Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Horton sees an X

Mills of the gods

The Associated Press reported this morning that an elephant ("Happy") at the Bronx zoo recognized itself in a mirror back in 2005. The story does not explain the long hold on releasing such a critical scientific finding.

Apparently, the researchers at the Bronx Zoo, perhaps with a little time to kill, had put up a big mirror in the elephant pen. On the mirror thay had drawn an X. The X showed up in the mirror, right in the middle of an elephant's forehead, if the elephant were to look in the mirror. While several elephants did not appear to notice the X, Happy the Elephant, while staring at the mirror, placed her trunk on the spot on her head where the X appeared to be. Stop the Presses.

How many people are surprised that the elephant recognized itself in the mirror ? It would have never crossed my mind that an elephant, who in the wild spends a lot of time staring into a watering hole, had never seen its own image before. The fact that the other elephants did not react as Happy, proves only that they knew that the X was drawn on the mirror and not in the middle of their forhead. In other words, Happy, far from being the smartest pac in the derm is probably the dumbest.

The Bronx Zoo needs to stay away from research. This is the zoo which, after the St. Louis World's Fair, in 1904, put a human Pygmy on display in a cage.The Zoo's name and reputation are not synonymous with the great scientific research centers of the world. Indeed, the experiment devised for the elephants sounds more like something a middle school child would propose for a science fair.

But that just shows how little I know about science. It turns out that the original designer of the experiment (which was done for chimps) believes that a lot more testing needs to be done before we can state, with certainty, that an elephant can see itself in a mirror.This guy, Gordon Gallup, is insisting on further tests involving Elephants and "dolphins". Dolphins ? I think dolphins have been shown to be capable of translating Latin, why wouldn't they be able to see themselves in a mirror ? And how would you run that test anyway ? Put a mirror underwater ? Can a dolphin even touch the middle of it's forhead with a fin ? Sounds like Mr Gallup is just wrangling for a fat government grant ,preferably one which forces him to do his research in Hawaii.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Fanfare for the decent man

Mills of the gods

All of us have early childhood memories. Flashes of scenes involving parents or pets or friends, unconnected to anything else. I have several of these that go back to before I was three. My first complete memory, however, is just about 50 years old. I remember much of the day 50 years ago when my new born brother was brought home from the hospital. I remember my grandmother bathing me to get me ready. I recall looking over the back of our couch as he was carried in, and my first glimpse of him. I recall asking my mother if I could put a toy in his bed and then selecting the toy and watching him while he ignored it. The ingrate. It was the best day of my three and a half year old life.

The problem with fifty year old memories is that they happened fifty years ago, meaning that if you have such memories, you are no longer young. My brother turned fifty yesterday and I guess he is going to have to "finally concede that", in the words of my first legal boss Charlie Barrow, "it is probably half way over." I think my brother has a shot at 100. Which is good, he can attend to all the fuss of burying me.

In my whole life, my brother Clay is the most thoroughly decent man I ever met. You don't hear the term "decent" much anymore. Usually people say that he is a "good guy", or a "nice guy". Those are fine attributes, but it is not the same as being "decent". Decent connotes not just what you see on the outside, like nice or good does, but what you are on the inside. Decent means that you are not the kind of person who stays angry, or hold grudges, or is in any way mean spirited. Most Americans are mean spirited. It is a by product of capitalism and competition. Most people are different in their "business persona" than they are , say at Sunday School. My brother is not like that. He is what he is,wherever he is, and what he is, is decent. I have never met anyone who did not like him. I have never met anyone who did not speak well of him. How many people do you know who you can say that about ? I don't know any others. And no one who knows me would ever put me in that category either. One to a family is about the best you can expect.

I don't see Clay as much as I'd like to, although I am going to remedy that. I feel bad that we had not slept under the same roof for thirty years, until just the other night. I feel bad that the brother that moves away always does so much less for the family than the brother who stays nearer to home. Althought the truth of it is, he's better at that than I am. He is just about the best family guy you can imagine. His kids had the benefit of a father who always put family first, not only in his thoughts, but in his actions. No children could ever ask for anything more from a father. No father could ever ask for anything more from himself.

So I am going to spend much more of the next fifty years of my brother's life, seeing if he will rub off on me a little more. There is no sense in having a thoroughly decent brother, unless you can learn from him. Half a century is a long time. A real long time. But at least my brother can have the satisfaction of knowing that he never wasted any of it. He lived it in a manner that anyone can be proud of, even an older brother. Especially an older brother.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Last Hymn

Mills of the gods

The state of Florida killed Danny Harold Rolling last night. I would like to se the running total of the number of executions that the Bush brothers presided over as Governors. I have a feeling that they hold the all time record for number of executions by brothers as Governors.

This particular fellow is a little hard to defend. You have to be awfully strong in your beliefs about the death penalty to say that Rolling should have been spared. He is the kind of killer who makes me ambivalent about capitol punishment. I like to believe I'm against it, and then I read that the late Mr Rolling "possed" his victims after their murders, even decapitating one and displaying her head on a shelf, and I quickly move back into the undecided category. Maybe there are a few folks out there that we can do without.

Danny boy had quite a spree back in 1990. He broke into three apartments (of college women) and stabbed and slashed five bodies with a hunting knife. He sexually assaulted three of them. Then he got to spend the next 16 years avoiding the "last innoculation". He became, according to the Associated Press, a super star among the condemned. He blamed his tresspasses on being victimized as a child and for the treatment he had received in an earlier prison sentence. Maybe he had a tough life, I'm sorry, but no one cut off his head.Even after he murdered these women he got 15 more years of liife which by my calculations is exactly 15 more years than he gave to each of them.

So Danny boy had his last meal of "lobster, shrimp, baked potato, strawberry cheesecaker and sweet tea" (I guess Florida prisons get Red Lobster takeout) and went off "cooperativley" to the gurney. Cooperatively is prison code for the fact that it was unnecessary to use the "extraction squad" to drag him out of the cell and off to the execution, kicking and screaming like Jimmy Cagney did in that movie where Pat O'Brien was the Priest.

A peculiar thing happend when Danny was aked if he had any last words. He broke into a Hymn of his own making. Those who heard it say that the catch phrase of the Hymn was "none greater than thee Lord."He sang until they turned off the microphone and then he kept singing until after about two minutes his voice and breathing became labored and he stopped. None of the witnesses, relatives of the murdered were amused or sympathetic. Who can blame them ?

But what is the committed Christian to think of all of this ? By committed Christian, I mean those whose relatives were not slashed to death by a hunting knife. I am sure Jesus gives those folks a pass to think what they want. But how about the rest of us ? I suppose that at the very least we have to acknowledge that the religion requires us to forgive. If God forgives, who are we to differ on the issue ?But how about the death itself. Is it right for we mortals to strap a fellow sinner on to a gurney and stick a needle in him until he is dead ? Does the hymn he sang soften your view of state sanctioned executions (murder) ? It is an issue I have wrestled with all of my life. I suspect I will wrestle with it for the time I have left. Unless asshole decapitates someone I love.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Staying the Course

Mills of the gods

My President, and your President, is supposed to make a "substantial" statement today on Iraq. I suppose "substantial" is the word which emerged from the focus group as one which conveys important, but not overwhelming weight to what ever it is the President is going to tell us.

Anyway, the White House has already announced this week that it will no longer use "stay the course" language in talking about Iraq. I suppose the substantial announcement will have something to do with not staying the course. What the President is up to, of course, is to make an announcement that gives some hope to undecideds and disaffected Republicans about the war and causes them to vote next week to return Republican majorities to Congress. I suggest that he used the old Viet Nam term, "light at the end of the tunnel". That one served Lyndon Johnson well for a couple of years, until the oncoming train, which had produced, the light ran him over.

I am very sorry to see that "stay the course" is being retired. The reason being that the phrase was about to get a new meaning in the English language. Last week, the President explained that "stay the course" was always meant to be a flexible concept. I liked that. It seems to me that if "staying the course" is only a flexible concept ,then you have the option of not staying the course, which really renders this whole "stay the course" thing useless. Course are stayed, or they are not stayed. They can't be both.Suppose I am driving from Austin to Dallas, wait, let's make it somewhere I would actually want to visit. Suppose I am driving from Austin to San Diego. It is late, I have been driving for 10 or 12 hours and the wife and child are whining about stopping. I turn to the family and say, "Family, we are going to stay the course."That means we are going to drive until we get to San Diego. It does not mean that we are going to stop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. If I had the slightest thought of being flexible on the subject, I would have said "Family, let's drive awhile and see how we feel, maybe we will stop, and maybe we won't." But I would not have yelled "stay the course" knowing in my head that I meant "be flexible".And I sure would not have yelled it every week for three years knowing that when I said "stay the course" all I meant was "stay the course, maybe".

Still, perhaps I am being too hard. Perhaps I should recognize that after three years your President and my President is finally understanding his own folly and is just trying to save a little face as he tries to do the right thing.Or, now don't call me cynical, it could all be another lie for the sake of the elections and after Republican Majorities are returned to Congress, Bush will tell us that when he said that "stay the course" was flexible, that what he really meant by "fexible" was inflexible !

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Why did Bill marry her ?

Mills of the gods

My own personal paper of record, The New York Daily News, is stirring up irrelevant controversy in the New York Senate race. Of course irrelevant controversy is the only reason to read the Daily News, so they are just doing their job.

It seems that one of their reporters was on a Jet Blue flight to Rochester and was sitting next to Hillary Clinton's Republican opponent, John Spencer. Spencer is not exactly a household name. He is the former Mayor of Yonkers, New York. Yonkers is not really a household name either, although I wrote about it in these pages as one of the four or five towns in America where a person was most likely to get a finger bitten off.

Anyway, the "mayor" and his wife and this reporter were all looking at magazines and newspapers and started talking about some New York politician of the female variety whom they felt had had "a lot of work done." The implication being that she had once been ugly and was now, through the miracle of plastic surgery, presentable. This guy Spencer, who should really know ugly, based on the amount of time he has probably spent with nine fingered women, then opined that Hillary had had "millions" of dollars or work. As proof he pointed out how unattractive she was in college.

Hillary was unattractive in college. But she was trying to be. I knew lots of liberal women in college who felt that feminism required that they make themselves as unpresentable as possible so that you could show how serious they were about women's issues. That, combined with some goofy glasses she had back then did put her on the doggie side of the pound, there is no doubt about it. I doubt that even Hillary would dispute that. Still, how did most people look the 70s ? A lot like Hillary did, even the men.It was a singularly inattractive decade because it focused more on issues than looks. Reagan changed all of that in the next decade.

This story has dominated the New York Daily News front pages for two days now. It does point out how exciting the New York Senate race is, when the focus is on how someone looked thirty years ago. It also points out that perhaps my reading habits are not as rarified as they should be. But I find myself drifting that way more and more. A few years ago, I realized that I live in the reddest of the red states and thus my particular vote is generally more a protest than a meaningful ballot. Who really cares if the Republicans get 60% or 61% of the vote ?

But this realization set me free. If I can't influence the nation's events, I can at least enjoy them. It was at that point that I turned from the New York Times to the Daily News. I read the tabloids in any city I am in before I read a "real" newspaper.It is not only American writing at it's most colorful, but is also a histroy lesson. 100 years ago, all papers were like the Tabloids, except worse (better). Because they had to compete with each other, they had to be more colorful each day. The truth became incidental to the story.

We have come full circle on that now. Now, before the truth ever gets out it is micromanaged and "spun" by "handlers" so that only a controlled version of the truth ever emerges. What is a "controlled" version of the truth except another term for a lie. I prefer my lies "unspun", freshly delivered. That's why I prefer the tabloids. I get the same amount of truth, in a much more colorful package ! Why did Bill marry Hillary Mr. Spencer is alleged to have asked the Daily News reporter ? Because Bill knows that the plainest subject can be spun into a colorful package. The same reason I read the Daily News.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Scotty must wait

Mills of the gods

When I was attending what was was then called Jr. High School (the term Jr has been dropped from almost everything in the last 20 years, except for that Carl's hamburger place) the nerdier kids had a "Model Rocket Society". I say nerdier because I always hated to say smarter. At any rate, these kids built model rockets and sent them up into space, or as high as they could get, anyway. This seemed a pointless exercise to me, but upon reflection, was probably more productive than "slime surfing" down at Braes Bayou, which is how my friends and I spent our free time.

I would hope that a few from the old society were on hand this weekend competing for the part of the $2.5 million in prize money that went to the guy that could send up a spacecraft about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle 50 meters up and land it on a target one hundred meters away. The flight had to last 90 seconds.

50 meters does not sound very high. Mark and Rick Roland had those water powered blue plastic rockets that you would pump up and they could go pretty high. It seemed like 50 meters high. They did not go quite that high when Mark and Rick would rubberband lizards to them, but they still got up there.

All of this amatuer space stuff makes me nervous. I was brought up to believe that only the Federal government had any business messing around with rockets. It would have never crossed my mind that someone like Victoria Principal would put down hard money for a ride on a space craft "before the end of the decade." Isn't that something ? Can't you just hear John Kennedy say, "this nation, committs itself to send Pammie Ewing into space, by the end of this decade, and return her alive." ? And so much of it is centered in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I guess because of its proximity to Roswell. The people out there will believe just about anything. Riachard Branson, who I think is advertizing his space rides in the Christmas Edition of the Neiman Marcus Catalouge says he is going to fly his rockets out of Las Cruces.

But not all is well. The first commercial rocket launched out there fizzled out after a few seconds. Now officials have had to scrap the launch of the spacecraft which was to carry the ashes of James "Scotty" Doohan into the final frontier. That was to happen Saturday. No word on recscheduling or who has to hold
on to Scotty's ashes in the interim. The Houston based company who were planning the flight said that they had had people as far away as South Africa coming in for the flight, so the whole world is disappointed. But better safe than sorry. Can you imagine the angst in the trekkie community if the rocket baring Scotty were to explode upon takeoff ? Of course Letterman would be pretty funny for the next few nights.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Stopping School House Shootings

Mills of the gods

With all the tragedy we hear about , on a daily basis, the one that gets to me the most are shootings at schools. The President had a conference about it the other day, for all the good that will do. He probably brought Dick Cheney in (who specializes in shooting the elderly, not children) to announce that we have turned the corner on the school shooting crisis.

But now one candidate in this hopeless election season has a good idea. And it comes out of Oklahoma, a state not usually known for good ideas, unless they involve trick plays in a college football game.

Bill Crozier, a Republican candidate for state superintendent wants to place thick textbooks under every students chair so that they can be used as self defense in a shooting. Crozier has some experience in the matter, he is a teacher and former air Force Secirity Officer, and he has given this matter a lot of thought.Says Crozier "It might be a way to deflect those bullets until police arrive."

Crozier and a group of "aids" have even done a demonstration and produced a ten minute video of the defense plan. Crozier got himself an assault rifle and a 9mm pistol and then picked up a math book, a language book, and some telephone books. The rifle penetrated two books, but the pistol bullet was stopped buy a single book, although my sources do not say which book.My bet is on a math test.

As you might expect, "the man" in Oklahoma is skeptical. An Oklahoma Highway Patrolman said that there are some rifles that not even a large Webster's Dictinary will stop. Well, duh, I'm sure if some killer came in with a bazooka, all bets would be off. But we are not talking about perfect defenses here, just trying to provide a bit more help over something that apparently the nation's law enforcement agencies can't deal with.

Finally, a Republican with a plan, and one that won't cost much money. These kids need books anyway, from now on wh just make them a lot thicker. Each text will be at least the size of a big city telephone book, and studnets will be required to carry one with them at all times.

I believe that the plan could use a little refinement. It will cost a little more for text books, but how about mandatory steel casing on the front and back covers of all texts. Now the kids have a real fighting chance. And if we followed that up by issuing each kid a firearm, we would start having some fair fights in these classroom shootouts. In fact, we could just make it mandatory that the kids pop anyone who comes into the room during class that looks like he does not belong there. We may lose a parent, or a janitor or even a counselor somewhere along the way, but you have got to break some eggs to make an omlet.

School Superintendent ? Hell, Bill Crozier should be running for President.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Mills of the gods

Mills of the gods

The outlook sure seemed rocky
for the New York Mets last night.
The score stood three to one
with but one inning left to fight.

A straggling few got up to leave
but almost all the rest,
chose to stay, with that arrogance
that beats in New Yorker breasts.

They thought if only Beltran
could come up with men on base.
Surely he would hit that ball
way up to outer space.

Valentin, Chavez and Lo Duca
came up before Beltran,
and one was a Palooka
and the others "also rans".

But Lo Duca got a free pass
and to the wonder of them all
Valentin and Chavez got off their ass,
and tore the cover off the ball.

Then the mighty New York throng
let out a fearsone yell
as if old Lucifer himself
was bringing his bat right up from hell.

For strolling right up to the plate
now cheered by every fan.
just in time for Destiny's date,
came the greatest Met: Beltran.

100 million dollars
made that walk up to the plate.
100 million dollars,
carried New York's fate.

And now young Wainwright throws a pitch
right at Beltran's head.
But the pitch dived quickly downward,
"strike one !" the umpire said.

"Get that bat up off your shoulder,
a hit beats these Cardinal hicks",
screamed those fans who wanted the Series,
just like '86.

Then rookie Wainwright, he wound up
and another curve he threw.
And Carlos stood a watching it
as the umpire cried "Strike Two !"

50,000 on their feet,
not one of those fans sat,
and each each did yell, and then repeat,
"Carlos, swing the bat !"

And now young Wainwright holds the ball
and now he lets it go
and only Carlos Beltran,
thinks the pitch is low.

And as that last pitch crossed the plate
an inch above the knee,
Beltran stood to meet his fate,
and the umpired cried, "Strike three !"

Oh out in old St. Looie,
the fans will dance and shake,
but at the Shea, in Flushing,
it looks more like a wake.

And somewhere down in Texas,
a fan gives out a shout,
"he should have never left us !"
Carlos Beltran has struck out.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Foley Scandal comes full circle

Mills of the gods

Proving once again that all sexual scndals are in some way related, the Rev. Anthony Mercieca says he had an inappropriate two year relationship with former Congressman Mark Foley, when Foley was minor. At least he thinks he did, he does not remember. Foley( whose attorney had alluded to Priest abuse when the scandal initially broke) was unavailable for comment, as he is still cowering in a rehab center for his "alcoholism".

Father Mercieca, who was traced all the way to his exile home on the island of Gozo (geez, do they make this stuff up?) south of Sicily, said that he could not remember if he had sex with young Foley because "I was taking pills-tranquilizers. I used to take them all the time. They affected my mind a little bit."The Priest went on to say that there was one night when he was in a "drug induced stupor" that there was "an incident" but that he could not clearly remember. He does recall massaging the young(13) Foley while the boy was nude andalso remembers "skinny dipping" with the future congressman/pedophile at a a "secluded lake" in Lake Worth, Florida. He also remembers being nude in the same room with Foley on overnight trips. O.K., call me a conspiracy buff, but my guess is that something happened between the two.

Mercieca said that he and Foley became "fast friends" when he moved to Florida from Brazil (I'm betting Rio) and that they loved each other like brothers. Brothers that massage each other in the nude, anyway.This "brother" taught the young foley "some wrong things" related to sex. He sees now that the relationship was inappropriate. I guess back in the 60s, a simpler time, it was appropriate for Priests to take 13 year old boys on nude vacations on secluded lakes and teach them "wrong things"about sex. Mercieca is also quoted as saying, regarding Foley, " I wish him well, let bygones be bygones." Oh, O.K., as I noted yesterday, my motto is forgive and forget. But somehow I doubt that that's Foley's motto too.

Does all of this make any difference with regard to the collective revulsion for Foley, that even Republicans have joined in ? Well, maybe it is one of those things that explains but does not excuse.Still, it is funny how these things play out.Perhaps these Priest abuse things have lives of their own, endangering Congressional pages forty years after they occurred.Who knows what horrors were and are being perpetrated by former choir boys who managed to fall in with the wrong clerical crowd ? Makes you wonder, and maybe it explains a few things.

Noen of this is going to help the Father's career in the Catholic church. He is still an active Priest in Gozo, whaich I hasten to mention is a secluded little Island and probably perfect for the type of Jaunts that Mercieca is so good at. If I had a 13 year old Catholic boy in Gozo about now, I'd think about turning Methodist.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cracker Barrell to get ass sued

Mills of the gods

As I often point out in these pages, other lawyers always seem to get cases which are more fun than mine. The latests litigation I may have missed out on(I say may, because no suit has been filed yet) involves the mother of one of my comedic heros Chris Rock. It seems that mom, Rose Rock (what a great name) is going to sue the restaraunt chain Cracker Barrel for racial discrimination. Cracker Barrel has had trouble like this before,there was a federal inquiry over there alleged refusal to serve black patrons, discriminating against minority workers and the firing of gay employees.

The situation, as described by the report I read, sounds like a million dollar case if I ever heard one. Rose and her daughter stopped in at a Cracker Barrel in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. Murell's Inlet may or may not be named after former Astro outfielder Ivan"the terrible" Murrell, the single worst pinch hitter in Astros history, but I digress. Mrs and Ms. Rock were seated at the Cracker Barrel and then ignored for what they claim was half an hour. When Rose called over the manager and asked about the delay, she was told that their meals would be free. The reports I have read do not indicate whether the Rocks partook (is that a word ?) of the free meal, but based on what Roase said, I doubt it. "Neither of us wanted to eat."said Rose. Rose says that she and her daughter were the only people of African American descent in the restaraunt at the time.

Now litigation like this is pretty expensive as Cracker Barrel, despite their rube name is undoubtdly defended by some pretty high priced lawyers, lawyers that have been down this road with Cracker Barrel in the past. So to allay the disadvantage that Mrs Rose, the mother of a multi-millionaire, will suffer in the suit, the Rev. Al Sharpton is joining Rose in Charleston today to announce that "Sharpton's Action Committee" will finance the lawsuit. Well now we're getting somewhere. I like Al. He was my favorite Democratic Presidential candidate back in '04. He is not afraid to speak his mind and often does so in a humorous fashion. Rose could not be in better hands to guide her through the mine fields of the South Carolina Federal District Court.

Now every lawsuit has two sides to the story (they teach you that in law school). Cracker Barrel's defense may be that the Rocks were there during rush hour for the place and that some poor waitress got behind and just forgot them. Indeed, I have been in this situation dozens of times over my lifetime. I usually approach a waitress or the manager after about 15 minutes, or 10, depending on how hungry I am and announce that no one is waiting on me.In all the years I have been doing this, no one ever gave me my lunch for free. Maybe Cracker Barrel's defense will be that they screwed up and offered what they thought was just compensation.

Now Rose's side of the story is different. She will say that they sat in the place half an hour, the only black people there, and watched while people seated after them got waited on and served. Then, when they finally talked to the manager about it, he did not call the waitress over to get an explanation, but just offereed them a free meal to get her off their back.Oh yeah, she will also point out that Cracker Barrel has had this type of thing happen in the past, that the restaraunt is named after "Crackers" and that the violation took place in South Carolian, home of the late racist Senator Strom Thurmond and , perhaps not so coincidentally, the first state to secede from the Union after Lincoln was elected.

Both sides would be correct on all counts. Cracker Barrel's case is not being helped by the foot dragging of the South Carolian Human Affairs Commission in handling her complaint. It was filed on August 7. Jesse Washington, the head of the commissiom said that "We get thousands of charges coming through here in the course of a year" and that the time line for this case is not out of the ordinary. Boy, if Rose is mad about waiting 60 days for the Commission to do something, just wait until she gets to experience the speed and efficency of the Court system.

Sharpton, for his part, says that he is getting reports from "all over the country" about Cracker Barrel. He does not elaborate on the reports, perhaps some are about their chicken fried steak. I was shocked to learn that Cracker Barrel has over 500 restaraunts in 41 states. That is an impressive number considering that they don't serve racial minorities or gays. That cuts out about a third of the population of the country so far. The only way they can succede is if every white guy in the country eats there once a week or so.

I myself have never been to a Cracker Barrel. I tried on one occasion to pull into one when I was very hungry and on a driving trip, but my wife refuesed to allow it. She told me, and this is the honest to God truth, "do you really think that service would be any good in a place called Cracker Barrel ? " she knew what she was talking about. Al, give me a call, I can take on the case.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Republicans worst nightmare

Mills of the gods

Well in a political season where Republican Congressmen are running away from George Bush, Denny Hastert, and anything resembling a teenage page, the party has finally hit rock bottom. Iron Mike Tyson is out actively campaigning for Michael Steele, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maryland.Do you realize how far a party's fortunes have fallen when you would rather have a convicted rapist campaign for you than the President of the United States ? The circumstances of the endorsement were further dignified by having it announced at a press conference where Tyson announced that he was planning an exhibition boxing tour " for fun, and to raise money for charity". He says he "very seriously" wants to fight women boxers on the tour. Wonder if he is raising money for safe houses for battered women on this tour ?

Steele, who is the Lt. Governor of Maryland seems to be having enough trouble without this type of intervention. I have read stories indicating that this black Republican has been pelted with oreos while he was speaking, and that there is some group circulating his picture in traditional minstrel show "black face" ,proving beyond all doubt that America is a two jackass party country. Equal political opportunity for both Republicans and Democrats to sink as low as possible in attemting to gain control of both houses of Congress.

But back to Tyson. Mike says that he is not the same (bad) man. He is clearly not the same fighter, if he has to challange girls. Everyone deserves a second chance, and Mike has had about a dozen of them. So I will not stoop so low as to suggest that Democratic operatives in Maryland start wearing ear protection during the campaign. That would be a very cheap shot. The fact that Tyson once bit off an opponent's ear is no indication that he would do such a thing again, just as the fact that he once raped a woman and went to jail for it is no indication that he is some kind of a sex criminal who should have to register as such in any state he lives in. Forgive and Forget, that's my motto. If he wants to join the Republcan Party, more power to him. He and Foley will soon have a lot in common, two Republicans who have gone to jail for sex crimes.And think of him and Arnold and wrestling coach Denny Hasseret on the same bill together. A triple tag team group that could out fight, out wrestle and out bite anything that the Democrats have to offer.If we sent these three to Iraq we could get that thing straightened out pretty quick.That's been Bush's problem all along, he thinks too small. Here he has immediate access to guys who are practically super heroes and he won't use them outside of the political process. What a waste of talent.

So as we limp along toward election day, this is what American democracy has come to. This is what George demands we export to the Middle East. Do you the Arabs ever look over here and wonder what the big deal is ?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Last Call for Psycho

Mills of the gods

Steve "Psycho" Lyons, a former ball player who once removed his pants during a baseball game, was fired from his broadcasting job at Fox for making a "racially insensitive" remark. I'm not sure if the remark was racially insensitive or not, because I did did not hear it, and really have a hard time telling from the context it was in. I also have had the misfortune of viewing Mr Lyon's TV attempts before and sort of doubt that anyone can interpret some of his "psycho babble" clearly enough to determine that a racist remark was made. As I understand it, one of his broadcast partners, Lou Pinnella, who could really hit, but is like listening to a bar of soap analyze a game, had said a couple of things in Spanish, I think fuego and frio. Prior to the statements, Pinella had been relating his personal philosophy of managing, which he does well, despite three or four firings, and indicating that just because you are lucky one day, you should not expect that the same move will bring you luck the next. What he said was, "just because you find a wallet on a Friday, does not mean that you can count on finding one next week." or something like that. Psycho responded by intimating that he did not quite understand what Pinnela was saying, using the term "hablaing the espanol" and was worried about his own wallet because he wasa sitting so near Pinella. The implication people are drawing is that Pinella, being of some Hispanic origin (I always thought he was Italian) might steal Psycho's wallet.

I do not get that, but again, I did not hear the exchange, and I doubt Fox will have it in their playoff highlights package. I guess using the term "hablaing" could be considered insensitive to the Spanish speaking, especially in the context of baseball's history of making fun of the way Hispanics speak English. When I grew it, it was common for sports writers to quote Spanish speaking players by trying to capture their accent and English mistakes.I used to hear my broadcast hero, Gene Elston, say that certain players did not "habla the Ingles" very well. That never struck anyone at the time as racist, or funny. He was just using Spanish words. But again, I did not hear what Lyons said and he may have gone further than Elston, or as a society, we may have passed Elston's particular sesnitivities.

I will say this, the only reason that you hire a crummy ex-ballpalyer named Psycho to broadcast your games is that you hope he will do the oral equivalent of removing his pants in the broadcast booth. Fox Network, of all groups, should not be too sanctimonious about things like this, since they appear to me to be racially insensitive in their news coverage on an almost daily basis. Years ago CBS had the brilliant idea of hiring a Las Vegas type bookie named "Jimmy the Greek" to appear on their pre-game show and pick winners against the line for the betting fan. The guy was an absolute slob. He got into a fist fight with another idiot braodcaster, Brent Musburger and when he managed to survive that, granted an interview, while drunk, to some fly by night camera crew(at a restaraunt) and proceeded to tell America, from his historical/genetic perspective why black athletes in the NFL were better than white athletes. He was promptly fired, but CBS got what they deserved for hiring the son of a bitch.

The great liberal Howard Cossell once referred to the excellent but smallish Washington Redskin receiver, Art Monk, as "the little monkey".This created a firestorm as Mr Monk was African American. Cossell claimed that it was a term of endearment that he called his grandchildren. He also pointed out that he was just about the only news guys who backed Muhammed Ali when the whole country thought he was an evil traitor for changing his name and not wanting to go to Viet Nam. Cossell survived the firestorm and no one ever mentioned the fact that Art Monk played on a team that uses the most blatantly racist name imaginable, the "Redskins".

I was watching the day the former NBA star Rick Barry offended his broadcast partner the greater NBA star Bill Russell by commenting on the "watermelon grin" Russell displayed in an old picture being shown to the audience. The term "watermelon grin" refers to the way a length sliced watermelon section resembles a smiling mouth, and has nothing to do with race. The fact is, that there are just some words and phrases which can not be use because they might be misunderstood. The term niggardly has not been used in years because it just sounds wrong. Even typing the word , when you know the definition, and know it has nothing to do with race, makes you nervous. Anyway, that was pretty much it for Rick Barry's national broadcast career. There were others. Tom Brookshire, a former NFL player, broadcast analysis, and (I thought) violence freak, bit the big one when he commented that the Louisville basketball team looked like they had "a collective I.Q. of about six." No one ever mentioned that that was double Mr Brookshire's I.Q. (when defenses were called for roughing the passer, Brookshire used to opine that they ought to put "little dresses" on Quarterbacks and not let anyone touch them).

At any rate, I will not miss Psycho (unless it means that I have to hear more from Mr Pinella). I note that Fox replaced Psycho with a guy who has an Hispanic surname. so that should square accounts. But by next year, fox will come up with some new controversial flavor of the month for the broadcast booth and then claim shock and dismay when he does something stupid on the air.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Great Time to be fat

Mills of the gods

All my life I have been lucky in the medical sense. I was a small child when the polio vaccine was invented. I have witnessed (and will not tell you if I have participated or not) i drug revolutions that have cut down depression, baldness and impotence. I have seen over all cancer survival odds climb to 50/50 and in some specific cancers beat 90%. Procedures have been invented to make every test for every malady less intrusive, less painful and less expensive. O.K., that last one was a big lie, but believe me, if you ever had a kidney stone you would be happy to pay for the procedure. Now comes the next big break through.

Bariatric Surgery is about to become simpler than a tonsilectomy. That's right, stomach stapling to combat obesity will, within a few years, be done with a tube inserted through the mouth instead of requiring an incision. The concept behind bariatric surgery was always pretty simple. If you make the stomach smaller, you will not be able to eat as much. my theory was that it would be a lot cheaper and just as effective to staple a good portion of the mouth shut, but the idea never caught on. Now doctors say they will be able to do stomach staples in the office. Hell, the procedure will probably be over the counter within a couple of years.

How is this being accomplished ? Natural orifice transendoscopic surgery (or 'NOTE") requires no cutting because it will use long tubes with robotic arms and staple guns to go through the mouth and down the esophagus and into the stomach. If you are like me, a couple of things stand out from this explanation. First, any procedure with the word "orifice" in it makes me clench up just a bit. I don't know a lot, but I know that pretty far down the list of things I'd like to have done to me, would be having a robot stick its arm up a certain one of my orifices while the robot held a staple gun in said arm. Indeed, the story I read indicates that these insurments can be inserted through the (gulp) rectum.

The second issue is the staple gun. A staple gun ? You want to stick a staple gun up my rear and trust R2D2 over there to staple my stomach together ?Now these doctors (who are from Cleveland mind you) assure us that using the rectum, or any other natural orifice drives the risk of surgery way down. Maybe for the patient. I'm pretty sure that the risk to the surgeon goes way up, the closer that robot gets to my rectum."Gaining access to the organ you want to work with is half the trauma" said one of the doctors. Well a staple gun up the rear is not going to improve that statistic any. You want to talk about "trauma", it is traumatic just to consider the possibility.

But assuming that natural queasiness to the procedure can be overcome, we may be seeing the end of obesity. That is, if the procedure is approved. And there are hundreds of well paid lobbyests out there, representing everything from the fast food industry, the diet pill industry and the national gym chains to the maufacturers of plus fashions fashions who are going to try to stop this. Our economy can not exist at its present level without a third of the population being obese. Can't be done. Who would buy the commercial time on cable channels ? What would Burger King do if no human stomach could hold a Big Mac (much less the fries) ? What fun would that TV show, where everyone loses weight be ? Then before you know it, the technology will be used overseas and our primary American exports (Frito/Lay, McDonalds,Coca-Cola) are finished. The American way of life will be over. Think about that before you let that robot arm near you.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Complexion of Jupiter worsening

Mills of the gods

Having decided that Pluto is not a planet, International Astromomers have now turned their attention to the face of Jupiter. I have been familair for a long time with the giant red spot on Jupiter. It turns out that there is another spot, although this one is smaller.A year ago this spot was white. something has inflamed it as it is now very red and getting redder. This spot, known in the science community as (I kid you not) the "little red spot" is, in all probability, like its larger name sake (the great red spot) a big storm (of what ? blood ?). Why the spots are now both red, no one knows for sure. From the images I have seen, they resemble pimples on the surface of a face.

The little red spot, also known as Oval BA is also getting smaller. Why ? Well as explained by one astronomer, think of an ice skater (I always think of that East German babe) when they spin around, if they put their hands close to their body they spin faster and faster.I am not sure quite what this scientist is telling us. Does the little red spot have hands ? Is it ice skating ? This mystery is par for the course for Jupiter. As they same astronomer went on to say "We found that Jupiter tends to do interesting things when it is behind the sun and we can't see it." Other than changing spot colors, I wonder what else Jupiter does when hidden by the sun ? You'd think Jupiter was big enough to figure it could do whatever it is going to do tight out there in the open, and not hide behind the sun. What does it have to be scared of ? Venus ? Or maybe Jupiter just has a puckish sense of humor and the next time that it emerges from behind the sun it will no longer be a giant planet but a large labrador retriever.Or maybe it's spots will now be green, or will have switched from ice skating to inline skating or even skate boarding. That Jupiter ! What a scamp. Of course, Jupiter being the largest of the planets should not be encouraging this type of horse play. All the planets get hidden behind the sun sometimes. We could end up with a whole new solar system if every planet took their place in the sky as casually as Jupiter. It starts with red spots and the next thing you know there are genuine changes in the order of the solar system. Imagine if earth suddenly started getting hotter. why there could be breaking up of the ice caps and more severe hurricanes in the Atlantic and flooding of our coastal cities. ....Nah, that could never happen.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mills of the gods

Mills of the gods

We seem to be getting away from the North Korean bomb news cycle and getting back to more important matters. Such as a "scuffle" between the actors on Grey's Anatomy" who portray Dr McDreamy and Dr Burke. Now that's real news.

The newsies call it a scuffle, here in the law we call it other things, "assault", "agravated assault", perhaps "attempted murder". It seems that after a heated exchange, Dr Burke grabbed Dr. McDreamy by the throat. I know that this is true because it was reported in my personal newspaper of record, The New York Daily News.

Show publicist (spinmesiter) Cynthia Snyder said (from the safety of her Washington D.C. office, 3,000 miles from the fray). "Differences are inevitable,they were aired,resolved and everyone moved on." I guess by aired she means by grabbing one party by the throat which in my industry is not called "aired" but "choking". Dr. McDreamy's publicist (the publicist of the chokee)put it even better. "In a close knit family, sometimes people argue." Yeah, some close knit families, they used to argue like that in the Manson family sometimes. But then as the publicist went on to say "everybody made up and went back to work."

Suppose you were in the care of a close knit "medical" family (like these guys play on television) and in their work space (your operating room) one of the surgeons put down a scalpel and came across the table in an attempt to choke the other . Or suppose you were in court, and one of your attorneys grabbed your other lawyer by the throat because of "family differences"? How would you feel ?

Not content to rely on such objective sources as the paid publicists of the parties involved, information was also sought from a "T.V. Historian" and author of the "Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable shows", Tim Brooks (I don't know if that is Dr Brooks or not, I don't know where these T.V. historians are educated.) Brooks adds, "Diva like conduct is not unusual." Equating this activity somehow with Cher, I guess, who seldom strangled Sonny (at least on the air). This "historian" then went on to say that anything that harms an actor's appearance can affect their work and added , enigmatically, "Dr. McDreamy needs his cheekbones, real violence can lead to fictional violence that can end your job."Not being a TV historian, I can't speculate as to whether real violence can lead to fictional violence. I can't specualte as to that because I don't know what the hell it means. Isn't fictional violence more likely to lead to real violence than vice versa ? Once you have strangled someone, is there really a need to write a story about it ? And what the hell does that have to do with Dr McDreamy's cheeckbones ?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Price of Pestering

Mills of the gods

I awoke this morning hoping to see Dianh Sawyer's hard hitting interview with Mel Gibson (commercials had shown her provacativey asking Mel "Just how drunk were you ? " and then the second camera showed Mel with a "deer in the headlights" look pondering his response). But instead I found out that Noirth Korea had said that any more pressure from the United States would be considered an act of war which would draw a physical response. Of course this set the media off on a nuclear frenzy and I never got to find out exactly how drunk Mel was.

Interestingly, some of the translations of what the North Koreans said used the term "pestering". Any further "pestering"would draw a physical response. This means one of two things. either my mother is running North Korea, or North Koreans are a little too sensitive to pestering.

When I was young, my mother was the only person I knew who consistently used the term pestering, and even then she used it only with relation to the interaction of my brother and I."Stop pestering him" she would yell at one or the other of us,
usually not because she cared about the pestering, but more about the incessant whinning response the pestering drew from he who was being pestered. "Mom, make him stop." The pestering often took place on long car rides which, back in the pre airconditioned car, pre interstate highway days were more akin to Wagon Train rides than the smooth sailing we do today. In my family this was exacerbated by the fact that my brother and I took long trips in the back of station wagons, with the back seat folded down. This created a fairly large play pen area and contributed to more horse play than is now allowable today in the age of seat belts. Sometimes we would pester each other all the way to Dallas.Since both of us were prone to car sickness if we read in the car, the hours would sort of lay heavy on us after awhile, and pestering would ensue.

I checked the term pestering in the dictionary this morning and found that it mean to "annoy constantly with petty irritants". That's how my mom used it. If the pestering continued, it might rate her turning around in the car and slapping one of us on the leg. But the idea of responding to pestering with a nuclear bomb would have struck her, as well as my brother and I as somewhat out of porportion to the crime.

Actually, pestering originally meant to shackle a horse in a pasture and eventually evolved to any type of foot shackling. I have only known this for about three minutes and so have not had much time to reflect as to whether this is what the North Koreans really meant. "Stop shackling our feet" Now that I can understand would be slightly more irritating than giving your brother an "Indian Rub" in the back of a 1956 Chevrolet Station Wagon (I guess today they are Native American rubs) ot taking away his "Fantastic Four" comic book before he had a chance to finish it. But we have not been doing any foot shackling over there, have we ? What we should really do to solve this problem is get my mother involved.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Price of Promiscuity

Mills of the gods

CNN reports this morning that Scarlett Johannson claims not to be "promiscuous". She said a lot of other things in this interview that no one would care about, but her claimed lack of promiscuity made the headline.

This is the world we live in. A world where the largest and best funded news agency in the world puts out stories, front and center, that Scarlett Johannson gets tested for sexually transmitted diseases twice a year because it is part of being a "decent human being" to do so and it is "just disgusting" not to do so. Now I get an aids test now and then, in fact, I get one every time I apply for a Life Insurance policy. It has never crossed my mind to get tested twice a year. My dentist has a hard time getting me in to see him twice a year. Now I do believe that some people should be tested twice a year. People who are, oh shall be say PROMISCUOUS. People who are having unprotected sex with serial partners. Whose disgusting now Ms. Johannson ?

The interview goes on to say that " I do think that by basic instinct we are animals and we breed accordingly." Well she's right on both counts. We are mammals and our sexual reproduction techniques are essentially the same as our fellow primates. The differences are more in technique than kind. Indeed, it appears that aids rose from the "lower" primates, whom , if they had followed Ms. Johannson's advice and gotten themselves tested a couple of time a year, could have saved we "higher" primates a lot of trouble.

At any rate, Ms. Johannson strikes me as a bit paranoid. That probably happens when you are followed around by camera men 24 hours a day.She says in the interview "there seems to be some belief out there that I am sexually available." Well there probably is a belief like that down at her neighbothood aids clinic. They see her so often she probably has one of those frequent purchaser cards and gets every tenth test for free.She then goes on to say that she is "open minded about sex" but that she would not say that she is a "serial monogomist"Then she intriguingly says, "I mean, I went through periods of time when I was, ah single." It is the "ah" that you wonder about, was it an "ah" where she was pausing to think of the next word (single) ? or was it more an "ahh" or even an "uh" emphasising the word "single" in order to heavily imply that there have been times in her life when she was, ah, PROMISUOUS ?

Some days I wonder if we would be better off if North Korea just went ahead and bombed the whole lot of us.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Welcome to the club !

Mills of the gods

At about 1:36 this morning,GMT, the eight members of the nuclear club welcomed a new pledge. Congratulations North Korea ! The North Koreans have tested a ten to fifteen k. bomb underground there and now have the power to make life miserable for all of Northeast Asia. And if they can manufacture a bomb small enough to fit on their missle, for us here in the good old USA also, since there missles have the range to hit New York City.

Here it is, barely 55 years after good old Doug McArthur proposed using nukes against them in the Korean war, they are ready for a rematch. If what I read online is true, the whole world has been thrown into disarray. China, Japan, Australia and our man George W. Bush have all condemned this (all are in the range of North Korean missile fire). But as they used to say when I was young, once the nuclear genie is out of the bottle, there's not much you can do about it. I keep hearing about sanctions against the North Koreans. That will show them. we here in the U.S. will stop buying all of our,...... wait a minute, we don't buy anything from the North Koreans anyway. What do they manufacture over there, other than plutonium I mean ? What sanctions are going to hurt them ?

Of course I blame W for all of this, if his party had spent a little more time watching Asia, and a little less time stalking underage congressional pages, we would not be in this situation. But with an election coming up four weeks from tomorrow, there is still a chance to pull an October surprise that will show those bastards and maybe keep the House of Representatives safe for another two years of pedophiling.If only Doug McArthur were still around. His son lives in Greenwich Village in New York and I am told would not be much help in this type of situation, if you know what I mean. So W is on his own. He and Conde can strap on those bullet proof vests and kick some serious Korean Ass. How many bombs can they have made ? We have millions. In the words of George C. Scott, I'm not saying that we won't get our hair mussed, by I am talking about only10-20 million dead Americans, tops ! And then when those Iranians see what happens to countries that defy our will, they will think twice about that little enrichment program they have got brewing over there. We have spent trillions on all of these weapons and have not fired one in anger since we bombed Nagasaki 61 years ago (and helped liberate Korea). It['s time to get a little return on our investment.Kimchi anyone ?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

God's tough love

Mills of the gods

I just finished reading Rabbi Kushner's new book, "How to Deal with Life's Disappointments". I have read most all of Kushner's previous books and have found them to be be about as helpful as books by a theologian can be. They are well written, concise and always are able to let me see many of life's problems in a new light. This book is no different, in it, he looks at the life of Moses as a sort of template for the great disappointments all of us have over the course of a lifetime.

At one time or another, I am sure that I have read all that the Hebrew Scriprture has to say about the life of Moses. However, because my most frequent contact with Moses comes with the yearly showing of the "Ten Commandments" I tend to forget a great deal that was written about him, focusing only on the flair for the dramatic that he and God used while getting the Hebrews out of Egypt. That's great stuff, but if you go back and read the text, you will find that Moses's greatest moments had nothing to do with the plauges of Egypt or the parting of the Red Sea. Moses' greatest achievement was to act as a mediator (for forty years!) between a whining Hebrew population and their hot tempered, trigger happy God, Ywh. It is a miracle that anyone ever got to the promised land, and indeed, of those who left Egypt, only two of hundreds of thosands did make it. The rest persished along the way but were replaced by the equally whining and malcontented children of the original exodus.

No sooner had Moses got the Hebrews out and away from Egypt than they started their incessant crying about how tough things were. These were people who had been in bondage for several hundred years and had even been reduced to gathering their own straw to make the bricks they were forced to manufacture while working on the various construction project of Ramses (Yul Brenner). They had also recently passed through a time where all of their baby sons were killed and further had had to put up with about as many indignaties as any people should be made to suffer. Yet, a couple days out into the desert and it was nothing but bitch, bitch, bitch "Why did you lead us out to the desert to die? ""At least in Egypt we had bread and onions and melon and garlic, here all we get is manna. " And how did the eternally patient Ywh react to this grumbling ? Well, first he had to be talked out of wiping out the whole lot of them by Moses. Moses esentially described to Yawh how foolish he would look as a God who rained ruin on the Egyptians in order to take the Hebrews out into the desert to kill them. Yawh silently concedes the point and then proceeds to send serpents into the camp to kill a good number of them. Serpents ! Can't you hear Moses ? "I am tired of these mother fucking snakes in this mother fucking desert."

Not long afterwords, Moses spends about a month up on Siani being lectured to by Yawh, who eventually handins over the ten commandments to Moses. The Hebrews, left behind, believe that Moses has abandoned them, so talk Moses brother Aaron into making them a golden calf that they can worship (no sense taking any chances out in the desert of getting caught without a god). Ywh gets wind of this and orders Moses down the mountain to punish everyone. Moses throws down the stone ten commandments and breaks them. Then he makes Aaron grind the calf into powder, which he mixes with water and makes everyone drink some. Hmmm. This does not placate Ywh who then has several thousand people killed as punishment. By the way, Aaron, the sculptor of the golden calf somehow beats the rap.

On and on this goes for forty years. Ywh, who promised this land of milk and honey to the ancestors of these people, spends a lot of time trying to figure out how to welch on the deal. Further, it turns out that Ywh has forgotten to mention to the Hebrews that this land they have been promised is already occupied by dozens of different peoples, all of whose nationalities end with the term "ites". The Hebrews are somewhat scared of the prospect of clearing these folks out, but Ywh insists and essentially has the Hebrews wipe them all out, whenever possible, man, woman and child.Then, once the Hebrews have cleared out most resistance, Ywh decides that it is time for Moses to die because Moses is not allowed to enter the promised land. This goes back to a rather petty mistake Moses made when he struck a stone, instead of talking to it, in order to get his whinning charges some water. This Ywh, who has managed to kill just about everyone who started out with him on this adventure, as well as have killed all of those who had made the mistake of living on their own family's property, punishes Moses for striking an inanimate object. In Ywh's defense, I have neglected to tell the story of the donkey whom he gave the ability to speak so that he could ask his master "why the hell do you keep beating me ?", so Ywh did have some symapthy for the downtrodden of some species. But Moses, who time and time again, has saved his people from the over reactions of the All Mighty, and in doing so, by the way, saved Ywh the possibility of continuing to be worshiped, is on the outside looking in as the people go into Cannan. And irony of ironies, as the Hebrews go into the promised land, Ywh is already muttering that the time will soon come when they will screw up again and so Ywh will have to destroy and/or disperse many of them.

This is what is known as tough love, I guess. History does not record that it did much good as, indeed, the Hebrews continued to irritate Ywh. But, over time, Ywh mellowed a bit. He sort of stopped much of the direct intervention, such as with serpents, and went over to sort of a passive agressive formula. One that you could argue that he is still maintining today. As for the people, we have never stopped whining.In many ways the whining has gotten worse. And the richer you are, it seems, the more likely you are to whine. "At least in Eygpt we had bread and melons and garlic and onions." And not so many of these mother fucking snakes.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Can life get better ?

Mills of the gods

No sooner do I find a study, by the Irish Medical Society , recommending that I drink of alcohol a day for my heart, than the Scripps Research Institute out in San Diego issues even better findings. It seems that the active ingredient in marijuana is more effective than any commercially marketed drug in staving off alzheimers disease. Can life get any better ? Four drinks and a joint a day, all for my health. It seems that THC is going to lead to the more effective treatment to the disease that causes memory loss, impaired decision-making ablity and diminished language and movement skills. Wait a minute.

It has been a long time since I smoked any marijuanan (honest) but there are some things I remember about it. Like its effects on me. It used to cause memory loss, impaired decision making ability and diminished language and movement skills.It may just be me (maybe because I'm stoned) but aren't the things that grass does to me the same things I want to avoid in alzheimers ? I remember once my friend and supplier Bobby Rayburn and I decided to cook some food after smoking a joint. We had a real hard time getting the meal started and then we went and sat down and forgot we were cooking. At one point I mentioned to Bobby that I thought that there was something we were supposed to do. Bobby responded with one of the classic statements of my adolesence, " Oh Wade, everything is so dumb, let's just blow it off." So we did, until we saw smoke coming from his parent's kitchen. Because of our diminished movement skills and frankly, total loss of responsibility, it took us awhile to get things under control and get the kitchen cleaned up. This is the kind of thing you always hear happening to an Alzheimer's patient. So as near as I can see, the researchers have probably not found a way to prevent alzheimers through the use of marijuana, they have just hidden the symptoms, by getting you to ingest a drug which causes the same symptoms as the disease you are trying to fight. So if you start a marijuana regimen early enough in life, no one will ever know if you have alzheimers, because your behavior will be exactly the same no matter how old you get !

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Beam me Up !

Mills of the gods

I like to joke from time to time about my complete lack of understanding of anything involving mathamatics or science. The fact of the matter is that I never got past Geometry and Biology I in high school, and it took me longer than the normal student just to get past those. I never attempted another math course, although I took Into to Geology and Intro to Astronomy in college with undistinguished results. Throughout my life I have often wondered if I am really that incompetent in those areas, or just lazy. I bought a book by Albert Einstein some years ago. This very slim volume was written by Einstein in order to explain the two theories of relativity to a non-technical audience. Einstein felt that a person with a high school education could understand the theories. Maybe. I know that after two attempts to read the book, a person with a law degree can not understand them.

This comes up this morning because scientists at the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark have managed to teleport an object to a distance of about half a meter. Now the object is a macroscopic object containing "thousands of billions of atoms". The article I read does not say what this macroscopic item is. This is troubling in that I would like to know what is being picked up and whisked away for half a meter. I would like to know what was transported because I will never know how it was transported. Eugene Polzik (apparently the "Scotty" of the 21st century) says that "Our method involves entwining two or more particles without physical contact. " So, in other words, it's like a game of Twister, where no one touches ? Well, no, it turns out that this entwinement is really the result of Quantum "entanglement" which involves entwining two or more particles without physical contact. But the real breakthrough is that the teleporting went between light and matter. This had never been done before. Since I don't understand what that means, that particular portion of the breakthrough lacks much of an impact on me.

But if I understand what I am reading, we, or at least the Danish, are now making real inroads into Star Trek like transporting. Something so important that it would rival the Monkee-mail as a scientific breakthrough. Imagine doing away with the whole notion of time and distance when it comes to travel. Want to go to Australia, but have not got the nervous stability for a fifteen hour flight ? Now you can just be beamed there. That is assuming that the process works on humans and can be made to go further than half a meter at a time. Can you imagine ? You will be able to sleep late every day because you won't have to commute to work. You will never have to sit in a traffic jam and miss a kickoff of a football game. You will be able to beam down onto other planets to seek out adventure, and boldly go where no man has gone before. And this will all be possible if the Danish will share their research with us. That should be no problem. They were very free all of these years in sharing their pastries with us. This seems to be much more important to the world than a Prune Danish. But what if they don't ? That means that the Danish will rule the world, that's what that means. Beaming in armies without having to physically invade a country. Beaming in bombs without having to fly them over. Can you live in a Danish dominated world ? A people who are known only for their furniture (and even then only the "modern version of it) and the statue of the Little Mermaid in their capitol of Copenhagen ? What do you know about the Danish ? Nothing, unless you have seen the Danny Kaye movie "Hans Christian Andersen". They don't really fight wars anymore or show up much in the Olympics or over at the U.N. And these guys could well be running the whole show in a matter of a few years (or days for all we know). Really makes you think. All those years kissing up to the Arabs when just a small investment in Denmark would have solved all of our problems. Hope we are not too late. Skoal ! or is it Copenhagen ?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Checking Out if I can Check In

Mills of the gods

I have been calling some rehabilitation centers around town, seeing if I can set up an open ended check in. I have noticed over the last few weeks that politicians and Hollywood types are able to defuse bad publicity, and hide themselves from the press, by immediatly checking into an alcohol rehabilitation facility the minute after they do something stupid. Now this sounds like a good idea, but it would not be so easy for you and me. In places in the real world, like Texas, there are pretty limited bed numbers at a rehabilitation facility, and you don't check into them like you would a Holilday Inn, in the middle of the night and without luggage. You have to have a Doctor check you in, which usually entails a lot of tests and prior treatment. So my plan is to go ahead and announce that I am an alcoholic now to take care of the preliminaries. That way when I e-mail a teenage boy with untoward suggestions, or make an anti-semetic remark to a cop, I too can get the executive check in.

Sometime in the 70s or 80s the term "alcoholic" with all its connotations of personal weakness (He's an alcoholic) turned into alcoholism. Alcoholism to many people now is tragic, in the nature of alzheimers (unless you kill a kid while driving). We cut lots of slack to over imbiders, it's a disease you know. It's in the genes, they can't help it. And for all I know, they can't.

But when I was growing up, it was different. An alcoholic (and this term was ascribed only to the worst of drunks) was more like a thief or a bum. In fact, he often was a thief or a bum. The heavy drinker of my childhood was Otis Campbell, the town drunk of Mayberry.But I don't think that the people of Mayberry thought that Otis was an alcoholic.Their objection to his drinking was more religious/social. Mayberry was located in a dry county and you had to go up the highway to a restaraunt to get a drink. I once saw Andy order a beer at the place. Being a dry county, Otis was supplied by the moonshiners who made up the bulk of serious crime in Mayberry.

At any rate, my plan is to show up at bars now , several times a week and drink a little and get very loud. This will cement my reputaion as I slide down hill and enable everyone to nod their head knowingly when news spreads that I have done something really stupid, and then quickly checked into rehab. This will not be as hard as you might think. I currently average about two drinks a week, but have found a study by a medical group that suggests up to four drinks a day for those 55 and older. Now I am not 55, but close enough. The idea is that since we now know that moderate alcohol is helpful in avoiding heart attacks, the older you get, the more you need for it to be helpful The problem with the study is it's sponsor. The Irish Medical Society. Four drinks a day by someone 55 years of age or older in Ireland would be cutting back on consumption quite a bit. The study might have figured that in and given the avearge Irish parient a little more lee way. But a study is a study. So if I start drinking four Jameson's a day in a downtown bar here in Austin, I'm pretty sure I can have an alcoholic reputation inside of a month. Then I report to my physician my sudden intake urges and get him worried, so that when I need to be admitted, he can grease the wheels and get me right in !

From that point on I'm bullet proof.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

One Big Correction for mankind

Mills of the gods

Thirt seven years ago, I sat in my parents living room and watched Neil Armstrong take his first step out on the moon. The statement he then uttered baffled me. I though that I heard him say "That's one smal step for man, one giant leap for mankind. " Huh ? How could man make a small step, but the same step be a giant leap for man(kind) ? Of course, the betting up until them was that, in the words of comedian Robert Klein, that the first words on the moon would be "Coca Cola !". So no one made a big fuss over it. When he got back to earth, Armstrong insisted that he hadd said "That's one small step for A man, one giant leap for mankind." Well, that made more sense, it was grammatical and had a certain mix of pride and self deprecation. But unfortuantly for Neil, we had the recording, he didn't say that. I have litened to that recording 100 times or more over the last 37 years, trying to listen for static that might heve wiped out that all important "A". Never heard it.I assumed that Neil's heart had been in the right place, but that he had screwed up. He had a lot on his mind that day.

Now comes word that thanks to some scientist, well, a computer programer, evidence has been uncovered that Armstrong actually uttered the missing word and that the word was transmitted to earth. This is, to say the least, amazing to someone like me who does not understand how to use a toaster oven. The recording that the fellow worked with was not an original. As I reported in this space during the summer, NASA has acknpwledged that they can't find any of the original Apollo 11 transmissions. That is somewhat like saying that the National Archieves has mislaid the original copy of the Constitution, but let us judge not.....

What now worries me is that this programer will start going through all kinds of old recordings and find out that what we think people said, may have been quite different from what they actually said, such as,

"The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself, and spiders, I hate those creepy little things." F.D.R.

"Mr Gorbachav, tear down this wall, and replace it with a nice brick wall with ivy, a little like Wrigley Field." Ronald W. Reagan

" I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky, because I believe that the word sex refers only to intercourse and does not mean oral sex or any other type of intimate gratification between a man and a woman." William Jefferson Clinton.

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country, and for you young ladies, ask specifically what you can do for and to your President."J.F.K.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Life's mistakes

Mills of the gods

It probably will not shock anyone who reads this missive that I know nothing about the use of my cell phone. I can answer it when it rings, which is seldom because I don't ever turn it on. I can make a call with it, most of the time, but that is the sum total of my knowledge. I know it can text message and has voice mail and some kind of an address book in it and I think some games and God knows what else. None of these do I know how to use.

This morning, for some reason, I had my phone in my front pocket when I sat behind the wheel to start my car. Something bumped into a spot on the phone and I heard an electronic type noice I had never heard before. Then from my pocket I heard a voice say "you have four voice mails". At that point I pulled my phone out of my pocket and began to listen. All of the voice mails were close to a week old, or older. all were things that I knew about and thus must have found out about after the voicemail was sent. This affirmed my practice of not trying to learn about the voice mail capabilities, every voicemail sender finds you eventually. But one of the voice males was a woman's voice I had never heard before.

The unknown woman, who did not identify herself, was leaving a message for someone, apologizing profusely for something she had said earlier that day. I think that the voice was trying to contact her sister because much of the message had to do with problems with "mom". I felt bad that the message had been sent to the wrong person. I began to feel like my lack of cell phone skills could lead to an unfortunate breach between two siblings widening. "You never said you were sorry. ", "Yes I did, I left you a very long voice mail.", "well I never got it", "well I left it." You got the picture. The fact that this was probably over an elderly mother who was being stubborn and driving them both crazy, makes me feel that much worse.

But a lot of life is like that. You do the right thing, but leave the message on the wrong phone. a phone belonging to a moron who does not know how to check his messages and so through the incompetence of the message leaver and the phone owner, a sister never gets word about an apology and so assumes that she has to shoulder the "mom" situation herself. She does a bad job with it and mom never speaks to her again, leaving the other sister the only person mom will call for help and mom proceeds to call her, hourly, for the rest of mom's unexepectedly long life. The burdened sister becomes too much for her husband (who by the way also said he was sorry on the message I got) who then leaves her after 23 years of marriage, forcing her to return to the work force as, ironically, a cell phone salesman for the new AT&T where she sells cell phones by the sea shore shore to middle aged men who only barely ever really underestood how to use the rotary phone which they grew up with. Thus the mistakes perpetuate themselves. Like Gatsby's waves, beating against the rocks, the human race continues in pathetic fits of stops and starts.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Heal Thyself

I have been resisting the temptation to write about Congressman Foley and his I.M. binge with certain underaged male house pages. I finally caved in when I saw some of the instant messages Foley sent to one young man. ABC claims to have many of the messages , but finds them too inappropriate to publish. This from a news agency who reported the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal in stunning detail I do admit, however, that Lewinsky was not a minor when she and Bill were smoking cigars in the Oval Office and these pages apparently were.

The I.M.s that were reported are bad enough, the "what are you wearing ?" , "Wish I could slip those off" and "are you a little horny ?", while inappropriate, are not so awful that we can't discuss them. As always, Foley is in the most trouble because he helped write the law that made internet solicitation a Federal crime. It is the hypocrisy that always does them in. And because of that I am always shocked at the gall of these guys. They call press conferences and lambast perverts and demand tough new laws ands strict enforcement of any sexual deviation. All the while they are hunched over their Treo sending suicidal messages out into the ether that only a total moron would think would not some day be revealed. And now, every scandal rag in the country is chasing every little House page, boy or girl, in hopes of finding more of this. Democrts will soon be saying that this is the tip of the iceberg and that what we have here will make the Catholic Priest molestaion scandal resemble a j walking ticket. Then, sure as I am writing this, some Democrat will get caught with his pants down on the same or a similair issue.

It has been thirty years or so since Congressman Wilbur Mills went swiming in the tidal basin over by the Jefferson Memorial with his "Argentinian Firecracker". That lead to an investigation showing that at least some staff members in Washington were on the pay roll for their abilities to do what Congress spends most of it's time doing to the country. That scandal was a lot more fun, because it involved women in their 30s and 40s and not kids in their teens. It was illegal and immoral, but everyone got some good laughs out of it. Some of the secretaries ended up in Playboy magazine, the late Johnny Carson had a couple of weeks of jokes that everyone got a kick out of. It was what Bob Barker called in his scandal (with "Barker's Beauties") of a few years ago, "old fashioned hanky panky."

Sexual scandals are as old as the scriptures and as inevitable as death and taxes. If the great King David could not keep it in his pants, what in the world do you expect of a loutish Congressman from Florida ? At least Foley had the good sense to resign.