Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Was Darwin correct? Does this set of photos illustrate evolution or de-evolution? Posted by Hello

It's th' grammer, stoopid! Posted by Hello

Semi-humorous drug joke. Posted by Hello

AIEEEEE!!! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


I wrote this as a response to True American (TA) at www.republicanpower.blogspot.com and thought I might as well put it here too. TA posted about how he had attended a pro-life rally at an abortion clinic. I tend to steer away from this topic, but felt like I had to say some things:


I think “thou shalt not kill” should apply to more situations than just whether or not to abort a fetus. I believe it also applies to the killing of innocent Iraqi civilians, for example. I also don’t believe in the death penalty; if we believe God is indeed the one to make final judgments, why do we insist on playing God… by killing?

Pro-life agitators need to be able to walk the talk by helping to support the unwanted babies that aren't aborted. Programs the pro-lifers despise, like welfare programs or Medicaid, can help unwanted babies born into poverty or bad situations find their way up through the world. I for one don’t mind my tax money going to help those kids, because I think helping them will only make our nation stronger. I also believe pro-lifers should be willing and ready to adopt as many unwanted babies as they can. If you have adopted some of these babies, my hat is off to you. I know of an avid Republican blogger whose family has provided a home for numerous unwanted children. I know a couple of pro-CHOICE families here in my town who have adopted kids. To them and others like them, I say “Bravo”!

I don’t like abortion either, TA. I don’t know of anybody who does “like” it. There is a certain circumstance where I think it should be allowed, though: If your wife were going to die in childbirth, would you let her die in order to save the fetus? That’s an awful question, but I know what I would do. I would save my spouse. She had a very difficult time during the delivery of our first child, and it nearly got to the point of crisis. I’m afraid that if pro-lifers have their way, there will be a dramatic increase in the number of deaths of pregnant women. If you had a teenage daughter who became pregnant, I would bet that you would encourage her to have the baby, you would assure she had good health care during pregnancy, and then you would help her raise the child. You know what? I’m a Democrat, I have two teenage daughters, and that’s exactly what I would do.

There are many Democrats who don’t like abortion. There are many of us who could take or leave it. There are many who would find abortion distasteful but who believe it should be the choice of the woman, not the government, as to what happens to the fetus they are carrying. I don’t think you will find any Democrats who “like” abortion, though.

Abortion is a fact of life in the US, that is, it’s legal. I could tell you to “just get over it” the way many Republicans tell Democrats to “just get over” the fact that Bush is still in the White House, but I won’t say that to you. You are doing what you think is right in order to end the practice of abortions in the US, just as many of us Democrats are doing what we think is right to get the Republicans out of the White House. Both of us do what we think we need to do to increase the quality of life in the country we love.

I only ask you to consider which political party is more likely to help a fetus both before AND after it is born. I think that has to be the Democratic party, which wants to help look after these kids while they are still in utero (i.e. making good health care available to all Americans, including pregnant women who are without health coverage) and once the babies are born into the world (programs like WIC, Early Start… they work!) Why not help make sure the babies are born healthy, and then once they’re here, why not give them some help if they’re born into bad situations or into abject poverty? Why not take a look at the big picture?

Just working to make sure babies aren't aborted isn't enough. That seems to be the Bush focus: just make sure the babies are born. Why not work to make sure that once they're born, their lives aren't a hell on earth?

Monday, November 22, 2004


"But all in all, it's been a fabulous year for Laura and me."
-- George W. Bush, 11-21-01, summing up the year, a little
more than three months after September 11.

"I'm worried about the state of education in America when 51% of
the country fails a 1-question multiple-choice test after having
4 years to study."
-- Anonymous (this quote sent to me by my good friend Steve)

Don't both of these quotes just about "say it all"?

Sunday, November 21, 2004


This is a fun website. Which personality are you? When it comes
to movies, I'm supposedly "Schindler's List": "You put the needs
of others before your own. You strive to help your fellow man."
Sounds like the qualities of a good liberal, eh! 8-)>

http://similarminds.com/othertests.html Posted by Hello


Friday, November 19, 2004


"By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be a boss, and work twelve hours a day." - Robert Frost


I seem to recall one of Dick Cheney's repeated comments during the election campaign as "Deficits don't matter". Well, according to some interesting articles on MSN.com today, Alan Greenspan disagrees. Greenspan was speaking to a banking group in Frankfurt and commented that "the United States should cut its record budget gap to help narrow the shortfall in its current account and avoid a need to offer higher rates of return to retain foreign investment and painful economic consequences."

The rest of this article is at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6529487/ .

After Greenspan's comments, the stock market is down a bit, and value of the dollar slid down further. In an article related to that: "Economists are worried that at some point a declining dollar could mean foreign investors suddenly lose interest in holding dollar-denominated investments, and that could lead them to unload their investments in U.S. stocks and bonds, sending their prices plunging and U.S. interest rates soaring."

This article is at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6519761/ .

What do you think of Mr. Greenspan? What do you think of this situation? Does information like this suggest that the U.S. is actually in a period of economic recovery? What's the Bush plan for dealing with the deficits? Is there a plan, or are they going to let us cruise along as if "deficits don't matter"?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Last night I had the incredibly good fortune of witnessing rock and roll greatness at Berbati's Pan in Portland, OR with my fine friend Mr. Bezoar. After a local SubPop band The Thermals did a fantastic job warming up the crowd, and then after Portland beat-poet Richard Meltzer entertained for ten minutes or so, Robert ("Bob") Pollard and Guided By Voices (one of my all-time favorite bands) hit the stage for something like 2 1/2 hours of GREAT music.

First, the Thermals: check them out if you get a chance. Their drummer alone is worth the price of admission, with his wildly animated style. He literally jumps up and down on the throne while wailing away with incredible power on a drum set that seems to consist of only a bass drum, a snare, a hi-hat and several cymbals. The guitarist is an excellent rhythm player and a good singer, and he coaxes some interesting sounds from his guitar. The bassist is a hi-speed strummer/picker who fairly vibrates as she plays. As a unit, they are very energetic, they have a fresh punk/pop sound, and they're sure worth a listen!

So you may well ask, what's the big deal about GbV? After all, they are a somewhat-obscure rock band that has never produced any hit records. The band's early musical output was very low-fi, which is to say the recording quality was not particularly good. Much of that music was done at home on 4-track recorders. Some of the performances tended toward sloppiness, and the band would include mistakes on the recordings. Despite all that, the early music had a certain charm and grace about it, and during that time period GbV recorded some of rock and roll's all-time best drinking songs. During the past five years or so, GbV has undergone a musical maturation. Pollard has surrounded himself with highly-skilled musicians, and the band has been recorded with better-quality equipment, so the CDs have a sound quality that is more accessible to more people.

Pollard comes up with odd song titles, then writes good lyrics and great melodies, and then he and the band arrange the songs very nicely. That in itself is enough to make them worth listening to on CD, but when they do a show... it's like a great big party where everyone is your friend, and everybody has an incredibly good time! And by the end of the evening, at least 90% of the folks in attendance are in the same frame of mind as Bob and the band! A true evening's entertainment, if you enjoy beer-fueled singalongs!

Bob did his usual high leg kicks, microphone twirling, pouting, posturing... and drinking. Lead guitarist Doug Gillard played crunchy rhythms and intricate riffs, while rhythm guitarist Nate Farley played some fine complimentary parts. Bassist Chris Slusarenko had a very comfortable stage presence, and played his instrument to perfection. Drummer Kevin March pounded his set in a style reminiscent of the Who's late drummer Keith Moon... lots of fast, powerful tom and cymbal work.

As generally happens at a GbV show, Bob gradually became inebriated as the evening went on. Tonight ended up being a tough one for him by the end of the show. I would estimate his consumption at half a fifth of tequila and at least eight or ten bottles of beer. Gone was the familiar cigarette, as Bob told us he has quit. Nonetheless, people in the crowd tempted him throughout the performance! Sometime during the last hour of the show, Bob took a major pull on a bottle of tequila, made a concerned face, stood silently for a moment, and contemplated the crowd. He had crossed the line of drunkeness from which a person can't come back, and in the process, he had caught up with all the rest of us! From then on, he was a bit shaky but despite that he kept with it. At one point he did a sort of kneeling "header" onto the edge of the stage, his head coming to rest between a couple of monitors... but with help from the crowd he was soon back on his feet, majestically rocking on. He persevered, and he performed until no longer able. He sang, partied... performed beautifully... until he was spent. The man truly loves his devoted fans.

GbV pulled some older songs out of their canon that were unknown even to some hardcore fans. Some of the better-known favorites included "Smothered in Hugs", "Buzzards and Dreadful Crows", "Queen of Cans and Jars", "I Am a Scientist" and "Demons Are Real" from the classic old-GbV-lineup's "Bee Thousand" album. Their latest (and supposedly last) CD, "Half Smiles of the Decomposed" was well-represented. I don't recall any songs being played from "Do The Collapse", which was one of my favorite CDs of theirs... but it didn't matter. The show was simply too much fun for any minor details to cause a problem.

There are only a few shows left, and then the group is going to disband. As of earlier today, I believe there were still tickets available for tonight's Seattle show. The band will rest a bit before doing a three-day set of sold-out shows at Irving Plaza in NYC December 3-5. At one of those shows, another favorite band of mine, Chavez, is reuniting. Wish I could be there for that one! (I did some Chavez CD comments a ways back in my blog... check out the "archives" section!) I think the Monday, December 13 show at the Tabu Night Club in Orlando, FL still may have tickets available. The band will take about 2 1/2 weeks off before finishing things up in Chicago with two sold-out shows at the Metro. GbV classic-lineup guitarist Tobin Sprout is the opening act for the December 30 show, and the Go's are warming up on New Year's Eve. If you ever have a chance to watch Pollard and/or GbV perform, it is worth it. He may well get inebriated, and he can get cranky at times... but he is an extroadinary talent.

Enjoy the following pictures. Mr. Bezoar took a number of great shots at the show. He and I were at the left edge of the stage, about three feet from Nate, six or seven feet from Chris, and about 15 feet away from Bob the Master. Rock on Bob, and rock on GbV!! You'll be missed, but I suspect (and hope) there will be a "reunion" tour at some point down the road.


Guided By Voices performs at Berbati's Pan in Portland, OR 11-16-04. Robert "Bob" Pollard is the band's vocalist extroadinaire! (photo by Mr. Bezoar of Bezoar, Inc.)
Posted by Hello


Bob toasts his band's farewell tour with three or four hundred friends, including Snave and Mr. Bezoar! (Photo by Mr. Bezoar of Bezoar, Inc.) Posted by Hello


Sometimes Bob gets a helping hand from his fans, as demonstrated in this fine example of bottle-feeding. (Photo by Mr. Bezoar of Bezoar, Inc.) Posted by Hello


Bob rocks and rolls! (Photo by Mr. Bezoar of Bezoar, Inc.) Posted by Hello


GbV guitarist Nate Farley and bassist Chris Slusarenko (photo by Mr. Bezoar of Bezoar, Inc.) Posted by Hello


GbV guitarist Doug Gillard (Photo by Mr. Bezoar of Bezoar, Inc.) Posted by Hello

"Oh, pick up... for God's sake... When we call you back to the lake!"

ROBERT POLLARD of GUIDED BY VOICES: SINGER EXTROARDINAIRE!! (Photo by Mr. Bezoar of Bezoar, Inc.) Posted by Hello

Monday, November 15, 2004


The following is from MSN. The article can be found at


Forbes.com: Wal-Mart's next victims

by Penelope Patsuris

The world's largest retailing machine is always looking for new worlds to conquer. Here are 5 that look particularly vulnerable, including banking and electronics. When Toys "R" Us said in August that stiff competition from mass merchant Wal-Mart Stores was making it consider exiting the toy business, the news struck fear in the hearts of retailers everywhere. After all, Toys "R" Us pioneered the "category killer" concept that's now employed by big-box specialty stores like Best Buy, Home Depot, and Bed Bath & Beyond. The notion of creating giant specialty stores that cater to a particular product segment has become a staple of the U.S. economy. But Wal-Mart, the antithesis of a category killer with aisles stocked with a vast spectrum of products, is posing a dire threat to this way of business. Wal-Mart had sales of $259 billion for fiscal 2004, ended Jan. 31, ranking it as the world's largest retailer. That sheer size has vaulted it to the No. 1 spot in categories as disparate as food, apparel, jewelry and home furnishings. For fiscal 2005, Wal-Mart plans to add 310 new stores and 30 new Sam's Clubs to its stable of 3,625 locations. Oppenheimer retail analyst Bernard Sosnick expects that by 2010, Wal-Mart will have 3,000 supercenters, up from 1,600 this year, and total company sales of half a trillion dollars.

That kind of growth will make Wal-Mart No. 1 in plenty of other product categories soon enough, and it will put an even tighter squeeze on existing players in arenas that Wal-Mart already dominates, like apparel and food. With a lion like Wal-Mart on the loose, no store is ever safe, but here we've identified five categories that that look particularly vulnerable to its looming threat.

Consumer electronics

Wal-Mart is the second-largest consumer electronics retailer in the U.S. behind Best Buy, but it won't be for long. This spring, it rolled out a private-label electronics line, ILO, which thus far includes low-priced 42 inch plasma TVs, LCD monitors and DVD recorders. That move put electronics stores large and small on notice, as have Wal-Mart's efforts to boost its brand partnerships, introducing Sony and expanding its relationships with Panasonic and RCA. Says retail analyst Howard Davidowitz, "They are going to fry Best Buy's brains out."


The superstore has been trying to get into banking for five years, but its efforts to buy banks in California, Oklahoma and Canada were thwarted by regulators. Wal-Mart has a ready-made market at hand: 20% of the 100 million customers that come through its doors weekly don't have bank accounts. The chain already offers financial services such as check cashing, bill payment and money orders, and it boasts 28 Wal-Mart Money Centers, which are operated by SunTrust Banks, as well as hundreds of other in-store bank branches. The company says it has no plans to get into retail banking, but industry sources say Wal-Mart is still pushing this agenda quietly and is expected to take another run at banking again.


Wal-Mart ranks fourth in the pharmacy business, behind giants Walgreen, CVS and Rite Aid, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. But it is upgrading its profile, rolling out a handful of 24-hour pharmacies in August. Pharmacies are low-margin propositions, and people with health insurance who pay only co-payments aren't price-sensitive. That could put a kink in Wal-Mart's strategy of squeezing supply chains to push down retail prices. But for the shoppers who don't have insurance, many of them its customers, Wal-Mart's brand of competitive pricing would be just what the doctor ordered.


Gas pumps are a huge traffic driver for Wal-Mart. There are 1,555 stations on Wal-Mart properties, 300 of which are operated directly by Wal-Mart's warehouse arm Sam's Club and the rest by third-party vendors like Murphy USA. Launched in 1996, its pumps already have a 3% share of U.S. retail gas sales -- the 10th largest in the U.S. As Wal-Mart's share grows, the only question is whether Wal-Mart will oust its vendors and go it alone. Independent gas suppliers are growing as the oil giants spin off their refineries, which makes that kind of a move plausible, and the sheer number of Wal-Mart locations makes it an appealing partner. Says retail analyst Kurt Barnard, "The volume they could offer would be of enormous interest to refineries."


Wal-Mart may lead the apparel market, but it does so with the sale of mundane items like underwear, socks and sweatshirts. Analysts say that Wal-Mart is losing sales of fashion items to companies like J.C. Penney, Kohl's, and Target, which has had particular success with its lines from Isaac Mizrahi and Liz Lange. Wal-Mart is now gunning for a hipper milieu with George, the No.1-selling British apparel brand that Wal-Mart landed when it bought its parent, U.K. retail giant Asda, in 1999. Wal-Mart also stocks the Mary-Kate and Ashley line, licensed from the famed Olsen twins. Look for the retail giant to start sprucing up its clothing displays and marketing these brands more heavily as it reinvents its fashion sense.

Snave's additional commentary:

So O.K., when is enough of this enough? How many more merchants and vendors will large outfits like Wal-Mart have to buy or put out of business before they are satisfied? All of them? Maybe there should be some limits.

Media ownership is now concentrated amongst a handful of people. Should stores and businesses be the same way?

What will the next 20 or 30 years hold? Should the U.S. eventually let Wal-Mart own and run just about everything? They'll be major players in the banking industry soon, and it sounds like maybe they could be rich enough to buy or start their own oil company. They continue to make inroads in the fashion industry. They've introduced their own electronics line... when will they introduce their own line of automobiles and undercut the auto industry? When will they start manufacturing and selling home appliances?

Maybe Wal-Mart will make enough money that it can get into manufacturing large quanities of big-ticket items in earnest. Of course their factory employees wouldn't get to unionize... but there would be lots of factories in which they could work. They could get hired by Wal-Mart (for lower wages, and without benefits) after Wal-Mart puts their factories/companies out of business. They could run just about all our factories and hire just about all our factory workers, and produce just about all our consumer goods. Doesn't that sound like the next worst thing to just having all of that stuff run by the government?

Thursday, November 11, 2004


This is interesting stuff, dug up by Ms. Liberty. Please, go read this: "Worse Than 2000: 'Tuesday's Electoral Disaster' " at http://msliberty.blogspot.com/ !


Today is the day to proudly remember those who have fought and died for our country. Without them, we would not be a free country today. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I understand this is a great place to go to school. No critical thinking skills necessary! (source: www.whitehouse.org ) Posted by Hello

(source: www.whitehouse.org ) So, he resigned due to poor health. Anybody think his health will return once there is an opening on the Supreme Court? Posted by Hello

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

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(from www.northernsun.com ) Posted by Hello
J. Marquis made some good comments about Wal-Mart over on his blog "Are You There Yet". I ranted a bit there and will repeat most of that rant here:

Wal-Mart is maybe my least favorite store on the face of the planet. I'm a "liberal elitist", so the store in our town seems to me like little more than a big Hillbilly Mall. You can find very few things in the store that are made in America, but because the store portrays itself as patriotic and all-American (they sell flags, they sell lots of patriotic music, and they have a huge book section devoted to Bibles and to the "Left Behind" series, after all), people don't seem to question the lack of American-made goods.

When their favorite little downtown clothing store closes, or a local electronics shop has to close its doors, people around here seem to shake their heads and say "What a shame they couldn't make it"... and then they go ahead and shop at Mall-Wart, seeming not to care. The little guy who is struggling to make it in the local business workd gets squeezed. Small business is crushed once more by the corporate giant...

And yes, I admit it, I shop at Lord WaldeMart* now and then. Many of us are being held hostage due to having to operate on tight budgets; the place does have the lowest prices... sigh... it's a case of sheer marketing genius on their part.

I definitely do make an effort to patronize other local businesses... I would much rather keep more of the money here, in the local economy, than see it sent to Arkansas. Sure, the giant hires lots of locals to work in the store, and their wages go back into the local economy in many ways... but they are paid dirt wages and they can't organize or they'll be fired.
I didn't go to Mall Wart's FOX News Emporium and Cheap-Plastic-Crap-Source on Election Day. I didn't think it would be a good place to go, considering I'm one of those Blue State Elitists, after all. It might just have been way too depressing.

* - semi-humorous Harry Potter reference

Monday, November 08, 2004

THIS BEAUTIFUL BIRD IS A RED-SHAFTED FLICKER, COMMON IN N.E. OREGON. I used to love watching these guys when I was a kid. They would eat ants on the sidewalk in front of our house! This photo was taken by A. Wilson and can be viewed on the USGS site at http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i4120id.html . Posted by Hello

ANOTHER STELLAR'S JAY! (this one was photographed by Don DesJardin and can be viewed with all kinds of other GREAT bird photos at http://www.camacdonald.com/birding/ !! Posted by Hello