on, “Don’t you find it mildly ironic that most of these people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place.” George Carlin could be crude and use blunt language, but it was his way to bring the maximum effectiveness to his observations.
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This next item is directed to Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic nominee for the presidency of the United States. What can you do, to get y0ur poll numbers to more accurately reflect the real split in this year’s voter registrations? To reprise an old Walter Mondale charge, “where’s the beef?” You have the plans, the gift of speaking, and lots of ideas. But you are untested. Many of us believe that you are actually flirting with defeat against a highly weak Republican candidate because you are not doing the math. You have ideas, you appeal to youth. And you have mastered the art of fund raising by way of the internet. However, the very backbone of the Democratic party, the many white, blue collar Democrats and the older women, the ones who supported Hilary Clinton in the primaries, are waiting in the wings, and not responding to polls. As a result you, Barack Obama, are running only a few points ahead of McCain, in spite of the mile wide chasm that should be separating you.

The solution is so logical it bites. Do the math. Who was it that was solidly taking all of those industrial states like Ohio, Pennslyvania, Michigan, etc. late in the primaries? This in addition to solidly taking the biggies like N.Y., Massachusetts, and California. Hilary Clinton was the one, that’s who. In 1960 JFK bit the bullet and put Lyndon Johnson on his ticket. As a result he won the presidency. Likewise Ronald Reagan with George H.W. Bush in 1980. We could go on and on.

Hillary Clinton as veep on the Obama ticket would bring all of the widely diverse Democratic factions together in one fell swoop, virtually assuring a November victory. The Clinton name might be loaded with luggage for Republicans who tend to make a religion out of their own lies, but Clinton is no dirty word to Democrats, who remember and appreciate those eight preBush years of prosperity, lots of jobs, no war, and the country coming out of those years with a surplus rather than a deficit. And Democrats would feel absolutely incredible if the Dream Ticket of Obama/Clinton were to happen. So be daring and brave, Barack Obama. Don’t listen to your advisers still bloody from the recent campaign, nor to the so-called tv pundits, who have their own agendas and who wouldn’t know reality if it bit them in their hindquarters. Try it and see. Make Hillary Clinton your vice president and watch your poll numbers suddenly soar into the stratosphere. Take the uncertainty out of your presidential race, and replace it with the taste of sure, overwhelming victory. And stability in the coming election.
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Unlucky McCain. He makes a commercial utilizing the images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton along with Barack Obama, trying to imply a celebrity-empty suit charge against Obama. Then Paris Hilton turns around and makes a little tv pitch of her own, where she announces her own candidacy for the presidency, during which she comes up with an energy plan that dwarfs McCain’s.

Also while trying to show up Obama’s lack of variety in energy policies, McCain came up with a plan boosting among other things, nuclear energy, pointing out that the navy has used nuclear powered submarines safely for many years and never had any trouble. Then, within a day or two it comes out that the navy has a submarine, the Houston, which has been leaking radioactive water in ports in Japan and other far eastern ports. The submarine is now in dry dock, which is probably where McCain should be with his record of omnipotence in the leaking of nuclear misinformation. However, McCain seems almost hysterical as he goes from one lie or distortion to another. He sounds like an old, tired man who really at times doesn’t seem to know which way is up.
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Well, the second trial for a Gitmo prisoner was completed, and the prisoner, a former driver for Osama bin Laden was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison for supporting terrorism.

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden was sentenced by a military jury Thursday to 5 1/2 years in prison for supporting terrorism, a far shorter term than demanded by government prosecutors. The judge gave him credit for five years and one month of his pretrial incarceration at Guantanamo Bay, making him eligible for release from custody in five months.

A Washington Post story by Jerry Markon and Josh White, called the sentence a stunning rebuke to prosecutors who had insisted on a prison term of at least 30 years and portrayed Hamdan throughout the trial as a hardened al-Qaeda warrior. The jury of six military officers convicted him of supporting al-Qaeda by driving and guarding bin Laden and ferrying weapons for the terror group, but he was acquitted of terror conspiracy. The result – a mixed verdict and an extraordinarily light sentence – could raise questions about the administration’s strategy of taking high-profile terrorism trials out of civilian courts and bringing them before the military.

Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the verdict and the sentencing “clearly indicates the fairness of the process” and that the Department of Defense respects the decision. However it is uncertain what will happen to Hamdan when he finishes serving his time in January. Military prosecutors said during the trial that an acquittal would not change Hamdan's status as a prisoner. He was declared an enemy combatant by the military in a separate proceeding, and the administration has said it can hold such combatants until the campaign against terrorism is deemed over.

While the Bush administration could order him held, officials could also transfer him to the custody of his home country, Yemen, or release him outright. The administration has been hesitant to repatriate detainees to Yemen because of concerns about its lax handling of terrorism suspects. After hearing his sentence, Hamdan thanked the jurors and repeated his apology for serving bin Laden. Jurors were aware of the judge's sentencing credit when they issued their sentence.

Earlier at the hearing, Hamdan had pleaded for a light sentence and apologized to U.S. victims of terrorist attacks. "It was a sorry or sad thing to see innocent people killed," he said, according to a transcript. "I personally present my apologies to them if anything I did has caused them pain." He admitted that he kept working for the al-Qaeda leader even after he learned that bin Laden had planned terrorist attacks. But he said his only motive was supporting his family. The father of two, who has a fourth-grade education, said he needed a job and that bin Laden paid well.

Of course, the chances are that with the Bush administration scheduled to hit the road come the 20th of January, 2009, Hamdan will stand a good chance of being repatriated to Yemen and his wife and daughters, at least if the Democrats win the presidential election in November. Fortunately the Democratic party has not adopted the arbitrary and dictatorial stance of the Bushies. It has been a dreadfully long eight years.
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Beware of the servants of the Lord when they get angry. Allegations of racism surfaced in the civil trial of Victoria Osteen, copastor of the Lakewood Church, who is accused of assaulting a black Continental Airlines flight attendant in 2005. The accusations came in the afternoon of the first day of testimony against Osteen, the wife of evangelist and author Joel Osteen. The attorney for flight attendant Sharon Brown said the allegations will be a continuing theme.

In testimony Thursday, flight attendant Maria Johnson implied Victoria Osteen acted in a racist manner during an incident over a spill in the arm of a chair, when the co-pastor sought her out instead of two black attendants that day. One of the other attendants was Brown. Reginald McKamie, the attorney who is representing Brown, elicited testimony from Johnson that she felt Victoria Osteen singled her out because she was "the only white girl." She told jurors that Victoria Osteen grabbed her by the arm and led her to the spill, "like leading a naughty child." Johnson said she was shocked by her behavior.

When Victoria Osteen's attorney, Rusty Hardin, then questioned Johnson, he accused her of playing the "race card," prompting an audible gasp from the gallery. McKamie then called psychiatrist Shayna Lee, who said black women interpret confrontation and others' actions differently than other races and genders. Lee, who is black, said Brown was referred to her specifically because of the challenges facing black women.

Brown accuses Victoria Osteen of assaulting her, contending the co-pastor grabbed her by the shoulders, pushed her into a restroom door and elbowed her in the chest on Dec. 19, 2005. Brown is asking for 10 percent of Victoria Osteen's net worth. Brown's lawsuit claims she lost her religious faith and suffers from hemorrhoids because of the anxiety and trauma from the incident. Victoria Osteen paid a $3,000 fine to the Federal Aviation Administration for interfering with a flight crew member, a fact seized upon by Brown's attorney. The Osteens paid the FAA fine to put the incident behind them, Hardin said.

Moral, there’s nothing meek about the well-heeled followers of Our Lords of the Lakewood Consortium. With the rich go the power to treat the working class with the arrogance they deserve. Long live the superiority of the ruling classes, and the high paid legal talent that insures their continued dominance.
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Here are more Stumbled Upon high school metaphors for your giggling pleasure.

• He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.
• The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.
• McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
• From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.
• Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
• Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
• They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.
• John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
• He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.
• Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
• The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
• The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
• He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
• The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
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And there you have it for this week. Hope you'll come again next week, and point any friends who might enjoy this here. Bye bye.

The Real Little Eddy

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