Scientists have discovered the birth of a supernova this week which perks my curiosity. Pondering the universe is a thinking hobby of mine and the concepts of novae, black holes, the dimension of the universe, etc. allow for much dreaming.
Considering that black holes were only a guess and a subject for sci-fi movies when I first became aware of cosmology brings about a sense of discovery and realization of theory into fact.
A supernova is basically the death of a massive star. This particular one is expected to turn into a black hole. The discovery of this supernova was caught using a satelite that measures gamma ray bursts. Following the burst is the visual death of the outer portion of the star and if you have a fairly powerful telescope and live in the Northern Hemisphere you should be able to view it.
The distance from Earth in cases such as this always leaves me in awe when pondered more deeply than merely hearing the numbers. Located in the constellaton Aires this supernova is 440 million lightyears distant from us. To think how long the light from this particular stars collapse took to reach us leaves me awestruck. This event is actually history, long ago history, I mean a really long time ago history.
If there was a world (I'll name it Katrina) like ours near this star with sentient beings with a similar technology and they of course realized that this star was going to collapse and destroy them they might be frantically trying to signal anyone beyond their planet to help them. And let's imagine that their signal reached the earth instantaneously. That would have been futile for the Katrinians as humans didn't exist. In fact that signal would not have been during the age of dinosaurs, that signal was far before then. It would have arrived in the early Silurian Period, a time of the first reefs, rapid evolution of fish, and the beginnings of spiders, centipedes and vascular plants. Important for life on Earth, but completely useless for the Katrinians watching the impending supernova.
If we could imagine that the communication signal came just a few years ago, we would be forlorn because there would be nothin we could do. "Sorry, we can't help you," in fact we can't even get a signal to them before they all die to tell them "sorry, we can't help you." In fact they had all died ages and ages ago. But we can imagine planet Katrina and imagine the Katrinians preparing to die because of the supernova AND we can watch the star do its thing. We can also imagine (and hope) that some planet (call it planet Fema) with sentient beings that was located much closer to planet Katrina came to rescue those beings just in time, like a good sci-fi movie. Hopefully the Femians didn't leave many Katrinians behind to die.
Astronomers this coming week are watching a display that might be thought of as an old (anciently old) cosmic movie. This all happened so long ago, but the light has finally reached us to let us in on the event. This is like turning on some bizarre TV. The channel shows live what happened multiple millions of years ago. The promos for this bizarre TV channel would go something like this, "Watch ancient history, live as it happens" and they would be completely accurate.
Reality in space depends on which cosmic TV station you're watching and from what seat in the universal theatre. If you're a Katrinian or Femian the event happened long ago and is replayed on their Ancient History Channel, but to us it is live, yet isn't.
A reaction to the Dubai port sale from those in favor of it is to blame the crowd that is alarmed by the sale as affected by Islamaphobia. And I tend to agree.
But why has so much of America become afflicted by Islamaphobia? The gut answer is 9/11, but my feeling is that it is deeper than that. It is our reaction to 9/11, or at least the reaction by the Bush Administration to 9/11.
Certainly we needed to become more aware of the dangers of Al Qaeda type terrorism and defend against it. One of those ways was suppose to be Homeland Security. HSD was supposed to improve or defenses to terrorism. Yet here we are full circle. We are alarmed that Dubai is purchasing many ports on the East Coast. The 9/11 Commission gave our port security a grade of a D- and that was mostly because we only check about 10% of the containers coming into the country. That percent hasn't changed, so the alarm of an Islamic country taking control of the port business again points out the lack of improvement in port security. It really doesn't matter who owns the ports, but whether we have made progress in security, which we haven't.
Understandably one reaction to 9/11 was to go after Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, most people in this country had no objection to the Afghanistan War. But Iraq? There is still only the small excuse that Iraq was somehow part of a broad War on Terrorism. Now a few years into the Iraq War, most Americans still don't understand the Middle East, Islam, the difference between Shiites and Sunnis, to the point that the recent events of the destruction of the Mosque outside of Baghdad means little to the uninformed American except that somehow the Islamic people are nuts.
George Bush pushed us into the Iraq War and had to get enough Americans to believe that the Middle East needed America to set some things straight. To do that Bush had to play on the inner emotions of Americans using various means. To some he used the noble cause of promoting democracy. To some it was the use of fear of Islamic fundementalism. To some (like me) there was no argument that was believable coming from Bush. But the result of Bush's efforts a few years down the road is that many Americans have tilted toward an Islamaphobia, a fear of anything Islamic.
Phobias toward countries that we are at war with has occured often in our history. The best examples were the Japs and Krauts from World War II. Phobias of Japanese and Germans was rampant to the point that we had interment camps for Americans of those descents. Phobia toward Islam is evident in Guantanemo Bay where we have a prison camp holding Arabs that for the most part have nothing to do with some war on terrorism. Most Americans hide their head in the sand and ignore Guantanemo Bay, ignore the holding of people without trials.
Yes, America is afflicted by Islamaphobia. There probably will be no healing of that phobia until we withdraw from Iraq. We have to get most Americans back to doing what they do best, ignoring the rest of the world. Having the daily Iraq War footage only intensifies the phobia.
Bumped Butt Bone
The other day I bumped my butt bone and now it's been bugging me. That's not to say that I have a bug in my butt, that would be awful. But, my butt does hurt.
I think it happened at work, I vaguely remember bending down to pick something up and when I stood up my butt made hard contact with something like a table. It's one of those injuries I get when I work, where I bump, burn, wrench or cut myself somewhere on my body but don't stop to really investigate what happened because I'm concentrating or hurrying on a task. It's not until later that I notice I hurt.
Now this bumped butt is a bummer or is that my bumped bum is a butter? I can only sit down in certain ways without pain. Driving a car is one of those places where sitting is none too comfortable. And an easy chair is not easy! Sitting forward is painless, so a toilet seat is more comfortable than laying back on a couch, this is not fair. I feel like I'm in the bizarro world for seating. Standing or walking is painless, but I can't do that 24/7. And don't mention bending over, owwww.
The spinebone is connected to the butt bone, the butt bone is connected to....I guess nothing. It's the end of line, so to speak. I looked up the medical word for the butt bone and that word is hardly comforting, it's the coccyx, pronounced cock-sicks which according to the dictionary is so called because the bone is the shape of a cuckoo's beak. Which I don't quite get, wouldn't that be the kook-sicks?
I've been telling people that I hurt my coccyx and I get strange looks, afterall it does sound more like something located in a frontal location, groin high. No, I didn't hurt my cock and it ain't sick either. Someone asked me if I got that word out of a thesarus, I said "yeah, the sore ass, because that's what I've got."
I can only say at this point that I hope this discomfort goes away. I'm guessing that I slightly fractured my coccyx, but what could a doctor do, put me in a waist cast? It will just have to heal over time. So for now I'm trying not to sit too hard or in a formerly relaxing manner.
Dubious on Dubai
The latest controversy is the sale of US port systems from control by a British company to the country of The United Arab Emirates and a company called Dubai World Ports. Politicians from both parties are jumping on Bush in opposition to the sale.
I wish I could garner some outrage or even some mild disgust but I don't find this unusual in the world of global capitalism. Nothing is very sacred as to who owns what anymore. I don't understand why we didn't question ANY foreign country running our ports. So what if Britain is considered a friend, does that mean that all the employees of that British company were are friends as well?
But we've sold out long ago. Free trade has mixed up every industry here in the US. Cross country ownership backed up by World Trade Organization rules that Bush and Clinton both liked. Here in Michigan thanks to free trade rules FORCES my state to take Canadian garbage to despoil more of our land occupied as landfills. The state has tried to stop the importation of the trash, but the WTO has rules and the US is a signator to the WTO.
The last two US auto companies (Ford and GM) are hurting from unbalanced trade where Asian countries restrict American imports, but the US allows all foreign cars for sale in the US. So, we will respect the WTO when it comes to garbage, but not when it comes to autos. We allow foreign auto companies to build cars in the US but the same isn't true for the American auto companies as to Asia unless it is through a government coalition company like in China.
We have a German company now owning what used to be a member of the "big three" auto companies, Chrysler. So, what difference does it make if an Arab country is running some of our sea ports? Does it make any difference when we know that only about 10% of containers are checked? Does it matter if those containers don't get checked by that British company or this United Arab Emirates company?
Now, I think it makes a difference, but most Americans haven't seemed to care that foreign companies run things all over the US. Most Americans don't care that our huge national debt is paid for by foreign countries. Most Americans don't care that we are trading decent paying manufacturing jobs for lower paying retail jobs.
Most Americans aren't aware that history has a few lessons about this. Going back to the other dominate economic nations in the past, giving up the manufacturing and craft industries was a precursor to economic decline. Before us it was Britain, Spain and The Netherlands that lost their production strength. They as us started relying on the world to be their workers and creators of new technology, products and new ideas. We are about halfway (just a guess) to becoming a declining economic power. We are giving away our strength for one simple reason, greed at the top of the economic food chain.
It wasn't enough to make millions for the elites of the business world, they wanted much more. But when the day comes that most Americans finally understand what we've been giving away, they need to blame themselves for laying down or falling asleep and not paying attention. OK, maybe this port deal is the wake-up call, but I doubt it. Congress might block the deal, but they have let so many other deals fly right by them that if they do block this deal it is only a small drop in the ocean.
Lame Excuses For Cheney Shooting, Bush Spying
This past week I've read several editorials and letters, and seen enough pundits to make me barf that are laying out the same lame excuse for Dick Cheney's shooting. The line goes like this; It's a personal matter, it's not for the public to worry about.
This is just more claptrap that the Cheney/Bush supporters would never have said if the tables had been turned and it was a Democrat in the White House. But I don't care which party is in the White House, this is certainly the public's interest. Let's start with the fact that Cheney is paid by the American people through our taxes, Cheney is our employee, he answers to us. Let's add the fact that while on his hunting trip he had secret service and aides also paid for by us by our taxes. Cheney's travel to his hunting trip was footed by the taxpayers and if he had bothered to get a hunting liscence, we would have probably have had to slip him the seven bucks for that too.
So when my employee, the vice president, is out shooting a guy in the face on my dime, I want to know about it. I want to know all the details, I want to know if my employee is being responsible. Only someone that believe an employee can essentially give the finger to those that pay him should be saying it's a "personal matter."
Let's as well compare this to the corporate world. Corporations believe they have the right to delve into our personal life, they drug test, they use lie detectors, some companies are even firing people for smoking cigarettes (a legal product) off the job. Well, Cheney comes from the corporate world (CEO of Halliburton) he should understand if his employers (the American people) would like him to submit to a drug test and a lie detector test. I say let's clear up what really happened on that ranch that day, put Cheney in a chair and submit to a lie detector.
As to the Bush domestic spy program, the lame excuse is "well, if you're not guilty you shouldn't be against the government eavesdropping on your conversations." Again these are Bush/Cheney supporters for the most part, Republicans who USED to say they hate big brother government. They now apparantly trust our government, a government that spied on such "terrorists" such as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon among the multitudes our government in the past "feared." Again let me reiterate, all the money spent spying on people who we have nothing to fear from (those who are not guilty of anything) is a waste of my money (taxes).
The big brother government Republicans and supporters of Bush have now fallen in love with is driven by vague fear, a fear the big brother Bush has been yapping at us for about four years now. These people now like a government that is moving to practices that are more in vein with fascism or state communism. These were the big brother governments we fought against, now we are becoming like them, in fact cheered on by the right, "Go big brother Bush, go!"
Spying on Americans is wrong, we don't do that in a democracy. They did that in fascist and communist countries. They do that in theocracies like Iran, they do that in dictatorships, like when Hussein ran Iraq. When did we decide we want to be like those type of countries? When Bush said so, that's when. And apparently when all the blind faith followers of Bush agreed with him.
Bush can be refered to as Commander in Chief of our armed forces, but when did he get the added title of Commander in Chief of the American people?
Curling, Is It A Sport?
I've been watching intently the Olympic curling tournament. For those of you that don't know curling, it is basically a sport where rocks with handles are slid down a sheet into a target. The sliding rock is helped by players who sometimes sweep the ice to encourage the rock further down the ice.
My girlfriend calls it "just sweeping, any janitor could do it." I call it an odd combination of billiards, darts, bowling, golf, AND sweeping. But it is none of those in any resemblance.
Living in the Detroit area I've been exposed to curling on TV since I was a kid through Canada's national TV, CBC. It should also be noted that CBC has always had the best hockey coverage with its Hockey Night In Canada broadcasts. As a kid I was always intrigued but confused by curling, bored yet with the feeling that this sport was something unique. As an adult, I have no problem catching a few "ends" (curlings equvalent to baseballs innings) every once in awhile.
Someday I'd like to give the sport a try. To do that you have to visit a curling club where they would have a number of curling strips to play on. There aren't that many around, although the sport is growing in popularity due to Olympic coverage every four years. Curling isn't highly strenuous and I suppose you'd have to like cool temperature as the air in the curling club mustn't be too warm to mess with the ice. The most physical work in curling is the sweeping, when necessary sweepers may be really sweating up a storm for a minute or two.
The key to curling is the person throwing the rock as that is where the impetus for a rock to curl must start. Down in the target area (the house) the idea is to have the most rocks closest to the center. A shooter tries to place blocking rocks, tries to place close shots, or tries to knock out opponents rocks. A good shooter has the ability to run a rock down past a blocking rock, curl it behind that rock while having enough speed to slowly float it into a close scoring position or knock out an opponents rock while leaving that shooting stone right there after the knock.
The advantage goes to the last stone in the end, having that last chance to finalize the target area. They call this final rock "The Hammer." If no score results at the end of the end, then the same order for throwing transfers to the next end, the same team keeps the hammer. One strategy is to purposely not to score just one point in an end thereby holding that hammer position further into the match. Many teams won't give up the hammer unless they can score two or more points in an end. There are tens ends to a match, having the hammer in a close game in the later ends is a powerful position. The hammer can be related to tennis and having serve, the advantage.
Now, I'm not exactly an affectionado and I don't know all the nuances to the game and I probably don't know all the rules, but I like it better than plenty of other sports. It's a great TV sport as camera men can be in close along the edge of the ice both up by the shooter and down by the target. They also place a camera directly overhead of the target which lets the viewer get a great angle of the house. As well, audio pickup is close and a viewer can listen in on the strategy decisions being made.
Catch a few ends during these Olympics, curling can become addicting.
Cheney Interview, Drinking?
Yesterday I posted about the Cheney interview on Fox News. I failed to mention something that didn't fit right.
Cheney explained that he had drank one beer at lunch well before the shooting. But interesting is that previously the ranch owner and "designated witness" had said that no one had drank any alcohol.
It should also be noted that Fox never aired the part where Cheney said he had one beer. Curious but exactly as I had described a taped interview yesterday, that some questions/answers would be edited out later.
The ranch owner, Mrs. Armstrong, was already caught giving two different versions to the story to two different newspapers, now what of the difference between her no drinking and Cheney's one beer? Or was it more than one beer?
Armstrong was not even a good witness because she didn't actually see the shooting. She said she was in a pick-up truck and saw all the secret service agents running over to the scene and imagined that Cheney was having a heart problem.
And I'm having problems buying that Cheney was in control of his weapon. He shot the man in the face, neck and chest, that's nearly ground level, the birds were that low? And was Cheney really 30 yards away from his victim considering the damage the man received?
We'll probably really never know the truth. Isn't that such a repeatable phrase ever since Bush has been president?
Figure Skating is Irritating
Last night we happened to all be home together (that can be unusual these days with my work schedule and two older teens) and we ended up watching some of the mens olympic figure skating. When American skater Scott Weir did his routine I had to express my disgust with all that is wrong with figure skating.
Figure skating is not a sport, it is not "athletic competition" it is entertainment, at least as it exists these days. What sport requires background music? What sport does wearing frilly costumes constitute importance? What athletic competition needs the competitor to spend much of the event creating graceful hand mannerisms to gain points?
Scott Weir(d?) was the epitome of all that is wrong with mens figure skating. I mean what's with that costume? I thought we was wearing some sort of party dress on his shoulders.
So, first let's fix this costume problem right away. Skaters must have uniform styles such as any other winter olympic event. Put the nations colors and flag on the clothing. And add a number, name optional. And cut off that frilly stuff, you don't see skiers coming down the hill with threads waving in the wind for image effect, which is why figure skaters have that junk.
All those mannerisms should count for nothing. No use of body parts like the head, hands, arms, ass, etc. to play to the judges for points. That's not athletics that's acting. If the competitors want to still play actors they can, but no points just wasted energy. I suggest they do more jumps with the added energy. This goes for floor gymnastics as well when the summer olympics come along.
Cut the music or make them all skate to the same music. Yeah, it will be a bit more boring, but I call for equal competition. Or to really make it interesting, play random music not known by the skaters prior to hitting the ice. I could just hear some skater after the event saying, "I was hoping for Bach, but got Bachman Turner Overdrive instead."
And let's make the scoring more understandable. Geez, I saw scores like 89.45 which meant nothing to me. How do they get to these numbers? Show the math. And what's deductions? A skater tries to make a triple lutz and loses points for a failed attempt? If they make the jump, they get points, if they don't, no points. Simplify.
How about some wild suggestions? Put some hurdles out on the ice, make them leap over some obstacles. Or to really make it interesting, combine the event with the biathlon. A sharpshooter using the skaters as targets would really bring some excitement. Don't panic, rubber bullets. Or make it a real head to head competition, two skaters at the same time and give them hockey sticks.
Oh, I'll probably rile a few figure skating enthusists, mostly women. I imagine gay men won't like my changes to the competition either. Nothing wrong with a sport for gays, but I want to appreciate the sport as well, and frilly costumes, music and body mannerisms have nothing to do with muscles, which is what athletic competition is really about, even for a more sedate sport like curling (which is one of my favorite winter olympic events).
Mens figure skating has become something like an evening on Bravo, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy combined with Project Runway. And womens figure skating is moving toward a combination of The Playboy Channel and Law and Order (sorry Tonya Harding we will never forget). The womens costumes are getting more sexy every four years, I don't mind that I suppose, but uniforms for the women would be in the same vein as for the men. I'm waiting for the day that a breast gets exposed and the sport goes into SHOCK. I suppose we could go to nude skating, I'd watch, the women at least. But seriously...
...I'm barely serious in this particular blog post. Yes, lose the frilly costumes as a first step back to sport respectability.
Cheney Interview, Just As I Expected
Well, I basically predicted how Vice President Dick Cheney would tell the public in my post yesterday. I said I expected Cheney to control the scene. As it turns out he gave his exclusive interview to Fox News with host Britt Hume which aired at 600pm. No surprise there as Fox News has been the Bush/Cheney cheerleading team on the boob tube.
Consider the fact that Fox News does have the highest ratings of cable news stations, yet also understand that the major over the air networks (NBC, ABC, CBS) still far and away have much higher ratings for the evening news. So, as I stated, he controlled the scene by selecting a less viewed news program and choosing Fox News the friend of the White House.
My morning Detroit Free Press included a side article to the Cheney interview story that was illuminating as to how Cheney deals with the press or speaks to an audience, it's almost alway to sympathetic ears. Here is list of his most recent public appearances.
Feb. 9, The Conservative Political Action Conference
Feb. 7, Jim Lehrer, PBS NewsHour
Feb. 3, Laura Ingraham, radio consevative
Feb. 1, Rush Limbaugh, radio conservative
Jan. 20, Hugh Hewitt, radio conservative
Jan. 19, Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, conservative think tank
Jan. 4, The Heritage Foundation, conservative think tank
Nov. 16, the 2005 Ronald Reagan Gala of the Frontiers of Freedom Institute, republicans
Only the Feb. 7th appearance would be considered a non-conservative interview or speech. Jim Lehrer is highly regarded as unbiased or non-partisan. So, even that interview wouldn't even slightly step into left wing territory. Most of his other speechs are given to military troops.
And of course we will never know whether his interview yesterday with Britt Hume was controlled as to questions. Cheney may have asked for a list of questions to be pre-approved or he may have refused to answer some questions with that portion of the interview edited later. The interview was taped, not live, which gives me reason to suspect question manipulation. Pre-approved questions in taped interviews are more common than most TV viewers understand.
Consider as well the two-way street many Washington reporters drive when dealing with politicians. If they hector a politician too severly then the politician is far less likely to agree to later appearances. Many reporters massage a relationship to keep information flowing or appearances forthcoming, former NY Times reporter Judy Miller a strong case in point. Fox News has been cozy with the White House since Bush took office, everyone knows that. They've had several exclusive interviews with Bush and Cheney as with other White House figures from the last five years.
And let's not forget that Cheney has had four days to prepare for every possible question with answers that he has had his aides review and critique. He had the time to prepare for this interview as he did for the VP debate in 2004. Make no mistake his responses were well thought out. American politicians are the best actors in the world.
It would take plenty of inside knowledge for me to believe that Cheney wasn't using Fox News to get an image he desired for the American public. And Fox ate it up as I'm sure they got a little boost in the ratings for their evening newscast to boost their advertising dollars. Once the deal was struck with Fox, I flipped over and monitored Fox for a time and saw their promos running for the big Cheney interview event.
TV media and politics is pure manipulation by all sides which leaves the viewers nothing but glassy eyed stooges
Katrina the Saga Continues
A day doesn't seem to go by that I'm amazed at the ineptitude of the aftermath of Katrina and I don't mean what the storm did, but what our government does or rather doesn't do.
We've just had a GAO report come out that reports that FEMA wasted untold millions of dollars. Untold because they are still counting it up. A soon to be released investigative report from the House of Representatives has already let slip that virtually everyone who had any sort of leadership during the storm failed at providing that leadership. Surprising the report that was conducted by Republicans was honest and direct at passing the blame around to include much of the administration.
From the GAO report one appalling aspect was that in Hope, Arkansas right now sit nearly 11,000 mobile homes that are basically sinking into the ground as they await FEMA's disposition. FEMA won't allow them to be placed in a flood plain (somewhat understandable) but apparently will let them sit on a field that can't support the weight of all those homes. The price of these homes? $301.7 million. Meanwhile evacuees are being put out of their hotels, in many places into homeless shelters while the mobile homes sit empty and sinking. Note to FEMA, mobile means they can be moved!
As far as the Congressional report plenty of criticism goes to Homeland Security (does anyone believe those two words belong together anymore?) Director Michael Chertoff. I've believed this as well since days after the storm hit. Chertoff it will be remembered decided that giving a speech in Atlanta the day after the levees broke was more important than getting involved in Katrina. Today Chertoff is to be hotly questioned before a Congressional committee. I wonder what bullcrap he's going to use to explain his lack of leadership.
I watched most of Michael Brown's testimony last week and came away with two major impressions. First, that although he was responsible for some mistakes and has admitted so, he has until this point in time been the "designated scapegoat" as one senator put it. The other thing that caught my attention was that he testified that he was in contact several times to the Bush ranch in Crawford where Bush was vacationing at the time. It is rediculous for the president or the White House to claim they didn't have any information about the levee problems and flooding.
Bufoonery! If there was any reason that trumps others to impeach Bush, the handling of Katrina is it. And considering the massive disapproval Bush received across the country and around the world in the days and weeks following Katrina you would think that they would be spending much time on ensuring more acts of stupidity don't continue as the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast attempts to begin. Yet, that doesn't seem to be the case as noted above with the mobile homes sitting unused. As well, the rebuilding has been going slow and we're a few months from hurricane season again. It was recently reported that only about a third of the refuse has been carted away in New Orleans, might as well wait for another hurricane to come along and blow those huge heaps away. And forget about levees, they've got no chance to improve them to category 5 hurricane for this season.
New Orleans will never be ready for another hurricane this coming year, there has been too much running in circles led by the inept White House with a Vice President busy shooting his friend while hunting. Oh, wait, I just remembered something. Didn't Bush put Dick Cheney in charge of the Katrina rebuilding? He did, I certainly remember Cheney in one of those photo-ops pointing at a pile of wood looking so concerned and interested. He was photo-oped around for a few days and hasn't been back since. The shooting occured near Corpus Cristi, Texas which is sort of in that region, but I guess he was just too busy spraying his friend with birdshot instead of checking out the Katrina zone for progress. Dick Cheney is just a complete buffoon in the house of buffoonery.
Cheney Shoots Himself In The Foot While Hunting
I'm sorry Cheney didn't shoot himself in the foot, he blasted his hunting friend in the face with birdshot instead. After sitting back for a few days and watching the media coverage of the Dick Cheney hunting incident I've come to the conclusion that this would not have been quite as big of a story had Cheney come forward and told what happened.
Yesterday his victim Harry Whittington had a mild heart attack due to a pellet that had come in contact with his heart muscle. He has been readmitted to the intensive care unit. The condition of Whittington would have been the continuing story (and rightly should be) if Cheney had been more forthright.
Now, it's not unrealistic to wonder if the Vice President has been covering up something for several reasons.
First was the fact that the owner of the ranch was the one who informed the media but not until the next day and then only to a friend reporter. Why didn't Cheney with his coterie of aides not be the one to do the informing? Not one of his aides could begin the process?
Second, now that the incident is out in the open, why has Cheney STILL not spoken to the media, even after returning to Washington? Remember Cheney has no problem talking to the press and giving speeches when it comes to terrorism.
Third, why is his friend former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson all over the cable talk shows describing the hunting incident as if he was there? Apparently (but not confirmed) Cheney took the time to call Simpson and ask that he be the one to play the spin. The spin being that Whittington was out of position when Cheney took his shot at the birds. So Cheney had time to phone Simpson and describe the shooting, yet not the time to inform the public? Or Cheney had someone else call Simpson, but the spin seemed inportant to Cheney, more than facing the public.
Fourth, Cheney has paid a $7.00 fine for not having a Texas hunting stamp. It seems unlikely that this small mistake is a reason to run from the media, but maybe this was what he was worried about. Maybe all of his other hunting trips that's he's been on since he's been the VP have also entailed failures to obtain a liscense. Maybe he's worried that a connection will be made and it will make him seem unlawful as well as an elite above the law.
Fifth, maybe there were other things going on during this hunting incident. Could drinking have been involved? The police weren't notified until long after any alchohol consumption might have been detected. Or could the other people involved be subject to scrutiny for their association to the VP, such as oil or arms industry?
Sixth, it's been reported that Cheney didn't talk to President Bush until Monday, two days after the shooting. One wonders why he didn't talk to his boss as soon as possible.
Seventh, there is no seventh that I can think of yet, someone else may come up with various other reasons to suspect Cheney of covering up something. If the informing had been forthright, Cheney wouldn't be under the microscope to the extent he is now.
One also may wonder why White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan has been completely closed mouthed about all this. Yesterday even though he had been informed of Whittington's heart attack he refused to reveal this to the press in that days press conference. As to the entire incident he has been telling the reporters that the need to refer to the Vice Presidents office for questions. This is common practice by McLellan on any issue he isn't going to speak about, usually with the result of the pertinent office also declining to answer questions. It's a practice that might be called "the silence-go-round."
As a reminder, this is the third hunting trip that Cheney has gotten unwanted press coverage for. The first was when he went hunting with Supreme Court Judge Antonio Scalia at a time that the court was preparing to hear a case against Cheney for his secret energy meetings that involved forcing the release of the meeting notes and list of attendees via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It certainly appeared that this hunting trip smelled of something unethical.
The second trip that the media got wind of was a trip in Pennslyvania where Cheney apparently bagged something like 400 doves in a cage release hunt. Not exactly hunting by the standards of most hunters.
Now, he has shot a person hunting and Cheney has to be worrying that Whittington fully recovers. Whittington is in his 70's and at that age complications are more common and could result in his not recovering. At the least, his face will probably have some unsightly scars.
Cheney's lack of an appearance before the public seems so common of him when the focus is on him when he doesn't want it to be. It also is similar to the whole administration, a veil of secrecy when they want it, openness when they have something to spin.
I think it's time for Cheney to stop his hunting until he has left office. All those trips are paid by our tax dollars and I think he has given up the right to frivolously waste those tax dollars by his "accident." And I think we've finally figured out his "undisclosed location," it's in the field and woods.
This story is not over. There are plenty of questions to be answered by Cheney and you can bet when he finally does talk he will control the scene. He will only answer questions he wants, or he won't even answer questions, only reading a statement. The last time I saw a poll about Cheney his approval rating was less than 30%, even some Republicans apparently don't like him. You've got to wonder how many like him now that he won't talk to the American public about him shooting another human. You have to go back to the 18th century to find a vice president shooting another human, Aaron Burr, remember him?
This is the first cartoon I've drawn in quite awhile. I'm having a bit of a problem with sizing, but I'll fix that in the future hopefully.
I wanted to add some comments as to the above cartoon. First you'll notice I managed to draw the prophet Muhammad without depicting his image in any way. I find this part of Islam so different from Christianity and Judaism at least from the perspective from here in the United States. It's not uncommon for cartoons and humor in general to take pot shots at Jesus and Christianity or for Jews to laugh at themselves, case in point John Stewart does this regularily. Although Muhammad never made it sacreligious to depict his image, he did frown on it as he felt that this would lead to idolatry.
My comment in the cartoon that the box was "sheilding Islam from the vulgarity of the modern world" is a personal viewpoint that Islam is struggling with the 21st century. One the one hand, they've embraced communication technology such as satellite TV and cell phones, yet deplore the "information" that can be viewed through this technology such as pornography and alcoholism, to name a couple of things.
As a amateur cartoonist I've looked on in wonder as the Islamic world has took to the streets with violent protests over a cartoon. It's that old argument of freedom of speech versus what speech is acceptable. The Islam world is struggling with this concept. The people want more freedom of speech, but with limits, at least as concerned with Muhammad. As well, there is the feeling that they have been persecuted and laughed at by the West.
I look at these protests as part of a larger picture. I think the Arab world is essentially in a civil rights movement. They want to throw off the controlling regimes in various countries, they want a type of democracy, they want a voice in how their lives are run. We just don't recognize it as a civil rights movement because many of the voices are wrapped in the language and desires of their religion of Islam.
In some of the countries, Iran and Syria for instance, protest is only allowed by the ruling government and almost exclusively in opposition to the West. We have to wonder if when given the chance to protest, the people in those countries are willing to participate because they are never allowed to spontaniously protest for other issues and in particularily against their own governments. Iran and Syria use similar tactics as George Bush in that they turn anger at their government from within by using fear of others in the world to get the people to forget about their own government.
The White House gives us an endless feeding of fear of terrorism as Iran for instance gives their people an endless fear of the U.S. That's when you know a government doesn't have the full support of the people, the use of distraction to other countries. "Hey, look over there, don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain."
Burger In The Face
The oldest teenager of the house got himself a new job last week. He's now a fast food flinger at MacDonalds. Already he's had a insulting incident that would make anyone quit.
I can only repeat this story as told to me because I wasn't there, but I'm fairly confident that I can trust the general storyline. This happened on only his third day at the new job. He has been trained to run the cash register from day one for the lunch crowd, and anyone that has been to MacDonalds at lunch time can attest that this is probably the most busy and hectic part of the day.
Apparently he took a special order burger and retrieved the burger from the burger makers, you know the drill, and gave it to the customer. Very soon the man returned and angerily said his burger was made wrong and promptly threw it into the teen's face. Unbelievably bad behavior for any human. The teen was so shocked and with an understandingly quick response of embarassment and indignation he told the customer to "fuck off." He then realized the situation was not good and went and got the manager. The manager had him apologize for his bad language.
I questioned him about the customer and he told me that the man was in his forties and was wearing a suit. From that I can only guess as to the customer. I figure the man to be a mid-level paper pusher or maybe a salesman, you'd have to figure the guy wasn't rich or why would he be fighting the lunch crowd at MacDonalds. So, I continue to wonder about this guy, what in the world was in his mind to actually throw a burger at an employee in front of other people? I wonder whether he was having a terrible day and his anger at his own boss maybe became transference into some kid he didn't even know and who didn't even make the burger. In other words was he was taking out his anger from earlier in the day on someone else? Yet, that doesn't excuse this complete rudeness to another person.
And what of MacDonalds? This type of behavior by a customer is tolerated? Anything for a future sale? Isn't the act of throwing food in someone's face something like assault and battery? Shouldn't MacDonalds take legal action against this man? I'm sure the incident was all caught on camera, why weren't the police called?
I certainly wouldn't be surprised if anyone reading this could tell a story or two about customers they've seen treat employees of the company they want service from in similar rude fashion. Is this the result of a country that is now mostly a service economy and the collision of the old saying that many companies use "the customer is alway right" or is this just a case of an isolated jerk who treats the human race as his doormat to wipe his feet on?
I've had incorrect orders given to me at fast food joints and have never reacted in such a manner. I can remember a few years back when our family was on a trip and stopped halfway on the drive at a MacDonalds. Talk about a wrong burger order, two burgers were burgerless, nothing between the buns except condiments. We were a bit shocked and then laughed it up and took it back and slyly suggested that we could use some replacements. The employees realized we weren't angry and we all had some minor fun with the incident.
Finally I'm encouraged that the teen hasn't quit his job. He learned a lesson about the world of consumerism, that some consumers don't understand how to consume. He's also learned that work can be degrading, very few of us in America probably haven't been degraded at some point at our jobs in the past. I had to eventually tell him "welcome to the world of retail."
I feel for him because I've spent my whole life purposely avoiding working at jobs that deal with masses of consumers. I think of those jobs as the modern version of the plantation house nigga (excuse my french), jobs that involve putting your emotions in a box and trying to please people who can't be pleased. Even at my advanced age I don't think I could have restrained my language anymore than the teen did. I'd probably have used every cuss word I know and would have wanted to leap over the counter and smush a Big Mac in that guys face, and then told MacDonalds "I quit!"
Super? Bowl, From Detroit
Finally the Super Bowl is over and take it from someone that lives in the Detroit area, thank the higher power. In any year the hype for this year end game can be way over the top, but as a resident of the host region, the hype has been endlessly incessant.
For the last two weeks it has been almost impossible to avoid hearing about the "big game." And as the game closed in, it became even more impossible. The two local newspapers, The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, have run endless stories to hype the game. Every section (except the classifieds) of these papers had to way in someway.
The Sunday paper was loaded with Super Bowl articles, every section blathering about players, the effects on business, comparisons to the last time Detroit hosted the game, the parties, the A-B list C-lebs, on and on. And then today's paper was just as fat with Super Bowl crap, I mean how many ways can you describe a game everyone saw? And if a person didn't care to see it, there would be no reason to even buy the newspaper.
Now don't get me wrong, I have football interest, but it's just a game among thousands they play every year. I understand the finality of a season working itself through the playoffs to culminate in a last contest. But I don't understand waiting two weeks to get to the game simply to build more hype. I also don't understand playing the game on a Sunday when a Saturday evening game would make more sense to be able to hold their after-game parties on a more reasonable night where people can get back to work on Monday refreshed.
I could understand the hype here in Detroit more if the Detroit Lions were a participant. Unlike all the other major league sports that host cities have teams in their respectful finals, the Super Bowl is played at a neutral cite making Detroiters nothing but sort of peeping toms, spying on something they aren't a part of. I mean geez, with no home team there's no reason to get so over-excited as to burn a few cars or riot.
Maybe my disinterest in the Super Bowl has something to do with the fact that the Detroit Lions have sucked for so many years and have never appeared in the game, that would make XL years. The Lions have to go back to 19-LVII (1957) to be called an NFL champion, years before the Super Bowl. I've long since given up on the Lions and probably wouldn't car a hoot if they should ever get talented enough to appear in the game.
Fortunately Detroit has the Pistons and Red Wings to follow for a taste of championships and every few decades the Tigers become the toast of the town, but not EVER the Lions in my entire years of living.
Well congratulations to the Pittsburgh Steelers and sorry to the Seattle Seahawks (the team I was sort of pulling for) but it's been tiring waiting for the game to come and go. So, get the hell out of town and take the massive amounts of media personnel and the who cares celebrities with you please. It's time for Detroit to clean up after the partying and go back to being the average, grimy, unemployed, freeway quagmired, metropolis.