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Friday, November 28, 2008

Something Sick in Long Island

There is something sick inside of the people who trampled a 34-year old worker, who were so blinded by their need to get a good deal that they played a part in the killing of a man. Was saving a few bucks worth the extra cost? Is there anyone out there who even feels bad about their part in the killing? Or that they didn’t stop to help or shield the man who had fallen? Or who even noticed as they stepped on him, rushing in for their share of the stuff that Wal Mart sells?

It makes me sick, it makes me angry, and it makes me want to find someone to blame.

“He was bum-rushed by 200 people,” said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. “They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back.”

The unidentified victim was rushed to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:03 a.m., police said.

The cause of death was pending.

A 28-year-old pregnant woman was knocked to the floor during the mad rush. She was hospitalized for observation, police said.

Three other shoppers suffered minor injuries, cops said.

Before police shut down the store, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the store clerk’s life.

“They were working on him, but you could see he was dead, said Halcyon Alexander, 29. “People were still coming through.”

This isn’t the story that you ever want to read, but it seems just a tiny big worse coming the day after Thanksgiving.

My sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased. Shame on those who caused this tragedy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

I don’t do this every year, but this year I’m feeling extra thanks-y. For what am I thankful?

I am thankful that the war in Iraq has become something that the newspapers rarely put on the front page. The military and political situation has improved so dramatically over the last year that it is almost unbelievable. Here’s to Iraq and her future; I hope that it is bright, free, and friendly.

I am thankful for the 18 women who turned themselves in after being convinced that suicide bombings are not acceptable expressions of Islamic faith. I am thankful for the lives that have been spared and i hope we see more follow their example.

I am thankful for my darling girl who is patient and kind and wonderful. Even if she does try to bully me into snuggling with her while I’m busy writing my Thanksgiving day post.

I am thankful to be gainfully employed in a difficult economy. And I hope I stay that way.

I am thankful for the fact that I live in America where I have always had opportunities that throughout much of the rest of the world I would never have enjoyed. We are, in large part, a spoiled, pampered, and materially wealthy people--and, in large part, we have earned the wealth that keeps us fat and happy. Hopefully we won’t forget the work, the spirit, and the sacrifice that went into building our national riches and helped create our opportunities.

I am thankful, in the extreme, for my friends and their understanding of my quirks and my frequent silence.

I am thankful for the men and women who serve in our military with honor and dignity and for their families who often sacrifice more than anyone should ever be asked. What they do for the rest of us (and it is hard to explain just how important the term “serve” is to the grand majority of folks that I’ve known in the military--it isn’t just a word, it’s a philosophy of being that accepts that the highest calling is in service to something greater than one’s self) is nothing short of heroic.

I am thankful for the handful of people who still drop by to read this site.

I am thankful that I missed Rosie Live--and I’ll be more thankful still if her new show fails in a dramatic and newsworthy way. Which might be violating the spirit of Thanksgiving, but still…

I am thankful for good music. Of particular note this year are the Gutter Twin’s brilliant little EP, Adorata, Lizz Wright’s gorgeous album, The Orchard, and Wovenhand’s latest gospel gothic masterpiece, Ten Stones.

And, of course, I’m thankful for the extra two days off, the good food, and the extra football. Which almost goes without saying.

Update: I’m also thankful that someone wrote this post. Nicely done.

And more anti-Rosie sentiment hits a hight note for me, too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Advocate for Conservative Colorado Bloggers

I heard a rumor about Darren Copeland--a name that will be familiar to most Denver area bloggers and to all regular Blogger Bash attendees--taking a new job as Director of Communications for the Colorado Senate Republican Caucus. A quick call to him confirmed the truth of the rumor and, being properly opportunistic, I decided to find out what exactly his new position might mean.

Apparently our Darren--who, of all the bloggers I know, seems best-equipped for this kind of a job given both his background in radio and his personality--will be coordinating all of the communication efforts for the Republican Senate caucus. That communication effort won’t be directed only toward mainstream media, but will include a concerted effort to “strengthen the relationship between Senators and bloggers.”

When I talked to him, Darren explained to me that he felt that the Democrats smartly made use of bloggers in the last election cycle and that he hoped to help build an avenue of communication between GOP Senators and bloggers to help support conservative efforts in Colorado. The next few years will be vital to the long term health of our state and enlisting the aid of influential writers throughout the region might make the difference between winning and losing an important battle. It’s that realization that leaves me personally excited by the potential for a Colorado GOP that works to engage bloggers in a way that we haven’t seen before (and, of course, excited to see one of my friends moving into a new phase of his career).

Of course, now that he is officially part of the establishment, I wondered if he would still be the same guy when it came time to come to the next Blogger Bash. His answer proves that even a little bit of power can be a corrupting influence. “As for the next RMBB I expect to be picked up at my house in a gilded carriage towed by six trained buffalo, announced at the door of the venue by John Elway with a 30 gun salute led by Jed, then carried into the room by Carmelo Anthony, Jay Cutler, Troy Tulowitzki, and Joe Sakic while Jerralyn Merritt and Stacy from ‘Still Stacy’ walk in front dropping Columbine flowers behind them (state flower of course).  Finally, I expect to be fed grapes and shots all evening until I retire for the evening at which point 15 professional wailers will loudly express their misery at the absence of my Obama-esque presence.’”

This is big news on a personal level and, potentially, very good news on a political level. If the Colorado Senate Republican caucus really does reach out to local bloggers, they might find willing and extremely capable allies. Good luck to Darren; we’ll be watching when you settle into your new position and we’ll hope for your success.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Small Change

The audacity of hope and the mantra “yes, we can” seems to be giving way to the cold comfort of pragmatism and a dim, “well, maybe.”

“We all have to be very careful about the expectations that we are putting on this man, our president-elect,” Reich said. “If we all assume it’s going to be the first 100 days, we’re going to be disappointed.”

The man who was Obama’s chief campaign strategist is moving to lower expectations, too.

“We are inheriting an array problems unlike any president has faced, maybe since Franklin Roosevelt in 1932,” David Axelrod said. “It’s not going to be easy, not going to be quick.”

After being pounded with promises of hope, change, and lower taxes for all--and after being told that no mountain was too high to climb--Obama’s folks want us all to dream a little smaller.

But, if you look really hard, you might find a funny joke about the small change left over after Obama’s inevitable tax increases hit us next year. It just won’t be very funny.

Read the story.

Lovin’ the New Xbox Experience

Let's be honest: free, unlimited streaming of Netflix movies directly to my Xbox was enough to make me a Whore For Life[TM]. Giving me a really cool, Mii-ripoff avatar and the promise that, some day soon, I will be able to spend real money to Barbie-up said avatar? Xbox, you had me at "hello"...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Views of Kolkata: Hyatt Regency


Kolkata is overcrowded, filthy, and, sometimes, mighty smelly. It is loud, bustling with life, oddly complacent about its poverty, yet showing a heightened sense of entrepreneurial spirit at that lowest rung. And my first days, after being driven from the airport, were spent in impressive luxury--all of the rest of Kolkata was distant noise beyond the gates and walls.

The Kolkata Hyatt Regency is simply one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever enjoyed. The rooms are beautiful, the food often magnificent, the service irritatingly impeccable.

“Irritatingly?” you might ask. Indeed. While there is something nice about being treated well, I am, at heart, a regular guy. I like my bartenders funny and boisterous, in particular. The bar staff at the KHR were competent, the selection of fine alcohols was admirable, but it took a while to get them to let down a little. The first night was, “What would sir enjoy this evening?” The second night was, “Since sir enjoys vodkas, may I suggest Ciroc?” Which, incidentally, made me happy; I keep a bottle at home and it’s a remarkably smooth little drink. By the end of the second night, though, I had them explaining cricket, drawing me diagrams to punctuate their lessons, and then shocking me with their passion for the soap opera drama of US pro wrestling.

If I make the trip again, I’ll lobby to stay at the Hyatt again. It was a little like heaven, to be honest, even if it hardly conveyed the flavor of Kolkata. I’m not one to wallow in unrelenting trash and poverty, though; for those folks, other accommodations would be in order.

Clicking on the pictures will take you to Picasa. You can see the larger versions there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Don’t Worry…

...The Bailout Fairy will save them.

Do you believe in fairies?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Janella Spears is an Idiot. Just Sayin’.

Janella Spears isn’t a sucker. Nope, not at all.

n Oregon woman who is out $400,000 after falling for a well-known Internet scam says she wasn’t a sucker or an easy mark.

Janella Spears of Sweet Home says she simply became curious when she received an e-mail promising her $20.5 million if she would only help out a long-lost relative identified as J.B. Spears with a little money up front.

Spears told KATU-TV about the scammers’ ability to identify her relative by name was persuasive.

“That’s what got me to believe it,” She said. “So, why wouldn’t you send over $100?”

Okay, even if I assumed that sending the $100 through the untraceable wire account to help some unknown relative sounded like a good idea--which, no, it doesn’t--that doesn’t go far in explaining the rest of the $400,000 that she gave away.

Idiot.

Even worse, the reason I keep getting those damned spam emails on a daily basis from someone telling me that I’ve won a lottery I’ve never entered, am going to reap millions for helping some poor widow smuggle money out of Zimbabwe, or that a long, lost relative left me untold wealth in his will is because it works. I’ll only stop getting those emails when greedy idiots like Janella Spears stop sending their money to con men.

Nearly half a million dollars pissed away and she can still say, with a straight face, that she wasn’t a sucker or an easy target.

Idiot.

And for the record, it wasn’t any desire to help that long-lost relative that caught her; it was the $20.5 million bucks that she was promised. Any pretense to the contrary is a lie.

Read the story.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Where’s Zomby?

After thinking I had dodged any bacterial or parasitic bullets that might be found in the tremendously clean and hygienic streets of Kolkata, I found that I was wrong. Wrong in a way that I have never been wrong before. Wrong in a way that, were I a smarter man, might have required hospitalization. Wrong in a way that felt a bit like a low grade nuclear weapon exploding in my small intestines and leaving me a mass of strange and disgusting expulsions of bits of me that I never knew existed. Or, at least, would never have guessed at their native colors.

At the peak of pain--perhaps six hours starting late Saturday and ending early Sunday morning--the nearly hourly expulsions from both entry and exit points left me exhausted and with a vivid sense of pain. My joints, eyeballs, stomach, and noggin were begging me for Advil--which I’ve been informed I’m not supposed to have.

The body is a strange and mysterious and brutally vulnerable thing, isn’t it?

After spending all of Friday and Saturday effectively dehydrating myself, I’ve spent the last two days trying to put some sogginess back in my body. With sadly mixed results.

On my last day of taking Zithromax, I’m hoping that I’ve killed off whatever it was that gut punched me over the last four days. If not then I killed off all sorts of good bacteria in a useless effort to make myself feel better.

You probably wanted a point, didn’t you? Here’s the point: sorry for the absence, but if I weren’t weakened from the illness, I would be weary from the lack of sleep. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to go more than three hours without an urgent need overcoming me--and then I find sleep a hard task.

I’ll be back soon with thoughts of India, America’s obtuse energy policy, and how much I look forward to our new Democrat overlords.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Back from the Vishnupadi


ganges

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Say “Yes” to a National Holiday…

…just not for a few more years.

Despite Bill Clinton’s assertions to the contrary, Barack Obama is the first black President of the United States of America. Barack Obama deserves a national holiday. I have served eight years in the United States military and I will, without hesitation, fight anyone who says otherwise. Period. All I ask is that we hold off for a few years and let him be President first.

He deserves at least that much. 

Republican != Conservative

The media has made much in recent days about the drubbing Republicans took at the polls last week. Fair enough. Republicans took heavy losses. My issue is that a couple editorials have confused Republicans with conservatives. Republicans are not necessarily conservatives and conservatives are not necessarily Republicans. My wife and I are Reagan conservatives but, currently, we are registered Democrats (long story). Similarly, George W. Bush and John McCain are not conservatives. More importantly, they never were.

The Republican party took a heavy beating but conservatism did not.

America is still largely conservative. The problem is that the Republican party abandoned conservative principles.

If the Republican party hopes to make gains in the future it needs to regain its conservative principles. If conservatives hope to rescue this country we must figure out how to save the Republican party.

Just sayin’…

Friday, November 07, 2008

Traders Didn’t Get the Memo, Either

In the first few days after the historic election of Barack Obama, the US stock market tanked (links below). Tanked! Why is this important? Because the stock market always looks to the future. That’s what investors do. They constantly look to the future, try to predict it, and respond accordingly. Remember the saying “buy low, sell high”? How do investors know when a stock value is at a high or a low? They don’t. Investors make informed guesses about the future. If you closely track stock market results to major news stories this trend is easy to spot - so easy that it’s an accepted maxim. The stock market always looks to the future. Why is this important: because the stock market’s immediate response to the election of Barack Obama was to pull out faster than a sailor in a brothel. This is a very strong indication of how the world’s investor’s view the Obama Presidency. I guess the traders didn’t get the memo, either. I’m just sayin’…

Here are some stock market news links:


The “Long Tail” Doesn’t Measure Up

The Register has an excellent story today about a recent study that debunks the Long Tail theory that has been all the rage the past couple of years. Technology and business are much like Presidential candidates: just because something sounds good doesn’t mean it holds up to legitimate scrutiny.

In related news: I hear there is no Web 2.0 bubble.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I’m Confused

I’m confused. The sun doesn’t seem to be shining any brighter this morning. The birds don’t seem to be chirping any louder. I haven’t noticed an increase in the number of rainbows and I still see panhandlers in the street.

Maybe God didn’t get the memo…

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations, Barak Obama!

I didn’t vote for you but you are now my President (elect). I am not so cynical that I do not recognize the historic nature of this election. You have my sincere congratulations. I trust that you will now fully represent all of your constituents and lead this country to the best of your ability.

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