Sunday, January 29, 2006

Baby Found Floating in Lagoon in Brazil

This is a story that immediately brought to mind the baby Moses floating down the Nile River.

At the shore of a lagoon in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, people heard sounds like those of a baby kitten coming from a black plastic bag floating by. A man reached out with a branch or stick, pulled the bag ashore, and instead of finding a kitten, found a two month old baby girl.

The video may be seen here. It is astonishing viewing. A big tip of the hat from up here in el norte to the people there in Belo Horizonte who thought to do a random act of kindness.

A more recent report from the Guardian newspaper states that the child's mother has been arrested.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Roseanne Cash Interview

This morning, on NPR, heard an interview with Roseanne Cash. She of course is the daughter of Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian.

She speaks of loss and grief, of her family falling " like petals from roses ".

When Roseanne's son was two years old, Johnny apologized because " he knew he would not be able to see [ her son ] grow up ". This was three years before he died. He knew.

Its about her family, its about our families too.

Roseanne Cash NPR Interview Here

Listen for the horns at the end of " Black Cadillac ", a nod to " Ring of Fire ". And to the audio clip near the end of the interview.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Hamas - Suicide Bombers Voted Into Office

Over 20 years ago, in college, I remember having a conversation on the Middle East. A girl from Israel asked me when I thought the Middle East conflict would be resolved. My response was that I thought it would never be resolved.

I'm sorry to say that I haven't been proven wrong. This week's win by Hamas in the Palestinian Territory is a huge step backward for the Palestinians and for the region.

Hamas is a political party that endorses suicide bombings. Bombing buses filled with commuters or schoolchildren. They promise to obliterate the state of Israel. They won't negotiate with it. They deny the Holocaust, and would seem happy to initiate a new one.

Fatah is corrupt and terrorist. Hamas is less corrupt, but but more terrorist, more hungry for civilian blood than is Fatah.

Every time you think that things can't get worse in the Middle East...they do.

Hamas did this

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Back to New York

Was away at an industry conference in Naples, Florida for three days. It was good, but, it being a conference, we were secluded away in a nice spot, and the only Floridians we really spoke with were the staff at the fancy hotel.

I flew there and back on Continental Airlines. They're the best US airline, hands down. I fly them a lot, so have " Silver Elite " status with them. Because of this status, they gave me an upgrade to Business Class on both legs of the trip. A r/t journey that cost me $160, Newark to Fort Myers and back. Both flights on time.

The person next to me was a young Norweigian guy returning to Oslo from a business trip to Florida, a trip he makes every four months. I was pretty surprised to learn that Continental was the only airline flying from Oslo to the USA--SAS suspended the route after 9/11.

Continental's European strategy has been brilliant-- they don't have all that many flights to London, but they fly where many others don't--nonstop to Oslo, Berlin, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham -- routes that I think make money on their own, and which feed Continental's vast US network. I really like Continental, and most frequent travelers I know in NY prefer to fly with them.

Its been a mild winter, is cold tonight in NYC. It's 26 degrees F now. Cold. Seasonal, but it seems colder as it has been a very mild winter thus far.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Off to Florida / Yahoo

Off to Florida on Tuesday. You can catch me at Newark's Terminal C sometime before 11am. I've printed out my boarding pass and am ready to go.

It's not a vacation, its an industry conference. Noone will believe me, but I would rather not go. Am crazy busy at work, and will wind up working the phones heavily from the fancy hotel.


Have slightly lifted my jihad against Yahoo for now. The reason is that my DSL provider, Verizon, has an alliance with Yahoo. Basically, I get free antivirus software if I accept the combined Verizon / Yahoo package. I will continue to use Gmail as my main e-mail address, but will keep one toe in the Yahoo pond.

Shooter Jennings

There new Yahoo toolbar has a nice feature, in that it shows the song that is playing on my Yahoo Music Player, and the artist, and has a counter showing how many seconds have played, etc. Cool.

Right now, its Shooter Jennings playing " 4th of July " on the Americana Channel.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Canada Goes Conservative

It appears that the Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper, has won today's national election in Canada. The Liberal Party, run by Paul Martin, is out of office after a 12 year run.

The Canadian Liberal Party campaign has taken an anti-American tinge in recent years, and played to this jingoistic theme in the election. Martin specifically said that the US "lacks a global conscience".

Well, the US is wrong on many things, but it has an immense global conscience, and acts on it daily. And while we don't agree with our Canadian brothers on everything, we have always been fond of Canada and Canadians, and we congratulate them on throwing Paul Martin out with the rest of the rubbish.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Podcasts / The Kid From Brooklyn

So, I've been reading about the new technology of " podcasting " , whereby almost anyone can create their own radio station.

This technology is still very new, and I don't really understand how it works. I spent a little time yesterday. I logged onto one of the more popular podcasts here in the US Keith and the Girl, a comedy talk show that is pretty good. ( but very vulgar! )

From this website, you can click onto an episode and it will start streaming. Very easy.

But other podcasts work differently. I downloaded Juice, a " podcast aggregator ". For podcasts that I have subscribed to, it provides easy access to the most recent show or to several recent episodes.


After this techonology stuff, I was in the mood for a little comic relief. I opened an e-mail that Hon had sent recently from The Kid from Brooklyn. In a world of bejabberers, he's the real deal. If you liked the last one, trythis.

For a link to all the Kid from Brooklyn's audios, go his site

Saturday, January 21, 2006

South Park Episode Banned in UK

The British distributors of " South Park " will not show the now-famous " Trapped in the Closet " episode due to fear of lawsuits from the sue-happy Cruise

The episode is absolutely brilliant. It skewers the Scientology cult head on like no " serious " program that I've seen has ever done. It has ( hilarious )" guest appearances " by Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidmman, R Kelly and John Trovolta.

If you want to see the entire South Park episode in question, it's right here

Unfortunatly, England does not really have freedom of the press the way the US, Canada and other countries do. The English civil law system makes it very easy for anyone, including public figures like Cruise, to sue for damages if they don't like they way they are portrayed in the press. The fictional Cruise in the video even refers to this as he yells " I'll Sue you in England! "

I beieve that Ireland has inherited the same speech - chilling libel laws from the English system.

Tom, millions of British viewers have Internet access , and they won't exactly have a hard time finding this video. Who're you gonna sue now?

( Clip first seen here via United Irelander )

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Osama bin Laden Audiotape

Go baby go!!

Osama bin Laden has released an audiotape on Al Queda's favorite tv channel, Al Jazeera. He proposes a a long term truce with the United States.

I think that I can speak for the President on this one. Osama, please sent your exact coordinates, and you'll have your reply in short order.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Gotcha- Al Queda's Midhat Mursi Whacked

ABC News has learned that al Qaeda’s master bomb maker and chemical weapons expert
Midhat Mursiwas one of the men killed in last week’s U.S. missile attack in eastern Pakistan. ( stolen from Little Green Footballs.) And up to three other Al Queda were whacked as well.

And that's very good news indeed.

Noone is happy at the reports that children were killed. But the Al Queda guys are fair game, and I can't shed too many tears for the adults who were joining them for a meal.

If we're going to win the war on terror, which we will do...the military must continue to run missions like this, and must continue to get results like this.

Good work, boys. And keep those drones flying.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Vampire Runs for Governor of Minnesota

The Next Governor of Minnesota?

People think that New York and California are the crazy states, but Minnesota puts us all to shame. In 1999, they elected professional wrestler Jesse Ventura to the Governors Mansion.

But now, the electorate of Minnesota has the chance to top their previous feat by electing Jonathon " the Impaler " Sharkey" as their new governor. Yeah, you heard me right. A vampire! He's to the left.

The candidate claims to worship Lucifer, and hates God the Father. ( but not Jesus Christ the son apparently )

His platform includes a crackdown on those convicted of drunk driving. He proposes to execute by means of impalement at the stake, terrorists and drug dealers.

Sharkey's beliefs on impalement are modeled after Count Dracula, one of his heroes.

The last Governor of Minnesota

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Grand Central

To be a great city, you must have a great train station.

New York's great train station is Grand Central

I work near Grand Central, and take every chance I can to walk through it. It is a magnificent place. It is what a major train station should look like. Walking through it is like striding through a beautiful Cathedral, or through a national capital.

New York once had two grand train stations, Grand Central and Penn Station. The real Penn Station was demolished to make way for a skyscraper, weeks before JFK was murdered, in what can only be considered an architectural atrocity. I don't know too many people who remember passing through the real Penn Station.

The current Penn Station is a cramped basement of a place. It is shoehorned into the basement of the skyscraper. It does not compare with Grand Central, or with any great station in Europe.

Grand Central was nearly destroyed as well. For the same reason, to make way for a major building. But Jackie Kennedy Onassis lent her name and a lot of effort to a group of preservationists who thwarted the redevelopment. Grand Central, which had fallen into bad repair, has been restored. The ceiling, which had been blackened by coal exhausts, is back to its original blue. The station is beyond gorgeous. It is filled with fine stores and good restaurants.

Some Grand Central facts:

  • Though Grand Central is by far the best train station in America, long distance trains no longer originate or pass through here. Amtrak, the national train system, goes through the Penn Station rathole. So, you can no longer catch a train to Boston or Chicago from Grand Central.
  • Grand Central is still a major station, though. It serves the northern suburbs of Westchester County NY, and Connecticut as served by the " Metro North " system.
  • All Grand Central trains go north, underneath Park Avenue. At 125th St / Park, the trains split into three major lines- the New Haven, which goes to Connecticut, the Harlem, which goes north into NY State, and the Hudson,which essentially follows the Hudson River into the NY State suburbs there.
  • No trains run south from Grand Central. They all go north. Which is why it is not " Grand Central Station " but " Grand Central Terminal ". Because every train that arrives at this station terminates there.
  • It is the largest train station in the world if you measure by number of platforms- it has 44 platforms, and 67 tracks. These many platforms are on two levels.
  • Construction will soon begin on a third level of tracks, in order to accomodate trains from the Long Island Rail Road. This project should be complete in 2012. It will mean a lot more passengers using the vast Grand Central Terminal, which can clearly accomodate them, but it will also mean more people using the very overcrowded Lexington Avenue subway lines.

Friday, January 13, 2006

It's Torino, Stupid

Yesterday's NY Post reported that the host city of the Winter Olympics will be referred to as Torino by the NBC network, not the anglicized " Turin ".

And I think rightfully so. I can understand why difficult-to-pronounce names are anglicized, but for God's sake, how hard is it to say Torino?

I lived in Italy for most of two years, and remember visiting Livorno. The anglicized name was " Leghorn ", a stupid name that I refused to use.

There's nothing wrong with vowels. Hope that they have a good Torino Olympics.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Baseball News: Hall of Fame Screws Rich Gossage

Rich " Goose" Gossage is pissed.

Gossage pitched in the major leagues for 21 years. In the late 1970s-early 1980s he was probably the best " closer " in the game. Coming in at the end of the game, the surly Gossage would come in, all attitude and intimidation, and blow 100 mile an hour fastballs past the batters.

This was Gossage's seventh year of eligibility for baseball's Hall of Fame. Gossage should have been elected long ago, but again this year he didn't get enough votes. This makes no sense. Gossage was a nine-time All-Star, a power pitcher who won 310 " saves ".

Gossage was openly dissapointed this year, and he should be. He was one of the very best pitchers of his time.

One player was elected this year Bruce Sutter, another closer. Sutter should have been elected, no question. But the Goose should have been elected long before 2006.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Winston Churchill on Terrorism

Well, actually, terrorism as we now know it did not exist in the 1940s. But Naziism was just as evil, and maybe even more dangerous. So comparisons can and should be made.

In a cabinet meeting, Churchill said that if Hitler were to be captured, he should be summarily executed in an electric chair. He later made it clear that if other top Nazis were captured that they should be immediatly shot.

This was the correct policy. See an article from an by an Australian politician of today.

Compare the clear, decisive, morally correct comments of Sir Winston, to what almost any politician says about how the terrorists of today should be treated.

I don't agree with every one of the positions held by Winston Churchill back then, but he is so superior, morally and intellectually, to all of today's politicians, its not even funny.

Google, Gmail, Google Book Search


I've shifted a bunch of my personal e-mail to gmail. It works differently than most e-mail systems, in that it keeps a series of e-mails together in a single thread, rather than as discrete mail items. I like this feature.

Personalized Web Page
Once you have a (free ) g-mail account, you can create a personalized web page, which I have done. I prefer the look and feel of it to the " myyahoo " alternative. And it does work better in that you can create links to both news sources ( ie NY Times ) and blogs ( such as this one ). If you've created such a link, you will see the top three headlines from a news source or in the case of a blog, you will see the three most recent postings.

You can move around news / blog / other modules to other parts of the page by an easy, foolproof, well-designed drag and drop feature.

Google Book Search

Another great Google product is Google Book Search. It's still in beta now, but its well worth checking out. There is an immense library of books that can be found in digital form. Once you find a book, you can search for keywords. This will soon become indispensable to researchers, students, all of us. It blows the mind.

Google's doing a lot of things right. Once they release a google calendar, I'll shift most of my personal stuff to them.


I've heard of free online encyclopedia Wikipedia for some months now, but only gave it a proper test drive a couple of weeks ago.

I am impressed by its depth in a number of areas, including science, popular music, politics, sports and geography. Its worth bookmarking.

Test drive

Royal Guardsmen ( music group )

Santa Ana Winds

Jerry Quarry ( boxer )

Moe Berg ( professional baseball player, spy )

Lasek ( eye surgery)

Saturday, January 07, 2006

O'Reilly 1, Letterman 0

I don't watch Letterman as often as I'd like. It's not easy to watch a show that begins at 1130pm, when you want to get up early the next day. But once in a while I check it out.

So imagine my surpise the other night when I saw Bill O'Reilly on Letterman. For my small but appreciated band of overseas readers, Bill O'Reilly is a news commentator on the Fox News Channel. For liberals, right-leaning Fox is the devil, and pugnacious Bill O'Reilly is the devil's chief lieutenant.

The hatred they have for Fox is amusing. Before the arrival of Fox News Channel in October 1996, all the major news venues--ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, NY Times, taxpayer-subsidized NPR - tilted liberal. There were no conservative commenators I could think of on network tv. So Fox came in with a different perspective, one that resonated strongly with Middle America, and it very quickly dethroned CNN as America's top-rated news network. The left still is recovering from the shock of Fox's arrival, and is still blind to the bias from NPR, the NY Times etc.

But anyway, O'Reilly showed up on Letterman the other night.

Before O'Reilly even came out, Letterman stirred O'Reilly's coffee with the eraser end of a pencil. Nice.

The confrontational tone was fine; it was nasty, which is also fine-Letterman can be at his best when he is nasty.

But what disappoints me is that Letterman was so completely unprepared. He claimed that O'Reilly " made things up ", but when O'Reilly asked for an example, he couldn't come up with even one. He said that he didn't watch O'Reillys show.

Read this exerpt from the end of the interview:

LETTERMAN: I'm not smart enough to debate you point to point on this, but I have the feeling, I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap. [audience laughter] But I don't know that for a fact. [more audience applause]
Paul Shafer: 60 percent.
LETTERMAN: 60 percent. I'm just spit-balling here.
O'REILLY: Listen, I respect your opinion. You should respect mine.
LETTERMAN: Well, ah, I, okay. But I think you're...
O'REILLY: Our analysis is based on the best evidence we can get.
LETTERMAN: Yeah, but I think there's something, this fair and balanced. I'm not sure that it's, I don't think that you represent an objective viewpoint.
O'REILLY: Well, you have to give me an example if you're going to make those claims.
LETTERMAN: Well I don't watch your show so that would be impossible.
O'REILLY: Then why would you come to that conclusion if you don't watch the program?
LETTERMAN: Because of things that I've read, things that I know.

O'Reilly kept his cool, while Letterman lost his , and spoke in an emotional way without facts to back up anything that he said.

Letterman's still my favorite late-night guy, but his performance with O'Reilly was pathetic.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Disaster in Sago, West Virginia

I've never been in a coal mine, and I've never set foot in West Virginia. But I feel terrible about what's just happened in Sago, West Virginia. It feels like something has happened to my family, because it has...this is a tragedy for the entire American family.

I'd followed the story, was prepared for a bad outcome this time yesterday, and then was astonished and surprised to on last night's late night television news about the " rescue of the 12 miners " . CNN, Fox, CNBC, everyone was reporting this story, interviewing happy family members.

Woke up this morning to a radio report of the " sudden, horrible turn of events ". Again, tv was all over a disaster made all the worse by the jubilation a couple of hours before.

Something dreadful has happened to a small town, as it often will in a town where people go beneath the earth to mine coal.

I really, really hope that the one survivor, 27 year old Randal McCloy Jr., makes it. News reports are encouraging. They were encouraging at 1230 am last night too. Say a prayer, boys, even if you don't believe.

Monday, January 02, 2006

I Love this Bar / Thousand Bars In A Year

In honor of the magnificent achievement of Dan Freeman, of the Thousand Bars in A Year accomplishment, the tune of this week will be Toby Keith's " I Love this Bar ".

The video is to the bottom of the screen. If you haven't seen it before, and have a decent monitor and good connection, pay attention. There's a lot goin' on.

Dissident Frogman Returns

Le Dissident Frogman ne l'aime pas

As seen in No Pasaran, The Dissident Frogman has completed his warmups and is coming in from the bullpen. His was an interesting pro-American voice from French-occupied France, and it is good to see him back. Will probably add him to the blog list soon.

New York City: Crime Drops for 17th Consecutive Year

The NY Times reports that crime in the city has gone down yet again, for the 17th Consecutive Year.

See attached press release from the NYPD website, which has a lot of stats to back up New York's claims to being the " safest big city in America ".

We've been lucky here to have had two good mayors ( Giuliani, Bloomberg ) in a row, as well as a number of very strong leaders and thinkers in the NYPD- Bratton, Maple, Kelly. And an army of great cops who get the job done every day.

I've never felt unsafe here, even in the bad old days, before Guiliani's highly effective attack on urban crime. Even in those days, New York had a much lower crime rate than other US cities, including Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Phoenix, Dallas and Houston etc.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Elliot Spitzer, Punk

Elliot Spitzer has been the Attorney General of New York State since 1998.

He has used his position to prosecute wrongdoing, or what in his opinion is wrongdoing, in several industries, including Wall Street.

Among the cases he has brought is a suit against Richard Grasso, who used to head up the New York Stock Exchange. His beef? Grasso's salary at the NYSE was too high. I think that Grasso
's pay package of $187 million was excessive. But it wasn't illegal. Grasso has been invited to do a plea deal, but instead is expected to fight.

There's been a lot of press recently on a threat Spitzer made over the phone against John Whitehead, a former head of Goldman Sachs who now heads the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

Whitehead's crime? He wrote an Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal complaining that Spitzer was overzealous.

Whitehead is an 80 year old man, who has an impeccable reputation. He claims that Spitzer called him when Whitehead was traveling in Texas and said " It's now a war between us and you've fired the first shot. I will be coming after you. You will pay the price. This is only the beginning and you will pay dearly for what you have done. You will wish you had never written that letter. "

Spitzer denies saying these things, but two things must be noted. One, again, Whitehead again is a dignified reputation and does not have a history of saying anything extreme or partisan.

Second, Spitzer does have a hair-trigger reputation. And he has a record of aggression, of vindictiveness. Like most bullies, he has made attacked low-level targets for much of his career as AG, destroying the lives of many working class New Yorkers in the process.

But he hasn't beaten any big names in the courtroom. Not one. When the Grasso case comes to trial, my money is on Grasso.

Spitzer is now running for Governor of New York State. I think that his violent temper makes him a bad choice. He leads the polls by a lot now, but the November 2006 elections are a long time away. I think Spitzer is a Park Avenue punk with a glass jaw, and that he may not even win the Democratic Party primary election. Watch this space. We'll keep an eye on this character.