"Oh My God! They Killed Terri!"

"You bastards!"

If you don't get the South Park reference, fuhgeddabouddit.


Signs of the Apocalypse

On Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes" last night, one of the guest was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was in Pinellas Park, Florida, trying to save the life of Terri Schiavo. So there were Sean Hannity and Jesse Jackson, sitting next to each other on the same side of an issue, probably for the first time in their lives. Very weird.

I read an article in the Lawrence (Ks.) Journal-World about Ann Coulter causing a stir in a speech at the University of Kansas. There were hecklers, of course, but Annie skewered them.

As soon as she stepped up to the microphone, Coulter fired off one zinger after another about liberalism while promising to answer questions from left-wing members in the audience who could "thrash their way to a coherent thought."

"I've come to find I like liberals a lot more," Coulter said early in her speech. "They're kind of cute when they're cold, shivering and afraid."
Heh! I love that woman!


The Magic 8-Ball Says

"Try again later."

But do go read James Lileks' "The Bleat" today. It's wonderfully evocative and made me think back to Easter trips to my grandparents' farm in west Texas, long long ago. I started to write about it, but it made me melancholy. You can't go home again.


It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature

I saw on ESPN News this morning that a spring training baseball game in Tucson, Arizona, between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks had to be called after 5 innings due to a swarm of bees on the field. Maybe Mother Nature was just a bit ticked off about the steroid abuse in Major League Baseball. If that's the case, future baseball games could feature hordes of locusts, rains of frogs, hungry alligators, who knows? Earthquakes have been done (the World Series in 1989 between San Francisco and Oakland), of course.

Spotted in the mail: A flyer for an art exhibition at the Borsini-Burr Galleries in Half Moon Bay, California, featuring the paintings of Michael Parkes. The flyer showed paintings titled "The Last Peony" and "The Three Graces." I liked them. You can see them by clicking on the link.

We have a bunch of new part-time flexible employees at work. One of the new guys reminds me of my youngest brother. There's a bit of a physical resemblance, although not to the level of "separated at birth." On the other hand, if you had pictures of the new guy, my brother and me, you'd probably pick the other two as the brothers and me as the total stranger.


Vermis Ex Machina

Now I've seen it all. There's a new vending machine outside my local Wal-Mart. It looks similar to a soda machine, but instead of having Coke or Pepsi on the front, it has pictures of game fish. Yellow letters on the side of the machine scream "LIVE BAIT." Hmmmmm...

One of the options probably isn't really "live": Chicken hearts. The other five choices were various types of worms. The odd thing is that Lehigh Acres isn't exactly a fishing Mecca, since it's about 20 miles to the Gulf of Mexico and there aren't any big lakes nearby. There are a few canals, but that's about it. It will be interesting to see if there are enough customers to justify the machine's existence at that location. If it disappears, we'll know that there weren't.


George Orwell, Call Your Office

I'm watching a surreal press conference by the attorney for Michael Schiavo, who apparently has succeeded in starting the torturous process of starving his wife to death. The attorney has boggled my mind on a couple of occasions already. First, when he referred to the attempt by the U.S. Congress to block the removal of the feeding tube by issuing subpoenas to Terri Schiavo and others as "thuggery." Then he referred to the process of starving Terri Schiavo to death as "allowing her to exercise her freedom of choice." Unbelievable! And then he refers to the subpoenas as a "cruel ruse," never mind the cruelty of starving this poor woman to death. If they're going to kill her, they should at least give her the consideration that they would give to a convicted murderer and give her a lethal injection.

Frankly, I find both Michael Schiavo and his mouthpiece to be contemptible human beings.


Must-See TV

Second try; @#$%ing Blogger ate the first draft.

I've been watching the Congressional hearings on steroids in baseball. The players are just now starting to testify. The previous panel, made up of medical and scientific professionals and of parents who had lost sons to steroid abuse, was quite interesting. At times, the testimony was a bit contentious, especially between Major League Baseball's medical advisor and Rep. Waxman of California. Sammy Sosa has just made his statement, and now Mark McGwire is giving his. He seems a bit choked up by the testimony of the parents whose sons committed suicide while on steroids.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of all of this. The last panel's testimony may be the most contentious of all, when MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and other front office executives are called before the Congress. It all makes for riveting television if you're a baseball fan.



That was the number of deputies and other law enforcement officers at the arraignment of Brian Nichols yesterday. Nineteen deputies, most of them armed, some in bulletproof vests. Nichols was in shackles, but apparently they were taking no chances. Nineteen guards was overkill. Do you think that maybe the whole thing could have been avoided if the Fulton County Courthouse had given a prisoner who had been found with shanks the previous day more than one female deputy (whom he outweighed by about 80 pounds) to escort him? Lest you think that's a sexist statement, I'd say the same thing about a 5'2", 120 pound male deputy trying to escort a guy who was 6'1" and 200 pounds, martial arts trained and a former college football player. It was the size mismatch that was the problem, not the deputy's gender, and there should have been at least two deputies escorting a potentially violent prisoner like Nichols.

I saw that "The Purpose-Driven Life" has risen to number 2 on the book charts. Apparently a lot of people are curious about the book that Ashley Smith used to talk Nichols into surrendering. It's a nice little unexpected publicity boost for the book's author, Rick Warren. You couldn't buy that kind of exposure.



So there's a blank white field here and nothing to write about.

I thought about writing about Ashley Smith, the brave and resourceful woman in Georgia who talked the fugitive into surrendering without further bloodshed, but you've probably seen enough about her on television. Well, maybe not. She has quite a story to tell, and seems like one impressively calm woman. I hope that they give her the $65,000 reward they were offering for information leading to the capture of Brian Nichols. She deserves it.

Then there's the Oddly Enough stories. Here's a weird one about scented bowling balls. Really. But can you ask someone to sniff your (bowling) balls without them thinking you're a pervert? Even stranger, McDonald's is thinking about using remote calling centers for drive-through orders. What the hell?! Sure, the story mentions "someone with a North Dakota accent", but we know that they'll outsource it to Apu in Mumbai, because he works cheaper than Lars in Fargo. Why would you want some foreigner whose English is problematic mangling your order? Bad idea, Mickey D's, bad idea.

As you can see, I've got nothing today.


Fade to Blog

Thursday: Blogger ate my post. Probably just as well. I had worked two hours late and had to go in two hours early Thursday night for Friday, and was feeling quite surly. Actually, I blackmailed them into letting me come in two hours early for my Friday overtime, threatening to use my "get-out-of-jail-free" card Friday morning if they didn't. I didn't want to stay any longer than I had to on Friday morning, since my vacation starts when I leave.

Friday: Every time I think that they've reached the pinnacle of incompetence, they find a higher peak. Friday, they were on Mount Everest, and I think they had the Maintenance guys outside building a higher mountain next to it for their next move. My partner was maxed at 60 hours at 2:00 a.m. and went home. He wasn't the only one. Planning, people, planning! I left work on time at 7:30. I'd like to say it was foresight, but it was just plain dumb luck that I picked the week when they decided to go completely off the rails to take annual leave. Next week will be a great week not to be at work.

Saturday: Weekend at last. Finally I can catch up on my sleep. And television watching.


Feets, Don't Fail Me Now!

In which our hero hotfoots it out of work on time when the supervisors neglect to notify him that he has to stay for overtime. They got just about everyone else, apparently, but said nary a word about overtime to me. Some people went and asked if they had overtime and were promptly nailed, but not me; Mama didn't raise no fools. If I'm told that I have to stay (with at least an hour's notice), then I stay. Other than that, it's "hasta la vista, baby!" I'm not a volunteer and I'm not cutting them any slack.

It almost wasn't worth making my escape, since I got stuck in traffic. I saw flashing lights up ahead, grokked " traffic accident -- delay ahead" and decided to take an alternate route. U-turn, back to the last light, left turn. They say that two wrongs don't make a right, but a U-turn and a left do. The radio played the traffic report and mentioned the accident two minutes after I'd started on the alternate route. Fat lot of good it did me then.


God Needs to Work On His Smiting Technique

Amazingly, the Universal Transport System was working when we came in last night. God must be rusty on His smiting technique, because they fixed it in one day. Last time there was a major UTS disaster, it took them weeks to fix it. I guess it's back to agnosticism for me.

I talked with some people at work about that shooting incident in Baghdad involving the freed Italian journalist (the freed communist Italian journalist, to be exact). The consensus question was not "why did the Americans shoot a civilian vehicle carrying a journalist" but "why didn't the Italian driver stop at the checkpoint like he was supposed to?" Let's be blunt: The area in which this incident occurred was a very, very dangerous area where numerous car bombings have occurred. If the Italian driver comes speeding up to the checkpoint and doesn't stop, he's the dumbafuoco. Giuliana Sgrena's story is preposterous and inconsistent; she claims that an American tank shot at her and that there were "300-400 shots" fired. Please! If the troops had fired that many shots at the car she was in, she'd be dead as a doornail. And if a tank had fired at the car, they'd have swept her remains up in a dustpan. Sgrena has a long history of spewing anti-American and anti-Western hatred, which is not surprising for a communist writer. She's on the wrong side of history.


March of Folly

I got to work last night and found out that my bosses have apparently lost their minds. Word has it that the Big Cheese got chewed out by his bosses last week and so we all must pay the price with punitive overtime. The plan is to force non-overtime-desired-list people like myself to work 16 hours of overtime per week and max out everyone else. They didn't get either of my days off this week since they fall at the beginning of the week, but they still plan to make us work two hours of overtime at the end of four of our five workdays, in addition to working eight hours on one of our two days off. Needless to say, this was quite unpopular with those of us not on the OTDL. If I wanted to work overtime, I'd be on the OTDL. They won't get my days off in either of the next two weeks, since I have a week's vacation next week in conjunction with my days off. If they try to tell me to come in on that following weekend, I'll tell them to get stuffed. Hopefully this madness will be over before my vacation ends. If not, then I'll have to take steps.

Apparently God doesn't like unrighteous people passing out punitive overtime, because He smote the UTS last night. A couple of the cars derailed and from what I heard, the wheels even came off of them. Sounds like a major repair job, which isn't really good news. On the other hand, though, the timing was perfect. It's almost enough to get me to reassess my agnosticism. If there is a God, he doesn't like the Big Cheese.


How Great Thou Art (Not)

Because I run the mail for tony Naples, I see a lot of mailings from the city's various art galleries. Last night, I saw some postcards from a gallery touting one of their artist's exhibitions. The work on the postcard was titled "Unabridged Red," and it looked like the artist had spray-painted a white rectangle on the canvas and then tossed paint on it semi-randomly. There were orange, blue and crimson splotches, but about two-thirds of the canvas was covered with red paint. I looked at the painting and said, "I'm in the wrong line of work. I could have done that!" The artist is probably laughing all the way to the bank. My guess is he must have a salesman-type personality, because he sold that gallery on the idea that this was good art. There's a sucker born every minute.

Speaking of which, I read an article in the paper the other day about how fashion designers are now charging $400-700 for designer flip-flop sandals. The article showed a picture of a pair of $395 sandals that consisted of leather soles and colored rope. Somewhere, there are women who are lining up to plunk down the Benjamins for those sandals. Such a bargain!


Where the Buffalo Roam

Soon, in your pocket. Yes, the U.S. Mint has just released 97 million newly-redesigned "buffalo" nickels, with a different portrait of Thomas Jefferson on the front and an American bison on the back. I had an old buffalo nickel from about 1935 when I was kid, along with an 1890 Indian head penny. Everything old is new again.

I've been really pleased to see the Lebanese people demonstrating in the streets against Syrian tyranny. The "people power" element is reminiscent of what happened in Ukraine a couple of months ago, as people are no longer willing to knuckle under to dictators. Change is coming to the Middle East, and it's a bad time to be a dictator in Damascus or Teheran. The press photographers seem to be drawn to some of the photogenic young women waving Lebanese flags and holding up their V-for-victory signs. And who can blame them? I'm just glad that these pretty young women don't have to hide their light under a bushel. Burkas? Just say no! (Photos via Instapundit ).


Play Ball!

Yesterday I wrote about the cosmic significance of the end of February and the beginning of March: Spring is imminent, if not in the air locally where you happen to be. The biggest sign of spring here is Florida is Spring Training. Baseball teams have been training here for the last couple of weeks, preparing for the 2005 season, and today will be the first spring training games where major league teams play each other. At 1 p.m EST, ESPN will treat us to the first televised game of the spring, between the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals, the team formerly known as the Montreal Expos.

Baseball, like spring, is about renewal and new opportunities. Every year, each team starts off with a clean slate. No team has a cleaner slate than the Nationals, after their lengthy au revoir to Montreal. The Expos had been rumored to be on the move for the past several years, due to poor attendance and low revenue opportunities. This year, it finally happened, so the Nationals players will no longer have to worry about long "homestands" in San Juan or other exotic locations.

I had mixed emotions about the team's move. On the one hand, Montreal had repeatedly failed to show any capacity to support the team. On the other, having grown in up Kansas City, I know the bitterness that comes when the team that you love is stolen away. We moved to Kansas City in the early 1970s, after the Athletics had moved from Kansas City to Oakland, but there was still a deep and abiding loathing of Charlie O. Finley for moving the team, especially since they had sucked every year they were in Kansas City but suddenly became good after moving to Oakland. This led to a strong rivalry between the Royals and Athletics in the mid-1970s as the Royals went from expansion team to contender. That feeling of rivalry wasn't really displaced until the playoff battles against the New York Yankees in the late 1970s. It was only then that the Yankees became the most hated rival team in Kansas City, rather than the Oakland Athletics.

Still, in the end, this is probably better for the Nationals franchise and for the team's players. The long goodbye to Montreal is over, and the twice-jilted nation's capital once again has major league baseball.


In Like a Lion

Quick update: Logic prevailed and the oddly-numbered machines were renumbered when we got to work last night. Fancy that!

February's gone. It goes by fast. Blink and you miss it, as months go. It's not interminable like August or one of the other 31-day months during hurricane season. Up North, February is cold and snowy and bleak, the time of year when people wonder if the blizzards will ever end or whether the current interglacial period has come to an end and a new ice age has begun. In Florida, of course, that's not the case; our winter weather is always comparatively mild, even during the worst cold snaps.

I'm sure that the people in the frozen northlands are happy to look at a new page on the calendar, one perhaps showing a crocus forcing a flower bud up through the snow. Spring's not far away now. Really. The interglacial will continue. Hopefully. Or else you'll all be moving to Florida (ice-sheet free for over 100,000 years).