Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Roman Polanski

Well, it's been about thirty years, and someone in Switzerland finally realized that the arrest warrant on this guy was still active. Polanski, you see, raped a 13-year old girl back in the late 70s, copped a plea and ran like a thief before he could be sentenced.

He ran to places where extradition is hard - France and Poland.

Which are now agitating at Switzerland to release him.

Almost as bad are the number of cretins who are now apologizing for and defending Polanski's actions. The basic arguments are this:

1. The victim wants to move on from this (she's now in her forties).

2. It wasn't "rape rape" (this from Whoopi Goldberg, who should know better).

3. It was consensual.

4. She had permission from her mother, who sent her to Polanski.

Allow me to retort.

A. She may want to move on from this, but the fact remains that Polanski fled the country before he could pay for his crime. Had there been any judicial misconduct (cited by many of the apologists) that was a matter for the appellate courts.

B. Rape is rape is rape, Whoopi. He plied a 13 year old with drugs, then raped and sodomized her. And this wasn't a case of statutory rape - a 17 year old banging his younger girlfriend. Polanski was 44 at the time.

C. The victim was THIRTEEN. Consent is irrelevant under the law at that age, and the fact that drugs were used defeats the consent argument anyway. If she was high on drugs, how could she have formulated a clear consent?

D. Her mother pimping her daughter out. How Hollywood is that? We have laws on the books that defeat that argument - it's usually called 'sexual battery while under custodial supervision.' A babysitter who sexually batters a child in her care is the same level of rapist as an award-winning director who gets permission from a girl's mother to have the girl stay over at his house.

And don't give me that argument about how Polanski survived Auschwitz and couldn't hack confinement again. Lots of people survived the death camps, and I'm sure that a few of them may have gone to jail at some point in their lives afterward. I'm fairly sure that the death camps didn't produce a crop of pederasts.

(Note I said pederasts - people who have sexual relations with children - as opposed to a pedophile.)

Roman Polanski has evaded the hand of Justice long enough. By fleeing rather than facing the consequences of his actions, he is in direct criminal contempt of the State.

He's danced long enough. Time for him to pay the piper.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The True Face of the GOP Base

The hat tip for this scrap of video is courtesy of the good folks at Wonkette. The video's in the "Leave Brittany Alone!" genre, and seems like an accurate depiction of the GOP al Qaeda, the rancid and brain-moldy base of what used to be the Grand Old Party:

Pathetic, isn't it?

These are the people you see at teabag rallies (actually, this guy looks as though he's had at least one scrotum across his forehead at some time in his worthless life), screeching incoherent slogans spoon-fed to them by Fox News or waving badly-spelled signs.

Meet the Enemy, ladies and gentlemen. This is the human detritus that fuels the New Republican Party.

Friday, September 25, 2009

It Was Bound to Happen

Back on Wednesday, a man named Bill Sparkman was found hanged from a tree in Clay County, Kentucky. There was apparently no suicide note, and no indications other than the word "FED" scrawled on his chest. The FBI is investigating (Sparkman was a volunteer for the Census Bureau, making him a Federal employee).

With the amount of vitriol spewed every day out of the radio and television, it's no wonder that this hasn't happened sooner. Granted, it's still only a 'possible' homicide, but the implications are enough to suggest that The Stupid and their dishonest voices - Limbaugh, Beck, Malkin, Coulter and the rest of their greasy ilk - are starting to get to the soft minds and even softer wills of the sheep they preach to.

Bill Sparkman was a part-time teacher, father, Eagle Scout and cancer survivor. He was doing a job mandated by the United States Constitution.

Apparently, an American didn't see it that way, and Bill Sparkman's dead.

Who's next?


Pity poor Michelle Malkin.

This poor girl who is a first generation American (of Filipino extraction) who has displayed a distinct anti-immigrant bias, this poor girl who thinks nothing of publicizing the home addresses and phone numbers of those who dare criticize her so that they can receive death threats, apparently wants us to pity her because she's received death threats.

Oh, boo frickin' hoo, Imelda.

You've made a fortune by attacking others, so you want to whine when others dish it out?

Pitiable? No.

Laughable? Hell, yes.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Stupid ... It BURNS ...

There are times, dear readers, when the overwhelming impact of The Stupid only serves to remind me how fragile sanity actually is in an increasingly silly world. But all is not lost - while The Stupid is painful to witness, it is also a rich source of humor.

Exhibit A for this is a brief screed by Michael Schwartz, the Chief of Staff for the egregious Senator Tom Coburn (R-Wingnutland West) who had this to say at the Value Voters Summit recently. He was speaking at a small get-together forum thingy titled "The New Masculinity:"

Weird, eh? According to this rube's logic, an issue of Playboy can turn an 11-year-old boy as gay as Oscar Wilde. Think about that for a moment, and feel your synapses withering away like dry grass in a bonfire.

Of course, the Stupid isn't quite everywhere yet - a new poll in Iowa reveals that 92% of those Iowans polled say that gay marriage hasn't affected them at all. So much for the fearmongering about The Decline of Civilization, huh?

Then consider this little snippet of Bad Craziness:

Jedi Ejected From Tesco's.

Just revel in the fires of Stupidity as it burns your brain cells.

Friday, September 18, 2009

This Pleases Me

One of my primary gripes with the Bush Administration is that, as a result of the events of Black Tuesday, the President and his insidiously evil tubs of lard (that would be Dick Cheney and Karl Rove) rammed the USA PATRIOT Act through the Congress. The Patriot Act, for those who may have forgotten, relaxed legal prohibitions and safeguards on civil liberties and privacy rights for all Americans.

The Act, and the "amendment" to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) gave the Federal Government carte blanche to spy on you, to eavesdrop on your communications and to explore any piece of your private records.

Apologists for this told me, "So what? I have nothing to hide?"

Whereupon I would ask, "So you don't mind the Big Bad Evil Government spying on you? I thought you were against Big Gummint."

Whereupon I was usually called "Unamerican."

But I digress.

Like I said, this push against the liberties my ancestors fought and worked for really pissed me off quite deeply, so it was with a great deal of satisfaction that I read this little missive from Senator Russ Feingold (D-MN). He and six other Senators have put together a bill called the JUSTICE Act (what the hell is it with all these cutesy acronyms? I'm waiting for a bill that spells out the word FUCK) that reforms and modifies several keys provisions of both the Patriot and FISA Amendment Acts.

It also includes this little tidbit:

Section 303 – Telecommunications Immunity

The bill would repeal the retroactive immunity provision in the FISA Amendments Act.

I'm loving this bit, ladies and gents. If this provision gets into law it'll open the legal gates to those who have been victimized by the telecommunications industry in their desire to play ball with the Busheviki. I want AT&T, Verizon and Sprint to get their asses sued off if they've illegally tapped into peoples' phone and email accounts.

And then maybe - maybe - we can start going after the Bush Administration itself.

It would give me great satisfaction.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You Know . . .

(Picture courtesy of Artdecade on FurAffinity. Thanks!)

I always suspected that it wasn't hatred, but jealousy that was motivating our enemies. It's not our values; it's our things of value.

We have better bling.

Opinions Are Like A$$holes

Everyone has one. On every topic you care to name.

In an off-the-record remark (subsequently published for all the world to hear) President Obama was asked about alleged musician Kanye West's shenanigans at the MTV Music Awards (for those with scorecards, West took the microphone away from the winner, a girl named Taylor Swift, and blurted out something in a cognac-induced haze).

The President's opinion? That Kanye West was a "jackass."

Of course that's making the rounds of the Mighty Wind Machine that is all that is left of our Fourth Estate.

Another person, an aide to former (thank the Goddess) President George W Bush, came out with a book that enshrines some of that worthy's off-the-record comments.

Like referring to Obama as "this cat" and averring that he's clueless (although whether or not GWB ever had a clue is a matter of conjecture).

Or joking that Sarah Palin was Governor of Guam, and was completely at sea regarding national issues.

You see, people are entitled to their opinions.

Which is why I keep my peace when friends start to gloat about ACORN losing funding or not being allowed to take part in the Census.

My opinion on that is that it must really grate on Michelle Bachmann and Glenn Beck that ACORN is being pushed aside. They've spent the past ten months or so beating this straw man with a big stick - having it fade away won't give them much more to squeal about than Teabagger Parties or Death Panels or what-have-you.

Yeah, I have opinions. That's why I blog.

Do you have an opinion?


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Vacation Pictures, Second Leg

As promised, ladies and gentlemen, here are some of the pictures I took on the second leg of my vacation.

We start with a couple pictures from the Daisy Air Rifle Museum in Rogers, Arkansas ( I had no idea there was such a museum). This is the only extant model of a mock machine gun that fired BBs - it was used to train anti-aircraft gun crews during WW2.

The Arkansas Air Museum at Drake Field sports many vintage aircraft and other military vehicles. One of the exhibits is a Twin Beech sporting Canadian Air Force markings and accompanying nose art:

"What's that you say? No discount? Oh, I bet you WILL be giving me that discount ..."
A couple scenes of the Boston River valley in the Ozark Mountains (pictures taken at an overlook south of Winslow, Arkansas).

Nashville Tennessee sports a replica of the Parthenon as part of its Centennial Park (it was built to commemorate the city's 100th birthday around the turn of the last century).

A pond near the front of the structure attracts wildlife (there were several flotillas of Canada geese) as well as beautiful weeping willows.

The centerpiece is this statue of Athena Parthenos, matron goddess of Athens. The statue is over 41 feet high and is as near a match for the original as the sculptors could get based on ancient accounts. Athena bears the aegis of Zeus on her chest and carries a statue of Victory in her right hand. The serpent behind her shield is supposedly Erichthonius, one of the mythical first kings of Athens, and the central boss of the shield bears the face of the Gorgon Medusa.

A view of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. The weather that day wasn't conducive to taking good pictures.

The Florida monument at the Chickimauga Battlefield, just over the border in Georgia. The guy with the camera in the foreground provides scale (no, it's NOT me).

The Capitol Building, Tallahassee, taken about 7:15 AM.

The Toast Is "Absent Friends."

I want to tell you today about a man named Ronnie Brown.

When he was younger, he joined the Marine Corps, and served his country well and faithfully, like a Marine (and good citizen) should.

When he got out of the Marine Corps, he joined the Polk County (FL) Sheriff's Office, and he became my coworker.

He served his community, working at the Sheriff's Office for 20 years and rising to the rank of Detention Sergeant.

In May 2007, Ronnie and two other deputies received our agency's third-highest award, the Meritorious Service Award, for attempting to save the life of an inmate.

Which makes the events of August 30, 2009 ironic.

On that Sunday evening, an inmate named Terrance Barnett, facing murder charges from another county, was in his isolation cell and apparently not liking it much. Barnett, about 6'5" and 200 pounds, started by screaming that he wanted to be moved to another facility, then tried to force the issue by breaking the sprinkler head in his cell, flooding the area.

Ronnie had the sprinklers shut off, then tried to reason with the inmate (who was the same size as him). He entered the cell, and Barnett shoved him. Ronnie slipped on the wet floor, according to reports, and fell to the concrete floor. He complained of back pain, and was sent to a local hospital.

The next day he awoke in pain, and it was determined that one of his vertebrae was broken.

Ronnie died on September 8, 2009. The investigation is ongoing and it still hasn't been decided what charges will be filed against Barnett (although I expect him to catch a murder rap). Barnett's been moved to another county's jail - because we certainly don't want anything to happen to him.

Ronnie leaves behind a wife (also a detention deputy, with 22 years' service) and a sixteen-year-old daughter.

Rest in peace, friend.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Vacation - I'm So Glad I'm Back, I'm Glad I Went

3,121.5 miles elapsed, according to my car.

Six states, including Florida.

Worn out? You bet.

Glad I went? Sure thing!

Pictures to follow.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Vacation - Driving Through Georgia

(Not as much fun as Sherman's Drive to the Sea, much as I might have liked to - my wish list has always included my very own Mongol horde, bent on pillage and rapine. Hey, a guy's gotta have a hobby.)


It rained on me from just south of LaFayette all the way to just north of Columbus, my CD collection barely able to keep my mind engaged as I drove along. Still, it was a very pleasant drive and what made it the best possible is the fact that I avoided Atlanta, Macon and the entire stretch of Interstate 75.


I missed getting a picture of the Florida state line marker, as I was doing about 70 and the sign was hidden behind some bushes.

One more short hop, and I spend tomorrow night in my own bed, after about 2600 miles and five states. And a lot of pictures!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vacation, Three Days

Okay, I'm on the return leg of my vacation, coming north from Fort Smith, Arkansas.

But first - an advertisement!


Do you like to be scared out of your wits?

Do you like steep uphill and downhill grades, with sharp curves thrown in?

Do you like driving past spectacular scenery, over bridges that soar over deep mountain gorges?

And all this at 70 miles per hour with loaded semis pushing you down the road?

Then, kids, Interstate 540 North from Fort Smith to Fayetteville is for YOU!

Why, there's even a tunnel!

Needless to say, I arrived at Springdale rather wrung out. Due to a mixup in communications I didn't meet up with my friend at the Trolley Museum in Ft. Smith, so he caught up with me and I made it up to him by treating him to dinner.

The next day we traveled around the Ozarks a bit, heading south through beautiful scenery (the leaves are turning, the goldenrod is in full bloom and the sumac is the shade of crimson I recall from the days of my youth). We stopped at a roadside store/overlook south of Winslow where I took pictures and watched hummingbirds feeding. We headed north via the Pig Trail, a scenic byway named for the route hog farmers took to bring their wares to market.

The next day it rained, but I soldiered on via US 412 from Springdale, with the goal of reaching Nashville by sundown. The Ozarks petered out at the thriving metropolis of Portia, Arkansas (the Town Hall is part of the same store front where I got my gas tank topped off). Surprisingly, the only part of the trip that I actually dreaded was driving through Memphis to get to I-40.

No longer intent on reaching Nashville, I stopped for the night at Jackson. Nice room.

They didn't charge for the bedbugs (the only hotel I've stayed at on this trip that had unwanted guests).

Today I sojourned to Nashville and visited Centennial Park and the replica of the Temple of Athena Parthenos erected on the site as part of the city's one hundredth anniversary. The statue of the Greek goddess of wisdom and war is the same size as the original, based upon accounts (it's not made of gold plates and ivory, though - one must economize at times).

I've stopped just over the border, at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. No more interstate highways for me. Instead I will take the older US Highway system (the first of my route tomorrow cuts straight through the Chickamauga Battlefield Memorial).

Monday, September 07, 2009

Vacation Pictures, First Leg

Okay, here are a few pictures from my vacation so far (I figure you could use some images, as it appears no one is reading the daily narrative of my sojourn).

We start with the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola and this big beast of a flying boat, the Curtiss NC-4. This four-engine (the center engine is a push-pull combination) aircraft was one of a flight that flew the Atlantic before Lindbergh.

Here is the USS Alabama, maintained as a memorial by the State of Alabama.

Yours Truly in the control room of the submarine USS Drum, part of the same memorial as the battleship shown above.

This quote by Elie Wiesel is on display at the National Civil Rights memorial in Montgomery.

At the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville you can spot the Saturn V on display from easily quite a distance away, despite the overcast skies.

And here's the restored Saturn on display in the Davidson Center.

The firing panel for Redstone Explorer, our first successful satellite. The red arrow shows the firing key for the rocket.

I wasn't able to find out if this is a reproduction or a restored donation, but this is one of Robert H. Goddard's early rockets (shown with the inventor himself).

Among the animals we sent up to test whether humans could tolerate space flight was a squirrel monkey named Baker. Miss Baker died in 1984, and is interred at the Center. Here's her grave marker:

The Garden Court of the Holiday Inn Select in Memphis, part of the venue for Mephit Furmeet 2009.

Two views of the assembled fursuiters after their parade through the hotel last Saturday:

On the grounds at Fort Smith is the gallows used by the authorities. A sign asks that people not climb the structure and to respect it for what it was - a place of execution.

The restored 1926 trolley I rode while visiting Fort Smith, Arkansas. Only cost two bucks, and was very interesting.

Vacation, Day Eight

Reached Springdale, Arkansas the hard way, driving from Memphis to Little Rock and Fort Smith before turning north through Fayetteville. Going to spend two nights up here relaxing before turning east.

While in Fort Smith, I visited the historical quarter and took a ride in a restored 1926 vintage trolley. Great fun, and the project's run entirely by donations. So if you're in the area, show them a little love, okay?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Vacation, Days Six and Seven

Well, it's been a fun weekend.

Saturday saw the convention's fursuit parade, as all of the people who showed up to show off their painstakingly-crafted fursuits (I talked to one young woman who told her she took two years just building the headpiece of her fox costume) parade through the hotel. Members of the hotel staff who were off yesterday showed up to watch, as did quite a few kids.

There were 76 of them, of which about a third (by show of hands) were new to the convention. Great fun.

Of course, running about in a full-body suit can kill you by heatstroke, so a room had been set aside equipped with small high-output fans so that the fursuiters can cool off (there was also ample ice water handy - the volunteer medical staff reported only one health issue the entire weekend.

I've pre-registered for next year, but instead of driving the whole way up to the Memphis area I'll fly up.

So, it's been fun, and the open road beckons once again as I begin my return leg.

Return leg?

You betcha!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Vacation, Day Five

I left Decatur early, with fog clinging to the hillsides as the terrain changed from urban to rural, with cornfields alternating with woods. The hills undulated - love that word; I need to use it more in conversation - for a good portion of the route, finally changing to flat ground for a good portion of northern Mississippi.

It started raining right at the Tennessee state line and continued to pour down on me as I made my way into Memphis and arrived at the hotel.

The hotel is fairly well-appointed and very spacious as the lower depths (the first floor convention area) started to fill with people dressed oddly.

Oddly? Yes.

Some with faux furry ears, some with tails, and others in full-body fursuits. Before I finally hit the bed last night I had seen quite a few felines and canines, two rabbits (one of them a jackalope) a bull and two skunks. I attended the writer's meet & greet, and will be attending other fora as the weekend progresses.

There's a secular humanist tea on Sunday afternoon, and I will surely attend for a bit of rational conversation.

I've taken a lot of pictures so far, and will take more, of course. I've also commission some artwork.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Vacation, Days Three and Four

A double post, and why not? No one's reading this anyway.

I left Mobile yesterday, for the first time on my vacation trusting myself and my trusty metal steed to the chaos of the Interstate Commerce and National Defense Highway system. An average of 70 miles per hour practically the length of the state of Alabama, with stops in Montgomery and Birmingham.

At Montgomery I visited the National Civil Rights Memorial, notable for the starkly beautiful sculpture by Maya Lin. I took some pictures, and wasn't surprised when I had to go through a metal detector to get in.

I stopped for lunch north of Birmingham.

The further north I got the more the terrain changed to the high hills that presage the Ozarks and the butt-end of the Appalachians. The sight of granite and sandstone cheered me up a lot, because it meant I was making progress.

I even saw some wildlife - a family of whitetail deer were dining al fresco on the side of the highway. Two cute dappled fawns. The doe was obviously in the bushes, as her young looked a bit too immature to stray far from Mama.

I arrived at Decatur early, which demonstrates that I made excellent time.

The next day was a relaxing day, aside from a jaunt east to Huntsville to visit the US Space and Rocket Museum at the Marshall Space Flight Center. You can't miss the place - a full-size Saturn V rocket is an impressive signpost.

I took a bunch of pictures of the rockets and missiles in the outdoor displays, as well as the rebuilt Saturn on its side in the Davidson Center.

Now, you have to recall that the brainchild of the space program was Dr. Werner von Braun, so part of the museum is in homage to him (they even have his office on display). I had to refrain from singing aloud the following song:

I must also point out that this place is part of Redstone Arsenal, still a US Army installation and there are exhibits sponsored by the Military-Industrial Complex. I had trouble laughing at the mannequins displaying the Future Force concepts.

Still and all, a great trip so far. Another night of relaxation in Decatur and then it's westward ho! for Memphis.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Vacation, Day Two

I got up to watch the sun make its daily appearance over the bay behind the hotel, had breakfast and set out for the Pensacola Naval Air Station. My goal was the Naval Aviation Museum there, particularly to see what improvements they've made there since I last visited in 1992.

Quite a few, actually. There's an extensive WW1 section that had me drooling. The Americans used British and French aircraft quite a bit in the Great War, with a few home-built models like the Curtiss MF-Boat seaplane (although they don't say whether MF meant "motorized flight" or "motherfucker").

They had a poster up to advertise a new exhibit on carrier operations and I started laughing, as the poster had "Tailhook" in bigger letters than the rest of the poster. It reminded me of the 1991 Tailhook scandal where several officers sexually harassed and molested young women.

I wonder if the Tailhook exhibit will feature ballwalking demonstrations.

So it was westward, ever westward and across the Alabama state line, watching with interest the transition from pine forests and bayous to rolling hills and vegetable farms. Then it was a series of bridges and shortly the spires of Mobile appeared on the horizon.

Along with the angular superstructure of the USS Alabama, a South Dakota-class battleship sporting sixteen-inch guns in her main battery. Arranged in a park are examples of armored vehicles (including an Iraqi T-55 tank appropriated in the 1991 Gulf War) and some planes.

A night spent in Mobile, and soon it'll be time for a long step north.

Vacation, Day One


400-plus miles and over eight hours of steady driving with two stops (one for food, one for some mineral distillate for the Alleged Car).

But I'm here in Pensacola, having driven through the Nature Coast and Emerald Coast.

The Nature Coast was quite scenic, with small rural towns and roads cloaked in dense forests of bay pine and oak, with glimpses of dark hollows filled with palmettos.

Twenty miles out from Perry, with the swamps and bayous and dunes of the Big Bend begin, the drugs started to kick in. "We can't stop here," I said, "this looks like bear country."

And sure enough it is. A good stretch of the road has signs warning about black bears crossing the highway, all the way to the first beach communities. These places run the gamut from quaint to garish, with only common denominator - they're cramped, hugging both sides of the highway.

But that was it for the first day.

Second day, and onward to Mobile!