Sunday, December 31, 2006
This is an excellent day to express our appreciation to our readers.
This blogging has been stupefying experience.
We're way more stupid than we were before,
and hope you are, too.
Here are some of the regular heroic readers that we know about, because they write comments to us sometimes. We would love to add YOU to this list. Just let us know.
Anonymous Anonymous (if it's possible to know an anonymous. Actually we don't know who or whos it or they is or are)
Jim in Minneapolis
AThiker Rob in Indiana
Dashmann in Flushing
Mama Kelly in B.C.
Clever Crawford in Ohio
Bill from WNNCO
BUSH SHELTERED DURING TORNADO ALERT
Dec 29 9:59 PM US/Eastern
By DEB RIECHMANN
Associated Press Writer
President Bush and first lady Laura Bush were moved to an armored vehicle on their ranch Friday when a tornado warning was issued in central Texas, the White House said.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people. Jawaharlal Nehru
(A comment: Clearly, the ill-intentioned, poorly-conducted Iraq War shows the converse of Nehru's wisdom. Surely lasting war will come to warlike people.)
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The people in the ARBORETUM have been snarling about the oil companies for quite awhile. Maybe we'll get some satisfaction! Now that Congress is undergoing a great change and the loyalest of the oil company shills have lost their jobs as commanders of the Commerce Committee and the Natural Resources Committee and a number of others, there are to be some wonderful new initiatives.
And at the top of the list of new initiatives is INVESTIGATIONS. One of the greatest powers of the Congress is the power to investigate, the power to subpoena, and that has not been happening in the past 5 years. And brother! as far as well can see, those investigations are very sorely needed.
---And a demand for payment of royalties which oil companies owe the government by the billions.
---And use of royalty money for alternative and renewable energy sources.
---And limits on market and price manipulations that have caused prices to jiggle all over the map and result in record corporate profits.
All of these things are good for the environment and good for the future.
Read all about it here:
WASHINGTON - House Democrats in the first weeks of the new Congress plan to establish a dedicated fund to promote renewable energy and conservation, using money from oil companies. That's only one legislative hit the oil industry is expected to take next year as a Congress run by Democrats is likely to show little sympathy to the cash-rich, high-profile business.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
We´re here with Tdec´s father, staying with family living on the same block where he grew up, so we not only get to see this place through our own eyes, but through his. In Jose´s childhood, this area was a distinct small town, mostly rural. The Gonzalez "compound" then was open, but over the years it has been divided among descendants of his father, Don Nilo, so there are more walls. Still, within those walls life is tranquil, and verdant. People are friendly, and extended family come and go perpetually... Sisters and his cousins and his aunts. We get a picture not only of how things are, but how things used to be here. It´s a mixed bag.
You can buy Coca Cola, Budweiser or Marlboro cigarettes for less than a dollar. Of course, there are still plenty of local brands, varieties and flavors of everything, but Paraguay is a study of strange contrasts. The new has been laid right over the very old. Last week, we visited a blind 92-year-old relative who lives in a small concrete house with dirt floors. The family sweeps the clay yard with a straw broom, and the children play with miniture coconut fruits. But when a relative called she answered her cell phone; you can see the cell tower less than a mile distant.
We´ve ridden in every sort of vehicle. Paraguay is the receptacle for all the cars and trucks that you thought were now extinct. There are lots full of used American cars, and so most dashboards I´ve seen are all in English. I saw a Kansas State University window sticker on an SUV yesterday. The venerable Volkswagen Beetle (the old slug-bug variety) is ubiquitous. Some people think they may still make them in Brazil, but most I´ve seen are ancient. One stands for sale around the corner from here for about $200. Vehicles rattle and shake and lots of things don´t work, but Latin ingenuity keeps them running. The negative, of course, is that a certain percentage of cars and trucks have no pollution controls whatsover, and maybe one in ten emits a pungent black cloud of particulates.
Jose is having a suit made for his nephew´s wedding, coming up next week. We grabbed a cab to his tailor´s shop a while back for a final fitting. The trip there provided some interesting insights. The cab itself inspired little confidence. It rattled and shook, but it got us there. There are no meters in cabs, I think the drivers charge based on a secret formula. On the way, we passed the San Lorenzo cathedral (a big blue building which Don Nilo helped get built), and I noticed that the driver crossed himself as we drove by. Nearer to the tailor´s shop there I noticed a bit of stark red graffiti sprayed on an otherwise pristine white brick wall: "corrupcion + impunidad = miseria".
We spent Christmas engaged in the old Paraguay tradition: sitting and talking with friends and family over tables filled with grilled food and cold beverages. No big exchange of presents or snow angels with the kids. We took a dip in cousin Marcos´ 8x20 foot pool. It´s maybe small by American standards, but it´s a little luxury that does the trick. But the American traditions, like Santa, are creeping in. The Christmas carols are all familiar, but the words are now in spanish, and they have more of a Latin shuffle to them. Most families still put out an extensive creche or nativity scene, but more and more you see Christmas trees -- at least that´s true in fancy new stores. But the goverment buildings generally stick with the life-sized manger scenes. I´ve seen no evidence, however, that this has led to better, more moral governance in this vicinity.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
On Christmas day, severe weather struck in Florida. A tornado touch-down in Leesburg missed us by about 10 miles. Even the severest winds were just south and moving to the northeast of us.
The state is amazingly green and flowery. We've not been here before at this time of year, and so have been surprised by this verdant surrounding.
We had thought that we might go to Daytona Beach on Christmas Day, but the weather was too nasty. Eventually, a tornado hit Daytona Beach. Steve says it's a Christmas miracle that he slept until 11:00 a.m. Otherwise, we might have gone off early and been blasted.
Frankly, I'm doubtful of his claim to ethereal favor. If anyone in the family is least in Grace, it must be him.
Monday, December 25, 2006
The denizens of this odd world of the ARBORETUM, wish all of our friends and readers a very capital Christmas Day.
Oh yes, it is Christmas Day for everyone on earth, even though many of us may not be Christians. We are fully aware that our readership and our circles of friends include people of many religious persuasions, and of many non-religious persuasions as well. We hug you all and wish you the very best day you can manage.
And, we hope you all got gifts, no matter what your traditions may embrace. We trust you all have too much to eat, and enjoy your day off. May we all have a spiritual moment!
Some of us are in Florida and will be coming home to Michigan later in the week. At the moment we're under a tornado watch and it's an enthusiastically rainy day. Last night I stood in the driveway in bare feet, t-shirt and shorts and enjoyed the passage of Santa Claus over The Villages. Earlier this week, we heard the space shuttle crack the sound barrier as it approached Cape Canaveral --- right overhead.
Steve is with us and he's suffering from a cultural shock. He cannot make up his mind whether or not this lifestyle of golf courses, small cookie-cutter houses, and small fenced-in nature preserves, is good or bad for the natural environment that he has a profound reverence for. (As do we all.)
This is the strangest Christmas we have ever spent.
However, we got a call from Paraguay. The Scotster and his Tdec are enjoying their stay. It has been very warm there, but last night the whole extended family gathered for a midnight feast. They have been made warmly welcome by a family they scarcely knew. For these young folks, this Christmas brings a gift of learning and exposure to new cultural and religious traditions. What a great gift is that!
Be at Peace!
Sunday, December 24, 2006
One of ARBORETUM's good friends is Felix from Indiana, also known as Rob and as "ATHiker." One year, Christmas found him on the Appalachian Trail, in the process of through-hiking it from Maine to Georgia.
This is his Christmas Story:
"BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!! This is a warning.The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Winter Storm Warning for all of Western Carolina and Eastern Tennessee."
(ATHiker's stories have been published in hiking magazines and online.)
What a rush to be standing on Max Patch, looking at the Smokys, and hear that kind of weather report, while watching it get ready to happen. Incredible.
I picked up the pace considerably after that. I stopped for a break at
Groundhog Gap Shelter. I was freezing, wet. I knew that I was either
staying there, or getting out of there soon. Too cold for standing
around. My arms could barely move and my fingers couldn't open a Ziploc.
I headed up Snowbird in a steady, heavy rain. I almost regretted
leaving the shelter until I remembered that I could try to get to Mt.
Moma's instead of Davenport Gap Shelter.
"Hmmm, cheeseburgers" I thought. Cheeseburgers,
indeed. I trudged on. It was a little after 4:00
when I crossed under I-40. When I got back into the woods, the clouds
and rhododendrons made it look
much, much later. When I got to Davenport Gap,
it was dark. I stood on the gravel road, cold rain falling, Smokys mere
feet in front of me.
"Felix," said the cheeseburger. "Yes?" I replied.
"Go to the light, boy". As I walked down the muddy road, I could feel
the magnificence of the Smokys to my right. I couldn't see it, but I
could surely feel it. I could smell it. It was wonderful.
I walked what seemed like 6 hours in that rain and fog. It was only
about 45 minutes, though. When I could finally see the lights of Mt.
Moma's through the fog, I was happy. I walked in the door at 15 minutes
'til 6. Every eye in the place was on me. A long-haired, long-bearded, soaking wet hiker walks in an hour after dark? He's crazy. --God, I love being crazy.
"You got someplace where hikers stay?" I asked a room full of quiet, starin' folx.
"Well, there's the bunkhouse," a bewildered woman said. She said
something to the man next to her and he left the room. "Go to the pink
bunkhouse and I'll get you a plate of food."
"How about one of those Texas Cheeseburgers" I thought. Well, I liked
the thought of it so well that I said it, too.
"The grille's closed. I'll get you a plate of food."
I went outside to wander around the parking lot in the pea soup fog and
rain. I saw the bunkhouses, but couldn't tell which one was pink.
Finally, the man who had left the room walked up with a flashlight and space heater and directed me to the pink bunkhouse. He told me to put on
some dry cloths and come back inside and get my food. I
I looked at the disposable cameras on the counter. I could not buy one.
Luck was taunting me. It knew that I had $11, American. It knew that my
'room' was $10.
I knew that Mt. Moma took no credit card. I took the
single remaining dollar and bought a Pepsi. I took my Pepsi and a picnic
basket of food, and a towel, with me back to the bunkhouse.
I cuddled up next to that space heater and ate. Ham, sweet potatoes, dressing,
green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls and the best cupcake I've ever had.
Easily, this was the most special Christmas Dinner of my life. It was in a room no bigger than 10X10. I sat on the floor. I ate alone. After dinner, I took a long, hot shower.
Life was good.
This night will remain as one of the most sentimental, special nights of
the hike, and my life.
That was 8 years ago tonight.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
One current and one former member of the University of Wisconsin men's hockey
team were charged with criminal damage to property on Tuesday.
look here for article: http://www.madison.com/tct/news/index.php?ntid=111969&ntpid=5
Quite a few of the readers of these lines are fans of Michigan Wolverine Hockey, and at least one is a good fan of Spartan Hockey. They all wonder, how did clowns like this win the national championship? Our guys would never be so .... well, so utterly undignified.
Congressperson Virgil Goode. And, if you don't know why, you have missed the rantings of a true "Christian" holiday fruitcake.
Friday, December 22, 2006
The couple has arrived safely just as scheduled and on time! It was a long tedious flight, but all went extremely well. They have sampled Paraguayan beer. They have traveled to the capital city, Asuncion, and seen some of the sights. They are very happy.
Many of the readers of these posts know the couple well, and I am happy to share the news with you.
There are so many good choices this week for Wacko. And of course, I welcome your votes and comments. How about Tara Connor who was so stupid she willingly threw away her Miss America Crown.
Or how about Donald Trump who gave the fool her crown back again? We all know what you're up to Donnie. Shame on you
Or how about Dontrelle Willis whose drunken behavior got him arrested where simple cooperation would have probably gotten him a pass? A marlin gaffed into the slammer in Miami? Seems incongruous. You had to work hard to let that happen, you wackjob.
And a fine nominee is Mike Nifong, that D.A. from North Carolina who not only screwed up a rape case until everyone in the world hated him, but he insisted on doing it publically so that we could all watch. Fine choices.
But, in my opinion, the real WACKO OF THE WEEK has to be someone else. STAY TUNED!
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
HEADLINE: Report Reveals 2.2 Million Borrowers Face Foreclosure on Home Loans...
This headline represents another blow against class warfare. I have heard Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney say that criticism of the wealthy represents 'class envy.' The theory is that those who are poor (i.e., those who are "failures") criticize those who by their hard work and -- just as often -- their inheritance, have succeeded. This is said by Rush and Dick (and others) to be a form of class warfare, the poor attacking the wealthy.
Well, now the poor have lost another battle in the class war. Now they can envy the rich for another reason: the rich have places to live.
By the way, who will get those houses being foreclosed?
Help me out here. I am a terrible economist but some of my friends are much better.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
What do they all have in common?
Which is not like the others?
Which is an endangered specie?
Which is prettiest?
Which has the brightest future?
--- Partial answers are O.K. Partial credit will be given.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Colin Powell is a man I once respected. He served this country in many ways, and I thought, wisely.
At one time, he was the "voice of reason" in the Bush government. It was not until he told me that we should go to war in Iraq that I came around to thinking we should do it. He went to the world to explain why, in front of the Security Council with pictures and outlines and grim predictions. I believed among other things, that the anthrax attacks on Americans after 9/11 was the work of the Iraqis, because they had that capacity. Colin said so. It was a matter of adding one and one.
Well he got his war, and then Colin disappeared from view. He left us when we needed him the worst; rode off into the sunset or something. Went to work for big corporations. And all his words to the world turned out to be untrue. Maybe, just plain damned lies.
Suddenly he has reappeared, ready once again to tell us what's what. You know, I already know what. Colin shut up. You owe me an apology. You owe me an explanation for how you could have been so wrong and deceptive.
You turned out to be a cardboard hero, so like MacArthur, why don't you just fade away?
I hope that I will not be judged by my worst moments, and neither should you be. But your bad moments were very, very bad.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Saturday, December 16, 2006
But, perhaps the news channels are over-covering the story? Just a modest suggestion. One report in a hour is enough. Two is top notch. More than that makes your ambulance chasing disgusting.
Friday, December 15, 2006
The Sierra Club and other organizations are challenging the proposed construction of a large new triple, coal-fired power plant intended for Western Kansas (Holcomb). One of the Club's demands is that money be invested instead in renewable sources of energy, since Kansas is blessed with plentiful wind and sunshine.
One danger is that the plant will produce up to 20 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. After becoming operational, it will be online for at least 50 years. The Sierra Club is also pointing to a great increase in mercury pollution as a result of these new plants, as well as the consumption of billions of gallons of fresh water from the already challenged Oglalla Aquifer.
READ ABOUT IT HERE
Will these plants become "the biggest new polluters in the country," as the Sierra Club charges?
More pictures at: KANSAS NATURAL RESOURCES COUNCIL
Thursday, December 14, 2006
CLICK FOR STORY
At first I thought maybe in an effort to catch up with his brother's Texas execution effort, ol' JEB BUSH has decided to whack 'em twice and count them as two. Now I hear he's stopped them all. What a very strange family.
Hillary Clinton died. As she stood in front of Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates, she saw a huge wall of clocks behind Saint Peter. She asked, "What are all those clocks?"
Saint Peter answered, "Those are Lie-Clocks. Everyone on Earth has a Lie-Clock. When someone lies, the hands on his clock move one tick."
"Gee, I didn't know that, Hillary said. "I see a clock there that's stuck on 12:00. Whose is that?"
"That's Mother Teresa's. The hands didn't move because she never told any lies."
"Well, do you have a clock for me?" Hillary asked.
"Sure," said Saint Peter. "Yours is in my office. I'm using it for a ceiling fan."
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
In the local Saginaw election my father was watching so closely, it turns out some of the ballots can't be re-counted. Williams is charging that there's trickeration going on, and Kahn is claiming victory. In general, an election fraud only has to hold up for a month or two, and then it's too late to do much about it.
Bridgeport teachers are fed up with crowded classrooms. It's pretty rich to hear Superintendant Desmon R. Daniel say, "We have the best teachers in the country... It's unfortunate we are experiencing this tension." It isn't unfortunate, it's a direct consequence of Daniel's hostility. Word on the street is that he just ignores the laws and contract provisions he doesn't like. Loses every grievance, and there have been many of them. He just loves the teachers, you know, but he wants to slap them around a little bit, too.
And finally, I see that Charles Littleton -- the SVSU student who wouldn't take off his baseball cap at a Saginaw City Council meeting -- is looking for an attorney to help him protest being Tasered. Some macho cops like to use the Taser like a cattle prod to get compliance with orders, which is flat wrong. It's a weapon and should be used for protection, not persuasion. Thing is, the sequence of events here is important. Littleton claims he was engaging in civil disobedience when he was shocked. However, there was a scuffle in which the dude broke a cop's finger (like, on purpose? Or maybe with his jaw?), and will probably have to do some jail time. I don't know just what happened in this instance, but I do know this guy is no Rosa Parks.
I'll leave it to others to "balance" the commentary on Gen. Augusto Pinochet's death with praise for his free-market economic reforms. Pinochet was a despot, a murderer and a fraud. He cheated death until 91, finally succumbing on Sunday as loving family members stood at his bedside and caring doctors did all they could to ease his pain. His regime exterminated more than 3,200 human beings for their political views, and most of them had to die young, alone and in agony.
So keep that in mind when some people try to tell you that Pinochet really was an OK guy who did a lot of good for "our interests" in Chile. The people of Chile could not have hated the bastard more. In an election where he was the only guy on the ballot, he lost -- badly. That should give some indication of the opinion held by those who knew him best. Among his crimes, in all probability, was the car-bomb murder of an Allende diplomat in the United States.
American "interests" abroad often mean what's profitable for American corporations, and by that standard, Pinochet may have been terrific. But if you like things like democracy or civil rights or the rule of law, well... "not so much" as Sistah K would say.
Down in Venezuela, the voters have returned the colorful president, Hugo Chavez, to another six-year term. The GOP administration likes to call him a "dictator," by which they mean he's hostile to U.S. business interests. Yeah, he's nationalized the petroleum industry, and is spending the money on all sorts of public-works projects. And he's certainly got a socialist streak. But he's popular, and if you believe in democracy, it's their country and they can run it however they damn well please.
But one wonders if the CIA is already looking for a Venezuelan Pinochet.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
While the prospect of a long siesta in the tropics is exciting beyond measure, getting everything lined up for a month away from home is much less relaxing. There have been doctor's appointments, errands to run, a little shopping to do. For her, lesson plans to write (in spades). I went and got a haircut today; it's nice, but not quite what I asked for.
We had to transport the fish over to Davester's, and try to visit with all our amigos before we take off. Both of us have been trying to get to the gym so we don't look too soft and prosperous on our "official" honeymoon, and as a precaution against the Chaco sunshine, we've been indoor tanning a couple days a week. Frankly, I feel a little frazzled.
Tonight, we have to get serious about packing. While we're down yonder, we'll be attending any number of parties, and at least one wedding. We're supposed to prepare for weather raning from warm and wet to extremely hot and dry. Oh, and pack some gifts -- lots of gifts! I don't feel at all prepared in that regard.
I wish I had taken tomorrow off of work as well, but I think that would be pushing it. My bosses have been extremely flexible about this, but virtually insisted that I take the entire time off. I offered to try to work from there, but the chief wouldn't have it.
So it's a month of decompressing. I hear the pace of life is much slower -- things happen when they happen, and there's no point being in a hurry. Sounds great. I think I'll have another cerveza, senor.
1. "All we asked for was inclusion and now we're getting hate mail and angry messages."
--- Rabbi Elzar Bogomilsky, Seattle
[AND, we might add, he got a world-wide negative press onslaught.]
2. OLMERT admits Israel has Nuclear Weapons.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Then why is he running around loose, much less running for office?
Early this year, the government was reportedly investigating him for bribery. In March, some of his aides were subpoenaed by a Grand Jury. In May, his home was searched and the F.B.I. made off with (it is reported) $90,000 from his frezer which (they have leaked) was bribe money they paid him. 'Marked' money they say.
Dennis Hastert had Jefferson's Congressional offices searched and documents seized.
Yet, this man is still on the loose. He has run for reeletion and, in the absence of an arrest or charges, he has been voted back into Congress.
Now he's Nancy Pelosi's problem.
Maybe it's because the Justice Department, which is investigating him, is just as incompetent and unfit for office as the rest of this Bush government. It's another US government miscarriage in Louisiana like FEMA's.
The Flapping Jaws all over talk radio will turn this into Democratic Party corruption. But it's not. This matter should have been dealt with months ago --- months ago when Pelosi took away his committee assignments. Now the Democrats, just like the rest of the country are stuck with this guy again!
Our children always enjoyed this. Their Grandmother gave it to them as a present and then renewed it every year.
It contains so many interesting things for kids and made for lots of conversation. It helps you rear your children to be conservation-minded and to appreciate the natural world. The photography is wonderful.
It is a great gift for kids on your shopping list.
*NOTE: None of us is active in this organization. This is not a self-promotion.
READ ABOUT IT HERE
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Look carefully, you'll see ACLU written on this guy's shirt!
Now, if you take out the "s" and "a" from "santa." you're left with only the "m." What kind of a stupid holiday is "m"?
Like, Dude: "I wish you a Merry "M"?
LET THIS BE OUR RALLYING CRY: Put the AS back in MAS!
Saturday, December 09, 2006
According to Yahoo "A migrant worker threatens the girlfriend of his employer during a standoff at a traffic overpass in Xi'an in north China's Shaanxi province Friday."
This is being done with a hatchet! In the US, where we find disenchanted workers, students, lovers, wives, husbands, and children shooting each other, this is a refreshingly quiet approach to throwing a less-than-lethal snit. You might call it eco-friendly mayhem.