Wednesday, February 25, 2009

House Foreclosure Often Includes Personal Possessions Too

Sometimes homeowners facing foreclosure don't have the money to move all their stuff out, or they're upside-down on their home, owing more than the house is worth, so they'll just leave the keys and take off. In these cases, banks often find lots of personal property left behind that often goes straight to the landfills. Here's an interesting but sad video documenting the clean-up:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Help Ease the Burden

From the article, "Newly Poor Swell Lines at Food Banks" in the NYTimes:

“These are people who never really had to ask for help before,” said Brenda Beavers, human services director for the Salvation Army in New Jersey, which dispenses emergency food supplies at 30 pantries throughout the state. “They were once givers and now they’re having to ask for assistance.”

If you're one of the fortunate ones who still have a job, try and remember to donate to
your local food bank...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ready to Ride in the Tour of California?

The Amgen Tour of California in an eight-stage (plus a Prologue time-trial) bicycle race that covers much of California from Sacramento to the Golden Gate Bridge, to the Redwoods and the wind turbine farms in the Central Valley, and the San Gabriel Mountains to Mt. Palomar and San Diego. It has quickly become America's premier bicycle event almost comparable to the Tour de France.

Almost. Californian Levi Leipheimer is the reigning champion, but it also features Lance and Floyd and David and Big George and Fabian and 130 others*.

Riders with a bicycle apparel company, Rapha, put this nice video together, and rode the ToC route, documenting and charting and mapping everything, so avid cyclists who might might want to experience the entire ride for themselves will know what to expect.

*Who are all better cyclists than you and me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

Admit it. You're weak. You're human. You have Internet needs. You have favorite websites you like to visit somewhat regularly because they show you what you want and need to see. But you could NEVER tell anyone else about them!

Until now.

It's time to fess up. Give up your links!

To get this freakshow started, here are a few of mine...

1. This is why you're fat. The corndog pizza and the turbaconucken crack me up every time I see them. And they make me drool. I feel so dirty looking at these Creations of the Gods.

2. Hot Chicks with Douchebags. Hot women, disturbing orange douchebags. The world's not a fair nor sensible place.

3. Pansy Talks, Talks, Talks... Pansy Palmetto is her porn name, she's a good friend of mine, and holy crap but can she tell a story. And as far as I can tell, ALL of them are true!

I know you have your guilty pleasures. I can hear you breathing heavily. Now give up those links in comments... anonymously, if necessary.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

But It's Not Stimulus, It's Spending! Well... duh.

Friday night, I'm watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, one of the most intelligent news programs anywhere on teevee. And she talks for eight minutes about the stimulus package wending its way through Washington D.C. Her eight minutes is as good as it gets, folks. If, after seeing this, you still can't understand why we need a trillion dollars worth of government spending RIGHT NOW, you never will.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Don't Drink the Water!

Time for a cartoon. No reason. No metaphors or analogies or segueways. Just a cartoon...

Uncertainty in the Face of Ignorance is No Excuse

Usually I don't know what I don't know. But sometimes -- much too rare an occurrence, unfortunately -- I grasp how much I DON'T know. At those times, as everything explodes into my lap, my ignorance is not bliss. I know EXACTLY how much I still need to learn.

I'm posting a remarkable essay on ignorance, though I don't know squat about the author, and I can't even provide an adequate link to the source, which is here, behind a subscription wall.

Mark Slouka wrote a rant on ignorance published in Harper's Magazine that is very much worth reading by anyone who is intelligent and honest enough to acknowledge their own ignorance. It's a bit long for the short-attention-span types that I typically write for here. I should know... I'm one of them!

I agree with every word of this... except for that business about bookstores (?!) Whatever. Enjoy:
What we need to talk about, what someone needs to talk about, particularly now, is our ever-deepening ignorance (of politics, of foreign languages, of history, of science, of current affairs, of pretty much everything) and not just our ignorance but our complacency in the face of it, our growing fondness for it.

A generation ago the proof of our foolishness, held up to our faces, might still have elicited some redeeming twinge of shame—no longer. Today, across vast swaths of the republic, it amuses and comforts us. We’re deeply loyal to it. Ignorance gives us a sense of community; it confers citizenship; our representatives either share it or bow down to it or risk our wrath.

Seen from a sufficient distance (a decade abroad, for example), or viewed through a protective filter, like film, or alcohol, there can be something almost endearing about it. It can appear quaint, part of our foolish-but-authentic, naive-yet-sincere, roughhewn spirit. Up close and personal, unromanticized and unfiltered, it’s another thing entirely.

In the flesh, barking from the electronic pulpit or braying back from the audience, our ignorance can be sobering. We don’t know. Or much care. Or care to know. What do we care about? We care about auto racing and Jessica. We care about food, oh yes, please, very much. And money. (Did you catch the last episode of I Love Money?) We care about Jesus, though we’re a bit vague on his teachings. And America. We care about America. And the flag. And the troops, though we’re untroubled by the fact that the Bush Administration lied us into the conflict, then spent years figuring out that armor in war might be bookstores to lay our money down.

Wherever it may have resided before, the brain in America has migrated to the region of the belt—not below it, which might at least be diverting, but only as far as the gut—where it has come to a stop. The gut tells us things. It tells us what’s right and what’s wrong, who to hate and what to believe and who to vote for. Increasingly, it’s where American politics is done. All we have to do is listen to it and the answer appears in the little window of the eight ball: “Don’t trust him. Don’t know. Undecided. Just because, that’s why.”

We know because we feel, as if truth were a matter of personal taste, or something to be divined in the human heart, like love.

I was raised to be ashamed of my ignorance, and to try to do something about it if at all possible. I carry that burden to this day, and have successfully passed it on to my children. I don’t believe I have the right to an opinion about something I know nothing about—constitutional law, for example, or sailing — a notion that puts me sadly out of step with a growing majority of my countrymen, many of whom may be unable to tell you anything at all about Islam, say, or socialism, or climate change, except that they hate it, are against it, don’t believe in it.

Worse still (or more amusing, depending on the day) are those who can tell you, and then offer up a stew of New Age blather, right-wing rant, and bloggers’ speculation that’s so divorced from actual, demonstrable fact, that’s so not true, as the kids would say, that the mind goes numb with wonder.

“Way I see it is,” a man in the Tulsa Motel 6 swimming pool told me last summer, “if English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for us.”

Friday, February 06, 2009

I Tried, I Really Tried!

Everybody remembers their first.

For me, in 1978, I went door to door politicking and canvassing for the first time in my life. I don't even remember the name of the Democratic congressional candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Wyoming [okay, it was Bill Bailey.]

But I do remember why I was participating -- because his opponent was Dick Cheney, the nastiest piece of work to enter Wyoming politics since the Teapot Dome Scandal of 1921-23.
Look it up, I'll wait...

Anyway, as I recall, Cheney won handily, and during his terms as Wyoming's one and only congressman, he was The Most Extreme Conservative* in all the land. After that, it just went downhill from there.

Keith Olbermann's current advice for Cheney? Leave! Just leave!

*He voted against Martin Luther King Day, against creating the Department of Education, against Head Start, in favor of apartheid in South Africa, and voted against a non-binding resolution calling on South Africa to release Nelson Mandela from prison.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Last Detail

How would you interpret this stunning photograph?

It was taken by Reuters photographer Jason Reed right after George W. Bush finished his farewell address to the nation, walked out of the room, and closed the door behind him.

Then, after the television cameras went off, he came back into the room to say farewell to staff and friends, and this was the expression on his face.
[Click on the photo to see it in greater and more disturbing detail.]

The official Reuters caption reads:

U.S. President George W. Bush re-enters the White House East room to say goodbye to staff and friends after his primetime address in Washington, January 15, 2009. Bush on Thursday defended his actions to avert a collapse of the financial system and protect America from another terrorist attack as he mounted a farewell bid to polish his troubled legacy. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)