SLIDESHOW EXPLANATION

THE PHOTOS SCROLLING BY IN THE SLIDESHOW ON THE LEFT ARE ORIGINAL AND CAN BE VIEWED OR PURCHASED AT WWW.WIZARDPIXPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

YOUR TYPICAL DIVORCE SETTLEMENT: $750 MILLION, A HOUSE, AN ISLAND, AND THE KIDS... (HEY TIGER, PMYS...)

      There's a report in the British tabloid The Sun (so you know it must be true) releasing the details of Tiger Wood's divorce settlement from his wife, Elin Nordegren.  According to this report, she will get custody of the children, the house in Florida, an apartment in Stockholm, a nearby island (!), and a little spending money to tide her over until she meets Mr. Right...
       The cash part of the settlement is eye-opening, to say the least.  Three-quarters of a billion to stay quiet is pretty significant hush money, I think.  Hell, I'll shut up for a lot less than that, just make me an offer!
        A while back I wrote a "Squatlo Story" explaining one of my favorite sayings (Pussy Makes You Stupid).  Tiger Woods is a textbook example of that...
        I had promised myself I wouldn't join in the pile-on about Tiger, but this just begs commentary.  The wronged woman... hell hath no fury.

A CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS SPEAKS OUT IN FAVOR OF THE PROPOSED MOSQUE IN MURFREESBORO! (surprise, surprise, he's a Marine, too!)

BEN LEMING

        I just read an interesting article in The Nashville Scene about the Democratic candidate for the 6th District Congressional seat of the retiring Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tn)After watching the yahoos in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, (including at least one of his Republican teabagging opponents) spew their hatred and intolerance about the proposed Islamic Center Mosque, Ben Leming has offered this tidbit of sanity to the discussion: "The people that want to build a house of worship in Murfreesboro are not the enemy.  Osama Bin Laden and his band of thugs are the enemy."
         How refreshing!  Someone has enough balls to actually say that in public, and do so while trying to win an election in this red (and getting redder by the day) part of the state.  Then I started to read a little more about Mr. Leming, and his courage began to seem a little less surprising.  Unlike the herd of rich Republican businessmen and women on the other side of the ballot, Mr. Leming has proven his mettle in a leadership role.  Ben Leming graduated from the United States Naval Academy and has served fifteen years on active duty in the Marine Corps, and is currently a captain in the Marine Corps Reserves.
          Not much chance he'll get to serve in Congress, at least not in this election cycle, but he's got my vote and he'll have my support if he ever runs again in the future.

HEY, I HAVEN'T HAD MY COFFEE YET... (pilfered guano from the net 'til the caffeine kicks in)





SOCCER'S A SOCIALIST PLOT TO TAKE OUR ARMS! (not our guns, mind you, our actual arms...)



       I shamelessly lifted this from a friend who found it first (go to http://www.un-originalthoughts.blogspot.com/  for some unusual slants on current events if  you want a walk on the twisted side of life...) and ended up going to this guy's website (the guy in the video, not my buddy) to watch some of his other videos.  He's actually a computer programmer in Watertown, Mass, who does this for amusement.
       Funnier than you know, because folks around here in middle Tennessee often sound just like this guy!

UNEMPLOYED? THEN YOU'RE JUST SPOILED AND LAZY! (so sayeth Sharron Angle, dingbat candidate for Senate, Nevada)

                       Teabagger Sharron Angle of Nevada...

       Ever since she won the Republican nomination to face Harry Reid in Nevada's race for Senator, Sharron Angle has avoided giving interviews with anyone not wearing a Faux News blazer.  She's stuck to the Limbaugh, Hannity, and wingnut radio circuit exclusively.  Why the freeze on "mainstream media?"   Because they ask real questions instead of just lubing up your pie hole for a cliche fest.
        Last night Angle sat down with veteran political reporter John Ralston and answered some questions about her previously stated positions concerning the elimination of Social Security and cutting off unemployment benefits for folks who are out of work.
        When asked if she would have voted to extend unemployment benefits for the 9% of Americans currently unemployed, she said she would have voted no because (grab a roll of toilet paper, the shit factor is about to rise) excessive benefits have resulted in a "spoilage with our ability to go out and get a job."
         She went on to defend her position, saying that because unemployment benefits are often higher than the bottom of the barrel pay being offered in those few jobs that ARE available, Americans are spoiled and won't get off the government tit to earn their own way through life.
          It is estimated that there are five to six unemployed individuals for every available job right now.  The only reason you're out of work is because you're lazy, and the only reason you won't take a low paying grunt job at Walmart is because you're spoiled.
          So there.  Vote Republican, put friends in high places!

FLYING CAR MAKES ITS DEBUT (all you need is a runway)

COURT IS IN SESSIONS: AN IDIOT FROM ALABAMA HOLDS FORTH IN THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARINGS

                 SENATOR JEFFERSON BEAUREGARD SESSIONS III

        Why is it that nearly every time one of those palm-to-forehead moments takes place in Congress, the man with foot-in-mouth disease is either from Texas or Aladamnbama?  Is there no one in either state willing to dump a little chorine in the gene pool from time to time?

         You can look up Mr. Sessions and see for yourself what a gold-plated shithead this guy really is... from his vast history of racist comments to the legion of people willing to come forward to attest to his ignorant bigotry, Jeff Sessions is a piece of work. 
          When Sonia Sotomayor was going through her confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the ranking Republican member of that committee had a lot to say to, and about, her confirmation.  Seems as though Sessions was still more than a little miffed that his own nomination to the U.S. District Court of Southern Alabama had been shot down in that very committee back in 1986, making Sessions only the second nominee to the Federal Judiciary to have his nomination killed in committee in over 48 years.  Now he's the ranking Republican on that committee.  Think he's got issues?

          Sessions' voting history is telling: He voted against an amendment to a bill prohibiting cruel or inhumane treatment of detainees in American custody.  He voted against stem cell research.  He voted to allow drilling in ANWAR.  He won't support any path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.  And just for good measure, he was quoted as having said that an openly gay Supreme Court justice might make Americans "uneasy."

           I listen to his "questions," which could be more properly defined as "comments," to the current Supreme Court nominee Kagan, and have to wonder if he's had his shots yet... this guy is like a junkyard dog on a rusty chain, snarling from under a Buick.  Spittle- speckled is not an exaggeration. 
          Kagan will be confirmed, and Sessions will vote against her nomination, both in committee and again when the full Senate votes to confirm... but he'll make his speeches count while the cameras are on, and since he's the ranking Repub on the committee he'll be given more leeway to spew his hateful venom than proper decorum would suggest necessary.
           To paraphrase Dick "Undisclosed Location" Cheney, this guy is a major league asshole.
          

CICADAS (The vuvuzelas of the insect world... they're back!)

                                                  Cicada in all its charm...

        If you live in the southeastern United States you know all you need to know about cicadas.  Every summer a few of these noisy bastards will emerge from their underground burrows, climb up a tree, shed their outer shells, fly off to mate (and make the only noise more annoying than a South African vuvuzela to attract a significant other), then die.  We have them every summer, and the yearly breed that hatches is called the Dog Day cicadas.  Not a real nuisance, just another noisy bug...
        However, there are two different broods of cicadas that hatch in 13 or 17 year cycles.  They feed on the root systems of trees (and count the years by the annual sap flow) then emerge en masse to torment summer outdoor wedding parties and anyone with a mower or power tool.  The larger brood hatches that come in those longer cycles are a sight (and sound) to behold.
         Scientists (bug folks) tell us we can distinguish between the different types of cicadas by the eye color.  Not necessary, really.  We can tell the difference because we can still hear one another talk when we're outdoors.  Next May when the long cycle bugs emerge, outdoor conversation is akin to communicating in the middle of a firefight in combat.  We all learn to read lips.
         About the saddest thing I've ever seen (or heard) in nature is when one of the long cycle brood comes up a year early.  Can you imagine the disappointment, after waiting 13 or 17 years for a chance to get laid, only to find you miscounted the sap flows and showed up early?  I can just see the lonely loser cicada on a branch, furiously rattling the membranes on his body to create that love song of the ages: come hither, woman, I am here!  And yet, no one shows up to play.  There he is, all dressed up and no one to dance with.
         Right now we have the off-year cicadas.  Next spring and summer we will be wearing earplugs on the deck... infestations of cyclical cicadas can generate a sound measured at over 100 decibels, and they're attracted to other loud, vibrating things, like lawn mowers, weedeaters, and Sarah Palin speeches.
          On the plus side, they make excellent top water bait...

MORE EMPTY CALORIES (web guano while the creative mind stirs...)






Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SIGN OF INTOLERANCE (Islamic Center of Murfreesboro's sign vandalized, again)


                         Celebrating Religious Freedom in 2010...

       Okay, I know those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis (all four of you, and thanks for coming by, Meridian, Mississippi, whoever you are!) are probably sick of reading about this little tempest in a teapot here in my neighborhood.  But it's not that often that one gets this close to genuine hate crimes without being either the victim or the aggressor, and I'm having a tough time letting it go without commentary.
        Folks around here have been raising hell ever since plans were announced to construct a 52,000 square foot Islamic Center less than a mile from my front door... and most of them have confined their objections to understandable reasons like traffic and property values.  But more than a few have come right out and let their freak flags fly, warning that radical Islam and Muslims in general are a threat to our way of life here in middle Tennessee.  One local candidate for Congress has even warned that the Islamic Center would be a training center "designed to fracture the moral and political foundation of middle Tennessee."  I read earlier today that she's been receiving death threats, but no one is sure if those threats are related to her ignorant comments concerning the Islamic Center.  Maybe she just invites that kind of karma, I don't know...
        At any rate, Mrs. Squatlo and I were out for lunch earlier and noticed that the sign announcing the planned Islamic Center had been vandalized yet again.  Someone had torn the wooden sign in two and left it hanging beside a plastic banner inviting us all to celebrate a Happy Fourth of July.  The banner was placed there by the Islamic Center, apparently trying to appeal to some semblence of patriotic restraint on the part of the redneckless morons who keep fucking up their signs.
        I just took a couple of pictures of the damaged sign.  Not sure why.  Just seemed like something that might illuminate the bile this story keeps bringing up.  Right next to a sign inviting us to have a Happy Fourth of July, a holiday celebrating our nation's founding, a founding based primarily on religious freedom of speech, stands the vandalized sign of a religious group some folks are terrified of...
        You can't make this shit up...
      
       

FACEBOOK TO BP'S RESCUE? BOYCOTT BP FANPAGE SHUT DOWN...



Once upon a time I devoted an inordinate amount of my free time to a social disease called "Facebook", and found myself constantly deluged by Farmville requests and the relentless tedium that results when hundreds of "friends" make a point to announce the minutiae of daily events.
The thing that pushed me over the edge, even more than the rants and raves of the right wingnutter fringe element that felt compelled to provide fact-free commentary to every facet of current events, was a fanpage on Facebook that asked its members to "Pray for the death of  Obama."
I considered this borderline hate speech, wrote a complaint to the FB moderators, and when the Prayerful Ones reached a million members decided that perhaps Facebook wasn't a group I wanted to belong to after all.  Those of us who signed a petition asking for this group's page to be deleted had to choose whether or not to remain on Facebook, and I filed for divorce, found the flush lever, and have been a much happier man ever since.
Now I'm reading on Huff'n'Puff Post about a fanpage of folks who want to Boycott BP who have seen their page deleted by FB... and then reposted.  No explanation was offered after thousands of complaints that the Boycott BP fanpage had mysteriously disappeared... it was just gone.  Then, suddenly, and again, without explanation, it was back on again.
My first thought was this:  could it be that a fanpage devoted to praying for the death of the President of the United States (such a Christian way of handling political loss) could escape moderation, but a fanpage calling for the economic boycott of a corporation guilty of murdering American oil rig workers, fouling the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, ruining the lives of fisherman, property owners, and business all along the southeastern coast of the United States had somehow crossed a line of impropriety and been "moderated"?
Facebook now says it was just an error.  Oopsie... but don't you wonder?  Maybe if a group had started a prayer vigil for Tony Hayward's death it might not have been "accidentally" silenced...
           
         

ECONOMIC COLLAPSE, TWO WARS, SOMALI PIRATES, AND AN OIL SPILL?

BP'S COMING TO TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOU...

PORTRAIT OF A WAR CRIMINAL (vanity unveiled at Pentagon)




           It's being reported that Donald Rumsfeld footed the bill ($50K) for the new portrait of himself that was unveiled by Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon.  Very nice...

            I believe there are any number of photos that would have been more suitable for Donald Rumsfeld's portrait.  The images from Abu Ghraib are iconic enough to serve as a permanent reminder of what happens when immoral men rise to positions of incredible power.

            I hope a good photographer is there the day Rumsfeld is brought in shackles before a War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague.  That would be a portrait worth paying for...

AND WITH EGGROLL YOU GET FLOORSHOW! (our Chef Wang's dining experience Saturday)

                               CHEF WANG'S IN MURFREESBORO, TN

         My wife and I were on our way back from a photography gig at a Nashville technical college on Saturday afternoon when we decided to spend some of the day's profits at a well-known local Chinese restaurant here in Murfreesboro.  I had never eaten at Chef Wang's, but had heard great things about it for years.  It was on the way home, so we stopped.
          I love Chinese food.  A good all-you-can-stomach Chinese buffet is heaven for me, because I like the prospect of just grabbing another clean plate and loading it up like a refugee behind a third world rice truck... ten different entrees in a huge pile around fried rice?  Perfect!
          I had gotten my buffet plate appropriately loaded and was attempting to get back to our table when I walked between a couple of rather angry men who were having a "discussion."  When I have food in hand I'm not the most observant animal in the jungle, or I might have picked up on the negative waves a step or two earlier and not wandered directly into what could have been a very, very, ugly situation.
          As I passed by the cash register I heard an oriental gentleman behind the counter tell one of his employees to "call the police for me!"
          Another man who was standing in front of the "greeter" who meets incoming customers in the restaurant lobby had a pad and pen in hand and was asking, very insistently, for that person's name.  At the sound of the manager telling an employee to call the police, the man with the notepad turned toward him and said, "Good.  Call the police.  I'm going to file a Civil Rights lawsuit against you, and I'd like the police here."
           Now, at this point I was directly between these two men who were standing less than ten feet apart.  Angry manager, angry customer, and hungry Squatlo with ten pounds of Chinese on a plate in the middle... looking suddenly aware that things weren't quite "normal" at that particular moment.  For some reason I stopped walking and stood perfectly still between them for about a second, then realized it would behoove me to carry my ass out of the line of fire should this thing escalate. 
           I took my plate to the table where a waitress was waiting with the draft beer I had ordered.  I asked her if she knew what was going on, and she had no clue.  Meanwhile, behind me, the "discussion" continued, and now it was getting louder.
           "I'm calling my lawyer as soon as I leave here, and we'll be filing a lawsuit."
           "You leave."
           Then it was quiet.  People around me were eating, no one seemed to notice the commotion at the front of the restaurant, and the food was delicious... so I dug in and didn't look up again until my wife sat down with her plate from the buffet table.  I asked if she had heard any of the noise, and she hadn't.  Later our waitress came by to say that the man who was asked to leave was a "regular" who she said one of the bartenders suspected was a "stalker", and that he was being detained in the parking lot.
             "Pipe bomb and guns.  Very strange."  she said, as she refilled a glass of ice water for me.
             When we stepped out of the restaurant a little while later, there were four police cars and a fire truck around a pickup truck in the parking lot.  The gentleman who had been asked to leave the restaurant was standing at the rear of one of the Murfreesboro Police cars, arms folded across his chest, and several officers were going through his truck.
               Today's morning paper tells the story of a man who was arrested outside of Chef Wang's on Saturday, and who now faces 7 counts of possession of prohibited weapons, 6 counts of unlawful carrying or possessing weapons, reckless endangerment, and that he was carrying a loaded handgun and two knives, one of which was a switchblade.  He's being held under $100,000 bond.
               According to this article, the Murf police also called in the Tennessee Highway Patrol bomb squad and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to investigate the homemade explosive device found in his truck.

               I'd rate the restaurant's buffet at nine out of ten stars (excellent jalepeno chicken, but keep a cold beer handy!) and I'd rate the floor show at six out of ten, mainly because most of the show took place outside the restaurant.  If you're going to have entertainment on site, it needs to be highlighted and within view of everyone in the dining room.
              

Monday, June 28, 2010

WHAT IF THEY GAVE A WAR AND NOBODY PAID? (cutting off funding for the war... what a novel idea!)




      Huff'n'Puff Post is featuring a story about a subcommittee in the House of Reps which is balking on approving funding for the State Department's Afghanistan Redevelopment and Reconstruction plan... to the tune of $3.9 billion in withheld cash.
       What a novel idea.  However, instead of just finding one little bone of contention (pervasive corruption in the distribution of the funds) why not just pull the plug on the whole fucking mess?  No one can give a rational explanation for our continued occupation, and we're sure as hell not going to be better off a year from now at our current pace of extraction.

        When you find yourself in a hole, use a bigger shovel?  That seems to be the current approach to Afghanistan.  Rep. Nita Lowey (Dem with Balls-NY) is holding up the funding in her subcommittee.  That's money that won't be put into suitcases and passed out among warlords and the Kabullshitists who are getting hernias trying to haul it all away as it is.

          It would be so refreshing to have someone with Kucinich's Cajones leading the Dems right now...
          We can't afford to extend unemployment benefits to the 9% of Americans who are out of work, but we can funnel mountains of cash to that third world pisshole? 

THE SNOPES TRIAL: YOU'RE PASSING ALONG BULLSHIT AND YOU FUCKING KNOW IT! (an email primer, if you care to check the new rules)

       For about two years now I've been railing about this affliction some folks have of passing along email forwards they KNOW are false.  It's a pet peeve of mine, and I guess I'm so over it I tend to go ballistic whenever someone sends me one of those, "Obama was born in Kenya" or "George Carlin talks about Socialism" forwards.
        If you ever try to get on snopes.com and the website is bogged down due to heavy traffic, know right up front that I'm probably clogging the "internets" with a search of my own.  I've confronted friends and family, pointed out how easy it is to verify these things before sending them to every swinging dick in your address book, and yet they arrive daily.
         About a year ago I read that there are people who are paid to sit in a room creating these email slanderbombs.  They generate them by the hundreds, send them to everyone they know, who in turn send them to everyone they know, and so on.  Before long, like a disease, the lie spreads.  Maybe some are immune due to intelligence or information or the ability to discern bullshit from Angus beef... but a great many people accept anything they receive from a respected friend as gospel.  Must be true, I read it on the internet.  This is the equivalent of a software virus, but a cancer of the truth instead.
        
         Here's my suggestion to anyone who feels the same way I do... if you would never (ever, under any circumstances) pass along a known falsehood about someone else, even someone you despise or find repugnant, and think it is wrong for others to do so,  join me in a quest to "pay it backward."
         I vow to respond to each and every false accusation or lie sent to me about someone if I can find verifiable proof of error in the message received.  I will respond, not only to the sender of the offending email, but to all (REPLY FUCKING ALL) so that the person who sent it to THAT person gets my response, as well as everyone who was poisoned by the lie in the food chain of command.
         I will use whatever resources are available to me to find the flaw in the story, point it out as bluntly as is possible without crossing any line that might warrant a restraining order or legal action. 
        I will not simply "delete" and roll my eyes any longer.
        I will not be silent when someone with my address is determined to lie (and if you pass along a lie, you are telling that lie yourself) to others.
        I will speak up, I will defend, and I will not accept as a fact of modern life that truth no longer matters.

        Check your in-box.  See something fishy?  Check it out, copy and paste the URL that points out the error, and send it to every sumbitch on the mailing list.

         Be forewarned:  some rightwinger nutjobs hate to be corrected, and they will probably send complaints and contradictions and end their response with a blast at "snopes.com", saying it's a left wing operation meant to advance a Socialist, tree-hugging agenda.  You can't argue all day with every ignorant asshole who responds, because, let's face it, the ignorant outnumber us a thousand to one.
        However, if you are consistent in your responses, they just might drop you from the shitlist the next time they're sending out their slanderous forwards!

        

GRAFFITI INTERRUPTUS...

       More original drawings and slogans can be found here!

EMMYLOU HARRIS IN HER PRIME (Rodney Crowell song "I Don't Have to Crawl")



       The text below this on youtube says it was taken from a 27 year old VHS, so that explains the low volume and grainy picture... but damn, this is one of Emmylou's best cuts ever.  Rodney Crowell tune.

SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER, IS REQUIRED BETWEEN ASTRONAUTS (Shuttle Commander rules out space sex... what a buzzkill!)

       ASTRONAUTS POSE FOR GROUP SHOT ON SPACE STATION

        It gets talked about a lot down here on earth, and there have been more than a few porno  movie "plots" involving sex in space (and I love bad jazz...).  But according to the Commander of the Space Shuttle Discovery, there haven't been any personal relationships in space and there won't be any in the future.
        "We are a group of professionals.  Personal relationships are not an issue.  We don't have them and we won't." said Commander Alan Poindexter, when asked about the prospects of sex on the International Space Station.

         And yet, here on earth, at least two or three astronauts saw fit to engage in personal relationships with one another.  Back in 2007, Astronaut Lisa Marie Nowak wore diapers while driving across the country to confront a rival for the affections of a fellow astronaut.  Had they been on the same mission, or had both been assigned to the Space Station, who's to say they wouldn't have become the first members of the "200 mile high club?"
         
         No sex in space?  Damn... weighlessness might be interesting...

THINK ONLY REPUBLICANS ARE TONE DEAF IDIOTS WHEN IT COMES TO RACE? (Rep. Paul Kanjorski at your service)





         Sometimes you just want to grab someone by the ears and shake the living shit out of them.  But I've checked, and you're not allowed to grab members of Congress for a good shaking, no matter how much they might need one...
         During a recent conference where members of the House and Senate were meeting to discuss measures to reconcile their respective bills on the proposed financial reform issue, Rep. Paul Kanjorski (Dumbass-Penn) was given his allotted time to speak and made the very worst of it.  

         In an effort to defend a program in his home state of Pennsylvania designed to provide assistance to low-income families facing foreclosure, Rep. Kanjorski made a distinction between those he saw in need and those often perceived to be on the government dole.  And he did it poorly.
         He told the committee that these people are "not minorities and they're not defective", that they were "good American people" in need of help.
         He's been challenged for those comments, but apparently sees nothing at all wrong with the way he presented his argument.  Being tone deaf to the issue of race relations is a bipartisan affliction, folks... and this guy's a prime example of that malady.
        
         We all know what he was trying to say.  When Republicans and Teabaggers and the right wing blowhards on talk radio refer to "entitlements" and "welfare" they want you to see black, unemployed, lazy, criminals with their hands out taking your hard earned tax dollars.  That's why Reagan referred to Welfare Queens with Cadillacs, squirting out babies to pick up the extra government checks.  It's an age-old tactic, and very effective.  You think the teabagger rallies at town hall meetings were almost univerally white because of mere coincidence?  Think they don't play up the "us and them" anthem as often as possible?

          When the health care reform bill was being smeared as a socialist program at rallies and town hall meetings across America, what they were really saying was, "We don't want them getting our money" even though the vast majority of those carrying the idiotic signs and wearing the teabags on their John Deere hats would be receiving the lion's share of the benefits of a health care system overhaul.
      
           Mr. Kanjorski might not be a bad guy, and I doubt he's ever said, "Some of my best friends are colored!" or anything remotely as palm-to-forehead stupid as this before.  But when you've stuck your foot in it, at least acknowledge your mistake and apologize for it...





"Because of the longevity of the recession, these are people – and they are not minorities, and they're not defective, and they're not all the things you like to insinuate that these programs are about. These are average good American people. Most of them have been veterans who served, responsible, have worked all their lives, but they're not full of money," Kanjorski said. "They live pay check to pay check and they always will because they are in the lower margins of our society."

TEABAGGING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE SPEAKS OUT AGAINST 'BORO MOSQUE (somebody get the net...)

        For the past couple of weeks I've been trying to keep up with the controversy swirling around the planned construction of a 52,000 square foot Islamic Center just up the road from our house here in Murfreesboro.  At first, local residents voiced opposition because they weren't given adequate notice of the planned construction.  Then, when a meeting was held to allow comment on the project, they complained about the traffic congestion and threat to their property values should the construction go forward.  Or, some of the speakers did, anyway.
        Quite a few of the people who were handed the microphone that night spoke out against Islam itself, and in the process gave our fair community quite a bit of unwanted national notoriety.  Let's face it, whenever rednecks are holding forth on camera about the evils of anything they don't understand, it makes for great theater. 
         Now a candidate seeking to replace retiring 13 term Tennessee Representive Bart Gordon has issued a statement calling the proposed Islamic Center an "Islamic training center"..."designed to fracture the moral and political foundation of middle Tennessee."  Well...
         Lou Ann Zelenik is a businesswoman here in town, and was the founder of a local Tea Bagger Party in Rutherford County.  She's decided to run for Rep. Gordon's seat as a Republican, and when she first announced her candidacy won the endorsement of several high ranking state Republican officials.  Now they're crayfishing away from her like she's carrying the Ebola virus.
No wonder...
        In her statement concerning the Islamic Center, she called on Muslims to denounce those who harbor radical or extremist views, because "they want to destroy our civilization" and we are "not obligated to open our society to any of them."
        At the end of her published statement she actually quoted Rev. Martin Luther King.  Doesn't everyone?  No matter how extreme the position on any given matter, it seems to be a requirement now to shroud your position behind the words of the late Civil Rights leader.  Pull out a quote, wrap it around your steaming pile of horseshit opinion, and then sit back and dare "them" to challenge your position.
        Ms. Zelenik's chosen MLK quote to justify her bigotry and intolerance?  "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
        In other words, step up to the mike and smear local Muslims with the sins of the radical few who have befouled an entire religion.  Make enough noise to attract the cameras, then shine your flag lapel pin and wait for the congratulatory pats on the back from all who share your xenophobia.
        As long as we're pulling random quotes out of thin air, here's one from Sinclair Lewis for Ms. Zelenik to consider:
        "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A SQUATLO STORY: NUMBER TWELVE ("Already?") A SOLO CANOE ADVENTURE

      Every once in a while I dare to expose myself to all kinds of ridicule and humiliation by retelling one of the more embarrassing moments of my adult life here on this blog.  So far I've described pulling the hose from a gas pump in haste because of the promise of nookie across town; the fear and embarrassment suffered when taking a slip 'n fall just above the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi; being overcome with incense fumes while serving as an altar boy during mass; surviving a day hike from hell in the Smokies; told the tale of do-it-yourself plumbing that nearly resulted in my electrocution; related the story of fishing while seriously impaired with a guy who was as messed up as I was; and passed along the tale of cursing at the receptionist in the wrong utility office after watching my dog be electrocuted and drowned by a faulty electric water pump.
This is another of those stories, complete with three part harmony and all the bells and whistles necessary to convey the real feel of the moment.
       Every now and then a man has to go camping.  Sometimes the best of my camping trips has come when I've ventured off alone without the supervision of my wife, although the nights aren't nearly as interesting without her company... but I digress.
       On one of my solo camping trips I set up a tent at Montgomery Bell State Park in middle Tennessee, intent on doing a day or two's worth of fishing in one of their small lakes, and if possible perhaps even getting a little writing done by firelight in the evenings.  It all sounds better from a distance.  Being there, with mosquitoes and ticks, isn't nearly as fun as talking about it later.
        This state park has a canoe rental stand at the base of the hill down from their swimming area.  For a couple of bucks you can get a canoe, paddle, floatation device, and life jacket for the day, and the entire lake is yours to explore.  I waited patiently one morning for the attendant to show up to her station so I could rent a canoe, and when she finally arrived I explained (for reasons only a lonely guy camping alone would understand) that I was camping alone and wanted to catch some fish for dinner.  She could have cared less WHY I wanted a canoe, only that I had the money necessary to pay for one.
        After making the transaction and getting 'the keys' to the canoe, in the form of a key that would unlock the chain holding it to the canoe stand, I slid the canoe down into the water near one of their low docks, loaded the paddle, life jacket, and then all of my fishing rods, tackle boxes, and a small cooler carrying ice cold beer... forbidden in the park, but what the hell, I was camping alone and would be out of sight by the time I needed one anyway.
         The park attendant, a girl of no more than sixteen or seventeen, advised me to put on my lifejacket before getting into the canoe.  I protested that I could swim like an otter, was a by god adult, and I didn't need a damn lifejacket.  She informed me that they were required, and that she was required to advise me to put it on.  I told her to tell anyone who asked that she had done just that, and that I was apparently a stubborn asshole who didn't follow instructions well.
         Not wanting to make a federal case out of it, she shrugged and went inside the little building that served as the canoe rental office.  I climbed into the canoe, positioned myself between the rear and middle seat on my knees, and used the paddle to push away from the dock.  As the canoe slipped back into the lake I began to feel the thrill that comes from being on the water.  There's a sense of freedom that comes from being inches above cold water with a canoe paddle in your hand.  If you haven't canoed, go rent one.  And put on the damn lifejacket.
         After the canoe had cleared the front of the dock, I gave a couple of strong paddle strokes on the right side of the canoe to make it turn to the left and into the open lake.  Just as I dug in with the third of my mighty pulls of the paddle a gust of wind caught the front of the canoe and swung it back around and into the front post of the low dock.  The front of the canoe went up on the dock, and the idiot with the paddle in his hand fell over the side, taking his fishing rods, tackle box, and a cooler of ice cold beer with him.
         I stood up in the shallow water, realizing that I was completely soaked, from glasses to wallet, and that the girl who had just rented me the canoe was now standing at the foot of the dock looking stunned by what she had just seen.
         "Already?" she asked, incredulous.
         All I could do was drag the inverted canoe back out of the water to dump it out, then go back for my tackle box which was at the bottom of four feet of water.  I found the rods next, and then the cooler of beer, which had opened and released six or seven cans of beer to the bottom of the lake, along with the ice.
          Just as I was getting set to push off for the second time I remember looking up from the canoe rental cove toward the dining room of the park's restaurant, and there in the windows were the happy faces of all the people I had just amused during their breakfasts.  Hilarity without sound, happy faces all.  Kids pointing, adults doubled over in tears, and restaurant staff crowding around one another to see what all the excitement was about.
           I had made their day.  Somewhere, no doubt, is film footage of this adventure, and I keep waiting for it to show up on America's Funniest Home Morons some night.  Probably be the big winner.
           I did catch dinner, though, and they were delicious.

JACKIE'S PISSED, AND MORE THAN A LITTLE CONFUSED...(Redstate Update update)

NORTH KOREA DEMANDS U.S. REPARATIONS FOR KOREAN WAR (got a spare $65 trillion lying around, Barack?)

                ASIAN ROCKETTES... THE NORTH KOREAN ARMY BABES
                                              DEAR LEADER HIMSELFISH

        I just read a story about Kim Jong-Il's demand that the United States pay $65 trillion (only?) to North Korea for reparations due from the Korean War.  Seems his country's economy isn't doing all that well, and besides, he's out of cognac.
       
        His daddy was the guy who pretty much started that little conflict, after taking power in 1948.  He handed Kim Jong-Il the reins in 1994, and it's been downhill ever since for the people of North Korea.  They starve in world isolation while their "Dear Leader" indulges in his porn addiction, as well as a taste for the finest cognacs on earth.  He's just named his own son, Dear Leader's Money Shot, to succeed him whenever he goes to the great masturbatorium in the sky.

        Don't you wish this guy could go on a comedy tour, or maybe a book tour to promote his memoirs?  Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert could share a full hour show and take turns handling the li'l guy's interviews.
        Just $65 tril?  Hey, aim high if you're starting negotiations, right?

STUDY FINDS WAY TO PREDICT START OF MENOPAUSE (pinpointing your misery quotient in advance...)

      News out of an Iranian medical research study has given rise to the hope that doctors will soon be able to use simple blood tests to accurately determine the onset of a woman's transition to menopause.  Whee...
      Some are hailing this developement as an "insurance" policy, giving women a reliable estimate with which to plan for childbearing and extremely higher electric bills.  Doctors are warning women not to accept the findings of this limited 12 year study as definitive in predicting the onset of menopause, since individual results may vary by as much as 3 to 4 years.  In other words, don't wait around for Mr. Right to have your kids if some blood test suggests you won't start menopause until you're 47 years old... they might be off by several years and Mr. Right might be one computer dating hook-up away.
       Planning ahead for those personal power-surges might not be a bad idea, though.  Good to know when to have more fans around the house (and more blankets and narcotics available for Mr. Right if he's expected to shivver along for the ride...)

CURE FOUND FOR WORLD CUP FEVER (no film at eleven...)


Sports fans across the United States can breathe a little easier today, now that a cure for World Cup Fever has been discovered in South Africa.  For almost three weeks, sports bar patrons and regular viewers of sports highlight shows have been suffering through an inordinate number of soccer-related stories, and all that's about to change for the better.
Nothing like a loss to piss away American viewers in droves.  No more blaring plastic horns droning on behind the British accents calling the game.  No more interminable matches between nations we've never heard of or invaded.  No more "futball" cluttering up the wide screens at Hooters that usually broadcast Major League Baseball, perhaps the only other game on earth with less action than soccer.
Four years from now we'll get cranked up and excited about our soccer team again.  Until then, there's "trouble in turn two" as NASCAR racers make 500 miles worth of left hand turns and announcers breathlessly inform us that Billy Bob's grandmother's dog is watching back home in Terra Haute.
USA!USA!USA!




                         ESPN EXECUTIVES AFTER U.S. TEAM LOSS...

WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN' COMIN' UP! (New Madrid Fault report predicts doom and dispare)

       The Federal Emergency Management folks have issued a report on the prospects for the aftermath of a severe earthquake in the area above the New Madrid Fault line near Memphis and St. Louis, and their estimates of 3,500 dead and millions left homeless has our state legislature rushing back to Nashville to help coordinate emergency contingency plans to deal with the looming disaster.
       Okay, I made that last part up.  Our legislature is running for reelection, and besides, it's hot and nobody wants to be stuck in a committee room when they could be out on the lake or slamming beers on the taxpayer's per diem account at a local strip club.  They've got important legislation to dream up, and as we live and breathe they are hard at it... expect motions to be made to offer up legislation to require immodest statues to be clad, protecting our childrens' delicate sensibilities lest they see marble titties.  And surely there are places where handguns are still not welcome, legally, in Tennessee, and that must be rectified before worrying about earthquakes, for Christ's sake.
        Back in 1811, an earthquake estimated to have been in the 7.0 range struck that area, and we still hear fascinating stories about the aftermath, even today.  It was reported that the quake was felt as far away as Pittsburgh, that church bells were shaken severely enough to have rung in Ontario, Canada, and sidewalks were cracked in Washington, DC.  The Mississippi River actually flowed backward for a brief period, and that is credited with the formation of Reelfoot Lake in west Tennessee.
        Just for comparison, the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was reportedly felt in an area covering 6,000 square miles.  A mere tremble of leaves compared to the New Madrid quake of 1811, which was felt for 50,000 square miles.
         And the quake they're warning us about today is expected to exceed THAT quake's intensity.  When earthquakes hit rural areas two hundred years ago they messed up fields of corn and wheat, knocked down wooden structures, and ruined fishing for a few days.  The same quake in the Memphis/St. Louis area today would probably cause some real confusion...
          Our elected representatives will get right on it when they return for their next legislative session.  Expect truly remarkable things to be proposed.  They never disappoint.

THE GRADUATION DRILL (your boredom shall now commence...)

      We had to cover a tech college graduation yesterday, which meant we had to load lights, backdrop, backdrop stands, tripods, camera equipment, and various assorted tools of the trade into a car, drive an hour each direction, and basically herd cats to get the shots required.  That's why photographers make the big bucks, you say... and I suppose some do.  We operate on a slightly less profitable business model that basically says, "We'll do just about anything if you'll pay us enough to eat on the way home."
       This is our third graduation shoot, and the predictability factor is always offset ever so slightly by the one or two things we can never anticipate.  If we're told that the graduation is in the same place as last fall, we assume we can enter and set up our gear in the same room we used for the last graduation.  The adage about "assume" is not exactly right... it doesn't necessarily make an ass of you and me, but it can produce confusion that results in a beleaguered photographer and his wife hauling half a ton of equipment from one end of a church "campus" to the other after unloading the car in the wrong ("same as last year!") end of the building.
        The one truly predictable part of any graduation exercise is the commencement speech.  Every graduation has a portion of the ceremony set aside for a featured speaker, usually a noted person of some degree of fame or relevance to the graduation class, perhaps an author or successful business exec or former alum of the school who's gone on to bigger things than any of his professors could have ever imagined, given his lackluster academic acheivements while under their tutelage.
        The speeches are almost cookie-cutter clones of one another.  Thanks to the school administrator who invited them to speak.  Thanks to the parents, relatives, and friends of the graduates who are in attendance.  Thanks to the grads themselves for the perseverance needed to get dressed and make it to hear this wonderful speech I'm about to give.  Then comes the spelling bee:  the speaker will inevitably mention a word they find important and instructive, like the word "CAN", and for half an hour will make rousing oratory with descriptions of words that begin with the letters needed to spell their important and instructive word.
         What they ought to do is say, "The letter 'c' in CAN stands for "Can't", as in, you can't find work in this economy with that silly shit major you're carrying out of here today."
         But the applause will ring, the grads will pose, and the photographer and his wife will make enough to buy a decent meal and a couple of cold beers on the way home.  Matriculation is good business... for public speakers and photographers with better business models than ours.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

DO THIS, DON'T DO THAT, CAN'T YOU READ THE SIGN?

                                             CAR HELD TOGETHER BY STICKERS
                                               NICE ONE...

                                              NO SHIT?
                                             TOUGH FINES...
                                                                    DUH...
                                      OUR DOORMAT READS "GO AWAY"...






Friday, June 25, 2010

SHE'S BACK! ONE DAY AFTER ETHICS REBUKE SHE'S COMPARING OBAMA TO HITLER...


         A story in Politico today reports that Sarah Palin (she of yesterday's major ethics violation ruling) has Tweeted or Twatted to her followers advising them to read a column by Thomas Sowell in which he compares Barack Obama's concession from BP to set aside a $20 billion escrow fund to compensate victims of their Gulf oil spill to Adolph Hitler's unopposed power grab in pre-Nazi Germany circa 1920's.
          I shit you not.  Obama was able to convince a foreign corporation to set aside a fund to help pay restitution to American citizens whose lives have been ruined by said corporation, and because of THAT, Sowell suggests he's taking unconstitutional liberties akin to Hitler's rise to power.
          As insane as THAT sounds, Palin couldn't resist jumping on the loony wagon and urging her supporters to do the same.  In his article, Sowell compares Obama supporters to the "useful idiots" who helped Lenin establish a Soviet state in Russia.
          I would suggest to Thomas Sowell that besides being one of the worst of the current conservative columnists when it comes to hyperbole and feats of breathtaking conclusion-jumping, he is also one of the worst at creating his own "revisionist history" of events.  If Obama's concern for the Americans harmed by BP's negligence and recklessness reminds Sowell of Hitler's power grab in pre-Nazi Germany, then he has less between his ears than his disciple from Wasilla.
          Palin couldn't find Germany on a map and would be hard pressed to name a single event from pre-war German history,  and yet she's passing along suggested reading material for her supporters, of whom Sowell could find no limit of "useless idiots" to choose from.
          Obama could cure cancer and these morons would accuse him of putting thousands of cancer researchers out of work...

TEABAGGERS HAVE IT ALL FIGURED OUT

             
      Keeping us "infromed", and living proof that Sharpie ink fumes can addle your brain, especially smaller ones.

DOT XXX TO MEAN "ADULT", SAYS ICANN (set filters to "stun"...)

                               GRATUITOUS GIF IMAGE... COMPLETELY UNRELATED

      My compadre Jeffery has sent me word from the BBC that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has agreed to set aside the domain letters "xxx" for adults only content on internet sites.  The move had been opposed by conservative groups, even though it is likely to make porn easier to filter for those who want to screen that sort of thing from the kiddies.
      Already ICANN says they have over 110,000 pre-reservations for names with the "xxx" domain signature.  Not sure if that means all adult sites will have to change their domain names to convert to the new "xxx" listings, but wouldn't think that possible to mandate.  After all, porn is one of the largest industries on the internet, if not THE largest.
       Sounds like a reasonable move to me, and I really don't understand why anyone would object to putting a clear and unmistakable label on pornographic sites.  Now, if they would just put similar domain requirements on the stupid, right wingnut forwards I receive from "friends" and relatives, all would be well in the world.  Dot "mrn" would do... ".moron", or Dot "wtf".  Hey, I know, let's use letters any idiot could recognize from a distance!  If a site is for the totally tone-deaf and politically incorrect, bigoted, and global-warming denying sort, we could just label it with a simple
                                                  DOT.GWB

        We would ALL know what to expect...