Thursday, September 30

The Faux Debate

In order to amuse myself, I must gather more information on the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). These are the clowns people who agreed on the (in)famous 32-page Memo Of Understanding between the two major parties;

Bush to Launch Online PR Attack has interesting information on the GOP's plan to begin damage control even before The Faux Debate [TFD] ended;

I watched TFD on C-SPAN, who did a marvelous job: the split screen was useful, and they didn't have any silly pundits following the debate to spin-doctor what I saw with my own eyes.

late night update: okay, okay .. Sundry on Thursday is now updated. You can now send the picketers home for another week.

Wednesday, September 29

obvious hogwash
(Dwight Eisenhower's son speaks ...)

"I celebrate, along with other Americans, the diversity of opinion in this country. But let it be based on careful thought. I urge everyone, Republicans and Democrats alike, to avoid voting for a ticket merely because it carries the label of the party of one’s parents or of our own ingrained habits."

- John Eisenhower, son of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, writing in The Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News

I don't think they tax the turkey

Instead of reading (the comic strip) Nancy to the class, teachers should read Dilbert instead. Today began with Frabjous Joy when the Dilbert Newsletter #57 arrived, including the memorable quip "I don't think they tax the turkey." Highly recommended.

Unrelated to turkeys: Erik Baard's George W. Bush Ain't No Cowboy

And then they voted.

Tuesday, September 28

Unions, and the Dallas Police

I've yet to have a positive encounter with a union; it's my opinion that they're interested in maximizing their members' salaries (and coincidentally their Union Dues) and not as much in enhancing whatever profession is represented. I see them as bastions of inefficiency, but what do I know?

At a tradeshow in Detroit (years ago) I needed to move a $100 monitor about 20 yards, before the show started. This meant that I needed to work with the unions who were contracted to setup the show. I counted 7 people involved in moving that (20 pound?) monitor. I naively started to move it myself until The Union Guys made it very clear that this was their job. One Union Guy took my $100 monitor and placed it on a pallet, then Another Union Guy moved it with a forklift the 20 yards to the booth, then Another Union Guy (the unloader's union?) took it off the pallet, then Another Union Guy (electrician's union?) plugged the monitor into the wall socket. This doesn't count The Other Union Guys who kept detailed records of this Work Order (no, I'm not kidding). I never knew how much my company paid for those 7 people to do this backbreaking [sarcasm inferred] work, but I suspect it was a multiple of the cost of the monitor.

I almost had to join a union, many years ago, but didn't stay in the job long enough. It was explained that, if I accepted the position, I'd be required to join the union after 30 days. In hindsight, I'd classify that job as a weekend experiment that didn't work out (my boss was a classic Control Freak, and Gene Bob don't hunt that way).

In Dallas, the various Police Unions (representing about 2,900 officers) are divided along racial lines. The four biggest police officers unions (best I can figure) are: Dallas Police Association (mostly white, led by Glenn White); Dallas Police Patrolmen's Union (sadly, associated with reports of an associated telemarketing scam); the Texas Peace Officers Association (black, led by Malik Aziz) [this was the Texas Negro Peace Officers Association until 1955]; and the Latino Peace Officers Association (Hispanic, led by George Aranda). One of the problems that (new) Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle is dealing with is how to handle policing, when nearly every personnel decision is questioned by one police union or another; that has to be Frustrating (with a capital F).

Noteworthy: the Texas State Troopers Association [TSTA] is a real organization (their fundraisers show up as TSTA on CallerID), but reports are that most of their funds go to the telemarketers, not the police. I guess that's what happens when you outsource? The A to Z Charity Listing doesn't list the TSTA. Hmm.

And then (last but not least), while looking for the Dallas Police Department Management and Efficiency Study I wandered across this site: which appears to be a front for the guy's security monitoring business. hmmm. yeah, yeah, I should plop that onto Sundry on Thursday .. so shoot me.

Monday, September 27

Debate! Debait!

What's All This Then? is an interesting blog entry about the upcoming Presidential Candidate Debates. I won't be going to those, since I won't sign a Bush Loyalty Oath.

While in high school (when pterodactyls roamed the Earth) I was a member of the Debate Team, and I was given a rude awakening as to what REAL debate is all about. In effect, you are given a topic for the year, and then research it until you're blue in the face.

Example topic:
"Resolved: the war in Iraq was a huge mistake, and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks."

You then develop arguments for and against everything related to that topic (bonus points if you develop an issue for which the opponent is unprepared). When time comes for the actual debate, you put your mouth into warp drive and (using 4x6 inch index cards) try to spew as many points as possible in your alloted time, at which point the opponent counters your arguments and adds new ones of their own. You get points for everything. At the end, a winner is declared and you go home for a week. It's intellectually stimulating and highly recommended.

These so-called Presidential Debates (the first is Thursday night) are so watered down as to be nearly useless. All you can hope to do is keep Your Guy from looking like an idiot. Set low expectations with the media, then claim Your Guy won, regardless of what was said. It's pathetic.

I'm gonna try to attend one of the Frost-Sessions debates for the TX-32 Congressional seat. I still find both campaign signs insightful: Frost signs give his name and website address, not much more; the Sessions signs say "Re-Elect / Sessions / Republican" when in fact he has MUCH less experience on Austin's Capital Hill and BOTH are (technically) up for re-election (the GOP gerrymandering of early 2004 resulted in both running for a single patch of turf).

Sorta-kinda related: - DNRC: "A strong leader is expected to maintain steadfast resolve in his opinion even if the environment changes or he gets new information. In any other context, that would be considered the first sign of a brain tumor. When presidents do it, it's called leadership, and frankly, we can't get enough of it.

Tip: Place your houseplants in front of the television during the next presidential debate and watch how leafy they get. "
Meanwhile (unrelated), I've been reading about Red Mercury .. hmmm. Where's cold fusion, and black holes, when you need them?

Saturday, September 25

Did Bush really just say this?

Bush Shrugs Off Bad Polls on Iraq Outlook quotes Bush: "I saw a poll that said the 'right track-wrong track' in Iraq was better than here in America" and goes on to say that 51% of Iraqis surveyed (as if) feel their country is headed in the right direction, which is more than Americans feel about the United States.

Some days, I just have to really shake my head and wonder how this Brain Scientist [sic] came to power.

There was another Letter To The Editor ("Show Iraq positives") in today's Dallas Managed News, by some poor sap who wants to know why they aren't printing all the good news that's happening in Baghdad. Funny thing, though .. she didn't ask about low-cost airfares to check out this Paradise on Earth for herself.

Friday, September 24

How to be well-rounded: a 10-step program

  1. Read dissenting viewpoints (aka Start Thinking For Yourself);
  2. Don't depend on radio entertainers (Ann Coulter; Al Franken; Rush Limbaugh; Howard Stern) to tell you How to Hate My Neighbor;
  3. Understand that Fox "News" (aka GOP-TV) is a mouthpiece of the Radical Right death squads;
  4. Understand that ABC, CBS, and NBC are entertainment networks first, and news organizations second (I can't even remember the last time I watched one of their "newscasts" in its entirety). Hear the jabs that CNN and MSNBC are unwitting tools of the Left Wing baby eating Liberals;
  5. Put the Sanity Test (simply, does this jibe with what I know from other sources?) to whatever the mainstream US media (network television, big-city newspapers) say;
  6. Read the Letters to the Editor;
  7. Read non-traditional sources such as pajama-wearing bloggers;
  8. Watch as much non-US news on DirecTV channel 366 (includes Canada's Newsworld International; Britain's BBC America and Times Online; German Journal; Japan's NHK; China's CCTV (mostly state propaganda) and even al-Jazeera) as you can find;
  9. Don't think Michael Moore is much more intelligent than George W. Bush;
  10. Read some Iraqi blogs (so as to try to figure out what is really going on over there).
Iraqi Blogs:

Thursday, September 23

there are limits to my deviousishness *

Thanks to Trish-Bob for pointing out Larry Elder's column: : Rathergate is a 'sign' of the times. I've considered placing a FROST sign in my yard, and then rig a closed circuit camera to catch a CFRP member defacing it. Sadly, Beta the Wonder Dog has (undiagnosed) CADD [Canine Attention Deficit Disorder] and would never be able to fixate long enough for such an adventure.

Hey, Beta .. squirrel!! <arf! woof! arf!>

* this is one of the only good things about having President Quagmire in power: the ability to invent new words anytime, never being axed to explainicate them.

Tuesday, September 21

score: Wal-Mart 1, Tax Dollars 0

The parking lot of the Anne Frank Elementary School was almost full when I arrived; no surprise, since the issue of Wal-Mart moving into the neighborhood is seldom a cause for celebration, and commonly attracts a crowd.

I attended part of a Town Hall meeting, presumably put on by the City of Dallas. I'd guess 300 people were in the auditorium; this is substantially more than the most recent Town Hall meeting where they discussed how much our taxes will be raised. Score one for Wal-Mart in beating out that Tax Increase meeting (shaking head).

Dallas Mayor Laura Miller was there, along with a Channel 11 news crew and two Dallas Councilmembers, and several members of City staff, including Theresa O’Donnell (Director of Development Services).

Wal-Mart has a reputation for using lawyers to Win At Any Cost; you don't get to their level by playing nice. It was obvious that Wal-Mart was orchestrating the meeting, and had made the City Council into their pawns. Their agenda was to allow people to stroll through the adjoining gymnasium and view artist renderings while munching on tea & crumpets. Then, they planned to show a slide show of what the new store will look like. Only problem is they didn't communicate that, so 200 or so people were left stewing in the auditorium until about 7:20 when one of the Councilmembers took the microphone and announced the delay. This was not the way to Win Friends And Influence People.

The meeting started more than 30 minutes late. Also, many people signed in at the first table inside the door, onto to find out it that the person manning the table was not from the City of Dallas, but from Wal-Mart (there was no signage or badge to identify her).

Wal-Mart sent Bob McAdams, Vice President of Corporate Affairs. He's an obvious professional with these community meetings, and never lost his cool (while I was there, anyway). I'm not sure if it was the intent, but he wasn't the one in the crosshairs tonight; it was the site developer: Prudence Laverne represented The Archon Group. Early on, the heat was generated due to "oops! accidental!" destruction of some trees, witnessed from across the street (people dining at La Madeleine). Although they "saved" 287 trees which have been temporarily moved to a tree farm across the street, Dallas code requires a permit anytime a tree with a trunk larger than 8 inches in diameter is involved. The Archon Group also took heat from several deviations to the site plan (formerly the Prestonwood Mall).

Another left field issue was the density of parking spaces; even the Mayor said that if it's striped for compact cars, it'll not go over well in Dallas (where the average vehicle is a Ford F-250 pickup). They mentioned something about Dallas Article X (10), a landscape ordinance; this bears further investigating.

At that point, I left the meeting, which presumably went on until 9pm (when the janitors were to clean up).

The final episode of The Amazing Race 5 was on the telly tonight, and I wasn't all that surprised with the outcome. As has been noted on various TAR fan forums, the editors have been positioning Chip & Kim for the past 6 episodes or so. The termination of the race was here in Dallas at something called Trammell Crow Park, but I've never heard of it. Hmm .. it looked undeveloped when this was filmed (February 2004).

Interesting blog: (lots of political insights; only those who are free thinkers should read it). I wonder if he's read The Scobleizer's How your blog will get discovered

Saturday, September 18

days turn into weeks @ Amazon

Is it just me, or is something weird amiss at

For both the Books of Amazon and the DVDs of DVDuniverse, I keep a Wish List until there are enough items to make the shipping costs a moot point (I won't pay $5 to ship an $8 item). So, on August 11th I fired up Amazon's Wish List and bought ten books; every one said "Usually ships in 1-2 days". There were enough to get FREE Super Saver Shipping. Imagine my surprise when it said "Delivery estimate: August 30, 2004 - September 14, 2004" Huh?

Assuming that was a mistake, I sat back to watch; after all, I didn't need any of those books overnight. The next email arrived on September 11, advising that 8 of the 10 books were on their way (via UPS from Lexington, Kentucky) ... then another email this Thursday, saying that one of those two stragglers had shipped via USPS (it arrived today from Coffeeville, Kansas). Now, only one is still Out There Somewhere (an email a few days ago asked me to confirm a delay in that book's shipment).

Bottom line? My purchase of 10 books, made August 11, will have arrived in 3 shipments, from September 14th until (whenever the last one arrives, presumably via USPS). Hmm .. strange.

Alas, it's time to go Read My New Books. Woo hoo.

Unrelated #1: the first Christmas catalog of the season arrived today (from L.L. Bean). I was wondering about that delay, too. Only 98 days until Christmas; I'd better get cracking!

Unrelated #2: I ordered some flea medicine for Beta the Wonder Dog via the web (it's significantly cheaper than my local vet). Imagine my amusement when the package arrived yesterday - from Australia! And yes, the medicines were made in the USA. So, it's cheaper to make them here, ship them to Australia, then to my home in Dallas .. than it is to drive a mile to the veterinarian. Bizarre!

Unrelated #3: GOP tells West Virginians: you are complete morons.

Friday, September 17

Fort Worth taunts Plano:
we're drunker than you are!!

Men's Health magazine looked at the statistics for DWI [Driving While Intoxicated] arrest rates; alcohol-related traffic deaths; and the mortality rates for six categories of alcohol-related liver disease. When they finished with the calculator, here's how they rated 6 cities in the (Dallas-Fort Worth) Metroplex:

(lower numbers are better)
 9. Plano       B+

30. Garland C+
58. Dallas C-
60. Irving C-
72. Arlington D+
73. Fort Worth D+
The worst city in their study was (surprisingly?) Denver, and the best was Montgomery, Alabama with Birmingham not too far behind (assuming either city still exists, after Hurricane Ivan came to visit).

Here's the article: Is Your City Sloshed?

Thursday, September 16

Quick: which is cheaper?

The Man should mandate that retail price comparisons (on the shelf, and in advertising) be standardized at dollars per liter versus price per unit. Will this happen in my lifetime? Not a chance.

I love reading grocery ads to try to determine who has the best prices that week. Yesterday, I needed Diet Coke and milk, so I opened the paper and had to guess which was cheapest:

1) ten 2 liter bottles for $10;
2) two 12 packs (12 ounces each) for $6;
3) two 6 packs of 0.5 liter bottles for $5;
4) one 12 pack (12 ounces each) for $2.99;
5) one 2 liter bottle for 79c

Sure, I could've tried to do this in the store, but the Unit Price is often hard to determine, since the store calculates items differently (the "unit" in a 12 pack of cans is the price per can, not the price per ounce, and then how many ounces are in a liter?)

So, I converted everything to dollars/liter to find:
102 liter bottle$100.50
212 pack 12 ounce can$60.71
26 pack 1/2 liter bottle$50.83
112 pack 12 ounce can$2.990.70
12 liter bottle79c0.40
13 liter bottle1.790.59

Next, I compared two ads for milk:
qtyvolume$ price$/L
1064 ounce$100.53
21 gallon$50.66
11 gallon$3.190.84

I usually buy the 3 liter bottle of Diet Coke for $1.79, and (if I can't find it on sale) the gallon of milk for $3.19 .. which explains the last entry in each table.

Tuesday, September 14

rocket surgeons in our midst

The local US Congress race (TX-32: Frost v Sessions) is getting uglier each day, and is apparently being watched nationwide. During one of last years' special sessions of the Texas legislature, the GOP gerrymandered some districts (remember when the Texas Democrats left the state en masse, first for Oklahoma, then New Mexico, to stall that effort?) so that more Republicans would be elected; this district is a test of that tactic.

Both campaigns have yard signs ... ranging from small ones to 4x4 foot signs, which are impossible to ignore. Pete Sessions (4 terms in office) has REPUBLICAN at the bottom, while Martin Frost's (13th terms) don't mention his party. That's because Frost (26 years in office, versus 8 for Sessions) knows that the party label is what Texans vote for .. not the candidate. Martin Front's 4x4 foot yard signs lists his website, but Sessions does not .. which is just bizarre. Maybe it's someplace in the small print, which appears to be in 6 point type and hence invisible from a moving vehicle.

I spotted one of Frost's 4x4 signs that has been defaced -- with the word DEMOCRAT in neon-pink letters. I'm guessing the (rocket scientist) culprit didn't know how to draw a 6-sided yellow Star of David; there are few classes on How To Be Derogatory.

Sunday night, Sessions and Frost held the first of five (5) planned debates, but I couldn't find it. Hmm, maybe it was on TXCN (Texas Cable News, which is probably losing millions). The next one is October 6th at Mountain View College in Dallas (southwest of downtown).

Monday, September 13

okay, now I'm armed to the teeth .. what next?

Well, the lines at the gun store were long, and the prices high, but (thanks to GWB) I'm now the proud owner of an AK-47 assault rifle. I paid the bribe extra fee to take immediate delivery, so as to avoid that annoying 3-day waiting period. I'm so happy W didn't extend the ban. I was also thrilled to see that armor-piercing bullets were on sale!

I wasn't planning on getting one, but most all my neighbors said they planned to arm themselves (just in case the Democrats win in November, then come to take our guns, rape our women, and eat our household pets), so I knew I had to do likewise.

I'll do a little target shooting tomorrow, when the squirrels come out to play. After all, the guy at the gun store said I should tell anyone who asks, that this is for sporting use only.

Saturday, September 11

9/11 (2001) was NOT "an interesting day"

Phil Rosenzweig (and 2,748 others - including 343 firefighters) died 3 years ago today. Phil was on American Airlines Flight 11 - the first plane to hit the World Trade Center. I wouldn't call Phil a close friend, but we knew each other from attending meetings together. I knew him as a very likeable and competent manager of a SunSoft (Sun Microsystems software) group based in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.

Phil was on that BOS-LAX flight that would never arrive; it was a routine business flight that turned into disaster. I'm guessing he never knew what hit him, since it wasn't an obvious conspiracy until the 2nd plane hit Twin Tower #2. I suspect the hijackers told the passengers that they were "returning to the airport" and that this would be all One Big Inconvenience. Actually, the government most likely did know that this was a conspiracy sometime before plane #2 crashed (read Wood/Thompson's article, below).

Today, I thought of Phil as I searched the web for a simple timeline of the 9/11/01 events, and wandered across Allan Wood and Paul Thompson's detailed article, published last year: An Interesting Day: President Bush's Movements and Actions on 9/11, which I hereby classify as a Must Read by anyone planning to vote in November.

After reading it, ask yourself if we can stand 4 more years with Mr. Decisive in office. Note that "an interesting day" are W's own words to describe 9/11, almost four months later (presumably after he digested "The Pet Goat" story being read to a classroom full of second graders).
By the way, I'm willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt when there's an occasional verbal faux pas, but there are well-documented daily quotes showing that W doesn't have the brains to make ice, much less foreign policy.

Last Saturday's gaffe shows that he can't even count to 3 without screwing up ("Four years ago -- well, none of us will ever forget that week when one era ended and another began. On September the 14th, 2001, I stood in the ruins of the Twin Towers. It's a day I'll never forget. -- George W. Bush, September 4, 2004")

For more of W's gaffes, see either Yahoo or Google (the ranking of the results are interesting, by themselves, but that's another topic).
(now back to those Powerful Second Graders:) When the President of the United States puts more weight on a photo opportunity than defending our country, he has shown me the extent of his moral character (or lack thereof). This is simply inexcusable; he should've been tried for treason and not allowed to remain in office. However, that would've left us with President Dick Cheney (the same one who is now backpedaling from his reprehensible quip that if Bush is not re-elected, al-Qaeda will strike us again).

The GOP then had the audacity to deride Senator Kerry about voting against an appropriations bill that would have given a no-bid contract to defense suppliers (think: "sole source" and Halliburton (Cheney was CEO there before becoming VP) and you'll get the picture).

The more I read, the less I think of this as "the Bush administration" than I think of it as "the Bush regime". Welcome to America; please think the way we tell you.

Rest in Peace, Phil. I'm still thinking about you. Come November, I will do the right thing.

Friday, September 10

dearth of breakfast: woe is me!

Okay, I'll admit it; I'm a breakfast junkie. So, I'm especially irritated when my favorite breakfast places disappear. At Coit & Campbell (SE), both Charlie D's and Crescent City Beignets have closed, leaving Nikki's Cafe as the only breakfast spot in that area (I don't count Whataburger or Starbucks). Also, Gilbert's NY Deli on Beltline (which had The Freshest Omelets In The World) just vanished.

Now I'm left with opposite ends of the Breakfast Spectrum: La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe (and their yummy Strawberries Romanoff) versus Bic's Coffee Shop, which redefines the word BeerBiscuits. Hmm. Sadly, you can't find a good Cat Head Biscuit in Dallas, far as I know.

Given Crescent City's departure, I'll have to make my own beignets (one website described them as a cross between a French pastry and a doughnut)! Fortunately there is Cafe Du Monde® Beignet Mix (available at Kroger) which is supposedly best prepared with cottonseed oil! Michelle spotted (Turkey Gold brand) cottonseed oil (from PYCO Industries) at Academy Sports & Outdoors, in the Outdoor Cooking section. Yeah, sure .. I would've thought of going to a sporting goods store for cooking oil, sure!

Good news: Bagelstein's relocation to Coit & Arapaho (NW) has been successful (I've breakfasted there twice since The Big Move from Spring Valley Road), although I wonder if their old customers have found them.

Finally, due to tens of thousands of requests, I posted yesterday's Sundry on Thursday. This should restore calm to the world.

Thursday, September 9

Michelle meets Jack Ben Rabbit

Almost everything you ever wanted to know about The Freeways of the Metroplex is on, but I couldn't find a traffic report there, just static content. How boring! I finally found a live feed on a local TV station's website, thus skillfully weaving Michelle (via her trusty Toyota Prius) out of Dallas and into points west.

I envy Michelle! Today she was exploring - specifically, for Odessa's (unofficial?) mascot: Jack Ben Rabbit. I found some hare-raising online articles from June 2002 and June 2004 - the stories are in the Odessa American Online. Jack Ben Rabbit had been "borrowed" from its original Lincoln Street location a few times, so The Powers That Be moved him permanently to a more secure location (?) at the Ector County ISD's Administration Building. Recently, miniature ("art is in the eye of the beholder") replicas of Jack Ben Rabbit have appeared around Odessa.

Sadly, Beta (the Wonder Dog) is in mourning; her New Best Friend (who concocted Beignet Liver for her, and Electric Green Key Lime Pie for Gene Bob) has left, in search of adventure (described above).

Monday, September 6

The case of the missing pralines

Our server at Cantina Laredo (in Addison) said they had cabrito last night, so I ordered it. He returned a few minutes later and said it was all gone! Argh! I've never had it before. This weekend is the (31st) annual World Championship Barbeque Goat Cook-off in Brady, TX (a 5½ hour drive).

Michelle was visiting relatives in Louisiana and is transporting goodies to her folks in Los Angeles. One such package was a box of pralines, but .. we neglected to close the door to the guest room while @ dinner. When we returned, a very smirky Beta the Wonder Dog awaited us, with a massive sugar fix. Only a single praline survived. Today, we'll try to find replacements (Central Market? Whole Foods?).

Morton's Blackwell's Black Heart

Worth a look: Republican Purple Hearts. Some convention attendees may have thought Morton Blackwell (delegate from Virginia) was a funny guy, but his stunt belittles anyone who was wounded. After all, those Purple Hearts don't give themselves out.

I am pleased that RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie dressed Blackwell down, although I'm distressed that some delegates found this even remotely funny.

Sunday, September 5

Death Wish in Big D ?

Feeling hungry for something other than cold cereal, I ventured onto the streets to find breakfast, and was nearly killed in the process. It seems like the local early-church crowd didn't want to have anything to do with speed limits or lane markers (those must be for heathens) and they were out to prove it .. with a vengeance! Since I somehow returned to post this blog entry, I must've survived (but I'm not sure how).

Oddly enough, I actually feel safer during the weekday rush hour; the drivers don't seem to be as out of control as they were this morning. Then again, Dallas is the only city I've ever lived in where you can feel free to speed anytime (unless you're a minority) and get away with it.

Unrelated: This has to be in the running for Most Bizarre Website of 2004:; apparently they were met with less than open arms at a weekend rally near Chicago! Word of the MuslimsForBush site has reached the folks behind Muslim (see: Bush Likes Muslims, But Republicans Don't).

Deep Thought #44: After viewing, I searched for a parallel site, but couldn't find it. Zell Miller must not be running for re-election.

Now, what shall I watch today: The Boys from Brazil (1978) or (Charlie Chaplin's) The Great Dictator (1940) ?

Friday, September 3

Bonus Room

Years ago, when I was house hunting, I sometimes wandered across houses where the builder added a "Bonus Room" atop the garage of a 2-story home. This usually became an entertainment room, painted all black (for maximum theatre realism). The owner must add their own disco ball, natch.

One of the things I like about DVDs is that there's often excess space for the "printer" to add "bonus features!!". At the end of the Outfoxed DVD (all about how Rupert Murdoch made The Fox "News" Channel into GOP-TV) there's a mention of ("Free Press : media reform through outreach, activism, lobbying and networking") and ("We watch FOX so you don't have to")

Unrelated: I stumbled across the Gene Linux Cluster page: wonder why they didn't call it the Gene Bob Linux Cluster? I hope that page stays online; if not, I can always try the Internet Archive (aka Wayback Machine).

Thursday, September 2

assignment: compare and contrast

I watched Comedy Central's The Daily Show Wednesday night. The host (Jon Stewart) talked about Arnold Schwarzenegger .. paraphrasing: "he appears to have the will ... to triumph" which was a reference undoubtedly lost on 99.376% (!) of the audience. Schwarzenegger was born in Austria, as was Adolf Hitler.

Stewart's reference was to Leni Riefenstahl's classic Nazi propaganda film: Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will). Riefenstahl died (in 2003) at age 101.

Stewart's comment piqued my interest enough to finally watch this DVD, but I'm not recommending you do this the same week that the Republican National Convention [RNC] is held, because it became near-impossible not to mentally compare-and-contrast the two productions.

The Triumph des Willens DVD has an option for an audio commentary track, atop the 2-hour epic (I found it difficult to view this in a single sitting, so I made liberal use of the [pause] button). I may watch it later with only the English subtitles, now that I know the background (this was filmed 70 years ago, so the commentary was useful to put things in the perspective of that time).

Both are trying to articulate a point of view, and everything cinemagraphic -- camera angles and locations, lighting, close-ups -- is manipulated. And then there's the content -- the goal of the film (shown in German theatres from 1934-1944) was to introduce the National Socialist (Nazi) party to the population, and it covered most of the leaders of the Third Reich, with Adolf Hitler getting the most footage (of course).

Like I said - do NOT watch this while the politicians are Doing Their Thing because you won't be able to stifle your laughter as the Political Parties are manipulating public opinion. I am convinced that they took lessons from Leni Riefenstahl.

end of summer wardrobe change

After Zell Miller's wild-eyed speech to the RNC (and the nation) last night, I ran to the store and bought a new wardrobe consisting exclusively of brown shirts. I would've opted for white sheets, but it's almost Labor Day, and that would create a fashion faux pas. FWIW, Miller is a DINO (Democrat In Name Only).

Stepping back, I just have to wonder what message the Radical Right is trying to send; after all, Miller didn't get up there on his own (modern conventions are heavily scripted). I suspect Karl ("don't let facts get in the way") Rove's hand was deep in this; Karl is W's chief of staff, and star of the new [Bush's Brain] movie (now playing at the Angelika).

Let's see, under W's watch: 1) he sits dumbfounded for 7 minutes in a classroom full of second-graders when he learns that a jet plowed into the World Trade Center (now that's decisive leadership!); 2) Iran's getting nukes; 3) North and South Korea both get nukes (yes, South Korea announced today that they enriched uranium several years ago); 4) the Taliban regroups in Afghanistan; 5) al-Qaeda openly grows (opium) poppies to fund more terror; 6) we invade Iraq and find (queue sarcasm) thousands of WMDs scattered all over the country. "Four more years", indeed - think of what more he can accomplish!

The message I'm getting from the RNC convention is F-E-A-R : we should all be very, very afraid all the time, and re-elect GWB in November. Sadly, they've evolved into a group that wouldn't know truth-telling if it fell out of the sky, landed on their faces and wiggled. And that's probably a good thing, since the alternative is not to allow them to say anything unless it was fact-checked first, and that would prolong our elections (we couldn't stomach that).

Wednesday, September 1

of seafood and bureaucrats

HayJax and I lunched at Remington's in Addison today; I had the trout almandine which was cooked to perfection, and chowed down on the steamed broccoli (but passed on the apple pie). Ah, seafood bliss. I read on the web that Adam Remington has taken over management from his father, and that the restaurant was called Oyster's until about 10 years ago.

Tuesday, I went to the Dallas County Clerk's Office - in the Records Building (next to Old Red - the landmark courthouse built in 1890 and recently refurbished) to get a copy of my Deed Restrictions from the Dallas County Clerk's office.

The Records Building was easy to navigate; before going, I heard that the County Clerk's office was on the second floor, so I took the elevator (never could find a stairway!) and asked someone at the long counter where to go. They sent me to the far left where the real estate stuff is kept in microfilm canisters (none of this stuff is online), and a clerk quickly located the 4-page record I sought. She then instructed me to look in their database for any updates/addendums/whatever (there were none) and then charged me $1 per page and sent me on my way. While there, I marvelled at the amount of paper they use : truly unbelievable.

My neighborhood was built in the early 1960's in two large waves of 500 or so homes each. As such, there are two primary sets of deed restrictions, although there are several instances of deviations. There are only a few "teardowns" (and subsequent rebuilds) so far, but these will certainly increase over time. The new ones tend to stretch the deed restrictions to the limit: 6500 square feet homes on a half-acre lot leaves little room for error .. and they look very out of place.

Some Deed Restrictions have eleven sections, others have more .. but they all begin the same way: Section I says the homeowner cannot sell to non-whites (this was struck down by the courts in the mid-1960s). Now, such wording looks quaint and laughable.