Saturday, January 30, 2010

Foxy Lady: Miss Virginia, Caressa Cameron, is Miss America 2010

Caressa Cameron (right and below), a 22 year old beauty from Fredericksburg, Virginia beat out 52 other contestants to be crowned Miss America tonight. Cameron deserved the honor: she is sizzling hot and sings like a pro. She sang "Listen" from the musical "Dreamgirls," revealing an amazing voice.

Rush Limbaugh was one of the judges. A video of Rush dancing at the event is embedded below.

Friday, January 29, 2010

No Blogging Today -- I Have a New Grandson

I got up early today to report to the Superior Court in Santa Cruz today, to witness the final act of adoption of my new grandson, Stomper (left pic) Chomper.  Stomper is Korean, almost two years old.  He looks as Korean as a gallon of kimchee but has a disarming smile with a dimple in his cheek.  A couple of years back my son and his wife adopted his older sister, Vittles Chomper.  Vittles (right pic) and I get along very well; she is a delight to me. Okay, I admit it, I love her dearly.  My wife says we are drawn to each other.

The hearing was presided over by a young and pretty lady judge.  She was very accommodating to our group, which included the parents, both sets of grandparents, brothers and sisters, two uncles, lots of cousins and friends from church.  We were told to roam the courtroom at will during the proceedings and take all the pictures we wanted.  After the hearing, the judge brought out a big plastic tub of stuffed animals to distribute to the children present.  My natural grandson was  allowed, at his own request, to sit in the judge's chair behind the judge's desk, with the giant seal of the State of California behind him.  We took several photos of him there.

Finally, the parents, grandparents, grandchildren, cousins (and everyone else) were told to stand in the jury box for pictures (see bottom pic).  I looked out over the courtroom and saw something incredible:  both the judge (in her black robe) and the bailiff (in his khaki uniform with badge and walkie-talkie) were pointing our own cameras at us and snapping away.  California does have its charms.

Note:  the judge took the above photo.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Catcher in the Rye" Author J.D. Salinger Dead at 91 -- What the Book Meant to Me

J.D. Salinger, famous author of "The Catcher in the Rye," has died at the age of 91.  His novels were always special to me, about the confusion and angst of life and one's inability to figure it out or deal with it.

I read "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger as a freshman in college.  The book was in paperback, with a red/brown cover with the title in gold print.  It made quite an impression on me -- and I still have the book.  Years later, my youngest son came home from classes at Bellarmine College Preparatory carrying the same book, with the same red/brown cover.  It was his turn to read it.

The book is written from the point of view of Holden Caulfield, a rich 17 year old high school student who is disaffected and alienated from the adult world around him.  After getting expelled (again) from yet another private prep school, Caulfield spends three lonely days in New York City.

"The Catcher in the Rye" seems an appropriate read for young people who are on the verge of leaving adolescence for adulthood, and who are going through that period of life when everything is reassessed.  Prior to adolescence, everything seems pretty rock solid -- your parents know everything, good always triumphs and if you play by the rules you get to stay up late and eat cookies.  Adolescence is that lonely, painful passageway to adulthood when you first realize your parents aren't perfect and don't know everything, that the world is a messy and dangerous place, and that even people who play by the rules can get hurt.  Worse, there is no place to run to, no place to hide.

Adolescents feel betrayed when they realize this.  It's like finding out there is no Santa Claus.  All the magic and wonderment of existence is deflated like a balloon in a pin factory.  Many if not most adolescents rebel, against what, not even they know.  They are just mightily pissed, depressed and cynical when they find out that there is no free lunch, that life is largely a series of petty humiliations and setbacks, a constant struggle to survive.  Some would just as soon forgo the whole experience, drop out, smoke dope or join a gang.  Holden Caulfield is someone who wishes he could drop out.  He wants nothing to do with adulthood.  He fantasizes about having a cabin somewhere in the woods where he can isolate himself from the rest of humanity.

The story of Holden Caulfield lets adolescent readers know that they are not unique.  Almost everyone goes through the same emotional roller coaster at this stage of their lives.  It is a rite of passage.

The things I most remember about "Catcher in the Rye" are these:
1.  Holden's little brother Allie is dead due to some childhood disease.  Holden remembers that his brother used to love baseball and poetry, and wrote poetry all over his fielder's glove in ballpoint pen [that didn't seem realistic to me then or now].  Now Allie is dead and buried.  Holden finds it strange that his brother is now "surrounded by dead guys" in the cemetery.  Holden's unspoken denial leaped out at me -- the refusal to admit that his brother was one of those "dead guys."

2. Holden hates obscene graffiti and notes that the term "F**K YOU" is written everywhere -- on walls, in bathrooms, on the sidewalk.  He theorizes that after he dies someone will write "F**K YOU" on his tombstone.  This resonated with me, as I always hated seeing obscene graffiti, or any graffiti, the language of contempt for anything and everything.

There are other details I remember, but they aren't important:  how Holden's fellow student at the prep school would clip his toe nails in Holden's room, leaving them on the carpet.  How one of his teachers, with a bad cold and smelling like Vicks vaporub discussed his term paper with him, which he held gingerly "as if it were a turd."  How Holden seemed terrified by homosexuals, thinking that one of his male teachers had made a pass at him.  The novel's gritty details make it seem very real.

"Catcher in the Rye" has been listed in literary circles as one of the best novels of the 20th century.

Obama's State of the Union Speech: Boring Generalities

Barack Obama's state of the union speech was a collection boring generalities.  This shouldn't be a surprise, since Obama doesn't have a clue on how to be an effective president.  Obama, pissed off that the Supreme Court finally did something to preserve the Constitution, criticized the Court for upholding the 1st Amendment.  Democrats stood up and jeered the Court judges who were present for the speech.

Except for a promise to cut deficit spending by less than 1% (starting in 2011), Obama's message was simply "more of the same."  He bragged that he "doesn't quit."  He will continue his radical agenda regardless of how many Americans oppose it or how many it hurts.

Barack Obama has zero credibility with me.  I see him as a historical, significant screw-up, the most radical president of our lifetimes.  He is ignorant as hell as to economics, wealth and job creation.  Like most radical leftists, he wants to impose his will on the great majority because he knows better than we do how our lives should be run.

Barack Obama is something awful to be endured, like a hurricane, an earthquake or a drought, or maybe the dust storms of the 1930s.  There is nothing much we can do except to try and manage the unfolding disaster as best we can, to minimize its effects while waiting for it to end.  Once the storm is over we can begin cleaning up the wreckage it has wrought, bury the dead and rebuild.   But first, we have to survive.

Two of the best blogger analyses of Obama's speech:
Yid with Lid has the best, doing a fact check of Obama's claims.
Althouse live blogged the speech and adds some funny and pertinent comments as the speech unfoled.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple Unveils the New IPad

Steve Jobs unveiled the new Apple IPad yesterday.  It is a new computing device somewhere between an IPhone and a laptop computer.

The Ipad has a much larger screen than an Ipod or an Iphone and only weighs one and a half pounds.  Users can watch movies, listen to music and surf the web, send and read email, and look at photos, among other tasks.  Unlike an Iphone, the Ipad can download files from the web.  Like an Iphone, the Ipad has a digital keyboard that Jobs says is very easy to use.

Pricing for the new device will be between $499 and $829, depending on options like 3G and storage space.

Apple continues to be the number one innovator in personal computing, in my opinion.  The new Ipad is a computer, one that can easily fit in a briefcase.  However, can it be programmed for Excel and Word?  Without these office applications, the Ipad's use will be limited and it will be the equivalent of a very large Iphone:  still very useful, but not a replacement for a laptop.

Would I buy one?  You bet.

Via:  UK Mail Online

Florida QB Tim Tebow in New Abortion Controversy

Tim Tebow (left), star quarterback of the University of Florida Gators, will star in a Super Bowl ad supporting life for the unborn.  The ad time was purchased by "Focus on the Family," a conservative, Christian organization.  According to ABC News:

The Associated Press reported this week that the ad’s theme will be “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life,” with Pam Tebow sharing the story of her difficult 1987 pregnancy -- instead of getting an abortion she decided to give birth to Tebow, the now-famous quarterback who went on to become a Heisman Trophy winner, leading the Gators to two BCS wins.
Gary Schneeberger, Focus on the Family spokesman, told ABC News he couldn’t comment on the content of the ad. However, he said his organization has always viewed the Tebows as “strong, committed Christians” who have inspirational family stories to tell.
Read it all here.

Doug Hagin of the Daley Gator has a post on this today.  He writes:
I must say, however, that recently, I have found another reason to say that it is, as we Gators say, Great to be a Gator! Tim Tebow, who during his four years as Florida QB, delivered two national championships, and a Heisman, and an South Eastern Conference record 48 wins, has always shared his faith openly, and in a manner that shows the very best of the Christian faith. His play on the field, and his mission work off of it has been a blessing to many, not just us Gator fans. Standing on your principles and beliefs can do that. And Tebows’ latest stand makes me as proud of him as any other deed he has done.
Now enter the controversial aspects of the Tebow's sharing.  According to the Daley Gator, a coalition of women's groups have called on CBS to scrap the ad.  The Gator quotes Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, as saying the ad is "terribly offensive."

Not aborting children in the womb is "terribly offensive"?  Abortion is what is terribly offensive, as are radical feminist groups like NOW, in my opinion.

Read all of the Daley Gator post here.
See a related article here.

Obama's State of the Union Address Tonight

Obama's State of the Union address is scheduled for tonight at 6 PM, Pacific Time, and 9 PM Eastern Time.  The speech is expected to last about an hour and can be watched on any of the major television networks, or online at

For the expected theme of the speech, refer to the illustration below.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Four Arrested in Attempt to Bug a Senator's Phones

A breaking news story is that four young men attempted to infiltrate Senator Mary Landrieu's federal office under false pretenses and bug her telephones.

One of the four was conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe (left), well known for his secret filming and take-down of ACORN.

All four of the men arrived at Senator Landrieu's office dressed as phone repairmen and asked for access to her office phone system. They were subsequently arrested by the FBI.

Anyone who attempts to bug a U.S. Senator's office is a Horse's Ass, indeed. Did it ever dawn on the conspirators that this might be a little bit ILLEGAL?

If proven guilty, the four should be punished to the full extent of the law. We don't need jackasses like this in the conservative movement.

Read about it here.

Update:  It has now been determined that the four "repairmen" were not there to bug the senator's phones, but to create some sort of political theater.  Mary Landrieu was not answering her phones to talk with incensed taxpayers over Obamacare, so the "phone repairmen" arrived to illustrate the point:  something must be wrong with Senator Landrieu's phones!  Oh ha ha ha!

Not criminal, just really dumb.

The Murder of Annie Le: Was Rape the Motive?

Ray Clark, the accused killer of Yale graduate student Annie Le (right, with her fiance), has been charged with "Felony Murder" in the death of Yale student Annie Le. This is in addition to the original charge of "Murder." ABC News explains:
A new charge of felony murder was filed today against accused Yale killer Ray Clark, indicating the homicide of graduate student Annie Le during the commission of another crime.

The new charge was revealed when Clark was arraigned in a Connecticut courtroom where he pleaded not guilty to both the original murder charge and the new charge of felony murder.

Felony murder is defined under Connecticut state law as a homicide that occurs during a felony offense, such as rape or kidnapping. Under the law, prosecutors do not have to prove that a killing was intentional.The court would not release the details of what prompted this second charge, saying that it would be prejudicial to the defendant.  However, one might reasonably surmise that the charge was based on rape.  This is especially true since a former girlfriend of Clark's stated that he raped her but she chose not to prosecute.
Read it all here.

"Ellie Light" is a Liar, Whoever She Is (Her Letter Rebutted)

The Cleveland Plain Dealer discusses the Democrat operative known as "Ellie Light" today and publishes her famous letter -- the one printed in dozens of newspapers across the United States.  Ellie Light's letter reads as follows:
  1. A year ago, if we had read in the paper that employers were hiring again, that health care legislation was proceeding without a bump, that Afghanistan suddenly became a nice place to take your kids, we would've known we were being lied to. Back then, we recognized that the problems Obama inherited as president wouldn't go away overnight.
  2. During his campaign, Obama clearly said that an economy that took eight years to break couldn't be fixed in a year, that Afghanistan was a graveyard of empires and would not be an easy venture for us. Candidate Obama didn't feed us happy talk, which is why we elected him. He never said America could solve our health care, economic and security problems without raising the deficit. Instead, he talked of hard choices, of government taking painful and contentious first steps towards fixing problems that can't be left for another day.
  3. Right after Obama's election, we seemed to grasp this. We understood that companies would be happy to squeeze more work out of frightened employees, and would be slow to hire more. We understood that the banks that had extorted us out of billions of dollars, were lying when they said they would share their recovery. We understood that a national consensus on health care would not come easily. Candidate Obama never claimed that his proposed solutions would work flawlessly right out of the box, and we respected him for that.
  4. But today, the president is being attacked as if he were a salesman who promised us that our problems would wash off in the morning. He never made such a promise. It's time for Americans to realize that governing is hard work, and that a president can't just wave a magic wand and fix everything.
My rebuttal, by paragraph number:
1.  This paragraph is to remind people that the problems Obama faces were inherited from the prior administration.  What it doesn't address is the fact that Obama is making the problems worse with record deficits, higher taxes and an attempt to nationalize one sixth of the U.S. economy.

2.  "Ellie" is trying to pin the economic meltdown on George Bush with her falsehood that "the economy took eight years to break."  This is first class demagoguery.  Bush didn't break the economy, the Democratic Party did by forcing banks to make bad loans for the benefit of ethnic minorities.  It started with Jimmy Carter and got worse from there.  Bush, as well as McCain and Ron Paul, all warned of the coming mortgage meltdown and asked Congress to act YEARS ago.  The Democrats DENIED there was a problem and declined to do anything to fix it.  Democrats broke the economy.  

3.  Note the anti-business tone of socialist "Ellie," who says "companies would be happy to squeeze more work out of frightened employees" and "lying...banks that had extorted us out of millions of dollars."  Again, "Ellie" paints a completely false picture.  Companies are reeling from the worst recession of my lifetime, and I was born during World War II.  The Democrat-engineered subprime mortgage meltdown is why companies are failing and laying people off, not because those companies are run by Snidely Whiplash.

All but one bank who received bail-out funds have repaid the loans with interest.  The banks were seriously harmed by the subprime mortgage meltdown, a creature of Democrat politics and policies.  The banks did not "extort" billions, hundreds of them went bankrupt.  They were badly damaged by Democrat policies, and frankly, THEY ARE OWED.  "Ellie" is blaming the victim.

4.  Here "Ellie" tries to redefine the public's growing distaste for the inexperienced and incompetent Obama. "Ellie" implies that the public is angry because Obama hasn't yet solved the problems that he inherited.  That is false.  The public is angry at Obama because he is making the problems substantially worse with ineffective bail-outs, waste, higher taxes, record deficits and his anti-business attitude.

"Ellie Light" is merely the pseudonym for a group of Democratic operatives trying to spread propaganda and make it look like "grass roots" opinion.  It is false, but it is useful in one regard:  it demonstrates so well the falsity and the cynicism of those who manipulate public opinion through falsehood and fraud.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Osama bin Laden Promises More Panty Raids on the West

Osama bin Laden, perpetrator of the September 11, 2001 attack on New York, has taken credit for the "panty bomber" attack of Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day, a Muslim wearing an explosive in his underpants attempted to blow up a plane as it was landing in Detroit.  Fortunately, he only blew us his own penis, which was considered very minor damage indeed.

Yesterday, Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, said his organization of cave-dwelling cretins was responsible.  Bin Laden vowed that panty raids on western countries would continue.  Osama has, therefore, become the General of the Panty Waists, and has adopted a pair of jockey shorts as his new turban.

Either that or he has confused his head with his ass, which would be perfectly understandable.  It is rumored that bin Laden's followers now affectionately refer to him as "Butt-Head."

Ellie Light's True Identity Revealed! (Exclusive Photo!)

At last, the true identity of Ellie Light, the prolific pro-Obama letter writer, has been revealed! She is a close niece to chief Democrat strategist and astroturfer, David Axelrod. Ellie Light not only shares Uncle David's political ideology and ethics, but also resembles her Uncle in appearance.

Ellie is the daughter of Turnoutda and Flickeringporch Light, of Laymebrayne, New York.  She has an older brother, Bud, and a younger brother, Flash.

Her hobbies include scaring children, making excuses for Obama's incompetence, and traveling about the country writing letters to newspapers.

Ellie is single and available for interested Democrat men (wink, wink!).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

David Michael Green is a Horse's Ass

Some leftist professor named David Michael Green has written a hysterical screed denouncing Barack Obama.  It is called How to Squander the Presidency in One Year.  It's a load of demagogic bombast from a non-serious commentator.

Green isn't a conservative or a Republican; his references and arguments are straight out of the far left lexicon.  His major complaints about Obama is not that he is too left wing, but that he isn't left wing enough.  In the process, Green repeats a lot of simplistic B.S. about the Republican Party, e.g.:

1.  Bush was a "war evader" while Kerry was a "decorated combat hero."  Actually, Bush volunteered for the Viet Nam war as a fighter pilot but didn't have the flying time to be assigned there.  Kerry, on the other hand, spent three months in a combat zone before he excused himself from further duty on account of his three purple hearts, all for superficial wounds, two of which were self-inflicted.  One of the purple hearts was undoubtedly self-awarded, as were the Silver Star and Bronze Star.  Kerry, as an officer, could award medals to anyone for anything, and awarded them to himself for made-up heroism.  Kerry was a fraud.

2.  The Democrats are the party "that stood by silently while two presidential elections were stolen away from them."  No elections were "stolen away" from the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party was defeated in its attempt to steal the 2000 election; the 2004 election wasn't that close, so Green's assertion is puzzling.  Does he mean the Swift Boat Vets who exposed the cowardice and cynicism of John F. Kerry during his dubious stint in Viet Nam?

3.  The Greedy Corporations Caused the Recession:  Specifically, Green claims:
Got an economy that is so raw it's leaving thousands in literal peril of losing their lives?  Why not draft some legislation to bail-out the people who created that mess and guarantee that they retain their multimillion dollar bonuses?!?!  You know, the same folks who are always talking about how great capitalism is and how important it is to take risks!  The same ones who are always telling us how awful the government is - the same government that saved them from extinction.
The corporations did not cause the recession from which the government "bailed them out."  The federal government created the mess by forcing banks, under the threat of litigation, to lend money to poor credit risks (namely, ethnic minorities) so those borrowers could buy real estate.  This was called the "subprime mortgage" market.  Though it was created to lend money to ethnic minorities, it had to be offered to everyone regardless of their ethnicity.  As a result, tens of thousands of loans were made to poor credit risks of any and all ethnicities.  This caused the real estate bubble that burst when the unqualified borrowers couldn't pay their mortgages, which were soon collateralized by real estate worth less than the mortgage balances.  This caused hundreds of banks to fail as well as the insurance companies who insured the loans.  The ripple effect across the economy resulted in the near-depression we are now in.

The federal government, not the bankers, created the current economic mess, and by "federal government" I mean the DEMOCRATIC PARTY.

If David Michael Green weren't so abysmally ignorant of the facts, he would see that the federal government owes plenty to the thousands of businesses it destroyed with its socialist "subprime mortgage" schemes.  It was government intervention, not capitalism, that failed.

4.  Finally, Green abandons any pretense of an actual analysis and reverts to a drugged-out hippie shrieking demented rants from a soapbox in Times Square.  He says:
Another brilliant presidential tactic is to be such a Mr. Happy Nice Face that you acknowledge no enemies for the country, or even yourself.  Not the health care corporate vampires who suck the blood out of Americans from San Diego to Bangor, providing absolutely no value-added health service whatsoever, while denying treatment to deathly ill human beings at every opportunity, all to rake in billions more in profits.  Not the reckless pirates on Wall Street who bet all our money on insane gambles that wrecked the global economy, took government bail-out money to survive, and yet are still drowning in bonuses as rewards.  Not the Republican Party who spent three decades downsizing the middle class, plunging the country into wars based on lies, deregulating every protection in sight, fattening up corporate cronies, wrecking the environment, trashing the Constitution and polarizing the country politically.  And not even a catastrophic climate disaster speeding toward the planet with relentless determination.  No!  We must all be happy and talk nice!  No bad guys.  Not even the bad guys can be bad guys.
Green shows his profound ignorance of even the most basic economics, which explains why he is a leftist.  Corporations must make profits or they go out of business.  Profits are what is left over after all the expenses are paid.  If the expenses exceed the revenues, you have losses, followed by bankruptcy.  Oh yes, and 2 + 2 = 4.  The Wall Street firms were not "reckless pirates" gambling money, but coerced firms complying with the socialist schemes of the anti-business Democrats; their failures, and the terrible economy we are now in, are products of Democrat ideology and policy -- you know, people like David Michael Green.

If Green wants to know the causes of our current troubles, he should take a long look in the mirror.  The rest of his rant amounts to comic book caricatures and stereotypes, again revealing the non-serious nature of his essay.  He is a little boy throwing a temper tantrum and packaging it as political analysis.

David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

Via Memerorandum

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Mystery of Ellie Light

Patterico's Pontifications has a worthy post on the mysterious letter writer named "Ellie Light."  Ellie Light has written dozens of letters supporting Obama to various newspapers across the United States, giving local addresses each time.  Who is Ellie Light, and does she really own dozens of houses?

I ran "Ellie Light" through, an online database of listed phone numbers, and there wasn't a single listing for an Ellie Light anywhere in the United States.  Ellie Light does not exist.

It appears highly probable that "Ellie Light" is the pen name of a Democrat operative or group of operatives, trying to influence public opinion by pretending to be a "concerned citizen."  Nice try, "Ellie."

Such shenanigans are not new.  Ann Coulter noted in one of her books that CBS was in the habit of interviewing the same "individual citizen" on many issues of the day, the same guy over and over.  In Bernie Goldberg's book "Bias," he mentions how big media use "experts" over and over to pontificate on the rightness of liberal politics.  The "experts" are quite biased but the public doesn't know that.  The idea is to provide media bias cleverly disguised as objective "expert" or "grass-roots" opinion.

See also Left Coast Rebel for additional details of this controversy.

Who Is Charles Johnson? Who Cares?

Apparently the New York Times has profiled Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs.  According to The Other McCain, the Times' article was surprisingly fair: it does not make Johnson look good.

Charles Johnson was once seen as a ground-breaking, conservative blogger; he had an enormous following.  In 2007 he started to change direction, heading leftward.  Now his biggest claim to fame is that he abandoned the Right because of our incipient homophobia, Islamophobia and racism.  However, the Left isn't buying Charley's new shtick either.  Charley is a fake and most people know it.  Charley's only real ideology is his own narcissistic need for attention.

I no longer consider Charles Johnson a viable threat to conservatism.  I removed my "Ban Charles Johnson" logo from my sidebar -- I don't really think it's needed any more.  CJ is passé.  In the future I intend to mention him sparingly if at all.

Goodbye Charley.  Enjoy your anonymity.

Conan's Last "Tonight" Show; Where to Watch Video Clips or the Entire Show

I have been watching the strange NBC internecine struggles over the Tonight Show, Conan O'Brien and the former host, Jay Leno.  The way I understand it is that Jay Leno was replaced with Conan O'Brien as host of the Tonight Show seven months ago.  This was done even though Leno's "Tonight" show was doing quite well, popular among viewers and leading all other late night shows.  My own niece had appeared on Jay Leno's Tonight Show, in a segment about "your most terrible date."  She did quite well, though Leno never did pronounce the family name right.

O'Brien, a likable, energetic, younger guy, didn't do as well.  Viewers had developed a loyalty to Leno and weren't anxious to reassign that loyalty to O'Brien.  Under Conan, ratings for the Tonight Show sank.

Meanwhile, Jay Leno had been given another show at 10 PM, the Jay Leno Show.  The Leno Show looked very much like the old Tonight Show, with the same band, the same format, the same shtick.  Personally, I liked the 10 PM time slot, as I could watch it and still get a decent amount of sleep.  However, most viewers didn't like it, and the Leno Show's ratings were also in the tank.  Nobody was happy.

NBC proposed moving the Leno Show to 11:30 PM, reducing its time from an hour to a half hour, and move the Tonight Show to midnight.  Leno was on board but Conan said NO.  After a couple of weeks of wrangling over Conan's contract, he agreed to a buyout of $44 million, $32 million for himself and $12 million for his staff.  Last night was Conan's last as host of the Tonight Show.

Last night's show was offbeat and a lot more interesting.  Tom Hanks showed up with two glasses of Scotch, one of which he gave to O'Brien, before settling into the guest's couch to banter with Conan.  O'Brien claimed the beverage was only "Creme Soda," but the way Hanks was gingerly sipping it made me think not.  It appeared to be some strong drink.

Conan's show also featured a lot of film clips, of Conan in his trademark slate blue suit, blue shirt and dark tie, running down the highway, through grassy fields, through the desert.  Other clips showed Conan-like dummies being fired from cannons.  It was weird but fun.

Neil Young played harmonica, acoustic guitar and sang; the old Lefty's song was pleasant but I didn't know what he was singing about.  The song was sad and, I suppose, appropriate for Conan's last show.

Conan made one last impromptu speech to the audience, in which he waxed nostalgic about his 20 years with NBC, and teared up a bit in the process.

Finally, the eccentric comedian Will Ferrell performed, looking like a long-haired hippie straight out of 1968, and he and his own musicians joined with Conan's Tonight Show band to play and sing a song called "Freebird."  One of Ferrell's musicians was playing a lap steel guitar -- you don't see that very often anymore.  Conan, who plays guitar, picked up his own instrument and played along with the band until the show went off the air.  I'll miss these guys.

Conan O'Brien can't accept another show for seven months, according to his separation agreement, but it is rumored that he may be talking to Fox about a late night show there.

Selected clips of the show, or the entire show, can be viewed at, at this link.
You can also watch it at the NBC site at this link.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Amanda Knox Prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, Convicted of "Abuse of Office"

Amanda Knox is the U.S. college student who was convicted of murder in Italy, in spite of major holes in the prosecution's evidence.  Supporters of Knox have accused Italian prosecutor, Giuliano Mignini, of ruthless and dishonest tactics in his efforts to convict Knox.  Specifically, they point to Mignini's "wild sex game gone wrong" theory that wasn't supported by the physical evidence.  Without it, Knox had no motive for being an accomplice to murder and the prosecution had no plausible scenario to present to the jury.

At the time of Knox's trial, Mignini was under indictment for abusing his office in another, unrelated murder case, the Florence serial killings.  This week an Italian court convicted Mignini in that case.  According to CBS:
In Mignini's "abuse of office" case, Florence prosecutors have alleged that Mignini used his office to harass journalists who criticized his investigation of the Florence murders. They allege he illegally wiretapped journalists and opened bogus investigations against them. 
Incredibly, Mignini has been allowed to continue his role as a prosecutor while appealing his conviction.  If his conviction is upheld, Mignini faces ten months in prison.

Via:  CBS News
Via:  Las Vegas Sun

Update:  Since I posted this, I have come to believe that Amanda Knox and Raffael Sollecito are innocent of the crime.  See Injustice in Perugia, a site detailing the wrongful conviction of Amanda Knox and Raffael Sollecito.

Barack Obama Whines Over SCOTUS Decision on Campaign Finance

Perfect proof that the Supreme Court made the right decision in overturning restrictive campaign finance laws:  the liberals are screaming like castrated hyenas.  Obama stated:
"With its ruling today, the Supreme Court has given a green light to a new stampede of special interest money in our politics. It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans. ... We are going to talk with bipartisan congressional leaders to develop a forceful response to this decision." 
What Obama fails to note is that the Court ruled that political speech cannot be curtailed just because the speaker is a corporation or a union.  Some corporations, like Google and MSNBC, are both rich and very liberal.  They are likely to indulge in political speech in favor of Democrats, as are unions.

The fact that a speaker is "rich and powerful" is not an excuse for suspending the 1st Amendment.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Steven Crowder Interviews the Ghost of Ted Kennedy (Video)

Crowder is funny! I'm glad he's on our side.

"Air America" to Cease Broadcasting Immediately

Air America, the liberal talk radio network, ceased operations today.  The radio network featured such liberal pundits as Al Franken, now a U.S. senator from Minnesota and Rachel Maddow, now a pundit for MSNBC.

Originally, Air America was supposed to be the left's answer to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservative talk radio hosts.  The lefty show never really caught on and struggled financially ever since its inception in 2004.  Conservatives liked to refer to the network as "Err America" and were delighted that a liberal talk radio program could not match its conservative counterparts in appealing to a large audience.

The terrible economy we are now in is credited with finally killing off the radio program.  Air America spokesmen stated:

Through some 100 radio outlets nationwide, Air America helped build a new sense of purpose and determination among American progressives. With this revival, the progressive movement made major gains in the 2006 mid-term elections and, more recently, in the election of President Barack Obama and a strongly Democratic Congress.
Laws have changed for the better thanks to this revival.....but all the same our company cannot escape the laws of economics. So we intend a rapid, orderly closure over the next few days. All current employees will be paid through today, January 21. A severance package will be offered tomorrow to full-time current employees with more than six months of tenure.

It is, of course, entirely dubious that Air America had any significant impact on either past presidential or congressional elections.  However, we note with some satisfaction that Air America has finally acknowledged that "the laws of economics" do exist and function.

Read more about it here.

Looking for the Film "Fitna" by Geert Wilders? Download It Here for Free

DOWNLOAD "FITNA" and keep a copy for yourself.

English Version: Download the English version of the new Fitna here.

Dutch Version: Download the Dutch version of the new Fitna here.

After download is complete, click on the file to view the video in Windows.  

The trial of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands is starting.  The trial is a disgrace to Western civilization, in that a man telling the truth about a hostile tyranny can be put on trial for it.  There is no freedom of speech in the Netherlands, a country intent on disemboweling itself on the sword of multiculturalism.

As a result of the trial, I have noticed an increase in the number of readers looking to download a copy of Wilders' film, "Fitna."  The prosecution of Wilders is based on his creation and release of this film, so by viewing it you can decide for yourself if he is "guilty" of "discrimination" against Muslims.

The old links no longer worked for downloading Fitna, but I have replaced them with above viable links to a download site.  Downloading is easier now, as you don't have to right-click the files.

Download Fitna at the links above, compliments of Saber Point.

Supreme Court Overturns Campaign Spending Limits; Obama Howls

The Supreme Court has overturned federal limitations on corporate and union campaign spending.  These limitations have been in place for decades.  The court has essentially cleared the playing field for anyone who wants to exercise politically free speech regarding campaigns.   Corporations and unions were previously prohibited from paying for ads that specifically targeted or supported named candidates.  The Court's ruling does away with that prohibition.

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy concluded, "We find no basis for the proposition that, in the context of political speech, the government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers."

Since the ruling adds freedom to the political process, it appears to me that the Supremes got one right for a change.  The Obama administration complained that the Court's decision would "make vast sums of corporate money available for overt electioneering."

The ruling does not change the current prohibitions on direct contributions to candidates, but does enable corporations and unions to pay for political ads and other kinds of campaigning.

Via ABC News

John Edwards' Love Child and the National Inquirer

Breaking news is that John Edwards (photo left), former Democratic VP candidate during John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid, has admitted to fathering a child with his former mistress, Rielle Hunter.  The child, a little girl, is now two years old.  Edwards impregnated his mistress while cheating on his terminally ill wife and running for president.  This, of course, adds new meaning to the term "multitasking."

Two years ago, Edwards was accused of having a child out of wedlock by the National Inquirer, a scandal supermarket tabloid.  Many people do not take the Inquirer seriously due to its sensationalism and often exaggerated claims, but it appears they were right about Edwards' love child.

Edwards covered up the story while he was running for the presidential nomination against Barack Obama, but now admits to it.

Via New York Times

Via Sphere

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Scott Brown's Daughters in BIKINIS (Photo)

That no-good Stacy McCain has a google bomb posted with key words to draw in viewers. OH YEAH, STACY? Well here is a REAL photo of the Scott Brown daughters in bikinis! Ha!

P.S. Just kidding, Stacy.

Barack Obama's First Year: a Concise Performance Review (Cartoon)

Tornado Watch for San Jose, Santa Clara and San Francisco Bay Area

A tornado watch is in effect in my neck of the woods -- namely, the Bay Area, including Morgan Hill, where my favorite cigar store is located.  Call out the national guard!  Sandbags now!!

Seriously, I have never seen a tornado in California, though I lived through several as a child in New Mexico and Missouri.  Winds have been strong here and it has been raining heavily.   My band practice was called off due to a prolonged power outage in San Jose.  Tornado?  I'll believe it when my roof disappears.

Right now the weather is fairly mild -- no wind, but the streets are still quite wet.

Update for Jan 21 (Thursday) -- The U.S. Severe Weather Map doesn't show any tornado warnings for California today, but there are plenty of warnings about possible flooding.  See the map here.

R.S. McCain Interviews Scott Brown's Daughter, Ayla Brown (Video)

Ayla is a tall and lovely young woman. She was in the top 24 of American Idol a couple of years back, and she can sing. Here's Robert Stacy McCain interviewing her yesterday in Massachusetts.  McCain is taking his role as a reporter seriously - note the fedora with a press card stuck in the hat band.  I dig it!

After Massachusetts Loss, Nancy Pelosi Vows to "Move Forward" (Cartoon)

Pelosi vows to move forward off a deep cliff.

Read about it here.

The Day Obamacare Died (Video, Satire)

Shovel it under already!

Massachusetts: the Morning After the Night Before

I awoke to a heavy rain and howling wind this morning. Gaia was angry because her chief high priest was repudiated by Massachusetts voters and howled her rage and splattered her tears against my window panes.

Get over it baby.  It's called politics.  When Obama won the election, I wrote that the tide rolls out, but eventually will roll back in again.  Scott Brown is the first incoming wave.  Our fortunes in the GOP will be refloated as voters realize that Democrats are absolutely bonkers, irresponsible and downright mad.  Giving a supermajority to the Democrats is as fiscally unwise as giving your 14 year old kid a credit card with an unlimited balance and turning him/her loose in a shopping mall.

Meanwhile, Democrat pundits are in denial:  they say that voters are equally angry at Republicans as they are at Democrats; that the voters of Massachusetts were motivated by "anger" (as opposed to calm, rational thought), or that they wanted media attention by supporting Brown.

However, the real truth is that liberalism destroys economic prosperity and eliminates jobs, making the political blowback a certainty.  As I wrote over a year ago, on November 6, 2008:
With the election of Obama, many Americans have purchased optimism and "hope," but their feelings of elation will be temporary. The collectivist agenda that Obama has promised always, always damages an economy and makes it much harder for ordinary citizens to make ends meet.
This wasn't due to some incredible brilliance on my part.  It is common sense that has proved true over and over again through human history.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

There is a God: Scott Brown Wins in Massachusetts

Scott Brown has been projected the winner in Massachusetts, winning Ted Kennedy's former senate seat in a major upset victory for the GOP.  With a Brown win, the Democrats lose their supermajority.  Stopping Obamacare now appears possible.

On the Ground in Massachusetts: R.S. McCain Reports

Robert Stacy McCain is once again proving that he is a professional reporter and not just an amateur  blogger (like I am).  He's on the ground in snowy Massachusetts, talking to precinct workers and getting a sense of what's actually happening there.

McCain snapped the photo on the left, of the entrance to a polling place.  You can see that it is snowing heavily.

For further updates of events on the ground, do check McCain's ongoing article, Election Day in Massachusetts.

McCain's reporting has been cited by both Real Clear Politics and Michelle Malkin this week, both of whom are heavy hitters in online news.  In the video below, McCain interviews a Brown supporter, freezing in the snow but determined.

Dirty Tricks in the Scott Brown - Martha Coakley Senate Race

Dirty tricks are afoot in Massachusetts.  Here are some examples:
  • Rush Limbaugh is reporting fake robocalls in Massachusetts over the last couple of days.  One posed as a conservative group urging a vote for Brown, but obviously designed to step on the sensibilities of liberal Massachusetts voters.  (In other words, it was a dishonest attempt to motivate votes for Coakley.)  A second robocall urged a vote for Coakley, claiming that pro-life voters in Massachusetts oppose Brown (they don't). 
  • A Boston Globe editorial repeated the John Kerry smear of yesterday, i.e. that "Brown supporters are attempting to suppress the Coakley vote by bullying."  This is, of course, complete nonsense.  However, this big lie no doubt offers some comfort to Coakley supporters, who want to believe that a defeat can only come about by Republican dirty tricks.  If they do lose, they will have this excuse to fall back on and use it to motivate their base.
  • A pro-Coakley group was seen handing out blank absentee ballots in Spanish this morning, while offering instructions on how to mark Coakley's name.  The deadline for submission of absentee ballots ended on January 15.
However, even if dirty tricks can't garner a win for Coakley today, there is always the aftermath through litigation and the courts.  Mark Steyn explains at the Corner:
Well, as a wintry election day dawns in Massachusetts, I'll believe it when I see it. If all but one of those polls are right, Scott Brown now has a lead well beyond the margin of error. But, as that Boston Globe "Dead Heat!" headline suggests, it's not necessarily beyond the margin of Acorn, the margin of lawyer, and the margin of Franken-style recounts. On the other hand, if you're minded to (as MSNBC's electokleptomaniac Ed Schultz recommends) steal the vote, you don't really want to have to steal it big, on a Mugabe-esque scale.
If Brown wins, then, the Dems are expected to use legal challenges to the election to either steal the election for Coakley, or at least delay seating Brown for as long as possible.  The latter tactic will enable the Dems to vote in Obamacare before they lose their supermajority of 60 votes; when Brown is finally sworn in, it will be too late to stop nationalized health care.

The way to put these fears to rest, however, is to elect Brown with a solid majority of the votes.  Cheating is much more difficult in the face of a convincing win.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What's at Stake in the Massachusetts Senate Race (Brown vs Coakley)

Dick Morris explains what is riding on the special election in Massachusetts tomorrow, Tuesday, January 19.  His article is called "Massachusetts is the Game Changer."

Read it all here.

John "Cambodia" Kerry Chides Brown Supporters for "Bullying and Threats"

Senator John Kerry, chief liar for the Democratic Party of Massachusetts, is claiming that there is a dangerous atmosphere surrounding rallies for Scott Brown.  Kerry said:

"I'm no stranger to hard fought campaigns, but what we've seen in the past few days is way over the line and reminiscent of the dangerous atmosphere of Sarah Palin's 2008 campaign rallies. This is not how democracy works in Massachusetts.  Scott Brown needs to speak up and get his out of state tea party supporters under control. In Massachusetts, we fight hard and win elections on the issues and on our differences, not with bullying and threats."

Kerry points to individual comments made on Coakley's Facebook page and a single voice on a YouTube video of a Brown rally, saying "Shove a curling iron up her butt."  This is evidence that the Scott Brown mob is ready to start turning over school buses and burning police cars -- yeah, right.

Kerry is one of the biggest liars to ever insult the Senate with his presence.  He claimed that, during his Viet Nam war experience, he was sent to Cambodia illegally, on a secret mission -- but he lied and his lie proven conclusively.  As a Navy officer, he wrote glowing recommendations for medals for himself, describing fantasy scenarios of his heroism in battle; but the tales were fiction.  His self-awarded Silver Star medal bore a "V" for valor -- even though Silver Stars are never awarded "V" for valor (they are already for valor).

John Kerry is a man without honor and a profligate liar.

Blue, Blue Monday: Stogie as a Walmart Greeter and Bass Player

Northern California is colored gray today -- it is raining hard with strong winds.  I am still unemployed -- seven months now.  I have never before been unemployed in my life.  Rush Limbaugh says that unemployment insurance payments tends to keep people unemployed, under the assumption that if people are paid not to work, they won't.  I really can't say that is true for me, Rush -- I apply for jobs every single day.  The unemployment I am receiving helps but it is not enough to cover my bills.  Without savings, we would have lost our house by now.

The economy is really hurt this time.  This is not your usual economic down cycle:  it is far worse than that.  I will not give up, though.  I'll work even if I have to become a Walmart greeter.  "Welcome to Walmart!  Now get your ass in here and buy something, we're not in business for our health, you schmucks!"  (Perhaps I should soften my greeting a bit in order to enhance my chances of getting hired.)  [Kudos to Walmart for giving employment and opportunity to people who need it.]

We had another band practice last night.  We tried out a young guitar player.  He was great.  Blues riffs flowed seamlessly out of his Fender Strat.  A good musician can do that -- sit in with a band and sound like he/she has been practicing with that band for ages.  The young gitfiddler decided we were not for him -- he's heavily into Stevie Ray Vaughn and finds jazz too laid back.  No problem, we weren't offended in the least.  We then beat him up, broke his red Strat over his head and dumped him in an alley on the bad side of town.  (Just kidding.)  Actually, we like Stevie Ray Vaughn too -- just not a steady diet.

My bass playing continues to evolve and shine -- funny how regular practice will do that.  The band members were telling me, "Gee that sounded good, Stogie!"  I was taken aback and felt embarrassed.  "Just doin' my job, gang!"  Some of the songs we are practicing now:

1.  "Why Don't You Do Right?," by Peggy Lee.  This great old jazz/blues tune was revived in the movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," when Rabbit's cartoon wife sang the song in a nightclub.  Peggy Lee (of "Fever" fame) recorded the tune in 1942 with Benny Goodman.

2.  "That's Why I'm Crying," by Koko Taylor.  Very bluesy.  I love this tune.  Chords are easy but the song has soul -- one of those songs you can really feel in your bones.  See YouTube embed below if you want to listen.

3.  "Rio de Janeiro Blue," by Randy Crawford.  Another bluesy/jazz tune.  See embed below for the tune.

Massachusetts Votes Tomorrow: Will Scott Brown Win??

At this moment, things look good for Scott Brown (photo on left).  Political momentum appears to be surging in his favor.  Rush reports that absentee voters are going for Brown by 16%.  The final PPP poll shows Brown ahead 51% to 46%.  One pundit says that Coakley is the canary in the Democrats' coal mine -- her electoral fate is a good predictor of her party's performance later this year.

The weather in Massachusetts is bad -- cold with snow and a freezing drizzle.  A low turnout is expected, but that could favor Brown.  Republicans in Massachusetts (both of them) are fired up, more so than party-line Democrats.  Independents are said to be going for Brown.  Even a number of Democrats admit that they intend to vote for Brown.

Martha Coakley (photo on right) is seen as an elitist even in Massachusetts, where she barely campaigned at all following her nomination as the Democrat candidate.  Obviously, she expected the general election tomorrow to be a formality, her election to Ted Kennedy's senatorial seat automatic -- a coronation, in fact.  Meanwhile, Brown was going door to door to ask for votes, driving a truck.  Coakley and Obama made fun of Brown's truck yesterday, further proving their elitism and snobbery.  Obama was roundly booed at Boston College, something he has never before experienced, and found it disorienting.  SEIU Union members and university students are marching with signs -- supporting Brown!  It is truly amazing.

In politics, you can never take anything for granted.  Polls are not the actual vote, though they are often a good indicator of how the election will unroll.  If you live in Massachusetts, go and vote, regardless of the weather, the temperature, in spite of your hangover, your toothache, your chronic depression.  Get your butt to the polls.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fighting the Nigerian Scammers

If you post your email anywhere online, in someone's "Guest Book" for instance, internet bots will harvest your email address for use by spammers.  The most notorious of these spammers is the Nigerian scammers who send you fake email, notifying you that your email address has "won" some fantastic amount of money in the Toyota, Tobacco or other "promotion."  They ask you for your name, occupation, gender, country and telephone number.

Most of these scams are "advance fee" scams.  You have "won" a great prize but in order to collect it you have to pay an advance fee.  I baited one of these scammers recently, sending them fake information.  They replied saying that they represented a certain bank in England and would send me a bank debit card with which to withdraw my winnings.  First, however, I had to send them $300 to set up a bank account.  The "fee" was to pay for various charges and taxes.

Of course, if I were dumb enough to send them the money, they would then disappear from sight, leaving me out $300 and no "winnings," which of course, were nonexistent in the first place.  If the victim is really dumb, they would then email the "bank" complaining that their debit card has not yet arrived, and be charged another fee for "investigating" the hang-up.

Nigerian style scammers generally use hotmail or gmail email accounts, but sometimes use other types of email accounts.  I don't think any of these email accounts are open very long; they are closed and replaced with new ones.

One way that we can fight Nigerian scammers is to publish their email addresses online, where the bots will harvest them.  Soon Nigerian scammers will be sending each other scam mail!

For more effective ways to bait these scammers, waste their time and humiliate them, go to
419Eaters lists a number of successful counter-scams wherein the Nigerian scammers were baited and tricked into spending time and money trying to conclude the scam.  Fooled, the scammers believed that they are on the verge of realizing the dirty deal and paid for hotel rooms, airline tickets, Fed Ex packages, etc., to lure the "victim" to his final fleecing.  In the end, however, the scammers were out time and money, often having their pictures posted online holding funny signs with double-entendre meanings.  (In many cases, the scammers held the signs up at international airports as a way to signal the deplaning victim, who as it turns out, was never on the plane in the first place.)

Note:  if you bait the scammers, it can be dangerous.  Never give out real information about yourself -- not your name, address, phone number or anything else.  DON'T use your main email address to bait scammers IF your main email address can be traced to your true identity, address, etc.  When in doubt, stay away.

Read "the Letters Archive" at for some successful counter-scams against the Nigerian scammers.  Be prepared to laugh your ass off!

Nigerian scam email addresses (sent to me personally) -- published here so bots can find them:

Can Scott Brown Win in Massachusetts? (Video: "Massachusetts Miracle")

This Tuesday, Massachusetts voters will go to the polls to elect a new U.S. senator to replace Ted Kennedy, who died in office on August 25, 2009.  Brown opposes Democrat candidate Martha Coakley.  There is reason for Republicans to hope for a Scott Brown win.  Some polls show him neck and neck with his Democrat opponent.

However, a Scott Brown win is not a sure thing by any means.  Polls have been all over the place.  Who is ahead in the race isn't clear at all, though it is conceded that Scott Brown has an even chance.

One blogger has stated that Scott Brown is a liberal Republican, even more so than Dede Scozzafava.  That may be true, but I suspect that Brown is still wide to the right of Coakley and Ted Kennedy.  Barney Frank agrees:  he says that a Brown win means that national health care is dead.  God, I hope so.

The defeat of Obamacare is sufficient reason to hope for a Brown win.  If he wins and the vote is close, expect another Democrat election-stealing campaign via the courts.  We'll cross that bridge when we have to; for now, go Scott Brown!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Janis Joplin: Long Ago and Far Away

My band practices in the music room of our guitar player's house in San Jose.  Bill, the guitar player, has a lot of music memorabilia hanging on the walls.  Last night I saw a framed photo of Janis Joplin, sitting on the hood of a psychedelic 1965 Porsche, parked right in front of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.  That's the photo on the right.

The photograph was taken in 1968 but the Palace of Fine Arts, built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition, looks exactly the same today.  (It is located at 3301 Lyon Street, SF 94123).  In the early 70's I sometimes wandered the grounds and structures at night with my pal, Gary Potts, fellow accountant, after getting blasted at Henry Africa's.  I remember looking up at the high ceiling of the dome from inside and feeling frightened by the height.

Later, I took my girlfriend there during the day for a romantic walk, and we later married (and still are married).

In any case, a lot of memories came to life in viewing this old photo of Janis Joplin.  During the days of  1966 - 1968, my father owned a music store in San Jose and sold guitars, amplifiers and speaker columns to members of famous bands.   Janis Joplin's band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, rented some speaker columns from us.  I saw Janis Joplin perform, up close and personal, at the Loser's South nightclub in San Jose, where she wandered through the customers' tables, stopping and singing in the midst of us.  I thought she screamed her songs too much and found her appearance rather dowdy.  Janis was never one for sartorial splendor I guess.  She could, however, be pretty and sexy when she wanted to.

The Jefferson Airplane was there that night, too, and at break I was sitting a few feet away from Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, who compared musician union membership cards with two very-long-haired members of Big Brother.  The Big Brother guys informed Kaukonen that they had joined the Seattle union instead of the San Francisco union, as they got a better deal on dues.  Funny, it was just a mundane conversation but I still remember the gist of it forty years later.

Those days of '66 - 68 -- yes, there were a lot of bell bottom pants, loud shirts, long hair and clouds of swirling pot smoke.  So much of it came to life last night at practice, all from looking at a photo of a young singer now almost forty years dead.  Where did those years go?

Update:  Though I didn't like her at the time, I have since come to admire Janis Joplin and to appreciate her talent.  When my own band learned "Me and Bobby McGee." I listened to Janis's recording of it and enjoyed it very much.  The sadness and sentimentality of that song, for a dead loved one, is touching.

I have often wondered at Janis's recklessness in injecting heroin, which caused her death (and that of many other famous musicians).  Why did she take such an overdose?  Did she want to kill herself?

The answer is no.  I learned from a film about Hollywood that Janis had purchased, unknowingly, a sample of very pure heroin.  She took it at full strength, not knowing its purity, and it killed her.  The same batch of heroin was sold around Los Angeles and several other deaths occurred on the same night as that of Janis.

I would never touch that shit, or cocaine either.  It's like playing Russian Roulette.

"Pants on the Ground" Video from American Idol

Another rare talent appeared on American Idol last night, in the form of a 62 year old man named Larry Platts, who sang an original composition called "Pants on the Ground."  In spite of the fact that Larry slightly exceeded the maximum allowable age of 28, his deeply felt ballad expressed the true feelings of many who are disgusted by the grunge look of gangland wanna-bes.  Enjoy.  (Larry -- you da man!)

Disaster in Haiti

Earthquakes can be among nature's worst disasters.  They strike suddenly and, in a few moments, destroy entire towns and kill many people.  Haiti was victim this week as the island nation lies in ruins with thousands dead or missing. Once again it will be the American military and the American dollar that will bail out the afflicted.  (Tell me again why "Americans are hated" worldwide.)

Here in California, we have earthquakes on a regular basis.  Mostly they are just small shocks, thrilling for a few seconds and then gone.  I live almost smack-dab in the middle of the San Andreas fault, the source of many earthquakes.  A few days ago California had an earthquake somewhere north of Sacramento.  It was a strong one, but I did not even feel it.

The reason that third world nations suffer more in earthquakes is, as Pat Robertson has explained, because they made deals with the devil sometime in the past, and old Lucifer has finally shown up to collect interest on the debt.  Either that or the fact that third world countries have terrible or nonexistent building codes.  A nation that is largely a collection of shanties, i.e. poorly built buildings and houses, will suffer more during an earthquake.  The reason is simple:  their structures are more fragile and less stable and fall down a lot easier than say, my house in Hollister.

In any case, our hearts go out to the people of Haiti.  May those trapped in the rubble be rescued, and fast.  Food, water and medical supplies are on the way.

See NY Times article here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How Not to Audition for American Idol (and How to Practice Singing)

American Idol's latest run began last night.  That television show is very interesting to me and my wife.  For one thing, the show has discovered some incredible singing talent. Then there's the human interest:  it takes a lot of guts to stand before four entertainment professionals and sing without instrumental accompaniment.  Some singers are excellent and others are just plain terrible -- you have to wonder what they were thinking when they decided to try out.  Self-delusion runs rampant as off-key warbling echoes off the walls, followed by the shock of coming face to face with reality.  The next Michael Jackson learns he had better keep his job at McDonald's for the time being.

I've noticed, however, sure signs of a singing disaster in the making:
1.  The candidate screams his song, in the apparent belief that volume equals quality.
2.  The candidate wears a ridiculous costume, which is the same as wearing a sign around the neck saying "I CAN'T SING A NOTE!"
3.  The candidate is cock-sure and confident that he or she is the next American idol and can outsing anyone previously on the show -- proving only that he's too dumb to know how little he knows.

The best way to avoid self-delusion is to record oneself singing and listen to the recording.  Are you on key?  If you can't tell if you're on key, you can't sing -- fugeddaboutit.  Having a good ear goes hand in hand with developing a singing voice.  Even if you're singing on key, your voice may not have a great range or great timbre and quality.  You might be good enough for a local band but not good enough to make records, in which case you may want to forgo the humiliation of American Idol and try for local gigs instead.

People with a vested interest -- your paid voice coach, your mom, your siblings -- are not the most objective sources of feedback.  Seek out other singers and musicians and ask for brutally honest feedback.  It may be painful but it will help you to either to develop your voice or to stop wasting your time.   By the way, many people can indeed learn to sing.  It takes practice and instruction, like learning to play an instrument.  Regular feedback, however, is essential.

There are ways to practice singing on your own:  use karaoke software.  This software is available online, cheap or sometimes free, and you can purchase karaoke songs to play in it.  The software plays the music and scrolls the lyrics on your computer screen, and you provide the singing voice.

If you have some recording software, you can simultaneously record your practice session and play it back.  What you get is a recording of a band expertly playing the music that you sing to.  Now you really do have a means of providing feedback:  you can listen to the song to see if you are on key throughout.  You can email the sound file to trusted associates for comment, or post it on newsgroups for like-minded singers to listen to and comment on.  Now you are getting the feedback you need!

Does the process work?  I think so.  I have heard some associates greatly enhance their singing voices using this method.  It's cheap, easy and best of all, private -- no one gets to listen to your warbling until you feel you're ready.

Coakley Campaign Staffer Physically Assaults Reporter on Public Street

John McCormack, a reporter for the Weekly Standard attempted to ask Martha Coakley a question last night, and was assaulted in the process.  Coakley is the Democratic candidate for Senate in the special election to fill Ted Kennedy's old seat.  She is opposed by Republican Scott Brown.  Massachusetts is possibly the most leftwing state in the union and Ted Kennedy's former senate seat would normally be a shoo-in for any Democrat.  However, anger over Democrat deficits, higher taxes, nationalized health care and economic stagnation has annoyed even people in Massachusetts.  Scott Brown is now running neck and neck with Coakley and an upset victory appears increasingly possible.

Last night Coakley was attending a dinner meeting with lobbyists in Washington, D.C. and refused to take a question from reporter John McCormack.  After the meeting adjourned, McCormack followed the Coakley entourage down the street and attempted to again ask her a question.  It was at this point a member of the Coakley entourage violently pushed McCormack into an iron fence, causing McCormack to fall on his back on the ground and rip his suit pants.  It would seem to me that such an assault may very well be actionable -- meaning an arrest for assault and battery against the perpetrator.

The assailant has been identified as Michael Meehan.  The Weekly Standard reports:
Meehan heads up a firm called Blue Line Strategic Communications along with his partner David DiMartino, who was outside the fundraiser with Coakley tonight and introduced himself to me there. The AP reported on Monday that Meehan is also working for Coakley: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also dispatched Michael Meehan, a media consultant with ties to Massachusetts, to assist the Coakley camp with messaging."
Read it all here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Al Gore's Global Warming literature: useful after all?

Hat tip:

GOP's Harry Reid Feeding Frenzy: a Big Mistake (per Frontpage Mag)

Jacob Laskin at Frontpage Magazine has an intelligent article today on the Harry Reid flap.  The man is brilliant in that he agrees with me!

Laskin writes:
Being wrong does not make Reid a racist, however. Republicans, meanwhile, do themselves no favors by enlisting in America’s ever-growing ranks of politically correct police. GOP national chairman Michael Steele has led the way, accusing Reid of racism and bemoaning that any Republican who spoke as Reid did would be vilified and urged to resign the Senate leadership by Democrats and allied groups who are now rallying to Reid’s defense. Former Mississippi Senator Trent Lott was forced to do just that in 2002 when he made racially tone-deaf comments at the late Sen. Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party.
Steele is of course right about this double standard. But the chairman does nothing to restore integrity to the political debate by validating the political left’s pernicious smear that any and all comments about race, however innocuous, must be treated as an act of racism, with their author forced to prostrate himself before various racial lobbies or risk banishment from polite society.
For Republicans to play the race card is also strategically short-sighted. It’s possible that the shrill cries of racism will depress Reid’s already tumbling poll numbers in Nevada and damage his reelection prospects. But Republicans won’t emerge unscathed. Exaggerated sensitivity on racial matters will win the GOP no credit from multicultural censors. It will merely perpetuate the depressing cycle that sees intelligent debate silenced for unintelligent reasons and ensure that the racism charge is deployed again in future – likely against Republicans. It’s hard to see how anyone but Democrats will benefit from that. As Peter Collier observes, “Nobody beats the Democrats at race-baiting!”
Read it all here.