Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Sucker Punching Your Own Little Sister"

What do recent executive orders by President Obama and "sucker punching your own little sister" have to do with one another? Go read this LTE to find out.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More Steroid Allegations

Here's David Justice on Mike and Mike In The Morning:



The now infamous Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski has accused former all-stars David Justice and Dwight Gooden of using HGH and other performance enhancing drugs while employed by the National League East Atlanta Braves and New York Mets respectively.

The problem with guys like Kirk Radomski and Brian McNamee is that in order to save themselves they don't care who they take down with them. The sad part of it all is that they're not only taking down a handful of guys who are probably innocent, they're taking down the spirit and legacy of the game. They're taking with them some of my childhood heroes.

(I apologize for cutting off the bottom video options--you aren't missing much, I assure you.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike, 1932-2009

So few words I have for a man who said so much.

Something one of my other favorite authors, Joyce Carol Oates, said about John Updike:
John Updike's genius is best excited by the lyric possibilities of tragic events that, failing to justify themselves as tragedy, turn unaccountably into comedies.
However, this I can say: Thank you, Mr. Updike for In the Beauty of the Lilies, a book that changed my life forever.

John Updike died today after a long battle with lung cancer.

Who Needs Enemies?

The extremist wing of the Republican party must be celebrating over New York Governor David Paterson's appointment of state representative Kirstin Gillibrand to the United States Senate. After all, they couldn't convince enough Americans that the world would come to a screeching halt with Obama in the White House, so why not try and convince us now that the United States Senate is so terribly weak and corrupt that one more Kennedy serving within its walls would inevitably bring about the destruction of our entire nation?

Corruption exists in too many places, in too many forms for me to believe that one individual could bring about the Senate's complete destruction. Unfortunately, it wasn't just the extremist wing of the Republican party, people like Zeb Bell and Sharon Hardy-Mills here in Idaho, that believed Caroline Kennedy was the be-all end-all, it was members of my own party, the Democrats. Since Caroline's name was first floated as a potential successor to Hillary Clinton, I have quietly wondered aloud, with friends like these, who needs enemies?

The absolute disgust and dismay with Caroline Kennedy came from all directions, including the self-professed liberal haven dailyKos. Diarists wrote smut, diarists fired back, welcome to the world of 24/7 news and instant self-punditry. Enter Steve Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation (not exactly the "centrist" think tank they claim to be, though Clemons calls himself a "progressive realist"), writing for another liberal/progressive haven, this time Huffington Post:
But the question that is legitimate and remains is what machinations drove Kennedy to reach for this Senate seat. What was she thinking -- and how did this fit into the game plans of two of America's biggest political kingpins, Barack Obama and the ailing Ted Kennedy? And did she end up getting derailed by the Clinton machine?

He goes on to say that the plan for Caroline Kennedy was to not only enter the Senate, but to in fact run and succeed Barack Obama in 2016. Clemons believes it was all part of Teddy Kennedy's plan to build a political machine, a machine behind Obama, Caroline, Dodd, Kerry et al. This from a guy who claims to be on our side.

Caroline Kennedy's rather short run for office, putting your name in the hat for an appointment is as much a public run for office as is a traditional campaign at least if you're wanting a position as high profile as U.S. Senator from New York, is a lesson for the Democratic party, though I'm not entirely sure it is a lesson we will heed. The infighting over Caroline Kennedy is no different than the infighting that existed among the Republican party over the primary candidacy of John McCain. As Rush and Hannity flipped their lids over McCain's maverick tendencies and even later on for his desire to have Joe Lieberman on the ticket, they fractured their party in a way that left them unable to elect their candidate to the highest office. Like the Republican party of 2008, the Democratic party has the potential of splintering. Yes, it is wonderful to have a Democrat in the White House and a majority in the Senate and House, but we cannot assume that all Democrats are content with power alone.

We are the party that elected Kennedys and Clintons long before Obama reached a national stage. We are a country, not just a party, that looked with reverence to Jackie Kennedy and her children, Caroline and John. Some of us sat quietly waiting for word on the health of Ted Kennedy while others hung on every word of the newly-sworn-in President of the United States. Some of us get annoyed when the party asks for Chairman Byrd to step down while allowing Senator Reid to continue his dysfunctional leadership of the majority.

There are Democrats that never jumped on the Obama bandwagon. There are Democrats that cannot believe the injustice recently served to Caroline Kennedy and Hillary Clinton before her. And there are voters from families that have loved this party from its inception, long before we could get a text message announcing the future Vice President of the United States. Don't abandon us in your political high and celebration of self, you might need us come 2012 and like the more moderate Republicans pushed aside over the past eight years by the increasingly extreme version of that party, we may be voting for the other guy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mapping Hate Speech

The continuously updated Zeb Bell page, reporting on and tracking the hate-filled ravings of a southern Idaho conservative talk radio host and his listeners, has a new addition by way of a map (left) noting the broadcast signal radius of KBAR radio, the Rupert, Idaho station that airs "Zeb at the Ranch" every Monday through Thursday. Yes, hate speech can be mapped.

Of course, the Zeb Bell show is available online for listeners to stream live anywhere they are as long as they have a media player and a steady internet connection, but what the new addition represents is a hefty chunk of southern Idaho where hate speech can be heard by anyone who tunes in to 1230 AM.

If you haven't taken a look at the Zeb Bell page, created and continuously updated by The MountainGoat Report and this blog, please do. If you are well aware of the hate infiltrating our state via the mouth and airwaves of Zeb Bell, take a look again. The only way we will ever succeed in replacing hate, bigotry and racism with tolerance is to confront it continually.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

TDIH: Gone With the Wind

"I can't let him go. I can't. There must be some way to bring him back. Oh, I can't think about this now! I'll go crazy if I do! I'll think about it tomorrow. But I must think about it. I must think about it. What is there to do? What is there that matters? Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day."

--Scarlett O'Hara, Gone With the Wind


On this day in 1939, filming began on the great American theatrical epic Gone With the Wind.

Seventy years ago producer David O. Selznick juggled casting decisions, one that brought Vivien Leigh to the screen; a change in directors, finally retaining the brilliant Victor Fleming; and, an unruly script based on the Margaret Mitchell book. Selznick's juggling ultimately created an epic film known by its reputation as a masterpiece seventy years later.

I would be remiss if I did not mention this date in history. As someone named after the great plantation and as someone greatly influenced by the historical undertones in this film, I feel a certain connection with the events that took place on this day seventy years ago. As a kid everything I knew about the Civil War I had learned from Gone With the Wind. As an adult I realize that those film references are a big part of why I became an historian. The difference between what I knew as a kid and what I know now is that nothing about the Civil War was as beautiful as Selznick was able to make it appear on screen.

1939 was a wonderful year in American film history, with Gone With the Wind as the pinnacle.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Smorgasbord Saturday Snapshots

This is what it looks like at my house this morning. (Ugh)
This is what I wish it looked like. (Photo taken in the fall)
Somehow I hope this helps. (Came in the mail last week)

Smorgasbord Saturday

Rough week 'round these parts. Week that finally ended with an MRI. Ugh. Where to begin... How 'bout a little baseball news?

Jeff Kent, the slugging second baseman with the Los Angeles Dodgers has announced his retirement. Yes, as of Thursday it is official. Kent currently holds the record for most home runs by any second baseman in the history of baseball. I suspect one Chase Utley may give Kent a run for his money in years to come, though. I have never really cared one way or the other about Jeff Kent, but I certainly wish players would recognize when it is time to go a little more often. I mean, instead of trading to the Yankees or Red Sox for more money and ruining a spotless and honorable career. Okay, John Smoltz tirade over.

Just sayin' Smoltz could have taken a tip from Chipper...

In other baseball news, also from the Dodgers of all teams, Tom over at the Serious Sports News Network tipped me off on this hilarious story about Rafael Furcal. I love Furcal and his widely known hotheadedness, so I got a good chuckle out of the piece. Looks like the SSNN is the place to be! Later in the week they had another satirical piece saying that Obama had signed an order ridding the world of the Detroit Lions. Hmm...wonder if we couldn't convince somebody to do something about the damn Yankees.

On a more serious note, there were two editorials in the Times-News that I failed to mention: Sage Aragon stories were 'too much' by Nancy Foote of Dietrich (Published 1/9/09) and Everyone makes mistakes by Deborah Mehraban of Twin Falls (Published 1/18/09). Both are worth a read.

There seems to be a whole lot of Lincoln news lately with the Lincoln Bicentennial rapidly approaching. This article caught my eye recently. It is both fortunate and unfortunate that in this country citizens are more capable of owning pieces of American history than is the United States government. Of course, it is honorable that those Americans who own these relics are willing to donate them for a showing. Boy, what I would give to see the "Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life" exhibit!

Like nearly everyone that has encountered BinkyBoy at 43rd State Blues, I too have had my differences with Bink, but I found his recent post "Delusions" both fitting and appropriate for the recent idiocy of Bryan Fischer. I haven't had time to write up anything in response to Fischer's recent ravings, but BinkyBoy did a great job.

Stop Big Media, writing for the Media Channel, had an interesting commentary for MLK Day that arrived in my inbox early in the week. "Reflections on Racial Barriers In Media After MLK" is a worthy read for this historic week (as is MGR's 'How Long? Not Long!' post).

Oscar nominations were announced this week. A few surprises. A big one, for me at least, came in Michael Shannon who was nominated for his supporting role in Revolutionary Road when neither Kate Winslet or Leonardo DiCaprio were nominated for that film. Ms. Winslet was nominated for her role in The Reader, which I suspect is the role of her career. If she does Bernhard Schlink's character justice, she more than deserves an Oscar. She's pretty good at getting passed over for these things. Of course, I can't see The Reader because Pocatello doesn't believe in showing anything even remotely scandalous... I sincerely hope, for the sake of the audience and my own sanity that Mickey Rourke does not win for The Wrestler because I can't stomach another Mickey Rourke acceptance speech! Along those same lines, please don't let Meryl Streep win for Doubt because the Oscars, unlike the Golden Globes, do not provide wine for the audience and Meryl is much more entertaining to listen to rattle on about how wonderful she is when she's had a little too much vino. I suppose the only thing I absolutely would like to see happen is a win for David Hare.

And while I'm on the topic of movies, certainly not Oscar-worthy ones in this case, does anyone else find it a little bizarre that both Adam Sandler and Kevin James are in PG-rated comedies? Something tells me Adam Sandler is trying to stay in the business and Kevin James is still trying to break into the business. Regardless, just seems strange to have an Adam Sandler movie without crude Adam Sandler humor (feels a little too Spanglish and not enough Billy Madison). Paul Blart: Mall Cop looks hysterical, though.

Sad news of the week: Fathead Newman died. Who? You know, the sax man who played in the RC band? Yes, RC stands for Ray Charles. And his name was David. I sure didn't know that! Also, as it turns out, in addition to his ability to play the saxophone (baritone, tenor and alto), the man could play the flute.

Should be listening to Fathead Newman today, but I've got "One Week" by the great Canadian band the Barenaked Ladies on repeat. (And if you think you've heard the song, fine, but click on that link and watch this video, it is great!)

This may be the longest smorgasbord in the history of Smorgasbord Saturday!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Charges Dropped

Charges have been dropped against one of the men charged in the Sage Aragon case. From the Times-News:
SHOSHONE - A judge has dismissed the involuntary manslaughter and felony injury to a child charges against one of the men accused in the hypothermia death of an 11-year-old girl.

Fifth District Judge Mark Ingram threw out the charges against Kenneth Quintana, agreeing with defense attorney Doug Nelson that Quintana didn't have custody of young Sage Aragon and her brother, Bear Aragon.

Robert Aragon, the children's father, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony injury to a child.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Revocation

If you pay any attention to this blog, you know that one of my number one concerns this election cycle was the status of presidential records. As both a trained historian and a budding archivist, I personally and professionally have a vested interest in how presidential records are retained, presented to the public and governed. As an American I have a stake in any decision that keeps public records from the public.

As I hoped he would, President Obama signed an executive order reinstating the laws set into action by the Presidential Records Act of 1978 and thereby revoking George W. Bush's disastrous and contempt-laden Executive Order 13233. Below is a list of pieces I have written on the topic of secrecy and public documents as well as 13233 specifically:

Let it be known that as of yesterday, laws will again protect the papers of former Presidents for their preservation as well as for the protection of the public good, a public that certainly has the right to public documents that were created at the public expense.

Former President Bush and former Vice President Cheney attempted to skate these laws by doing away with them shortly after 9/11 and shortly before the invasion of Iraq, but the law caught up to them. We will some day know the truth about the events leading up to the invasion of Iraq because those papers represent it and the Presidential Records Act of 1978 allows us to see it with our own eyes in due time. However, as happy as Obama's executive order has made many historians, even my own idol Robert Dallek, this is not just a victory for those who study history, it is a victory for all of us.

Of course, the skeptic in me has oft envisioned the scene in Thirteen Days when driving past the Soviet embassy the chimneys are smoking and aglow while the Soviets burn their own documents. President Bush must have known that Executive Order 13233 would be revoked eventually. This means one of two things: The White House chimneys were working double-time Monday night or the administration has used every minute since November 1, 2001 wisely where documentation of their actions is concerned.

I just crossed over the line from skeptic to conspiracy theorist, didn't I?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quote of the Day

In all actuality, if in the plural, quotes of the day:

"The years that are gone seem like dreams--if one might go on sleeping and dreaming--but to wake up and find--oh! well! perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one's life.

"The past was nothing to her; offered no lesson which she was willing to heed. The future was a mystery which she never attempted to penetrate. The present alone was significant..."

-- Kate Chopin, The Awakening

As with so many things in life, so many great teams, you cannot have one without the other.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Because...

...the last eight years may have wiped it from our memory.

Executive Oath of Office:
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
—United States Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Clause 8.

Update (11:31 a.m. MST): When I posted this I had no idea that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would need reminding the most...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Short Note

Just a short editorial note: There will be no new posts this weekend in my planned absence. "Regular programming" will resume after MLK Day.

Belated Congrats

Though late, I wanted to congratulate my fellow blogger Bubblehead for his recent win in the 2008 Weblog Awards. Taking home the prize for "Best Up and Coming Blog," his blog, The Stupid Shall Be Punished (TSSBP on my blogroll), appears to have secured a place in the weblog award universe--this is the third year in a row the blog has been among the finalists.

Couldn't have happened to a better or more deserving guy. Congrats, Joel.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Of Kennedys and Kooks

The amount of animosity held by the extremist wing of the Republican party for the liberal wing of the Democratic party never ceases to amaze me. They will attack a liberal for any number of things. They appear to be most fond of attacking a liberal for any position that seems to support abortion, human rights, gun control, the abolition of the death penalty or all sorts of programs that would support the needy and gasp! raise taxes.

It should come as no surprise that the far-right extremist wing of the Republican party views the Kennedy family as the ultimate symbol of liberalism. However, it is a bit surprising that Democrats and Republicans have objected so venomously to the possibility of Caroline Kennedy taking the seat of Senator and soon-to-be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I've read the outraged diaries at dailyKos, even some from Markos himself, berating Caroline Kennedy and the possibility of her replacing Clinton, but I haven't figured out why the distrust of Caroline on the part of hardened Democrats.

My confusion appears to dissipate when it comes to understanding why the conservatives can't stand Caroline. It's all about money and power (I can't quite resist the urge to breakout in song here, "Power and the money, money and the power, minute after minute, hour after hour..."). There are some who apparently continue to view the Kennedy family as a direct threat to future conservative rule/power, some like Zeb Bell who had this to say about a potential Caroline Kennedy appointment:
"I am going to sound very biased, I am going to sound very discriminatory against this person when I give this little diatribe and I hope I do because I mean it. Caroline Kennedy has no business being a United States senator. Caroline Kennedy has no business selling ice cream cones. Caroline Kennedy is the most unqualified person, not very smart, not at all articulate and certainly not qualified on any of the issues that are approaching the United States or threatening the United States at this particular time...Look at the incompetency we have in government today. I mean we are possibly going to get stuck with a sick, disgusting comedian, if you want to call him that, with one of the filthiest most vile mouths in the industry, Al Franken... We've got the likes of Barney Frank, that ought to spoil your eggs after breakfast and Blagojevich and all these other people and then you want to throw somebody who is totally incompetent into the mix as a freshman senator from New York, Caroline Kennedy? Please! Give me a break! What is going on in this country?!" (Zeb Bell, "Zeb at the Ranch," 12.30.08)
It is good to see that Zeb Bell has gone back to hating liberals, gays, winners (in the case of Franken) and ultimately, logic. I was afraid his hatred had been so long directed at President-elect Obama that we'd never return to his policy of equal-opportunity hatred.

Now, before you even bother asking the question about how the conservatives can see Caroline's minimal press coverage of late and the softball questions lodged at her as a complete incompetence and they never could see Sarah Palin as unqualified, unintelligent or inarticulate, here is Zeb's answer:
"How dare anybody compare Sarah Palin to Caroline Kennedy! Caroline Kennedy can't say two words without going "uh" or "you know." Sarah Palin is extremely articulate and she had answers on the topics even though the liberal left didn't like the answers."
Yes, a caller brought up the comparison (of course attributing it to hate-filled liberals) to Sarah Palin and ole Zeb nearly blew his top. Where Republicans and Democrats alike questioned Sarah Palin's experience, they are now questioning Caroline Kennedy's qualifications outside of her role as, well, a fourth generation Kennedy. Palin bounced around from college to college, finally attaining a degree. Caroline Kennedy is a graduate of Concord Academy, Radcliffe College, and Columbia's School of Law. If we're going to have a real discussion about intelligence based on education, Sarah Palin doesn't hold a candle to Caroline Kennedy.

Something tells me this entire argument has nothing to do with intelligence or education, though.

Enter frequent "Zeb at the Ranch" guest, Sharon Hardy-Mills, also from the 12.30.08 show:
"[Caroline's] the only way they can keep the Kennedy name in [Congress] and it's all about money and they want to protect their investments, their interests in what the government does as regarding how they do their business... That's the only reason they want her in there, as a mouth piece. They'll groom her as soon as they get her in, in fact they already have... That's exactly what they want. They want to keep that Kennedy name in there to protect their monies. They don't want the government, they don't want the people in the world to find out how bad a people those Kennedys are, how bad the mafia is.

"She's just going to be a mouth piece, or a seat, so they an maintain their, and I call them the mafia because they are, maintain that mafia attitude, that mafia rule that they've got back there."
If all else fails, conservatives seem to think if you call a person a terrorist, a Muslim, or a member of the mafia it will result in political defeat. Though it does not appear to enter the equation that President Bush has referred to a lot of people as terrorists and last I checked his political career and legacy is smoldering.

What Sharon, Zeb and I'm sure a large number of other people don't seem to understand is that this has nothing to do with the Kennedy political dynasty. Caroline is not their last hope, as Sharon suggests. Have we forgotten the other rather political members of the fourth generation of Kennedys? Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has not gone quietly into the night since her service as lieutenant governor of Marland; Maria Shriver remains the first lady of California and her brother Tim the chairman of Special Olympics; Joe Kennedy served in the U.S. House; Robert Kennedy continues on the lecture circuit, a prominent environmentalist and lawyer; Patrick is currently serving in the U.S. House; and, Rory Kennedy is a leading documentary film maker with recent releases exploring the Abu Ghraib and the career of Helen Thomas. To say Caroline is the last hope for continuing the Kennedy legacy is simply a mistake.

The Kennedy family is one that both values public service as well as promotes it from within their own clan. In all my Kennedy research, perhaps the most striking quote I've come across regarding the service of the Kennedys was this from patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. in the New York Times:
"Jack doesn't belong anymore to a family, he belongs to the country. That's probably the saddest thing about all this. The family can be there, but there is not much they can do for the President of the United States." (Interview, 1.8.61)
The Kennedy family, Caroline included, has devoted their money and the members of their family to the cause of public service. Whether the conservatives want to believe it or not, is another matter. Caroline Kennedy is something most Americans are not--willing to serve. Republicans or Democrats alike can say she isn't qualified, I say, take a look at what she has done with and for the Kennedy Foundation as well as the Kennedy Library and Museum. They may say she isn't articulate, I say, read her books. And if they want to talk about Caroline Kennedy's intelligence in an effort to berate her, I say, they're out of their league.

What happened to thanking those who are willing to devote their lives to public service? Oh, that's right, we would rather call them pinkos, terrorists, Marxists, mafia men and god forbid, liberals.

Ad Hominem Attacks

In response to a well-written and superbly researched piece regarding taxes, Bryan Fischer and the Idaho Values Alliance, Idaho's conservative blogger Adam Graham took an infuriating position: Instead of asking that the government do something for the people, liberals should show some compassion and start a fund for the Idaho families who have been adversely affected by emergency state budget cuts so the compassionate conservatives who are more "generous" could send a few bucks to the fund.

Oh, it gets better. Adam Graham prefaced his argument with a comment on the source, the Zeb Bell show, where Bryan Fischer was found saying that we would be less opposed to taxing Idahoans, many of whom are struggling in these hard economic times, if the tax money was being funneled to faith-based organizations. Graham's preface:
The Zeb Bell show is listened to actively by Idaho liberals looking to find something to object to. (It’s like Media Matters only less effective, professional, and more pointless.)

Yes, the fact that the MountainGoat Report and this blog care enough about tolerance to monitor the hatred in a community neither of us lives in appears to be reason enough for Graham to question the substance of the material we find there. Perhaps speaking to his good friend Mr. Fischer would clear up any confusion. This wasn't an attempt at paraphrasing nor was it a misunderstanding (as Adam contends was the case with MGR's piece on Fischer and the IVA's position on no-fault divorce), the words came directly from the mouth of Bryan Fischer.

This really isn't about source material, though I do feel bloggers that want to be taken seriously have as much of a responsibility to checking their sources and ensuring their accuracy as mainstream media journalists. This is about reactions.

I have refrained from ad hominem attacks on Idaho bloggers in the past because I don't believe those types of attacks gain me or anyone else any ground. Unless I see a blatant misrepresentation of facts, I will give a blogger the benefit of the doubt on how he or she attained those sources and that the sources are indeed credible.

There are certainly times I'd like to note the absolute fallacy and idiocy in something written by Adam Graham. Take for instance this comment in his fantasy post narrating the 2013 departure from office by President-elect Obama:
I’m not Pat Robertson. My predictions do not come with a divine guarantee, but certain predictions do not require much divine help.

I certainly could have launched into a diatribe about the religious right or whatever they call themselves these days. I could have noted something Robertson said back in 1993 about the liberals doing to the religious right what the Nazis did to the Jews during the Holocaust. Or I'm sure there is a list somewhere of ridiculous things said about New Orleans "deserving" the horror that was and continues to be Katrina. But I didn't.

There are a few bloggers out there that will jump on these comments. They will refer to "Little Adam" and the "Village Idiot" without thinking twice and without much regard for the research or time commitment Mr. Graham must put forth like the rest of us.

However, when Adam Graham starts attacking me, the MountainGoat Report and our collective work, work that has taken a great deal of time and has cost both of us a great deal, the way he has over the recent statements of Bryan Fischer on "Zeb at the Ranch," my policy about ad hominem attacks is brought to the front of my mind and into question.

Mr. Graham needs to remember that we aren't the ones out there asking if he "actually has a solid knowledge of anything," saying that his "intelligence rivals that of a sea sponge," and that he is a liar. We haven't questioned the value or professionalism of his podcasts.

If we're going to start the ad hominem attacks, it might be smart for any conservative blogger to remember that though the right has won talk radio, sadly as is the case of the damaging and despicable Zeb Bell, the left has won the internet.

Charges Reduced

The Times-News is reporting that charges have been reduced in the Sage Aragon case.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In Times of Unemployment

Of all the jobs in all the world, this gig is not one I would covet. Seriously, who wants to run NASA with the catastrophic events that organization has survived over the past decade? Not when the astronauts are losing tool bags in space, the space shuttle program is on its last legs, they are recycling urine, women are chasin' other women across the country in diapers, and they can't get their gadgets in space to do what gadgets in space are supposed to do. Just sayin'...

Royal Bliss (Tonight!)

Royal Bliss is returning to Idaho State University tonight. Yes, with their new release in stores yesterday, the band is back! Here with their brand new single "I Was Drunk" is Royal Bliss:



Wednesday, Jan 14th, 2009
7:00 PM
Pond Student Union Ballroom

Royal Bliss kicks off their newest CD release tour tonight with opening band Broke City in the ISU Student Union Ballroom. The band's eagerly awaited release, "Life In-Between" hit stores nationwide yesterday.

Tickets are $10 available now at Budget Tapes & Records in Pocatello or at the door.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Baseball Blunders

The last time I got really aggravated with Major League Baseball was during the great strike of 1994. The 232-day strike nearly did me in. And now, nobody is on strike, but by damn this baseball fan is considering going on a strike of my own.

It probably goes without saying that I hate the Yankees. It isn't hatred, it is loathing. As if those of us who enjoy baseball for the sake of watching the Yankees lose haven't put up with enough, what do they do? They go signing three of the biggest three agents to be on the market since, oh, I don't know A-Rod? The Yankees signed CC Sabathia, the ace pitcher who single handedly carried the Brewers to the post season. Then they signed A.J. Burnett, the great Blue Jay who was on the wish list of every single team in Major League Baseball. And then, here's the kicker for me, they couldn't pass up Mark Teixeira. THE Mark Teixeira. More than $400 million dollars into three contracts. Three!

The Yankees appear to have no economic woes. They couldn't leave Teixeira for somebody else to grab? No, don't let the Red Sox know he's on the market! Ugh.

Recent electees to Cooperstown were announced yesterday. How this all happened is beyond my comprehension, but for a moment there yesterday there was a great deal of speculation as to whether Ricky Henderson would enter the Hall by himself. Of course the greatest base-stealer of all time would be elected on his first ballot. In his first year of eligibility, Ricky was a go. The surprise? The only other electee was Jim Rice, the long time member of the Boston Red Sox. After fifteen years of eligibility! Go figure.

While we're on the topic of the Red Sox, in a roundabout way, I'd like to mention my complete dismay in the "purchase" of John Smoltz by the Red Sox. I've always thought of Smoltzie in the same light as Tony Gwynn or Cal Ripken. He's a lifer. A lifetime Brave. Came up with Atlanta, had an unbelievable career with Atlanta, and then when Frank Wren says they aren't willing to pay Smoltzie as much to not pitch as they would be willing could he actually pitch, he jumps ship. For crying out loud! Boston!? Boston is rapidly becoming the other Yankees. As much as I'm sure Boston fans hate to read that...

And last, but not least in the realm of irritating and disappointing major league baseball: A grand jury is in fact considering the congressional testimony of Roger Clemens on suspicion of perjury. Ya think? Coulda fooled me. Perjury. Clemens is as guilty as Raffy Palmero. But let's just tar the entire image of this nation's past time.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Smorgasbord Saturday

Whew, Saturday again...

I'm all for displaying historic relics, but I draw the line with the plan at Ford's Theater in D.C. to display the blood stained jacket Lincoln was wearing when he was assassinated. Seriously, having spent quality time among the assassination historians and conspiracy theorists, I know that some of them can be out there. The ones who think this was a good idea are exactly that bunch of brainiacs.

Randy Stapilus, writing at Ridenbaugh Press, has an interesting observation regarding the $236,000 bathroom installed by Dirk Kempthorne. He mentioned former mayor of Boise, Dirk Kempthorne, in comparison to outgoing Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. Yes, Kempthorne really did say he didn't understand why there needed to be elevator operators in the capitol. I've seen that ad a dozen times and it came immediately to mind when everyone was abuzz about the golden throne or whatever it is that now exists in the Interior offices in D.C. If Dirk is shooting for a budget-minded post soon (think, oh, president of the University of Idaho) he might need to prove to average Idahoans that he actually cares about taxpayer money. Just a thought.

If you're wondering where I was yesterday, I'm sure you weren't, but we can assume at least one reader wondered what was up with the lengthy poem, I was around, trying to wrap up a trying week, without a phone, but also sidetracked with this piece over at the MountainGoat Report. It wasn't the idiocy of Bryan Fischer so much as it was the responses to it. Some Fischer sympathizer posting as "Freedom" (he's probably of the same ilk that sports those yellow ribbons and "freedom isn't free" bumper stickers on his big-ass Hummer) was pretty out there, eliciting a response from Binky Boy. And then there is always the conservative bloggers...oops...blogger. Singular. Ugh.

Last matter of semi-important business: the Houston Chronicle had an interesting piece from Ken Herman of Cox regarding the potential for Obama to overturn Bush's policies on presidential records. There is hope and you better believe I'm counting down until that moment after the inauguration that Obama sits down and says to the country, 'these policies are not working for ANYONE.'

Apparently I only need five songs this Saturday. What happened to the days of going through tens of CDs only to arrive at something I had listened to a billion times? This Saturday's playlist includes: "Pour Le Monde" by Crowded House, "Fall to Pieces" from Velvet Revolver, Adam Stengel's "Some of Us," "Be My Escape" from Relient K (yes, I realize they don't know how to spell) and "Near To You" by A Fine Frenzy. Five whole songs.

...that's all she wrote.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Quote of the Week

A people, haggard with defeat,
Asks if there be a God; yet sets its teeth,
Faces calamity, and goes into the fire
Another than it was. And in wild hours
A people, roaring ripe
With victory, rises, menaces, stands renewed,
Sheds its old piddling aims,
Approves its virtue, puts behind itself
The comfortable dream, and goes,
Armoured and militant,
New-pithed, new-souled, new-visioned, up the steeps
To those great altitudes, whereat the weak
Live not. But only the strong
Have leave to strive, and suffer, and achieve.
-- William Ernest Henley, Hawthorn & Lavender

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Ten

Since the unequivocal notion says everyone is doing a top ten list of the best albums of 2008, I thought, hell, why not? My list:
  1. Day & Nightdriving, Seven Mary Three
  2. Accelerate, R.E.M.
  3. Little Honey, Lucinda Williams
  4. Forth, The Verve
  5. Dig!! Lazarus Dig!! Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  6. Detours, Sheryl Crow
  7. City That Care Forgot, Dr. John
  8. Can't Love, Can't Hurt, Augustana
  9. Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, Counting Crows
  10. Freedom, Akon

Ah, hell! I forgot (10) the Black Keys and I don't know who to boot off the list...

Hits: Releases I was looking forward to, but simply didn't exceed my expectations included Gavin DeGraw's sophomore release, the return of Pink, the recent Killers release and Jakob Dylan's solo album. The solo Gavin Rossdale album was very well done, but every song sounds like the typical former Bush front man. yes, I liked Bush and I love Gavin Rossdale, but it just isn't a CD I could listen to over and over again. Josh Radin, James Morrison and Jon McLaughlin had great releases this year, they just aren't up to par with those on the top ten list.

Misses: The return of Dido was a flop. I was awfully disappointed in Viva La Vida from Coldplay. Maybe it was just me, but I was expecting the majesty of "Clocks" and I got something that I felt was trying too hard to hit the radio.

The thing about 2008 that strikes me odd looking back at it is that the musical selections I generally would have made were so disappointing that I ended up liking things that were certainly not usual for me, take for instance the Dr. John and Akon picks. For all the advances in how we get our music, we sure have lost quality in the music we actually have released.

However, for everything 2008 wasn't, if everything that was released amounted to the latest Seven Mary Three album, I would have still been one happy camper!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

IDAHO LANDSCAPES

© Idaho Landscapes

Idaho Landscapes is the newest endeavor of the greatest historical minds in the state. Jointly edited by Keith Peterson, Idaho state historian; Laura Woodworth-Ney, chair of the Idaho State University History department; and, Todd Shallat, director of the Center for Idaho History and Politics at Boise State University, this new publication Idaho Landscapes: History, Science, and Art, formerly Idaho Yesterdays, is edited, produced and published right here in Idaho all about Idaho. Idaho Yesterdays will not cease to exist, it will in fact return to its former status as the leading academic journal in the state, publishing solid historical research and scholarship about Idaho and the northwest under the editorial direction of Kevin Marsh at Idaho State University and the support of the Idaho State Historical Society.

As I have mentioned here before, my love for Idaho history began in the fourth grade when I was sent a copy of the state history journal by my congressman. My love for Idaho history and Idaho Yesterdays has only grown over the years. When I was first told about a potential transition from Idaho Yesterdays to Idaho Landscapes, I was ecstatic. It has been a wonderful learning experience and a great honor to be involved with this creative endeavor. Each of the articles in the new Idaho Landscapes came to the editorial hub at ISU while I've served as intern and editorial assistant.

In print now, check out the new Idaho Landscapes, available through the Idaho State Historical Society in Boise today and soon from the Center for Idaho History and Politics.

Aye Carumba! Again...

Here's another whopper from the Times-News re: Sage Aragon:

The difference between a good father and employee

I would like to submit a comment on your recent article concerning the difference in being a "good employee" versus a "good father" as I am outraged by the continual support being expressed for Robert Aragon.

While he may be a fine man, a good employee, etc., he certainly is not a responsible parent, which is a must to be called a "good father." Providing a "safe" environment for one's children is critical component of "good" parenting.

If Mr. Aragon was mentally incapacitated or chemically impaired, then possibly one could understand how a grown adult would allow two children to start out on foot during the conditions of Christmas Day for any distance. Even if he thought the mother was around the corner, much less out who knows where on the road.

Why he would allow his children to leave his supervision is beyond comprehension. Added to his poor judgment of allowing them to walk away is the fact that, he, upon getting his car out, returned to his warm home without checking on those kids is just
unbelievable.

Instead of this overwhelming show of support, who is speaking up for this young girl who laid in the snow cold and alone until leaving this world? Not to mention her brother, who will always wonder why he did not make her stay with him.

So what if he cannot raise that amount of bail money. I am sure that the jail cell Mr. Aragon is now occupying is much warmer at night than the snow bank he provided for his daughter.

If, in fact, Mr. Aragon is such a "good father" as has been reported three days in a
row, then he should stand up and take responsibility for his actions,and second-degree murder is an appropriate charge for this heinous crime.

PAT BROWNFIELD
Twin Falls

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Shiny & New

Seems like everybody is getting a new look or new digs these days. Not sure when it started, maybe with the big switcheroo at the Spokesman's Huckleberries Online?

Serephin added a new header to their line up over at 43rd State Blues (said addition is the, "Badgers don't fight fair, bubba. That's why god created dachshunds" brilliance) and the changes to my most frequently read blogs have not ceased. While I was busy thinking the guy running the show over at unequivocal notion had gone MIA, turns out he was busy getting a new look, new host, all in all, new digs. And it looks great! Ridenbaugh Press, which seems to have been the same since I started reading it, oh, four or five years ago, go an entirely new look with a header I've yet to figure out. And Idaho-hum is back with a brand new look.

My friends Andy & Teresa are sporting a new header on their non-political, one-post-a-month blog. Teresa designed my current blog header as well as the previous blog header I was sporting once I figured out that I could insert these things. In fact, I've done very little stylistically to my own blog minus a few html color changes. Same template from the beginning, different color line up, but the same quote and same elements from the beginning. Teresa is the brains of this operation! In fact, the current blog header was the result of me handing her a bookmark I picked up as a freebie at a store and saying "I want this." The header before that was the result of me giving her two pictures and saying "I want these." Genius, I'm telling you.

All the new looks cropping up in the Idaho blogosphere are making me want to learn how to run Photoshop® for myself. Something tells me I should probably learn how to run Microsoft Word without cussing before attempting much else...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Aye Carumba!

From the Times-News in response to the Sage Aragon tragedy:

Maybe hypothermia hindered Aragon's thinking

Nobody in their right mind would act this way. I think the only explanation that makes sense is that Aragon may have been somewhat hypothermic himself when he sent them off and stayed that way for a while. The truck was probably an old one, he had gotten out and worked on it for a while, then sent the kids off.

I was deranged by hypothermia once. God only knows what idiot thing might have made sense to me to tell kids if they were with me then. I decided to take off my jacket and strip down to my shorts, then sit on top of a rock for a while to do what those Tibetans supposedly do drying blankets while naked on the ice. It made complete sense in my deranged state.

I was in my early 20s and I eventually decided to go home and made it. I had stopped shivering hours before, and when I got in the shower, at first I thought something was wrong that the cold and hot water had been reversed. I couldn't tell them apart, both felt burning hot. I had enough sense to realize that the steaming stuff was hotter. So I got into the full-on-cold shower slowly because it felt like my skin was scalding off. Eventually, I could turn on hot water until I was warm again. I went through a shivering phase as I warmed up. When I was warm, I said to myself, "What were you doing?!" But it all made sense in my hypothermic state.

I could easily see doing something like sending kids off and thinking nothing of it. I don't know if that contributed to why it happened, but it may have. Aside from that, I wonder if punishing the son and his mother by taking away the father is helpful to anyone now. Aragon supports his son, who will do it now? Children of convicts already clog the courts. Each convict costs around $150,000 per year, and is Aragon going to do this again?

BRIAN HANLEY

Davis, Calif.

Writer's Block



"A Drop In the Ocean" written and performed by Ron Pope of The District.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Smorgasbord Saturday

Seems like it shouldn't be Saturday. That or it is the eighth Saturday in a row. Either way, weird Saturday around here. Unusually quiet, semi-productive and I'll admit now, not very original. More or less a round-up of things I've read over the last week.

One of the very few upbeat articles I've read about the upcoming World Winter Games of the Special Olympics was this short piece in the Idaho Mountain Express. The only thing it fails to mention is that a lot of the athletes and their families contribute as well--it isn't a free ride and it all will certainly boost Idaho's economy.

Have some extra Christmas cash lying around? Yeah, didn't think so. But if you can scape some together, please consider donating to Special Olympics.

I've yet to fully wrap my mind around (or stop laughing about) the editorial that appeared in the Wall Street Journal by Karl Rove about Bush being a book lover. Have we truly underestimated him all this time or are the Bushies making one last push for a salvageable legacy.

On the topic of the Bush legacy, I bookmarked this piece by Eugene Robinson from the Washington Post some time ago and think it is worth a read. For the most part I like Robinson's stuff. However, I do find myself weary of continued dedication to the Washington Post, MSNBC and Newsweek. Please, please don't become Fox News.

Speaking of Fox News, go check out the "Barack the Magic Negro" post at Left Side of the Moon. Heard all about this on Zeb at the Ranch this week; don't have much desire to comment.

The slumping Andruw Jones is still slumping and apparently the Dodgers have had enough with taking a chance on him. I hear Atlanta wouldn't mind another outfielder, Druw...

This is the second Saturday in a row I haven't had trouble with my music-listening selections. I've got a nice playlist going with 3 Doors Down "Here Without You" and "Be Like That," Avril Lavinge's "Things I'll Never Say," John Mayer's "Stop This Train" and "Love Song for No One," and KT Tunstall's "Other Side of the World" and "Heal Over." Over 5,000 songs at my disposal on this computer and I only need 7. Go figure.

That's all I got, folks. Merry Saturday!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Another Year's Words Await Voice

If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
...
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
But, as the passage now presents no hindrance
To the spirit unappeased and peregrine
Between two worlds become much like each other,
So I find words I never thought to speak
In streets I never thought I should revisit
When I left my body on a distant shore.
...
For liberation—not less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
From the future as well as the past. Thus, love of a country
Begins as attachment to our own field of action
And comes to find that action of little importance
Though never indifferent. History may be servitude,
History may be freedom. See, now they vanish,
The faces and places, with the self which, as it could, loved them,
To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern.
...
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right
...
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
...
And all shall be well and
All manner of things shall be well.

--T.S. Eliot, excerpts from "Little Gidding"
Four Quartets (1943)