Monday, December 31, 2007

GNB Gourmet Blogging

photo from PJ Lighthouse Cutest rice ever!

The News Blog had a proud food tradition. Beer can chicken and low country cooking were just a few of the famous food topics expertly covered by Steve. (as you know this even lead to the News Blog Food Blog.) Since the GNB started we have had a few good food posts, like LM's apple pie, and Hubris' poultry homage, but not enough for foodie-fans like myself.

So my hope as a guest blogger here is to bring some heat to the kitchen. As you may know I run a big international restaurant in Tokyo. (shameless plug) So basically food is my life.

First off- The Food Blog World. I know you all are political bloggers and readers-- and I am sure some of you do wander into the other realms of the blogosphere, at least I think you do. Well, one of the richest, most active, most acclaimed blog-kingdoms belongs to foodies.

Food bloggers cover everything! seriously-- from a site totally dedicated to Hamburgers, to food politics sites, including that by one of my food-heroes Marion Nestle-- to one of my favorite cupcake corners of the world. (who knew cupcakes could be this fabulous?)

Here for your enjoyment is a bit of "best of the foodblogs" -- warning-- Do not visit these sites on an empty stomach, especially if your fridge is empty as well.

For starters, the world's MOST FAMOUSEST! Chocolate and Zucchini! who's charming author has now released her first cookbook. Based in Paris, but covering all types of food and food thinking.

101 Cookbooks, features great food and some of the most wonderful food photography on the web. Heidi does for food photos what Ansel Adams did for snapshots of trees. And she is vegetarian without missionary zeal.

FarmGirl Fare and Orangette are two of my favorite foodie reads, and feature some warm, skilled writing and great story telling. Plus on Farmgirl a great cast of furfriends!

And for a great group-food-blog head over the the Well Fed Network.

Point is, there is some great food writing and recipes on the web. I encourage you to browse the sites above and use thier blogrolls to explore other fantastic food writers.

If you know other good food sites, please share them in the thread, as I am hungry and waiting to discover new spots. I am hopeful that in addition to being a great year in political change, 2008 will be a tasty food year! YUM --
Special thanks go to the fantastic four (Jesse, Hubris, Sara, and LM for carrying the torch) And Happy New Year to everyone in this wonderful community.

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The Writings of Steve Gilliard -- 101

“Where can we read more of his work?”

We're fortunate to still have access to primary sources.

I recommend people start with his Wikipedia entry .

Wikepedia mentions three of his most well-know essays:

In addition, read his master-work, the Colonial Warfare series.

His other most famous work is the "How to Read a 10Q" Financial Reporting Series.

I am an enormous fan of his old Netslaves articles. Here are a few of those pieces:The rest are amazingly good as well. Oh hell, here are a couple more:
Netslaves keeps adding to their archives ongoingly. There's also stuff in the Web Archives if you're truly dedicated.

Steve was one of the original front pagers at at Daily Kos. For example, this was his introduction to the front page on April 3, 2003 -- Good morning from your substitute blogger -- worth reading just for what he says about his sources.

I can't quite figure out how to search Daily Kos -- we're so far back in the archives the standard search tools don't seem to work -- but if you just keep hitting the "Next Entry" arrow up on top of the page, from Steve's introductory post, linked above, you can read his entries for the roughly six months. He stopped posting on Daily Kos in September, even though he'd started The News Blog back in August.

Here's a quote from the front page:
Daily Kos (April, 2003)

The US could easily win the war and lose the peace. It does no good to beat Saddam only to have to fight Shia guerrillas weeks or months later.
Next, dear students, we turn to the original The News Blog. Note that there were two sites: original and the new site.

The original site -- -- is where almost all of Gilly's work lives once he set out on his own.

The first post by Gilly was on the evening of Wednesday, August 6, 2003 and his last post on the original site was the evening of Monday, January 22, 2007. That's the post with the photo of the Queen ("No Drama Queen Bullshit" was the second headline.) There's another post on Tuesday, made by Jen, his co-publisher.

We then had less than a month's worth of Gilly's posting at the new The News Blog site. The new site -- -- as of this writing, has a photo of Steve, the announcement of his death, and the Gilliard family's obituary for him.

To look through the new site, you have to use the search tool on the top left corner, or Google, limiting the search specifically to the new site, for example from a Google search bar: steve and then make sure to tell Google you want ALL results.

Oh, wait.. better answer. *yes!* (I so rule!)

You can read the new site at the Internet Archive. It's all there. Don't even bother going to the site directly as a number of posts were taken down near the end. My strong recommendation is to grab the new site from the Internet Archive, also known as the Wayback Machine. This is a much, much better solution than Google or even searching directly, as the Archive has every post.

Now, what the Archive does NOT have... what you can only get by going to the new site itself, are the comments. You can use the Archives to find the post you want, then use the site search function to search for the specific post using keywords, which makes the comments available to you.

Comments are available primarily only on the new site. The original site only has comments going back to about November 2006 (I think) due to the commenting system being upgraded from HaloScan. The old comments still exist. Jim in LA who ran the technical end of The News Blog, has the old comments archived off. It remains possible to restore all of the old comments back onto the original site, and to freeze commenting (to stop comment spam), but it would take a serious time commitment from someone to do what needs to be done, namely...

Upgrading Blogger to the latest version on both sites, freezing comments, making the new site easily readable again, and getting rid of any comment spam which has accumulated. And perhaps archiving all of the various sources from Daily Kos to NetSlaves to the new and old site, to one single location with a common, highly searchable interface. To me, this sounds like a good Senior or Master's Thesis project for someone in J-School, funded by a grant from someone who understands blogging. *smiles*

As for working your way through the material, after reading the above specifically recommended stuff, I suggest people start in the original site (not the new site) and using the archive links, read their way through, month by month by month.

Consider it an education in real journalism.

When you're done, you'll have the equivalent of years of study in how to write, how to think, and what it is to authentically be a progressive, not to mention a damn fine human being.

Yeah, he really was that good.

PS. There's scattered writings of Gilly's all over the place. If you find some, please... put a link and what it's to in this comment thread.

For example, here are two two reviews written less than two weeks before he went into the hospital.

Yes, we miss him. Always.

Update: July 5, 2008

Over at DailyKos, sardonyx has tracked down Gilly's DailyKos writings:
dKosopedia maintains the master reference source for DailyKos and Steve.
You may also read some (but not all) of Gilliard's DailyKos comments here.
Here are links to DailyKos pages tagged about Steve.

If you want early Steve, there's Netslaves and there's this.

Again, be certain to read Steve's masterwork, the Colonial Warfare series.

Sardonyx's terrific research at DailyKos is right up there with Steve Baldwin's ongoing research on Steve at Ghost Sites of the Web where Netslaves lives on.

Our thanks to both on a job done well, and their love and appreciation of Gilly.
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Happy New Year

The last year of the reign of George the Stupid. Phew... 365 to go!

(Japan Standard Time)

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Amanda Marcotte

Cracks me up.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it! Yeah, they said it. Get your bitch ass back to the kitchen and make your man some vittles! He didn’t marry you for your sparkling wit, you know. How was he supposed to know that your huge cookbook collection was amassed because you just like the pretty pictures? Do you know what the marketing community calls that? False advertising.

Resolve to wear aprons more often from Pandagon.
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Benazir Bhutto, Another Bush Victim

Like a lamb to slaughter, Bush, "SureShot" Dick Cheney, and the brilliant dumbass Condi Rice, sent Benazir Bhutto to her death in Pakistan. In a sad echo of Iraq and the crowning of Ahmed Chalabi, liar and conman, who for all his faults knew better than to stand around in crowds, they sent her back in without regard for the history and situation in Pakistan. She was disliked by many for her wholesale emptying of the government treasury of billions and rampant corruption involving her husband and herself. Her party would have pulled barely 20% of the vote. I guess they are still stove-piping intelligence into the west wing these days. Intelligence that made it plausible that Bhutto could overthrow Musharraf, a general who knew better than to run and hide from the U.S. campaign to overthrow his country. She should have known better too. The draw was too great I suppose. Yet another country ruined by BushCo cunning strategies and we still have a year to go.

Its all over now. They are naming her son and husband as the head of her party. As much as she was disliked, many people actively hated her husband, "The Bag Man". I assume he will be staying out of large crowds. He kept an office outside of hers' which you had to bring the cash to, when she was in office. No, thats the end of that. There is no other opposition in Pakistan. The army is already in the streets suppressing the unrest and things will return to what passes for normal in Pakistan now.

She is just another body to be added to the Bush legacy. One of the many sad victims of the complete incompetence of this administration.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

New York Times


Percentage chance the New York Times was going to get anything correct about Steve Gilliard. Remember that they got his age wrong in his obit. Anyway, it doesn't matter. They wrote something, thats what counts.
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National Treasure

We went to see the pop movie National Treasure last night. A fluff piece to be sure but a good cure for jetlag. Anyway, while watching the cool, real and fake intertwined history, bits of Resolute desks, and statues of liberty, I was struck again by how much we have lost under this presidency. And not just us, but the world.

While I was traveling in Germany, I stayed at a small indie luxury hotel called the Drei Raben, or 3 Ravens. While there, I had some very interesting discussions with one of the manager/owners of the hotel. After I had been there a few days, he gently broached the subject of the media, and politics. Once he realized that I was not some right wing, missionary, nut job, we both really got into it.

Raulf talked a lot about how closely he and his 30 something friends were following the American political situation. He said that he thought most Americans would be really surprised at how much folks in the EU were paying attention. He asked me who I wanted in the primary, who I thought the rethugs would choose and what I thought would happen. He expressed his deep dismay at CNN and the media in general.

He gave me chills though when he said, “I don’t really think people in the states realize how afraid we all are about the direction your country is headed.”

After that we got into a discussion about Katrina and he said that lots of groups in his neighborhood sent blankets and money to the Katrina survivors and that it was totally unbelievable to them that America, such a rich nation, would let her own people suffer like that. And then to clinch the deal he said,

“You know, you had it all… When people talked about freedom and democracy, we all thought of America. Not so much anymore.”

And there you have it.

The promise of generations, bought in blood and suffering 230 some years ago—The idea scratched out with paper and quill in Philadelphia-- brought to it’s knees by the likes of George W. Bush. It is a heart-wrenching tragedy, and we are not the only ones who think so.

God help us if the dems don’t manage to win in 2008… if one of these psyhcho-racist-conservative-freaks from the right is our next president we are finished.

Raulf really made it sound like the world was waiting in anxious stress and fear, to see what we would do next and if the promise of our nation would finally die in the coming year.

It was sobering to say the least.

And as I went back to my computer I thought—national treasure, indeed...
If we don’t stop this run-away-train of neocon madness, we will have wasted so much, squandered our future, and we will have broken hearts around the world.
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NY Times Magazine: Steven Gilliard Jr.

Steve Gilliard.
NY Times Magazine photo courtesy of the Gilliard family.

Our Friend & Mentor, Steve Gilliard

God, I miss Gilly.

Every day, every week.

There's a tendency to put the dead up on pedestals. It isn't like that.

I'll be writing an article, reading a comment, talking to Hubris, Sara, LM or Jen... and suddenly Gilly is there, so real, so present, so alive.

He always knew what to say, what to post, and his writing came from his heart.

Jen told me earlier this month I'd written something which was the most Gilly-like thing I'd ever done, that she could hear his voice... and I burst into tears. Couldn't stop crying for almost ten minutes.

He guides us every day. We write, because he gave us space on The News Blog to grow and develop. In our talking with him, what of ours he posted or didn't, he taught us all editorial judgment.

Now The New York Times has recognized the worth of this good man, with an article in the Sunday Times Magazine in "The Lives They Lived" series. I encourage you to go read the entire article.

The New York Times

Steven Gilliard Jr. | b. 1964
Invisible Blogger

Published: December 30, 2007

The sidewalks of Harlem’s main thoroughfares are wide and inviting, and in the 1960s the kids playing “boxball” shared the asphalt squares with some of the greatest orators in creation. The most famous spot for speechifying was the “Speakers’ Corner” outside Lewis Michaux’s bookstore on 125th Street, where Malcolm X delivered his lectures on race and politics. On weekends or after work, fathers took their boys down to the corners in Harlem to watch any number of would-be firebrands engaged in emotional debate over Vietnam or the state of race relations or Bobby Kennedy’s political future.

Steve Gilliard was born into this Harlem and took it all in, but he wouldn’t find his voice on the corners. He was quiet, bookish, overweight. He won entrance to an elite high school, where he passed his time reading obscure military histories, then studied history and journalism at New York University. He found his true calling, though, on the Internet.

*** *** ***

Eventually he created his own site — “Steve was a big personality, and it was clear he needed his own stage,” Daily Kos’s creator, Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, later wrote — and became one of a small group of early political bloggers with his own devoted following (and a self-sustaining, if modest, income from ads). On Gilliard’s “News Blog,” along with the partisan attacks on Republicans that made him a hated figure on the conservative blogs, he specialized in applying history to the present day, which made him an unusual and distinctive voice. In 2004, he banged out a remarkable 37-part series, the equivalent of about 200 typed pages, chronicling the foibles of European colonialism.

Though Gilliard, unlike many bloggers, always used his real name, few readers knew much about him. They didn’t know, for instance, that at age 39 he had open-heart surgery to repair an infected valve. They didn’t know he lived alone in a small apartment in East Harlem. And, although Gilliard often wrote about race and alluded to his own perspective, a lot of readers never realized he was black.

*** *** ***

It was a life both short and loud. What began with a bad cough just after Valentine’s Day became a spiraling infection that ravaged Gilliard’s vulnerable heart and kidneys, and he spent most of his last four months hospitalized. The identities he kept separate for most of his 42 years collided in the days after he died; the few dozen mostly white bloggers who came to Harlem for the funeral saw for the first time the stark urban setting of Gilliard’s childhood, while his parents and relatives groped to understand what kind of work he had been doing at that computer and why scores of people had come so far to see him off.

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It's a nice article. I'm especially thankful for the article as it will mean so much to the Gilliard family.

I'm also appreciative that the Times recognizes the impact Steve had on the early political blogosphere, and the hole his passing left in progressive politics.

Gently, I think it important to correct a few mistakes in Matt Bai's article.

Many of the bloggers and other friends of Steve who came to Gilly's funeral were non-white. Many of them had in fact, been above 96th Street into Harlem before.

There was (and is) a semi-regular (when the mood and weather is fine) group of fairly prominent and up-and-coming New York bloggers who meet for barbecue and beer -- The Liberal Barbecue Conspiracy. Gilly named them. He saw who they were, and they saw him. Who he was, how he lived, what he was about. Some of the photographs in Gilly's funeral program came from a rainy afternoon the Barbecue Conspiracy all spent at the Bohemian Beer Hall hanging out, chilling. These people were pals.

For Matt Bai to hang the article's hook on how Gilly was a lonely black man who only could make it with white bloggers on-line who didn't know the real Gilly at all is, quite simply, bullshit. Markos isn't white. And neither were a number of other folks who came to the funeral. Matt Bai has that part of the story wrong.

Matt Bai was also wrong about Steve's life. Gilly didn't lead a lonely life. It was rich and filled day to day with his work, family, friends and sports. From his niece and nephew, his mother and father, to his co-publisher Jen, and the bloggers and friends he hung out with on a regular basis in person and on-line, this was a man who had a full, rich life. I've got an email from a national blogger who just read the Times story and wrote me saying, "Honestly, the man knew where in my kitchen I kept my knives." (She'd also been to Harlem before the funeral.) She was Gilly's friend, and he was a friend to her and to many others.

Gilly was a good friend, an amazing writer, and a mentor to more people than he knew.

We love him, we miss him, and we will always cherish him.

Rest in peace, Gilly. We love you.
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Friday, December 28, 2007

Bush Pulling a Fast One, Once More, Again, Forever

The adjournment of the Congress has prevented my return of H.R. 1585 within the meaning of Article I, section 7, clause 2 of the Constitution. Accordingly, my withholding of approval from the bill precludes its becoming law. The Pocket Veto Case, 279 U.S. 655 (1929). In addition to withholding my signature and thereby invoking my constitutional power to "pocket veto" bills during an adjournment of the Congress, I am also sending H.R. 1585 to the Clerk of the House of Representatives, along with this memorandum setting forth my objections, to avoid unnecessary litigation about the non-enactment of the bill that results from my withholding approval and to leave no doubt that the bill is being vetoed.

I know it's hard to follow this parliamentary bullshit. But honestly, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi could screw up a wet-dream.

This one is simple. Bush is trying to "Pocket Veto" this Iraq spending bill for whatever reason, we don't care. The point is, Bush can only pocket veto when congress is NOT in session. The House and Senate have been holding pro forma sessions, with people like Jim Webb heading over the the chamber to hold short session so that congress doesn't have to recess. To stop Cheney Bush from appointing more worthless GOP scumbag donors to jobs in government.

Here is the thing, if we concede that he has actually pocket vetoed this bill than he has effectively established that congress is not in session. Guess what comes next?

What does Speaker Pelosi say?
Despite the Administration’s earlier support for the Department of Defense authorization bill, it appears that President Bush plans to veto this legislation, which is crucial to our armed forces and their families.

She concedes it is a legal veto! They need to fight the veto itself, otherwise he has said that they are not really in session and he can do all the recess appointments he wants.

When are these people going to learn? The Whitehouse has some very smart scumbags working for them and we have to fight them tooth and nail, every day.
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While Out and About

People Are Talking

You never can tell where a discussion on politics will ensue. New York Times Op-Ed page writers have been known to have these discussions on outsourcing and changing American mores just...suddenly break out in the back seats of the opinion-stuffed taxicabs and TGIF's of their minds.

And in the last three days of holiday crazy, it appears I've run into several of the people who scuttle behind the Friedmans and Brookses of this world with trenchant thoughts on the world fairly oozing from their pores like so much sweat.

Encounter #1: Corner of Remsen and East New York Avenues in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. December 26th—6:30 p.m.

I found myself here picking up a few things the day after Christmas while on the way to my mom's house for some extra family commiserating and all that involves. Walking out the door with an armful of paper towels and aluminum foil, and “tupperware”-ish leftover-savers, I slowed down as I spied a elderly man behind me using a walker. He was nearing the door slowly, with a small prescription bag, so I waited for him while holding the door for him to exit. He took a while moving forward—three furtive, baby steps for each walker slide, and as he exerted himself a bit hurrying, I told him to just take his time—“I'll wait.”

He finally got to the door and shuffled through as I walked down the ramp to the sidewalk.

“Thank you, son. Thank you for waiting. I really appreciate it.”

“Not a problem.”, I said. “Happy New Year to you.”

“Oh, it should be.”, he replied. “'Round this time that Goddamned Bush'll be outta there. We can fix things...'stead a' blowin' things up.”

And with that, I stopped, I looked back at the old man. He looked to be in his mid-seventies at the least. A bag full of medicines, and extreme difficulty walking, this old man had. He wore a heavy, deep olive-colored car coat and a plaid newsboy-style cap to blunt the raw chill in the air.

I turned and smiled, saying to him, “You're my kinda fella.”

“Hey, I may not be here much longer, but who wants to see the world go to hell? Whoooooo, I can't wait to get in that votin' booth!”

With that, he laughed and seemed to energize a little bit...or maybe it was the slope of the ramp that sped him up somewhat. I don't know. All I know is that I just saw him get just a bit spryer, chugging along now as he continued to laugh with almost anticipatory glee over what he'd be doing next November.

This little old Black man, now trundling along past the Papa Johns and past the OTB parlor, was energized. Energized about change, and anxious to make it happen. It warmed my heart more than a little. He could have simply looked inward—focusing on himself and “just getting by”...but the world beyond just himself was still important, and his vigor at the idea of impacting that world even in his small way gave me hope.

Especially when I think of all the people my age and younger who are so non-committal, and apolitical, and sadly, in so many ways—unconcerned with their place in shaping a democracy. It'd probably take him an hour to get from his door to the polling place a few blocks away, but something tells me his vote'll be in hours before his younger, more complacent neighborhood counterparts.

““Hey, I may not be here much longer, but who wants to see the world go to hell? Whoooooo, I can't wait to get in that votin' booth!”

I hope he catches a few more people holding a door open and spreads more of that spirit.


Encounter #1: Corner of Spring and Crosby Streets in Lower Manhattan, December 27th—11;30 a.m.

I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't reveling in the post-Christmas hollowing-out of the city. The trains? Blissfully passenger sparse. The streets? Passable at last for man and the few vehicles I can actually count as I look up Broadway. I'm in town catching up on some work before hell descends as the grind begins anew next week. My brother's hanging with me as we're going to make an early day of it and meet some family near the job and eat, drink, and be merry LM-family style at some spot downtown. But at this moment, I'm taking a break from work and have strolled over to the great, green goliath of coffee—the Starbucks one block east of Broadway to abuse the gift card my daughter astutely got her daddy.

We find ourselves on a short line and quickly nab our coffees, then opt to sit in-store and drink our rocket-fuel espressos. One sip kicks the chill in the ass and out of the body like a bouncer on his first shift, easily rousting a bar lout into the alley with a punt and a door slam. At a table nearby, three men sit—one in his not-properly-warming hipster stovepipe coat, another in a shearling and a leather applejack cap, and the third in a gray suit with a parka over it and a fur eskimo hat with fur ear flaps.

They were discussing the news of the minute—the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. And doing so I might add, in the typical, myopic, and superficial way I hear in too many folks who seem like they should know better.

The part of their exchange that set me off:

SHEARLING GUY: And it's totally fucked up. People are burning shit in the streets. The government's powerless, and you've bombers running the whole show.

STOVEPIPE GUY; It's the wild west over there. No rules. The wild west. (He sighs) Anything goes...

FUR HAT GUY: That's why you-cannot-deal-with-these-people. They don't think like we do. They're maniacs. Do you—

SHEARLING GUY: Anarchy rules.

STOVEPIPE GUY: No rules, remember?

They all laugh at stovepipe guy's little bon mot.

FUR HAT GUY: But you know what I mean...we don't do shit like that here. That's what separates us from them. We work our situations out. Over there? It's straight for the guns.

SHEARLING GUY: And the bombs. Jesus-fucking-Christ they're thorough. “Oh, here's a couple of bullets—and here's a suicide bomb for good luck.”

They all laugh again.

SHEARLING GUY: Totally different universe over there.

My brother is sitting across from me with his head cocked at that “What the fuck is this idiot-ass clown talking about?” angle, and I can see his jaw tighten a bit and move back and forth, as he's losing the battle against stifling the words rushing from his brain.

I know what's coming next.

An old-fashioned “science-drop” session.

He inherited my father's gene for not suffering fools with even an ounce of gladness, and just has to call shit out when it's being flung.

“Same universe...just different planets, man.” he says, turning his body a bit towards the three not-so-wise men.

And in my head I say, “Here...we...go.

“Are you serious?”, Stovepipe Guy said. “I mean...the way they do things over there,—guns and bombs, and mayhem...”

“Total fucking anarchy.”, piped up Shearling Guy.

“Here, we vote.” said Fur Cap Guy, with an air of misplaced confidence.

And with that, my brother cut the rope, dropping a piano-load of science.

“Tell that to JFK and his brother. My brother here's old enough that it happened in his lifetime, and he ain't that old.”

“JFK I was too young for,” I said. “But RFK I remember like the back of my hand.

“And let's not even talk about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. And what'shisname? From that Whoopi Goldberg movie?”, my brother opined.

“Medgar Evers.” I said. “They cut him down for registering people to vote.”

“Yup!” my brother continued. “And all those civil rights workers too. And the government didn't do shit justice-wise. Blowin' up little girls in churches...”

At that point, an older man at an adjacent table chimed in without looking up from his paper and coffee, “Oklahoma City and that nut at the Olympics in Atlanta too. The crazy's everywhere.”

And then I spoke up. “When I was a kid, assassinations were so common here that I thought 'that's just the way things are suppposed to be.' I remember King's and RFK's, and I remember when the guy shot George Wallace even clearer—I was watching a Beverly Hillbillies rerun on Channel 2 one morning and they interrupted everything to cover it. Then you had the two chicks who tried to kill Ford, and Hinckley trying to do Reagan...”

“Our own people blowin' up abortion clinics, and killing the doctors...”, my brother added.

“Militants in the sixties blew a few things up, too.” Newspaper Guy said again in his flat tone. “They blew up stuff, the government blew them up...boom, boom, boom. boom, boom.”

The three not-so-wise men had quieted a bit since my brother's engaging them and leading the de-bunking. But one guy—Fur Hat Guy tried to cap the discussion with an ill-advised “Well...I think we learned from all that. We've matured.”

And with that, Newspaper Guy opened the bomb-bay doors and let drop a lead-weighted, 20-megaton nuke that effectively ended the discussion.

“The second you say we're past all that, that's the moment we become just dumb animals again. They tried to blow up the World Trade in '93, and our guy blew up the place in Oklahoma City a few years later. We were supposed to be past it, though. And not long after that, the guy in Atlanta bombed the Olympics. You mark my words...the second we start saying we're above it, that's when somebody'll show ya we're below it. Guns galore, here. We shoot up schools and malls, but hey...we're above all that.”

He turned our way for the first time, a little sallow-faced, balding, but with a spark in his eyes—“If things turn in this country in a way that pisses off the nuts with guns, the ones who are itchin' to live the second amendment out? You'll see Bhuttos all over the place.”

My brother interrupted him “Yup! And I can tell you just who''ll be-”

“No need to say who's gonna be the victims.” the old man said. “It'll be somebody, and we should be ashamed of it—but we won't be. Not enough..”

Fur Hat Guy leaned back and clasped his hands atop his hat and exhaled a revelatory “Hoo boy. We're fucked.” sigh.

Newspaper guy ended it with this. “You know what the difference is between us and them? Ambulances. We've got plenty of ambulances. They're always having to carry somebody blocks through the streets, bleeding. Better video.”

And with that, he settled back into his paper.

My brother said, “Ambulances.” He laughed and rose, and I did with him as we dumped our cups and bussed our table. We politely said goodbye to Furry, Shearling and Hipster. As we made our way out, my brother laughed and shook his head, saying “Fucking ambulances. Damn.”

We walked the block to Broadway and had the light to cross the street.

But we waited, as a wail cut through the air, interrupted by loud sonic burps. The waiting cars parted and shifted... let an Ambulance from Beekman Downtown Hospital through.

‘Wheeeeeeee-ooooo-wheeeeeeeee-ooooo-blaaaawmp-blaaaawmp! Wheeeeeeee-ooooo-wheeeeeeeee-ooooo-wheeeeeeeeeee...'

And we just looked at each other and...well, mordantly chuckled I guess, as the rig flew down Broadway, sirens echoing off the canyon-ish building facades. And before it, a mile of holiday-emptied streets as a light mist began to fall.

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Family Comes First

diagram Wikipedia.

My Dad Is Having Open-Heart Surgery Today

My father, John Wendel, Ph.D., emeritus from The University of Arizona (German Studies), is having open heart surgery this morning at Denton Regional Medical Center in Denton, Texas, about 30 miles north of Dallas.

Yes, this is the Dad I didn't speak to but once in nine years. Whatever.

Family comes first.

Dad's mitral valve is leaking.

The mitral valve is on the left side of the heart, between the left atrium and the left ventricle. It's shown on the right of the above diagram, as if you were looking at a person directly across from you.

How blood flows through the human body:

Santa Barbara City College, diagram McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

1. De-oxygenated blood from the body flows through the veins into the right heart (into the right atrium through the tricuspid valve into the right ventricle) where the right ventricle PUSHES it out the pulmonary valve into the lungs.

2. At the lungs, carbon-dioxide (CO2) goes out, and oxygen (O2) passes in to the blood, in the capillaries as the blood passes next to the warm moist lungs.

3. The oxygenated blood flows to the left heart (into the left atrium, through the mitral valve, into the left ventricle) where the left ventricle PUSHES it out the aortic valve into the body.

4. Once in the body, oxygen (O2) goes out and carbon-dioxide passes in to the blood in the capillaries as they pass next to and through the tissues and organs of the body.

And we start all over again. (Go to #1 above as de-oxygenated blood...)

Because Dad's mitral valve is leaking, there are some issues which follow:

  • Not as much oxygenated blood is getting to the rest of his body as should. Therefore
  • his left heart has to pump harder to get enough oxygen out to his body. Therefore
  • like any muscle, his left heart grew a bit bigger with the extra use. This isn't good. An enlarged heart needs more oxygen itself and is more prone to failure. But it didn't get too big, as it was caught fairly early.
  • The leak spilled backwards, causing 'fluid in the lungs' or 'Pulmonary Edema.' This has been mostly fixed with oxygen and reducing his overall fluid level.
After taking a look-see Wednesday (a cardiac catheterization), the docs are happy that his arteries are nice and clean and the rest of his heart looks good. All there is to deal with seems to be the leaky valve. But they can't quite tell how badly damaged it is till he's opened up on the table. If it isn't too badly damaged, they'll just repair the mitral valve. That would be best.

If the valve is too damaged, they'll replace it with a porcine (pig) valve. These valves typically last 10-15 years, meaning my 72 year old father would probably need another round of open-heart surgery at 82-87 years old, assuming they haven't figured a new way to handle this better by then, or assuming his naturopathic physician can't help extend the life of the valve.

The alternative replacement was a metal valve and daily blood-thinners for life plus an increased risk of stroke. Dad decided (and I agree) that a porcine valve is the better choice. Plus his own valve may be able to be repaired, which is what we're hoping.

Dad is in amazing physical condition. He hikes all over the mountains ranges of Utah for days at a time, year after year after year. Every other physical sign he has is that of a man in his mid 40s to early 50s.

While there is always the possibility of stroke, sudden cardiac death, and infection -- as with any open heart event (less than 10% chance of morbidity for this procedure, and that includes the really sick people) -- this is as much of a routine surgery as one gets during open heart work.

Dad's spirits are good. He trusts his surgeon (who does this procedure very often) and his cardiologist, both the best in the region, according to friends and colleagues. Dad is optimistic about the outcome, as am I.

I'll talk to him again first thing this morning. His operation is scheduled for 11 am Central Time. It will likely take a while, plus then he'll be in recovery before going to the CICU, and I may well not know anything till after all of that.

As soon as I know something, I'll update this post.

In advance, thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and best wishes for my father.

Update 11:30 AM PT/1:30 PM CT:

Dad's doing fine in surgery; no major issues so far.

His mitral valve was not repairable.

Dad is still on the heart-lung machine as the surgeons put in a porcine valve. He should be on the pump for about another 30 minutes. Then the surgical team will restart his heart, close up his chest, move him to recovery, and then to the CICU.

Next update roughly in three hours.

Update 2:45 PM PT/4:45 PM CT:

Dad is out of surgery and in the ICU. Post-op, he's damn near perfect. *grins*

He'll remain sedated on a ventilator with the breathing tube in, probably overnight. Will come off the vent tomorrow and start doing breathing exercises. Getting his lungs back into full working order is a big part of rehab for post-pump patients.

Should leave the ICU in a day or so to the step-down unit, where he'll go with other cardiac cases into a monitored bed, for about 4-5 days. Lots of breathing exercises and the start of his rehab work, so he can exercise his lungs and his chest, getting up and moving about, get everything working properly again, and the docs can make certain everything is put together properly and very important, that no infections spring up.

Then it's home and about a month of out-patient and then several months of in-home rehab -- increasingly longer walks, continuing the breathing exercises (very important), and at the end of it all, back to a normal life.

All is going well right now. Dad is resting comfortably and in as good a shape as anyone can in an ICU.

I talked directly to his personal ICU nurse. She has been on shift since he came out of the recovery room. He came out precisely on time -- indicating the surgery went as planned -- and there have been absolutely no issues since. I could recite a long list of negatives the nurse and I went over, including that his lungs are clear and he has urine output, both important given what he had going on with him -- but really, there's nothing to say except he's recovering properly and well from surgery and everything is fine, no issues.

*does happy dance*

Another update tomorrow.

However I can't leave for the day, without thanking all of you.

All day long I've felt the enormity of having all of you waiting with me.

Thank you, each of you, for your outpouring of love and support. It has made an enormous difference to me, and to my father.

Thank you. Thank you so very much.

Updated Saturday 12:45 pm PT/2:45 CT:

Dad's in wonderful shape.

Being transfered from CICU out to a monitored bed as I post this.

Middle of last night, I spoke with his night-shift nurse. She took him off the vent, took the tube out of his lungs, got him up and walking around. He was doing good then, even better now.

Just now, spoke again with his day-shift nurse, the same one he had yesterday. She's blown away with his progress. He's all active, talking up a storm, terrific progress.

His temporary pacemaker is hardly being used anymore, and most of the tubes and stuff are already disconnected. I should be able to talk with him later today or tomorrow, once he's in his new room.

Dad will likely be at the hospital another 4-5 days, and then head home for a month or more of rehab.

This is my last update. It's been a text-book case.

Thank you everyone for your care, concern, and for having been there.
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Holiday Open Thread

Lots and Lots Going On

In no particular order, not necessarily related, or even important...

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in Pakistan. (Includes video.)

Midnight tonight is the last time to get the "Early Bird" discount for Netroots Nation sign up. Come meet the GNB writers!

We're not posting much right now:

  • Hubris Sonic is on vacation.
  • Lower Manhattanite has something going on at home.
  • I've got something going on at home.
  • Sara's posting, but not a lot.
  • Posting should pick up again after the New Year.
A tiger killed a teenager and mauled two more at the San Francisco Zoo.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday that employers could reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.

Mischa Barton was arrested early Thursday morning (December 27) in West Hollywood, California, for DUI, drug possession, and driving without a license.

Giuliani ad "Freedom" links World War II, 9/11, Islamic terrorists.

It's an open thread folks. Have fun.
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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Why does the GOP hate Christmas?

There they go again. "Happy Holidays" -- like this wasn't a Christian nation or something.

Next thing you know, they'll be talking about building a thousand-mile fence between church and state.

Oh my. What will their religious right base think -- let alone Bill O'Reilly?

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WGA Strike: 19 Days Since the AMPTP Walked Out


A Working Writer: Dawn Dekeyser

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Christmas Rhapsody

I left this new holiday classic in a comments thread at the old place last year, where it acquired quite a following.

So here it is again. (If we do it twice, does it become a tradition?)

Christmas Rhapsody, originally recorded and mixed by one of Mr. R's best friends (who is also the keyboard player...)

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Keep It Merry, Folks!

Sing it, Clyde!

Yes folks, I've been a little bit caught up with family and all the fun, travel and drama that the holiday season brings. But I have all sorts of fun stuff lined up for you post-Christmas Day. Until tomorrow, enjoy your holiday, and this wonderful animation of an R&B turn on a Christmas classic—as sung by the original Drifters, featuring one of Soul music's first great voices—Clyde McPhatter (who was also an old and dear friend of my father's from their showbiz days) on the falsetto solos.


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Christmas Open Thread

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and family at Christmas (Dec 24, 1943.) photo White House archives.

Merry Christmas.

I've been browsing the White House holiday message for this year, along with previous years (bottom right corner of the page.)

It's a microcosm of how the Bush Administration sees the world.

For example, there is no Christmas photograph of any Democrats except President Roosevelt -- to whom President Bush frequently compares himself, in the sense of going up against a hostile Congress and ultimately being historically vindicated after his own death. All the other Christmas photos are of Republicans. The permanent Republican rule lives!

Prior to 2006, Muslims didn't exist during the Holiday Season. But in both 2006 & 2007, President Bush's speechwriters' have written a nice, polite message to celebrate Eid al-Adha: 2006, 2007.

In contrast, for the Christians, here is the Christmas 2007 message, which demonstrates greater familiarity with the tradition, but is roughly the same length, is published in the same news feed, cites scripture while the Muslim message does not (it truly will be a cold day in hell before a message signed by GWB quotes from the Qur'an. Heh.) But all in all, they are roughly the same, given the limits of familiarity of the speechwriters whom I do think did a nice job.

Better late than never, and it's nice to see anything nice about Muslim's coming from this White House.

I am appreciative this holiday season, that the worst presidential administration in history has at least moved up -- perhaps for political reasons, as it seems not to even break wind without there being a political reason, but whatever -- to acknowledging the legitimate hopes and dreams of over a sixth of the world's population, from the White House's bully pulpit. Not in a condescending way, or even in a way which suffers in comparison. A few years late... but they came through.

Now if the third of the world which is Hindu or Buddhist could receive similar acknowledgment, well, we'd truly have come a long way. Perhaps that will be a step for another President.

On this Christmas Day, we here at Group News Blog wish everyone best wishes as each of you celebrate the holidays in your own way -- with family and friends, alone, working or taking time off, with or without gifts, happy, sad, or just getting through the day. The holidays bring to each of us our own special moments and opportunities to reach out to others, and to find in ourselves the strength to be ourselves, not just for others, but for us.

And isn't being who we truly are, the message of Christmas?

Merry Christmas everyone.

Please use this open thread to share your holiday with us.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

A Christmas Eve Epiphany

Church sign (December, 2007.) photo by thers/Whiskey Fire. Click for Large photo.

The "C" Word

Only one word has ever been forbidden on Group News Blog.

Not the "N" word, although we strongly discourage it. But the "C" word.

You won't find it it our postings, and it's not allowed in our comments.

Over at Whiskey Fire I was reading the many comments about this photo. One person genuinely thought the "C" word was Chanukah... how sweet.

Then I read the following (which contains the "C" word itself [nsfw]):

Whiskey Fire Comments (Jemand von Niemand)

Every time I hear someone use the word, "cunt", it carries the same force for me that I hear behind the N-word. It's meant to devalue, even dehumanize, the recipient -- because every real man knows a cunt is only good for one thing.

There's so much violence washing around just beneath the surface with the wingnuts in these days; it's a lot of bad juju looking for a way out of the bottle.

And there's so much encouragement of violence, bigotry and intolerance by way of example from our sociopathic, twisted 'leaders' in the public sphere.

It's a big step from using the violence of language (the C-word, or the N-word -- or, as was popular in Nazi Germany, the J-word --) to actual violence... but it's just a step.
How appropriate that on Christmas Eve day, I should have an Epiphany.

He's right.

Everything that exists, exists in language. What we speak, we bring forth.

I've used the "N" word rarely in GNB Comments, usually while writing quick little "joke" responses, trying to punch up the humor, make it more colloquial.

That stops now.

It isn't that I am unwilling to use either word in a serious script if as the screenwriter I say the piece demands it.

Group News Blog isn't that place.

Or at least, I can't imagine now, any work short of serious writing of the highest order in which either of those words might ever be appropriate.

Reading the above quote was almost like taking a body blow. How violent both words are. They are intended to hurt actual people, to mess them up, to keep them in their damn place, to make them less than the real humans (the white males.)

All this is why here at Group News Blog where we are in love with diversity of all kinds -- races, genders, sexual orientations & practices, religious beliefs, physical conditions, plus stuff we don't even know what to name it yet -- you will no longer hear either word again, ever.

At least not from me.

Happy Christmas Eve to all of you. "God bless us every one!"
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The More Things Change...

Kirsten Gillibrand, husband Jonathan, and son Theodore, in Hudson, New York.
(Christmas, 2006.) photo Gillibrand for Congress

Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand Trashed At Christmas
For Being Pregnant

First term Congresswoman Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY20), in a highly-vulnerable district in New York's Hudson Valley, is being attacked, not for her politics, not for her stand against the Iraq war, not for the earmarks she's bringing home including money for rural broadband development.


She's being attacked because she and her husband have conceived a child.

The Glenn Falls Post Star (Letters to the Editor)

There are many occupations suitable for women and their physical attributes. Carrying a weapon while serving in the Armed Forces and firefighting are not suitable lines of work for women to prove that they are physically equal to men. How many male police officers feel comfortable with a 100 pound female backup?

And now, I have to add serving in the U.S. House and Senate as an occupation that may not be suitable for women.

Ms. Gillibrand's current pregnancy makes a strong case for my opinion. Ms. Gillibrand was elected to serve her constituency, and while she is away from her elected office she cannot perform those duties. The taxpayers who were duped into voting for her will have to pay for her medical benefits. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer, Ms. Gillibrand receives excellent health benefits, courtesy of her constituents. We will be without representation in Congress for a time leading up to and following the child's birth. There will be times when she and the new baby will visit doctors. You can add those days to the total that she will not be serving her constituents.

The current base salary (2006) for members of the House and Senate is $165,200 per year. I wonder if Ms. Gillibrand will do the right thing and reimburse the U.S. Treasury in the amount of $452.60, her daily salary, for each day that she is unable to perform her elected duties. For some reason, I doubt it.

Dear Ron,

You make some excellent points.

There is so much richness and depth to what you have to say, I hardly know where to begin. Although I should mention, as a retired paramedic, your uninformed opinion of women firefighters and cops, turns out not to be connected in any way with the reality of the job. So there's that.

None of the women officers or firefighters I know -- hundreds -- were on the job for women to prove that they are physically equal to men. Sure, there are physical requirements for being accepted to the Academy, and for graduating; either you passed them or you didn't get on. Whatever.

Beyond that, no real woman would be stupid enough to try and compete with a man on pure physical power. That's a man's argument. *laughs* Women don't fight battles they're not likely to win. That's why they're much better on the street, in fires, and as officers, then men. They know how to pick their battles and don't commit themselves (and everyone else) to unwinable fights (and wars.)

While at least you are polite enough to use the word Ms., the correct honorific here is Congresswoman.

Tisk-tisk, Ron. Didn't your mother teach you manners?

Moving on.

As near as I can figure -- and it's tricky, figuring out your personal code of sexual and ethical conduct -- you believe no woman should ever get pregnant who works for you, but if she does, she should certainly not receive any paid time off for her pregnancy because having a baby is a personal act of defiance against you and the commitments she made personally to you when she took the job.

Hmmm. How do you feel about birth control? Or abortion? I'm just asking.

Would it be okay for a woman working for you to practice birth control?

What about the rhythm method? I mean, that's all natural, right... Does she have to be a broodmare? Or does working for you come first?

Now if her birth control fails (or you don't allow it), can she have an abortion in order to keep working for you, ya big stud? 'Cause all women want to work for you. (No, it's true. There was a poll.)

Or is her only alternative to go home to the kitchen where her husband can -- thank the sacred ovaries of Penélopê the Congresswoman is married and not a slut like that Jamie Lynn -- well, not take care of her, but at least sit in the living room and snap his fingers for a beer while he watches the bowl games. It's not as if she's in the third trimester yet and all chubby.

Anyway... who the hell would want to see her on CNN all plump and glowing anyway; she'd need a new wardrobe every few weeks. Clearly, you're simply doing her a favor. If she wasn't so hormonal, she'd probably appreciate it more.

Finally, Ms. Gillibrand was elected to serve her constituency, and while she is away from her elected office she cannot perform those duties. The taxpayers who were duped into voting for her will have to pay for her medical benefits.

Yep, you betcha slugger. Her staff of lesbians and California airy-fairy new-agers is no doubt incompetent (having been hired by a woman) and everyone know having a child renders a woman unable to speak intelligently for weeks to months on end (if indeed, a woman with a Bachelors Degree in Asian Studies from Dartmouth and a Juris Doctorate from UCLA could ever speak intelligently to a polymath such as yourself.)

What with the hormonal changes of childhood leaving her incapacitated for close to a year -- half of the term she was elected to serve you personally -- we can only be thankful that when she isn't pregnant or post-partum, Congresswoman Gillibrand only has light-flow periods and doesn't use maxi-tampons like some Congresswomen I could name who are -- between you and I, brother -- utterly fucking useless three to four days each month.

Well Ron, you've certainly proved your point.

Here at the Group News Blog Editorial Desk we are thankful to you for having chosen the sacred Christmas season as your special moment to go off on a woman with child (and her husband) in a small village in the Hudson Valley. You bring credit to all of New York's 20th Congressional District.

And when we set up the nativity scene, we know where to go to find an ass.

Take care, and Merry Christmas.
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Judge Allows Arizona Anti-Immigant Law To Go Active

Staunch Republican Judge throws out Temporary Injunctions

U.S. District Court Judge Neil Vincent Wake just ruled against both requests for temporary injunctions in the Arizona Contractors Association, Inc., et al. v lawsuits. (US District Court, Arizona. Decision #1. Decision #2.)

The New York Times

A new Arizona law considered among the nation’s toughest against employers who hire illegal immigrants will go into effect on Jan. 1 after federal judges on Friday refused to block it.

Both a United States district judge in Phoenix and a federal appeals court in San Francisco, ruling on separate lawsuits by business and civil rights groups, declined to stand in the way.

The law calls for suspending the license of an employer found to have knowingly hired an illegal worker, and revocation for a second offense.

First, Judge Neil Vincent Wake of Federal District Court in Phoenix issued a sharp defense of the rights of lawful workers and said the law would not burden businesses in the short run.

Then on Friday night, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit deferred a decision on an injunction until after a hearing by Judge Wake on Jan. 16, provided a “decision is reached with reasonable promptness.”
Judge Neil Vincent Wake was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush.

While certainly not every Judge is a right-wing ideologue, in the years immediately after 9/11 the Democratic minority was not positioned -- nor frankly, did it even try -- to prevent the Bush administration with stacking the courts. And we know from experience, the kind of horror judges who rule based on politics instead of law give us. Don't we Judge Bates, you fucking tool?

Judge Wake before he was on the bench, was a right-wing tool of the highest order. The first case of his I pulled up had him representing Paula and Alan Sears against the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community on the grounds that:
Las-Vegas Review Journal

...their children, who go to school in Scottsdale, would be exposed to bad influences if casino gambling is permitted nearby.

He won, too. (At least as of that moment. Don't know how it ultimately turned out.)

The moralistic anti-gambling forces say, I should be able to force my world-view on you such that because my sweet little innocent children go to school within miles of your den of iniquity, Jesus must throw out the money-changes from the temple.

Worse -- it might lead to dancing.

Since Judge Wake has become a judge, he has suggested that gays have no constitutional right to equal protection under the law, even in prison where the State obviously has a legal obligation to make certain homophobia doesn't lead to attacks.

Not our Judge Wake, the right-wing homophobe:
Lesbian Gay Law Notes (Page 9)

Ruling on an apparently routine summary judgment motion in a pro se ex-prisoner case, U.S. District Judge Neil Vincent Wake made the startling assertion that for purposes of an Equal Protection claim, “Homosexuals are not a protected class in the Ninth Circuit.” Sotelo v. Stewart, 2005 WL 2571606 (D. Ariz., Oct. 11, 2005) (unpublished disposition). What he should have said, of course, is that “sexual orientation” has not yet been recognized as a suspect classification, but that would not, of course, deprive the court of jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 to consider whether prison officials had a rational basis to treat a gay prisoner less well than a non-gay prisoner, an inquiry supported by Supreme Court precedent in Romer v. Evans.

Wake’s brief dismissal misses the point and is clearly erroneous in light of Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996), which held at least that a state violates the 14th Amendment if it discriminates against gay people without a rational justification. In the context of a prison, had Sotelo alleged with sufficient specificity that he suffered discriminatory treatment because he was gay, the prison would have to show a penological reason for treating gay prisoners differently from others. More fundamentally, the Equal Protection Clause protects individuals, not classes.

In Romer, of course, section 1983, a jurisdictional statute, was irrelevant because the case was brought in state court and went to the U.S. Supreme Court directly from the Colorado Supreme Court on the federal constitutional question, but Romer clearly establishes the principle, binding on the 9th Circuit and its district courts, that sexual orientation discrimination is actionable under the 14th Amendment.
That's fancy legal talk for, "God Hates Fags."

Against gambling and fags.

Want to bet he's against teh sex and the abortions, the wine, women and song? And in favor of big corps?

Every case of his I found was moralistically based, or on behalf of a big corporation, white boy style. (Anti-women, anti-poor, anti-labor, anti-Indian, "Fuck you; I've got mine.")

You can see why the Bushies wanted his ass on the bench.

Part of the major damage of the Bush administration is they've corrupted much of our legal system. Even the judges who don't rule overtly politically like this asshole, aren't favorable. And then you have entire government entities attacking and ripping apart or turning over to corporate pirates the very institutions they should be protecting: the FCC, NLRB, FDA, SEC, USDA, and more.

Our legal system assumes good intent. It is not set up to protect itself against an insider attack from people in power. This is something we progressives need to fix once we take over.

Th Arizona law has undocumented workers fleeing the state in fear, and employers checking the documentation status of current workers, even though the black letter law makes clear people only have to use the system when hiring people.

Why is everyone running? Because the sheriff in Phoenix has a history of using immigration laws illegally to come after anyone he wants. A culture of lawlessness and distrust prevails against a background Republican/libertarianism "I've got mine so fuck everyone else" which pervades much of the fundamentalist (and to a lessor extent, the Mormon) portions of the West.

I can't say I blame the Ninth Circuit for failing to override Judge Wake. Had they, I have little doubt the Supreme Court would have overturned, 5-4. And again we're back to the long-term damage done to our country by the stacking of the courts.

There'll be a hearing on the case in January, where I have no doubt Judge Wake will, yet again, rule against undocumented workers and for this horrid cruel law. His current rulings make his January hearing pretty damn clear.

Arizona is cutting its own throat, economically, socially, culturally, genetically.

Stupid, stupid Republican legislators.
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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Food Blogging: Toddies

Around five o'clock on Christmas afternoon, my father -- a natural introvert who hid it well -- used to survey the scene in the living room, wince at the sounds of the kids enjoying their toys and the women caroling while cleaning up the kitchen, and find a quiet corner of the house to go digest and generally recover in. He'd usually explain this absence by giving a wry grin and saying, "You know -- I've enjoyed about as much of this as I can stand."

That moment is why God created the hot toddy. There are moments in every holiday that are only endured with assistance of something warm, sweet, comforting, and guaranteed to take the ragged edge off the in-laws, the toddlers, the ruined turkey, the tuneless carolers, and every other joy the holiday brings.

When you have enjoyed as much of this next week as you can possibly stand, here are my two favorite antidotes -- both with non-alcoholic variants, so you don't even have to listen to the kids whine about why they can't have some.


This is a batter that you make up ahead of time and keep in the freezer, ready to mix when company shows up.

1 cup soft butter (we like unsalted)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered or caster sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
large pinch allspice
2 cups softened vanilla ice cream (we like Breyer's)

Put all the ingredients except the ice cream together in a mixer. Mix until well blended. Add ice cream, and blend throughly. Scrape this batter into a large Tupperware-type container, and stick it in the freezer. It will keep 1-2 months.

When you're ready for some hot holiday cheer, get a coffee cup and:

1. Put 2-3 heaping tablespoons (depending on size of mug) of frozen batter into the cup. (It will freeze soft, so it should be easy to spoon.)

2. Add a shot of Bacardi. The gold rum has more flavor, but white will do if it's what you've got.

3. Pour boiling water to fill the cup, and stir thoroughly to mix.

4. Top with whipped cream, nutmeg, and/or caradamom, and serve.

For a non-alcoholic version, replace the rum with 1/4 teaspoon of alcohol-free rum flavoring. (It's actually not bad if you leave the rum out entirely.)

It's also interesting -- though another drink entirely -- if you use hot coffee instead of boiling water.


Our new favorite this year, as taught to me by the bartender at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

In a glass coffee mug, put:

1/2 shot Grand Marnier
1/2 shot Amaretto
1 stick of cinnamon
1 thick half-slice of orange

In a small teapot, brew up some strong blueberry tea. (I'm using Stash's blueberry, which is quite nice.) Allow it to steep at least five minutes. Pour into mug to fill. Stir with cinnamon stick, and enjoy.

This one's very easy and friendly to share with folks who come over. It even works for holiday breakfast or lunch, and would be a great accompaniment to present-opening.

Make it virgin by replacing the Grand Marnier with 1/2 tablespoon orange syrup; and the Amaretto with 1/2 tablespoon almond syrup.

You can endure this. Toddies will help.

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My Favorite (Living) Science Fiction Writer

Daniel Keys Moran is God

And he blogs.

If you're not lucky enough to have read the writings of Daniel Keys Moran, wow... lucky you.

As a serious science fiction reader since age seven or eight when I first figured out that the rocket ship on the end of the library book meant good reading, usually, and who grew up on Robert Heinlein and other greats, I'm here to tell you...

I believe Daniel Keys Moran is the greatest science fiction writer alive today.

Yes, I know some people will say it is John Varley, just on the strength of The Persistence of Vision with the novelette by the same name, which I at least feel is the greatest novelette I've read in my life, just as I think Of Mice and Men is the greatest novel, and The Sandman as a whole, is maybe the best literary work as a whole I've ever read. And I include all those great Russian novels and the boring English ones. And even Steinbeck whom I love so much, such as The Winter of our Discontent, and the brilliance of Shakespeare. (I'm talking here strictly about the written versions -- movies are a different deal.)

Daniel Keys Moran is something else.

Yes, I know you have your opinions. You should post them in comments.

I recommend you start with The Long Run, followed by The Last Dancer. Then go back and pick up The Armageddon Blues and the minor works, which I hesitate to call minor -- really I should say shorter -- as some of them haunt me to this day.

(Yes, I do mean Realtime.)

Who do you think is the best living science fiction writer? And why? What one or two books should people new to this author read to best learn to love her or him? What is a great short story by them on line we might read?

And yes, okay fine... you can include fantasy as well. Just so we don't get into that old argument. *grins*

Be polite to each other please. Even if they are obliviously (also obviously) dumber than dirt and know nothing about real science fiction, and you are showing them the greatest writer in history, if the dumb fools would only listen!

If they won't get it... move on.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Whatever You Can Do, Or Dream You Can, Begin It.

Boldness Has Genius, Power And Magic In It.
- Goethe

Apollo 13 (The Ron Howard movie) Launch Sequence

One of my ten favorite movies.

Both of these appropriate during the holidays.

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Karl Rove, Now Reduced! On Sale!


Karl "Worthless Scumbag Oxygen Thief" Rove has finally managed to unload his "book". Remember all the talk about the upwards from 3 to 4 million dollars Karl was going to rake in for the ghostwritten piece of crap book? Well, after languishing in the book auction market for a long 3 months with no takers he managed to convince some sucker to take the loss for $1 million +. Bwahahahahahaha. This piece of shite will go right to the remainder bin and of course the National Review Book Corner for Morons.

One of the most divisive figures in American politics has to take the lowest book bid... I am peeing my pants from laughing. What is it the kids say. ROFL.

Ted Kennedy got $8 million for a book about Chappaquiddick last month, and honestly, who cares. Rove can't even pull in 1/8 of what Ted Kennedy can pull in.

Said Matalin, a former adviser to Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and Threshold's editor in chief: Karl was always in a league of his own in the world of electoral politics and he now will literally create a unique genre for historians, policy makers, political junkies and serious readers. -- AP wire

Yeah, sure he will. Please, they don't really think Karl is going to be honest do they?

Unbelievable, these people really think they are going to be able to travel around the U.S. giving speeches and having book signings. They really don't have any idea how much people hate them.
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Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday Shopping Weekend Open Thread

Are You Ready For The Holidays?

I've got almost everything ready.

Still have to wrap everything. And am waiting for some stuff to show up in the mail today or tomorrow. Grrrr.

On my way to go have a Belgium waffle and maple syrup, an egg over medium, four medium-thick strips of the most delicious strips of bacon, and a Coke. Yummy.

Lots of writing to do this weekend. My intent for the weekend -- finish the 1-2 page outline of my next screenplay. *screams* (I can't not believe I just said that. Wouldn't that be a damn Christmas present!)

What are y'all doing? Got your gifts? Wrapped?

Traveling? Where?

This isn't our Christmas Open Thread, by the way. That will come on Christmas day, or even on Christmas Eve. This is the the Holiday Shopping Weekend Open Thread.

Let's hear your stories about shopping, gifts, and chasing down the UPS woman through six-foot snow drifts.

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