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I bought my current residence in the mid-90's when I was a young Lance Corporal in the Marines. It was in an established neighborhood near the base where most houses were fewer than ten years old, but the wild forest was quite a bit closer then than it is these days. Deer and foxes were common visitors in a lot of peoples' back yards, and during rainy nights, frogs would migrate to the neighborhood streets to enjoy the combination of water and warmth collected through the day and radiating from the blacktop.
Which means that the next day the roads in the neighborhood would be covered with really flat frogs.
One night the wife and I were coming in from some evening activity, and it had rained, and the frogs were in the streets. Tiny pinpoints of light from the pickup truck's low-beams bounced back to my eyes from theirs. I felt bad that I was probably squishing some, even though I was trying to weave through them.
Then I had an idea.
I told the wife to drive, and follow me. For about a half mile I jogged through the neighborhood ahead of my truck collecting frogs off the street and putting them in the truck bed. I picked up every street frog on the way home.
When we got home I took all the frogs and scattered them through my backyard... at the time there was nothing but woods behind my house.
A year later I was discharged from the service, and we rented out the house and moved around the United States for a while. Somehow, ten years later, fate and circumstance led us back to our old house in North Carolina near the base.
In the evenings it's fun to watch the frogs hang out and eat stuff on my cement patio in the back.
You may have noticed the commercials: the American auto industry is hurting, so it looks like almost all of them are giving the employee discount to the general public.
I wasn't sure how dealerships were going to survive like that... the "employee discount" is the factory invoice price (this is NOT the sticker price) plus fifty bucks. No extra for the dealer, basically. How could they survive?
Today I found out.
I bought a new Ford last August, on the "employee discount" plan (applies to family members of employees, as well). A few thousand dollars down, a few thousand in rebates, and dealer invoice price... a sweet deal, I thought.
This week I got an opportunity to refinance the car a couple of percentage points lower for no charge, and I took the opportunity. The problem was, the bank said I owed $3k more than my calculations said I should owe after making payments for six months.
Long story short.... Ford Financing tacked a $3k fee onto my car loan. This is not interest to be paid over time... this is a fee that got added to the front end. I've been paying interest on this fee as part of the loan, as well. What this means is that in six months of making payments I hadn't even touched the principle of the loan, yet.
I checked my contract and paperwork, this fee is not in the contract I signed. I received a letter in the mail two months after the purchase which claimed the interest on the contract was overstated by a quarter percent, and it gave the principle amount and this "fee," but at the time I assumed that was the total interest I would be paying over the life of the loan.
I don't know how this can be legal, but there it is.
If I had known "Ford Financing" was such a crappy deal, I would have shopped around... but it was never presented as such.
So, to you who may have been thinking about this "Pay what our employees pay!" deal, CAVEAT EMPTOR!
They made $3k off a "invoice price + $50" deal.
I'm feeling a little sore in the nether regions, tonight.
There are those who claim the so-called Blogosphere doesn't actually report any news, they regurgitate news someone else already reported. This is not always the case. DTMan operatives have come into possession of minutes of a meeting between high-level Democratic operatives, and others, that was held at John Kerry's office in Boston.
The minutes are as follows:
Of course, I cannot reveal the source of this memo. In order to protect his or her identity, I have destroyed the original documents and transcribed them from memory.
I have had this document examined by a former government employee. His statement was, "This looks like something that could have been said." No more vetting of credentials should be needed.
The US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO) did not just appear a couple years ago after W won the 2000 election when it began being used as a detention facility for terrorists caught trying to blow people up. It wasn't even invented ten years ago during the Clinton administration when I was there and it was used to hold Haitians trying to escape on anything that would float the economic devastation of their home country until such a time as they could be sent back home (ie - that means they were being held 'indefinitely').
In fact, Gitmo opened for business over 100 years ago during the Spanish-American War, and is currently a 3-year-assignment for most military personnel stationed there. That means they take their families, too. The fact that a large chunk of the base is actually a typical American neighborhood with schools, stores, restaurants, and parks has mainly been forgotten, or ignored.
Now, if I recall correctly, during the week I spent there 10,000 Haitians were being housed, and the fear of a riot was high so they sent all the families home, temporarily. But then I invaded Haiti, replaced the government, all the Haitians went home, and the civilians came back (The post-invasion celebration was mentioned here...).
For a long time lurid tales of brutality and torture have been spread by former inmates, their associates, and their fellow travelers in the global liberal left and media. There's never been any evidence of this, obviously, because if any real evidence ever appeared the media would be all over it like naked Muslims in a human pyramid in Iraq... the un-torture that we still hear about years later (Years? At least one... not precisely sure. But we'll be hearing about it for years). In fact, there was so much evidence that detainees were NOT being tortured in Gitmo that we had to expand the definition of torture and abuse to include ripping up a defenseless book (provided to the detainees by the US government, by the way) in the presence of said detainees... and then we had to get Newsweek to invent stories that the widespread torture of wood pulp was happening wholesale and with extreme prejudice.
All fictional, of course.
These allegations are so widespread, and so many ignorant Americans are capable of believing that their countrymen are capable of this (because let's face it... soldiers stationed at Gitmo are not shadowy government agents, they are your neighbors) that Congress has decided that they needed to investigate.
I HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH THIS. The United States military is controlled by the civilians, and that's how it should remain, so the civilians should do some oversight as they see fit.
What I have a problem with is in the ignorant statements like this:
No shit, Sherlock. The vast majority of the "the US gum'mint/military is evil" crap you hear is fictional.
The part about this chick reading Harry Potter cracks me up. The horror... the horror...
In the build-up to the Haiti invasion we were told the Haitian government had officially sanctioned the populace to use Voodoo to turn undead zombies against all Marines who came ashore. My reaction to that news was the same when I hear some asshole leftie try and tell me how evil the military is:
Yesterday I was in the western part of North Carolina looking for an address.
I'd been running errands in that region for the last three days, and as I drive a sports car I know I can't speed, ever. The police look for speeding sports cars. I only ever exceed a 5 mph buffer over the speed limit for two reasons: someone is bleeding, or whatever I am late for is worth the cost of the ticket to try and not be late.
As such, I almost never speed. This last few days were no different. Ironically, it means my powerful sports car is usually the slowest car on the road... I am constantly passed by speeding mini-vans, hybrid cars, kids on tricycles, etc.
But such is the joy of owning a sports car.
Anyway, looking for an address: I had just entered a town, the speed limit dropped from 55 to 45, so I reset my cruise control from 60 to 45. I was in moderate traffic; cars all around me. I'd never been to this town before so my head was on a swivel - the only thing to which I was paying attention was in making sure I didn't hit any of the cars around me, and trying to read street numbers on buildings so I could find this address.
Western North Carolina is mountainous, in case you didn't know. I'd been going up and down hills with the rest of the traffic looking for this address.
All of a sudden, not long after a red light, I see the flashing lights of a policeman in my rear view mirror. I looked at my speedometer and saw I was doing 40... I figured he was just trying to get around me, as traffic was tight at this point, so I pulled over. I was surprised that he pulled in behind me.
I was honestly at a loss at what he wanted. He came up to my window and asked for my license. I gave it up. He asked me if I still lived at the address on my license... I told him yes. He asked what I was doing so far in-state, and I told him. Then he said, "I pulled you over because I clocked you doing 65 back there down that hill."
I honestly never looked at my dashboard once during that time period... I was just watching the traffic around me and looking for my address.
He paused like he was expecting me to say something... but I was kind of at a loss.... I knew if I argued with him, it wouldn't matter at all. And I also knew I'd have a much better chance of getting out of it if I kissed his ass, but I just have too much past anger with bad cops, so when I tried to call him "sir" the word stuck in my throat like Fonzie trying to tell Ritchie Cuningham that he was his best frrrrrrrrrrrnd. I was physically incapable of calling him sir. I just lamely said, "Uhhhhhhhh.......... my cruise control was set at 45 and I was going with traffic... and it was down a hill."
He answered, "That doesn't matter. Stay right here." and walked to his car.
At this point my inner monologue is repeating the f-word over and over, occasionally intermixed with wondering how much my car insurance was going up over this.
After a while he came back, handed me my $125 ticket ($100 for the fine, $25 for court costs) and gave me the spiel about driving back the 300 miles in August and showing up in court or just pleading guilty and paying it by mail. Then he told me to be safe and walked away.
I had spent three days driving almost nonstop, painfully doing the speed limit at all times, and I get stopped and fucked anyway because of gravity.
I wonder how many lives he saved by writing me that ticket. There must be a lot of lives lost to sports cars on that hill since he was watching that particular spot, and chose me out of the crowd to cite.
Something just came up, and I have to leave town for a few days.
Probably no new posts until this weekend.
The forum will still be active.
Yeah, I know I haven’t posted in forever,
but I’ve been busy. We’ll save that story for another
day. For now, I’d like to continue Gordon’s earlier
rant about the movies and why attendance is really down.
He covered the ridiculous price for a
ticket and the idiots that usually populate the theater, but I
want to expand upon the expenses and the idiots.
When did going to a movie become so
expensive? Hey, I understand taking advantage of a situation as
a business. You’ve got an audience that covers all demos
and they’re trapped in your facility, but there’s a point
when you can push things too far and drive them away. This
becomes an even more important point when you factor in that
your theater can’t provide the comforts of home.
Let’s pretend that a theater patron wants
to treat a date to a movie and some food. He (or she)
figures it’d be easier to kill two birds with one stone and do
both at the same time. Why not right? Movies start at odd
times and it can be hard to plan a dinner beforehand.
Plus, today’s theaters are trying hard to become more relaxed
environments catering to movie diehards.
So our victim shells out $21 for two
tickets. Add a $2 fee if he purchased them online.
Then he steps up to the snack counter to get the movie viewing
staples. He purchases a box of candy, a large popcorn, and
a large drink for himself. However, his date also wants a
type of candy and a drink. He just spent approx. $20 on
Now he’s already spent $42 - $62 dollars
and he hasn’t even seen a preview yet. I also haven’t
included any costs if his date wanted to play a game in the
theater’s arcade area. (The games are typically $1 a
play or more. )
This money is for 90 minutes (the typical
run time of a feature film) of entertainment plus a snack to
enjoy during the film.
Now think about how much money you have to
waste each paycheck. Imagine spending 90 minutes tearing
up $42-$62 $1 bills because that’s essentially what you’re
doing. The only difference is that you’re being
entertained at the movies. But what happens when there are
other people in the theater carrying on conversations, cell
phones ringing, people having sex or making out, people are
yelling at each other, you get stuck in horrible seats, people
shoot guns at the screen, the movie is out of focus, people kick
your seat, kids act up, etc? Would that put you in the mood to
go back to the theater?
What if the film breaks in the middle of a
long awaited movie’s opening night and the theater tells you
“tough shit” and to come back some other time? What if the
film turns out to be in Chinese and the theater tells you
“tough shit” and to come back some other time? (These two
things actually happened during the latest Star Wars film’s
opening night. )
Considering the price and all the things
that can go wrong at the theater, how likely are you to go back?
If you bought a car and it broke down
within a month would you go back to that dealer or buy another
car by the same manufacturer? Probably not.
My point is that the theaters have a
responsibility to make sure that the viewer enjoys the show so
they’ll come back. I have a few suggestions on how they
can improve the viewer’s experience and thus boost the box office:
See, the idea is to make sure your patrons
have fun while spending a reasonable amount of money. That
way, they will be more likely to come back and in the long run
will spend more money on multiple trips than they would during
Well, that’s enough for Part II.
I’m sure Gordon will create a thread to discuss all this so
you can agree or disagree with me.
Stay tuned for Part III.
A lot of people, if they think about it at all, figure we just appeared with every other webpage in the last few years, and we didn't exist in any form prior to registering the domain. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Memory, recorded archives and oral history go back millennia. Our influence extends back from present day at least through the reign of the Romans, and we certainly kept our fingers in their pie.
After their fall, the subsequent dark ages...
...and then the overrun of Europe by the Muslim armies we were the first to reestablish a "western" foothold on the Iberian Peninsula.
In the 17th century we noticed the potential of the New World, and quickly moved to set our foundation in a handful of upstart colonies between the Spanish and French holdings.
Through times of war...
We held our influence in the American government since its inception.
We also recognized the potential marketing power of the motion picture industry, so we got in there at the ground floor.
It has more than paid off.
Time Magazine was the first to capture an image of me, and I was listed with their "Most Influential People, evar" edition.
Our current mode of conveyance is classified, but here's what we just retired and donated to a theme park for the kids:
If it made the news (or the history books), we were probably there.
I'll be posting more historical documents in the Feedback thread.
I've heard a lot lately that movie theater attendance is down this year. The new Star Wars movie was supposed to help the numbers, but it is still falling short.
Today I went to a movie, the regular priced ticket was $9.25.
The lights dimmed at the time that was printed on the ticket, and for 15 minutes I watched commercials for the soft drink Fanta, Axe Body Spray, Coke, and a few others that are slipping my mind. I kept track of times on my watch.
When the commercials were over, the movie previews began and ran another 15 minutes.
Then some movie stars spent a couple minutes telling me how bad a person I will be if I pirate the movie.
Then the owners of the cinema told me that refreshments were available in the lobby, and that I should turn off the cell phone that I don't own.
Finally the movie started, and all was well except for the 3 month old (at most... youngest baby I've ever seen at the movies) baby crying every 15 minutes, prompting either the mother or father to get up and leave the theater with the crying baby as not to disturb anyone... which obviously they already did. Movie was 2.5 hours long, and the baby cried at least 6 times.
I paid $9.25 to sit through a half hour of commercials and then to listen to a baby cry through a movie. At least the baby was silent through the commercials.
Is it a surprise to anyone that movie attendance is down?
When everyone starts talking about how America screws the world, why don't they talk about how much financial/medical/technical/food aid America gives the world?
Lately I've found myself addressing this issue a lot, usually when someone is trying to derail a completely different line of conversation. Here's the permanent response to these people from here on out (with thanks to the DTMan Forum's Thibodeaux):
He didn't get impeached because he left a "genetic" stain on a dress. He didn't get impeached because he nailed an intern in the White House. He got impeached because he lied under oath while testifying before a Grand Jury. There is no question about this. It really, really happened.
The Bill Clinton Fan Club will mention how much money was "spent by Republicans" to investigate. They will say the recurring charges by different women were all part of a "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy."
To those folks I say you can't have it both ways. You either investigate sexual harassment accusations by women, or you don't. Presidents are not above the law no matter what party they belong to.
I was fortunate enough today to spend a couple hours in the waiting room of a government office waiting for my number to be called. Bored, I did some people-watching, and took some mental notes.
Now, I want to focus on this tattoo observation, coupled with the fact the people were, to put it nicely, dressed extremely casually. I often am ridiculed because I won't run errands or otherwise go out in public unless I am what I consider to be "presentable." I only wear gym shorts/tshirt if I'm on my way to or from PT. Any other time I always try to be ready to bump into a business associate of some flavor or another. If what I'm wearing has belt loops, then I am wearing a belt.
Anyway, 95% of the women had visible tattoos, and every one of those women didn't look like they were in danger of being seen as middle or upper-class. Scientifically speaking, this observation suggests a link between tattooing yourself and how successful one will be in life, economically.
Disclaimer 1: I am not suggesting
that not being flush with cash makes one a bad person.
Just offering that some equate personal wealth with
personal success, and that today's observations talk to
that particular point of view.
In the early 1970's, public pressure (led by Walter Cronkite and the 'peace movement') forced America to abandon south Vietnam in the face of Communist aggression. The fall of Saigon to the Soviet-backed north caused a domino effect throughout southeast Asia; Pol Pot took power in Cambodia and subsequently killed millions of his own people, in Laos the communist-backed Pathet Lao took power and began a similar, if not as wide-spread crackdown on dissidence. Hundreds of thousands of refugees fled to America (and other friendly countries) from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos even after America gave up the fight and left them to their own devices.
When I was six years old in 1977 one of these Laotian refugees ended up in my first grade class in a rural public school in the farmlands of northwest Ohio. His name was Santy Viegnamy (I remember because we were taught writing by learning how to print each other's names... the surname Eichenlaub is forever etched into my memory), and he was smaller than us native kids and didn't speak a word of English. I remember the teacher telling the class about all the refugees leaving Laos, and how Santy's family had survived a boat ride across the Pacific in a rusting ship. I have vague memories of seeing pictures of boats packed with people on TV and in the local newspaper... but the Mariel Boatlift also happened about this period (escaping communist Cuba, this time), so I may be cross-remembering on the pictures.
I remember Santy joining our group on the playground for the various flavors of "tag" we would play. He was small, but he was one of the fastest kids out there. It eventually got to the point where I didn't think of him as the "different kid" any more, so I don't really have any memories of him beyond 3rd grade. I don't know if his family moved away, or what. I do remember he was learning English.
I wonder what became of him.
Remember Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years? Yeah, me too.
Apparently, and who cares why, but she's trying to get some press.
God bless her.
Nothing else really needs to be said.
When I was a yute I had a cheap, crappy car.
It really was crap on wheels, but that didn't stop me from spending many a teenage afternoon washing and waxing it. This car served me from the end of my high school years to the beginning of my Marine Corps years.
One day, I was 18 or 19 at the time, the exhaust pipe disconnected itself right before the muffler. The car was loud as hell, and it was embarrassing. I felt like I was purposely drawing attention to the fact I was driving a crappy, cheap, underpowered car. I fixed it myself within the week.
Nobody with any sense wants to draw attention to the fact that they drive a crappy, cheap, underpowered car.
I've seen a lot of talk the last couple days about how "real men moisturize." Maybe they do, maybe they don't. Who am I to say? But let me see....
So, I don't know. I guess one could argue that in the 21st century there's no need for rugged men. Some would even argue that rugged men are bad for society overall. I'm sure there are large groups of people who would like to see American men become more effeminate and passive aggressive.
I'm not buying that bullshit, though.
But that's just my opinion.
Just so everyone is on the same page, here's the correct way to think:
This act is considered to be highly patriotic and an expression of the beauty of the freedom afforded to the individual in America:
This is considered to be an artistic representation of an individual's distaste of organized religion in America:
This is considered forbidden, and torture and abuse worse than anything the Gestapo or Viet Cong ever even daydreamed about:
Just so everybody is straight.
And by the way, only 2 of the above 3 events actually happened.
I searched all over trying to find an image of an actual Koran in a toilet, but I couldn't find one. Hundreds of American flag and crucifix desecrations, though. I guess we've got to have our priorities.
I've decided to make another myth-busting installment because I grow (very) weary of having to challenge the assertion that "Bush took us to war because he lied about WMD's!" over and over. Now I'll have a handy hyperlink to throw at these people.
The definition of "to lie" is to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive. This implies one important thing: the person telling the lie knows the truth. Otherwise, the speaker is merely mistaken. I see person after person who still lives by the trite, "Bush lied, people died!" or "Bush took the country to war on a lie!"
So, a couple things about this. Because no WMD's were found in Iraq doesn't mean that there were no WMD's in Iraq. There were plenty of reports of convoys of supply trucks heading to Syria ahead of coalition troops in the invasion. (Too bad at the last minute we weren't able to deploy ground troops out of Turkey, eh?) Hell, Iraq flew over 70 MIG's to arch-enemy Iran in 1990 to keep them from getting destroyed in Desert Storm. There is precedent with Saddam for this "hide the loot" behavior.
Secondly, the President only knows what the intelligence services tell him, and the intelligence services have been telling the Presidents and Congress for at least a decade that Saddam had active weapons programs. How do I know, you ask? You say only Sean Penn knows the truth, and I, sir, am no Sean Penn? Let's take the words of some Democratic heroes:
Granted, Bush may have lied. I don't know, and neither do you. But if he lied, then everyone in the above quote block lied, too.
So here I am suggesting that Bush, and everyone else for the last decade, may have had bad information fed to them. Who is responsible for global intelligence in the U.S? The CIA, in conjunction with Sean Penn. Who was in charge of the CIA when they were feeding what in the Marines we called "bum scoop?" George Tenet. What happened when the President realized the CIA had dropped the ball? Tenet was fired in 2004. Amazing how things work out, for no apparent reason at all. I remember the left having apoplectic fits about this, accusing Bush of packing the various agencies with people who actually supported him. They claim Bush lied, but when Bush fired the guy responsible for feeding him bad information, this is a problem, too. Yeah, it makes no sense to me, either.
So, in summary, if you are one who still stands by "Bush lied about WMD's!" then you are either blindly following some other fool's lies, or are tapped into the same sources as Sean Penn. Only one person on this planet knows the entire truth, and he is currently wearing white briefs in some military prison, somewhere in Iraq (maybe? only Sean Penn knows), waiting for French "special" forces to bust him out. Everyone else is playing on guesswork, and I guarantee you that the government has more resources for finding the truth than you do. Or Sean Penn does, for that matter.
It's one thing to be dubious of government intentions. It's another thing entirely to be so pessimistic and paranoid that you see everyone in a leadership position as horrible, evil liars willing to trade American lives for a few barrels of oil. I know a lot of people truly, honestly feel this way... and they need to wake the hell up.
For those of you who don't understand why I interjected Sean Penn into this post, it's because in 2004, at some Hollywood self-congratulatory awards function, Penn accepted some award for Mystic River and began his speech with, "If there's one thing that actors know —other than there weren't any WMDs— it's that there is no such thing as best in acting." This implies Mr. ex-Madonna has intelligence resources to rival the CIA. Penn even went on a... no joke... personal inspection of Iraq, and... no joke... returned to make his "no WMD" claim. What an idiot. I wonder if Saddam showed him the mass graves?
Since I started paying attention to such things five or six years ago, I've seen a lot of speculation as to the identity of Woodward and Bernstein's major informant, "Deep Throat." Some even speculated there was no such person. What did I think? I've never cared at all. Thirty year old political mysteries are not the stuff that keeps me on the edge of my seat. I wonder why anyone even cares, anymore. This is beyond ancient history, politically speaking. The Vietnam War (which Nixon ended) is over, America now freely trades with China (relations that Nixon initiated), and The Soviet Union (which Nixon firmly opposed) fell. The actual relevance of the Nixon administration, or his resignation, has absolutely zero impact in the world of today. Yes, his stretch of road we took to get here is relevant, but it isn't still influencing policy. Nobody in Washington ever pauses to ask, "What would Nixon do?" Want to know what Nixon would do? He'd resign his presidency before he had the chance to get impeached for improprieties in order to maintain the dignity of the Office.
So why has this been front page news for the last three days? It was surely good for a headline the first day, and good for the secondary news on the second day when everyone starts connecting the dots... but beyond that, how is any of this relevant, any more?
To regular people, it isn't. But to Journalists, Woodward and Bernstein launched an era of journalism school students sleeping at night with visions of toppling presidencies dancing in their heads. No longer did a journalist want to report the news, now Journalists wanted to make the news. W&B became rock stars to the media, and their followers do their best to emulate them. New rule in the editor's office: the government is always hiding something, and it's our job to find it. Long gone is the insipid who, what, when, why. Now it's, "Here's what they said, but here's what they really meant." Now there is a goal in the media beyond informing the public. Now it's all about shaping public opinion, digging for dirt whether it exists or not, conservative politicians are always trying to screw people, and profit, profit, profit.
Oh, and the for-profit media has one other mission, too: to become irrelevant in the face of people wearing pajamas fact-checking them a thousand times a day in their free time, for fun. The for-profit media is going to be in trouble when their main remaining audience, the Boomers, kick off. I'm watching for attempts by media lobbyists to get blogging regulated, monitored, restricted, regulated. News of their demise is written on the wall, but I can't imagine they'll go out without a fight.
The host for dtman.com pissed me off... oh yes indeedy.
At noon the page worked, when I next looked at 4pm it was suspended. Suspension page said I'd have an email explaining the issue... and my email was clean. I call my host, iPowerweb, tech support guy tells me, "Yeah, I can see it is suspended here, but not why it's suspended. You'll have to contact our 'Abuse Department.'"
Me: Fine, transfer me there.
So I cancelled it.
I told the girl at the cancellation desk that if they had given me the ability to talk to their abuse department, I'd have been talking to them instead of her. As it was, my account was suspended without warning, no explanation was being given, and their goal seemed to be to make me as angry as they possibly could.
And I still don't know what their problem with dtman.com was. Maybe they're liberals and they just wanted to silence my ability to speak.
Anyway, I picked the consistently SECOND highest rated host I saw (ipower being #1...), so now there we are. This is the 4th or 5th host for dtman.com since 2000. History says my relationship with this one will eventually implode, too. "If you guys screw with me just 13 or 14 more times, I'm out of here."
Still, could be worse. Nothing will ever top the criminals (literally) at invite.net. I WOULD wish them on my worse enemy, because they'll steal money out of your bank account and then strip you of every domain you own when you try to get it back. Seriously.
The host for dtman.com pissed me off for the last time, and instead of jumping through hoops for them again, I just cancelled the account and took my business elsewhere.
I'll explain more later, but for now I need to reload the forum. Right this second, no feedback threads work. Will have that functionality back online this afternoon.
A couple weeks ago I had a thought to go to Ohio in August for the 2005 German American Festival, but my wife reminded me that she is planning to have a baby is September, and perhaps it wouldn't be a good idea for me to leave home for a week. I was forced to concur... I'm not quite used to thinking like a responsible adult, yet. That event got me to thinking about how after the baby arrived I wouldn't be able to just pick up and go someplace like I was used to doing. And I'm ok with that, really. I've been able to do what I wanted, when I wanted for quite a while now and I won't have to see that period of pre-parenthood freedom as something I missed out on. It was fun, but it's time for the next step in my life.
But I also decided that if August was too late to take off, then May was just fine... so two days later I drove to Memphis to hang with my friend Vince for a few days.
Vince has a new girlfriend, whom for various I dubbed "The Babysitter." I'll leave it to Vince to explain that in the feedback thread, if he so chooses. :-D
Vince and the babysitter. I'm not sure what's going on with the airplane drapes in his computer room.
I lived in Memphis for three years, three years ago, so I took a couple hours to drive around and survey my old territory, and former HQ of DTMan.
Used to live there.
About a mile away is a place called "Shelby Farms," what used to be a Tennessee Penal Farm in what used to be the outskirts of the city. As Memphis has grown and annexed surrounding communities, it has enveloped Shelby Farm on all sides, so they shut down the "penal" part and now it's a huge, really nice city park in the middle of the sprawling metropolis. With a buffalo herd. I don't know the story behind why someone thought a southern city needed a buffalo herd, but there it is.
Used to eat there. Very small, very old, very out of the way place - you need to be a local to find it - but it has world famous barbecue (barbecued what?). I've seen this place mentioned at other barbecue joints around the country, but I've never been to any barbecue place outside of Memphis that has come close to the quality. Mmmmmm... Commissary Epicurean Barbecue.
A couple days later Vince and I took a drive downtown. We went by the hospital in which Elvis was pronounced dead, the same hospital in which I spent quite a bit of quality time in the year 2000. I was there on my 30th birthday, in fact. Happy birthday!
Anyway, it's an old building, and they are fixin' to tear it down, so I got a pic. The actual old hospital itself is the taller building on the left. It has four funky wings shooting off the ends at angles.
We went to the world-famous Peabody Hotel, home of the Marching Ducks. In the morning these ducks walk from the rooftop cage, down the elevator, to a big fountain in the lobby, and in the late afternoon reverse their trek back to the roof.
That's the afternoon part of the march, on the roof...lobby gets too crazy and crowded with guests. Notice the duck wrangler following, but the ducks never needed direction. They know what they're doing.
While on the roof I took a few shots of the city, and here's the view through the city to the Mississippi River, the bridge over to Arkansas on the right in the back, the Memphis Business Journal building in the center. There's a bit of green right before the river, in this picture; that's actually Mud Island. You Tom Cruise fans may have heard of it.
Also took the opportunity for a rare, overhead crush. Corvettes are gay.
Also, of course, went down to Beale Street, one of the coolest streets in any city in this country. New Orleans's Bourbon Street may have it beat, but serious partiers know Beale is a close second.
Me on left, Vince behind camera, open containers all around.
And they still have open air blues bands every day, which I've always found to be cool. The fellow standing on the left was working the crowd for cd's and donations to the band. The front man worked the crowd a bit himself, asking where everyone was from, and sharing an anecdote of a time he played some bar in their home city. He got to a couple who said, "We're from Pennsylvania." The guy said, "Pennsylvania... well... welcome to Memphis." He had no Pennsylvania story. I guess PA isn't a big blues state.
You may not know it, but Memphis, TN was named after another river city, in Egypt. As such...
They have a pyramid-shaped arena. I was in there a few times, when I lived in the city... most memorably for a Kiss concert. W00t. (for scale, the horizontal slit near the peak is a floor to ceiling window in the corporate offices)
The best view of the Memphis (The Bluff City) skyline is from the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River, so we drove over to get the good angle.
I was driving so I let Vince try a guest-crush of the city...
Give the man a hand... he tries so hard.
Alas, time kept on tickin', tickin', tickin' into the future... and it was time to drive home. Thirteen hours from doorstep to garage door, not for the boney of butt or weak of bladder, but it was my last irresponsible week off for a while. Pretty soon my life will evolve around puke, snot, and runny poop. Woohoo!
Home sweet home.
Took a week off to go to Memphis... I don't intend to go 10 days between posts as a rule, any more (Until I get burned out again).
This post launches a Bringing Down a Nation series.
Last election season someone made a comment on the forums that festered in the back of my mind like a piece of stringy cow flesh stuck between my back molars. When responding to my opinion that the United States is the most powerful nation in the history of humanity, this person (can't remember who) said something to the effect of yeah, well, Rome once ruled the world, too, yet it fell. For a long while now I've been pondering what it would take to bring down this country when force of arms won't work. How to bring it down from within.
And I swear and promise this has nothing to do with Star Wars Episodes I-III.
In this model, start with an ideal nation: one with a sparse Constitution and liberal a Bill of Rights, a government that is designed to be at odds with itself, a history of stability, and a populace in which the vast majority of citizens are proud to be part of such an ideal, well-functioning system.
Since the American Articles of Confederation was powerless to stop rebellions in individual states, the Constitution was written to allow the federal powers to maintain a standing army. This, along with vast civilian police powers (the Bureau of ATF, the FBI), keep anyone openly stockpiling weapons from getting too powerful. Think Branch Davidians. This eliminates all hope of successfully pulling off a coup anywhere in the United States, so what can a group do to take control?
One: Change the definition of what it means to be a good citizen. There was a time in this country when, in a time of war, publicly speaking against the President, the government, or America's front line troops was seen as highly unpatriotic, and possibly treasonous if it aided and abetted the enemy. Free speech was still free but writing a newspaper article saying, "I sure hope the Japs don't torpedo the last sea-door on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, because that would effectively cut off America's Atlantic Navy from its Pacific Navy," or, "German POW's are being systematically tortured in the American southwest, and they'd be fools to surrender without fighting harder first," wasn't going to fool anyone: you were clearly on the side of the enemy.
Not so, today. Somehow, it has become the height of patriotism to disparage your country as often as possible. "Protesting is très American." And even worse, love of country has been twisted as quaint and simple at best, and fascist at worst. Anyone with an American flag on their car is obviously a bandwagon following sheep. Going to watch fireworks on the 4th of July shows your love of war because you didn't want to pay your fair share of taxes. Enlisting in the armed forces either means you are a brainwashed follower that wants to torture brown people, or a victim of society and have nothing better to live for.
And yet, ironically, the suicide bombers who purposely murder women and children in schools and restaurants are seen as patriots and freedom fighters, the Americans fighting to stop them are seen as torturers and war criminals, and the Americans who support the murderers are seen as enlightened and nuanced who disparage their own countrymen at every turn. Every day more and more people around the world believe this, because America's own free press broadcasts it around the world. Terrorists have no stronger friend than American journalists.
Step One for bringing down the nation: A proud populace is a strong populace, so reverse everything about what patriotism and citizenship means.
I have a bad habit of talking to myself. Not out loud yet, thankfully, but sometimes I'll have an internal monologue separate from what is going on around me. I'll make two internal leaps of logic, and I'll say the third thing that occurs to me out loud which leaves everyone around me wondering what the hell I'm talking about. For example, recently a few associates and I were sitting around having coffee, and one of them mentioned the parts of the brain that controlled heartbeat and breathing. Internally I thought to myself, "Medulla Oblongata." That led me to think about the movie The Water Boy, in which Adam Sandler learns that "alligators are ornery because of their Medulla Oblongata," not because they have pointy teeth like his Momma told him. They were talking about the autonomous nervous system, and I busted out with, "Alligators are mean because they have pointy teeth," in my best retarded-Cajun accent. It made no sense to anyone, of course, and I reinforced my position of resident weirdo.
I know I inadvertently do that on this page and the forums sometimes, too, which pretty much means that I don't always communicate well in spite of my best efforts. A lot of times I present a position that took two or three internal leaps of logic to achieve, present it without the logical path it took to get there, and it makes no sense at all.
Well I'm working on it.
This self-examination has led me to think about the nature of intelligence and self-awareness, and my programmer-brain has me wanting to parse people into clean, logical pigeon holes for easy access later, database style. Here come the Deep Thoughts.
THAT BEING SAID... here's what will probably be a highly-insulting generalization of a lot of different people (the 10% Rule applies):
1. The most simple of intellect is that of the child, or simpleton. "I" is foremost in their thoughts, in spite of the seemingly (and sporadic) episodes to extreme compassion. Of course they want world peace, when asked, and it is so cute and seemingly genuine to hear a child say that, but you could get a kid to say "hail satan" for a cookie. But, that's why they are kids. They're born as sociopaths and it is the adults' job to raise them. That's an interesting term, "raise" them. Because they are born low, both literally and figuratively.
2. The New Converts. Those new to self-awareness, and like new religious converts, there are none so righteous. You see a lot of college kids in this category. Recently out from under their mother's skirts they have a brand new feeling of independence (hey, who's paying that tuition?), and they are spreading their wings for the first time. They think they've evolved beyond the "I" phase of their existence, and with newly opened eyes they realize it is their destiny to Make the World a Better Place. The key to this is the key that adds joy to their own existence: money. From those who have money, or course, because you can't squeeze blood from a stone. These college kids get their beer funds from their moneyed parents, and the same analogy fits their world view, as well. Those who can afford the beer are morally required to buy the beer. It's perfectly logical, to them. And it's not necessarily wrong to process the world this way, I think. One must crawl before he can walk, and these baby-steps into self-awareness are a logical path to the ability to think around corners and beyond their immediate surroundings. It really only becomes a problem when one is stuck in this level of thought for more than, say, a decade. "There's nothing more pathetic than an aging hippy."
3. Then there are those with the ability to filter bullshit. Eventually one realizes the logic of the old, "better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish," and the ability to understand that means one can associate the same principle to the world around them. Sure, charity is nice and stuff, but it usually doesn't fix root causes; it just slaps a bandage on the whatever the problem happens to be. Any gardener can tell you that when pulling weeds, if you don't get the entire root, you have another weed in three days. And you usually don't help an alcoholic in the midst of delirious tremors by giving him a shot of whiskey to ease his nerves. And sometimes it is painful to set a broken bone. This isn't understandable at all by the child-intellect, but the New Converts understand it just enough to see the Bullshit Filterers as "obviously" evil. This is why you get the "republicans/red staters/southerners/my dad is stupid and/or evil." This group understands that there aren't any easy answers, but there are logical ones. Got a malaria problem? Either use DDT and kill the eagles, drain the swamp and kill everything, or live with the malaria. That's it. There's a very old saying among the tribes of Africa: The grain belongs to he who owns it, not he who needs it (there's one of those 3-level disconnects, again...).
4. Those who otherwise are part of the Bullshit Filters who wonder if there might be an even greater intellect that is beyond their ability to comprehend.
5. What I call the "Transcendent Geniuses." Maybe it really is better to give the guy that fish... or the drunk that beer... or the crack addict that needle... or the 14 year old that abortion... or the welfare mother that pay raise for the 7th kid, and there's a real, tangible reason for it. Who knows. I aint there, but it's an undiscovered country for which I keep searching.
So Newsweek heard a rumor about Koran desecration at Gitmo and printed it without verifying the veracity, and resulting riots in Afghanistan resulted in almost 20 people dead.
Lots of people have covered this, but here's a couple thoughts I've not yet seen elsewhere (not that nobody else has said it, I don't know, but I haven't seen it).
First of all, Newsweek didn't actually go out and kill anyone. This should be remembered first and foremost. For whatever reason they ran a story that was sure to provoke a response, and others allowed themselves to believe everything they read, lose control, and go crazy. Those who went crazy are to blame, and those who died were probably as crazy as everyone else there.
Secondly, Newsweek's first priority is not to inform the general public of the facts, but to make a profit and to do that they need to keep their core readers happy and buying more magazines. Every other week the Weekly World News declares that space aliens are impregnating women without high school diplomas at alarming rates, because that is what keeps their audience buying the paper. Every week The National Enquirer runs stories about who Brad Pitt is sleeping with, because their core audience is very interested in the love lives of celebrities, fictional or otherwise. And Newsweek's readers are interested in having a major news publication echo their own hatred of America, so they get stories about how evil Americans are. Newsweek knows its audience and panders to it.
And thirdly is the fact that this happened at all. A few years ago some terrorists holed up in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (been there, done that), holding several priests and nuns at gunpoint for several days. It is a known fact that they used pages of the Christian Bible as toilet paper. Where were the Christian riots over that? There weren't any because the average moderate Christian knows it's only a book, it isn't their God. This seems to be a problem in other religions, which this rioting proves rather inelegantly. Islam is often described as the "Religion of Tolerance." Tolerance implies a capacity to endure hardship or simply endure anything different. And yet a rumor starts that someone around the world ripped up a pocket Koran and all of this so-called tolerance is gone, rioting begins, and people die. Allah willed it, I suppose. Praise be unto him, and never mind that collateral damage. All over a book.
I am not a religious person in the least. I hold neither the Bible nor the Koran nor any other religious text as any more "holy" than Moby Dick or even a substandard Stephen King novel. I have no visceral feelings about any of these books either way, good or bad. They're just books, thin strips of pulp wood with some printing on them, one of millions of identical copies. In and of themselves their only real utility is either in using to roll cigarettes or using as toilet paper. As such, I wanted to exercise the same right I have to burn my country's flag to piss on copies of the Bible and the Koran, take pictures of it, and show them here. Not that I have any animosity toward people of deity (I just made up that phrase), but to show that, lo and behold, the world didn't end and I wasn't struck by lightening and really it didn't matter at all. Sort of a reality check for the world.
Know what stopped me? If I posted pictures of myself pissing on a Koran, I have a real expectation of me and my family being hunted down and killed by Muslim extremists. Now that's a religion of tolerance.
New page layout, obviously under construction. Full functionality coming in the next 24 hours.
Here's a quick heads-up before the DTMan crew begins posting again in earnestness:
We typically don't say things here with the sole intention of "hurting someone's feelings." I personally have never said anything without trying to make at least a small point, even if nobody picked up on my true intention.... April Fool's Day posts notwithstanding. I have no interest in making personal attacks. Those who do have weaknesses of character that I just don't possess.
My personal belief is that it is impossible for one to victimize or offend another; the person on the receiving end has to actively allow themselves to be offended. People for whom I have respect have told me that words can hurt, but I just don't buy it. Words do nothing but vibrate the tympanic membrane in your ear, they don't actually break the skin or leave bruises. Only your response dictates how the words are processed by your brain, and it displays your ability to allow a greater strength to overcome the intention of the words.
To allow someone you've never met to offend you is to be weak.
I am a lot of things, but I am not weak, so please excuse me in advance if I assumed you were a higher intellect with "thick skin," and it turns out I was wrong. It was not my intention to wound, I just didn't understand that you were delicate and fragile.
Meet the new boss, which
fortunately for everyone is the same as the old boss. Before my break in January my
posts were sporadic and bland, and my kung fu was weak.
Now I'm feeling all refreshed and recharged, and ready to be a
generalizing, assuming, jumping-to-conclusions asshole
again. Sometimes I'll mean what I say, and sometimes I'll
just be looking to provoke people. It's up to you to
figure out when I am doing which. Hiatus over, ranting on.
Meet the new boss, which fortunately for everyone is the same as the old boss.
Before my break in January my posts were sporadic and bland, and my kung fu was weak. Now I'm feeling all refreshed and recharged, and ready to be a generalizing, assuming, jumping-to-conclusions asshole again. Sometimes I'll mean what I say, and sometimes I'll just be looking to provoke people. It's up to you to figure out when I am doing which.
Hiatus over, ranting on.
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