Sunday, June 29, 2003

According to Bush administration criteria, the most dangerous states are those run by leaders who:

1) have massive stockpiles of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons;
2) ignore due process at the United Nations;
3) refuse to sign and honor international treaties; and
4) have come to power through illegitimate means.

There is one nation, however, that meets all those criteria, and yet we do nothing about it!

Visit "Rooting Out Evil" (dot-org) to find out what nation that is, and what we can do to help bring that nation to justice.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Three quickies for you all this morning:

From the SF Chronicle: IT'S THE LADIES' SHOW NOW: Lusty Lady becomes the first worker-owned strip club in the nation. The women of the Lusty Lady, who were also the first strip club to unionize, have bought out the old owners and are now running the business wearing nothing but lipstick and a smile.
One dancer is a lawyer. Delinqua said the woman always wanted to be an artist, and practicing law "made her feel like a whore." Now she dances naked for a living.
Here's an entertaining article from Today's San Jose Mercury News:

And, finally, an article from Alternet (courtesy of my friend, Nan): The Invisible Writers. The lesson of the article: "To write, even in obscurity is worthwhile." I'll try to keep that in mind. From the article, I'll end with this quote:

"Fiction completes us, mutilated beings burdened with the awful dichotomy of having only one life and the ability to desire a thousand"
- Mario Vargas Llosa

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

So, what's behind the fact that 14 million Americans are really f***ing depressed and not doing a damn thing about it?

You didn't hear about it? The Eli Lilly Company (who, coincidentally, make drugs for really f***ing depressed people) funded a study that shows that depression is rampant, and getting worse. (For another, very funny, view of this study, click here). Are you one of the 14 million? Here are the signs:
  • Persistently sad, anxious or "empty mood"
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue, being "slowed down"
I confess; I'm apparently one of the 14 million, and I have no intention of getting the help I so desperately need.

Why don't I want to "be cured?" The suggested treatments are a) powerful drugs that aren't any fun when taken properly, or b) spend all my time and money on therapy. In the first instance, I don't care to have my brain erased or to walk around like a drooling zombie. I get my drugs the old-fashioned way; I drink them after dinner. As for the other alternative, I have no need to pay a professional to discuss why I think I might be depressed. I know why I'm depressed, and I bet a good chunk of the 14 million are depressed for the same reason I am: George W. Bush.

Of course we're really f***ing depressed! The war(s)! Terrorism! Terror alerts! The economy! Politics! WMDs! "Detainees"! Ethnic profiling! George W. Bush! What kind of idiot isn't depressed? It's gotten to the point where I've gone on one of my periodic "news fasts." I borrowed this idea from Dr. Andrew Weil, who recommends putting down the paper and turning off the TV for a week or two at a time as a means of relieving stress.

But here's the realization I had this morning: they're doing this to us on purpose. The whole color-coded terror alert system is specifically designed to stress us out; that's what it's there for. Bush & Co. want us to go on news fasts. They want us to stop watching them. They need us to be so put-off, stressed out, and (hopefully) drugged that they can proceed with their theft of the US Treasury, Iraqi oil, and whatever else they can get away with.

Their goal is to have us give up on participatory democracy on our own, without them having to be too obvious about their coup d'etat. So far, I'd say it's been a very successful strategy.

I know that this is nothing more than a paranoid, delusional, unprovable conspiracy theory. I'm fine with that. It's all conjecture based on unrelated phenomenon that have no actual correlation. But I'm sticking with this theory anyway. It gives me something to believe in. And these days, something to believe in is hard to come by.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Have you ever been accused of speaking with a forked tongue? Well, now it's physically possible. The latest trend in body mutilation is to purposely split your tongue in two. I'm a bit sickened by it, but if you care to read more, here's the link to the article on Yahoo!.

They estimate that the trend is just beginning, with only about 1500-2000 idiots having had it done. It sounds quite painful and messy (the article describes the procedure in great detail); just thing to really piss off your mother. My bet is every kid at the mall will have it done by the end of the summer.

I just spent a couple of days down in Long Beach for work, and my in-laws have been visiting since I returned, so not a lot of time to post here. Hopefully I'll have more to say later in the week...

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

I'm passing on this Action Alert from CAN (The California Association of Nonprofits):


The House of Representatives will be voting on H.R. 8, the bill to repeal the federal estate tax, on this Wednesday or Thursday.

Call your Congressperson and tell her or him to VOTE NO ON H.R. 8, The Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2003. It is fiscally irresponsible to eliminate the estate tax.
  • The estate tax provides federal and state revenues that are used to provide community services, such as quality schools, staffed and equipped hospitals and police and fire departments, good roads, clean air and water, parks, and libraries. Repealing the estate tax would reduce federal revenue by $ 1 trillion over the next twenty years. To stave off as much harm as possible, many states are "decoupling" from the federal tax code to avoid state repeal of the estate tax.
  • Repealing the estate tax would create a massive windfall for the country's wealthiest families, while preventing us from addressing the pressing needs of most Americans such as child care, jobs, health insurance and prescription drug coverage, and Social Security.
  • Family farms and small businesses can be protected without repeal. Reforming the tax by raising the exemption level to $3.5 million per person NOW would remove vulnerable small farms and businesses from the burden the tax can create, and maintain the tax on the truly large fortunes.
  • The estate tax is a transfer tax on the unearned inheritance of wealth; the majority of estates are appreciated assets which have never been taxed. If we tax wages, it is only fair to tax capital gains. The estate tax is NOT a "death tax" or "double taxation".
  • The estate tax is one of the most progressive taxes we have.
  • Our democracy cannot afford to increase the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the rich, and widen the gap between them and the majority of working Americans.
  • The estate tax stimulates charitable giving; repeal will reduce bequests and donations between 23 - 40% by removing the tax incentive to give.
  • Most wealthy families can and do plan for the tax; farmers and businesses can pay it over 14 years, and receive special rates and deductions. This tax is not forcing small farms and businesses to close.
The Americans for a Fair Estate Tax coalition has compiled a list of Representatives who especially need to be called. To reach your Congressperson, call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Reform, do not repeal, the estate tax.

For more information about CAN, our public policy work, and joining CAN, go to Thank you for your time,

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Who says librarians all have to be boring? Here's a collection of librarians who all keep weblogs that will keep you amused for hours:Speaking of library news: My local (Los Gatos, CA) "Friends of the Library" group has turned to's "Wish List" system in their efforts to get donations for the library. Of the 50 or so items they posted on their wish list, 5 have been purchased so far. Considering they only posted this a little over a week ago, I think that's pretty good. I'll be watching to see if this campaign is successful.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Movie recommendation: A Mighty Wind. The latest from Chris Guest and his usual gang of co-conspirators. As the reviews say, what they did for heavy metal with Spinal Tap, they do for folk music in A Mighty Wind. Don't fear; you do not have to be a folk music fan to get the jokes or appreciate the film. I was laughing so hard in the theatre that Leslie had to shush me. The funniest movie I've seen in a very long time.

Meanwhile, have you ever had a song stuck in your head for days on end? Sometimes it can be nice, when it's a song you like. But you've got to really, really like it to not be sick of it by the end of the third day. So, when it's something annoying to begin with, it can be particularly maddening.

This morning, as with each of the last two mornings, I have awoken with the following commercial jingle echoing in my head:
It's the steak
Lots of steak
Lots of thick and juicy steak
At Appleby's
Put the steak
On my plate
Lots of tender juicy steak
It's the Steak Stampede...
What I really want to know is, who's the idiot that came up with the idea to name this promotion the "Steak Stampede?" Is it supposed to be the customers stampeding to get at the cheap steak? Or are they deliberately calling to mind the fact that these thick and juicy steaks were charging bulls last week? Are we supposed to imagine that this is the revenge of the steak's, stampeding on us, the consumer? Is the ad writer a member of PETA?

We did not go to Appleby's this weekend, but we did eat lots of thick and juicy steak. Let the week begin...

Saturday, June 14, 2003

After kind of a gray week of the "June gloom", the sun is out this morning, and the birds are singing, and it's really good to have a day off.

Leslie's done teaching for the year; last day of class was Thursday, and she only had minor paperwork to do yesterday. We'll go into school for a couple of hours today to clean up her classroom, but that's it until August. (Actually, "that's it" as far as going into work is concerned. She does have some classes to attend herself, as well as next year's planning to do over the summer, but it's at a slower pace and doesn't involve chasing after small children and their parents.)

Hopefully, beginning next week, my work will be more pleasant as well. It's now been two weeks since we did the lay-offs and other cuts, so people better be taking advantage of this beautiful weekend to get over it, and return Monday with a better attitude than they've had recently. I've been doing what I can to keep morale up for the folks on my staff, but in the end it's up to each person to manage their own morale.

Just finished reading "Fates Worse Than Death" by Kurt Vonnegut. It's a sort-of autobiography from 1991. In truth, it's a series of essays and speaches he'd written over a certain period, connected with notes, memories, and historical sketches from his life. It's funny, brilliant, inciteful, and just a little bit scary.

Here's a book, twelve years old, talking about the very contemporary issue of a president named "Bush" creating pretenses for going to war in Iraq. I sometimes forgot he was talking about the elder Bush, it was so applicable again now.

Happy Flag Day.

Friday, June 13, 2003

Who Would Buy That? is a blog of all the weird stuff that people try to sell on eBay and other online auction sites. Examples of posts include the guy who's middle name is for sale.

The story is that when he got married he changed his name to be a hyphenate of his family name and his wife's family name. Now he's divorced and wants to get rid of the wife's name and, while he's at it, he never liked his father very much either. But the divorce took all his cash, so he needs to look to the eBay community for the money to legally change his name. The winning bidder gets to choose his new middle name. Whee! I guess there was a problem with the first auction, because he relisted his auction a few weeks later. Check out his photo in each of those auctions, and his change of appearance in the course of three weeks. I don't think his name is his largest problem.

What truly amused me for quite some time, however, wasn't any of the items for sale, but the work of a practical joker named "andy46477". Andy doesn't sell or even buy anything, he just leaves odd comments on people's feedback boards. I must be out of my mind to find the silly pranks of this obvious asshole to be amusing, but I thought it was the funniest thing I've read in months.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Here's a joke that I used to find very funny, when I was a child:

Tire Salesman: "How'd you get that blow-out?"
Customer: "I ran over a milk bottle."
Tire Salesman: "Didn't you see it?"
Customer: "No - Damn kid had it under his jacket."

The problem if you tell it to kids these days is they just scratch their heads and ask, "What's a milk bottle?" It's just not funny if you have to explain.

I don't usually think of myself as all that old (but when I do, I'm sure I always whine about it here), but I do remember the day when we did not buy our dairy products in the market. Instead, they were delivered, fresh, to our door a couple of times each week by the milk man.

That used to be a funny joke too: saying somebody's kid looked like the milk man. Now, again, it draws blank stairs and mumblings of, "What's a milk man?"

You could replace "milk man" in that joke with "mail man", but who the hell knows what their mail man looks like anymore? Not to mention that the postal worker is now as likely to be a woman as a man.

This is why nothing is funny anymore, and the world is in such turmoil. Besides all the changes in terminology and delivery, we're also all lactose intollerant.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Okay, dammit. I'm still blogging. I've added links back to the blog from my newly re-designed web site.

I'm home in the afternoon awaiting delivery of our our new couch. In the new house, we've been sitting on kitchen chairs or folding beach chairs every evening. Tonight, we recline in luxury while complaining about the crap that's on the TV.

One thing currently on, that I never thought I'd see, is a commercial using the Ramones. An AT&T mLife commercial is using "Blitzkrieg Bop" - and not a cover, but the real original thing. I love hearing Ramones music any way I can, but in 1979 who would have thought that "Blitzkrieg Bop" would one day be considered mainstream and tame enough not just for TV, but for AT&T?

Maybe next week we can see a comercial for Prozac using "I Wanna Be Sedated"....

Monday, June 09, 2003

Did you think I gave up blogging? I was wondering if I had as well. After all, if you look at my newly re-designed web site you'll see no link here. I'm trying to decide what to do.

Still, has this become the dullest blog in the world? That title officially belongs to this blog over at the wib site. I don't think that the dullest blog in the world is actually all that dull. It's entries are deceptively simple, but always true and insightful. It also gets a hell of a lot more traffic than this blog.

So, what have I been up to that I've either had no time to share, or refused to share? Well, it's a bit of each. I was busy and unable to talk about it until it was done. The crumbling economy (hey, didn't we have a war to pump us up? why's the economy still sucking?) has forced us to make some major, painful cut-backs here at work, and I was part of the hit squad deciding who and where to cut. We said goodbye to a few wonderful people, who will be personally missed, but who's positions were no longer economically viable.

As to the web site changes; they were brought about by the collapse of my former hosting company. As a result of that, I've consolidated my web properties all under the 13th Story (dot com) name. and now each piont to pages within, as does a new domain of mine,

Authors for Charity is an idea from one of the listservs I'm on to hold group book-signing events across the country during October, with the authors all donating a portion of their royalties for the day to various local charities. Hopefully we'll be able to pull it off and turn it into an annual event (if we don't all kill each other first).

That's probably enough for today, considering I'm not even sure if I'm still posting here.

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