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Monday, October 31, 2005


They smashed our pumpkin! The spiteful monsters smashed our pumpkin!

We hadn't even carved it yet.

My wife and I woke to prepare our annual Ye H'allowe'en' Even-Tide's Yard Sale, and as we stepped onto the porch we saw...we saw...

...Oh, the horror of it! The seeds! The rind! Those stringy bits! Oh, shattered nature! Oh, deed never to be undone! Oh, wretched violation of home and hearth! Oh, squash-ed squash! Oh! Oh!

Yeah, someone smashed our pumpkin over the weekend. And, yes, I was too lazy to carve a jack-o-lantern. I wonder, if I had carved one, would the pumpkin still be with us? You know, like how if you're a superior graffiti artist, taggers will pass over you out of professional respec'. Perhaps the Pumpkin Smashers might have paused, recognizing my jack-o-lantern skills, and said: "His carving is masterful. Truly he has been guided by Apollo himself. Let us move on lest we risk the great god's wrath." Something along those lines.

But here is picture of last year's jack-o-lantern:


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Friday, October 28, 2005

Say It Ain't Sulu

Today, reading USAToday.com today - as I do to be told what events are shaping my life - I was shocked at the recent revelation concerning "Star Trek" actor George Takei and his recent revelations.

We all know and love - but, you know, not "love" like in a queer way or nothing - we all know and love George Takei's "Sulu" character on "Star Trek". He was always a character about whom we thought: "You know, I could be that guy. I may not have the mechanical skill and plucky determination to be Scotty. Or have the burning humanistic passion to be Dr. McCoy. Or have the legs to be Uhura. But Sulu, yeah, I could do that job. I mean, piloting a starship is probably like piloting a 747 - it practically flies itself."

Yes, I loved Sulu and thought I knew him (but not "knew him" in a, you know, like Biblical way or anything) (I mean I don't even see him that often, so that would be impossible) (I'll stand next to him in line at a screening now and then - but not like right close to him - not like we're on a date or anything). So imagine my upset then - my anger - when I read the following words this morning:

"(George) Takei joined the Star Trek cast in 1973 as Hikaru Sulu, a character he played for three seasons on television and in six subsequent films"

"Hikaru" Sulu. "HIKARU"! I never knew Sulu had a first name. I mean, I figured he had a first name, but I didn't think it was something we needed to know. How long has he had this first name?? Maybe it's common knowledge and I live a sheltered life. I don't know. I just don't know.

And another thing that's really bothering me - "Hikaru" sounds like a Japanese name to me. I thought Sulu was supposed to be Chinese. Isn't he? Isn't he Chinese?

And now that we're getting all this out in the open, what is up with George Takei's joining the "Star Trek" cast in 1973, 4 years after the series was cancelled?

You never know about people.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Best Short Film Ever

'Tis the season to be jolly and filled with dread and terror.

So here's an ad (and if you have heard of the Internet, you have probably already seen it) that is a near-perfect piece of cinema. Deceptively simple. Masterfully executed. I honestly think it should be studied in film schools. If I feel up to it, I may write an analysis of it here on the rabbit + crow blog, unless someone somewhere has beat me to it. I'm eager to hear your comments.

Check it out. Play it loud:


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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

President Wolfowitz

Just in case you were thinking things might work out after all, I want to remind you - you know, just in case you'd forgotten - that the new President of the World Bank is...


...Paul Wolfowitz.

Have a nice day.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005


To double your 2000th Deathday fun, print out the image above, and stick the free Deathday Poster-ette™ on your wall - and on the walls of your friends!!

Or celebrate by buying $203 billion worth of Deathday Merchandise at the Rabbit + Crow Shop!!

These 2000th Deathday items will be available for a LIMITED TIME ONLY - because 2000 won't stay 2000 forever!!



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Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks died yesterday, at the age of 92. The average life expectancy for black women born in 1913 is in the ballpark of 45 years old. What can we learn from this?

Civil Disobedience keeps you young.

I recently took this thorough and informative Online Health and Life Expectancy Test.

The test foretold that, given my current lifestyle, I would live to be 80.2 years old, which means I should keel over just as they sing Auld Lang Syne on New Years Eve 2047. But if I were to, say, start doing the things I thought were right, acting as if my actions made a difference, and devil take the consequences, as Rosa Parks did in 1955...

...well, then maybe I could live till 2070! And by then, they'll probably have a thing where you can extend your life indefinitely, transfer your mind from one mighty robot brain to another, or rejuvenate organs endlessly. Of course, only the rich and powerful will be able to afford that kind of immortality. I'd better do my best now to build wealth and power, so that when 2070 rolls around, I'll be ready. Yes. Yes, I'll be ready. And then, once I obtain wealth and power, and am then able to have everlasting life, then it's going to be All Civil Disobedience All The Time. I promise.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Shrimp with Eggs

Our glass shrimp has eggs.

To the horror of our cats, we set up a 10 gallon aquarium a couple months ago, and have populated it with a Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens), a Candy-stripe Plecostomus (Peckoltia platyrhyncha) and two Glass Shrimp - aka "Ghost Shrimp" - (Palaemonetes kadiakensis) . The smaller of these two shrimps died last week - of old age? of a broken heart? of terror? who knows? The larger one - whom we call "the larger one" - this weekend was seen clutching a mass of tiny greenish spheres to her abdomen. We assumed - and after a bit of research this seems to be the case - these must be eggs. My wife and I are monitoring the tank carefully in shifts, employing the large magnifying glass that came with my Oxford English Dictionary, for any changes in the situation.

My first aquarium-keeping experiences were when I was about 10 or 12. My mum and I kept a 20 gallon aquarium. A friend of hers sold it to us, with all the fixings, for a token $20. We kept no-fuss community tank fish - swordtails, corydoras - and we bred guppies, selecting colors and styles we liked, studying the black-bellied pregnant females, frantically transferring them to a tiny breeder tank when they suddenly began to drop their fry. We went to a guppy enthusiasts convention together.

So far, our shrimp seems content to cradle the eggs in her swimmerets, juggling them occasionally to keep water flowing circulating around them, but has exhibited no other behaviorial changes.

The suspense is unbearable.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

Sisterhood of Old Men


At a busy stop,
the Sisterhood of Old Men
work on a pretty little boy:

"You're young to have
a sassy mouth
like that."

"He's still too young
to know
which way is up."

"Wrong step,
and the bus'll
run you over."

"He knows."

One's got a plastic bag
and gold ringing each joint.

One's a bony mensch.

One frowns out the corners
of watery eyes,
providing essential gravity.

An autistic,
groomed as if for Sunday school,
attends them like an acolyte.

The Old Men beg the boy
to his patient nanny cleave:

"Hold onto her. Hold onto her. Hold onto her."

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Takashi Amano

Freshwater aquariums designed by the master, Takashi Amano:

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Disney Girl Death Match #2


Maleficent ("Sleeping Beauty", 1959)


Ursula, The Sea Witch ("The Little Mermaid", 1989)

WEAPONS: (weapons will not be necessary)

Who is YOUR money on?

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Public Broadcasting Act of 1967


November 7, 1967

'Secretary Gardner, Senator Pastore, Chairman Staggers, Members of the Congress, Cabinet, ladies and gentlemen:

It was in 1844 that Congress authorized $30,000 for the first telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore. Soon afterward, Samuel Morse sent a stream of dots and dashes over that line to a friend who was waiting. His message was brief and prophetic and it read: "What hath God wrought?"

Every one of us should feel the same awe and wonderment here today.

For today, miracles in communication are our daily routine. Every minute, billions of telegraph messages chatter around the world. They interrupt law enforcement conferences and discussions of morality. Billions of signals rush over the ocean floor and fly above the clouds. Radio and television fill the air with sound. Satellites hurl messages thousands of miles in a matter of seconds.

Today our problem is not making miracles--but managing miracles. We might well ponder a different question: What hath man wrought--and how will man use his inventions?

The law that I will sign shortly offers one answer to that question.

It announces to the world that our Nation wants more than just material wealth; our Nation wants more than a "chicken in every pot." We in America have an appetite for excellence, too.

While we work every day to produce new goods and to create new wealth, we want most of all to enrich man's spirit.

That is the purpose of this act.

It will give a wider and, I think, stronger voice to educational radio and television by providing new funds for broadcast facilities.

It will launch a major study of television's use in the Nation's classrooms and their potential use throughout the world.

Finally--and most important--it builds a new institution: the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The Corporation will assist stations and producers who aim for the best in broadcasting good music, in broadcasting exciting plays, and in broadcasting reports on the whole fascinating range of human activity. It will try to prove that what educates can also be exciting.

It will get part of its support from our Government. But it will be carefully guarded from Government or from party control. It will be free, and it will be independent--and it will belong to all of our people.

Television is still a young invention. But we have learned already that it has immense--even revolutionary--power to change, to change our lives.

I hope that those who lead the Corporation will direct that power toward the great and not the trivial purposes.

At its best, public television would help make our Nation a replica of the old Greek marketplace, where public affairs took place in view of all the citizens.

But in weak or even in irresponsible hands, it could generate controversy without understanding; it could mislead as well as teach; it could appeal to passions rather than to reason.

If public television is to fulfill our hopes, then the Corporation must be representative, it must be responsible--and it must be long on enlightened leadership.

I intend to search this Nation to find men that I can nominate, men and women of outstanding ability, to this board of directors.

As a beginning, this morning I have called on Dr. Milton Eisenhower from the Johns Hopkins University and Dr. James Killian of MIT to serve as members of this board.

Dr. Eisenhower, as you will remember, was chairman of the first citizens committee which sought allocation of airwaves for educational purposes.

Dr. Killian served as chairman of the Carnegie Commission which proposed the act that we are signing today.

What hath man wrought? And how will man use his miracles?

The answer just begins with public broadcasting.

In 1862, the Morrill Act set aside lands in every State--lands which belonged to the people--and it set them aside in order to build the land-grant colleges of the Nation.

So today we rededicate a part of the airwaves--which belong to all the people--and we dedicate them for the enlightenment of all the people.

I believe the time has come to stake another claim in the name of all the people, stake a claim based upon the combined resources of communications. I believe the time has come to enlist the computer and the satellite, as well as television and radio, and to enlist them in the cause of education.

If we are up to the obligations of the next century and if we are to be proud of the next century as we are of the past two centuries, we have got to quit talking so much about what has happened in the past two centuries and start talking about what is going to happen in the next century beginning in 1976.

So I think we must consider new ways to build a great network for knowledge--not just a broadcast system, but one that employs every means of sending and storing information that the individual can use.

Think of the lives that this would change:--the student in a small college could tap the resources of a great university.

Dr. Killian has just given me an exciting report of his contacts in Latin America as a result of some of the declarations of the Presidents at Punta del Este that he has followed through on and how these Presidents are now envisioning the day when they can dedicate 20 or 25 or a larger percent of their total resources for one thing alone--education and knowledge.

Yes, the student in a small college tapping the resources of the greatest university in the hemisphere.

--The country doctor getting help from a distant laboratory or a teaching hospital;

--a scholar in Atlanta might draw instantly on a library in New York;

--a famous teacher could reach with ideas and inspirations into some far-off classroom, so that no child need be neglected.

Eventually, I think this electronic knowledge bank could be as valuable as the Federal Reserve Bank.

And such a system could involve other nations, too--it could involve them in a partnership to share knowledge and to thus enrich all mankind.

A wild and visionary idea? Not at all. Yesterday's strangest dreams are today's headlines and change is getting swifter every moment.

I have already asked my advisers to begin to explore the possibility of a network for knowledge--and then to draw up a suggested blueprint for it.

In 1844, when Henry Thoreau heard about Mr. Morse's telegraph, he made his sour comment about the race for faster communication. "Perchance," he warned, "the first news which will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough."

We do have skeptic comments on occasions. But I don't want you to be that skeptic. I do believe that we have important things to say to onanother--and we have the wisdom to match our technical genius.

In that spirit this morning, I have asked you to come here and be participants with me in this great movement for the next century, the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.

This act has a host of fathers. Many years ago when I was a Member of the Senate I had a bill prepared--Mr. Siegel drafted it for me--on public television. I had difficulty getting it introduced.

I asked Senator Magnuson to introduce it. He did. I am sorry he can't be here today. But he called me before I came over here and explained to me how happy he was that this event was taking place.

I don't want to single out any one person, because there are so many who have worked so long to bring this bill into where it is this morning to be signed.

I do want to recognize, though, in addition to Senator Magnuson, Senator Pastore, the Chairman of the subcommittee who has spent many days, weeks, and years in this effort, Senator Cotton, the ranking member of that committee, Chairman Staggers, Congressman Macdonald, Congressman Springer, all of whom have been part of the team that has brought this measure to the White House to make it the law of our land.

I should like to send a very special word of greeting to Mr. William Harley and the National Association of Educational Broadcasters who are gathered out in Denver today and who are participating in this ceremony by remote control.

As I mentioned before, we are honored to have Dr. James Killian here this morning. We are grateful to him and other members of the Carnegie Commission who provided the ideas and inspiration some of which are incorporated in this legislation.

I think I should add that John Gardner came to me in the early days when he was head of the Carnegie Commission, before we brought him in here, and suggested this Commission and asked me to help participate in forming it and making suggestions.

We are indebted to Dr. Gardner for this as we are to many things that he has done to provide leadership in the field of what is really important in the world--the education of our people.

At this time I am going to call on Dr. Alan Pifer who is president of the Carnegie Corporation who has a statement that I hope will be of interest to all of you.

Dr. Pifer.

[At this point Dr. Pifer spoke briefly. The President then resumed speaking.]

If there are any other distinguished and generous people, I will be glad to recognize them. If not, I want to express my personal appreciation to Mr. Douglass Cater of the White House staff for the many months that he has followed this legislation and worked on it.'

Note: The President spoke at 11:33 a.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare John W. Gardner, Senator John O. Pastore of Rhode Island, and Representative Harley O. Staggers of West Virginia, Chairman of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. During his remarks he referred to, among others, Seymour N. Siegel, director of radio communications in New York City and a member of the broadcasters advisory council to the President.
As enacted, the bill (S. 1160) is Public Law 90-129 (81 Stat. 365).

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Sesame Spy Street

On Saturday, I watched a taped episode of the BBC- produced "reality series", "Spy".

"Spy" is the true story of 8 student spies picked to live in a safe house and have their student spy lives taped to find out what happens when student spies stop being polite and start getting real. The candidates, chosen from applicants from all over the United Kingdom, compete in a variety of challenging exercises. Per the usual contest format, each week a student spy who cannot make the grade is eliminated - and made to wear a yellow star.

I confess - no, I don't confess, I say loudly and proudly - that my hair stood on end when I saw at the bottom of the screen a logo for KCET - L.A.'s revered Public Television station. A friend of mine who grew up in the L.A. Public School system - a man now with expertise in several areas - told me that everything he should have learned at school, he learned from Public Television, from PBS's first-rate children's programming in the 70's and fine documentaries of the 80's & 90's. I realize that what runs on PBS is not up to me. It's up to Merck and the Chubb Group of Innovative America Feeders and the Ford Foundation of Happiness and so forth. But I wish "Spy" could have stayed over on BBC America, or even Fox.

We watched "Spy" after an episode of "America's Next Top Model". The supermodel show is the better one by far, because of higher production values and the mesmerizing, heart-rending hunger that each contestant oozes. And the stakes appear to be higher on "Top Model" - more life & death. But "Spy" is fascinating for many reasons:

- The Briefing Room is very dramatically lit, providing a day-time soap opera tension that really adds flavor.

- The camera-work is worthy of Cirque du Soleil. An entire camera crew manages to follow spy candidates through several high-tension missions, which include theft, breaking & entering, covert surveillance, etc. But the crew never manages to complicate things. You would think a daylight break-in with a camera crew in pursuit would really put a spy candidate at risk. But not with these chaps - James Bond stuff!!

- Sandy Williams, who plays "Q" - though not quite in the caliber of Judy Dench - does a very convincing job of portraying a woman. I think he's basing his performance on Chief Inspector Tennyson. Can't wait to see what he does with the role in later episodes when he gets more confidence.

- The secret service trainers, who critique the student spies' work, are superb at seething and looking dangerous. But you can see why they teach spying and rather than practice it, because, left to walk the streets, these twitching, grimacing cranks would be picked up by a Psychiatric Emergency Team in no time flat.

- The show really gets one's creative juices flowing. "I could do better than that! In fact, I'd make a great spy! Hmm. I wonder..." droned over and over through my head as I watched. I have little doubt that everyone who watches the program has some version of this thought.

I had fun watching the eager little spy beavers trying their best. I rooted for the ones I liked, wished humiliation on the ones I did not, and grieved the death of a historic public service organization throughout, and I was pestered - and still am this morning - by the relentless intonations of a Welshman way in the back of my mind. I have since identified the Welshman as Richard Burton, and his words are from the bitter speech at the end of John Le Carre's "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" (1965):

"What the hell do you think spies are? Moral philosophers measuring everything they do against the word of God or Karl Marx? They're not. They're just a bunch of seedy, squalid bastards like me. Little men, drunkards, queers, hen-pecked husbands, Civil Servants playing Cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten little lives. Do you think they sit like monks in a cell, balancing right against wrong? Yesterday I would have killed Mundt because I thought him evil and an enemy. But not today. Today he's evil, and my friend."

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

New Script Ideas

I'm brainstorming ideas for the next feature film screenplay. I think I've narrowed it down to the five best ones.

Here are the loglines:

Idea #1: "A Second Chance" - A screenwriter goes back to his home town to take care of his aging father. There he meets an old high school flame, now a single mother, who works at a local supermarket. The two fall in love and the screenwriter forms a close bond with the woman's asthmatic son by helping him enter the local kite-making competition. But their possibilities for happiness are cut tragically short when it is learned that the aging father is roasting the flesh of little girls in his basement and selling it to the local high school cafeteria.

Idea #2: "The Pirate's Thumb" - A young boy goes on a mystical adventure to return "The Pirate's Thumb" to its rightful owners in a hidden kingdom at the bottom of the world. The Pirate's Thumb is a solid gold suppository that confers magical powers.

Idea #3: "The Most Dangerous Predator, Man" - The robots are always fighting each other, but they must put aside their differences to fight a common enemy...Man. Using their superior technology and tremendous computing power, the robots exterminate every man, woman and child on earth ushering in a golden age of peace and prosperity for robot-kind.

Idea #4: "Her Ladyship's Shankstore" - Plucky noblewoman Daria Planagan must save her Mereford estate from vicious middle-class merchants who want to give her servants good jobs and affordable housing. Determined to beat the merchants at their own game, she opens her own shankstore and makes millions of pounds by employing child labor sent down from London in wooden crates.

Idea #5: "The Creep" - A serial killer with a large vocabulary tortures women in hideous ways, then dies a hideous death himself (women = one blonde, one brunette, one cripple?) (also maybe he has a special killing method that gives him away - the "ROY G BIV" Killer??)

What do you think?

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Harriet Miers - Complete Bio

Until now, not much has been known about Harriet Miers, who has been elected to the highest judicial post in the most powerful nation on earth.

But I have done quite a lot of research - using the Internet and other reliable sources - and have been able to cobble together the most thorough biography of Harriet Miers yet written, which I now present to you in full:

Harriet Ellan Miers was born in Dallas on Aug. 10, 1945, making her a Leo. Leos are generous and extroverted. They are ambitious and independent and make strong leaders. Some negative traits that may plague Leos are inflexibility and dogmatism. Napoleon Bonaparte and Mae West were born under the sign of Leo.

Harriet's last name, "Miers", should be pronounced "MYE-urrz".

Harriet Miers received her bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1967 and JD in 1970 from Southern Methodist University. Upon graduation, she clerked for U.S. District Judge Joe E. Estes from 1970 to 1972. In 1972, Miers became the first woman hired at Dallas's Lock Lurneel Nobrep Nealy & Neely. It was at this firm that Harriet began to earn the nick-name, "THE SHRIEKER".

In March 1996, her high-spirited colleagues elected her the first woman president of Rocker, Urnell, Pain & Harlell, at that time a firm of about 2000 lawyers. Despite the colleagues having no recollection of this election the next morning, Harriet became the first woman to lead a Texas firm of that size.

Cloke, Rupnell eventually merged with a Houston firm and became Kecol Lllddie & Paps, LLP, where Miers became co-managing partner of a firm with more than 40,000 lawyers.

Miers had a very distinguished career as a trial litigator, representing such clients as Microsoft, Walt Disney Co., SunGard Data Systems Inc., Barbie Inc., Lee Harvey Oswald, George W. Bush, Union Carbide, the Houston Jaycees, Boo Radley, the crew of the Amistad, Sir Thomas More, and, on more than one occasion, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise when they were tried for the crimes of all humanity.

Throughout her career, she has been very active in the legal community and has blazed a trail for other women to follow, yada, yada.

* In 1985, Miers was selected as the first woman to become president of the Dallas Bar Association.

* In 1986, she converted to Scientology.

* In 1988, she converted to Islam.

* In 1989, she was elected to a two-year term as an at-large candidate on the Dallas City Council. She chose not to run for re-election when her term expired. She does not know why and claims to have no memory of a place called "Dallas City".

* In 1990, she shot a man just to watch him die.

* In 1991, while serving time in Folsom Prison, she converted to Christianity. Later that year she escaped with two other inmates, killing four guards and taking one other hostage. The guard and fellow inmates were later found shot execution-style near the Mexico border. From this day onward Miers gained a new nickname, "The Ice Man".

* In 1992, she turned her life around and became the first woman president of the State Bar of Texas.

Miers was one of two candidates for the number three slot at the ABA Bake Sale Committee, before withdrawing her candidacy to move to Washington to serve in the White House. Miers did however serve as the Chair for the ABA's Commission on Multijurisdictional Practice. "Sit on me!" she would often whisper to the Commission, "Yeah! Yeah, sit on me!" Thinking she was making an idiotic and disrespectful joke at their expense, the Commission often beat her soundly, leaving Miers in tears lamenting "Why don't they love me? Why don't they love me?"

* On numerous occasions, the "National Law Journal" named Miers one of the nation's 100 most powerful attorneys and also one of the nation's top 50 women lawyers. "Field and Stream" recommended Miers be caught using a Fossenberger fly, not a regular Blackfeather lure. The Bluebottle Wingless lure was also recommended.

* Miers also has been involved in local and statewide politics in Texas. She learned to walk at age 2. She breathes a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen. She communicates primarily through a series of modulated buzzing sounds made by passing air past taut membranes in her throat. She is primarily bipedal.

* Miers also served as general counsel for the transition team of Governor-elect George W. Bush in 1994. Also in 1994, she converted to Christianity.

* From 1995 until 2000, Miers served as chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission, a voluntary public service position she undertook while maintaining her legal practice and other responsibilities. When complimented on her selfless public service, she would invariably reply: "It's nothing really. It's nothing ... nothing ... nothing ... nothing ... nothingness ... the void ... god help me ... George!!" When then-Governor Bush appointed then-Miers to a six-year term on the then-Texas Lottery Commission, it was mired in then-scandal, and she served as a driving force behind its then-cleanup.

* In 1996, George W. Bush referred to her in a speech as "a pit bull who likes to wear women's shoes".

Miers came to Washington, D.C., in 2001:

* Jan. 20, 2001 - Harriet Miers appointed staff secretary and assistant to the president.

* July 2002 - the now famous cat-fight between Miers and Condoleeza Rice, when the uninvited Miers showed up drunk at President Bush's birthday party. Later in the year, she converted to Christianity.

* In 2003, Miers was promoted to assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff. She was driven to a nervous breakdown in her attempts to locate the office of the deputy chief of staff who never seemed to be around when Miers was looking for him. One day, the president sat her down and said: "Poo Blanket (his pet name for her), YOU are the deputy chief of staff." At that moment, Miers' psyche snapped in two and for 10 months she wandered the halls of the White House, wraith-like, while the president played strange and haunting pieces on his guitar. After a treatment of psychotherapy and anti-siezure medications, Miers' condition improved to the point where she was able to get back to work, though she was almost always seen adopting the stance and gait of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. When asked to address her backlog of work, she was often heard to reply: "Oh, I want to. But I can't with these tiny little arms of mine. Rrrraarrrghhhh!"

* In 2004, doctors pronounced Miers "right as rain" and recommended she be given greater responsibilities to improve her self esteem. The president let her work behind the pin resetting machine in the White House bowling alley where she helped Ol' Moses polish the pins for the summer. Miers remember these as "some of my happiest days".

* Miers has served as counsel to the president since February 2005.

Miers is not married and does not have children.Two brothers and her mother live in Dallas; a third brother lives in Houston.

My thanks to the Washington Post for their invaluable assistance.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Shenzhou 6

China has launched its second manned mission into space, its first mission with multiple crew.

The vessel, called Shenzhou 6, was launched last night at 9pm Eastern Daylight Time from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

The two astronauts aboard were Fei Junlong (left in the image at bottom) and Nie Haisheng.

Gemini 3 LaunchThe historic Shenzhou 6 launch is the rough equivalent of the U.S.A. Gemini 3 launch (pictured at left) in 1964, which made Virgil "Gus" Grissom and John W. Young the first American couple in space.

On October 15, 2003 China became - after the Soviet Union, then the U.S.A. - the third country ever to have launched its citizens into Earth orbit. The lucky astronaut was Lieutenant Colonel Yang Liwei, a former fighter pilot.

Space.com has respectable coverage of the Shenzhou 6 launch.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I was introduced to Lao Tzu's "Tao Te Ching" by an old girlfriend.

Below are a variety of the many translations of the book's opening passages. The names of the translators, when known, have been deliberately omitted.


The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnameable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.


The way that can be told is not the eternal way.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
he named is the mother of the ten thousand things.


The Tao that can be spoken is not the constant Tao
The name that can be named is not the constant name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things


The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao.
The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.
[Conceived of as] having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth;
[Conceived of as] having a name, it is the Mother of all things,


Spoken Tao is not eternal Tao
Spoken name is not eternal name
Nameless is the source of all
Named is the source of the myriad things


Tao can be talked about, but not the Eternal Tao.
Names can be named, but not the Eternal Names.
As the origin of heaven and earth, it is nameless.
As "the Mother" of all things, it is nameable.


The way that can be defined to death is not the Way to Life.
The road that can be measured is not the endless road.
From nothing, the infinite universe began.
From no number, the countless things appeared.


The way that becomes a way
is not the Immortal Way
the name that becomes a name
is not the Immortal name
the maiden of Heaven and Earth has no name
the mother of all things has a name


The Tao that may be called Tao is not the invariable Tao.
The names that can be named are not the invariable names.
Non-being is the term given to the form from which Heaven and Earth sprang.
Being is the term given to the mother that rears the ten thousand things (on earth).


The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.


The way you can go
isn't the real way.
The name you can say
isn't the real name.

Heaven and earth
begin in the unnamed:
name's the mother
of the ten thousand things.


Even the finest teaching is not the Tao itself.
Even the finest name is insufficient to define it.
Without words, the Tao can be experienced,
and without a name, it can be known.


A way that can be walked
is not the way
A name that can be named
is not the name.

Tao is both Named and Nameless
As Nameless, it is the origin of all things.
As named, it is the mother of all things.


Existence is beyond the power of words
To define:
Terms may be used
But are none of them absolute.
In the beginning of heaven and earth there were no words,
Words came out of the womb of matter;


Direction, as expressed, is no ordinary direction;
as named, no ordinary name.
Null identifies the universe at the beginning.
Ull [all] identifies the mother of myriad matters.


The Tao that can be understood cannot be the primal, or cosmic, Tao, just as an idea that can be expressed in words cannot be the infinite idea. And yet this ineffable Tao was the source of all spirit and matter, and being expressed was the mother of all created things.


There are ways but the Way is uncharted; There are names but not nature in words: Nameless indeed is the source of creation, but things have a mother and she has a name.


The Way that can be described is not the absolute Way;
the name that can be given is not the absolute name.

Nameless it is the source of heaven and earth;
named it is the mother of all things


There are ways but the Way is uncharted;
There are names but not nature in words:
Nameless indeed is the source of creation
But things have a mother and she has a name.


Existence is beyond the power of words
To define: Terms may be used
But are none of them absolute.
In the beginning of heaven and earth there were no words,
Words came out of the womb of matter;


A way can be a guide, but not a fixed path;
names can be given, but not permanent labels.
Nonbeing is called the beginning of heaven and earth;
being is called the mother of all things.


A tao that one can tao
Is not the entire tao
A name that one can name
Is not the entire name.

In the absence of names
ies the origin of heavens and earth
The presence of names
Is mother to the 10,000 things.


The way that can be told of is hardly an eternal, absolute, unvarying one;
the name that can be coded and given is no absolute name.
Heaven and earth sprang from something else: the bright nameless;
the named is but the said mother that rears the ten thousand creatures of heaven and earth, each after its kind.


The Tao that can be expressed is not the eternal Tao;
The name that can be defined is not the unchanging name.
Non-existence is called the antecedent of heaven and earth;
Existence is the mother of all things.


Tao is beyond words and beyond understanding.
Words may be used to speak of it, but they cannot contain it.
Tao existed before words and names, before heaven and earth, before the ten thousand things.
It is the unlimited father and mother of all limited things.


The Dao-Path is not the All-Dao.
The Name is not the Thing named.
Unmanifested, it is the Secret Father of Heaven and Earth;
manifested, it is their Mother.


To guide what can be guided is not constant guiding.
To name what can be named is not constant naming.
'Not-exist' names the beginning (boundary) of the cosmos (Heaven and earth).
'Exists' names the mother of the ten-thousand natural kinds.


The Tao that can be told is not the invariant Tao,
the names that can be named are not the invariant Names.
Nameless, it is the source of the thousands of things
[named, it is 'Mother' of the thousands of things].


The Way that can be experienced is not true;
The world that can be constructed is not real.
The Way manifests all that happens and may happen;
The world represents all that exists and may exist.


The principle that can be enunciated is not the one that always was.The being that can be named is not the one that was at all times. Before time there was an ineffable, unnameable being. When it was still unnameable, it conceived heaven and earth. When it had thus become nameable, it gave birth to the multitude of beings.


The infinity that can be conceived is not the everlasting Infinity.
The infinity that can be described is not the perpetual Infinity.
The inconceivable indescribable is the essence of the all encompassing Infinite.
Conceiving and describing applies only to the manifestations of Infinity.


Tao can be talked about, but not the Eternal Tao;
Names can be named, but not the Eternal name.
As the origin of heaven-and-earth, it is nameless:
As "the Mother" of all things it is nameable.

HERE is a fine page which features a line by line comparison of multiple translations of the "Tao Te Ching".

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Top 5 Carter Burwell Film Scores

Oh, I can hear you: "A whole weekend without posting and all you can do is throw us a TOP 5 LIST."

Yes. That's about the shape of it. But this isn't just any TOP 5 LIST. This is...


What fool would dare suggest that Carter Burwell is not the greatest living film composer? Who would say such a thing? Show me that man and I will show you a man with a sore groin (the groin, we may assume in our example, has been made sore by my kicking it) (I want to clarify that) (I don't want you thinking the man might have developed soreness from disease or an act of God - no, my righteous anger would be the source of this soreness, I can assure you) (I think we understand each other).

So, yes. As I was saying, here are...


"Barton Fink" (1991) - partnered beautifully with the film's superb sound design, the score reeks of grief and solitude.

"Fargo" (1996) - sweeping, epic themes juxtaposed against tiny, tiny, tiny people make for near-poetry.

"Fear" (1996) - on the list only because I fell in love with the opening title track the moment I heard it. It's almost a generic thriller/action intro, with little - outside of evoking "ADRENALINE" - tying it to the film. Much of the soundtrack is contemporary songs, but the "Fear" score rudely elbows its way onto the list because of my fondness for that title cue. It's not available on CD, but it is available HERE at Carter's site, which makes me so happy I could vomit silly string.

"The Hudsucker Proxy" (1994) - manages to make Khachaturian sound like just one more set of themes thrown into the mix (a companion piece to "Raising Arizona" (1987) in this, which chews, swallows, and wonderfully regurges Beethoven - lot of throw-up metaphors today, aren't there)

"Rob Roy" (1995) - a movie that outstrips its worthy competitor "Braveheart" (1995) in almost every aspect, including its beautiful score, which does not recycle Ralph Vaughan-Williams in an "I really, really like the temp-track" kind of way.

Carter Burwell has composed all the scores for the Coen Brothers and for Spike Jonze, as well as composing the music for "Theater Of The New Ear", the stage production which ran at UCLA last month, written by Jonze collaborator Charlie Kaufman and by another mysterious writer under a pseudonym (a pseudonym which could be hiding the name "Coen"?). In the New York version of the production, there was no attempt at a pseudonym and "Joel and Ethan Coen" were left to stand. I feel fortunate to have attended "Theater Of The New Ear" in L.A. and to have seen Carter Burwell in person, conducting his own music that some actors or somebody were reading words to.

Success happens in clusters, they say. Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, and Paul Schrader came up together out of the same mean streets. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs all scored from the same drug dealers. Hitler, Göring and Himmler used to go see Charlie Chaplin movies together. I wonder if the Coens and Carter Burwell watched "Triumph of the Will" (1935) together. That movie has a great soundtrack. I like the part where the helicopters blow the hell out of the Viet Cong. It's hard not to get the giggles watching it.

I had notions of this post becoming something of a Carter Burwell hagiography. But I thought it best to avoid that because I'm not sure what a hagiography is. I think I might have seen one on tv this week, but I can't be certain. In any case, what we can learn by studying Carter Burwell's career, and examining this truism of success happening in clusters (I call them "succlusters"), is that success flourishes when the right people meet other right people at the right time, each bringing out the best work in the other. Perhaps that's why selfish idiots don't usually last long. Selfish idiots generally do not bring out the best work in others, and they often resent and sabotage good work out of their own dreadful insecurities. Me, I'm content to ride on the coattails of my betters. Not that I'm less insecure than the average selfish idiot, but I do know - and treasure - a good thing when I see it. Or hear it.


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Friday, October 07, 2005

Things You Can Shout #2

It's fun to shout things.

Some things are more fun to shout than others.

Today, the thing I would like to shout - and I invite you to shout it too, if you enjoy shouting things - the thing I would like to shout is:

I intend to shout this for the rest of the day. At the top of my lungs.


So if you're out & about and you hear someone shouting "Dispatch War Rocket Ajax...to bring back his BODY!!!" - why, that's ME! Say hi. I may not answer because I'll be busy shouting. But I want you to know now that your acknowledgement means a lot to me.

Well, I'm off. Got to get shouting...


- other things you can shout -

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Death Star OSHA Report

"OSHA's mission is to assure the safety and health of the Galaxy's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health."

TO: Governor Tarkin, G.M.
CC: Adm. Motti, (10 others) ...
BCC: ...

FROM: Inspectors #239, #9662, #0882 - Imperial Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Dear Governor Tarkin:

We view with grave concern the staggering systematic safety and health failures on the new Imperial battle station called the "Death Star". We regret to say we will be recommending a complete suspension of operations to address these safety concerns. And unless all the following problems are remedied within the next fiscal year, we will recommend the battle station be shut down permanently.

Our concerns include, but are not limited to, the following:


As you know, there is a case pending against the firm that designed this so-called "ultimate power in the Universe". We have received reports of at least 140 employees dying in falls which could have been prevented by the simple installation of railings and balustrades. No doubt many more falls have gone unreported. Some have complained that the cost of putting up railings throughout the station after the fact would be prohibitive. Be warned: the station WILL be shut down unless railings are installed.

It is our opinion that this drop in safety standards is a predictable result of "no bid" contracts.


Supposedly the first line of defense against intruders, the Death Star's compliment of Stormtroopers is woefully undertrained. To quote an anonymous source: "These guys can't hit the broad side of a space-barn." In one reported security incident, a dozen Stormtroopers bearing the latest issue blaster carbines, all simultaneously firing, could not hit two unarmored human targets from thirty feet away. Other anecdotal evidence has suggested that in several incidents scores of troops have died at the hands of minimally armed combatants. Employees cannot rely solely on high-tech equipment. A well-trained employee makes a safe employee.


The Death Star's planet-destroyer super-laser controls are criminally dangerous.

We are appalled that a design made it to construction which requires human Operators to stand within 3 meters of a laser beam packing 90 gigajoules/sec. Operators, in death bed interviews, reported receiving only a minimally protective hardhat and were told by superiors to shield their eyes with their hands "if the beam gets too bright for you".

Among our other concerns:

- Operators are exposed to 10,000 rem each time the super-laser is fired. Exposure to a single blast has resulted in loss of hair and teeth, 2nd degree burns, sterility, and bone marrow disintegration.

- Concern for Operator safety so lacking that Operators do not even receive gloves.

- Again, no handrails. Only a matter of time before a blinded and burned Operator stumbles into the firing shaft and is vaporized.

- Is it absolutely necessary to have controls located inside the barrel of the weapon?


Please put doors on all hangar bays.


We recognize that input from outside consultants - particularly those appointed directly by the Emperor - are vital to the success of the Imperial Strategy. However, Death Star employeees should not be expected to answer to outside consultants who are not employed by Death Star Human Resources. The issue also brings up labor union concerns, and though these are not strictly under our jurisdiction, we believe that the Command & Control structure must stay cleanly defined in order to safely operate such a complex enterprise as the Death Star.

Any intimidation of Death Star employees by these outside consultants - whether via physical or supernatural means - will not be tolerated.


The station has just become fully operational and already waste buildup has reached a condition of substantial biohazard, creating conditions which have allowed large, highly dangerous invertebrates to flourish.

We recommend:

a.) thorough fumigation, deck by deck, of the entire battle station

b.) a new sanitation system in which refuse is recycled or disposed of, instead of the current, untenable practice of garbage storage.


There are hordes of tiny four-wheeled robots weaving in and out of the dense pedestrian traffic of the Death Star's main corridors. These are an appalling accident hazard and we are shocked that this has not yet been addressed. You might as well litter the corriders with a thousand randomly placed skateboards. I understand that the new uniform requirement for knee-high boots has helped reduce ankle injuries throughout the Empire, but with these nervous little blighters zipping underfoot, repeated accidents will be unavoidable and costly.

We haven't been fully apprised as to what function these robots serve. One employee interviewed said he thought they were message couriers. What's wrong with email?


We are happy to see that this has been addressed. As stated in previous reports, we viewed with apprehension the lack of standardization in languages used on vital pieces of equipment. There was sometimes English writing printed on vital equipment amidst the standard Imperial script.

Even given a large percentage of bilingual employees, regulations state that instructional language on vital equipment must be clearly readable and easily understood in an emergency. Mixing of languages makes quick apprehension impossible.

We acknowledge your replacement of all English text with the standard Imperial script, and we hope it is an indication that more vital safety issues will be addressed forthwith.


Finally - though matters of defense are not in our purview - we feel that the open exhaust port at the end of one of the battle station's trenches (the port in question is right below the main port) is a global safety concern. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which could destroy the station. We wonder if some defense specialists should examine the location and institute protective measures. Perhaps it could be ray shielded until a permanent solution is found?

We look forward, Governor, to hearing your plan of action at the closed meeting scheduled to take place after your imminent exercise at the planet Yavin.

Yours sincerely,

- Inspectors #239, #9662, #0882 - Imperial Occupational Safety and Health Administration

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Today I am sick.

In addition to being sick, I am ill. It's a "cold" - sore throat, headache, weariness, stuffy nose, convulsions, coma, death - that I caught from someone who was too proud to stay at home when they had it.

I, however, am not cursed with so much pride and am willing to call it a day under the thinnest pretexts. Slight fatigue? Sick - stay home. Mild forehead tension? Sick - stay home. Crushing despair? Sick - stay home.

In fact, I am so used to calling in sick with minimal symptoms, so used to living a hideous lie, that I sometimes am not sure if I'm sick or if I'm just faking it. This is the hard-earned result of years of ducking work and responsibilities by professing illness. As a little kid, it was a constant struggle to see if I could somehow concoct an illness which would sound plausible enough to get me out of school for the day - so utter was my loathing for all things scholastic.

These days I'm still trying to untangle the web of deceits that I call a personality. And on days like these, where I do have measurable symptoms, I try to bask in the feelings of illness, savor them, get a sense of what they really feel like, so that when they come around again, I will know for a fact that I am ill and not just lying to myself one more time.

Even as I write this, I still have nagging doubts - perhaps my reported symptoms are figments of my imagination, delusions. But then I can't think too, too deeply about it, otherwise I shall go mad, and then you have a madman with a snotty nose and headache lurching about, and who wants that? So today I shall operate under the assumption that my symptoms are real - despite my never-ending suspicions of self-deceit - and act in all ways as if I am genuinely ill.

Fluids, bathrobe, bed, aspirin, soup - these are the tools with which the diseased man doth minister unto himself, and these are those that I shall thus today employ. Achoo.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Nipsey Russel (1924 - 2005)

"The girl that I would marry
Need not be young and fair.
She should be a nymphomaniac
And be a millionaire!"

Nipsey Russell has died.

He was that guy on "To Tell The Truth" and "Match Game" who recited the poems.

Or so I thought.

Actually, he really was that guy on "To Tell The Truth" and "Match Game" who recited the poems. But he was also other guys.

Nipsey was born "Julius Russell" in Atlanta, GA.

Nipsey made a name for himself in the 50's and 60's on Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson, and the Jack Parr show. Jack Parr claimed to have "discovered" Nipsey.

Nipsey was a fine dancer who played the Tin Man in "The Wiz" ("The genius who created me only took care of my dashing good looks, my razor sharp wit,and my irresistible attraction to the wrong women"), and he was appearing in a tap dance act at age 3.

Nipsey studied classical literature and foreign languages and was said to have a photographic memory. But he is best known for his zany - sometimes off the cuff - poetry.

Some of Nipsey's ancestors were kidnapped from their homeland and brought to the Americas to live out the rest of their lives as slave labor.

Nipsey died Sunday of cancer at Lenox Hospital in New York.

I will miss Nipsey Russell. But though he has gone, I will continue to say his name, because of all comedians - next to Soupy Sales, his frequent game show co-panelist - Nipsey's is one of the most enjoyable names to say out loud.

To honor Nipsey's memory and multifaceted career, I urge everyone in America today - all day - to repeat, under their various breaths, the great name of the great Nipsey Russell.

Say it with me now...

"Nipsey Russell"

And again...

"Nipsey Russell"

And again...

"Nipsey Russell...Nipsey Russell...At Studio 54, he did The Hustle..."

More quietly now. Like a maniac...

"Nipsey Russell...Nipsey Russell..."

Good! Good! Keep going! Don't stop till bedtime! I know I won't!

"Nipsey Russell...Nipsey Russell...Nipsey Russell..."

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Monday, October 03, 2005

New T-Shirt - Goldstein

"The War is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the War is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact."

- Emmanuel Goldstein

The new T-Shirt Design is available today at the RABBIT + CROW SHOP.

This month's design features a quote from "The Theory And Practice Of Oligarchical Collectivism" written by that foul traitor, EMMANUEL GOLDSTEIN.

I urge you to buy literal tons of the new merchandise, and then burn it all in great bonfires. I want to see a constellation of conflagrations stretching across the country, blazing from one sea to the other, incinerating t-shirts, stickers, and totebags which all bear the profanities of the despicable GOLDSTEIN!!!!!!!!

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Siamese Fighting Triceratops

We bought a Siamese Fighting Fish (Betta splendens) today.

Normally, I wouldn't work on Sunday, because when you work on Sunday, the people who are not working on Sunday sneak around committing heinous treacheries, trying to "get you" when you're guard is down. But I just wanted to let you all know about the Siamese Fighting Fish, the first vertebrate inhabitant of our new 10 gallon tank.

The new fish is pictured at right.

I have told my wife that I would like to name our first-born son "Triceratops". I think "Triceratops" is a fine name. She disagrees.

Perhaps I will name the fish "Triceratops".

And I could name our first-born son "Fighting Fish"? Now that's a name. "Fighting Fish Romanek". Yeah. That's the one.

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Things Under Your Eyelid

10 Most Irritating Things To Get Stuck Under Your Eyelid
  1. an eyelash
  2. barber's scissors
  3. mechanical pencil lead
  4. medicine cabinet
  5. bit of broken bottle
  6. entire unbroken bottle
  7. Dungeons & Dragons 4-sided die
  8. any one of the flightless birds (ostrich, rhea, kiwi, etc.)
  9. the other eyelid
  10. The Green Party

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