Saturday, March 31, 2007

April fool

Some people think it's holding on that makes one strong; sometimes it's letting go. - Sylvia Robinson

I've never been good at letting go of certain things. Or at least not since I reached an age where letting go became an important concept. And I've never understood what makes people like me who have trouble letting go of stuff the way we are. Which, of course, is something else I can't let go of. (Sorry for ending the sentence with a preposition.)

Letting go...moving on. Is there a difference between the two? Why am I able to so easily let go of some things and not others? Is it ego? I certainly have more of that than I'd like to. And I'm also a lot more sentimental about things that surprise even me.

I'm not really going anywhere with this...just wanted to share the quote and hopefully solicit some opinions from folks who are good at moving on / letting things go...

Speaking of sentimentality, April 1st marks my seven year anniversary of sobriety. (Actually, the exact date was probably March 30th or 31st - or maybe April 2nd, I can't honestly remember. But April 1st is easier to remember, plus I like the symbolism of it being April Fools' Day. Thus, it has become Danny's Sobriety Anniversary {Observed} Day.) So...yay me. And that's something I don't mind not letting go of, anyway...

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

getting away with it (again)...

From the great Chris Floyd at Empire Burlesque...

It's clear that no nation on earth will be allowed to organize its own society as it wishes, or work out its own internal conflicts, if the American elite decides they have some financial or strategic interest in the matter.

And Gore Vidal says in two sentences what I’ve been trying to say in dozens of long-winded, soapbox-y posts…

“Although We the People of the United States are the sole source of legitimate authority in this land, we are no longer represented in Congress Assembled. Our Congress has been hijacked by corporate America and its enforcer, the imperial military machine..."

Read the rest about our next (current, actually) targets for regime change...the strategically important (and, not coincidentally, quite oil-rich) Somalia. The ruthlessness, secrecy, dishonesty and unconscionable greed of this administration are quite possibly without precedent in modern times.

Getting Away With It: Rendition and Regime Change in Somalia

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I know what necrophiliacs are...

But is there a word for people who fuck the survivors of the deceased? I know all major newspapers are guilty of this, but this is what $400+ gets you in the Dallas Morning News obituary section...

REID, SYBIL ELAINE, Born December 19, 1913 in Denver, CO and passed away March 23, 2007 in Dallas, TX. She is preceded in death by her husband, Percy R. Reid and brother, James Dilts. Elaine is survived by her sons, James D. Reid and wife, Lynda, Robert L. Reid and wife, Helen and John R. Reid; 3 grandchildren, Ray, Deborah and Daniel Reid; 4 great grandchildren, Matthew, John and Rachel Reid, Caroline Roberts; sister-in-law, Mae Rene Dilts; niece, Rebecca; nephew, Russell. She loved her family, liked to read and was a 50 year member of Trinity Presbyterian Church. A graveside service will be held 11:30AM, Monday, March 26, 2007 in Restland Memorial Park. Family will receive friends from 10-11:00AM, prior to service. A memorial service is scheduled for 3:00PM at Grace Presbyterian Village. Memorials may be made to Grace Presbyterian Village, 550 E. Ann Arbor, Dallas, TX 75216 214-376-1701. Restland 972-238-7111

OB6 Obituaries, Notices - Published in the Dallas Morning News on 3/25/2007.

"She loved her family and liked to read." Well, that's a nice summation of a lifetime of ninety-three years, isn't it? There was quite a lot more to my grandmother's story than that, obviously. And our family certainly would have liked to include more about her history and the type of person she was. But after shelling out $500+ on flowers and whatnot to the Restland folks (who also tried to swindle us out of some additional money...but I won't get into that little breach of ethics), that's pretty much all the family could afford for the obituary.

The death/funeral-related industry has got to be the biggest racket allowed by law. And it shouldn't be because the "sevices" they provide - or, more accurately, the amounts they charge the grieving relatives because they know the families have no other options - are downright criminal, in my opinion. I've never understood how it's any different than price-gouging or mafia shakedowns. The whole industry is one big scam. They operate under the pretense of helping those in need who are in vulnerable situations. But what they really do is use that vulnerability to drain every last cent they can from the survivors. From the funeral home folks down to the newspapers. Obituaries aren't expensive because they need to be. Everyone knows the obituary writers occupy the lowest rung on the journalistic totem pole...they don't get paid for shit, they don't actually write the obits themselves...they just type up the pre-written notices provided to them. Where's the expense? I'll answer my own question: nowhere. Obituaries are expensive because the papers who print them know they can get away with it.

So I'm going to take it upon myself to write what I think is a more appropriate obituary for my grandmother. And the Dallas Morning News can kiss my ass.

REID, SYBIL ELAINE, Born December 19, 1913 in Denver, CO and passed away March 23, 2007 in Dallas, TX. She is preceded in death by her husband, Percy R. Reid and brother, James Dilts. Elaine is survived by her sons, James D. Reid and wife, Lynda of Waxahachie TX; Robert L. Reid and wife, Helen of Houston TX; and John R. Reid of Larned KS; three grandchildren, Ray, Deborah and Daniel Reid; 4 great grandchildren, Matthew, John and Rachel Reid, Caroline Roberts; sister-in-law, Mae Rene Dilts; niece, Rebecca; nephew, Russell.

Elaine, known as "Mimi" to her family, was a caring, devoted and generous person. She was a fifty-year member of Trinity Presbyterian Church and often volunteered with church functions and activities. During her 70s and early 80s, Elaine was a regular volunteer for Meals On Wheels, delivering meals to people her age and older who had limited means with regard to providing food for themselves. She was a survivor of the Great Depression and was forced to relocate to Dallas after fleeing the hardest hit Dust Bowl regions of Kansas and Oklahoma. Elaine lived alone for the remainder of her life after her husband's untimely death at the age of fifty, but she was never lonely. Elaine had a good-natured and often self-deprecating sense of humor that never left her, even toward the end of her life when her physical condition was no longer able to keep up with her lively personality, wit, intelligence and empathy. Her generosity in spirit, sincere caring, and selfless character made her loved, admired and respected by her family. Her life was and will be forever intertwined with those whose lives she touched.

A graveside service will be held 11:30AM, Monday, March 26, 2007 in Restland Memorial Park. Family will receive friends from 10-11:00AM, prior to service. A memorial service is scheduled for 3:00PM at Grace Presbyterian Village. Memorials may be made to Grace Presbyterian Village, 550 E. Ann Arbor, Dallas, TX 75216 214-376-1701. Restland 972-238-7111

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“You’re a hyperlink!”

…as my good friend Elena (who, along with husband Robert are the funniest couple I’ve ever known) told me. I am a hyperlink, therefore I am…? Prolly not.

Anyway, this is a follow-up post to the cockfighting/Amazon brouhaha on the Dallas Observer’s Unfair Park blog about the new law in New Mexico…

One Less Cock to Fight

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

wish I'd thought of this sooner...

Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. - Howard Thurman

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Saturday, March 17, 2007


...I believe that's an accurate word to describe some of my opinions.

Roosevelt had great charm (Acheson made the word an epithet), but I have never thought highly of charm in a man; for that matter, I have never thought particularly well of charm in a woman... I have almost invariably found that charm is used as a substitute for intelligence in persons of both sexes. Thus, I have always been and will remain wary of it.
- Dean Acheson, assistant secretary of state for President Roosevelt, and secretary of state for President Truman

I'd agree with that, which is probably why I've never understood or had much appreciation for flirtation. And, actually, I'd substitute the word "sincerity" for "intelligence" and feel a little better. There are few things I find more distasteful than insincerity.

So I guess that makes me a bit curmudgeonly. Oh, well. I am what I am.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

"cock block"

So acs (well, me) got a little pub today courtesy of the Dallas Observer. Actually, it was quite the shocker to see because I wasn't expecting to be quite so...prominently featured in the article. (And a very special thanks to a really cool guy, Jesse Hyde, for all the effort he's put into exposing the cock fighting issue lately.) Totally weird to see my name in print like that. Freaky, I was reading about another person. (I'm not an "executive" by the way, but I'm sure it works better in an article than "marketing dude.")

You can see the story here, but I'm actually posting because I wasn't able to add my follow-up comments at the end...presumably, because they were too fucking long (big surprise). So instead I just posted a link to this blog in case anyone wanted to see them. And here they are...


Well, I’ll give you “hypocritical jackass,” because I don’t doubt that I am at times.

It’s definitely a slippery slope and I don’t presume to have all the answers. There is definitely a fundamental difference between material like this being intended for educational or entertainment purposes. Educational…I have no problem with. Entertainment…I have a HUGE problem with. But then, who am I to determine the difference between the two or even “intent” for that matter? We have judges and attorneys who fight over that shit all the time and they’re just as stupid and biased as the rest of us are. It’s a touchy subject and not one that I approach lightly; I have always thought of myself as a staunch civil-libertarian and consider the First Amendment pretty much the holy grail of U.S. history.

I keep coming back to a couple different analogies. First, why doesn’t Amazon sell snuff films? (I asked them this repeatedly and they avoided the question every time…mostly because that “response” that Jesse refers to was nothing more than an auto-response they were sending to everyone who emailed about this subject. I had plenty of friends who got the exact same response to their emails, but with different customer service names attached to them.) To my mind, this is no different. Murder, rape, torture, child pornography…all are illegal acts in this country. We can read about them for educational purposes or read and watch fictionalized accounts of such things, and those materials are perfectly legal…as well they should be. But materials that show or promote actual, real-life incidents of those same subjects are illegal. Legitimate retailers in the U.S. cannot sell materials which promote the exploitation and abuse of non-consenting victims. And while I’m not trying to get into the whole “equating humans with animals” argument, the fact is that cruelty to animals and animal fighting is illegal in this country.

The second analogy is one I’ve taken to calling The OJ Scenario. We all remember when the news came out about OJ Simpson’s “hypothetical” confession in book form, right? To me, if OJ wanted to publish a book that detailed how he killed Nicole and Ron, he should be allowed to under the First Amendment. (He shouldn’t be able to make any profit from it, but he should be able to publish it.) But what if OJ wanted to release a DVD with actual footage of the murders? There’s no way in hell that would be legal. And that’s where I think the line is drawn with regard to educational versus entertainment.

I could definitely be wrong about both analogies. I’ve had a few pretty intense disagreements about this whole thing with people I’m very close to who happen to have politics and philosophies that are pretty similar to my own.

But all my ranting and raving aside, the HSUS is suing Amazon on the grounds that it’s violating the federal Animal Welfare Act. From that standpoint, the issue looks pretty cut and dry to me. And, in fact, it’s not just Amazon that sells the stuff. I’ve found plenty of other online retailers who do too. I guess I just want someone to explain to me why it’s legal to do so…or start prosecuting those companies who sell these materials if they can’t.

When I mentioned that Amazon intentionally chooses to sell this stuff, it’s because they do. Unless I’m mistaken, there’s quite a bit of hardcore adult pornography that is legal in the U.S. Why in the world would Amazon or any other online retailer choose to sell materials that promote animal fighting but NOT sell porn? I’ve got to be overlooking some sort of legal hurdle because you can’t tell me there’s not an instant, bazillion-dollar market for porn as compared to the few remaining idiots in this country who consider dog fighting and cock fighting anything other than barbaric. (Then again, Jeff Bezos has people living in Van Horn, Texas right now working on his own private spaceship, while I in comparison may as well live in a van down by the river.)

I could go on and on (obviously). But that’s why I’m pissed. If I could figure out a way to confront Jeff Bezos and ask him face to face to justify this TINY segment of Amazon’s catalog of products, I would. (If anyone happens to have him on speed dial, I’ll buy you a beer if you’ll pass along his number.) And the only part of my morality that I’m trying to encourage other folks to recognize is that intentional cruelty to animals as a form of entertainment is illegal and should be enforced. Period.


Anyway, a very big thanks again to Jesse for all the work he did on what's otherwise a totally ignored issue. And to Merritt for hooking me up with him in the first place. Hopefully, it will generate some more negative publicity for Amazon and all the other online retailers who sell this shit.

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happy ending, not that kind.

Just got an update today on one of the first posts on this hyah site. In part, it read as follows...

...For the past few weeks, my sister and I have been trying to find a caring person to foster and/or adopt what might be considered a "special needs" animal. The following is my post regarding this wonderful dog on the equally wonderful Moonlady Yahoo Newsgroup in Dallas...

"I am desperately trying to help a very sweet, very friendly shepherd/collie mix who is badly in need of a new home. His name is Thunder, though you could certainly change his name to anything you want. He's somewhere between 1-1/2 to 2 years old. He's healthy, though I don't know if he's been fixed or is up to date on his shots. I'm guessing he might not be since his living arrangement is basically that he's tethered to a tree in his owner's back yard, never gets to go inside, and never gets any attention.

"He originally belonged to an older man who passed away a few months ago and the man's widow wants nothing to do with the dog...thus, the neglect.

"This dog loves kids and all people, but will need a special home as he's probably never been housebroken. He so deserves a good home and nice people to care for him.

"Is there anybody who might be interested in taking him in either as a foster or a permanent addition? If not, could you please pass this along to anyone else who might be able to help?"

...By a nice coincidence, we officially found him a new home tonight. Just a few minutes ago, a nice family in southern Oklahoma told me they'd love to foster the dog with the intention of adopting him permanently. They'll be picking him up this weekend to help him start a new, happier life.

Congratulations, pup and new family. Enjoy your new lives together. Thanks for the opportunity to be of assistance.

Anyway, out of the blue today, I got this update on Thunder...

"I just wanted to give you an update on Thunder. We have kept him and he is doing great. He gets along well with our German Shepherd (they make a beautiful pair) and our 5 year older daughter plays with them every day. She loves her dogs and they love her."

Does my heart good to hear that. I wish I could get news like that more often, but I'll take what I can get.

Good for Thunder and The Thunder Family.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

boca tattoo

(...and boca tatas.)

Very nice, TheMander. And the tattoo's pretty cool, too.


Monday, March 12, 2007

the meaning of life

...or part of it, anyway...

 demonstrated by my wonderfully kick-ass niece.

I love that kid. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

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acs 1, brainless chickenshit conservative 0

…in my humble estimation, of course. And many, many thanks are owed to my debating partner in crime, The Amazing Bill, who is infinitely more patient and polite than I obviously am. Bill rocks.

Anyway, here are all the comments on the ACLU / Hutto prison article on Unfair Park. To paraphrase the dumbass in question, calling someone a moron is probably the last resort put forth by someone that has no argument.

(And, yes, I know “dumbass” is the equivalent. But he started it. Or ended it, as the case may be…)

“They treat us like we’re nothing”

Whatever you think about illegal immigration, you understand that the people we are discussing here are coming here fleeing persecution? We are then jailing some of them, some of whom are children, right? How do I feel about that as an American, as a Christian? Well, I’m appalled. It reflects badly on our country and as us as citizens that we just look away. Shame on us. Shame.

1) Comment by bill h — March 6, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

…Which is why it’s so good that you do what you do, Bill. You kick ass. Sez me.

By the way, does anyone happen to know who runs the facility in question? Is it a private company by chance…?

2) Comment by Danny — March 6, 2007 @ 3:56 pm

According to the ACLU
“Pursuant to a contract between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America, Inc. (CCA), Hutto is a converted maximum-security prison that bills itself as a “Family Residential Facility.”
Thanks for the kind word Danny.

3) Comment by bill h — March 6, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

Thanks, Bill. You just defined where the problem lies, at least to my mind…

Somebody PLEASE tell me why we’re allowing our government to source out industries with moral (at the very least) obligations - but no legal regulations, of course - to uphold international (or American) laws regarding human rights, military intelligence, homeland security, the Geneva Conventions, immigration laws, etc., to private corporations. When you do, this is the kind of shit that happens.

Abu Graib, Guantanamo Bay, the tens of thousands of contract employees running around Iraq and Afghanistan with automatic weapons and absolute no oversight whatsoever…All this story is is what happens when unregulated privitization happens on U.S. soil. I really, sincerely hope Amnesty International is paying attention to this story also. Not that the current administration gives a shit what those folks think…

This completely sickens me.

4) Comment by Danny — March 6, 2007 @ 5:26 pm

Now I know why this country is in trouble. It’s reporters that distort the facts and the ACLU that perpetuates them.

First these people chose to bring these children to this country, they are not American citizens. The parents are resisting voluntary deportations and this facility houses them in the interim approximately 30 to 60 days at most. Do you really think they would return for their hearing? Duh…

This was an effort to keep the families together while their status was determined. The alternative is to separate into segregated facilities or go back to “Catch and Release”.

This facility is a converted minimum custody prison, but it is modern and clean. No one is abused.

If you believe everything the Observer and ACLU reports you have a real problem with reality. Next time instead of tugging at the heart strings, tug at the truth.

5) Comment by Kestrel — March 7, 2007 @ 7:48 am

Kestrel, (beautiful name, lovely falcon, often seen around town.)

It’s important to bear in mind that some of these people are Asylum applicants. They are resisting deportation, because they are claiming persecution in their country of origin. Asylum applicants are often not detained and typically do return for their hearings. I’ve personally seen that many many times.

6) Comment by bill h — March 7, 2007 @ 8:24 am

For years we had a wonderful catch and release policy on our southern border. We’ll release you just promise to show up for your hearing. How many showed up for their hearing not many. It’s time to get tough on illegal immigration, as far as I’m concerned they can all sit in detention pending their hearings

7) Comment by Tom — March 7, 2007 @ 10:56 am

Billy h,

Come now, Canada, Lithuania, Honduras, maybe Somalia if they are christian and tell everyone they love Americans, but the fact is most will not seek political asylum until they are detained for immigration violations.

The nonsense in the article about Medical care. They have a small clinic on site, although not staffed 24/7 medical care is available if needed.

They have outdoor play grounds, indoor Gym, and TV. Clothing is provided if needed plus a healthy diet, really shameful No Butler or Spa.

Billy, maybe you would be willing to open your home to these people, It’s possible they are security threats. You know Hezbollah trains their suicide bombers very young. If you are willing to expose my family to a possible threat, shouldn’t yours face the same threat.

8) Comment by Kestrel — March 7, 2007 @ 2:54 pm

I’m making a very narrow point. I’m addressing my comments primarily about Asylum seekers.

The families and children of Asylum seekers should not, in my opinion be jailed. The following report from the Washington Post discusses one of the people incarcerated.

Kestrel, I have known alot of Asylum seekers, all of whom were free, waiting on Court Dates. they could have disappeared and did not, showing up for court dates, because they believe in our system of justice. Some, no all, of them entered the country illegally, because it was virtually impossible for them to enter legally. Somalis in particular come from a country of no infrastructure. Some of them had been tortured, jailed because of their pro-democracy activities, or for being Christian. Many of them turned themselves in to the authorities, as did some of these people. Yes, I realize that some people abuse the system. Yes, I realize that there are security risks. I am expressing my own opinion that it is a risk, I think we should take.

“The report recommended that ICE parole asylum-seekers while they await the outcome of their hearings. It also said that immigrant families not eligible for parole should be released to special shelters or other homelike settings run by nonprofit groups and be required to participate in electronic monitoring or an intensive supervision program that would use a combination of electronic ankle bracelets, home visits and telephone reporting.

The 72-page report also criticized the educational services for children; the food service and rushed feeding times for children; the health care, especially for vulnerable children and pregnant women; the therapeutic mental health care as insufficient or culturally inappropriate; and the recreation time as inadequate for children. The review said that families were being held for months in Hutto and for years in the case of the longer-established Berks facility.

The report also cited inappropriate disciplinary practices used against adults and children, including threats of separation, verbal abuse and withholding recreation or using temperature control, particularly extremely cold conditions, as punishment.

Hosen, who traveled with Mustafa on an inner tube across the Rio Grande from Mexico and insisted that a stranger in Texas call the Border Patrol so she could surrender to authorities, lived in Hutto from June 30 to Jan. 30.

Granted political asylum and now living temporarily in a home for immigrant women and children in Austin, Hosen said that she and other parents in Hutto were threatened regularly with separation from their children for minor infractions such as youngsters running inside the prison. She lost 30 pounds while detained, and her son lost weight and suffered from diarrhea. Concerned about her son’s health, Hosen asked for a multivitamin for him but was denied the request, she said.”


9) Comment by bill h — March 7, 2007 @ 3:49 pm

What you are talking about is spending more Tax dollars on people that shouldn’t be here. If someone catered to my every whim I wouldn’t want to leave either.

The facility in Taylor is for temporary detention for hearings. Most have hearings within 45 days. If they are there longer it’s because they appeal the decision of the magistrate. So, if they are held for long periods it’s because they chose to stay. No They don’t cook Anjara, Sopa De Mondongo or Chicken Taquitos. There is playground equipment and soccer balls. Yes, some toys too. Again, They can leave at any time they volunteer to self deport. The Hilton it’s not Motel 8 maybe.

I don’t have the luxury to rely on journalist for perceived truths, they have an agenda the majority of the time. I do believe what I’ve seen and experienced myself. If you are relying on a report from the ACLU, you need to trash it and go see for yourself. If it were up to the ACLU we would have already lost this country to anarchism.

If we don’t protect our sovereignty as a country we won’t have a country.

10) Comment by Kestrel — March 7, 2007 @ 5:11 pm

I understand your frustration, but the issue is whether our country will continue to provide sanctuary for refugees. I think we should. You say,”What you are talking about is spending more Tax dollars on people that shouldn’t be here.” It is not true that people coming here fleeing persecution, shouldn’t be here.

I don’t think it’s coddling, to provide a non- custodial place for people to live, as they pursue their legal rights to apply for asylum. Our Country has always welcomed people fleeing persecution. For goodness sake, that’s who the Pilgrims were.

You seem to have first hand knowledge of the facility, that I don’t have. I haven’t seen it, and maybe you have. My point is that it is custodial, a prison, even a nice one, is not a place for kids and families, who are seeking refuge here. You and I will just have to agree to disagree as to what should happen while they wait for their day in court

Okay, on to something else,



11) Comment by bill h — March 7, 2007 @ 7:36 pm

Most refugees of political persecution flee to adjoining countries. Somalia refugees usually go across the border to Ethiopia, much safer than trying for the United States, especially after the Battle of Ras Kamboni.

Well, anyway Homeland Security is a vital interest of mine and these are dangerous times. Compassion with weighted caution must be exercised to keep us safe.

Enjoyed the discussion.

God Bless,


12) Comment by Kestrel — March 7, 2007 @ 10:32 pm

I can’t decide which makes me feel more ill…the story itself or the flat-out racist, hateful and closed-minded comments from Kestrel. Kes, if your condescension in general and your indifference and hostility toward persons not lucky enough to be born in the U.S. is a reflection of ANY measurable portion of American society, then I am truly embarrassed to share this soil with you.

And I know you were addressing Bill’s comments, but the original point I was trying to make is that most of this can be traced directly to the privatization of the most sensitive and crucial industries. Our government is so consumed with making obscenely rich corporations even richer by “awarding” them the operations of functions and institutions that SHOULD BE overseen by the federal government. Human rights, military intelligence and operations, prison systems, veterans’ health care - most of which should have to uphold international laws and regulations (if not basic common sense and decency) - are all sold to the highest bidder. And usually those bidders have direct ties to the folks “awarding” the jobs. Which is very convenient, of course.

As an example (and speaking of veterans’ health care), here’s a blurb from an email I received today from Americans United for Change. Yes, I’m sure you’ll dismiss it the way you have any other information that doesn’t agree with your narrow views, but at some point doesn’t the information begin to gel into something resembling an accurate snapshot of what is going on? Or is it simply not true because you say it isn’t…?


What do you get when you mix Halliburton and health care? Walter Reed.

The stories of abysmal living conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center are bad enough. But there’s more to the story.

To cut costs, the support services and facilities management at Walter Reed were outsourced to a company called IAP — which is run by a former Halliburton official and whose board consists of people like Dan Quayle. If IAP sounds familiar, that’s probably because it’s the same contractor that was asked to deliver relief services to Katrina victims but came up short.

The lack of responsibility is not a new development, nor is it an isolated incident. Stories similar to Walter Reed have cropped up all across the country, and it’s important that people know the truth behind what really happened.

The privatization of support services has proven grossly ineffective and lacks the kind of accountability that our government is founded upon. In the case of Walter Reed, it drove out skilled doctors, psychologists, and caseworkers in favor of penny-pinching government contractors.

First it was Iraq, then Katrina, and now this. The disturbing stories from Walter Reed Medical Center have unleashed huge amounts of criticism, name-calling, and finger-pointing — but little accountability. This nickel-and-dimed approach to serving those in need is par for the course in the Bush Administration.

Americans United for Change

13) Comment by Danny — March 8, 2007 @ 10:59 am


Racism is an argument put forth by someone that has no argument. Anyway, enforcing laws are not racist, the law is blind. I think a dose of truth might have that sickening effect on you. I’ll try not to give it to you in such a large dose.

You need not be embarrassed, you can leave the cover of the blanket of freedom; I have provided for you and cuddle close to the likes of Hugo Chavez. People like yourself makes grandiose comments on the human condition without the true experience or knowledge of it.

As for Walter Reed the civilians fall under military control and supervision, this was an absolute failure of those in command. Our warriors deserve the best and nothing less.

If you had been paying attention my argument with Billy was, being informed and not trusting everything the media and ACLU spoon feeds you. But, you wanted to jump in with personal attacks of racism. So, don’t be surprised at my response. I deal with the real world were ever it might take me, I would suggest you do the same.

14) Comment by Kestrel — March 8, 2007 @ 7:42 pm

No, “racism” is an argument put forth in response to actions or attitudes that are racist. For example, presumptuous comments like, “They don’t cook Anjara, Sopa De Mondongo or Chicken Taquitos…” One could also argue that immediately accusing someone you don’t agree with of being a commie pinko (”the likes of Hugo Chavez”) is a pretty cheap, meaningless shot. Not to mention the fact that most people stopped doing that sort of thing at least twenty years ago. Which, perhaps not coincidentally, seems to be where your ideals seem most comfortable. But if you want to remove talk of racism and Hugo Chavez from the argument, that’s certainly preferable to me.

This “truth” to which you refer…Do you have anything more specific you’d like to provide? Personally, I would never make the assumption that any of my beliefs are “truth”…merely what I believe to be true. You can certainly change my perspective by providing a bit more information. For someone to refer to anything they’re saying as “truth” is a pretty clear indication that they’ve hung the “do not disturb” sign outside the door to their mind a long time ago. Unlike the impression I get of you, I’ll gladly change my opinion when I have evidence that compels me to do so.

You’re correct in stating the law is blind. As well it should be. Which makes it all the more imperative that we as people are not. We create the laws to govern ourselves, but we also change or overturn them when we feel the moral justification to do so. No laws exist in perpetuity. Unfortunately, a sad example of this is probably your leader Dubya and his disregard for habeas corpus. We’re seeing the ugly results of our current administration’s intentional disregard for human rights, international law, and basic human dignity…all over the world – or at least in places where we can make some money – and back here at home.

You’re also absolutely correct with regard to my tendency to make grandiose comments (in fact, I think I just did it again…oops). I’ll give you that. But I do so in the hopes that, if someone thinks I’m full of shit, they can not only tell me so, but they can also tell me WHY I’m full of shit. I’ve there’s something going on that I don’t know about (and I’m not completely naïve…I know there always is), by all means, please…fill me the fuck in. I’m here to learn, not preach. Even if I do occasionally fall into the trap of coming off as preachy…

You keep telling people to be informed, to not believe everything “the media and ACLU” tells us. I couldn’t agree more. Is the basis for your assumption that Bill and I are doing so simply the fact that we don’t agree with you? What information have you read that has allowed you to form the “truth” you so proudly possess? And what exactly is the “true experience or knowledge” you keep referring to? Please…enlighten us.

And stop fucking calling him “Billy.” His name is Bill, he’s a good man and he deserves to be spoken to with more respect than you seem willing to give anyone else.

15) Comment by Danny — March 9, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

You haven’t a clue you moron.

16) Comment by Kestrel — March 9, 2007 @ 10:22 pm

I think you just told us everything we need to know about you and your “truth”…whoever you are. Nicely done.

17) Comment by Danny — March 12, 2007 @ 9:20 am

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this is officially the damndest thing I've ever seen

Okay, so my elderly (in age, not spirit) cat, Tim, was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism last year. One of the less pleasant symptoms of the disease is that the cat starts peeing everywhere other than in his litter box. He's always been kind of a free spirit with regard to urination, so it was hard for me to pick up on quickly. Unfortunately, by the time I did, he'd pretty much transformed my entire bedroom floor into his own personal litter box.

The medication he's been taking since the diagnosis has helped quite a lot, but as those of you with cats probably know, once a cat has made a space his own in that regard, the battle's lost. After many attempts to get him to stop doing it, I've come to realize that it ain't happening. The only thing I can do is try to cover up the main places on the carpet where he likes to do his thing. As a result, my bedroom floor is littered (no pun intended) with a bunch of cake pans, baking sheets, plastic storage containers, etc. The strategy has worked about as well as can be expected...not totally eliminated, but a significant improvement.

Anyway, I get home today and am completely flabbergasted by what I find. Sandwiched in between his litter box, my stationary bike, and my CD case is a cupcake pan. Somehow - and I have to admit being totally impressed and perplexed as to how he pulled it off - the little bastard actually found a way to...well, just check out this photo:

If you can make out how the top left cupcake...uh, hole? What do they call those? Anyway, if you can see how it's a brownish-yellow while all the others are clear...yep. That crafty fucker somehow peed into that whatever it is. I am dumbfounded, yes, but also pretty impressed with his ingenuity and stream control. (Hell, he does better than most of us human guys with regard to lack of splatter.)

Just amazing. He is way too smart - and stubborn - for his own good. And I'm at a loss as to how to prevent a repeat occurance. Guess I'll just have to turn it upside down or something...

I love him to death. But he's gonna do me in eventually, I just know it...

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

fuckety fuck fuck...

…as my friend, Ginger would say.

I hatehateHATE Daylight Saving Time. And this year we get an extra month of the shit…starting three weeks early, for Chrissakes. I think I just last week managed to get all my clocks changed over to Standard Time, and now I have to go through it all over again this coming weekend.

An extra hour of daylight in Texas is no fun. Whatsoever.

Daylight Saving Time Is Arriving Early (and Staying Longer)

And then there’s this…

Rocker denies receiving HGH prescription

Great. He goes to the World Series and spends the bulk of his career with the Braves, but now he’s remembered for his brief stint with the Rangers. John Hart continues to be a total douchebag and he doesn’t even work here anymore…

Fuckers. Just a general “fuckers” directed toward my enemies for the day.

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This is completely cool...

…if not a bit creepy. Like an open wound or something.

Scientists study Earth's missing crust



I can’t decide what bothers me more…the story or some of the comments some folks posted which were somewhere between indifferent to downright hateful.

If the first two non-Bill non-me comments are at all representative of the collective attitude in this country, then we truly have already lost control. And I want…the…fuck…out.

“They treat us like we’re nothing”

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

out of the ground…into the sky…out of the sky…into the ground...


This is a really interesting quote, I think…

“Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.” - Albert Schweitzer

I remember the first time this notion entered my consciousness…via the person who was, herself, an enormous “rekindler” for me. To make a long story a little less long (which we all know I suck at), she and I had gone to see the movie American Beauty not long after we’d reunited after our first breakup, which occurred when she decided to start seeing some other guy (ouch). After things with the other guy didn’t work out, we more or less reconciled. She had told me she wanted to see the film with me because it depicted what she thought was a good analog for what we had just been through (our very unceremonious breakup followed by our mother-of-all-bad-ideas reunion), though she wouldn’t tell me which character was the “me” and which was the “him” – or the “her” for that matter – because she wanted to see if I came away with the same conclusion. I didn’t, of course, thanks to my ever-reliable pessimism...but, whatever. Her point was that Angela, the cheerleader that Lester pitched a tent for, was the “other guy” by serving as a “catalyst” for Lester (who was “the ex”) by waking him up to the state of his life and allowing him to see and live more freely thereafter. (Nevermind what happens to Lester at the end of the movie. Oh, and to make things more convoluted, the ex was also Jane – Lester’s daughter, played by the totally hot Thora Birch {see gratuitous image} – and I was Ricky, the weed-selling neighbor boy Jane ran away with. At least that part of the ending was sort of happy for them/us…)

(Digression…There was a painting I saw when the girlfriend and I were touring the wonderful Canyon Road gallery district in Santa Fe* called “Spleen.” I wish like hell I’d at least have written the name of the artist down because I recognized immediately that the scene depicted was a perfect representation of my life: a frail, cowardly creature peers out a tiny window to catch a glimpse of the outside world with an expression of shame and fear, making sure to stay hidden from the view of anyone who might be looking back. It was a work of utter genius that I’ve regretted not snatching up immediately – no matter the cost – ever since.)

(*Interdigression digression…The trip was her Christmas present from me because she’d never been, and I wanted to knock her socks off with generosity even though we’d only been going out a couple months. But it was indicative of the kinds of hoops I’d continually jump through in a vain attempt to gain some sense of approval, worthiness and security…which I never did attain with her. I’ve also often wondered how much those constant feelings of inadequacy and lack of control back then now play into the problems I have now maintaining relationships. But that’s probably best left to discuss with the therapist, I suppose…)

Anyway, the “she” in question was the girl I was dating during the last two years of my career as a drunk. Probably the worst two years of my life but, as Dr. Schweitzer implies, I wouldn’t be where I am today without them…and her. I’ve always thought it wasn’t especially germane to that period of my life that the girl in question be her…that it really could have been anyone. I know most of the motivation for that sentiment is just the simple fact that I didn’t want to give her credit for anything. She didn’t deserve it, didn’t earn it…it remains the most tortuous relationship I’ve ever had with another person. But the further removed I become from that era, the more I’m starting to question whether that’s really true. The relationship itself gradually (d)evolved into the clichéd “rock bottom” that every substance abuser must hit before they can begin to repair themselves. Frankly, I’m not sure the sheer nastiness of everything that happened with her could have been achieved with anyone else. If I’d dated anyone less self-absorbed or inconsiderate or insincere, it’s entirely possible that I might have just felt enabled and cared for. As opposed to enabled and not cared for, which was the reality. I wonder if I needed for someone else to treat me as badly as I was trying to treat myself in order to reach that weird equilibrium of internal and external misery…the morning I woke up and said to myself and whatever world I was in, “I can’t live like this.” It was a statement that would evolve organically into a sort of existential fork in the road: I could either continue what I was doing, follow or ignore the descent and eventually die out of necessity or choice (much sooner rather than later); or I could make some sort of effort to decide whether I really wanted to take possession of my own life. It sounds melodramatic and hokey, but I’d never really had the need for a life to call my own. I lived through other people’s experiences in perpetual escapism. And some level of inebriation, needless to say.

I still find the concept of moderation absolutely fascinating…like, in a Discovery Channel way. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that some people can actually choose whether to drink or get high…and choose not to. Or that those people can do those sorts of things “socially” (one or two beers, etc.). Boggles my mind. I consider moderation the equivalent of Buddhahood, or at least nirvana. The fact that moderation so completely stymies me to this day is probably a good indication of my mindset back then…

However, as is my tendency in self-involved exercises like this one, I’ve gotten badly off-track. So back to the referenced quote at the beginning…

So the “American Beauty” story, while not being particularly interesting, hopefully communicates the lesson in Schweitzer’s words…and it’s a damn good lesson, however insincerely it may have first been presented to me. Since then I’ve met and become close to (in varying degrees) quite a few people who have been that kind of catalyst for me. The first being Amber, who taught me the true meaning of unconditional love and friendship…something I absolutely needed coming on the heels of the preceding two years of unpleasantness. And there’s Valerie, who has more history with me than any other friend and whose friendship with me seems constantly enriching and evolving in various ways. Another obvious – and much more literal – choice, would be Amanda. I don’t know Amanda anywhere near as well as my other friends, but that’s okay and is probably the way it needs to be for the time being. Amanda’s pushed and inspired me in countless ways, not the least of which has been my increasing involvement in the world of blogging (lucky you!) and the local music scene. She’s inspired me to speak my mind more often, and to approach writing and other endeavors with a bit more damn-the-torpedoes-and-just-be-me attitude. Sometimes I bomb, sometimes I do okay. But Amanda has been incredibly inspirational to me almost from the moment I met her, and I simply cannot thank her enough.

Without a doubt, though, there has been one event that transformed my life and the way I approach it (albeit somewhat arguably) more than anything else, and in ways still too numerous for me to comprehend: my experiences in Tylertown, Mississippi. A catalyst in and of itself by being the embodiment of one of my own favorite philosophies – that you evolve as you involve” (which I admit I stole from David James Duncan’s wonderful book, The River Why*) – I have come to refer to the experience kind of collectively as “the lesson of Tylertown.” And by way of Tylertown, I was able to meet my very best friend and the greatest person I’ve ever known…Wendy. I learn something new about myself or life in general every day because of her. And while I’m fortunate that Wendy knows how I feel, it certainly won’t hurt to lay another “thank you for everything” at her feet. So, Wendy…thank you once again for everything.

*It should probably also be noted that this book was given to me as a gift from yet another friend, Shonda. Shonda feels so strongly about that book that she literally gives copies of it to anyone she thinks can benefit from reading it, just as she did with me. Which, in a backdoor way I hadn’t considered until just now, makes Shonda a bit of a catalyst as well. So thank you, Shonda.

At any rate, the timing of the comment that kicks off this monster post (it was my emailed “daily inspirational quote” or some such) is funny because Val and I were talking just the other day about this very thing. How we’re drawn to certain people, and how some folks can serve as a catalyst for us…shake us out of our doldrums, dig us out of a rut, wake us up to whatever we might be sleeping through…change our lives forever, basically. No small feat, when you stop to think about it.

Plus, I finally got to see Fallen Angel, the documentary about Gram Parsons Wednesday night at the AllGood Café. The most striking thing about the movie was seeing two stark and fascinating examples of people acting as catalysts for each other…Gram’s relationships with Emmylou Harris and with Keith Richards. In both cases, the parties involved were profoundly and permanently changed by the new friendships…creatively and personally. It was also a good illustration of how random life can be and how none of us can ever know how or when we will meet the next person who has the potential to alter the course of our lives, positively or negatively. The saddest part of Gram’s story is that no one will ever know what could have come from the continuing collaborations between Parsons/Harris and Parsons/Richards. The mind reels at the thought of what could have been, were it not for Gram’s premature demise. Mine does, anyway. Not unlike the melancholy I feel whenever I think of Kurt Cobain. (“I miss the comfort in being sad…”)

At any rate, to those people who have “rekindled” something within me…most of you know how grateful I am to you. But my deepest thanks bear repeating. Repeatedly. (Seriously.)

(By the same token, can you kindle something? Or unkindle something? There have definitely been some motherfuckers who have unkindled some shit in my lifetime…)

And to the one person who perhaps served as the most significant catalyst…

You gave whatever kindness you were capable of at that time, and for some inexplicable reason expressed an affection for a very lonely and isolated person who had become so accustomed to feeling hurt and alone that he didn’t know there was a reality in which you could experience anything else…someone who had numbed himself for so long that he became that figure in the painting who simply didn’t know how to handle the sting of any sort of sensation.

And for that, I offer a long-overdue, not entirely without bitterness, but nevertheless heartfelt and sincere “thank you.” Your actions helped me recreate my life…to literally live to see the opportunity for other catalysts to change who and what I am in so many ways. It’s a kick in the nuts to say it, but I honestly would not be here without you. Very humbling to admit, but also somewhat liberating. Thank you. Hopefully, it’s better to have said it late than never.

Finally, in keeping with my personal (and blog) shtick, and since I’ve already referenced Kurt Cobain more than once here, I think I’ll close this with what may be my favorite of his lyrics. Which, coincidentally, I recall emailing once years ago to that same, first catalyst…

I'm not like them, but I can pretend
The sun is gone, but I have a light
The day is done, but I'm having fun
I think I'm dumb, or maybe just happy…
Think I'm just happy

My heart is broke, but I have some glue
Help me inhale, and mend it with you
We'll float around, and hang out on clouds
Then we'll come down, and have a hangover...
Have a hangover

Skin the sun…fall asleep
Wish away…the soul is cheap
Lesson learned…wish me luck
Soothe the burn…wake me up

I'm not like them, but I can pretend
The sun is gone, but I have a light
The day is done, but I'm having fun
I think I'm dumb, or maybe just happy…
Think I'm just happy

I think I’m dumb

Love, peace, namaste…all that shit. Oh, and thank you.


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The CIA’s “Disappeared”

On the first morning of what ended up being more than two years in CIA custody, Marwan Jabour was brought into a room full of people. He was completely naked, he later told Human Rights Watch, and all the hair on his head and face had been shaved off. He had spent the night in small, windowless cell, with one hand chained to the cell wall.

He was tired, disoriented, and afraid.

In the room, which would later become familiar to him as an interrogation room, some ten people were waiting, including a bearded man, guards, and people who appeared to be doctors. The bearded man, speaking in American-accented English, said that he was the "emir" (director) of the facility. He said that Jabour had only one option: to cooperate.

Jabour was kept naked and in chains for the next month and a half, he told Human Rights Watch in a recent series of interviews. He would be led, blindfolded, into the interrogation room, then chained to a chair. Sometimes women would interrogate him; sometimes a huge, muscular man--whom Jabour thought of as a "Marine" because of his build--would stand behind the interrogator and act intimidating.

The room contained a wooden box, about 3 feet by 3 feet in size, which his interrogators called the "dog box." "They said that KSM [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] had spent some time in the dog box and then he talked," said Jabour. "They kept threatening me: 'We could do this to you.'" As far as Jabour could tell, his interrogators could do whatever they wanted: there were no rules, no laws, and no protections.

Last year, when President George Bush described the CIA's secret prison system, he said he could not speak about the "specific methods" the CIA used. Very few former detainees have filled in the blanks of the president's speech--probably because nearly all of them are still in detention somewhere--making Jabour's account a rare glimpse into the CIA's activities.

While Human Rights Watch could not corroborate the details of Jabour's story, its outlines tally with what human rights groups have documented. Prisoners in the CIA program have been "disappeared," held for years in acknowledged detention in secret facilities, and barred from communicating with family members, lawyers, or anyone else outside. Intelligence sources have spoken to ABC News and others about the abusive interrogation techiques that CIA interrogators have employed.

Marwan Jabour was arrested in May 2004 in Lahore, Pakistan, he believes by the Pakistani intelligence services. He was badly beaten, tortured and threatened while in their custody. Both in Lahore and later, after he was transferred to a joint US-Pakistani detention facility in Islamabad, Jabour endured days of forced sleeplessness and forced standing. Twice he collapsed, falling unconscious.

But though he says that he suffered the worst physical abuse at the hands of the Pakistanis, his most painful memories are elsewhere. In June 2004, when he was transferred to the CIA prison in what he believes was Afghanistan, "I felt like my life had ended." Allowed no contact with anyone outside the prison, he was unable even to tell his wife, his three young daughters, and the rest of his family that he was alive.

The painful limbo that Jabour and his family endured continues for others. Many people--possibly even dozens of people--who may have been in CIA custody remain "disappeared." The wife of one suspected detainee told Human Rights Watch that she has continually lied to her four children about her husband's absence. She explained that she could not bear telling them that she didn't know where he was.

"[W]hat I'm hoping is if they find out their father has been detained," she explained, "that I'll at least be able to tell them what country he's being held in, and in what conditions."

Last September, President Bush announced that he had emptied out the CIA's prisons by sending 14 detainees to military custody at Guantanamo. He said nothing about what had happened to many other people who were believed to have been held by the CIA. By leaving their fate and whereabouts unknown, he displayed a callous disregard for their families, a contempt for human rights norms, and a blatant indifference to the moral standing of the United States.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

better than Eddie Van Halen's version

How fucking cool is this…?

Volcano Blows as Space Probe Flies By


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