"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Saturday, January 31, 2009

No Cat Left Behind

There are so many important causes out there, and I love to hear of people giving to charities they care about. For Jonathan Rosenburg, a dotcom millionaire, the cause he supports is "unwanted" cats, or those that would otherwise be euthanized.

It is shocking to me to know that 3-4 million animals are euthanized by shelters each year in the US (and that number is low by some estimates). And until we can get every animal spayed and neutered, and get everyone going to shelters to adopt vs. breeders, then people like Jonathan Rosenburg are saving animals from a sad fate and giving them the love and medical attention they need.

Millionaire Invests In Feline Futures

CBS Evening News: New Jersey Man Left Career To Open A Sanctuary For Neglected, Unwanted Cats

RINGOES, N.J., Jan. 26, 2009 by Richard Schlesinger

(CBS) It took Jonathan Rosenberg 51 years and one wildly successful dot-com career to find his true calling. "It's this world that's so much more satisfying," Rosenberg said. Rosenberg gave up computers for … cats. Somewhere around 100 cats, to be exact. At a swanky cat sanctuary he built in New Jersey, he's loved cats for years - and he put his money where his heart is, CBS News correspondent Richard Schlesinger reports. Roughly how much of his money has he spent on this project? "Ah, somewhere north of $2 million," he said. The sanctuary is named for one of the great loves of his life: Tabby, his cat of 15 years who died in 1999. Rosenberg never met a cat he didn't like - and some of the cats hanging around his sanctuary are tough to love, such as one named Jackie. "She'll act friendly," Rosenberg said. "You can pet her for five or 10 seconds, and then she'll go after you." Sure enough, she attacked. All of the cats there come from shelters and were scheduled to be euthanized. Not all of them are troubled, but a lot are. One cat, Mozart, has what is politely called "urinary issues." Another, Tashi, has back legs that don't work. He gets physical therapy. Another one, Star, is actually allergic to people. Obviously, it can be hard to find homes for some of these cats but it can be done. About 550 cats have been adopted - and more than 100 of them have been, so called "special needs" cases. If they're not adopted, all of them will live out their lives with medical care and love - even if they don't really want it. "Wouldn't it have been more rewarding for you to take cats that are easier to adopt out?" Schlesinger asked. "No," Rosenberg said. "It wouldn't be because my heart really goes out to the cats like these, that I shouldn't say no one else wants, but for the most part no one else wants." And while caring for cats, Jonathan Rosenberg and his wife, Sharon, were touched by humans. "They could take this young cat, but they're willing to take this cat with heart disease, or this diabetic, and care for it knowing its going to break their hearts," Rosenberg said. It never hurts to be reminded: Animals with some of the worst problems can bring out the best in people.

article and video courtesy- MMIX, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Warning Signs

I certainly don't want to support or encourage any type of crime, and it seems that these pranksters are facing some charges. But, I have to say, if I saw these signs on my morning commute, my day would start with a chuckle. (more signs here in the original article).

Zombie Road Signs Attack Austin!

(Jan. 29) – The Austin, Texas, commute turned surreal this week after hackers replaced official traffic warnings on digital signs with some of their own.
"Zombies ahead! Run for your lives!" read one altered sign, according to
KXAN in Austin.
Run for Cover!
Pranksters in Austin, Texas, hacked computerized road signs to warn drivers of an unusual hazard on Monday. The signs appeared on Lamar Boulevard, a major city thoroughfare.
"Nazi Zombies! Run!!!" warned another, according to the
Austin American-Statesman.
The pranksters apparently cut the padlocks that guard the computers on each individual sign, the local media reported, and hacked the computer password. The new signs went up Monday morning.
No zombies were actually sighted. The most obvious problem seemed to be rubber-necking drivers slowing down to
photograph the fright-fest warnings.
Nevertheless, officials were quick to take the hooligans to task.
"This is really serious, and it is a crime," Sara Hartley, a spokeswoman for the city Public Works Department, told KXAN. "It's sort of amusing, but not at all helpful," said Chris Lippincott, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, according to
Fox News. The network noted that tampering with road signs is a misdemeanor crime.
The hackers didn't make fixes easy for officials, either. The
Dallas Morning News reported that after changing the signs, they changed the passwords, too.
The city had to wait several hours until the manufacture reset the passwords before the warnings could be changed.

article courtesy of www.news.aol.com, photo and video courtesy of www.kxan.com


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nobody Likes to be Herded

It's no surprise to me that all animals respond to the human touch, kindness, and personal interaction. But, here's a little scientific proof that even cows need love and attention. We all might understand that dogs and cats have personalities and relate to us, but the net of emotions expands so much further to other animals. When I see any animal mothering its young, or being playful, or reacting to touch, I know there is so much we don't know about how much animals need the same things we do: love, companionship, respect, and kindness.

Cows with Names Make More Milk

By Robert Roy Britt, Editorial Director
posted: 27 January 2009 09:05 pm ET

Researchers in the UK say cows with names make 3.4 percent more milk in a year than cows that just feel, well, like cows.
There seems to be more than just names involved, however.
The study, involving 516 dairy farmers and published online Tuesday by the journal Anthrozoos, found that "on farms where each cow was called by her name the overall
milk yield was higher than on farms where the cattle were herded as a group," write researchers Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University.
likes to be herded. Even a cow, one might presume. Indeed, the findings in fact point to an overall personal touch that — just a guess here — might say as much about the farmers as it does about the cows.
"Just as people respond better to the personal touch, cows also feel happier and more relaxed if they are given a bit more one-to-one attention," Douglas said. "By placing more importance on the individual, such as calling a cow by her name or interacting with the animal more as it grows up, we can not only improve the animal's welfare and her perception of humans, but also increase milk production."
Happy cows. Okay. Well, if you are a farmer (especially one with a small farm that struggles to be profitable by milking only a handful of cows) you probably would not argue with success. Cows, after all (and in case you thinking of judging them as dumb animals) are known to have a
magnetic sixth sense and are not as prone to cow-tipping as you might have heard. Who knows what else they are capable of?
Dairy farmer Dennis Gibb, who co-owns Eachwick Red House Farm outside Newcastle with his brother Richard, says he believes treating every cow as an individual is vitally important. "They aren't just our livelihood — they're part of the family," Gibb said in a statement released by the university. "We love our cows here at Eachwick and every one of them has a name. Collectively we refer to them as 'our ladies' but we know every one of them and each one has her own personality."


The findings:
46 percent said the cows on their farm were called by name.
66 percent said they "knew all the cows in the herd."
48 percent said positive human contact was more likely to produce cows with a good milking temperament.
Less than 10 percent said that a fear of humans resulted in a poor milking temperament.

"Our data suggests that on the whole UK dairy farmers regard their cows as
intelligent beings capable of experiencing a range of emotions," Douglass said. "Placing more importance on knowing the individual animals and calling them by name can — at no extra cost to the farmer –— also significantly increase milk production."

Robert Roy Britt is the Editorial Director of Imaginova. In this column, The Water Cooler, he takes a daily look at what people are talking about in the world of science and beyond.

article courtesy of www.livescience.com


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Before They Were Famous

It's always fun to pop over to the Mental Floss website and check out the blogs, or take a few quizzes. I thought the following was a fun list-- finding out what some of the most famous stars did to pay the bills before they didn't have to worry about bills anymore.

by Stacy Conradt - January 27, 2009 - 3:27 PM

I know there have been numerous People magazine issues dedicated to this very topic, but I think it’s pretty interesting. I mean, if Sean Connery started his working life as a truck driver, that gives us all a little hope for doing something great, doesn’t it?

1. Sean Connery - coffin polisher. Back when Sean was still known as Thomas Sean, he held a series of odd jobs to help his family out during the depression. These included delivering milk, driving a truck, and polishing coffins.

2. Michelle Pfeiffer - supermarket cashier at Von’s.

3. Greta Garbo - a lather girl at a barber shop. Can you imagine?

4. Jack Nicholson - office boy in MGM’s cartoon department. He made friends with all of the animators, especially Tom & Jerry animator Erv Spence, who liked to draw caricatures of Jack’s big teeth and ears.

5. Alec Baldwin - busboy at Studio 54.

6. Luciano Pavarotti was an elementary school teacher for two years - but only after abandoning his dream job of being a professional football goalkeeper.

7. Patrick Swayze - professional ballet dancer with Disney on Parade.

8. Pierce Brosnan - fire-eater. Yeah, like with the circus. He learned it as a teen and says he still puts it on his resume.

9. Alan Ladd owned a hot dog stand named Tiny’s (some sources say it was a hamburger stand). But to be fair, he only did it to get his foot in the door with acting: the stand was just outside of Universal Studio Acting School and it was all part of Ladd’s ploy to get noticed.

10. Anne Rice - insurance claims adjuster. No wonder she needed a creative outlet.

article and photos courtesy of www.mentalfloss.com


Monday, January 26, 2009

Prayers for Bobby

top photo- the real Bobby Griffith on right, bottom photo-photo from the Movie-Prayers for Bobby

When I think of a Lifetime Movie, or a TV Movie of the Week, I think of something cheesy, starring a b-list cast, that I might watch when nothing else is on. Prayers for Bobby, which aired for the first time this past Saturday night on Lifetime, is nothing like that, starring a fabulous cast and carrying a big message.

This is a powerful movie, and I encourage any and all of you to watch it. I encourage you to have your parents and friends watch it. More than anything, I wish that parents with children who are gay would watch this movie, especially those parents that aren't supportive, and hopefully they will learn something.
This movie tells the true story of Mary Griffith and her son Bobby Griffith in 1970 suburban California. Bobby is gay, and his mother's strict religious views blind her from understanding and accepting him as a gay son. He ultimately is driven to suicide, and Mary (played by Sigourney Weaver) is left to learn in his absence about her faith and about the son she lost. I will tell you I cried so many times during this movie. I could relate to both this mother's confusion and this son trying so hard to not disappoint anyone.

But, I thought the most powerful parts of this movie were when Mary goes to see the pastor of a church that opened its doors to gay members. She questions this pastor relentlessly passage by passage from bible, telling him that God says homosexuality is a sin. The steps he took explaining to her that mortals interpreted the bible during different times in history and at times have twisted those interpretations to fit the times hit home to me.

I struggle with organized religion for these reasons. I think too often I see churches (and their members) standing in judgment instead of being accepting. I think anyone should feel that God is there for them, even if they have 'sinned' or done wrong...there shouldn't be anything that keeps someone from coming to a church and feeling welcome. Isn't that what it is all supposed to be about? And it shouldn't just be SOME churches. It should be all churches. And especially in the south, I just haven't found that to be the case. And I don't think the bible should ever be used as a weapon, on either side of an argument.

Also, as I think I have mentioned before, I have gay friends, and one in particular helped me find my voice in life, and really helped me believe in myself at a time when I didn't at all. I also know in talking to all of them, that the road they travel is never easy, and it is definitely not a choice. You are who you are.

Check out the Lifetime website for additional times when this movie will be showing. It is worth the time to watch it. And kudos to Lifetime for taking on edgier material, and something as important as this.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Crossing the Line

I woke up early this morning, well, early for a Saturday anyway, and turned on the Today show. I had already heard yesterday about George Anthony (the grandfather of slain toddler Caylee Anthony) having been hospitalized for disappearing and possibly attempting suicide.

I have followed this case from afar; I didn't really need to search out any information, it has been covered relentlessly. This is a terribly tragic case any way you look at it. From what I have watched and really paid attention to, I do believe that Caylee's mother Casey is guilty of causing her child's death, or at the very least being involved. I have been amazed when seeing snippets of her interrogations, or any interviews, at her seemingly self-involved, spoiled, and immature manner.

Are her parents involved? Do George and Cindy know more than they are saying? Did they have something to do with a cover up? I have no idea. I find it a little hard to believe having heard Cindy's initial 911 call (which was played ad nauseum when the case first hit the news), and knowing it was she who got the police involved and hearing the frantic panic in her voice for her granddaughter. However, at this point at least, there is no way to know.

This morning on the Today show, when covering George's break last night, some footage was shown of the media camped out in front of their house--probably ten vans, some even parked on top of the curb in front of the Anthony's home. Most shocking to me, though, was the video of one family, strangers to the Anthony's, pounding on their front door screaming horrible things about them being murderers, etc. (these 'protesters' brought their children with them also). The family was charged with trespassing, and you can watch this 'protesters' meltdown below.

My feeling is this. I understand the anger everyone is experiencing. And as the latest details were released about Caylee's remains, believe me, I want justice for her. However, the non-stop parade of 'concerned citizens' camped out in the Anthony's yard yelling obscenities doesn't serve as justice. The woman in the above video may be a 'concerned citizen', but if you ask me, she is also off her nut.

Many people have judged George and Cindy Anthony for supporting their daughter. Many have assumed they must be involved in order to do this. And maybe they are. However, it is also just as likely that they have lost their granddaughter, and the thought of losing their daughter, too, is so hard to bear. It is also likely that trying to accept that your daughter could be a murderer is a slow concept to grasp, and a devastating reality to face. Whatever the truth, their lives are in shambles, and if they are indeed involved, it is the job of law enforcement to find the truth, not strangers who bring along their children to the Anthony's residence to hurl accusations through closed windows and doors.

There have been several articles posted since Caylee's remains were found about how 'popular' the area has become for people to drive by or stop. What the hell, people? What good is that for anyone? I know some people may feel the need to leave a memorial of some type, but when the level of traffic to the site becomes newsworthy, that is just creepy.

The media fuels this madness, giving the protesters their 15 minutes of fame, no doubt luring new 'protesters' to the Anthony's lawn. Every excruciating detail of this case comes through as breaking news on every news channel.

A similar disturbing event happened several weeks ago during the tragedy for the Travolta family, when their son Jett died at age 16. I was watching a very reputable news station and was appalled to see their news cameras literally chasing the ambulance that was carrying Jett to the hospital. Once at the hospital, the news crew tried desperately to get film of Jett being removed from the ambulance. Several hospital personnel and policemen were able to keep that from happening, but I sat there in shock. Who would want to see that? What have we become that a news crew goes to that length to feed a hungry public with those desires?

The media will only stop covering minutia, invading privacy, and exploiting the ridiculous when we stop watching. The question is, will that ever happen?

Given the non-stop coverage, knowing his granddaughter his dead, his daughter is in jail--likely to be convicted, protesters and media on his lawn harassing him endlessly, I can see why George Anthony cracked, no matter what his involvement.

What I don't see is why the whole world needed to know this bit of information.


Slumdog Millionaire

I actually saw this movie a few weeks ago, and with all of the Oscar and awards hoopla the past few days, it reminded me that I needed to post about this movie. One reviewer said "It is brilliant in a million different ways", and I would have to agree. I love leaving the theater and feeling like I have experienced something unique, something that makes me think, and something moving. Slumdog Millionaire delivers in all these areas.
For a quick synopsis without giving away too much, a young man who has grown up an orphan in terrible poverty finds himself a contestant on India's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He is winning and winning big, and the show's host and others cannot fathom how such a "slumdog" could know all these answers. He is accused of cheating and must explain himself. He does so by flashbacks of his life.
All I can say is that the story is so compelling, the actors all excellent, and the movie itself is deserving of every award it gets. Go.see.it.
The children in this movie amazed me. They really tell the story behind the story and I was so drawn into their faces and voices. The movie also has fantastic soundtrack, if you go to the official movie website, you can preview some of the songs.
If you have seen it, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

photos courtesy www.slumdogmillionaire.co.uk


Friday, January 23, 2009

Where the Heart Is

I have lived in some big cities-San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington DC- and have seen the homeless problem up close and personal in all these places, plus in the even smaller cities and towns I have lived in. When I was younger, I shook my head at these people who had obviously made the "wrong choices" or were living a life fueled by drugs and alcohol. As I got older, I realized the reality is not that easy to explain.

I think the first big slap of understanding came to me when I was in college in Greensboro, NC, during my sophomore year. I volunteered a little bit with a women's shelter and a soup kitchen. At the soup kitchen, we gave out meals at designated times of the day, and every day I was there, I saw the same man coming in, and all I could think when watching him was how ashamed he looked the entire time. I would always try to make eye contact with him, but he would look down and walk to sit alone.

Finally one day, after he had sat down, I walked over to his table and asked if I could sit with him. He gestured an "ok" without looking at me. I introduced myself, and somehow got him talking.

He ended up telling me his story, how he ended up homeless. He had been a college professor, had a beautiful family, a wife and two kids. He had the perfect life. Then, one night, when he was driving, they were in a car accident. He was the only survivor.

He said he hung on for awhile, but then became a serious alcoholic, and lost everything. People tried to help, and he had alienated everyone and drifted around, too embarrassed to be seen by people he knew. He had tried to straighten up, but always failed. He was crying telling me all this, and it had been 4 years since the accident. I cried with him.

I learned in that moment, though, that the people sitting on the sidewalks, in the alleys asking for handouts, are probably never what we assume. The man that I spoke with was so tortured with guilt for surviving I think, and just so sad and lost, that he lost his grip on life. It made me look at every homeless person I ever saw again so differently. That person is someone's son or daughter, someone's sister or brother, someone's mother or father. Who knows what got them there?

Sometimes you see a homeless person with a pet, most times a dog. I hear people talking after they walk by about how "awful" that is, and if they can't take care of themselves, why would they drag an animal into that. I have actually watched people criticize homeless people for this.

I think it makes them still feel human in some way. I know that they need love, and dogs especially love you unconditionally. I know it is hard to understand, and I have battled a little with my opinion on this at times, too. But I cannot imagine being without a home, without any human contact, and just the need to feel some companionship.

Right now, I know some people have even scratched their heads over my choice to bring a dog into my life when financially things aren't great, and a lot of things are just crazy for me. But the joy that my dog has brought to me is immeasurable.

So, to the real purpose of this post--a Belgian homeless shelter opened its doors to homeless people with dogs. The reason? Many of the homeless would not come inside from the freezing temperatures and leave their dogs behind.

I remember during Katrina, I was so angry that many animals were left behind because rescue teams couldn't take them. I understand (or try to) that they have to concentrate on human life rescues, but to leave these animals to starve or die...I was so distraught. There were some who refused to leave and be rescued for that very reason. I am not sure if people were properly warned beforehand regarding their animals, but considering the whole mess that our administration made of that at the time, I doubt it.

The Belgian shelter says it hopes other shelters will follow suit. I do believe that a homeless person's first priority should be getting back on their feet, getting back into society. But for some people, hope seems so far away, and a little companionship may seem like a saving grace.

Belgian homeless shelter opens doors to dogs

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A shelter in the Belgian city of Liege has opened its doors to dogs this winter to persuade their homeless owners to come in from the freezing cold.
The city's social welfare agency has agreed to house about eight homeless people with their pets at a local soccer club when it is freezing outside.
Michel Faway, secretary-general of the agency, said the programme started because many homeless people refused to come inside without their dogs no matter how cold it got.
"They have to come to the night shelter in Liege first as we obviously can't have 40 of them," he said. "They are then transported by bus to the space."
The project has been a success. All eight beds have been filled on the nights when the service was offered.
Faway hopes to see the scheme expand to other cities.

(Reporting by Sarah Luehrs, Antonia van de Velde; Editing by Nick Vinocur)

article courtesy of Reuters, photo courtesy http://www.petsofhomeless.com/


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Soup Glorious Soup

I love soup in the winter--actually I love soup anytime of the year. But it is especially nice on cold days, and we are having our fair share of seriously cold days here in NC lately.

One of my favorites is lentil soup; it is rare that several cans of Progresso lentil aren't in my pantry. I decided to give the homemade version a try, and it couldn't have been easier. I used Heidi Swanson's recipe -I have mentioned several times what a fan I am of hers- and it turned out very yummy and made a bunch. I will have lentil soup all week for lunch, and enough to freeze.

Next time I make this, I am going to add some things, maybe some other veggies. But it is really good. I used the green French lentils, and instead of Kale I used spinach. I am not a saffron fan, so I used sour cream with a little paprika mixed in as a topping and some sliced avacado. Below is the recipe--enjoy!

Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup Recipe

I've found that French green lentils and black beluga lentils hold their shape nicely - they don't go to mush in the pot. I sometimes used fire-roasted organic crushed tomatoes, they lend a lovely deep smoky flavor to whatever you use them in. If you come across them, give them a try in this soup. If not, regular crushed tomatoes are just fine. Can't find greek yogurt, no problem - just use whole plain yogurt. Vegans can skip the yogurt entirely and finish the soup with a generous drizzle of good olive oil instead. And just a reminder, this makes a nice big pot of soup, so use a large pot - I eat the leftovers all week.

2 cups black beluga lentils (or green French lentils), picked over and rinsed

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 cups water

3 cups of a big leafy green (chard, kale, etc), rinsed well, deveined, finely chopped

Saffron Yogurt

a pinch of saffron (30-40 threads)

1 tablespoon boiling water

two pinches of salt

1/2 cup 2% Greek Yogurt

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
While the lentils are cooking, make the saffron yogurt by combining the saffron threads and boiling water in a tiny cup. Let the saffron steep for a few minutes. Now stir the saffron along with the liquid into the yogurt. Mix in the salt and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until tender, a couple minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens, and wait another minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be. Ladle into bowls, and serve with a dollop of the saffron yogurt.

Serves 6 to 8.

- You can serve it with a poached egg on top,- or crunchy, fried shallots,- with a drizzle of chive infused cream,- or with chunks of tiny pan-fried butternut squash cubes.
- Make a thicker version by using just a bit of water, and then spoon it over an omelette in the morning.
- Have some cooked farro or wheat berries around? Toss some in. Millet might be good too.
- You can finish the soup by adding your favorite spices or spice blends. Smoked paprika, crushed chiles, toasted cumin, would all work nicely.
photo and recipe courtesy Heidi Swanson & 101cookbooks.com


Inaugural Costs and a Kick-Ass First Day

In a previous post, I expressed frustration with Laura and George W. spending $500,000 on new White House china on their way out. In these economic times, I thought it was poor form.

A lot has been made of the cost of the inaugural festivities--the most common cost I am seeing in print is $170 million. And this number, too, is too much. As I said in my previous post, when so many of us are scraping by, to see numbers like that is a bit humbling.

As someone who has done my fair share of event planning, I can say, though, that people would be astounded to know how much of that money went to things that no one thinks about. Things like sanitation, cleaning, and port-a-potty rentals for MILLIONS of people, fire and safety personnel, security (within the crowds--on top of any additional security needed above and beyond the Secret Service). Then you have additional public transportation and staffing, and the jumbotrons and the audio-visual costs to make that happen so the millions of people so far away from the stage can see history happening.

This was the most open and accessible inaugural event in history, and there is something terribly RIGHT about that. I think all the costs associated with making that happen were well spent, no matter what. Seeing the cameras scan over the huge masses of people there, braving the cold, and seeing the hope and pride in their eyes...we needed that.

But yes, as for the parties, I think some corners could have been cut. For history's sake, you need the inaugural ball, you need to celebrate, but I also know from planning events that you can plan anything for anyone on any budget. Seriously. It would have been a prime opportunity to show America how aware of the situation this cabinet is.

I was buoyed today, though, by President Obama's comments on his first day in office. I can only describe these as KICK-ASS. Some of the most important issues I hold dear to my heart are addressed here; mostly that the government does not hold the right to hide information from Americans at will, or disregard the Constitution. And, as a note to the cost worries above, he addressed freezing the salaries of senior cabinet members for review.

High hopes indeed.

Below is a transcript of his statement.

1:18 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Please be seated. Still getting used to that whole thing. (Laughter.) Please be seated. Thank you so much. I wanted to get everyone together on the first day to welcome you to the White House.
From our vantage point yesterday you couldn't help but be inspired by the sight of Americans as far as the eye could see. They were there because they believe this is a moment of great change in America, a time for reinvigorating our democracy and remaking our country. They've entrusted all of us with a great responsibility. And so today I'd like to talk with you about our responsibility to keep that trust.
In a few minutes I'm going to be issuing some of the first executive orders and directives of my presidency. And these steps are aimed at establishing firm rules of the road for my administration and all who serve in it, and to help restore that faith in government, without which we cannot deliver the changes we were sent here to make -- from rebuilding our economy and ensuring that anyone who is willing to work and find a well-paying job, to protecting and defending the United States, and promoting peace and security.
However long we are keepers of the public trust we should never forget that we are here as public servants and public service is a privilege. It's not about advantaging yourself. It's not about advancing your friends or your corporate clients. It's not about advancing an ideological agenda or the special interests of any organization. Public service is, simply and absolutely, about advancing the interests of Americans.
The men and women in this room understand this, and that's why you're here. All of you are committed to building a more responsible, more accountable government. And part of what that means is making sure that we're spending precious tax dollars wisely and cutting costs wherever possible.
During this period of economic emergency, families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington. And that's why I'm instituting a pay freeze on the salaries of my senior White House staff. Some of the people in this room will be affected by the pay freeze, and I want you to know that I appreciate your willingness to agree to it, recognizing that it's what's required of you at this moment. It's a mark of your commitment to public service.
But the American people deserve more than simply an assurance that those who are coming to Washington will serve their interests. They also deserve to know that there are rules on the books to keep it that way. They deserve a government that is truly of, by, and for the people. As I often said during the campaign, we need to make the White House the people's house. And we need to close the revolving door that lets lobbyists come into government freely, and lets them use their time in public service as a way to promote their own interests over the interests of the American people when they leave.
So today we are taking a major step towards fulfilling this campaign promise. The executive order on ethics I will sign shortly represents a clean break from business as usual. As of today, lobbyists will be subject to stricter limits than under any other administration in history. If you are a lobbyist entering my administration, you will not be able to work on matters you lobbied on, or in the agencies you lobbied during the previous two years. When you leave government, you will not be able to lobby my administration for as long as I am President. And there will be a ban on gifts by lobbyists to anyone serving in the administration, as well.
Now, the new rules on lobbying alone, no matter how tough, are not enough to fix a broken system in Washington. That's why I'm also setting new rules that govern not just lobbyists, but all those who have been selected to serve in my administration.
If you are enlisting in government service, you will have to commit in writing to rules limiting your role for two years in matters involving people you used to work with, and barring you from any attempt to influence your former government colleagues for two years after you leave. And you will receive an ethics briefing on what is required of you to make sure that our government is serving the people's interests, and nobody else's -- a briefing, I'm proud to say, I was the first member of this administration to receive last week.
But the way to make a government responsible is not simply to enlist the services of responsible men and women, or to sign laws that ensure that they never stray. The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable. And the way to make government accountable is make it transparent so that the American people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they're being made, and whether their interests are being well served.
The directives I am giving my administration today on how to interpret the Freedom of Information Act will do just that. For a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in this city. The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information but those who seek to make it known.
To be sure, issues like personal privacy and national security must be treated with the care they demand. But the mere fact that you have the legal power to keep something secret does not mean you should always use it. The Freedom of Information Act is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have for making our government honest and transparent, and of holding it accountable. And I expect members of my administration not simply to live up to the letter but also the spirit of this law.
I will also hold myself as President to a new standard of openness. Going forward, anytime the American people want to know something that I or a former President wants to withhold, we will have to consult with the Attorney General and the White House Counsel, whose business it is to ensure compliance with the rule of law. Information will not be withheld just because I say so. It will be withheld because a separate authority believes my request is well grounded in the Constitution.
Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.
Our commitment to openness means more than simply informing the American people about how decisions are made. It means recognizing that government does not have all the answers, and that public officials need to draw on what citizens know. And that's why, as of today, I'm directing members of my administration to find new ways of tapping the knowledge and experience of ordinary Americans -- scientists and civic leaders, educators and entrepreneurs -- because the way to solve the problem of our time is -- the way to solve the problems of our time, as one nation, is by involving the American people in shaping the policies that affect their lives.
The executive orders and directives I'm issuing today will not by themselves make government as honest and transparent as it needs to be. And they do not go as far as we need to go towards restoring accountability and fiscal restraint in Washington. But these historic measures do mark the beginning of a new era of openness in our country. And I will, I hope, do something to make government trustworthy in the eyes of the American people in the days and weeks, months and years to come. That's a pretty good place to start.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
(The executive order and directives are signed.) (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Lisa, our schedule now -- the swearing-in is going to be taking place, and the Vice President is going to be carrying that out? Okay.
Before the Vice President does that, let me just say how proud I am of all of you. This is an extraordinary collection of talent, and you inspire great confidence in me. I think the more the American people get to know you, the more you will inspire great confidence in the American people. All of you have made extraordinary sacrifices to be here. Many of you have brought your families here; they're making extraordinary sacrifices.
But what a -- what a moment we're in. What an opportunity we have to change this country. And for those of us who have been in public life before, these kinds of moments come around just every so often. The American people are really counting on us now. Let's make sure we take advantage of it. I know you will. So thank you for your commitment.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

High Hopes

I am filled with such a sense of hope and patriotic spirit as this day ends. If you weren't able to watch today's inauguration, there are videos, pictures, and transcripts all over the web. President Obama's inaugural address was spot on as far as I was concerned, cool and confident, but honest and strong.

What affected me more than anything was the number of people at the inauguration...millions; and even more celebrating throughout the country. I am being completely honest when I say that I wouldn't care what party someone was affiliated with, or who the person was taking office, if they could bring that kind of excitement and hope to so many. President Obama happens to be the man I chose, the man I voted for. But I think people of all parties and views had to take notice today of the unification of most of the country.

This inauguration and the days leading up to it have been magical. Since when have we ever celebrated a president like this? When have these kind of crowds come to see any candidate and then inauguration events like this? Not in my lifetime. There are some words out there about President Obama being too much of a "rock star" or a "pop icon". You know what I say to that? Great. Fantastic! Because people, especially young people, pay a lot of attention to rock stars and pop icons-- and it is about time we had a country of people paying as much attention to the president as American Idol contestants.

But back to his inaugural address, I loved that President Obama rarely used the word "I", but instead peppered his address with "we" and "us". He has never put himself above the voters, and is asking everyone to stand up and participate in the repair of the country.

He was realistic about the current situation, but offered hope in all the obstacles the US has overcome in its long history. He spoke to the other countries of the world, offering our friendship, but also standing strong on any country that wishes us only harm.

He offered hope, inspiration, and determination as our values and mission-- instead of fear and petty grievances fueled by politics.

I still stare at the picture above of the crowds there in just complete awe. This man has united so many in a time when it seemed impossible. He has so many expectations to live up to, so many of us counting on him. He took his first steps today, and I am proud to know this is the new leader of our country. I haven't been able to say that in a long time.

For a transcript of his speech, click here. For a video of his speech, click here.

Schneider: Tone of Obama speech right for the times

By Bill SchneiderCNN Senior Political Analyst

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama's inaugural address was cooler, more measured and reassuring than that of other presidents making it, perhaps, the right speech for the times.

President Obama renewed his call for a massive plan to stimulate economic growth.
more photos »

Some inaugural addresses are known for their soaring, inspirational language. Like John F. Kennedy's in 1961: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.''
Obama's address was less stirring, perhaps, but it was also more candid and down-to-earth.
"Starting today,'' the new president said, "we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin the work of remaking America.''
Watch Obama's inaugural address »
At a time of crisis, a president needs to be reassuring. Like Franklin Roosevelt, who said in his first inaugural in 1933, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.'' Or Bill Clinton, who took office during the economic crisis of the early 1990s. "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America,'' Clinton declared at his first inaugural.
Obama, too, offered reassurance.
"We gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord,'' Obama said.
Obama's call to unity after decades of political division echoed Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address in 1861. Even though he delivered it at the onset of a terrible civil war, Lincoln's speech was not a call to battle. It was a call to look beyond the war, toward reconciliation based on what he called "the better angels of our nature.''
Some presidents used their
inaugural address to set out a bold agenda.
At his first inaugural in 1981, Ronald Reagan said, "Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.'' George W. Bush defined the essence of the neoconservative agenda when he said at his 2005 inaugural, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands.''
President Obama did talk about having "big plans.'' But he insisted they be practical. "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small,'' Obama said, "but whether it works.''
Obama certainly knows how to be stirring. And he was at least once in his inaugural address when he talked about his new approach to diplomacy.
"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history,'' Obama declared, "but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.''
Are you listening, Iran?
Obama's was a cool speech, not a hot speech. That's what a lot of people like about the new president. He's reassuring -- "No-Drama Obama.''
At a time of mounting national anxiety, cool is good.
crowd photo courtesy AFP, swearing in photo courtesy of Reuters, article courtesy CNN


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Meet Bear

Did I go out on Saturday and PLAN to adopt a dog? No, I did not. Do I need more chaos in my life? No, I do not. Was Lilly secretly wishing I would bring another headache into her life? No, no, no, she was not.

But, meet Bear. I have wanted a dog for oh, forever, but I have gone to Petco and confidently passed by the oh-too-cute puppies with sad faces countless times. I could even stop and pet them and talk to them. (Several animal shelters and the Humane Society bring their animals to Petco on the weekends to hopefully get them adopted).

But, Saturday, I was on the way to meet my friend Cassandra, and stopped by Petco to buy HER dog a little present. And there, out front, was Bear. I swear that the moment I drove by and saw him, I just thought in my heart: that is MY dog.

This is bad timing; it probably couldn't be worse financially, or logistically, but I can't tell you what this little guy has done for me in just the past 24 hours.

I adore my cats, and the comfort they give me is so dear and special to me. Bear, however, is in constant "need" mode and makes me go outside and exercise, keeps me busy in a different way. Dogs love so openly and unconditionally, it is amazing to be on the receiving end of it. I don't think it's any secret that I have been fighting something more serious than the "blues" for a few months. This little furball has lifted my spirits in such a magical way. He is very laid back and calm, but loves to play. He is the most docile sweet puppy I have ever been around. That was what won me over Saturday. That and that one brown ear. ;0)

The cats are even warming to him. Baxter is already sharing the couch with us for naps, and Lilly has peeked downstairs from her sulking strike upstairs a few times. They will all be fine. I have made sure to give the kitties lots of love and their own time with me to reassure them.

After I had signed the paperwork for Bear's adoption and paid the fee, I was shopping around with him in the cart . One of the Petco employees came up and thanked me for adopting him. She went on to explain that Saturday was his last chance, he was due to be put down. It turns out that of the six dogs there that day, four were adopted and two didn't make it.

I have always known there is a sense of knowing and thankfulness in animals that are rescued, more than other animals, they seem to know that you "saved" them and are thankful.

Sometimes, it works both ways.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Safe and Sound

Pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger

I first heard of this crash on NPR today, and was immediately alarmed and concerned for the passengers and crew. Then, when hearing that the flight was headed to Charlotte, I grew even more alarmed, as several of my friends are in the banking industry and make the trip to and from NY regularly.

I am posting about this accident tonight because I think it is truly amazing that everyone made it out of this alive, and relatively unharmed. The skill of the pilot, Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, is being lauded by everyone, from the passengers, to fellow pilots from other airlines, to the military. As someone who travels a lot, it can be easy to forget how much responsibility these pilots hold in their hands, and how many choices they have to make to keep us all safe. When you look at the pictures above, and know that every single passenger and crew member survived, it is because this pilot did everything right. Over 150 people and their families are breathing easier and counting their blessings that their families are still whole because of his skill and choices.

I couldn't help thinking how terribly cold that water must have been for everyone, as it was cold in Charlotte today, and even colder in NY. It seems rescuers got to the plane rather quickly, thankfully.

The crash was caused by a flock of birds flying into one or both engines. Is there seriously nothing they can do about this? Some screen on the front of the engines or something? It is such a random thing that obviously is so very dangerous. I am sure smarter people than me are working on it, it is just so scary that such an uncontrollable thing could bring a plane down.

Airplane crash-lands into Hudson River; all aboard reported safe

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A US Airways plane with 155 people on board ditched into a chilly Hudson River on Thursday, apparently after striking at least one bird upon takeoff from New York's LaGuardia Airport, according to officials and passengers.

Everyone on board was accounted for and alive, officials said. About 15 people were being treated at hospitals and others were being evaluated at triage centers.
Flight 1549, headed to Charlotte, North Carolina, was airborne less than three minutes, according to FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown.
The pilot radioed to air traffic controllers that he had experienced a bird strike and declared an emergency, a New Jersey State Police source said.
"I think a lot of people started praying and just collecting themselves," said passenger Fred Berretta. "It was quite stunning."
Watch passenger describe landing »
He said he was expecting the plane to flip over and break apart, but it did not.
"It was a great landing," Berretta said.
Air traffic controllers at LaGuardia saw the plane clear the George Washington Bridge by less than 900 feet before gliding into the water about 3:31 p.m., an aviation source told CNN.

Witness Ben Vonklemperer said he watched the plane from the 25th floor of an office building.
"If someone's going to land a plane in the water, this seemed the best possible way to do it," Vonklemperer said. "The way they hit it was very gradual. A very slow contact with the water."
As the situation began to settle Thursday evening, the flight's pilot, Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, emerged as a hero, with praise being heaped on him by passengers, officials and aviation experts.
"I don't think there's enough praise to go around for someone who does something like this. This is something you really can't prepare for," said former Delta pilot Denny Walsh. "You really don't practice water landings in commercial airplanes. Just the sheer expertise he demonstrated is amazing."
US Airways CEO Doug Parker said it would be premature to speculate about the cause of the accident until the National Transportation Safety Board, which is sending a team to the site, completed an investigation.
A source familiar with the situation, however, told CNN the pilot reported a double bird strike, but it was unclear whether that meant birds in both engines or two birds in one engine.
The pilot initially said he needed to go back, and air traffic controllers started to give him clearance to do so, but the pilot said he wanted to head to Teterboro, New Jersey, because it was closer. That was the last transmission from the pilot, the source said.
Passenger Alberto Panero said that within a few minutes after takeoff, he heard a loud bang and smelled smoke.
Watch passenger say he heard a loud bang »
"That's when we knew we were going down and into the water. We just hit, and somehow the plane stayed afloat and we were able to get on the raft. It's just incredible right now that everybody's still alive."
Passenger Jeff Kolodjay of Norwalk, Connecticut, said he was sitting in seat 22A, near one of the engines.
"The captain came on and said, 'Look, we're going down. Brace for impact.' Everyone looked at each other and we said our prayers. I said about five Hail Marys," said Kolodjay, who was headed to Charlotte to play golf.
"The plane started filling with water pretty quick," he said. "It was scary. There was a lady with her baby on my left-hand shoulder, and she was crawling over the seats."
Watch footage of plane in water »
Police, fire and Coast Guard boats, along with commercial ferries, were quickly on the scene as passengers lined up on slightly submerged safety chutes.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said later Thursday that the plane was tied to a pier at Battery Park City in lower Manhattan. As night fell, Coast Guard and FDNY boats remained at the scene.
President Bush commended those involved in the rescue. "Laura and I are inspired by the skill and heroism of the flight crew as well as the dedication and selflessness of the emergency responders and volunteers who rescued passengers from the icy waters of the Hudson," he said.
Bloomberg also commended the pilot for not leaving the plane until he had checked to make sure everyone had been been evacuated.
"It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and then making sure that everybody got out," Bloomberg said.
"I had a long conversation with the pilot," Bloomberg said. "He walked the plane twice after everybody else was off, and tried to verify that there was nobody else on board, and assures us there were not."
"There is a heroic pilot," said Gov. David Paterson. "We have had a miracle on 34th Street, I believe we now have a miracle on the Hudson."
The temperature in New York was 20 degrees about the time of the crash off Manhattan's west side.
See map of crash site »
Dr. Gabriel Wilson, associated medical director of the emergency room at Roosevelt Hospital, said 55 survivors were checked out and cleared to leave from the scene.
Those being treated at hospitals included a husband and wife with hypothermia at Roosevelt Hospital, as well as a flight attendant with a leg fracture, hospital spokeswoman Michelle Stiles said.
Since 1975, five large jetliners have had major accidents in which bird strikes played a role, according to the Web site of Bird Strike Committee USA, a volunteer group dedicated to reducing the frequency and severity of the strikes.
More than 56,000 bird strikes were reported to the FAA from 1998 to 2004, according to the group's Web site.
People who believe they may have had relatives on the flight may call US Airways at 1-800-679-8215 within the United States, the airline said.

CNN's Mike Brooks, Jeanne Meserve and Mike Ahlers contributed to this report.

article and pilot photo courtesy CNN, other photos courtesy TIME.com


What's in a Name?

Remember my post about little Adolf Hitler Campbell? The story gained worldwide attention when his parents decided to complain to any and everyone that a grocery store wouldn't put Adolf's full name on his birthday cake. The move seems to have backfired for them. All of the children (all with similar horrific names) were removed from the home by the Division of Youth and Family Services.

Their future is uncertain, and having worked as a Guardian ad Litem in the past, I know that too often, the goal is to keep children with their birth parents, even when the birth parents don't deserve that honor. These parents may have done little but be stupid racists that teach hate in their home, and it may not be considered "abuse"--or abusive enough to keep the children out of the home.

But, these names, these values they are teaching...what chance do these children have to grow up and be happy, valuable members of society? These names are a brand placed on them that promises ridicule and an immediate predisposition for hate.

I hope a wise judge sees this, and can blur the lines a little and give these children a chance at a better life in a new home.

New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services removes Adolf Hitler Campbell, sisters from parents' home

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
By Tom Quigley and DOUGLAS B. BRILL
The Express-Times
Authorities removed Adolf Hitler Campbell and his sisters from their parents' Hunterdon County home, Holland Township police chief David Van Gilson said Tuesday.
New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services took the 3-year-old as well as JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, 1, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, who turns 1 in April, the chief said.
Van Gilson said he didn't know why the children were taken or who had custody. He said his department received no reports of abuse or negligence.
The children's father, Heath Campbell, reached Tuesday evening at a relative's home, first declined comment and later said the children were not removed.
The Division of Youth and Family Services would not confirm or deny the report.
A spokeswoman said the division doesn't comment on specific families.
The chief said the children were removed last week. He said a township officer was present.
"Whatever children were at the home were taken," the chief said.
A hearing is scheduled for Thursday before Superior Court Judge Peter A. Buschbaum at the Hunterdon County Justice Center, the chief said. He said a hearing on Tuesday was postponed when Campbell indicated he wanted a private attorney.
The hearing is to decide whether the state can temporarily place the children in another home, the chief said. He said township police Sgt. John Harris is scheduled to testify.
The Campbell family gained worldwide attention after a Dec. 14 story in The Express-Times about the children's names and a Warren County supermarket's refusal to write Adolf Hitler on a birthday cake.
Heath Campbell, who's previously said he picked the names to honor German ancestry and because they are unique, has reported receiving threats after the story was published.
Another Campbell family in Holland Township received a death threat intended for Heath Campbell, township police have said. That case remains under investigation.
Reporter Tom Quigley can be reached at 610-258-7171, ext. 3574, or by e-mail at
Reporter Douglas B. Brill can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at

article courtesy of express-times.com


Monday, January 12, 2009

A Legacy of Torture

It's no secret that I believe Bush has made a mockery of the office of President, and has, in eight years, destroyed the respect and admiration other countries had for us. He has been searching for a legacy before leaving office and, deservedly so, can't find anything to bring to the forefront that isn't an embarrassment or just plain despicable. I am so grateful that this man has only seven more days in office.

A few days ago, Laura Bush announced that she had ordered new china for the White House at a cost of almost $500,000. A private trust is paying for it. I was so angered by this, though, because in these horrible economic times, I don't give a #%$&! who is paying for it, it is the wrong message at the wrong time. Then I laughed to myself...there's his legacy, new china for the White House. I completely understand the historical value of things like this, and I know the residents of the White House and their guests need plates. But, c'mon. Now is not the time for this. So many Americans can't afford to feed their families, are out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

But that's just small potatoes compared to Bush's real legacy as far as I am concerned. Bush abused his office and his power in the authorization of torture for prisoners taken by the US during his "war on terror". He wielded his power with arrogance and indifference to the very basic principles that our country has adhered to and demanded of other countries. We lost our global respect, and Bush created new rules for his cabinet: there are no rules.

So, seven days and counting. I have never been so glad to see anyone leave office. I have also never been so excited about the incoming President-Elect. Bush has left Obama with more than a few huge messes to clean up, and the job of essentially, bringing America back. It is a daunting beginning for his office, but I know he is the right man for the job.

Below is an extremely well written piece by Joe Klein for Time Magazine, detailing Bush's tortured legacy.

The Bush Administration's Most Despicable Act
Joe Klein Thursday, Jan. 08, 2009

"This is not the America I know," President George W. Bush said after the first, horrifying pictures of U.S. troops torturing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq surfaced in April 2004. The President was not telling the truth. "This" was the America he had authorized on Feb. 7, 2002, when he signed a memorandum stating that the Third Geneva Convention — the one regarding the treatment of enemy prisoners taken in wartime — did not apply to members of al-Qaeda or the Taliban. That signature led directly to the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay. It was his single most callous and despicable act. It stands at the heart of the national embarrassment that was his presidency.

The details of the torture that Bush authorized have been dribbling out over the years in books like Jane Mayer's excellent The Dark Side. But the most definitive official account was released by the Senate Armed Services Committee just before Christmas. Much of the committee's report remains secret, but a 19-page executive summary was published, and it is infuriating. The story begins with an obscure military training program called Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE), in which various forms of torture are simulated to prepare U.S. special-ops personnel for the sorts of treatment they might receive if they're taken prisoner. Incredibly, the Bush Administration decided to have SERE trainers instruct its interrogation teams on how to torture prisoners. (Read "Shell-Shocked at Abu Ghraib?")
It should be noted that there was, and is, no evidence that these techniques actually work. Experienced military and FBI interrogators believe that torture leads, more often than not, to fabricated confessions. Patient, persistent questioning using subtle psychological carrots and sticks is the surest way to get actionable information. But prisoners held by the U.S. were tortured — first at Guantánamo Bay and later in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Armed Services Committee report details the techniques used on one prisoner: "Military working dogs had been used against [Mohammed al-] Khatani. He had also been deprived of adequate sleep for weeks on end, stripped naked, subjected to loud music, and made to wear a leash and perform dog tricks."

Since we live in an advanced Western civilization, there needs to be legal justification when we torture people, and the Bush Administration proudly produced it. Memos authorizing the use of "enhanced" techniques were written in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Council. Vice President Dick Cheney and his nefarious aide, David Addington, had a hand in the process. The memos were approved by Bush's legal counsel, Alberto Gonzales. A memo listing specific interrogation techniques that could be used to torture prisoners like Mohammed al-Khatani was passed to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He signed it on Dec. 2, 2002, although he seemed a bit disappointed by the lack of rigor when it came to stress positions: "I stand for 8-10 hours a day," he noted. "Why is standing limited to four hours?"

It would be interesting, just for the fun and justice of it, to subject Rumsfeld to four hours in a stress position — standing stock still with his arms extended, naked, in a cold room after maybe two hours' sleep. But that's not going to happen. Indeed, it seems probable that nothing much is going to happen to the Bush Administration officials who perpetrated what many legal scholars consider to be war crimes. "I would say that there's some theoretical exposure here" to a war-crimes indictment in U.S. federal court, says Gene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School. "But I don't think there's much public appetite for that sort of action." There is, I'm told, absolutely no interest on the part of the incoming Obama Administration to pursue indictments against its predecessors. "We're focused on the future," said one of the President-elect's legal advisers. Fidell and others say it is possible, though highly unlikely, that Bush et al. could be arrested overseas — one imagines the Vice President pinched midstream on a fly-fishing trip to Norway — just as Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator, was indicted in Spain and arrested in London for his crimes.

If Barack Obama really wanted to be cagey, he could pardon Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld for the possible commission of war crimes. Then they'd have to live with official acknowledgment of their ignominy in perpetuity. More likely, Obama will simply make sure — through his excellent team of legal appointees — that no such behavior happens again. Still, there should be some official acknowledgment by the U.S. government that the Bush Administration's policies were reprehensible, and quite possibly illegal, and that the U.S. is no longer in the torture business. If Obama doesn't want to make that statement, perhaps we could do it in the form of a Bush Memorial in Washington: a statue of the hooded Abu Ghraib prisoner in cruciform stress position — the real Bush legacy.

photo and article courtesy Time.com


Thursday, January 8, 2009


When all else fails, when life is giving you lemons and your lemonade recipe sucks... turn to the internet and immature humor. My solution today was the I Can Has Cheezburger site. If you don't have to watch that video over and over like I did, I would have to question your funny bone. I love his little back legs.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ever have one of those days?

Mine is today.

Maybe I need to shop here...soon.


Building Blocks

I have mentioned the site The Big Picture before, and even dedicated a post to it. This site showcases some amazing photography, and also highlights events we might not otherwise see in normal news outlets. I was struck by today's feature, the 25th Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival at a park in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province. The fact that all of these structures are made of ice and colored and lit within is hard to believe. The size of these structures is staggering, and must have been even moreso in person.

The two pictures above are just a taste, you have to see them all. On the actual Big Picture site, the pictures are huge and you can really see the detail. Click here.


Monday, January 5, 2009

And in this Corner...

Yes, I am sharing yet another video, but I had to post this once I found a decent copy on You Tube. Once again, this is live television, which makes the whole thing even better.
This clip doesn't need much explanation, it is just a morning show where the guest is an animal trainer of some sort who has brought along a kangaroo. There is some costumed character known as Marty Monster (I suppose a regular member of the show) wandering about, and the fact that the character looks beyond ridiculous in the first place is just perfect.
Watch through the entire clip as the kangaroo does not give up!


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Not Necessarily the News

I have to admit I have a weakness for watching blooper videos, but especially news blooper videos. I guess it is the whole live tv thing, and the seriousness with which the reporters are delivering their reports while chaos ensues. I don't know, but they make me laugh out loud.
Thought I would share a particularly good compilation. Be sure and watch until the very end. The last few seconds are too funny!


Friday, January 2, 2009

Did you know I go to Paris every day?

I do. And you can too. Or to Lisbon, or Tokyo, or Los Angeles. I do this by visiting the Paris Daily Photo Blog every day, and although I would much rather be wandering the cobblestone streets of Paris in person, I do feel a sense of connection to my favorite city through this blog.

Most major cities, and some not-so-major cities have these sites or blogs, and it is fun to virtually travel and see some local sights, especially as the seasons change, or during the holidays.

Eric, who runs the Paris Daily Photo site, has a list of most of the other city daily photo sites on his blog. Take a peek. A warning- it can get addictive!

The picture above was from the Paris Daily Photo blog today, and I just loved it. One of the things I loved about wandering around Paris was happening upon beautiful statues and sculptures everywhere, hidden in private and public gardens, just waiting to be discovered. This one, just dusted with snow, I thought was so gorgeous. Eric does an especially wonderful job of capturing some beautiful shots in Paris.

Let me know if you "travel" anywhere and find a great site!


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ending the Year Without Pants

If you had a crazy night last night that involved lots of alcohol, or a crowded party, dancing, singing, and counting down the last seconds until the New Year, my hat is off to you, no matter how hung over or tired you may be this morning. For my New Year's Eve, I had a good dose of humiliation. For my friends that know me well, you all can just shake your heads and add another episode of my mayhem to the list. I swear I don't know how this crap always happens to me. I have not, however, lost the lesson on this one.

I actually started by having a fairly decent afternoon. I saw two movies, Doubt and Marley and Me, and really liked them both. I had visited Sam's Club earlier to stock up on a few things and came home to unload my car after the movies. That was when the first not-so-fun thing happened. I had purchased a "flat" of ginger ale at Sam's, one of the long, low cardboard trays filled will single cans meant to save me money. When I opened the back of my car, somehow the flat became airborne and the cans went flying. It was dark and cold and ginger ale was hissing and spitting out of the cans from all directions, and of course cans roll, so I was busy chasing the cans all down my driveway and the street. So, twenty minutes later, I finally have a few cans left in the tray and am headed to my back door to go inside my house. I barely get the door open when a rocket of fur and paws flies by me out onto the deck. This rocket is also known as Baxter, my cat who has recently decided that it is way fun to fly out the door when I come home and make me chase him, terrified he will be squashed by oncoming traffic nearby. I throw the ginger ale inside, run after Baxter, catch him, finally get inside my house, pissed and covered in ginger ale (which is sticky), and now cat fur.

My jeans took the brunt of the ginger ale spraying, so I take those off and then remember that I have a package laying on the front doormat. I had seen it while driving by my house circling to park in back. So, for some reason, sans jeans, I think I can barely crack the door open and quickly swipe the small package from the doormat. I go to do this, and as I do, rocket cat gets a second wind and shoots past/under me, I don't know. I manage to grab him BY THE TAIL, but he pulls me outside. I don't want the other cats to get out (I have 2 others), so I pull the door just barely closed, but as I do this, Baxter yanks me, and bang! the door slams shut AND LOCKED. I am now standing on my front porch in a CROPPED sweatshirt and panties. I say cropped sweatshirt, because I want to stress that I could not be wearing a nice oversized sweatshirt that covers anything, but a cropped sweatshirt that barely reaches the top of my underwear. And COLD? Did I mention how COLD it is???? I reach down and grab Baxter, who is squirming and making noises like a toddler I have robbed of playtime, and I literally started to cry. But then, of course, several cars drove by and started to honk. And I had to laugh. I was trying to wait for the streets to be empty before running around the side of my house-under the bright streetlamps-to the back door-PRAYING IT WAS UNLOCKED. So anyway, finally, I did run around the house and my back door was unlocked. Once inside, Baxter flopped down and looked at me as if to say, Whew! I am tired!

Little shit.

So the lesson I learned? NEVER remove your pants before getting a package from the front porch. Ever.

AND, I am so glad 2008 is over. I didn't stay up to ring in the new year. I went to bed soon after my semi-streaking incident. I have had enough of 2008. I wanted 2009 to get here as fast as possible.



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