Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Delivery approaches

Well, I've got our delivery room all outfitted just like I want. I'm pretty sure Anya is going to like the set-up; pretty mom-friendly, don't you think?

As Borat would say, "NOT!!!!"

Yes, the delivery date is coming. The official due date is March 3rd, I think, if we go by the last menstrual period. The sono that we did earlier showed February 28th, which is not that big of a difference. Either way, the baby is coming.

I remember when we found out we were pregnant--this delivery thing was far off, you know, after the holidays, over the horizon, too far away to even begin to think about. Not anymore.

I have been keeping a positive attitude about the whole thing, knowing that everything will go well. I am hoping that the baby comes so quickly that I will not have time to worry about anything and overthink the situation. My fantasy is that I am at work and Anya calls me and says "Hey Dave, baby's here! Come see!"

Well, I hope to be a bit more of a participant than that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Byrd collapses

Robert Byrd (D-WV, the Senate's only former Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan) speaking in 1964:
"I'll drop dead the day a black man can be president."

HEADLINE OF THE DAY: Obama Inaugurated, Ex-Klansman Collapses.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Art world

Andrew Wyeth died the other day at age 91 at his home in Pennsylvania. Both Anya and I were surprised; I could have sworn he had died years ago. I remember seeing his work at NOMA a few years back, and even then the impression I had was that he had already died. I can only surmise that these last few years, he was not working, although I understand that he painted well into his 80's.

I'll talk about the two pics in a second.

What I find amazing is the kind of criticism that was leveled at Wyeth's work during his lifetime. Common criticisms are that Wyeth's art verges on illustration, and that his rural subject matter is sentimental. Peter Schjeldahl, art critic for The Village Voice, derided his paintings as "Formulaic stuff not very effective even as illustrational 'realism'".

Here's Time magazine's take:

Even when Wyeth is admitted into the canon, he's held a bit at arm's length. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City owns his most famous canvas, Christina's World, which it acquired in 1948, soon after it was painted, for just $1,800. But while the picture is always on display at MoMA, it's consigned to what you might call an anteroom on the margins of the more respectably modern galleries . . .

The London Times art critic even cut poor Christina's feet off. You think they would have left off the bottom of a Pollock or a Rothko?

So I ran across this story. Seems Aelita Andre will be holding her first gallery showing at the Brunswick Street Gallery in Victoria, Australia later this month. The gallery's art director was shown her work by another client of his, liked what he saw and set up the show, with lots of press and promotion.
WhenThe Age's art critic, Robert Nelson, was shown the works, his first impression was of "credible abstractions, maybe playing on Asian screens with their reds. They're heavily reliant on figure/ground relations."

One problem. Aelita Andre is 22 months old. That's right--my kid COULD paint that.

Maybe Wyeth could have been more credibly abstract; he could have paid more attention to color-shape and that old bugaboo, figure/ground relations.

Well--of the two paintings above, one was done by an artist, the other was done by someone who woke up fussy from their nap.

Go ahead--guess which one!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yes you can party

"This is a time to celebrate. This is a great moment. Do not dress down. Do not wear the Washington uniform," said Tim Gunn, a native Washingtonian and Chief Creative Officer at Liz Claiborne, Inc.

Mr. Gunn is referring to the upcoming inaugural celebrations for President-elect Obama next Tuesday evening. Despite the dismal economy, continuing disturbances in the Middle East and talk of sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, the word is that glitz and pageantry are in. At some $45 million dollars, this is set to be the most expensive inaugural. Evah.

Great, huh?

Yet four years ago, the AP was singing a different tune. The nation faced similar difficulties as we do now, but many in the press suggested that it would be in poor taste for Bush to hold a lavish inaugural celebration.

Here's an excerpt from the AP story in January 2005:
President Bush’s second inauguration will cost tens of millions of dollars — $40 million alone in private donations for the balls, parade and other invitation-only parties. With that kind of money, what could you buy?

■ 200 armored Humvees with the best armor for troops in Iraq.

■ Vaccinations and preventive health care for 22 million children in regions devastated by the tsunami.

■ A down payment on the nation’s deficit, which hit a record-breaking $412 billion last year....

The questions have come from Bush supporters and opponents: Do we need to spend this money on what seems so extravagant?

New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, suggested inaugural parties should be scaled back, citing as a precedent Roosevelt's inauguration during World War II.

"President Roosevelt held his 1945 inaugural at the White House, making a short speech and serving guests cold chicken salad and plain pound cake," according to a letter from Weiner and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. "During World War I, President Wilson did not have any parties at his 1917 inaugural, saying that such festivities would be undignified."...

I actually think this is a time for celebration, not chicken salad. Obama's inauguration is an unprecedented historic event in our nation's history, and he (and our country) deserve to celebrate. So this isn't about Obama being inappropriate--it's about the behavior, the hypocrisy of our press corps.

This is the kind of stuff they are reporting today:
"Just because the economy is in a downturn, it doesn't mean that style is going to be in a downturn," agreed Ken Downing, fashion director for Neiman Marcus.

And if anyone does raise an eyebrow at those sequins, remind them that optimism is good for times like these. "Just say you're doing it to help the economy," chuckled good manners guru Letitia Baldridge.

For some reason, this brings to mind one of my favorite quotes by John Lennon, from a performance before the Royal family in 1963:

For our last number, I'd like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, just rattle your jewelry.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An honest mistake?

A plumber owed $1,000 in taxes that he didn’t even know about… …and it was headline news!

Yet, Timothy Geithner, Obama's designated pick for Treasury Secretary owed $26,000 in back self-employment taxes and it doesn't seem to be be a big deal.

What's up with that?

To be fair, I've been behind on taxes myself before--not a good place to be, but I knew about it, and eventually got straight with the Feds. To be fair, this guy paid what he owed when informed of his, um error. But this guy works at a Federal Reserve Bank. He's being proposed as Treasury Secretary. He's supposed to mastermind our economic recovery. The IRS is part of his Department.

And he forgot?

There are more than enough simple tax programs out there that will walk you through the necessary calculations--it's not a big deal. And I'm not really concerned about this guy's mistake. Maybe it shouldn't disqualify him for a Cabinet post. But if he had been a Bush nominee, or a plumber . . .

Others are not so forgiving. Here's what one blog commenter had to say:
Why would anyone neglect to pay taxes? Forgot? Not a good sign. Procrastination? Not good. Didn’t know about it? Maybe o.k. for a plumber, but… Above it all? Won’t get caught? Didn’t have the money? (I’m self-employed, too, and I make sure I have the money). Doesn’t believe in taxes? Can you think of one good reason for not paying taxes that portends well for a Secretary of the Treasury? I’d feel better.

I wonder if Biden is questioning his patriotism.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Playing at being green

Recently-elected Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) wanted to promote electric car technology. So he figured out a way to drive an electric car from his district to his swearing-in at the Capitol in D.C. Unfortunately, the 300 mile distance is out of the driving range of the electric car. Hmmm, what to do? Well, Massa had it figured out:

Massa drove one fuel cell car while a hybrid SUV towing an additional SUV followed along. Once he got half way, he switched to new fuel cell car. The empty fuel cell was then towed back by the first SUV. As he continued on his journey, the second SUV followed. Once Massa arrived in DC, the second SUV then towed the second fuel cell car back to NY.

This green wannabe took 4 cars to drive 300 miles. But, you know, he REALLY cares, you know, about the environment . . .

This guy's capacity for theater combined with obliviousness portends for a successful career in politics.

Did you really think that the stoopid was leaving D.C. next week?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

CPR instructions needed

This was posted earlier today at Little Green Footballs. The story is that this "freelance" cameraman is out shooting footage in Gaza for a British news channel when he receives word that his 12 year old brother has been injured by Israeli gunfire.

Watch the video at the link (sorry, couldn't embed it here).

The chest compressions look, well, anemic. As the commenter at LGF notes, it's like the big guy is tapping on the kid's sternum (I thought he was compressing the abdomen actually). There is no one ventilating the patient, and in a full "code" situation this would most certainly be done. At one point the doctor is seen quite nonchalantly pasting EKG leads on the "victim's" chest. There is no sense of urgency, no "controlled chaos" that one would normally see during a code--especially in the case of trying to save the life of a child.

Another commenter noted, "I know if MY little brother was laying on a table fighting for his life, the very first thing I would do is run and get my camcorder!"

This originally ran on CNN, but surprisingly, the video has since been taken down from the CNN site. Hmmmm . . .

And the doctor in the video? He's Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian MD who has been quite vocal in his support of Hamas; he's apparently all over the place giving interviews to anyone who will listen, claiming that Israel is indiscriminately and purposely murdering civilians. In addition to being supportive of Hamas, Gilbert has voiced support for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"The attack on New York did not come as a surprise after the policy that the West has led during the last decades," Gilbert told the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet on Sept. 30, 2001. "The oppressed also have a moral right to attack the USA with any weapon they can come up with."

When asked if he supported a terror attack on the U.S., Gilbert said, "Terror is a bad weapon but the answer is yes within the context which I have mentioned."

I would think he needs more than CPR lessons.

Torture and rendition

As long as the left is patiently holding its breath, waiting for Bush or Cheney to be arrested and tried for war crimes, we perhaps should consider this. As early as spring of 2002, key members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, including Nancy Pelosi, were briefed thoroughly, and repeatedly, on the CIA's covert antiterror interrogation programs. Since they did nothing to stop the programs, wouldn't they also be complicit in these "crimes?" It will be interesting to see how this goes down; after all, the story is that Bush just thought up this torture stuff all by himself, sitting at his ranch in Crawford. Instead, it seems that intelligence officials were acting in good faith and with the full knowledge of key Members of Congress.

And rendition--the handing over of prisoners to other countries where torture is allowed--wasn't that a Bush invention? A lot of people seem to think so, but the program was really developed during the Clinton administration (see here and here).

And who's being named as the new head of CIA? Leon Panetta, Clinton's chief of staff.

Hope and change for everyone.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gas prices

I actually bought gas the other day for $1.33/gallon. Oh man, that was sweet.

There was a popular bumper sticker not too long ago that said "When Bush took office, gas was $1.46." No further details, but the implication was chimpy Bush and his cronies had jacked up the prices. You know, just sayin' . . .

Well, as of Dec. 29, the national average price of a gallon of gas was $1.59; adjusted for 2001 dollars, it works out to $1.33, 9% lower than when Bush took office.

I am educated enough to know that Bush personally did not have anything to do with gas prices during the last 8 years.

I'm just sayin' . . .

Monday, January 5, 2009

Revisionist and the terrorist

Recently, Bill Ayers wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times, in which he tries to defuse some of the criticisms lobbed against him during the recent presidential campaign. It is historical revisionism at its best. You know, he just wasn't that bad a guy.
I never killed or injured anyone . . . In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village.

The explosion was that of a pipe bomb loaded with roofing nails, meant as a present to the Fort Dix enlisted club. I think a bomb is bad enough, but when you include roofing nails, are you trying NOT to kill or injure anyone?
The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.

No, Bill--you had already plotted to explode 44 sticks of dynamite at a Detroit police station adjacent to a restaurant. And your participation in the failed 1969 Days of Rage is well-known. I say failed, even though innocent people were hospitalized and one district attorney (Richard Elrod) was paralyzed for life, a maiming Ayer's fellow Weathermen mocked with the crude lyrics of “Lay Elrod Lay.”
We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war. . . But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends.

As a famous tennis player once said, "YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS!"

The NYT had no problems running the Ayers fantasy--I mean op-ed piece. However, they refused (twice) to run a rebuttal piece by Larry Grathwohl, the FBI informant who had infiltrated the Weather Underground at the time, and who was responsible for saving many of the lives that Ayers was ready to sacrifice. Here it is in full:
“Response to ‘The Real Bill Ayers’”

By Larry Grathwohl

My name is Larry Grathwohl and I infiltrated the Weather Underground for the FBI. I had no idea when my journey began in August 1969 that I would see and experience the degree of violence and hatred of our democracy that existed in the Weather Underground. Bernardine Dorhn, Bill Ayers, and the other people I would meet had as their sole purpose the destruction of the United States. The fact that I ultimately became the only source of information regarding the activities of the Weather Underground and the fact that Bill Ayers now claims their goal was only to bring about the end of the war in Vietnam requires me to respond.

At least Bill admits the Weather Underground “crossed” the line of legality but mitigates this admission by stating that the effectiveness of the “symbolic acts of extreme vandalism” is still being debated. He further states that the selected targets were “property, never people” and that their only purpose was to end the war in Vietnam. Bill is simply not being truthful and is rewriting history to reflect a completely different role for himself and the Weather Underground from what actually took place. “Bring the war home, kill your parents” was the mantra being chanted when the group decided to go underground in December 1969 and there certainly isn’t anything anti-war in that statement. I’m also curious as to who is debating their status. When I think about the Weather Underground my immediate thought is “terrorism and death.”

Billy goes on about how the Weather Underground came into existence because “peaceful protests had failed” and “after an accidental explosion killed three comrades.” The explosion of the townhouse in Greenwich Village was the result of a bomb factory which was preparing bombs containing roofing nails for use at a Fort Dix enlisted club. The inclusion of roofing nails can have but one purpose and that’s to injure or kill people. Prior to this event Bill’s wife, Bernardine Dorhn, placed a bomb of the same design at the Park Police Station in San Francisco and killed Officer McDonnell. Additionally, I was still inside the Weather Underground when the townhouse blew up and the commitment to sabotage and terrorism had already been established and the purpose was the overthrow of the United States government.

Bill implies that the questioning of his activities is dishonest and that at worst he may have made some mistakes in judgment but his motivations were just. Personally, I can think of nothing that would justify the activities of the Weather Underground and am astonished by Bill Ayers’ attempts to corrupt the historical facts by making himself a misunderstood leader of the anti-war movement. Robert Kennedy, possibly the most notable anti-Vietnam war leader of the late 60s, was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in 1968. The Weather Underground published Prairie Fire in 1974 and dedicated it to Sirhan Sirhan. Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dorhn, and others signed this dedication but now they would ask us to accept their explanation that all they wanted to accomplish was an end to the war in Vietnam.

I could go on with many other contradictions in the new history Billy is attempting to impose on us. Today we are supposed to believe that Bill is merely an educator with no interests in the political aspects of our society. If this is true then why the picture of him standing on our flag? Why the statement that his only regret is that they (the Weather Underground) hadn’t done enough? What is the meaning of “I now consider myself an anarchist”? I can only conclude that Billy is a confluence of contradictions and revised history meant to confuse us as to what he is really about. Consider “guilty as hell, free as a bird, America is a great country.” Do you think he really means that?

I must conclude by acknowledging that in one respect Bill is probably being absolutely truthful. When he says that “I never killed or injured anyone,” he is most likely being totally honest. Bill, like Charles Manson, never exposed himself to any kind of danger. He always gave orders and then left it to his then-girlfriend, Diane Oughton, and others to implement his plan. If you listen closely you can even hear the similarities in the arguments Manson and Billy use today to justify what they did: the 60s made me do it.

No amount of inspired fantasy, however, can omit the simple truth that there is only one significant difference between Bill Ayers and Timothy McVeigh.