Saturday, May 10, 2008

More Death (on a Birthday)

John Carlo Cruze 10 May 1957 - 22 July 1986

Whoops!! Deathly Errors

An astute commenter suggests that Frank V. Zappa & Norma Jeane Mortenson were cremated, as they may well have been. We're not so obsessed that we'd know for sure, but we do figure we'll have to be disposed of in a way that will prevent morons from digging us up & using our skull for anything. Anyway, a glance out the library window reveals that most of the markers (there are no headstones, just plaques flat in the lawn) are very small & close together. Even if they had them buried feet down (as those buried under their stars on Hollywood Blvd. are*) there wouldn't be enough room, so we'll guess that most of the dear deceased are mere ashes. (Must be one of the smallest cemeteries in the world, 'cept for Elvis & his parents @ Graceland.) We just like the concept of moldering bodies, in a John Brown's body in his grave stylee. We might also mention that we mistakenly identified the place itself. The full & proper name is:
Dignity Memorial Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary
not Pierce Brothers Westwood Cemetery. P. S.: Bookseller 47, did you ever sell books at a shithole like Borders, as we did? And does the "47" in your handle have aything to do w/ Star Dreck? *Kidding. Joke. Not real.

Mercenary Update

The New York Times brings us up to date on Blackwater Worldwide, what it's been up to since last September, & how it has the United Snakes gov't. over a barrel.
“We cannot operate without private security firms in Iraq,” said Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management. “If the contractors were removed, we would have to leave Iraq.” [...] “The shooting incident was like a hammer blow, but where are the consequences?” said Peter W. Singer, a scholar at the Brookings Institute and author of “Corporate Warriors,” a book about contractors in Iraq. “I think it points to the fact that the dependence on contractors is like a drug addiction. They just can’t help themselves.”

Representative Henry Waxman, California Democrat who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been investigating Blackwater on several fronts, said, “I can’t understand why Blackwater’s contract was renewed. It seems to me the administration should have looked for others who could do the job, including the U.S. military.”

Amazing. "Privatisation" & "free enterprise" only restrict the gov't. & it's options. How'd that happen?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sexy Cindy Lou Who Won't Let Her Taxes Out

And here are some good reasons she should, from Media Matters for America, who reprinted an AP thing:

Within a few years of marrying Cindy Hensley, the daughter of a multimillionaire Anheuser-Busch distributor, John McCain won his first election. He was new to Arizona politics and fundraising in the 1982 race for the House of Representatives, and his campaign quickly fell into debt. Personal money -- tens of thousands of dollars in loans to his campaign from McCain bank accounts -- helped him survive. Anheuser-Busch's political action committee was among McCain's earliest donors. Cindy McCain's father, James Hensley, and other Hensley & Co. executives gave so much money that the Federal Election Commission ordered McCain to give some of it back. His campaign used Hensley office equipment such as computers and copiers, and Cindy McCain personally paid some of the campaign's bills. Campaign reimbursed wife The campaign gradually reimbursed Hensley for use of its equipment and Cindy McCain for her expenses. The loans -- described initially by McCain as coming from him and his wife -- caught the eye of the FEC, which repeatedly questioned him about them; spouses are held to the same donation limits as everyone else. McCain told the FEC the loaned money came from his share of joint accounts. At the time, McCain reported drawing a $25,067 salary and $25,000 bonus working for Hensley in public relations and receiving a Navy pension of $11,038 a year. His 1982 financial disclosure report showed bank interest income, but it did not say how much the bank accounts held. [...] McCain's campaign still taps Hensley assets: His presidential campaign paid at least $227,000 last year to a limited liability corporation in which his wife and children are invested, King Aviation, for use of its private jet, according to campaign finance reports.

How can one sum up such?

Socialist Realism Update

More cultural controversy:
The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts thinks "the colossal scale and Social Realist style of the proposed statue recalls a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries," commission secretary Thomas Luebke said in a letter in April.

[...]

The sense of confrontation in the sculpture is not a coincidence. "We see him . . . as a warrior," Chaffers said yesterday. "We see him as a warrior for peace . . . not as some pacifist, placid, kind of vanilla, but really a man of great conviction and strength."

"It's hard for me to put my arms around" the criticism that the sculpture smacks of Social Realism, Jackson said.

Us too.

Annals of Our Dying World

From the other side of the world, where people are sleeping right now, we are forwarded an item concerning the Bush administration's science policies, Censorship exposed at US environmental agency, & from Canada, "retarded giant to the north" (as the National Lampoon put it many yrs. ago, don't blame us...) w/ the sarcastic suggestion "In case there IS a connection, just gag the scientists," this item about the soon-to-be-uninhabitable-by humans planet Earth, both from Eurocorrespondent The Lovely Sophia. Grazie!! Hope we live long enough to see you rotters rotting in the cold, cold ground. (Yeah, it'll probably be so hot & wet we'll have to bury you all above ground, New Orleans style, if we haven't used you all for food, or at least fertilizer.) Our experience in "Urban Camping" is going to make us much stronger (unless it kills us, of course) & we'll live whereas you weaklings will die from the heat or simply drown.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Scott L. Detects "Shiftless Negroes"

From Lawyers, Guns & Money:

Armandologic Goes Mainstream! Shorter Verbatim Hillary Clinton: "I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on...Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.

"See, Obama's coalition is bigger. But Clinton's is broader, because it consists of more Real Americans and fewer [insert adjectives from RNC attack ad here] elitists and Shiftless Negroes.

Please tell me she was misquoted here; I really never thought that the worst arguments of her hack defenders would start coming from the candidate herself. I may have to retract what I said earlier -- if she cares at all about her reputation it may be wise for Clinton to drop out before she says more stuff like this. Posted by Scott Lemieux at 6:31 AM

Platypus Genome: Mix & Match

The only other monotreme ('sides the platypus) is the echidna, which one F. V. Zappa (just below) immortalized in song. He liked nature shows on the telly. Horndog that he was, maybe he liked the four-headed penis (from Wikipedia):

The echidna, along with the Platypus, are the only egg-laying mammals, known as monotremes. The female lays a single soft-shelled, leathery egg twenty-two days after mating and deposits it directly into her pouch. Hatching takes ten days; the young echidna, called a puggle, then sucks milk from the pores of the two milk patches (monotremes have no nipples) and remains in the pouch for forty-five to fifty-five days, at which time it starts to develop spines. The mother digs a nursery burrow and deposits the puggle, returning every five days to suckle it until it is weaned at seven months.

Male echidnas have a four-headed penis, but only two of the heads are used during mating. The other two heads "shut down" and do not grow in size. The heads used are swapped each time the mammal has sex.

From the AP:
More than 100 scientists from the United States, Australia, Japan and other nations took part in mapping the genome, using DNA collected from a female platypus named Glennie. Jenny Graves, an Australian National University genomics expert who co-wrote the paper, said the gene sequencing shows the platypus has a mix that crosses different classifications of animals. "What we found was the genome, just like the animal, is an amazing amalgam of reptilian and mammal characteristics with quite a few unique platypus characteristics as well," she told Australian Broadcasting Corp. The platypus is classed as a mammal because it has fur and feeds its young with milk. But it also has bird and reptile features — it lays eggs, has a duck-like bill and webbed feet, it and lives mostly underwater. Males also have spurs on their heels that inject pain-causing venom to ward off mating rivals. Scientists believe the platypus and humans shared an evolutionary path until about 165 million years ago when the platypus branched off. Unlike other evolving mammals, the platypus retained characteristics of snakes and lizards, Graves said. [...] Unique to Australia, the platypus has confounded observers for centuries. Aboriginal legend explained the notoriously shy animal as the offspring of a duck and an amorous water rat. When the British Museum received its first specimen in 1798, zoologist George Shaw was so dubious he tried to cut the pelt with scissors to make sure the bill had not been stitched on by a taxidermist.
(Ancestor/relative of George Bernard Shaw?) The WaPo also covered the story.
"It's such a wacky organism," said Richard Wilson, director of the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University in St. Louis, who with colleague Wesley Warren led the two-year effort, described today in the journal Nature. Yet in its wackiness, Wilson said, the platypus genome offers an unprecedented glimpse of how evolution made its first stabs at producing mammals. It tells the tale of how early mammals learned to nurse their young; how they matched poisonous snakes at their venomous game; and how they struggled to build a system of fertilization and gestation that would eventually, through relatives that took a different tack, give rise to the first humans.
Look, scientists say "wacky" too, as we do so often here at Just Another Blog™. Also wacky: The comments to the WaPo article. The evolution deniers take the opportunity to drag out their misspelled ignorance & foolishness & display it for all to mock.

F. Z. Makes First Section For Something Other Than Dying

As we type this we are mere metres from the mortal remains of Mr. Zappa (or what remains of those remains) in the Pierce Brothers Westwood Memorial Cemetery. (Marilyn Monroe is out there moldering too.) We've never made the Baltimore/Zappa/Mencken connection before, even though we've been described as "The H. L. Mencken of The Blank Generation." (Not to be confused w/ HTML Mencken.) Other Baltimoreans (Baltimorons?) in the Just Another Blog™ Hall of Cultural Fame: John Doe of X fame, & John Waters. What a town! "Charm City," they call it. This Baltimore Sun (B. S.) story made the L. A. Times today as well, in a slightly truncated version:
In 1995, Paukstys was so determined to commemorate Zappa's creativity that he claimed to have enjoyed a personal correspondence with Zappa, whom he'd met on a visit to the United States.
We did have "a personal correspondence" w/ Frank, whom we met on a visit to Paris (France, not Texas) in the late '60s. Well, one letter, which included the lines "Your letters are emotionally disturbed and we aren't going for it," and a post script which went: "You don't know who [sic] groovy your mother is," which may amuse those who knew her. Sadly, said letter was lost to us when our entire collection of souvenirs was auctioned when we couldn't pay our storage fees. Maybe it's on e-bay™ now. So Frank's dead & getting a statue in the city of his birth, we're still alive, but suffering greatly. Who's better off?

Nostalgia: Not What It Used to Be

We've noticed a disturbing trend. (Whaddya expect, this is Los Angeles.) Many mornings there's a Just Another Blog™ editorial meeting at the Starbucks near our outdoor house, the park. And virtually every morning, LAPD officers come in. And they don't get plain old "drip" coffee. (That's what we get, 'cause the editorial staff here is all-man, all the time.) Whatever it is, they get something that they have to wait for, which must involve "half-caf," soy milk, a "shot" of something sweet, or some phonus bolonus Italian phrase. Sometimes the officers get a bit o' pastry, & you can be sure it's not a dough nut w/ sprinkles. For the sake of all that's decent, oinkers, there's a Winchell's Donut House across the street & a block east! Get back to where you once belonged!! Latte drinking cops! For crying out loud!

P. S.: What the fuck is a latte, anyway? Something to do w/ milk, we guess.

Stabs From The Past

1945: The fucking Nazis finally surrendered.

1958: Then Vice-President Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon was shoved, stoned, booed & spat upon by anti-American protesters in Lima, Peru. Below, we see the car The Nix used in Caracas, Venezuela, where anti-American sentiment also ran high on his South American tour.
1978: David R. Berkowitz pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn courtroom to murder, attempted murder, and assault in connection w/ one of the "Son of Sam" shootings that had terrified New Yorkers.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Additional Hagee Hoopla

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone has a lovely story entitled "Jesus Made Me Puke." Us too, Matt. It's not, however, merely about Jeezis' weight-loss program, but about Mr. T.'s experience "undercover" at the mega-church of Fat-Boy John Hagee, Johnny-Boy McCain's best friend & endorser. Time constraints prevent us from picking the juiciest parts for blockquoting, so just go read it. OK, just one:
The whole idea behind Christian Zionism is to align America with the nation of Israel so as to "hurry God up" in his efforts to bring about Armageddon. As Hagee tells it, only after Israel is involved in a final showdown involving a satanic army (in most interpretations, a force of Arabs led by Russians) will Christ reappear. On that happy day, Hagee and his True Believers will be whisked up to Heaven by God, while the rest of us nonbelievers are left behind on Earth to suck eggs and generally suffer various tortures.
Vote for the man who begged this "pastor" to endorse him. "There'll be many more wars."

Annals of Hypocrisy: One Person's Mass-Murdering Child-Killing Terrorist Is Another Person's "Freedom Fighter"

Most American sheep won't remember, but the Bush regime has more than once promised to eradicate "terrorism" of all kinds, & no doubt used the term "zero-tolerance" in reference thereto. But, surprise, surprise, the regime's money & mouth are far, far apart. Especially when it comes to keeping the votes of the reactionary middle-class Cubans (virtually all of them of European descent) who ran from Cuba to Florida after the revolution because they were afraid Castro would force them to work for a living, instead of letting them continue to exploit the majority of Cubanos (of African, i. e., slave, descent) & sell the country out to America's own Cosa Nostra. Yeah, you bet these morons have been infected w/ Roman Catholicism, Republicanism & anti-communism, but the Republican Party has been pandering to them since Nixon's Southern Strategy, at least.
Venezuela's ambassador in Washington, Bernardo Alvarez Herrera, condemned the celebration of Posada as a mockery of justice and evidence of a Bush administration double standard in fighting terrorism. "This is outrageous, particularly because he kept talking about violence," Alvarez said of Posada. "He said that the whole thing now is 'to sharpen our machetes' " for a confrontation with leftist regimes in Latin America.
What'd he do?
Posada, a naturalized Venezuelan citizen, is alleged to have masterminded the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 on which all 73 on board were killed, including a youth fencing team returning from a tournament in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. He is also suspected of plotting a series of hotel bombings in Havana in the late 1990s, one of which killed an Italian tourist.
Oh, that's all?
Analysts speculate that the U.S. government has dodged calls for prosecution of Posada for fear he would disclose details of CIA involvement in coups, assassination plots and scandals, including the Iran-Contra Affair. Peter Kornbluh, head of the Cuba Documentation Project at George Washington University's National Security Archive, has compiled declassified CIA and FBI documents on Posada that show he remained in close touch with Washington handlers throughout his covert service. "The spectacle of a wanted international terrorist being publicly feted as a hero in Miami makes a mockery of the Bush administration's commitment to wage a war on terrorism," he said of Posada's coming-out party. Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.) convened a congressional hearing in November on the administration's handling of the Posada case, arguing that there was "compelling evidence" implicating Posada in the plane bombing. Delahunt said Tuesday that "there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm" under the current administration for prosecuting Posada, but that he would push again for legal action against Posada after the fall election. "To have Posada honored in such a way sends a terrible statement to the rest of the world," the congressman said of the tribute.
Not the first "terrible statement to the rest of the world" that the current administration has made. Read the whole mess here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Self-Described Xtian Mafia

From our friends (Huh?) at NBC News, as brought to our attention by War in Context (scroll to the Editor's Comment) a fine site brought to our attention by our Senior Executive Consultant Peabody, we hear a bit more about "The Fellowship," an apparently religio-fascist organization probably even more threatening, vicious & powerful than McCain's endorsers Hagee & Parsley combined, which seems to have its tentacles into almost every pol on The Hill. Jeff Sharlet's Harper's Magazine piece on "The Fellowship" (a/k/a "The Family") is here & here's an interview w/ him from AlterNet. And a "Q&A" from mediabistro on the article. Last two Q&As from mediabistro:

What is the Family's take on—or remake of—Christianity? The beginning began with this vision that Christianity had wrongly focused on the "down and out." And the founder, in 1935, said that's not the point; we need to focus on the "up and out." The elite are the ones who can change the world. And this group has been at odds at times with other more traditional and conservative Christian groups because they don't really care about converting the masses. They just want to convert the leaders who will instate a Christian-led government. Does it matter whether you or I share their vision of Christ? No, not at all. As long as the leaders who support the Family are making the laws that we have to follow. So what do you think is the end result that they're after? Is it only "power" in the abstract sense? They state their goals in their private documents pretty explicitly. A world leadership led by Christ. Every single world leader and politician making every decision under Christ's will. And you could quibble over semantics, but I would say that worldwide theocracy is their goal.

More frightening than the Yellow Peril/Red Menace mentioned below.

China: Yellow Peril or Red Menace?

Certain reactionary elements, in their continuing effort to make you believe that "free" markets are the solution to all the world's problems, will tell you that capitalism leads directly to a burgeoning middle class which then wants democracy & cannot be stopped in its desire for freedom, justice, property rights & the rule of law.

Or perhaps not. One Joshua Kurlantzick, in, yes, today's L. A. Times, whips together some anecdotal evidence that the current Gen Y or whatever the fug it is in China today are a bunch of nationalistic a-holes who don't give a fuck about anything but power & are still resenting the Opium Wars.
The explosion of nationalist sentiment, especially among young people, might seem shocking, but it's been simmering for a long time. In fact, Beijing's leadership, for all its problems, may be less hard-line than China's youth, the country's future. If China ever were to become a truly free political system, it might actually become more, not less, aggressive.
Yikes! Though maybe they aren't that different than our own Generation of Sheep stateside:
Academics I know, members of the Tiananmen generation, are shocked by some students' disdain for foreigners and, often, disinterest in liberal concepts such as democratization. University students now tend to prefer business-oriented majors to liberal arts-oriented subjects such as political science. The young Chinese interviewed for a story last fall in Time magazine on the country's "Me Generation" barely discussed democracy or political change in their daily lives.
Everybody wants to be an engineer or a businessperson, & grub as much money as possible. Ick.

Of course, this may all be bullshit to support neo-con lust for yet another "war of national greatness," but w/ a country that can fight back this time, making it a real challenge, not just a cakewalk over some Muslim wimps. (It's very difficult to be as evenhanded & fair minded as we are here, seeing all the possibilities inherent in something. Moral relativism, they call it. Or paranoia.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

That About Which We Could Not Possibly Care Any Fucking Less, Part Two

Traffic reports via the broadcast media.

Quoth The Raven

The Divine Mr. M.'s Quote of the Day:
"I wouldn't call it fascism exactly, but [an American] political system nominally controlled by an irresponsible, dumbed down electorate who are manipulated by dishonest, cynical, controlled mass media that dispense the propaganda of a corrupt political establishment can hardly be described as democracy either." ~ Edward Zehr
We've no idea who Edward Zehr is, but he's no dummy.

Something Which Might Actually Concern Us: Electrocutions of Our Boys & Girls in Iraq & That Other Country We're Occupying

Eurocorrespondent Sophia (she's 73, you know, but still lovely) brings to our attention further contractor malfeasance in Iraq & that other place, uh, what is it again...you know, the one...um...anyway:
American electricians who worked for KBR, the Houston-based defense contractor that is responsible for maintaining American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, said they repeatedly warned company managers and military officials about unsafe electrical work, which was often performed by poorly trained Iraqis and Afghans paid just a few dollars a day.
Now we see how a profit is turned by KBR & it's ilk. Exploiting the poorly trained, & screwing our brave & glorious military. As long as KBR keeps kicking the money back in contributions to the Republican party & candidates & causes, it's OK w/ the current administration & Congress, however.

That About Which We Could Not Possibly Care Any Fucking Less

1. Cinco de Mayo 2. Mother's Day And all other pointless invented for commercial purposes holidays.