Up Late For Shuttle Launch

I took a nap this afternoon, intending to get up at 7:00 p.m. to watch the Dodgers-Reds game. Instead, I turned off the alarm and slept in. When I woke up, it was 11:30. I flipped on the Royals-Mariner game, found out that my fantasy team starter Brian Bannister had already given up five runs and decided to check on the status of the shuttle launch scheduled for 11:59 p.m.

The NASA channel showed everything a go as they counted down. I looked outside and the sky is completely clear, so I'll be able to watch it go up from my front yard. Night launches are very impressive, even from a couple of hundred miles away. You know something is intensely bright when you can see it halfway across the state!

Five minutes to go...

Thought For the Day

Only an irritated oyster creates a pearl.


Oh, Danny Boy...

I was looking at the most recent projected track for Tropical Storm Danny and noted two things: That it's supposed to become a hurricane by early Saturday off the North Carolina coast, and that Boston is still within the cone of uncertainty as the storm makes its way north on Saturday afternoon and evening.

Sometime during that period will be the funeral mass for the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Danny probably won't hit Boston, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility.

Now, having been through hurricanes myself, I wouldn't wish them on anyone. However, I just have to ask: Would it be a sign of Divine disapproval for someone's funeral to get hit by a hurricane?


Stop The Canonization, I Want To Get Off

As you will no doubt have heard, Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) died last night of brain cancer. Not surprisingly, it's wall-to-wall Ted Kennedy on both CNN and MSNBC (or as I call it, MSDNC). Fortunately, Fox News is covering other topics besides Kennedy's death. The only question about CNN and MSDNC (and probably the networks as well, especially CBS and NBC) is whether they will ask the Pope to canonize Teddy or whether they'll just declare his sainthood themselves on their own.

To be honest, I was not a big fan of the man. His politics aside, there was always the shadow of Chappaquiddick and his questionable behavior on that night. You have to do a hell of a lot of good to balance the scales after leaving a woman to drown. Some might think he balanced the scales; I don't.

I'll say this: He probably wasn't as big a scoundrel as I thought he was. But he damn sure isn't as big a saint as the TV talking heads would have us believe.


So Easy...

I know that criticizing Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) is like shooting fish in a barrel. She's a perfect example of the fact that it doesn't take intelligence to succeed in politics. So what has this fine paragon of Congress done now?

She has referred to those who oppose Obama's health care scheme as "Neanderthals."

It just goes to show that opposing ObamaCare is so easy a caveman can do it. And so can those of us who are more evolved than that.

And scaring the hell out of the American people with insane spending and trying to take over their health care and their lives? It's so easy a Democrat can do it.

Who's Counting?

So I'm in the break room last night, eating a nuked slice of pizza and reading the paper, when I see an article about Miss Venezuela winning the Miss Universe pageant. Then it mentions that she received the crown from the previous Miss Universe, who also was from Venezuela. And I had to ask: "Who's counting the ballots? Hugo Chavez?"

Just askin'...


Aw, Nuts!

I've written in the past about the explosion in varieties of gourmet chocolate on the candy aisle, with a mad rush to see who can come up with the chocolate bar with the highest percentage of cacao. I think there are some out there now that have just a splash of milk and a pinch of sugar thrown in with the cacao, making semi-sweet baking chocolate taste like Hershey's chocolate syrup by comparison. I guess it would take a stiff upper lip to enjoy that kind of chocolate.

Paralleling this has been an explosion of varieties of packaged nuts. It used to be that there were peanuts, mixed nuts, almonds and macadamia nuts. Now there are more varieties, and they are flavored with a great number of different things. I recently tried some of the Sahale Snacks nut blends, including Soledad Almonds (with apple, flax seeds, date, balsamic vinegar and red pepper) and Valdosta Pecans (with sweet cranberries, black pepper and orange zest). I also liked the Sing Buri cashews, with pineapple and Chinese pepper. Now Planters has gotten into the act, with their Planters Black Label jars. I bought a couple of them: Belgian Milk Chocolate (almonds and cashews) and Santa Fe Roasted Chipotle seasoned blend, which again is almonds and cashews with spicy seasoning. They taste a lot like Lay's barbecue chips with a bit more of a bite.

Even Blue Diamond almonds has gotten into the extreme flavors act, with Wasabi flavoring among others.

It's not just nuts, though. I saw some "extreme" flavored Pringles chips as well, although I ended up buying a multipack of the Pringles Restaurant Cravers, with Mozzarella Sticks & Marinara, Onion Blossom and Mexican Layered Dip flavors instead.

If I ate all of those at once, with the flavored nut blends, my tongue might just explode!


Wisdom In A Bag Of Chocolates

I like the bags of Dove chocolates, which are wrapped in foil with a little message on the inside. On a whim, I bought a bag of the new peanut butter-filled Dove milk chocolates. The messages are a bit different from the other ones I've seen, many of which ran to things like "It's definitely a bubble bath day!" or "You know what? You look good in red." The new batch in the peanut butter variety's wrappers are a bit more philosophical. Here are some that I saw today:
  • Seize the day.
  • Listen to the wind.
  • Share a kind word.
  • Protect your solitude. Turn off your ringer.
  • It's okay to live without a "big picture" in mind.
  • Be an optimist.
  • Remind yourself that it's okay not to be perfect.
  • Express your gratitude to those you love.
  • Hug a friend today.
  • Chocolate is love shared between friends.
If everybody did those things, it would be a nicer world, wouldn't it?

And the peanut butter-filled Dove chocolates are just the kind to share with a friend. You might even get a hug, which would be good for a two-fer.


Tropical Playlist

While at work last night, I was listening to music on my iPod and I came to the realization that I could come up with a playlist for the named tropical storms so far during this Atlantic hurricane season, using songs on my iPod. Well, actually I had to cheat a little bit on the spelling of the first one.

Ana -- "Anna" by the Beatles
Bill -- "Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now" by Van Halen
Claudette -- "Claudette" by Roy Orbison

Now, what's the name of the "D" storm? (Answer: Danny.) Hmmm... I think the closest I'd have for that one would be "Denis" by Blondie, which was pronounced "Dah-nee" rather than "Dennis." Beyond that: Erika, Fred, Grace, Henri. Somehow, I think I'll be stumped from Erika on.


These Posters Made Me Laugh

From The People's Cube:

Posters: Do Not Spread Fishy Rumors or You'll Be Flagged

Sheer genius! Be sure to go to The People's Cube's home page for more satirical humor.


Another Thing Old People Remember

Live Elvis, as opposed to Dead Elvis. Today is the 32nd anniversary of The King's passing, making it the biggest day of the year at Graceland. I wonder if the Michael Jackson fans will make annual pilgrimages to Neverland Ranch in the future on the anniversary of his death? I also wonder if the Jackson estate will be anywhere near as savvy as the Elvis Presley estate was in marketing their deceased star.

Another interesting story in yesterday's newspaper was about the upcoming consecration of the new Hindu temple in Fort Myers, which will serve the 1000 Hindu households in southwest Florida (Lee, Charlotte and Collier Counties). It will be dedicated to Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity that Hindus believe helps them overcome obstacles, according to the article, although Hindus will be able to worship all of their gods and goddesses there. I guess that it is not too surprising that Hindus would be attracted to Florida; its warm subtropical climate with rainy and dry seasons is probably closer to that of much of India than any other place in the United States. The article also noted that Hindus make up about 0.4% of the U.S. population, which would be around 1.2 million people.


Obama's Potemkin Town Hall

Did you see President Obama's laughably scripted town hall meeting from Montana today, or even just the highlights? The crowd looked like extras from The Stepford Wives, deliriously cheering every word the President spoke. Where did they bus these people in from? It looked more like an Obama campaign rally than the sort of skeptical town hall meeting that members of Congress are seeing across the country. All it was missing was the styrofoam Greek columns.

I mean, really, when the guy who asked one of the two hard questions that Obama got mentions that he's an NRA member and believes in the Constitution and only three or four people applaud, in a crowd of over a thousand, you have to just laugh. This was MONTANA, for heaven's sake, one of the states with the highest rates of gun ownership in the country, and almost nobody applauds a mention of the NRA?! You would have gotten more applause than that in some place like Vermont! It was a clear tip-off that this was not a random, representative crowd of Montanans.

Come on, President Obama. Don't insult our intelligence! Don't piss on our legs and tell us it's raining.


That's what Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has called protesters against Obama's health care reform scheme. Wonderful. The same sort of people who made fun of President Bush calling Muslim terrorists "evildoers" (because they didn't really believe in the concept of "evil") are now calling Americans exercising their First Amendment right to free speech "evil-mongers." So, let me get this straight, Senator: People who fly airplanes into buildings, behead "infidels" and stone rape victims to death, "NOT EVIL"; people who go to town hall meetings and speak their mind against Obama's plans: "EVIL."

I'm glad you've clarified your point of view for all of us, Senator Reid. And I hope that your constituents in the Silver State decide to give you a gold watch and send you home the next time you're up for re-election. You're an embarassment to the Senate, sir.


R.I.P., Les Paul

A little experiment: Pick out any popular music from the last fifty years or so and listen to it. Then say thank you to Les Paul, the guitar virtuoso and inventor who died today at the age of 94. If there were electric guitars in that music you listened to, well, Les Paul invented the electric guitar. And even if you picked a genre that doesn't include electric guitars, it almost certainly was recorded using multi-track technology. Again, a Les Paul invention. Whether you like rock, jazz, country, hip-hop or any of the hundreds of genres of music, they all use multi-track recording, and your life has been enriched through music that Les Paul's inventions improved.

So thank you, Les Paul, for all that you did for popular music. And may you rest in peace.


Currently Reading...

I've gotten bogged down in Atlas Shrugged during the 50+ page speech that John Galt gives over the commandeered radio frequencies. The sad truth is that nobody's going to listen to you go on for fifty pages worth of a speech, even in an 1100-page novel. I figure that's at least three hours if read aloud, and most people would have said, "Okay, we get it, we get it! How about the Cliff Notes version, buddy?"

Anyway, I'm taking a break from it right now and reading a "new" book by J.R.R. Tolkien. He's surprisingly prolific for a man who has been dead since 1973. Actually, his son Christopher edited the manuscript, as he did with the rest of his father's posthumous published works. The book is The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, a retelling of the old Norse sagas translated into English verse. I've been reading the introductory material for the last couple of days, off and on. I'll have to hurry up and get to the meat of the book, the eight-line stanzas, since I only have it for two weeks.


A New Obamicon

What the hell, why not?

Yeah, that's the late, unlamented Erich Honecker. Let's beat the meme like a dead horse...


I Turned Myself In!

Here is the text of the e-mail I sent to the snitch e-mail address, flag@whitehouse.gov:

Comrades! I want to thank you for this wonderful opportunity to turn in those thought criminals and wreckers who want to sabotage the wonderful plans of our Dear Leader, President HoneckerObama! Long may they languish in their prison cells in the gulag!

First, I wish to denounce Winston Smith, 1984 Orwell Road, New London, Connecticut. Comrade Smith is an irredeemable thought criminal who does not have sufficient zeal in his support for DemSoc. I overheard him say that President Honecker'sObama's health care plan will ration care for senior citizens on Medicare, and deny them treatments because they are "not cost effective." Send him to Room 101 where he belongs!

Second, I wish to denounce John Galt, 1 Objectivist Way, Galt's Gulch, Colorado. He's guilty of being a selfish, greedy capitalist and exploiting the working class. His girlfriend, Dagny Taggart, of the same address, is equally guilty. They both said that it's not their responsibility to be taxed in order to provide health care for illegal immigrants and other layabouts too lazy to earn their own health care. Not only should they be sent to the gulag, but their taxes should be raised much higher so that they can pay their fair share of the health care bill! Nobody should be allowed to "shrug" off their debt to society!

Finally, I must also turn myself in, because I have had my own doubts about whether President Honecker'sObama's health care plan can be implemented without bankrupting the country. Wow, that sounds "fishy" to me! So tell me which prison camp I'm supposed to report to. I understand that President HoneckerObama will make sure that the trains are running on time.

And as someone who served in the Army in West Berlin in the late 1980s, this all seems very familiar to me, except that it was on the OTHER side of the Berlin Wall that people were snitching on each other to the Stasi. I never thought I'd see it in America. "Hope and change," right, comrades? It's the East GermanAmerican Way!

Say "hi" to President HoneckerObama for me and have a nice day.


An American Erich Honecker?

You know, it's getting to the point that I'm not sure this is America any more. We have a presidential administration that gives out an e-mail address, flag@whitehouse.gov, which people can use to report fellow citizens who are giving out "misinformation" about the Obama health care plan, or just anything that sounds "fishy." Twenty years ago, when I left West Berlin, Erich Honecker was still the President [Correction: His title was "Chairman of the Council of State of the German Democratic Republic" -- the de facto head of state.] of East Germany, where the government kept files on its citizens and people informed on each other to the much-feared Stasi (short for the Staatsicherheitsdienst, or State Security Service) to curry favor with the communist government. I never thought I'd see that sort of thing happening here in America, but it's just a small jump from having people inform the government about their neighbors' politically unreliable views to throwing those dissidents into gulags. Today, courtesy of the "hope" and "change" that 53% of the American electorate chose last November, we now have a president who is the American equivalent of Erich Honecker.

Now, if I was a less socially responsible person, I might spam that e-mail address, flag@whitehouse.gov, with every kind of objectionable material I could find. I might have spam for penis enlargement and breast enlargement sent to them, I might have porn or things like "2 girls, 1 cup" or "goat.sex" sent to them, or just put it on a web page where the spambots could crawl all over it.

But I think instead, I'll help them out. I'll send an e-mail to President HoneckerObama at that e-mail address, flag@whitehouse.gov, and turn in some thought criminals like Winston Smith or John Galt or Dagny Taggart. Maybe I'll just turn myself in, too. After all, we must support President Honecker'sObama's health care plan, right or wrong! It's the East GermanAmerican Way! And when He gives a speech, don't be the first one to stop applauding; they always send that guy to the gulag first.


A Definition

It's seems like I've seen this somewhere, but I'm not sure where, and therefore unsure who to credit for it:
"When people you don't know lose their jobs, it's an economic downturn. When friends or family members lose their jobs, it's a recession. When you lose your job, it's a depression."
I've moved up to the "recession" level as of today. My good friend Barbara up in North Carolina officially is moving up to "depression." Today is her last day on the job. Her employer notified her two weeks ago that they could no longer afford to keep her. They were decent about it, giving her two weeks' notice, which is rather unusual. It wasn't that she hadn't been doing a good job; it was nothing personal, just the lousy economy. Of course, that doesn't really make her feel much better. It just means that she'll get a glowing letter of recommendation (and I hope it looks like Three Mile Island or a 100-year-old's birthday cake).

I'm confident that someone as intelligent, resourceful and personable as she is will land on her feet. As I told her, "Tough times don't last, tough people do." I'm not one to spout a lot of Pollyanna platitudes (I'm a curmudgeon, after all!) but I really do believe that she will come out of this unfortunate situation alright.


Honeymoon Over?

You might think so if you saw this poster, which was spotted by radio talk show host Tammy Bruce in Los Angeles:

Remember how right after the inauguration, all of the late night comics and standup comedians were saying, "Oh, we won't have anything to joke about. You can't make fun of Barack Obama."

Well, apparently, you can.

Best comment at NewsBusters, where there was a blog post about the poster, by a commenter named "ecarlwhite": "Why So Stimulus?" We have a winner!

In related news, at PajamasMedia, Jennifer Rubin had a great post asking How Does A Leftist Govern America?

In it, she quotes the results of a recent Rasmussen poll:

Seventy-six percent (76%) of U.S. voters now think President Obama is at least somewhat liberal. Forty-eight percent (48%) say he is very liberal, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. This marks the highest finding to date on the question and is a five-point increase in the number who say the president is very liberal from a month ago. … Seventeen percent (17%) of voters say the president is moderate, while only six percent (6%) believe he is conservative.

I'd say that the last 6% need to put the bong down, pronto. I think that among the rest, there are a lot of people who voted for Obama who may be saying to themselves, "If I knew then what I know now, I'd have voted differently." They didn't read the fine print on the shiny box of Obama-Os, they saw the big "HOPE!" and "CHANGE!" on the front of the box, and didn't look at the ingredient label on the side of the box, where it said, plain as day: "Warning: May Contain Socialism." The media was actively doing everything it could to hide that Obama wasn't who he claimed to be. He was not a moderate; he had the most liberal voting record in the Senate. Some of us knew that. Some of us were paying attention. Some of us are saying, "I told you so."