30 June 2006


"We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we will save our planet"

Al Gore, interviewed here by Will Dana in Rolling Stone:
Q: Do you believe, as some predict, that we are going to run out of oil within fifty years?

A: It's a sophisticated debate between the geologists on one side and the economists on the other. But the debate over oil reserves misses the point. We have more than enough oil, not to mention coal, to completely destroy the habitability of the planet. The real constraint on oil and coal is not supply, but global warming. There's a saying: "The Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stones. And the Age of Fossil Fuels won't end because we run out of fossil fuels."

The fact that oil is beginning to get more expensive more quickly will contribute to the realization of how dysfunctional our current pattern is. Take the tar sands of western Canada. For every barrel of oil they extract there, they have to use enough natural gas to heat a family's home for four days. And they have to tear up four tons of landscape, all for one barrel of oil. It is truly nuts. But you know, junkies find veins in their toes. It seems reasonable, to them, because they've lost sight of the rest of their lives.

As Lincoln said in the darkest days of America's darkest passage: "We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." Our biggest challenge, our biggest foe, is thrall. The word sounds ancient, but it means anything that imprisons our thinking and prevents us from seeing the reality of our situation. We're in thrall to oil. We've got to break out of it. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we will save our planet.

28 June 2006


Headlines You Don't Expect to See on the Fox News Website

Their story on the matter here.

26 June 2006


Gay Pride 2006, Part IV

As noted in Mustang Bobby's comment to this post below, the St. Pete Times kinda sorta exagerrated the influence of the "protesters" on the fun at the Gay Pride get together in St. Pete. He's got pics at Bark Bark Woof Woof here.

25 June 2006


Summer Supper

Tonight, in honor of the recent solstice, we had a nice supper of summer veggies: Steamed broccoli, corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes, fried okra, and store-bought frozen rolls. Since I made such a stink about fried okra recently -- it is wrong to batter it, folks -- the right way to do it follows.

Fried okra, basically the White Trash Cookbook recipe. 1lb okra, washed and sliced about 1/4" thick, salted and peppered heavily; 1-1/2 cups corn meal; 1/3 cup oil in a hot skillet. Toss the okra in the corn meal in a paper sack or plastic bag or fruit jar or... Put the okra in the skillet and fry for 12-14 minutes, tossing occasionally. Drain on paper towels or on a paper sack. Serve hot.


Denise Denton, R.I.P.

Well, shit. I hate reading that someone that I knew has committed suicide, but apparently that's what's happened with Denise Denton, who had become chancellor at the University of California, Santa Clara. Story here from the L.A. Times.
Police and UC officials confirmed the death of Denice Dee Denton, 46, an electrical engineer who became chancellor of the Northern California school in February 2005 and apparently was the first openly gay campus leader in the UC system.

She jumped from the building where her partner of more than eight years, Gretchen Kalonji, lived. Kalonji, who holds a management position at UC headquarters, was in Washington, D.C., on university business, UC officials said.

Denton, known nationally for encouraging more women and minorities to study science, engineering and math, had gone on a medical leave June 15 but was scheduled to return to work Monday, according to campus spokesman Jim Burns.

He said he did not know any details of her medical condition and was not aware of any personal problems or depression that might have led to suicide.

In a statement, UC President Robert C. Dynes said Denton's death was "a tremendous loss for the entire University of California family" and described her as "an accomplished and passionate scholar whose life and work demonstrated a deep commitment to public service and to improving opportunity for the disadvantaged and underrepresented."
You might recall that Denise took some heat from anti-gay types for her securing the appointment of her partner as the Systemwide Director of International Strategy Development for the University of California system. The whiners ignored the fact that many married university presidents (and other university appointments) often cut deals for their spouses (who am I kidding: in all most all cases we're talking men as presidents and women as spouses) to secure the primary hire. The UC system did what it had to do to hire Denise given that she couldn't legally get married under California law.

I knew her when I was an undergrad at MIT. She was a grad student, and she would often hang out at Jerry Lettvin's lab. Her "boyfriend" at the time was an older technical staff person. I didn't have any idea she wasn't straight (for all I know he might not've been, too, and it could've been a mutual arrangement), and at the time, I was always on guard to make sure that no one knew I wasn't either, even though I didn't have a "beard" at the moment.

She was bright and fun. She and Maya Paczuski, who if I recall correctly were both involved in MIT's Concourse program for froshlings, used to have more fun than they should've just saying "foot" in a very Southern, very inappropriate and confusing to New Englanders and Yankees, kind of way. As in, "my, foot," as an expression of disbelief. In Denise's world it was just "foot." I didn't really know her much beyond that, but I had seen her progress professionally. She had made incredible progress given the professional framework that works against women succeeding in engineering or in engineering education.

I hate hearing that people I know or know of have snuffed it. I harbor enough moralistic "suicide wrong" notions as evidenced in pop culture by Cheap Trick's "Auf Wiedersehen" or Zappa's "Suicide Chump,", but I know that underneath every suicide is a matter of something having gone wrong between circumstances, brain chemistry, and brain wiring.

Rest in Peace, Denise. I'll still think of you, like I have since the mid 80s, whenever I say "my, foot."

Update: Some what-if thoughts on depression as cancer here.


Gay Pride 2006, Part III

It looks like some self-appointed religious assholes tried to disrupt the Gay Pride Celebration over in St. Petersburg yesterday. Consider this entire article from the St. Pete Times:
In the beginning, there were drag queens, lesbian bikers on Harleys and gay men with sparkling butterfly wings.

Disco music blared from parade floats; people sprayed water and tossed beads along the six block festival on Central Avenue downtown.

Then five protesters from the Biblical Research Center in Tampa arrived and yelled through bullhorns: “The homosexual doesn't go to heaven.”

And there was fury, from organizers of Saturday's St. Pete Pride festival and the thousands of attendees who yelled back, threw drinks and beads and made out in front of the evangelists.

“I'm really sick and tired of being the underdog every day,” said Jackie Smit, 45, of St. Petersburg. “Why couldn't we just have this one day?”

It was the first time in the event's history that religious protesters had marched through the festival. They did so four times — with eight weary police officers in tow — to “spread the Gospel,” said Larry Keffer, founder of the group.

Once they walked through the first time, around noon, the remaining four hours of the festival were dominated by clashes.

“You're a sodomite! You're filthy! You need Jesus Christ!” yelled a 23-year-old evangelist who would not give his name or occupation.

He called himself “John the Baptist,” and kept preaching even after someone threw a drink on him. Ice cubes sat melting on his shoulders.

“You probably have AIDS. Is that why you're so small?” he yelled at a gay man.

The reply: Countless expletives.

No arrests were made during the festival, police said. But dozens of arguments broke out, with the police stepping in to stop physical confrontations. One woman hit a protester with her sign. Most just shouted.

Festivalgoers and organizers blamed the police for allowing the protesters to march through. “They're creating a hostile environment under the guise of Christianity,” said Steve Elliot, an event organizer.

Sgt. Michael Preshur said the protesters had a right to be there.

“This is open to the public and we can't restrict them from going where the public goes,” Preshur said.
And so the evangelizing protesters marched.

Meanwhile, children bounced in a blow-up tent, teenagers flirted and adults sipped cups of beer and reunited with friends.

Some stopped to stamp their thumbprint on a photo of Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storms, an outspoken opponent of gay rights, for an interactive art piece.

People bought jewelry, iconic pictures of pinup divas and lots of fried food.

They danced, and listened to a speech by City Council member Richard Kriseman, who in one hour handed out all his 1,000 stickers for his run for state House District 53.

Kriseman had crafted a slogan that played off Mayor Rick Baker's “Today is another great day in St. Petersburg.”

Kriseman's was: “Today is another gay day in St. Petersburg.”

Baker has never attended the pride festival and has said in the past he doesn't support its “general agenda.”
Kriseman, who has signed the city proclamation every year in place of Baker, shrugged off his absence.

“If the mayor wanted to make it difficult for this event to exist, he could, but he doesn't,” he said. “He has some strong personal convictions that guide him, and I can't criticize him for that.”

Not all were so understanding.

“If the city supports it, then he should be here,” said Gary Humphrey, 60, who watched the morning's parade pass.
Keffer, who led the protest of the event, said he was pleased the mayor did not endorse it.

“There should be more Christians out here” protesting, he added.

There were Christians, but they had booths. Chris Goldsmith, 44, sat at one, the Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa. As a gay youth, he said, religion made him resent who he was, he said.

“Queer, perverted, sissy boy — those are the words I heard growing up, and I didn't want to be all those things,” he said.

Goldsmith was brought up Southern Baptist in Lakeland. After testing HIV-positive in 1988, seeing friends die, and turning to crack, he “found a higher power” in recovery.

He cheered as more than 50 lesbian bikers roared past his booth.

One of the bikers, Joan Carpenter, 56, of Tarpon Springs, said much has changed since she was a kid, “but it hasn't gotten to where it's supposed to be.” She was talking about rights granted to heterosexual spouses.

“Even when I die, I can't leave anything to her,” Carpenter said, pointing to her life partner, Lynn Brown, 47. “It's just not fair.”

Evening came, and the protesters made their final trip, carrying signs quoting biblical passages and such slogans as “Father of Sodomites — Homo.”

They weren't new to protest, or the fury they had incited with their evangelism. They are seen often on street corners in Ybor City, where, Keffer said, they preach through bullhorns to sinners of all stripes in hopes of saving their souls.

“We're not here because we hate them, we're here because we love them,” he said.

Smit, who works as a chef in St. Petersburg, watched the evangelists leave. They made her so angry, she said, that she slammed her bead necklaces around the neck of one.

It was very unlike her, she said.

“I can't believe I did that, but I was so mad,” Smit said. “But you know what? They didn't change anything. I'm proud of who I am.”

The Tamba Tribune played the incident down in this article.
Stretching six blocks between two rows of white canopies, the rainbow flag of St. Pete Pride could not be missed.

It was a spectacle. It was flashy. And it was, well, fabulously gay.

The flag, and the cheers that greeted it, heralded the fourth annual festival on Central Avenue. Roughly 45,000 people celebrated - the most in the event's history, said event co-chairwoman Jennifer Edwards.

The flag ended a parade of more than 100 entries that included many corporate sponsors.

"We're getting a lot more of corporate America to realize that we're more than just a political force, we're an economic force," Edwards said.

The festival affects St. Petersburg's economy by more than a million dollars, she said.

"That's taking into account all the transportation, food and entertainment costs," she said. "This has become a destination event. We advertise in Germany and England, and people come."

The event also attracted a dozen protesters carrying signs and shouting antigay messages from bullhorns.

A few festival-goers shouted back. Police walked nearby.


For what it's worth, note the words used by the so-called protesters to disrupt an otherwise peaceful gathering, and compare their words with my own characterization (here) of the messages frequently sent to gay people.
[T]hose messages from other people are pretty much along the lines of "you don't have any right to be here, we don't like you, you people can't get married like us, you're disgusting, we hate you, why don't you just die... of AIDS."
This is what gay people get to live with day in and day out.

This is why we need to recognize sexuality as a protected class when it comes to employment.

This is why we need to recognize the right to partner with the one you love and to call that partnership marriage.

This is why we have to work harder to prevent the occasional gains we've made from slipping away, and to secure what is rightfully ours and have it recognized as statute, constitutional if necessary, law.


Argh. There Be Pirates Everywhere

Ah, summer. Summer brings long warm days and summer-movie product-placement tie-ins.

Pirate M&Ms. Note to M&M/Mars: Starbursts actually occupy the bin.

Pirate Cupcakes. These were plain old Publix cupcakes with images of characters from the movie stuck to plastic spikes inserted into the cupcakes.

And, in case you were thinking it was all Pirates, all the time, here's one instance of a Superman tie-in on Pepsi-related products.

I know, I know. Big whoop. This is stoopid, and 'tis the same in your local burg. But did you document that? Uh huh. I didn't think so.

For what it's worth, in the immediate post-9/11 times, Peggy Noonan suggested here that we all carry cameras and take pictures of things that seem out of place regarding our security. That's probably not a bad idea, still. But, those same cameras can be used to document other aspects of our lives that are also out of kilter. Like the image of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow popping up every time you turn around!


Your Florida Future

Christianism vs. Islamism (CVI), a required course for high-school seniors. ¡En español!

(Gratitude to MKH, whose recollection of AVC is among the few on the net.)


Happy Birthday, Mr. Orwell

From The Writer's Almanac for today, this about George Orwell:
He wrote about the Spanish Civil War, and fought on the side of the loyalists, fighting against Franco. But he also witnessed the Stalinist faction of the communist party that began to suppress the other leftist groups, arresting them and censoring newspapers and organizing armed militias. Orwell himself had to go into hiding in order to avoid arrest or even execution by the Stalinists.

He eventually had to flee the country. The experience of the war changed his life. He came to believe that it wasn't Fascism or Communism that was evil, but simply idealism taken to any extreme. At a time when most intellectuals still supported Communism in Russia, Orwell became one of the first leftist writers to speak out against Stalin. He began to work on a political allegory about the Communist revolution that became Animal Farm, about a group of farm animals that overthrow their farmer, Mr. Jones. Because England and Russia were still allies at the end of World War II, he had trouble publishing the book, but when Animal Farm finally came out after the war, it made Orwell famous.

Try this at home: Substitute Little Green Footballs for Fascism and Daily Kos for Communism.

23 June 2006


For Sam and Abby

Thanks to Hidden City (follow the link for more "video fun," if you know what I mean), it's the David Lynch please don't litter PSA on You Tube.

Not enough Lynch for you? There's always the daily David Lynch Weather Report.

22 June 2006



There are really only two good campaign slogans: (a) "You never had it so good," and (b) "Time for a change." Since (a) is not applicable in the here and now, why is it so hard for many Democrats to realize the (b) is the slogan of choice?

21 June 2006


Ends and Means

This torture nonsense is built around the fantasy that "the ends justify the means." Well, human life on this planet is not what the physicists call a conservative system. In a conservative system, the amount of energy it takes to arrange for a physical configuration is independent of the path by which you make that configuration happen. So, if you move an electron through an electric field, the net amount of energy it takes to move it from position X to position Y is independent of the path you take from X to Y.

In human affairs, however, the path by which one gets from X to Y completely determines what Y actually is. One may get to a Y that seems to be the Y one wanted to get to, only to discover that since one took path A instead of path B, Y isn't really the Y you thought it was. Except for resembling the Y you wanted in a superficial way, it's completely different.

We should carefully choose our path to ensure that the results we desire are the ones we achieve. In human affairs, the means determine the ends.


Torture and the Character of Leadership

I told Mack I was kind of disgusted with myself for not being more disgusted by the torture allowed and encouraged by this administration.

Mack suggested that some of what's gone on has gone on since time immemorial, that there just weren't digital cameras to capture it and put on the net at the time.

I questioned that, but a mild bit of research supports at least part of what he's saying. According to none other than the late Charles Lindberg, American troops behaved abhorently towards Japanese prisoners during WWII. From http://www.charleslindberg.com/:

In 1943, Mr Lindbergh joined United Aircraft as an engineering consultant, devoting most of his time to its Chance-Vought Division. A year later he persuaded United Aircraft to designate him a technical representative, and he wen to the Pacific to study plane performances under combat conditions in his six months there he took part in fighter bomber raids on Japanese positions.

During his Pacific tour Mr Lindbergh repeatedly recorded his shock over American treatment of Japanese soldiers. In an entry for June 28, 1944 he wrote:

"I am shocked at the attitude of our American troops. They have no respect for death, the courage of an enemy soldier or many of the ordinary decencies of life. They think nothing whatever of robbing the body of a dead Jap and call him a "son of a bitch" while they do so.

"I said during a discussion with American officers that regardless of what the japs did I did not see how we could gain anything or claim that we represented a civilized state if we killed them by torture."

This was a theme to which Mr.Lindbergh returned several times, as he recorded instances of shooting of Japanese taken as war prisoners or the torture of them.

And when he traveled in Germany shortly after the Nazi surrender in May 1945, he wrote in his journal. "What the German has done to the Jew in Europe, we are doing to the Jap in the Pacific."

Still, until this war, the government and the military leadership had taken a consistent position against torture, atrocities, etc. So, in my mind, it still comes down to the character of leadership, not necessarily that of the enlisted men. I have no illusions that we are all capable of the worst atrocities, but I also believe that each of us can find a way, with the proper encouragement and support, not to go down that path.

This administration has chosen otherwise, and, in my opinion, wrongly.


Recent Reads

Sorry, I've done a lousy job of updating the bibliography over at my page on mackandtim.net.

I read Glenn Reynold's An Army of Davids. Not the most engrossing read I've ever come across. Full of itself and sanctimonious, kind of like, you know who. The first part about blogs and content related to the title is kind of interesting and provocative, but the second part about technological advance and Kurzweil's coming Singularity and that we'll-all-live-forever gnome from Britain just stinks to high heaven. A big load of self-important poo, if you ask me.

(I remember seeing a movie at Boston's Museum of Science in which Kurzweil said it was all "pattern matching and expert systems," and that once we had those solved, AI would be no problem. Waiting, eternally waiting. And let's get real: the sampling keyboards Kurzweil gave us are pretty damned good -- I love my Yamaha S-90 -- but without implementing piano sounds computationally and employing sympathetic resonance -- a true damper pedal not a sustain pedal -- sampled pianos still just don't sound right.

(That's right, I don't drink the Ray Kurzweil kool aid. Sorry.)

More recently, I'm working on Eric R. Kandel's In Pursuit of Memory. Well written and well thought out, this book tells the Nobel laureate's story of going from studying psychoanalysis to brain science and back to brain science's implacations for psychaitry. I think I'm up to the last chapter. If you're at all interested in understanding how aspects of memory are implemented in nervous systems, then this is a good introduction. Yes, it's kind of superficial, but compared to Reynold's book about what this book about how and why is extremely enjoyable.

It also deals with Kandel's escape from Vienna when the Nazi's took over and the lifelong impact of that situation. Talk about your long-term memory.


Herb Stein on Mature Relationships

Okay, it's about couples consisting of one XX person and one XY person, but I believe the sentiment holds, excepting a very few details, for successful couplings of XX-XX people and XY-XY people. Slate is celebrating their 10th anniversary this week and republishing the best that they've put forth in that time. I recall this piece by the late Herb Stein about watching what he infers are married couples walking up the steps to the Kennedy Center as beautiful and touching at the time, and it's still such after many years.

Mack and I met 12 years ago last Sunday. I remain grateful for the fact. Yes XY-XY couples are different in several ways from XX-XY couples. So what? Our emotional lives, the trajectories they take, are so like those of straight people that to hold the differences above all other considerations is, well, psychotic, for lack of a better word. It is to deny the reality that is what it is and to try to pigeonhole that reality into something totally phony.

Well, then, we live in a world that is build around socio-political lies and bullshit. But you probably knew that.

Bonus Track: Pet Shop Boys, "It Must Be Obvious."


Gay Pride 2006, Part II

To my fantasy correspondent: No, that does not mean I think we should just turn the keys to Gaydom over to the whole shebonics crowd.

20 June 2006


Gay Pride 2006

June is Gay Pride Month in the USA. Well, not some kind of official U.S. Federal Government recognized Gay Pride Month, but lots of little municipal Gay Pride Months and Gay Pride Weeks and Gay Pride Days, etc., throughout the USA.

I've missed most of it.

Orlando was doing the big commercial Gay Days celebration when Mack and I were in D.C. Then, D.C. was just starting their Gay Pride Week the weekend we were there. Then I missed Atlanta's when I was through there briefly. The big ones, New York City and San Francisco, are this coming weekend.

It's also international: Sao Paulo, Brazil, saw something like 2.5 million revelers last weekend.

So, why Gay Pride? How can one be "proud" of one's sexual orientation. Well, it's a little like being proud you're alive: it's not like you asked anyone to bring you into existence, but here you are, and life and other people and the universe keep subtly -- and not so subtly -- telling you you're transient, here today gone tomorrow. Rather than tuck tail and run, one response is to stand up to life and other people and the universe and say, "Hey, I'm here." Or, as Mr. Bruce Springsteen put it, "It ain't no sin to be proud you're alive."

Gay Pride is like that, but cranked up one or two orders of magnitude. The messages from life and the universe are pretty much the same, but the messages from other people -- I'm talking generically here and in the context of politics and religion as they are in the whole, not friends and family who try really hard to and actually do accept us pretty much as we are (well, as long as we don't smooch in front of them) -- well, those messages from other people are pretty much along the lines of "you don't have any right to be here, we don't like you, you people can't get married like us, you're disgusting, we hate you, why don't you just die... of AIDS."

So, we stand and say, "screw you, we're not folding, we're not tucking tail and running." We even say we're proud of who we are. We're proud of being gay. There's really nothing wrong with it. So, first, we're not ashamed, and second, we're proud.

Now you -- again, generic you -- get to deal with it.

One last thing: Those drag queens and dykes on bykes and leathermen and Radical Farries and the like: They're just being who they are, and who they are is just as normal as me or you or anyone else on this planet. Normal in that they have feeling and cares and loves. Their hearts ache and break just like yours and mine. Don't take away their humanity by dismissing them or treating them as something to be ashamed of, because you take away your own humanity in the process. You may not get it -- I often don't get it -- but that doesn't mean that any of us should be moved into the subhuman category (and if you'll check twice that's really what dismissing them as distracting from the argument ultimately seems to be about).

If we're serious about empowering people to be who they are, then when it comes to Gay Pride, we get the whole kit and kaboodle.

Happy Gay Pride Month.

19 June 2006


The Little-Ease, 2006 Edition

From Camus, The Fall (1956) (my Vintage edition):
To be sure, you are not familiar with that dungeon cell that was called the little-ease in the Middle Ages. In general, one was forgotten there for life. That cell was distinguished from others by ingenious dimensions. It was not high enough to stand up in nor wide enough to lie down in. One had to take on an awkward manner and live on the diagonal; sleep was a collapse, and waking a squatting. Mon cher, there was genious -- and I am weighing my words -- in that so simple invention. Every day through the unchanging restriction that stiffened his body, the condemned man learned that he was guilty and that innocence consists in stretching joyously.
From The New York Times (Saturday, 17 June 2006, here, registration required):
General Formica found that in the third case at a Special Operations outpost, near Tikrit, in April and May 2004, three detainees were held in cells 4 feet high, 4 feet long and 20 inches wide, except to use the bathroom, to be washed or to be interrogated. He concluded that two days in such confinement "would be reasonable; five to seven days would not." Two of the detainees were held for seven days; one for two days, General Formica concluded.
From Spencer Ackerman, here, at The Plank, The New Republic's blog:
Here are two such questions you can puzzle over from your home or office. Take all the shelving out of a typical filing cabinet. (My own office cabinet happens to be slightly smaller than the cell described here.) Now lock yourself in it for two days. You may notice you can neither stand up straight nor lie down, and crouching gets really uncomfortable extremely fast. Remember that as an Iraqi detainee, the Geneva Conventions apply to you. Now ask yourself: Why would Formica consider such treatment "reasonable" for two days? And if someone put an American soldier in such conditions for two days--or authorized doing so--what should happen to that person?
From Andrew Sullivan (here):
I haven't discussed the Formica Report because, even by the standards of the several previous reports, this one was such an exercize in transparent denial and avoidance it didn't merit discussion. But General Formica did what Rumsfeld wanted: no one was held responsible even for the abuses Formica did concede. That's the Bush principle. Torture, pretend to investigate, and exculpate. Rinse the blood off your hands and repeat.
From Camus again:
"Hurry! Hurry to the little-ease!"

15 June 2006


Greens, Eggs, and Ham

I was recently on the road (again) for my mom's family's reunion on Sand Mountain in northeast Alabama (pics here). Spent that night in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, with my brother Dan and his wife Suzie and their sons Sam and Mike (pics here). Drove to Nashville the next day via the Natchez Trace Parkway (pics here), ending up on Highway 100, which was the road from my home town Centerville to Nashville, near the Loveless Motel and Cafe.

The Loveless Cafe has been serving country ham, homemade biscuits, and homemade jams for years. It was a functioning motel back in the day. Rusty Bates, Steve Anderson, and I stayed there one night coming home from a concert (Alice Cooper, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and two more groups -- I know: Alice Cooper and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on the same bill, but I believe I am not confused) at the Fairgrounds Speedway, Nashville, in the summer of 1972. Rusty's car (197x Gran Torino?) was flakey, it was foggier than getout, and we were probably not in the most secure mental state. (I think I had had my appendix removed about a week prior, too, so whatever we were doing was probably enhanced.) The motel is gone now, replaced by shops for... country ham and jams and barbecue and Loveless Motel t-shirts (got one) etc.

My lunch was country ham and eggs, greens, and fried okra. And biscuits and jam. Everything was as it should be except that the okra was battered instead of just being coated in corn meal.

If I remember correctly, the original owners of the Loveless Motel and Cafe moved to Hickman County (my home county) and started up The Beacon Light, another fine place to sit down and have... country ham and biscuits and homemade jams etc. (But, check out the fried okra in the image at the link. Again, battered. I'm sorry, okra should be tossed in corn meal, salt, and pepper, and fried in a hot cast iron skillet. Battering okra is just wrong. One man's opinion.)

I can't complain about the food that was available to me growing up.

More: Here's a review of both The Loveless Cafe and The Beacon Light.


On Grilling (for KDW)

There's a discussion of grilling and BBQing going on over at Slate. Starts here.

12 June 2006


Secret Ballot? Yes. Secret Petition Signing? No.

It's a simple idea: List the names of people who sign petitions to put constitutional amendments on the ballot. It lets everyone check the names for fraud, and it facilitates a dialog on the issue of concern when you see a neighbor's name.

Of course, it scares the hell out of those who want to deprive lesbian and gay people of their human rights. Story here, from the Boston Globe. (Registration may be required. I'm not sure.)


Bears: Do Not Mess with Jack

Info here.

06 June 2006


Advice to W

Get your ass out of the White House. Get your ass over to the Jefferson Memorial and read his words there:
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change. With the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
Then take a little hike around to the FDR Memorial and read his words there:
We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.
Then go back to that great house where both those men whose footsteps you are privileged to walk in lived and ask yourself how you can sleep at night when you advocate the Federal Marriage Amendment.

And Congressman Ford: You should know better, too.


District of Columbia Photos (Rev. 1.0)

D.C. pics are up at our Flickr site. They're kinda-sorta organized as follows. There are two big batches of just about (but not) all of them:
Then, there are selected sets from those batches, plus a couple of more.
Warning: The titles and descriptions are incomplete, but there are tags on most every photo.

Good luck and enjoy!


Let Us Now Praise Famous (and Not So Famous) Keyboardists

(Dateline: Back home in eff ell lay.)

Billy Preston, R.I.P.

Many of you have some idea of who Billy Preston was. "Nothing from Nothing." "Will It Go Round in Circles?" "Hey Jude." Eee. Tee. Cee.

Vince Welnick, R.I.P.

Vince Welnick was the last keyboard player for The Grateful Dead, but I knew him first as pianist for the underrated, second- (third- ?) tier San Francisco band The Tubes.

The Tubes were, perhaps, my favorite mid-seventies band. As an orchestra, they were, perhaps, the complete rock band: singer (Fee Waybill), rhythm guitar (Sputnik Spooner -- musical director, I think it would be fair to say), lead guitar (Roger Steen), bass (Rick Anderson), keys (piano/organ/clavinet) (Welnick), synthesist (Michael Cotton -- Michael Cotton was everything I aspired to be as a synthesizer player who played the knobs), drums (Prarie Prince,), drums/percussion (Mingo Lewis). Their "What Do You Want from Live?" is, perhaps, my favorite live album of all time. It's certainly competitive with Little Feat's "Waiting for Columbus" in both the quality of the recording and the quality of the performace reflecting the band's stage show. Well, as I imagined it. I never saw them live; this You Tube performance is an indication of what I missed (although it fades out before the big ending). (Hey, Sam: This makes "Benny and the Jets" look like a poor stepchild to the very concept of making fun of glam. Dig Fee as "Quay Lewd!")

Yeah yeah: Welnick ended up with the Dead, but it was in playing for The Tubes that he made his mark for this one. Thanks, Vince.

04 June 2006


DC Update

Dateline: Still Washington, D.C.

Yesterday, we did two of the Smithsonian Museums: The National Air and Space Museum and The National Museum of American History. I'll get the full set of pictures posted on Flickr sometime in the next few days; for now, here's a couple.

Today, we visited the Memorials: The Washington Monument, The World War II Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial, The FDR Memorial, The Korean War Veterans Memorial, The Lincoln Memorial, and The Vietnam War Veterans Memorial. All moving, all reminders of the greatness that America can be, has lost, has found again, and can always have at any time. How that greatness comes from individuals and from collectives. How wrongs can be righted. How rights can be secured.

And, we walked past The White House. Another couple of pictures.

Tonight, we went to see the Al Gore movie, An Inconvenient Truth. As the usher told us while taking our tickets, "The truth is never inconvenient." It was, I thought, a convincing case for the human roots of global warming. It demonstrated pretty clearly that what is occuring now with the rise of greenhouse gasses and accompanying temperatures is completely outside the historical natural cycle, and it told Gore's personal struggle with telling this environmental story, in the context of his political ups and downs. I recommend it strongly.

02 June 2006



Dateline: Washington, D.C.

I've been here for work-related training -- learning about the process of designing digital hardware that can go into certified aircraft -- since Tuesday. Mack flies in tonight (arrives in less than an hour).

I hope there will be touristy pics of monuments, stuff at the various Smithsonian museums, etc.

We return to Florida Monday.

TRJ is giving the pet thing a trial run while we are gone. Thanks, buddy.

Gotta get my ass to the airport.

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