Wednesday, November 30, 2005

52-year-old grandfather ordered to Army duty

Wisconsin native Gary Olson is a 52-year-old grandfather, a retired U.S. Army veteran - and soon to be a soldier again, thanks to the need for troops in Iraq.

Olson was ordered to report for duty Dec. 4 in Fort Jackson, S.C.

Sally Olson, his wife of 33 years, said that she was shocked by the orders and figured the chances of it happening were slim when he took early retirement more than a decade ago.

"Why don't they just go to the draft if they are getting this desperate for people?" she asked. "In a couple of months, he will be 53."

Sally Olson said she disagrees with President Bush that the war in Iraq was justified.

You got it Sally! So does 67% of the nation.

The Army told Olson, a sergeant first class mechanic when he retired, to prepare for 18 months away from home after he passes his physical.

Maj. Elizabeth Robbins, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon, said since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the military has called to duty about 6,500 retired soldiers on individual ready reserve because they have some specific, needed skills.

Olson thought his days as a soldier were done when he accepted early retirement from the Army in 1992. A condition of the deal was Olson, who had spent 17 years in the Army, had to remain on ready reserve until age 60, he said.

George Bush is only 57. Why doesn't he go? Oh, I forgot...he has no needed skills. How about the Bush twins? They're 23 and able bodied. Oh, right...the children of the rich and powerful don't have to serve their country, only the poor and disenfranchised.

Olson now has three grandchildren, ages 1, 2 and 7, who all live nearby.

Sally Olson said the news of her husband's return to the Army hit the 7-year-old grandson hard.

"He said, 'Why does Papa have to go?' And we told him they need Papa to come back and help some more and finish a job that is not quite done," she said.

I'm glad they didn't tell Gary's grandson that the job will never be done.


What? No Hanukkah.....Bush?

If it's a spruce tree adorned with 10,000 lights and 5,000 ornaments displayed on the Capitol grounds in December, it's a Christmas tree and that's what it should be called, says House Speaker Dennis Hastert. His office said the tree began to be referred to as the Holiday Tree in the 1990s. Spokesman Ron Bonjean said the reasons were unclear.

The reasons were unclear?

How much longer will the separation of church and state remain unclear to the republicans? If they want to call it a Christmas tree just make sure it shares equal billing with Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and every other religion practiced in our great country.

Otherwise it's just a tree wasting electricity.

Jerry Falwell, one of this nation's great thinkers, responded to the Washington Times with his usual level of wisdom:

"The new name drew the ire of Christians and evangelical leader the Rev. Jerry Falwell, whose law group the Liberty Counsel threatened to sue if the tree wasn't rechristened with Christmas."

I hope Ian Siegal of the Jewish Defense League is preparing a similar motion.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Maybe He Was Born To Run

On the 30th anniversary of the release of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" album, Senators Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg, both New Jersey Democrats, proposed a resolution congratulating Bruce on his contribution to American culture. It's the sort of thing that normally sails through Congress but the resolution was shot down by the Senate republicans, obviously because of the support Springsteen lent John Kerry last year.

A childish, petty reaction typical of republicans.

Now, as Corzine mulls over possible replacements for his Senate seat after being elected governor of New Jersey earlier this month, there is a push among his constituents for him to name--who else?--The Boss.

Why not? Bruce is at least as qualified as anyone else. He was born in the USA on the backstreets of the edge of town. He believes in better days, glory days, dancing in the dark, the land of hope and dreams, and the promised land. New Jersey is his home. He has a pink cadillac and a TV with 57 channels (and nothin' on). He is a spirit in the night and a saint in the city.

A good man is hard to find.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Another Republican Crook Bites the Dust

Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California pleaded guilty today to conspiracy and tax charges and tearfully resigned from office, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to conspirators (probably to Cheney/Haliburton).

Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

One more fat republican down. It's only a matter of time before we wrest control of our country from these people who care nothing for its citizens..


Friday, November 25, 2005

Want to Support the Troops? Send Rush Limbaugh Money!

Rush Limbaugh has reached a new low in shameless profiteering by taking advantage of our brave troops in Iraq. He has just introduced his "24/7 Adopt-a-Soldier Program". Sponsors may send a subscription to the Limbaugh newsletter at a discounted price of $49.99 each to as many soldiers as they wish. This also gives the troops access to online content at Rush's website.

Let's do some calculations. If only 5% of this moron's 3 million deluded listeners fall for this scam that would be 150,000 subscriptions. At $50 each, Rush stands to pocket $7,500,000. Since there really is no additional cost to adding more users of online content, the only real cost is the paper and the postage of the newsletter. Obviously, the pill-popper stands to realize a huge profit. This is good news only for Rush's OxyContin suppliers and sets a bad example for "dittoheads". summarizes this disgraceful action as follows:

"To any sensible person, soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have needs far more urgent than either Rush 24/7 or the Limbaugh Letter. Items such as bullet proof vests, up-armored Humvees, airline tickets for family members to visit injured troops at Landstuhl or Walter Reed are certainly higher on the wish list. But such a donation drive would not result in Premiere Radio Networks making profits in the millions."

It's time for the radical right to relinquish control of our country before it's too late.


Intelligent Design: A Near Myth

A course being offered next semester by the University of Kansas Religious Studies department is titled "Special Topics in Religion: Intelligent Design, Creationism and other Religious Mythologies."

At least the Iroquios Creation Theory that the earth was created on the back of a giant turtle is still considered science.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Thanksgiving Prayer, by William S. Burroughs

For John Dillinger
In hope he is still alive
Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1986

Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts

thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison —

thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger —

thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot —

thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes —

thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through —

thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces —

thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers —

thanks for laboratory AIDS —

thanks for Prohibition and the War Against Drugs —

thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business —

thanks for a nation of finks — yes, thanks for all the memories... all right, let's see your arms... you always were a headache and you always were a bore —

thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sophie Scholl - The Final Days

On Monday, November 7, 2005, I went to my weekly session of the Filmmakers Symposium. Here we get to screen diverse films before they open and then speak to a guest associated with its production. I saw a film that I will not soon forget..."Sophie Scholl - Die Ietzten Tage (The Final Days)". There have already been two films about Sophie Scholl but neither had access to the lost documentation of her last five days alive.

Sophie Scholl (1921 – 1943) was a member of the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of treason and executed by guillotine.

At the age of twelve, she joined the Hitler Youth. Her initial enthusiasm gradually gave way to criticism. She was aware of the dissenting political views of her father, of friends, and also of some teachers. An avid reader, she developed a growing interest in philosophy and theology. This was her alternative world to National Socialism.

In 1942 she enrolled at the University of Munich as a student of biology and philosophy. Her brother Hans, who was studying medicine, introduced her to his friends. This group of friends were eventually known for their political affairs, were drawn together by their shared love of art, literature, philosophy and theology.

During the summer of 1942, Sophie had to do war service in a metallurgical plant in Ulm. At the same time, her father was serving time in prison for a critical remark about Hitler to an employee. Sophie had also participated in the production of the leaflets of the White Rose and their distribution. She was arrested on February 18, 1943, while distributing the sixth leaflet at the University of Munich. On February 22, 1943, Sophie, her brother Hans and their friend Christoph Probst were condemned to death and executed by guillotine in the convict prison Munich-Stadelheim only a few hours later. The execution was supervised by Dr. Walter Roemer who was the enforcement chief of the Munich district court at that time.

Prison officials emphasized the courage with which she walked to her execution. Just before he was executed Hans Scholl shouted out: "Long live freedom!"

The actress who portrayed Sophie Scholl, Julia Jentsch, has already won several international film awards for the role, as has the director and the film itself. It is the official German entry for Best Foreign Film for the Academy Awards.

After the film, we had a discussion with the director, Marc Rothemund, who described his search for the lost documents describing the Nazi interrogations. He discovered transcripts of the Gestapo interrogation of Sophie which were locked away for years in the GDR archives. He told us that he used the actual locations where the leaflets were distributed and the actual court house.

"The real damage is done by those millions who want to 'survive.' The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honor, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn." - Sophie Scholl

Marc Rothemund said that Sophie Scholl was one of the greatest German heroes. She has 192 schools named after her. Sadly, though, not many people outside of Germany know who she was.

Maybe now they will...


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

We're Not in Kansas Anymore (Thank God?)

In 1999, Kansas shocked the world by stripping its curriculum standards of any mention of evolution, a move reversed in 2001 after voters ousted several conservative members of the education board. I thought that was sad then but Kansas (28th dumbest state) has taken another drink from the stupid fountain.

The Kansas Board of Education(?) voted to adopt new science standards challenging Darwin's theory of evolution in the classroom. The standards recommend that schools teach specific views that doubters of evolution use to undermine its importance in science education.

The most controversial change was a redefinition of science itself, so that it would not be explicitly limited to natural explanations. That makes perfect sense because these religious zealots cannot deliver "intelligent" design as real science unless they redefine science itself. Now children in Kansas can learn the truth about creation. Little green men visited Earth millions of years ago, dropped a load of goo and monitored our progress.

Well, that does fit the description of "intelligent" design, doesn't it?

A national movement to have intelligent design taught in science classrooms is "very dangerous," Cornell University's (New York - 4th smartest state) president, Hunter R. Rawlings III, said after taking up the issue in a speech.

But George Bush, demonstrating his usual level of wisdom, invigorated proponents of teaching alternatives to evolution in public schools with remarks saying that schoolchildren should be taught about "intelligent design," a view that promotes the idea that an unseen force is behind the development of humanity. Why would he say that Karl Rove is unseen?

Bush told Texas newspaper reporters in a group interview at the White House that he believes that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution as competing "theories". "Both sides ought to be properly taught . . . so people can understand what the debate is about," he said. Bush added: "Part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. . . . You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes."

John Calvert, a lawyer who runs the Intelligent Design Network, based in Kansas, raised the board as "taking a very courageous step" that would "make science education interesting to students rather than boring."

Here's why Calvert is a liar.

"This is a sad day, not just for Kansas kids, but for Kansas," Janet Waugh of Kansas City, Kan., one of four dissenting board members, said before the vote. "We're becoming a laughing stock not only of the nation but of the world."

Try the universe, Janet.


Saturday, November 05, 2005

Is that an iPod in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Purveyors of porn in response to the new video-playing iPod are proving that sex even sells in tiny packages especially when it is portable.

One online network of pinup girls said it logged 500,000 downloads of the sexy three to five minute video clips in the first 24 hours targeting the new iPod-toting crowd.

It's a no-brainer: pornography to go.

Soon enough, skin flicks whose viewing has been largely restricted to the privacy of homes and theaters could be on view in the open public of parks and mass transit, for all ages to see.

Sin City, based in Chatsworth, Calif., already offers trailers of full-length adult films for the Sony PlayStation Portable, a handheld video game player. It now plans full-length adult films for the video iPod.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Andy Rooney on Voting

"Voters should be required to take an IQ test. The IQ score of the voter would register along with his or her vote. The candidate who got the highest total of IQ scores would be the winner."

What a fantastic idea! According to IQ and Politics, John Kerry would have won by a landslide. 31 of the 34 dumbest states were Bush states (Texas came in at #40). The 16 states with the highest IQs were Kerry states.

This makes pefect sense. Bush's approval rating went from 90 in July 2001 to 37 in November 2005. In other words, it took the Bush states 4 years to figure out what the Kerry states already knew -- that Bush is a disaster as a president.

I told everyone that Bush was a loser in 2000.
But hey, I'm from New Jersey (third highest IQ).


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Say No To Scalito

Samuel Alito has been a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals since his appointment by the first President Bush in 1990. So far he has compiled an extreme right-wing record - a record that has earned him the nickname "Scalito" for his ideological resemblance to Justice Antonin Scalia. Alito's opinions demonstrate that he is an opponent of many legal rights for all Americans and must not be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Check it out:

Hostile to basic reproductive privacy rights
Alito wants government to be able to interfere in personal decisions on reproductive rights. Alito was in favor of a law requiring a woman to notify her husband before obtaining an abortion. "Yes,'s your body. You just have to tell me what you do with it."

Rejects basic protections for workers
Alito has taken positions that would have made it more difficult for victims of race and sex discrimination to prove their claims.

Leads revolution against federal laws protecting individual and other rights
Alito has said that Congress had no authority to require state employers to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act. He said that 12 weeks leave was too long. I wonder how much leave Scalito would need after passing an eight pound bowling ball out of his ass!

He was also against a ruling that stated that Congress has the power to restrict the transfer and possession of machine guns at gun shows.

Fails to consider racial discrimination in capital punishment
An African American had been convicted of felony murder by an all white jury from which black jurors had been illegally banned because of their race. Alito rejected the defendant's claims.


For more information go to

Australia may solve Ripper mystery

ONE of the greatest murder mysteries of all time - the identity of Jack the Ripper - may soon be revealed by DNA technology developed in Australia.

Scientist Ian Findlay will use the new test on saliva the notorious serial killer would have left behind if he licked the stamps on the envelopes of letters he sent to London police. Prof. Findlay's method, called Cell Track-ID, is able to extract and compile a DNA fingerprint from a single cell or strand of hair up to 160 years old. Hair believed to be from Catherine Eddowes – one of at least five prostitutes Jack the Ripper is known to have butchered in London's East End during his reign of terror in 1888 – will also be tested.

Prof Findlay, based at Queensland's Griffith University, said if DNA was found intact on the stamps, it could be compared to DNA from the descendants of suspects.

"There were 600 letters sent to police claiming 'I am Jack the Ripper' and while most of theses are hoaxes, some are thought to be genuine," Prof Findlay said.

"But one of the letters was sent with a piece of kidney taken from one of his victims in a box and another with an earlobe – this information was never released by the police at the time.

"It's more likely these letters are from Jack the Ripper.

"We try not to think who or what before we do what we do in the forensic lab – we will let the results speak for themselves," Prof. Findlay said.

CLASSIFICATION: GOOD (and pretty cool)