Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Inch Time Foot Gem

A lord asked Takuan, a Zen Teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He felt his days very long attending his office and sitting stiffly to receive the homage of others.

Takuan wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man:

Not twice this day
Inch time foot gem.

This day will not come again.
Each minute is worth a priceless gem.

Happy Halloween

It is Halloween today and somehow it kind of makes me a little sad. This used to be one of my favorite times as a kid. Lots of rules about what you could eat were dropped and you used to be able to roam the neighborhood until way later than normal. Mom and Dad would always come up with a good costume out of what was around. Burnt cork for makeup and maybe some of mom's lipstick.

It was always the peak of the evening when, after all the racing around the neighborhood and beyond, you came back and dumped your whole pile of sweet loot on the kitchen table and sorted it into all its myriad varieties. A pile for favorites and a pile for licorice(yuck!)... a pile for chocolate and a pile for hard. Then came the agonizing job of deciding which order to eat it all in.

Kids today will get a store bought costume made in China and will be carefully escorted around to select neighbors for sanitized bags of High Fructose Corn Syrup. (I even heard this morning on the news that marshmallow Peeps have been outsourced to China.)

Anyhow, there won't be any popcorn balls. There won't be any homemade fudge or rice crispy treats and most of all there won't be any memories. Just another sanitized and commercialized event that will run together with the rest of such into an insipid and pale shadow of a childhood memory.

What's worse is that the stores are already decorated for Christmas. Halloween has become so hollow that it is now just a marker on the calendar for when you should start your Christmas shopping.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Clear Channel Is Protecting You

If it is good enough for the Dixie Chicks then it is good enough for Bruce Springsteen. I can't tell you how much I hate the thought of these corporate GOP cronies controlling what America hears...not from a quality musical perspective but strictly for warped political reasons. Hello people, didn't you learn anything from your feeble attempt to burn the Chicks...album of the year suckers...I guess you want Bruce to receive the same honor.
The FCC should bust Clear Channel big time but with a Bush shill in the catbird's seat there is no chance of that. Patience, Patience.

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Protection

When the Bush assministration talks about smaller government, by Goddess they are damn well serious. I guess I am going to have to re-evaluate my assertion that the Bush Cabal will grab whatever power they can.

On the eve of an important Senate committee meeting to consider the legislation, Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, has asked lawmakers in two letters not to approve the bulk of legislation that would increase the agency’s authority, double its budget and sharply increase its dwindling staff.

Ms. Nord opposes provisions that would increase the maximum penalties for safety violations and make it easier for the government to make public reports of faulty products, protect industry whistle-blowers and prosecute executives of companies that willfully violate laws.

When your local Republican says that they want to limit the government's intrusion into your lives they are "dead"(pardon) serious. That is, of course, if you don't count warrantless eavesdropping, torture and throwing you in prison indefinitely sans habeas corpus. The devil is always in the details.

What The Hell?

Can someone tell me what country I am living in? This is absolute insanity. What logic or rationale have these people used to come to this conclusion? Are they just so scared of "Islamofascists" (thanks to Bush/Cheney and the EMESSEM) that they have just thrown rational thought out the window and will agree to anything that they are told will protect them from the "towel heads"? This is so depressing.

The Zogby International survey shows 52 percent of Americans would support a strike on Iran, while 53 percent expect President Bush to launch such an attack before the end of his second term. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is voters' No. 1 choice to deal with Iran, with 21 percent saying they would like to see her take on Tehran from the White House. Republican Rudy Giuliani was voters' second choice, with 15 percent.

Just 29 percent of Americans think the US should not attack Iran, with one in five people unsure about military action. Of those who would support a strike, 28 percent believe military action should wait until the next president is in office, while 23 percent want to see Bush let lose US missiles against Iran.

A Little Starch

Updated below:

Not being the front runner in the Democratic nomination race seems to have put a little starch into Senator Chris Dodd's demeanor. He seems a lot more eager and ready of late to take a lead in standing up for what is right. Angered by Mukasey's Senate testimony last week in which the former federal judge and prosecutor floated a legal "theory" that the President of the United States could, indeed, stand above constitutional statutes, Dodd declared on Monday:

"That is about as basic as it gets," Dodd said. "You must obey the law. Everyone must."

Senator Dodd, along with a considerable number of other legal and political observers were also upset when Mukasey dodged questions last week about whether or not so-called "waterboarding" was, in fact, torture. After dancing around giving a straight answer for a while, he wound up making the strange statement that he wasn't quite sure what was meant by the term "waterboarding".

Dodd's is also rejecting any "do-overs" on these key issues. He is rejecting any mulligans for a nominee who refuses to call torture by its proper name. Dodd's firm position is forcing the hand of some like Dianne Feinstein of California and Carl Levin of Michigan who were warning they might vote against Mukasey if he doesn't properly clarify his views. I agree with Dodd that you should be held to your first answer and not be allowed to "test" the limits of what you can get away with during the questioning.

Let's hope Dodd's leadership on these issues carry over in the immunity for telecoms and other serious constitutional issues.

Update: Jane Hamsher at Firedoglake informs us that HRC is on board in rejecting Mukasey as well. Good for her.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Everything Is Best

When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.

"Give me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer.

"Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best."

At these words Banzan became enlightened.

Worth Reading

Even though corporate America and the Democratic insiders have decided that HRC is to be the nominee the people still have their say. John Edwards is set to deliver a major speech in NH today. Via Tracy Joan at DKos:

…It’s time to tell the truth. And the truth is the system in Washington is corrupt. It is rigged by the powerful special interests to benefit they very few at the expense of the many. And as a result, the American people have lost faith in our broken system in Washington, and believe it no longer works for ordinary Americans. They’re right.

As I look across the political landscape of both parties today – what I see are politicians too afraid to tell the truth – good people caught in a bad system that overwhelms their good intentions and requires them to chase millions of dollars in campaign contributions in order to perpetuate their careers and continue their climb to higher office….

If protecting the current established structure in Washington is in your interest, then I am not your candidate. I ran for president four years ago – yes, in part out of personal ambition – but also with a deep desire to stand for working people like my father and mother – who no matter how hard things were for our family, always worked even harder to make things better for us.

But the more Elizabeth and I campaigned this year, the more we talked to the American people, the more we met people just like my father, and hard working people like James Lowe. James is a decent and honest man who had to live for 50 years with no voice in the richest country in the world because he didn’t have health care. The more people like him that I met, the more I realized something much bigger was stirring in the American people. And it has stirred in each of us for far too long….

This is our time now. It falls to us[ ] to redeem our democracy, reclaim our government and relight the promise of America for our children.

Let us blaze a new path together, grounded in the values from which America was forged, still reaching toward the greatness of our ideals. We can do it. We can cast aside the bankrupt ways of Washington and replace them with the timeless values of the American people. We can liberate our government from the shackles of corporate money that bind it to corporate will, and restore the voices of our people to its halls….

Go read the whole thing if have some time. It is worth the time.

Keeping it Honest

While I am open for arguments for and against Universal Health Care the least the opponents can do is get their facts straight. Rudy the Warmonger demonstrates he won't avoid a lie to make his point.

The Washington Post notes today that Rudy Giuliani will be running a new radio ad in New Hampshire starting today:

In the radio spot, Giuliani mentions his battle with prostate cancer and notes that his chances of surviving the disease in America were 82 percent, while in England his chances would have been 44 percent.

"You and I should be making the decisions about what kind of health care we get with our doctors, not with a government bureaucrat," Giuliani says in the ad.

Guess what? Giuliani is lying. As you can see from the chart on the right, Britain and the United States have virtually identical mortality rates from prostate cancer. The only reason the U.S. has a higher survival rate is because we diagnose way more prostate cancer than Britain in the first place. In other words, the difference probably isn't that we're any better at prostate cancer surgery than the Brits, but that we aggressively screen for even mild cases of prostate cancer that probably are not worth treating as they are not life threatening.
You can read more about this over at Ezra's. There is also some other interesting information that applies to Universal Healthcare.

Just an Hallucination

It's has been all a bad dream! George W. Bush's presidency never existed.

Digby may be correct here:

I don't know if anyone's noticed, but George W. Bush is being disappeared from the presidential campaign and everyone's running against incumbent Hillary Clinton. Subtly, but relentlessly, the public psyche is being prepared to deny Junior ever existed. And it could work. For many different reasons, most Americans want nothing more than to forget George W. Bush was ever president. So, we see a very odd subliminal narrative taking shape in which the blame for the nation's failures of the last seven years is being shifted to Clinton (and the "do-nothing" Democratic congress) as if the Codpiece hasn't been running things since 2000. (Not that the radical wingnuts haven't always blamed the Clenis for everything, but the disappearing of Bush is a new element.)

I certainly don't blame the Republicans for trying to do it. It makes sense, since their boy is an epic failure and the original Clinton is still very present in people's minds. It will be quite a trick to pull off, but I can see the press already helping them do it. (Naturally.)

If you think about it this may explain why so many Republicans are apparently planning to vote for Rudy Giuliani. The man is a warmonger and fascist that makes George W. Bush look like a piker.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

On Patriotism

I bring this up periodically but if you don't stop by our friends MandT's place every once and a while to see what's there you are missing some good things. Just do it.

Eat More Dirt

Yankees have been laughing Southerners for years because we supposedly eat dirt. The truth is that certain Southern clays have proven to be effective at treating upset stomachs. Some women in the South have used clay to help with the morning sickness that sometimes comes with early pregnancy. These same Yankees also pay big money for Kaopectate which most of them don't know is made from the good old Georgia clay called kaolin. Now it seems clay has been shown to actually provide something more than helping with an unhappy tummy.

Scientists have discovered a new and highly effective weapon against deadly superbugs like the MRSA sweeping through Britain's dirty hospital wards – green French muck.

The dramatic antibiotic success of agricur, a clay made from ancient volcanic ash found near the Massif Central, marks it out as a potential rival to penicillin, the wonder drug of the 20th century. In experiments, the clay killed up to 99 per cent of superbug colonies within 24 hours. Control samples of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) grew 45-fold in the same period.

The clay has a similar effect on other deadly bacteria tested, including salmonella, E. coli, and a flesh-eating disease called buruli, a relative of leprosy which disfigures children across central and western Africa. It has been classed as "an emerging public health threat" by the World Health Organization (WHO).


Clay has long been used as a health treatment in spas, but that is because it holds heat longer than water, and draws toxins out of the skin. Clay is also sometimes eaten as a folk remedy for nausea. "It's fascinating," said Dr Haydel, a microbiologist. "Here we are bridging geology, microbiology, cell biology. A year ago, I'd look at the clay and say, 'Well, that's dirt.'"

The effectiveness of the French green clays, which are mostly made of minerals called smectite and illite, was first demonstrated by Line Brunet de Courssou, a French doctor fighting buruli at clinics in Ivory Coast and Guinea.

Maybe my little friend was trying to kill me when she made me mud pies! Seriously beside Kaopectate you can by (at least in Europe) a product called Smecta which is great for upset stomach.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Potato Boulangere

I realized today that I haven't done a recipe in ages here. Since the weather is getting cooler and we aren't so hesitant to heat up an oven this is one that everyone should have in their repertoire.

In small villages all over France there is a usually only single baker (boulangere) with a big wood fired oven. In the morning after he has all the bread baked for the day he still has a nice big hot oven. Traditionally, the ladies of the village would bring casseroles of some type to spend the afternoon in the hot oven taking advantage of the residual heat. One of the more famous and delicious is this recipe for potatoes. If you have never had it in France or a good French restaurant here then you are in for a treat and I am sure it will become a favorite of yours.

1 TBSP Olive Oil
3 medium yellow onions thinly sliced
8 fresh cloves of garlic thinly sliced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves or about 1 heaping teaspoon of dried
10 medium Yukon Gold potatoes slice thin ( a mandolin is best for this but not required) Note: russets will work here but the texture of Yukon Gold is the best.
2 cups of low sodium chicken broth heated (I think the best is Swanson's Organic)
4 TBSP of butter (1/2 stick) cut into small chunks
Salt and Pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 F.
In a skillet saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until they are soft and wilted. Don't cook them so long as to brown them or burn the garlic. Add the thyme and salt and pepper to taste then set aside.
In a large oven proof casserole that has been lightly rubbed with olive oil layer the potatoes alternately with the onions adding a little broth with each layer. Salt and pepper each layer and a portion of the butter chunks. You'll have to pay attention so that you come out even with the layering. You probably won't use all of the broth but don't be too skimpy and you'll have some evaporation in the long cooking time.
Bake for about 2 hours. You'll know they are done when the won't resist a fork and the top is golden brown.

For a variation try crumbling a little blue cheese between the layers. This will make it sinfully good and rich. That is not to say you couldn't use another cheese either like Gruyere or even Parmigiano-Reggiano. Go light on the cheese though as you don't want to hide the taste of the potatoes. Whatever you do, try it without the cheese first.

This is simple food but oh so delicious. These potatoes go well with most anything but I think they are especially nice with a pot roast or other braised dishes like duck legs or chicken thighs.

No it is not diet food but I am not advocating you have it everyday... though Madam Monk would probably eat it everyday.

Insanity Continues

Does anyone know if the continuing cost of the war in Iraq (currently estimated at 2.4 trillion dollars) includes little tidbits like this?
WASHINGTON—The U.S. spent at least $38 million to give Iraq's government a computerized accounting system—and no one noticed when it was not working for a month, a report said Wednesday.
It just gets more disgusting and absurd. Just shoot me!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Calling Card

Keichu, the great Zen teacher of the Meiji era, was the head of Tofuku, a cathedral in Kyoto. One day the governor of Kyoto called upon him for the first time.

His attendant presented the card of the governor, which read: Kitagaki, Governor of Kyoto.

"I have no business with such a fellow," said Keichu to his attendant. "Tell him to get out of here."

The attendant carried the card back with apologies. "That was my error," said the governor, and with a pencil he scratched out the words Governor of Kyoto. "Ask your teacher again."

"Oh, is that Kitagaki?" exclaimed the teacher when he saw the card. "I want to see that fellow."

Islamic Fires

Well, it had to happen somewhere in the days of coverage of the tragedy in Southern California. I know you won't believe it but according to Faux News Al Qaeda is likely to have set the fires in California. Next comes raping your wife and daughter while you watch and let's not even discuss your son and Jack Russell.

That is all I am going to say on this but I just had to pass it on.

UPDATE: On CNN this morning the teaser for tonight's Glenn Beck is hyping the same crap.

Just for Fun I Guess

I'm just saying...

Tucked inside the White House's $196 billion emergency funding request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is an item that has some people wondering whether the administration is preparing for military action against Iran.

The item: $88 million to modify B-2 stealth bombers so they can carry a newly developed 30,000-pound bomb called the massive ordnance penetrator, or, in military-speak, the MOP.

The MOP is the the military's largest conventional bomb, a super "bunker-buster" capable of destroying hardened targets deep underground. The one-line explanation for the request said it is in response to "an urgent operational need from theater commanders."

The only possible "Urgent Operational Need" for this ordnance is to attack Iran as far as I can see. If you can see another "Urgent Need" for these bombs I will be happy to listen. I keep telling myself that no one could be stupid enough to open another front in the Middle East against a much more capable opponent and then I remember who is in charge.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

They Just Don't Get It

I haven't commented on this except on a couple of other blogs but I am going to wade in here. Yesterday, CNN's star pignoramus Glenn Beck said, on his radio program:

I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today.

Today, USA Today got a reaction:

A spokesman for Beck expressed surprise that bloggers are seizing on this quotation as an example of incivility. "To most rational people, unfortunately still means unfortunately," Chris Balfe, the show's producer, tells On Deadline through a spokesman.

So three quarters of a million Americans have been forced to evacuate their homes and a thousand or more homes have gone up in smoke and Glenn Beck along with his staff doesn't see anything wrong with accusing these Southern Californians fleeing wildfires of, "hating America". They apparently don't think accusing these people of "hating America" is actually germane. The fact that Glenn added "unfortunate" to the fact that these people who "hate America" were losing their homes makes everything hunky-dory. The lack of sensitivity and compassion is unbelievable.

Of course there is still no reaction from CNN. It is really not surprising seeing that Beck was an classless idiot when they hired him and this kind of crap is what they evidently hired him for. You keep hoping for some kind of class from a major network and global presence like CNN but you continually are disappointed.

Off topic: I would be remiss here if I didn't give CNN some credit for keeping Christine Amanpour on staff and congratulating her on her investiture today as Commander in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, "for services to journalism." She was presented the recognition today by Her Majesty the Queen in London.

The Truth Takes Another Hit

They made Pete Stark apologize today for telling the truth. It seems that with each passing day telling the truth about America and the crimes of its current administration is less and less acceptable.

You are not allowed to remind people that Iraq is sitting on an estimated 30 trillion dollars worth of light crude and that is precisely the reason Bush/Cheney are spending a a trillion or so dollars to get control of it. Never mind the American soldiers dead and wounded...spending a dollar for a thirty dollar return is good business...especially when all the profit will go to you and your buds.

You aren't allowed to talk about the rendition, torture, secret evidence or imprisonment without habeas corpus. Just not done. Off limits is the intrusion into our privacy and the shredding of our Constitution and Goddess forbid you mention the insanity of tax cuts in a war.

Arthur Silber at the Power of Narrative does his usual excellent job of putting it into words.
…For this is where we are in the United States, nearing the end of the Year of Our Lord 2007: the truth is not merely unpleasant, an uninvited guest who makes conversation difficult and awkward. Truth is the enemy; truth is to be destroyed. To attempt to speak the truth on any subject of importance requires a deep reserve of determination, for to speak the truth requires that one first sweep away an infinite number of rationalizations, false alternatives, and numerous other failures of logic and the most rudimentary forms of thought — as well as the endless lies. On that single occasion in a thousand or a million when a person overcomes these barriers and speaks the truth, he or she discovers an additional, terrible truth: almost no one wants to hear it. This is how we live today: lies are the staple of our diet. Without them, we would die, certainly in psychological terms.
People will tell you that we still have all the accouterments of a participative democracy. There is still the Constitution, still voting, still the rule of law, still multi-party rule. They won't admit that even though all the trappings are here there are no guts and fervor behind them. There is no outrage when they are violated, no riots when our rights are trampled, no impeachments when our elected servants stray from the straight and narrow. We all know that Bush and Cheney have violated the public trust multiple times and we also know that they have broken the law multiple times but they are still the leaders of the most powerful country on earth. How sad for us and the world.

If something doesn't happen to change this state of affairs then there is room for serious worry about the future of our young country. The fact that the current crop of Democratic candidates are carefully skirting these truths is frightening. Seeing Pete Stark being forced to apologize for speaking the truth on the floor of Congress is a tragedy in so many ways.

Freeze Bitches

Jim DeRosa points us to this additional good news from the grinch in the White House.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - About 30 million low-income American households who will need help paying heating bills this winter from a U.S. government program will be left in the cold because of a lack of funding for the program.

The poor, already digging deep to pay for expensive gasoline, also will face much higher heating fuel costs, especially if oil prices stay near record levels.

Consumer groups and state energy officials have sounded the alarm, saying a federal program to help poor families pay heating bills will have nowhere near the money needed to cover those expected to seek assistance.

The government's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP, only has enough funding to cover 16 percent of the 38 million poor households eligible for the program.

Bush is trying to cut this program's budget as well. The Energy Department is expecting energy costs to be very much higher this winter.
The Energy Department forecasts that household expenses for all heating fuels will rise this winter from last year, with costs for heating oil up 22 percent, propane up 16 percent, natural gas up 10 percent and residential electric bills up 4 percent.
The entire annual budget for this very important Federal assistance program is the equivalent of about a week in Iraq. It's called budget priorities.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's OK to Ask Now that S-Chip is Dead

More for death...nothing for life. From the Associated Press:
President Bush will ask Congress for another $46 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and finance other national security needs, The Associated Press has learned....

To date, Congress has already provided more than $455 billion for the Iraq war, with stepped-up military operations running about $12 billion a month. The war has claimed the lives of more than 3,830 members of the U.S. military and more than 73,000 Iraqi civilians.
Notice that they don't mention American wounded and disabled and that they are stating a number for Iraqi casualties that flies in the face of more informed estimates. While the request for another bucket of money for Iraq is bad enough just consider the politics and deceit involved in the timing of the request. In the wild possibility that you don't think Bush/Cheney and the Republicans play politics with the money that they keep telling us is the lifeline for our troops try this on for size:
The delays in submitting the remaining war funding request were in part due to unease among congressional Republicans about receiving it during the veto override battle involving a popular bill reauthorizing a children's health insurance program.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, they need the money or our troops will be in harm's way and Goddess forbid run out of bullets. That is, unless it's not politically expedient to ask for the money to "save our troops," when it might endanger the refusal to help 10 million American children. What bastards!

The Witch Cometh

I got an early start on the traffic this morning and it is a good thing as it only took my an hour and 15 minutes to get here. My colleague waited 50 minutes to start out and it took her two hours and 40 minutes. Anyhow, I got here a little early and went looking for some coffee. Peachtree City is one of those towns that forbids signs and hides everything commercial behind screens of trees and bushes. It is therefore impossible for a stranger to find anything in the dark and rain(yes we are having a light rain this morning...Praise Discordia!) so I found a 24 hour Wallie World with a McDonalds. Yes I did darken their door, use the bathroom and get a surprisingly good cup of coffee at Mickey D's.

I sat there and sipped my coffee while watching CNN report on the GOP debate. Hillary must scare these guys to death! Virtually everything they said was a warning about what will happen if Hillary occupies the White House. From what I could gather she will start her day with either a puppie or kitten omelet and then sell some children to Islamic white slavers. She will raise taxes once a week and make it a requirement that all new inductees into the military be castrated. It is pretty scary. Not only will she destroy America but the worst part is that she has a vagina. Oh my Goddess!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

No Water, No Moon

This is appropriate since I am now showering with a bucket to catch the extra water which I use in the garden.

When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.

At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!

In commemoration, she wrote a poem:

In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about
to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!

Road Kill

Did someone get the number of the truck that hit me today? Still charged up about locally grown or even better self grown food I bought 4 blueberry bushes yesterday. Today was planting day. For those of you not familiar with Georgia red clay and the fact that we are some 25 inches below normal for rainfall this year digging four large holes in said red clay is a whole day job.

I knew the clay would be tough with the lack of rainfall and all but I just had to dig four 3 or 4 gallon holes. It took me hours or in other words, I spent pretty much all day digging four holes and planting 4 blueberry bushes. I hope they are happy. I added a bunch of peat moss to each hole so they have a nice we just have to manage to keep them watered. Currently you can water home gardens and I am assuming that extends to home fruit trees. We'll know if my assumptions are valid when you get a call from the "big house".

To get back to the point...I am sore all over. I had to resort to the old fashioned post hole digger for most the work and that does a number on the back and shoulders. I took two extra strength Advil and the better portion of a bottle of a very nice Shiraz and I am beginning to numb.
Off to Peachtree City again tomorrow morning at o'dark thirty so I will probably not check in here until tomorrow evening unless I get a break during the client meetings tomorrow. I am just mentoring on this gig so I do get some periods where I am not needed. We'll see.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and everyone have a great Monday morning.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Open Your Own Treasure House

Daiju visited the master Baso in China. Baso asked: "What do you seek?"

"Enlightenment," replied Daiju.

"You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?" Baso asked.

Daiju inquired: "Where is my treasure house?"

Baso answered: "What you are asking is your treasure house."

Daiju was enlightened! Ever after he urged his friends: "Open your own treasure house and use those treasures."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Revolution In Order

Well the override of S-Chip failed today by a vote final vote of 273 - 156 - i.e., 13 votes short of overriding Bush's veto. The Republicans stuck with Bush. In spite of all the pressure two Dems voted with the GOP to withhold funding for 10 million kids. I think we know at least one issue to hammer on in the next election. The fact that we can't spend"Iraq War Pocket Change" over the next 5 years to insure our next generation is just insane. Hello, hello there is no hope for mankind without the children of today. Every thing you deny them today is something you will have to repay with interest down the road. Stupid and cruel people are driving this country and I for one am ready for a revolution.

Some Guts and Principle

I am gaining a whole lot of respect for Senator Chris Dodd. He seems to be the only one willing to stand up to the current do nothing scenario (I mean kiss George Bush's ass) and do something constructive to prevent a further erosion of our civil rights.

The Military Commissions Act. Warrantless wiretapping. Shredding of Habeas Corpus. Torture. Extraordinary Rendition. Secret Prisons.

No more.

I have decided to place a "hold" on the latest FISA bill that would have included amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by illegaly[sic]providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.

I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.

It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution. But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document. That's why I am stopping this bill today.

Click on the link above to thank Senator Dodd for responding to your call.

Water Needed

I've mentioned a little about this but it’s getting worse here in Georgia and in many other parts of the Southeast. I am expecting to see severe emergency rules here very soon:

Exceptional drought, the worst of North Carolina’s classifications, has been declared in 56 of the state’s 100 counties. About 3.25 million people in the state are dealing with mandatory water restrictions, and another 1.5 million are under voluntary restrictions.

The heart of the state is the hardest hit. Greensboro rainfall for the year is 14 inches below normal. Lake James, on the Catawba River, is down 9 feet.

With its water reservoir running out, Siler City demanded a 50 percent reduction in water use by residents and businesses. Two chicken plants in the city, which use up to 800,000 gallons of water each day, told officials they couldn’t operate on 50 percent of that level.

Chatham County came to the rescue, allowing each of the chicken plants to pull 200,000 gallons of untreated water from the county’s nearby reservoir. They use it to clean machinery and to chill and rinse the birds. The plants use trucks to get that water across the county, but at least they don’t have to shut down.

Carol Couch, the director of Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division, is expected this week to send a letter to Gov. Sonny Perdue outlining options, including severe restrictions on commercial and industrial users in the Atlanta area.

Annual rainfall is 16 inches below normal in Peachtree City. Lake Lanier, the water source for more than 3 million people, is down 11 feet. It has dropped 2 feet since Sept. 1.

Did you notice that they are using "untreated" water to rinse and cool the chickens? That is not to good.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Good Drugs

This is rich. From Froomkin:

A defensive President Bush insisted that he was still relevant this morning in a news conference dominated by his bitter complaints about the Democratic Congress.

Asked how he found himself vetoing a children's health insurance bill that had passed Congress with bipartisan support, Bush insisted that using a veto is "one way to ensure I am relevant."

When a reporter followed up and asked Bush if he felt he was losing leverage and relevance, Bush replied: "I've never felt more engaged and more capable of getting the American people to realize there's a lot of unfinished business."

Which, let's be blunt, is hard to believe.
Bush's approval rating is now at 24% in one national poll and everything he touches has turned to shit and the pigs are eating it. He can claim nothing but failure as a legacy and he still believes he is engaged and relevant. I guess when you are the most powerful person in the world you can get really, really good drugs. That is the only explanation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Voice of Happiness

After Bankei had passed away, a blind man who lived near the master's temple told a friend:

"Since I am blind, I cannot watch a person's face, so I must judge his character by the sound of his voice. Ordinarily when I hear someone congratulate another upon his happiness or success, I also hear a secret tone of envy. When condolence is expressed for the misfortune of another, I hear pleasure and satisfaction, as if the one condoling was really glad there was something left to gain in his own world.

"In all my experience, however, Bankei's voice was always sincere. Whenever he expressed happiness, I heard nothing but happiness, and whenever he expressed sorrow, sorrow was all I heard."

Back to Georgia

Back in Fayetteville Ga. Dropped Madam off in Roswell, recharged the suitcase with clean skivvies and shirts and ready to go back to work. Uneventful trip and pretty good time...425 miles in just under 7 hours and one tank of gas.
Thanks again to everyone for their good wishes. Small funeral but some of my cousins came down from Pennsylvania and I even got to meet some sons and daughters of said cousins that I had never met. The thing about living to 102 is that you outlive all of your peers and even your children and the crowd at your funeral is strictly grand children and great grand children. Only two immediate family members couldn't make brother in Maine and one cousin from Florida otherwise the rest were there.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Home Safe

Arrived safe and sound after a record trip. No delays and perfect driving weather. All settled in the Hampton Inn in Princeton, West"by God" Virginia. This is the closest "real" hotel to my hometown Narrows, Va where my Mom and Grandmother lived and where the services will be.
Typical Southern we left Mom's last night to head to the hotel the food was already starting to arrive. Food is what you do for funerals in the South. I am sure by the end of the day there will be enough for 6 times as many people as we will have to feed. Everyone has their specialty for funerals...this one brings banana pudding, this one a squash casserole and another a glorious pound cake or pie. There will be turkey, fried chicken, ham and who knows what else but I will guarantee there will be at least one plate of deviled eggs. No southern event, especially a funeral, is complete without deviled eggs.

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to express their sympathy. It is very much appreciated. This is not going to be one of those funerals where everyone is sad. Ruby lived a full life and then some. She was loved and respected by all who knew her and in her belief system she is going home which should be a happy occasion. The only thing that might cause a little trouble is the fact that there was no Presbyterian minister to do the service and so it will be done by a Baptist. I am sure she will understand, she's known him for years and will overlook it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Century and Change

I have to head to Virginia tomorrow for a funeral. My paternal grandmother passed away last night and I have been canceling hotel rooms, getting the car serviced and making travel plans all day so that I can get to the viewing on Sunday and the funeral on Monday.

The little lady made it to 102 and then some and was fast approaching the next milestone. She has been in a nursing home for several years and I think she finally got fed up with the whole mess and decided to move on. She outlived all of her same generation family by decades and buried the last of her children, my father, just 9 years ago. She raised three kids through the depression as a single widow and saw all of her children go off to war in 1941 including her daughter. A life long Democrat she idolized FDR and for as long as I can remember kept a picture of him in her bedroom. She spent all her life doing the best she could and along the way buried two husbands and helped raise a passel of grandchildren including yours truly. She is the kind of stock that made America what it is today and we owe a great debt to her generation. They worked hard and didn't ask lightly for help but were appreciative of it when it was needed and came. They also made a point of passing on that help when they were in better circumstances. We can all learn a lot from their example. I can say with some authority that she tanned my bottom when I was not doing as she thought proper and I can guarantee it made me a better man today.

So anyway, don't know how much time I'll have here over the next few days but will stop in if I have the time. Driving all day tomorrow and then all the family stuff Sunday and Monday and then driving Tuesday so I can be on the client site Wednesday morning.

If I don't talk to you have a good weekend.

Note: The picture was taken at her 100 birthday party a couple of years ago and you must say she looks pretty good for her age.

Trading Dialogue for Lodging

Provided he makes and wins an argument about Buddhism with those who live there, any wondering monk can remain in a Zen temple. If he is defeated, he has to move on.

In a temple in the northern part of Japan two brother monks were dwelling together. The elder one was learned, but the younger one was stupid and had but one eye.

A wandering monk came and asked for lodging, properly challenging them to a debate about the sublime teachings. The elder brother, tired that day from much studying, told the younger one to take his place. "Go and request the dialogue in silence," he cautioned.

So the young monk and the stranger went to the shrine and sat down.

Shortly afterwards the traveler rose and went in to the elder brother and said: "Your young brother is a wonderful fellow. He defeated me."

"Relate the dialogue to me," said the elder one.

"Well," explained the traveler, "first I held up one finger, representing Buddha, the enlightened one. So he held up two fingers, signifying Buddha and his teaching. I held up three fingers, representing Buddha, his teaching, and his followers, living the harmonious life. Then he shook his clenched fist in my face, indicating that all three come from one realization. Thus he won and so I have no right to remain here." With this, the traveler left.

"Where is that fellow?" asked the younger one, running in to his elder brother.

I understand you won the debate."

"Won nothing. I'm going to beat him up.""Tell me the subject of the debate," asked the elder one.

"Why, the minute he saw me he held up one finger, insulting me by insinuating that I have only one eye. Since he was a stranger I thought I would be polite to him, so I held up two fingers, congratulating him that he has two eyes. Then the impolite wretch held up three fingers, suggesting that between us we only have three eyes. So I got mad and started to punch him, but he ran out and that ended it!"

More and More in Their Hands

Here is how Republican economics are affecting you. I am doing better than most Americans and even I am beginning to feel the impact of this war on the middle class.
The richest one percent of Americans earned a postwar record of 21.2 percent of all income in 2005, up from 19 percent a year earlier, reflecting a widening income disparity among different classes in the nation, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing new Internal Revenue Service data.

The data showed that the fortunes of the bottom 50 percent of Americans are worsening, with that group earning 12.8 percent of all income in 2005, down from 13.4 percent the year before, the paper said.

It said that while the IRS data goes back only to 1986, academic research suggests that the last time wealthy Americans had such a high percentage of the national income pie was in the 1920s.
There was something about the end of 1920s that kind of bodes ill for our continued prosperity even if it is going down. We'll just have to wait and see what happens but there are signs that the wolves are circling.

Congratulations Al Gore

Update: Jim DeRosa alerted me to this piece of agenda reporting at ABC news. I find it very hard to believe that one of the major American networks would focus their reporting on the ruling of some obviously biased British judge instead of the honor of winning the Nobel Prize. What a bunch of crap. Goddess I hate what our press has become. 10/12/07 1332

Original Post
I am late getting to this for numerous reasons which I will get to later but The Nobel Prize Committee announced early Friday morning that it was awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Vice President Al Gore and the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change.

Gore and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) won “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.

They were chosen to share the $1.5 million prize from a field of 181 candidates.

“Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond man’s control,” the citation said of rising temperatures that could bring more droughts, floods, rising seas.

“He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted,” the committee said of Gore.

“The IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming,” it said.

This is a much deserved recognition as Al Gore has dedicated much of his life to informing the world that the planet faces a serious threat from global warming and it is not an exaggeration to say we face a mega-disaster if something doesn't begin to change with respect to our stewardship of our only home.

Gore released the following statement :

I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This award is even more meaningful because I have the honor of sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change–the world’s pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis–a group whose members have worked tirelessly and selflessly for many years. We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level.

My wife, Tipper, and I will donate 100 percent of the proceeds of the award to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan non-profit organization that is devoted to changing public opinion in the U.S. and around the world about the urgency of solving the climate crisis.

CNN’s running poll on whether Gore deserves the Peace Prize was running about 58 percent in favor. You might want to visit.

We in America can be extremely proud today that one of its most distinguished and respected statesmen, and a Progressive Democratic, won the Nobel Peace Prize. I want to add my Congratulations to Al Gore to the scores of others from around the Internet and the world. I am interested to see the response from the wingnut world and global warming deniers. It will be fascinating to see what tactics and arguments they will take to diminish this signal honor.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

ConAgra Shows It's Stripes

UPDATE: Conagra has since agreed to recall all of the frozen pot pies manufactured at the Marshall plant since it opened. A step in the right direction but why did it take so long? 10/12/07 1305

Thanks to Steve Bates at YDD we are informed that ConAgra has refused to recall its beef pot pies, after its chicken pot pies were found to be contaminated with Salmonella... despite the requests of two state health departments to do so:

ConAgra Foods Inc. is refusing to recall Banquet-brand and other potpies tied to a national salmonella outbreak, rejecting direct pleas by Oregon and Minnesota health officials.

The state officials say the company needs to recall all of its potpies because the source of the salmonella has not been identified. Doing anything less, they say, allows potentially dangerous food to remain on the market and confuses consumers.

The company says a recall is unnecessary. It contends that contamination is limited to its poultry potpies. Risks can be eliminated, the company says, by instructing consumers to cook the pies thoroughly enough to kill salmonella bacteria.

The dispute highlights a long-standing limitation in America's system for safeguarding the food supply: State officials who most frequently unearth the cause of foodborne illness have no regulatory authority over food makers. Federal officials can ask companies to recall food, but that process can take days or weeks.

This is another example of big agribusiness putting their profit ahead your good health and even your life. I think a tit for tat is in order here and that using their example you should make your health a priority over ConAgra's profits. If they refuse to voluntarily withdraw potentially dangerous products from the market and leave all of the downside risk to you I think you should consider all of their myriad products risky and potentially dangerous to your health. As a public service and thanks to Wikipedia we have an extensive list of their products which might be prudent to avoid. Don't forget the Peter Pan peanut butter incident just a few months ago.

Here is the list. Don't fail to take note of how many places in your food life this obviously irresponsible company touches...Scary isn't it.

* Act II - Microwave Popcorn
* Andy Capp's fries - flavoured corn and potato snack made to look like French fries.
* Banquet - Frozen chicken and ready-to-heat meals
* Big Mama Sausage - Snack-sized preserved sausages
* Blue Bonnet - Margarine and bread spreads
* Chef Boyardee - Ready-to-eat pasta meals
* Crunch 'n Munch - Snack food
* David Sunflower Seeds - Sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
* Dennison's - Chili
* Egg Beaters - Processed egg product
* Fiddle Faddle - Snack food
* Fleischmann's - Bread spreads
* Gebhardt - Tex-Mex style foods
* Gilardi Foods - Italian-style foods
* Golden Cuisine - Ready-made food for seniors
* Gulden's - Mustard
* Healthy Choice - Ready-to-eat and prepared foods
* Hebrew National - Kosher sausages, cold cuts and condiments
* Hunt's - Canned tomato products, ketchup and barbecue sauce
* Hunt's Snack Pack Pudding - Shelf-stable pudding
* J. Hungerford Smith - Dessert ingredients for restaurants
* Jiffy Pop - Popcorn
* Kid Cuisine - Prepared foods for children
* Knott's Berry Farm - Jams and jellies
* La Choy - Chinese-style foods
* Lamb Weston Inland Valley - Consumer sales of frozen potato products
* Lightlife - Vegetarian meat product substitutes
* Luck's - Canned baked beans
* MaMa Rosa's - Frozen pizzas and snack foods
* Manwich - Canned sloppy Joe mix
* Margherita - Italian-style processed meats
* Marie Callender's - Frozen meals
* Move Over Butter - Margarine
* Orville Redenbacher's - Popcorn
* PAM - Spray cooking oils
* Parkay - Bread spreads
* Patio - Tex-Mex-style frozen meals
* Pemmican - Beef and turkey jerky
* Penrose - Pickled sausages
* Peter Pan - Peanut butter
* Poppycock - Snack food
* Ranch Style - Baked and Refried beans
* Reddi-wip - Whipped cream
* Ro*tel - Canned tomato sauce
* Rosarita - Mexican-style foods
* Slim Jim - Meat snacks
* Swiss Miss -Powdered cocoa for hot chocolate and pudding
* Squeez 'N Go - Prepared pudding
* Van Camp's - Canned beans
* VH - Sauces (Available in Canada only)
* Wesson - Cooking oils
* Wolf Brand Chili - Chili
* Wolfgang Puck - Prepared foods branded by Chef Wolfgang Puck, founder of Spago

Big Business Wins Again

Don't worry Big Business the Bush administration is not in any hurry to enforce the Clean Air Act. It's not like there is any thing pressing about global warming or anything. Read it and weep:

Although the Environmental Protection Agency joined in a legal settlement this week to force the largest power-plant pollution cleanup in U.S. history, the Bush administration signaled in the agreement that it has no intention of taking enforcement actions against the utility for the same kind of Clean Air Act violations in the future.

The language of the settlement indicates that the administration has not wavered in its distaste for a Clinton-era policy of using the law to force power plants to upgrade their pollution controls whenever they significantly update or expand a plant. That marks a significant victory for the power industry, which has strenuously opposed the “New Source Review,” saying that it penalizes them for efficiency improvements that ultimately benefit consumers and the environment.

“That is something that we fought to get in the settlement that was very important to us,” said American Electric Power spokesman Pat D. Hemlepp, whose company settled with the EPA and other groups on Tuesday. “There are a lot of things we can do . . . to improve the efficiency of our plants.”

Buried in paragraph 133 of the consent decree, in which the utility agreed to install $4.6 billion in pollution-control measures at 16 existing plants and pay $75 million in penalties, is a section that assures AEP that the government will not pursue any action stemming from the “modification” of these plants between now and Dec. 31, 2018. The EPA has inserted similar language in other settlements.

This nightmare can't be over any too soon.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What He Says

I cannot say it any better than Ezra can. Here is just a snipper but the whole thing is worth a few minutes read.

The shrieking, atavistic ritual of personal destruction the right roars into every few weeks is something different than politics. It is beyond politics. It was done to Scott Beauchamp, a soldier serving in Iraq. It was done to college students from the University of California, at Santa Cruz. Currently, it is being done to a child and his family. And think of those targets: College students, soldiers, children. It can be done to absolutely anyone.

This is not politics. This is, in symbolism and emotion, a violent group ritual. It is savages tearing at the body of a captured enemy. It is the group reminding itself that the Other is always disingenuous, always evil, always lying, always pitiful and pathetic and grotesque. It is a bonding experience -- the collaborative nature of these hateful orgies proves that much -- in which the enemy is exposed as base and vile and then ripped apart by the community. In that way, it sustains itself, each attack preemptively justifying the next vicious assault, justifying the whole hateful edifice on which their politics rest.

Like I said this pretty much sums up the situation. The whole thing is making me physically ill.

Three More Days

Suiwo, the disciple of Hakuin, was a good teacher. During one summer seclusion period, a pupil came to him from a southern island of Japan.

Suiwo gave him the problem: "Hear the sound of one hand."

The pupil remained three years but could not pass this test. One night he came in tears to Suiwo. "I must return south in shame and embarrassment," he said, "for I cannot solve my problem."

"Wait one week more and meditate constantly," advised Suiwo. Still no enlightenment came to the pupil. "Try for another week," said Suiwo. The pupil obeyed, but in vain.

"Still another week." Yet this was of no avail. In despair the student begged to be released, but Suiwo requested another meditation of five days. They were without result. Then he said: "Meditate for three days longer, then if you fail to attain enlightenment, you had better kill yourself."

On the second day the pupil was enlightened.

City Cafe Redeems Fayetteville

After last nights horror of a dinner I must report that the City Cafe has redeemed the City of Fayetteville completely. I had a wonderful dinner there tonight.
First of all the place is run by a German woman who celebrates October at the City Cafe with a menu heavily influenced by German specialties. According to the waitress they always have some German things like Schnitzel and such but during October they add such things as Rindsroulade and Sauerbraten. You can see the complete Octoberfest menu here.

I opted for the Rindsroulade(rouladen) which came with red cabbage and beans. Very good and I ate every bite. Everybody has their own take on the traditional German dishes and this chef was no different. I got a chance to ask her about some of the dishes and she was very gracious and shared some of her secrets. A small amount of nutmeg and clove separate her red cabbage from the rest of the pack. Her rouladen is very close to bracioles, the Italian rolled meat dish, and not the traditional rouladen with meat rolled around a piece of potato or sour pickle(my favorite). Different but very good and it comes from the fact that she left East Germany before the wall came down and wound up in an Italian area of New York before heading south.

The place is also a bakery and from the display in the case a very good one. I can testify that the Apple Strudel is very nice and especially so with a double espresso. Yes, I splurged but I felt morally justified since I had had my senses and sensibility assaulted so completely the previous night.

Since I will be on this project for at least another 6 weeks I can tell you with all sincerity that I will visit this place at least once a week and during October I will be focused on the German side of the menu. I think Sauerbraten is the next victim.

If You Are Not Guilty Then Why Do You Need Immunity?

Update: According to Christy Hardin Smith at Firedoglake via e-mail from Liz Rose of the ACLU on the draft Senate version of the FISA bill, which is not yet publicly available and not being widely shared for review either:

…the Senate bill (Committee draft) does contain immunity/amnesty for the telecom companies…Including retroactive immunity for anything they’ve done wrong in cooperating in illegal domestic spying for the past six years.

This is not acceptable. If you are available to make some phone calls Christy has all the numbers posted.
updated at 1205p 10/11/07

This is absolutely rich. George the Decider is now insisting that Congress give retroactive immunity to the telecom companies who helped him spy illegally on me and millions of other American citizens, and if they don't, he's going to, by God, veto the domestic spying bill.

From the AP:
President Bush said Wednesday that he will not sign a new eavesdropping bill if it does not grant retroactive immunity to U.S. telecommunications companies that helped conduct electronic surveillance without court orders.
I say fine. Let him veto the legislation he is insisting is desperately needed to keep the nation's virgins safe from being despoiled by hordes of brown terrorists who are, right this very second , poised on their camels and itching to ride through your neighborhood.

Bush and his shills have been been insisting for years that all the domestic spying he was doing was legal. Even AT&T told us that their spying was legal. Excuse me, but I have to ask if all this spying on their fellow Americans was legal then why do they need immunity? If everything they did and are doing is legal then why does Bush the Incompetent have his skivvies in such a knot over this?

All I have to say is that if the Democrats give into Bush on this it will be because they are on the take from the telecoms...can't be another reason. Bush is at 28% in the polls and that means he is charge only if you let him be. Let's let the courts decide if the telecoms and Bush spied on us illegally and not grant them immunity without America getting some answers and their day in court. It is not the job of Congress to decide guilt or innocence but that of the courts. Let's let the Constitution be the rule here for a change.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Really Bad Food

Out tonight to sample the local BBQ. Did a web search and a place called Melear's got some good reviews on Yahoo so I decided to give it a try. Walking in the place the atmosphere looked right... rough but clean and there were other diners, though not many considering the time.

I ordered the regular Pork BBQ plate(it did say plate) and what came a bit later should have warned me. My plate turned out to be a sickly green compartmented tray of the kind we got in the chow hall in bootcamp. On the tray were two slices of "light bread" that were grilled on one side but nice and soggy on the other...very bad. In the next compartment was a handful of ridged potato chips that were mostly thanks. Next was a pile of coleslaw and a few slices of sweet pickle...pickles good slaw not so much. Then comes the compartment of what was purported to be Brunswick Stew. It might have been my much loved stew at one time but this was basically just a brown gruel with nothing of the original ingredients detectable as it must have been put through a blender or else kept warm so long every thing just gave up and melted together...I tasted it but that is as far as I would go. Finally we come to the BBQ. Just a pile of stringy and dry stuff that probably was pork at one time. No detectable smoke flavor or any other flavor for that matter. Sauce didn't help.

So I can, without reservation, tell you to stay away from Melear's BBQ in Fayetteville, Ga. I surely won't darken their door again. Consider yourself warned. There is another BBQ place down the road called Speedi-Pig but when I passed it tonight at 7 there were only two cars and a pickup in the lot so I might give that a pass as well.

Oh! I almost forgot the "highlight" of the evening. Just as I got up to pay the tab I noticed a life sized cardboard cut-out of George W Bush standing and smirking in the corner. It is now no wonder the BBQ was so bad. Making good "Q" is sort of a religious thing and with that much bad karma in the place it is no surprise the BBQ was crap. It had no soul and had no love.

Needless to say there is a very poor (1 star) review along with the 3 and 4 star reviews on Yahoo.

Humanity Lost

Enigma4Ever has a post over at Cosmic Message that is a recommended read. It is the story of Carol Ann Gotbaum, a young mother who died under very mysterious circumstances at Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport on September 28th. There are some serious questions that need to be asked that are not being asked and we all need ask ourselves how we would respond in a similar circumstance. Thanks to to Enigma4Ever for the post and the questions.

There Are No Poor People In America

Updated below:

Mark Steyn writing in the National Review reveals a classic nugget of wingnut(conservative) thinking and rationalization. It is all in reference to the piling on by the GOP of the 12 year Graeme Frost used in the ad to support the passage of the expanded S-CHIP bill.

A more basic point is made very robustly by Kathy Shaidle: Advanced western democracies have delivered the most prosperous societies in human history. There simply are no longer genuinely "poor" people in sufficient numbers. As Miss Shaidle points out, if you're poor today, it's almost always for behavioral reasons - behavior which the state chooses not to discourage but to reward. Nonetheless, progressive types persist in deluding themselves that there are vast masses of the "needy" out there that only the government can rescue.
That's right the fact is there are no poor people in America that cannot afford health insurance for their's all a progressive fiction promulgated by the damn dirty hippies. If you are a child in Amercia and don't have health insurance it is just because your parents have behavior problems. If you get sick and die kids, blame your parents for bad choices.

Update: Here is Digby discussing the GOP attacks on the kid. She does her usual excellent job of putting it all into perspective.

First Class Idiots

If you really want an example of why the Bush administration and the GOP can't be trusted with our national security here is a perfect example. You never ever compromise a source. How stupid are these people really? What idiots!

A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release.

Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company’s Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.

The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group’s communications network.

“Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless,” said Rita Katz, the firm’s 44-year-old founder, who has garnered wide attention by publicizing statements and videos from extremist chat rooms and Web sites, while attracting controversy over the secrecy of SITE’s methodology. Her firm provides intelligence about terrorist groups to a wide range of paying clients, including private firms and military and intelligence agencies from the United States and several other countries.

The precise source of the leak remains unknown.

Well, so much for that source!

h/t Susie

Monday, October 08, 2007

Reciting Sutras

A farmer requested a Tendai priest to recite sutras for his wife, who had died. After the recitation was over the farmer asked: "Do you think my wife will gain merit from this?"

"Not only your wife, but all sentient beings will benefit from the recitation of sutras," answered the priest.

"If you say all sentient beings will benefit," said the farmer, "my wife may be very weak and others will take advantage of her, getting the benefit she should have. So please recite sutras just for her."

The priest explained that it was the desire of a Buddhist to offer blessings and wish merit for every living being.

"That is a fine teaching," concluded the farmer, "but please make one exception. I have a neighbor who is rough and mean to me. Just exclude him from all those sentient beings."

New Town, Same Town

All settled in to the Hampton Inn in Fayetteville, Ga. Nice new hotel and the complimentary HS wireless internet works. Madam packed me a surprise for the trip and I found a nice bottle of South African Cab in my things. Thank you! Hope everyone had a great Monday. I'm going to go out and forage for dinner but I am afraid this area is pretty much like every other booming burb of Atlanta( or any othe town in America for that matter) in that all I will find is the regular stuff (Appleby's, Bugaboo Creek, Longhorns, Chilis, etc.). All of these places will have a great selection of faux food in feed a small family portions...boy do I miss Lyon. Rumor has it that there is a small cafe down the road that is good so that will be my first try.

I'll be back after dinner.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Up the Country

Had a great time at the Turning and Burning. Bigger than ever and people everywhere. The Baptist church ran out of pinto beans before I got to their tent so I had to settle for just a BBQ sandwich and some homemade peach ice cream. Scored one new piece of Hewell (made by Matthew Hewell) made stoneware and this is a "cream rising" bowl(don't ask). I'll post a picture...It's about a foot tall and a foot across at the mouth, it is a pretty good size bowl. This is a new style that the Hewells have added to their repertoire. It is called "Edgefield" style. Edgefield, South Carolina was one of the very first locations for southern potters and many of the southern potters in North Carolina and Georgia came from there. Edgefield was known for it's "slip glazing" which is the little light decoration on the bowl. It is a little bead of glaze added to the jug or bowl after it has been dipped in the traditional slip and it is all fired at one time. A lot of the early potters were slaves and one "Dave" was known for putting Bible verses on his pots using the "slip glaze" technique. A "Dave" jug or pot is worth thousands and thousands of dollars today and extremely rare.

Just sort of chilling today and getting ready for a full week of meetings with the new client. It is probably going to take 6 or 8 weeks to define the implementation so I'll be spending my weeks in Peachtree City, Ga for the rest of October and part of November. I am not the "lead" on this one but am the "mentor" for a new addition to the team which means I get to avoid having to do the weekly status reports and all the other project paperwork. I will just be doing my "Big Kahuna" stuff.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Turning and Burning

Tomorrow is the Turning and Burning Festival at the Hewell Pottery in Gillsville, Georgia. Madam Monk and I haven't missed a one since they started in 1992 or so. Great fun though some would consider it a little "countryfied". We have a lot of folk pottery and several pieces by all the generations of Hewells that are still at the wheel even the little ones just starting. Madam, being the arty one can look at piece of pottery and tell you who the maker was.

The festival gets bigger and bigger every year and is always a fun day. I think we have some friends that have never been going with us as well.

This will be the last "fling" for awhile as I start a new engagement next Monday that will run a couple of months. It is in Peachtree City south of Atlanta but far enough that I will stay down there on Monday thru Wednesday nights to save wear and tear on me and a little petrol as well. Fridays are non on-site days for paperwork and the such so I will be home for the weekends.

Everyone have a great weekend.

The top picture is an example of traditional folk pottery produced at the Hewell Pottery. This one is by Nathaniel Hewell. This particular glaze is known as "tobacco spit"

The bottom picture is from a couple of years ago but shows a traditional wood fired kiln being burned at the Hewell Pottery.

Deadly Delay?

More proof that this administration favors business profits over consumer's lives.
An e-mail from a federal inspector confirms the U.S. Department of Agriculture knew that millions of frozen hamburger patties could be contaminated with E. coli in early September but waited 18 days before concluding Topps Meat Co. should issue a recall, a lawyer for a teen sickened by the beef said Thursday.

The recall came Sept. 25, and was soon expanded to comprise 21.7 million pounds of hamburger produced by Elizabeth-based Topps, the second-largest beef recall in U.S. history.

The Florida teen was hospitalized with kidney failure in August and the meat her family bought was tested by the USDA.
What is not very funny is that on just Monday the US Agriculture department said the U.S. meat is the "safest in the world". Hello, I know we may not be reading the right papers or watching the foreign TV stations but I sure don't hear about the British or French or anybody else recalling nearly 22 million pounds of beef on a regular basis.
"I think the American meat supply is the safest in the world," Raymond said in an interview on CBS's "The Early Show." "A recall like this does show that we are on the job, we are doing our inspections, our investigation, and we respond when we find problems to make sure that supply is safe."
The thing is, in most other countries you go to your local butcher and he provides you with the cut of meat you want. If you want 'mince' or ground meat then he grinds it right there from cuts of meat that he has cut off a primal cut or even a whole animal. You just don't see the large industrial meat processors that make frozen burgers or frozen anything in the quantities we see here in the U.S. It is all these industrial processors that are putting the contaminated beef and chicken on the market and who the USDA is protecting.

If you are going to eat meat, and I am, then go to a real butcher that actually buys his meat in either sides or primals and then cuts it on premises into the market pieces. He should grind his own burger and sausage(or better yet sell you the chunks and let you grind it yourself). If you can't look the guy or gal that butchers the meat in the eyes then don't buy it. And for Goddess' sake don't buy meat that is prepared in a factory somewhere and packaged in Carbon Monoxide filled airtight containers or in giant sausages of ground meat or frozen into patties. You have no idea how long this stuff has taken to get to market and you typically won't know where it was processed or whose hands have touched it.

You want a hot dog then buy Kosher (Hebrew National) dogs as the sanitation and quality control on those is very strict. If you want chili on that dog make your own.

The trend these days in supermarkets and the big food warehouses is to market prepackaged meat and very rarely is there even a real butcher in the store. You might save a buck or two this way but you are gambling with your life and that of your family.

He Thinks its Funny

You need to read Paul Krugman today. He is taking about "compassionate conservatism" and the veto of the S-CHIP legislation.

In anticipation of the veto, William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, had this to say: “First of all, whenever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it’s a good idea. I’m happy that the president’s willing to do something bad for the kids.” Heh-heh-heh.

Most conservatives are more careful than Mr. Kristol. They try to preserve the appearance that they really do care about those less fortunate than themselves. But the truth is that they aren’t bothered by the fact that almost nine million children in America lack health insurance. They don’t think it’s a problem.

“I mean, people have access to health care in America,” said Mr. Bush in July. “After all, you just go to an emergency room.”
Mark Crispin Miller, the author of “The Bush Dyslexicon,” once made a striking observation: all of the famous Bush malapropisms — “I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family,” and so on — have involved occasions when Mr. Bush was trying to sound caring and compassionate.

By contrast, Mr. Bush is articulate and even grammatical when he talks about punishing people; that’s when he’s speaking from the heart. The only animation Mr. Bush showed during the flooding of New Orleans was when he declared “zero tolerance of people breaking the law,” even those breaking into abandoned stores in search of the food and water they weren’t getting from his administration.

What’s happening, presumably, is that modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. If you identify with the downtrodden, even a little, you don’t belong. If you think ridicule is an appropriate response to other peoples’ woes, you fit right in.
The former governor of Texas Ann Richards once said of GW's father..."born on third base and thinks he hit a triple". It applies equally well to Bush Junior. His estimated wealth is somewhere around $20 million ( and it will mushroom when he is out of office) and he never earned any of it. He has health insurance for life that is paid for by you and me. He imbodies the modern conservative philosophy of " I have mine therefore you can fuck off." perfectly.

Eshun's Departure

I didn't post a koan yesterday so that we could focus on Burma.

When Eshun, the Zen nun, was past sixty and about to leave this world, she asked some monks to pile up wood in the yard.

Seating herself firmly in the center of the funeral pyre, she had it set fire around the edges.

"O nun!" shouted one monk, "is it hot in there?"

"Such a matter would concern only a stupid person like yourself," answered Eshun.

The flames arose, and she passed away.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Most Everybody is Losing

Tula Connell has a good post over at Firedoglake about the working poor. It discusses a meeting at the Economic Policy Institute. I won't repeat the article here but I wanted to add my two cents.

You can cuss and discuss what constitutes being poor in America until you're blue in the face and come up with all kinds of measures on how much a family of four needs to bring in not to be poor. The bottom line is that if you work full time and can't make ends meet and you aren't wasting money on frivolity then you are poor and something is wrong with the system and this is it.

The latest data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that the share of corporate-sector income going to wages is down to its lowest share in over 25 years….The latest CBO [Congressional Budget Office] figures show that almost 60 percent of capital income goes to the top 1 percent in the U.S. income distribution.
Everyone in America is losing ground, especially the poor. There are a lot of things that would help but corporate taxes are a start as well a little more progressive tax system. Probably the biggest single issue is a national health care single payer system that will take the for profit insurance companies out of the game.

Greed Doesn't Pay

Deutsche Bank writes off $3.12 billion from US mortgage problems

Thanks U.S. for sharing!. That hurts, even with help from other divisions. Deutsche Bank now joins fellow European bank UBS who were also caught up in the mortgage mess. Don't forget about the nearly collapsed Northern Rock in the UK.

I can't feel too sorry for these folks. To a large degree their greed led them to invest in the faux securities backed by the basically worthless mortgages. If they hadn't strayed from the traditional forms of making money in the financial markets they wouldn't be caught short like this.

This is only the beginning. I am sure we will see more of the results of greed come into play in the near term.

Another Bush Blessing

The gifts to the Iraqi people from George Bush continue to multiply. The latest contribution to their health and welfare from his great benevolence is spreading throughout this blessed country. I am sure the people of Iraq are wondering how they will ever repay Bush the Benevolent and the people of the United States for all that Iraq has received.

GENEVA - The toll of people in Iraq infected with cholera has risen to 3,315, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

The number of confirmed infections compares with 2,758 cases reported Sunday by the U.N. health agency. The death toll of 14 has been unchanged in recent days, WHO said.

The outbreak first detected Aug. 14 in Kirkuk in northern Iraq has now spread to half of the country's 18 provinces.

Free Burma

Today October 4th all bloggers are being asked to participate and post an entry with a graphic from and with the Free Burma title. You can engage as much as you like but I think it is important to show our support for the people of Burma. Do what you can and think is right.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mighty Veto Pen Strikes

Bush vetoed the SCHIP bill today that would have provided health insurance to millions of kids in America. His excuse is that it was too expensive! It was going to cost as much as $35 Billion over 5 years. I'll do the math...that's $7 Billion a year and most of it was going to be paid by higher tobacco taxes.

Let's talk expensive. At the current estimated run rate of $750 Million per day to run his cluster fuck in Iraq the ENTIRE 5 YEAR COST of the SCHIP bill passed by Congress and vetoed today could have been paid for in just about a month of killing Iraqis and American soldiers. It is so disgusting I am speechless.

I guess that explains the backdrop for the veto today that denies millions of children healthcare coverage.
The White House sought as little attention as possible, with the president wielding his veto behind closed doors without any fanfare or news coverage.
Apparently there is a very good chance that this veto will be overridden. His usually reliable Republican lap dogs are staring at a very clear and massive election year backlash. Makes sense that this time Bush decided to do his dirty work behind closed doors. I wonder if he washed his hands after the job?

Here is the latest polling

ABC News/WaPo. 9/27-30. All adults. MoE 3% (No trend lines)

There's a proposal to increase federal spending on children's health insurance by 35 billion dollars over the next five years. It would be funded by an increase in cigarette taxes. Supporters say this would provide insurance for millions of low-income children who are currently uninsured. Opponents say this goes too far in covering children in families that can afford health insurance on their own. Do you support or oppose this increased funding for this program?

Support 72
Oppose 25
Unsure 3

I think if I was going to tell nearly three quarters of America to screw off I might be tempted to hide behind closed doors too.

Philosophical Today

I am feeling philosophical today. Every once in a while I have to retreat from the reality I see every day and still myself. Sometimes it is with music, sometimes cooking, sometimes just sitting. Today I'll share something that I return to on a pretty regular basis. It is simple but profound and if you take it to heart it will help you face the ugly reality we are seeing on a daily basis.

Two Wolves - A Cherokee Parable

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life...

"A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.
"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

"One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

"The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

"This same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
"Which wolf will win?"

The old chief simply replied,
"The one you feed."

My Heart Burns Like Fire

Soyen Shaku, the first Zen teacher to come to America, said: "My heart burns like fire but my eyes are as cold as dead ashes." He made the following rules which he practiced every day of his life.

In the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate.

Retire at a regular hour. Partake of food at regular intervals. Eat with moderation and never to the point of satisfaction.

Receive a guest with the same attitude you have when alone. When alone, maintain the same attitude you have in receiving guests.

Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it.

When an opportunity comes do not let it pass by, yet always think twice before acting.

Do not regret the past. Look to the future.

Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.

Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.

Burma Update II

Things are still cloudy with regard to information coming out of Burma. Reports are that the military are driving through the streets and arresting people 24x7. Other reports are saying the Buddhist Monks are attempting to flee Rangoon but many people are wary of giving them aid.
The BBC is reporting that thousands of Monks have been arrested and are being moved to prisons in the North.

The UN is putting pressure on the junta leader General Than Shwe and also with the detained opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. No official report has been released by the UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari but something should be forthcoming soon.

This continues to be a tragic situation and there is going to be more suppression and more killing of protestors. The controlling military junta has shown itself to be ruthless and uncaring about world opinion which makes for a very difficult problem.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Brain Eating Amoeba?

Here is one more benefit of global warming. This sounds like some B horror movie but to the families of the victims...not so funny.
According to the CDC, the amoeba called Naegleria fowleri (nuh-GLEER-ee-uh FOWL'-erh-eye) killed 23 people in the United States, from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials noticed a spike with six cases — three in Florida, two in Texas and one in Arizona. The CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.

Though infections tend to be found in southern states, Naegleria lives almost everywhere in lakes, hot springs, even dirty swimming pools, grazing off algae and bacteria in the sediment.

Beach said people become infected when they wade through shallow water and stir up the bottom. If someone allows water to shoot up the nose — say, by doing a somersault in chest-deep water — the amoeba can latch onto the olfactory nerve.

The amoeba destroys tissue as it makes its way up into the brain, where it continues the damage, "basically feeding on the brain cells," Beach said.

Another reason to be sure any water you drink has booze in it.