Monday, April 28, 2008

5 Things You Don't Know About Me

1. From the age of 5-10 my family lived in a 13 room brick manor house on the south side of Columbus, Ohio, which was a couple blocks east of a big bluff that overlooked the C&O railyard and the Scioto River. We were told that river and the house had been connected by a tunnel so that the house could be used as a stop on the Underground Railroad. There WAS a secret room in the attic, complete with a small mirror covering a little peephole. We sold the house to the neighboring White Castle, who tore it down and expanded their parking lot.

2. I love heavy metal. There have always been certain bands or even just songs that have made me want to leap from my usual stupor and go stone cold crazy. The first of these songs was a cassette recording of a K-Tel album that included the live version of Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water from Made in Japan, which I listened to over and over again with one of these pre-Walkman old school cassette players pressed up against my ear. I was probably 10 or 11.

From there it was on to the unholy triumvirate of Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, then Metallica and solo-era Ozzy Osbourne, then at last my Doom Brother John von Pentengrammen led me into the arcane world of the metal underground, where I've spent the the last ~ 17 years exploring the various metal subgenres - doom, death, speed, and dozens more. Classification was never so important as that essential universal characteristic: the singular ability to compel me to launch myself from chair and into all-out rock-star arena-grade air guitar.

3. Within the last two or three years I have noticed a significant loss in my hearing.

4. I have successfully sold two pieces of "erotic literature".

5. During the height of my Half-Life playing days I was a frequent combatant in the countless online deathmatch servers, where I played under the banner of Essential Clan as "-Sgt.Rock-". There was one week in which the global statistics revealed me to be ranked 94th in the world, which is to say 94th out of a pool of around 14,000 players. That may well be the best I have ever been at anything in my whole life.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Clinton Campaigns like 4 Year Olds Play Games

Always changing the rules...

The Hundred Year War

Having recently received an unsolicited mailing from Congressman Paul Broun in which he parroted the official Bush-Cheney line that we must never leave Iraq until an as-of-yet-undefined victory is achieved,* today I was daydreaming about having the money to run a billboard campaign around the district that says:

Vote for 100 years of war in Iraq.
Vote for 80,000 American deaths in Iraq.
Vote to spend $10 trillion tax dollars in Iraq.
Vote for Paul Broun!

So check out this new ad from the DNC! Clearly it is time to resume wearing my tin foil hat, as they have been reading my mind again.

* After Vietnam didn't we all decided that from now on "victory" would be defined before the war? So much for the Powell Doctrine...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

DOOM Redux!

If you spent hours and hours and hours and hours playing DOOM, DOOM II and the various offshoots thereof, you may be amused by the Doom Remix Project , in which metal, techno and orchestral remixes of 22 of the level themes were conducted by a variety of artists. Here are a few samples:

Dark Side of Phobos

...though I recommend you bit torrent the whole collection and repeatedly listen to this music until you can fully embrace the fact that YOU ARE DOOMED.

Lie Compendium!

A Jon Stewart-style video compendium of Hillary's lies on trade, guns, the war and Bosnia:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sam Nunn Endorses Obama


Former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn is considered to be one of the nation’s preeminent experts on U.S. defense. What an incredible choice he would be for either Vice President, Sec Def or Sec State!

This comes on the same day as endorsements from Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and former Oklahoma senator David Boren, who is the longest-serving Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and was a candidate to replace Les Aspen as Sec Def in 1994.


Sam Nunn lines up behind Barack Obama as best equipped to stop political ‘demonizing, dumbing down’.

In today’s statement, Nunn struck many of the same themes the pair tackled in Oklahoma:

Based on my conversations with Senator Obama, reading his book and his speeches and seeing the kind of campaign he has run, I believe that he is our best choice to lead our nation. Senator Obama, as evidenced by his words and his deeds, recognizes that:

— We have developed a habit of avoiding the tough decisions and seemingly lost our ability to build consensus to tackle head-on our biggest challenges.

— Demonizing the opposition, oversimplifying the issues, and dumbing down the political debate prevent our country from coming together to make tough decisions and tackle our biggest challenges.

— Solving America’s problems will require difficult choices and sacrifices and leaders capable of considering new ideas from both political parties.

— On foreign policy and security policy, we must recognize that we are not limited to a choice between belligerency and isolation and that we must listen to lead successfully on the key issues facing America and the world.

— Our next president must also recognize that the battle against violent terrorists, while requiring a prudent use of military power, is also a long-term contest of psychology and ideas.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Results of an informal survey

It's worth a trip out to the History News Network just to see the graphs that go with this story.

In an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted over a three-week period through the History News Network, 98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while 1.8 percent classified it as a success.

Asked to rank the presidency of George W. Bush in comparison to those of the other 41 American presidents, more than 61 percent of the historians concluded that the current presidency is the worst in the nation’s history. Another 35 percent of the historians surveyed rated the Bush presidency in the 31st to 41st category, while only four of the 109 respondents ranked the current presidency as even among the top two-thirds of American administrations.

But once you are there you are sure to enjoy the participant comments, which include:

“No individual president can compare to the second Bush,” wrote one. “Glib, contemptuous, ignorant, incurious, a dupe of anyone who humors his deluded belief in his heroic self, he has bankrupted the country with his disastrous war and his tax breaks for the rich, trampled on the Bill of Rights, appointed foxes in every henhouse, compounded the terrorist threat, turned a blind eye to torture and corruption and a looming ecological disaster, and squandered the rest of the world’s goodwill. In short, no other president’s faults have had so deleterious an effect on not only the country but the world at large.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Everyone is tired of this petty nonsense.

I am pleased to see that despite the terrified wails of the 24 hours pundits and an aghast Hillary Clinton, Obama's "bitter" comment does not seem to be gaining any traction. It is my opinion that people are simply tired of getting nothing from Washington but petty games and posturing, as well as a generous program of emptying the taxpayer's dollars into their pockets and the pockets of their pals on Wall Street, in the oil fields and in the weapons business.

We've got serious problems that must be dealt with. The cost of energy is at an all time high, the value of the dollar is at an all time low, and our national infrastructure is crumbling in front of our eyes at a time when we should be preparing for the punishment of extreme weather and violent storms.

The divisive politics and fear-mongering of the past are not going to cut it. United we must stand or divided we will fall!

It looks like the folks in Indiana and Pennsylvania are beginning to see it that way as well:

A Quinnipiac University poll gave Clinton a 50 percent to 44 percent edge over Barack Obama -- the same margin as a week ago -- and pollsters said there was no appreciable dip for Obama after his comments about blue-collar workers surfaced Friday.

A new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll also shows trouble for Clinton in all three states with primaries in coming weeks, posing a challenge for her to rack up enough delegates and popular votes to break Obama's hold on the lead.


Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said Obama's remarks were "very much top of mind for most voters," and that in the coming days, voters will begin to fully assess his comments. "No one likes to be condescended to," he said. "This is an important issue and one that we are hearing a lot about across the state."

Yet for Jerry Rutan, 57, a coal miner who lives in Waynesburg, Pa., a town of 5,000 people, Obama's comments don't matter at all. "He's like we are; he's down to earth. He came up from the bottom. They are more elitist than he will ever be," said Rutan, referring to Clinton and Republican John McCain.


Jerry's got a heck of a point!

John McCain has certainly earned his position of national stature through his own achievements as a war hero and a legislator, but the fact is that his grandfather and father were both four star admirals - undoubtedly providing young John McCain with a life of unique opportunities and special privileges. He is currently ranked as the 9th most wealthy among the 535 members of Congress and is married to a beer distribution heiress with assets valued somewhere between $36 million and $100 million.

Hillary Clinton is a Yale Law grad who sat on the board of Wal-Mart as a corporate lawyer for many years, and for the last 25 years has been living a life of American royalty as either first lady to a governor, as the wife of a U.S. president or as a United States Senator. In the past eight years she and Bill earned a $109 million together, putting them "in the top one-hundredth of 1 percent, or roughly 14,500, of all taxpayers".

Nothing is wrong with any of those accomplishsments, but its hard to imagine either John McCain or Hillary Clinton having any idea what it means to struggle for anything except credibility with the American voters.

In contrast, Barack Obama is the child of a single mother raised in part by his grandparents who went to school on a scholarship and was a community organizer making $12,000 a year before becoming a law professor, lawyer and state senator. He was still paying off his student loans five years ago.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Two Headlines = Three Possibilities for McCain

From these two headlines we can safely assume that either:

1. John McCain is an idiot.
2. John McCain thinks all of us are idiots.
3. John McCain is completely out to lunch with no grasp on reality.

Which John McCain would you consider voting for?



From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
KANSAS CITY, MO -- In a speech at the National World War I Museum here this morning, McCain gave a relatively optimistic appraisal of the situation in Iraq, saying that the recent reductions in violence have returned the country to something "approaching normal political and economic life for the average Iraqi."


Fighting intensifies in Iraq's capital

BAGHDAD -- Three more U.S. troops were killed Monday as Iraqis struggled to bury their dead amid fierce street battles between Shiite Muslim militias and Iraqi and American soldiers in the nation's capital.

In one of the most intense days of fighting here involving U.S. troops in recent months, American helicopters fired at least four Hellfire missiles and an Air Force jet dropped a bomb on a suspected militia target. Rockets and missiles launched from militia strongholds pounded U.S. bases around the city, where U.S. troops also came under fire from small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Targets included the Green Zone, where the U.S. Embassy and most Iraqi government buildings are located.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

What's that ticking sound?

Here's a chilling postscript to add to the last post.

Skybus Ends Service, Third Airline to Fold This Week

April 5 (Bloomberg) -- Skybus Airlines Inc., a U.S. low- fare carrier that started operations less than a year ago, stopped service today, the third airline to shut down this week as fuel costs soared and the economy slowed.

America Liquidates its Hard Assets

“Gold is coming out of the walls,” said Joseph Grunberg, a pawnbroker and jewelry shop owner in the Diamond District of Manhattan.

He said his clientele is the rich and not-so — a stockbroker came into his store recently to sell his $30,000 gold watch, but he’s also seen people hoping that their old class ring might help pay the rent. “It’s a mega-mega business right now,” he added.


But after watching the price of gold soar this winter, Ms. Wallace, who is unemployed, decided to send off for melting her United States Mint coins commemorating the Statue of Liberty, the Constitution and the founding of the Jamestown colony in Virginia.

In the end, she was paid $5,000, far more than the coins’ value as collectibles, she said. “Is it really what I wanted to do?” said Ms. Wallace, who lives outside Columbus, Ohio. “No, not really. But it made the most sense financially.”


This article in the New York Times primarily explores the emotional cost people are paying as they cash out their family heirlooms. But no one stopped to take note of the broader implications of the fact that there is apparently widespread incidence of families who are now down to liquidating the silverware in order to stay afloat. Does that not just send a cold shiver down your back? What next will these people have to do to pay their bills?

I just hope none of these folks are liquidating the hard assets just to put the money in their bank savings account. There they stand the significant risk of having the real buying power of their family heirlooms shrink away along with everything else that's associated with paper dollars. Those people will do better to keep the gold, silver and gems, where any further currency meltdown will further improve their value.

God forbid anyone is turning around and putting it in the stock market, which has been as volatile as the weather of the last few weeks.