Friday, December 28, 2007

Your Goddamned Cell Phone

This is not an anti-technology rant, it really isn’t but it is a rant about a piece of technology: The trusty old cell phone. This isn’t about the morons who drive while talking on their Yak-Box nor is it about the people who talk on them during a movie theater and why it’s okay to kill them. Nope, I just want to enlighten you to what a pain in the ass many of you cell phonies are to the rest of society.

I work in a job where I have to answer the phone as part of my dealings with the general public. Today, just as it happens every day, the phone rings and I drop what I’m doing to pick it up. I say ‘Hello” and the person on the other end drops off the line. What has happened is that they’ve lost their cell connection because they are hurtling down the highway at 75mph or they are walking around town and stepped into an artificial canyon created by a couple of tall buildings. This call came while I was in back refilling coffee, which meant that I had to stop in the middle and rush back to the phone. After the line had gone dead I sat there for a moment and it dawned on me that I’ve lost hours of productivity at work and hours more at home in lost football and live TV time thanks to someone who’d called me while on a cell phone and driving or walking around. There is nothing more annoying than dealing with this situation either because you know that they’ll eventually call you back so your life is suspended as you wait for them to get into range of the next cell. Every once in a while, one of these people will get angry at me because of the dropped call, as if I hung up on them instead of rationalizing that their cell phone service is shit.

Here’s an idea: Stop moving!

Yes, that’s correct, pull your car over or sit your ass down when you decide to call someone up. Why? You are the intruder when you place a phone call. The person that you are calling is doing something else so you owe it to them to complete your call in one sitting whatever the reason for your call. Otherwise you become a pest; face facts, there are some of your friends whom you can only reach by voice-mail and the reason is because you have become a pain in the ass. They like you as a person but they don’t talk to you on your crappy cell phone. Cell phones have forever ruined talk radio as well, every day some caller will be in the middle of making an interesting or important conversational point when they vanish from the airwaves. It’s so fucking rude.

Look gang, if you are making a phone call treat it as the most important thing you’ll do all day. Not thinking about where you are or how long you’ll stay connected makes you a selfish puke, you’re telling whoever you’re calling that their time doesn’t matter.

I wish I could bill the phone companies for dropped calls.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas...Seriously.

It's Christmas Eve, 2007. It's quiet here at work so I thought I'd take a second to thank you, whoever you are who stops in to read my ramblings. I hope that I amuse you.

I'm not religious in the standard definition of the word, I'm an Episcopalian but I haven't been to church in years. I worked in a Toy Store for 17 years and I have a jaded view of the holiday season, the only thing that got me through each year was the kids and their amazing sense of wondrous excitement. I suffer from depression during the holidays, mostly because of my small income and the commercialization that reminds me of how much money I don't have. Still, I manage to get through it without ruining it for other people. Which is something that a growing group of assholes really needs to learn how to do. I'm talking about the various anti-Christmas activist-types.

I'm not talking about the Nazis at the ACLU pushing holiday displays off of government property, I'm talking about the dorks who protest everything about Christmas. Who are these people anyway? What could they possibly protest about Christmas? I'm pretty sure that they are simpletons assholes who just hate everyone. Just look at Christmas itself...

The holiday is based around the birth of Jesus Christ, in Christianity it's a distant second to Easter in importance. It's the J-Man's death on the cross that set him apart and not his birth. Some folks argue about the Gospels and how the Nativity is only covered in one of them; others point out that Jesus was born in July and there's all kinds of imagery that's open to debate from being born in a stable to the Star of David. Most all of this hoohaw misses the point of Christmas, which is to take a day and think about your fellow man for a second, lay down your arms for a few hours and help those less fortunate than yourself. Before Jesus, most religious holidays were based on fear and had a terrifying story at their base. The birth of Christ is about the hope of PEACE and a call to love your neighbor.

What kind of piece of human shit would protest that?

That question answered itself.

Anyway, to those of you who don't suck, Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Defending Ben Affleck

Look, it's not his fault.

Okay, I know that there's an entire industry that has built up like a Silver mine boom camp around making fun of Ben Affleck and putting the guy down. I just want to know why? Seriously, what did Ben Affleck do to warrant the derision that is now heaped upon him whenever he does a new movie project? Did he run over a puppy?

Look, the guy never expected to end up on the "A-List", he just wanted to act in movies and write one here and there. The problem was that his first major efforts were actually very damn good and compounding things was the fact that he's a good looking dude. He was offered a bunch of high paying leading-man parts in what turned out to be crappy movies. You would have done the same thing? No? Bullshit! You expect me to believe that if some Hollywood producer offers you $7million to be in a movie where you play a fighter pilot and make out with a hot actress babe that you are going to tell him no? If so, why are you even reading my blog? Jeez, give me that money and tell whats-her-face to buy birthcontrol because I'm going to give it my all, beeeaaaaytch! Ben just did what any guy with half a brain would have done in his place, so why crusify the man?
It can't be because of his high-profile romances. No way. Come on, they guy dated Gwyneth Paltrow back when she was still hot. Then he got to nail Jennifer Lopez (with the ass that launched a thousand ships) at a time when she was miss hotstuff. Then Jennifer Garner straightened his ass out and he married her. The man is not a dipshit. Plus, who makes fun of a guy for dating the hottest women on the planet anyway? What the hell is wrong with you? Ben should be issued some kind of a plaque or have a statue built or something.

So what's the deal?

Maybe it's because his good friend is Matt Damon and Matt has made different choices with his career and has gone the opposite direction from Ben. At least it depends on how you look at it. Ben seemed to have picked his movie roles based on how much fun the movie was going to be to make while Matt was willing to push himself into different directions. At their core they're both good actors it's just that Ben plays "Dom" to Matt's Joe DiMaggio, that's all. In the long run I think Ben's going to do some more good stuff and eventually folks will start picking on someone else.

Ben's a good guy and he's going to be okay.

Finding The Wall

It's been a while since my third back surgery and more than six years since I pulled off a long-range hike. Mostly because I haven't had the time but I have to admit that the idea of being disabled bugs me and I don't know how hard I can push myself any more. So about three weeks ago I grabbed my camera and my day pack and drove out to Fort Ord and parked up just past the old hospital. I was only planning a two hour field movement in which I was going to hunt down artifacts left over from the Army and photograph them. I'd bought new boots and I wanted to break those in as well, so I head into "The Back Yard", of Fort Ord with no real plan or time frame.
After the first mile I was feeling great and I decide to make a push deep into the old base in order to locate a remote canyon. This canyon had once been the location of a full-size mock-up of a Vietnamese village. The Army used it to train soldiers headed to Vietnam back in the late 1960s and while it is long since gone I've found that the Army always leaves something behind and because it was the Army and not the BLM who tore the place down it's possible to find goodies to photograph. So I'm feeling good, my boots are comfortable and the weather is passable , thus I forge up to the top of the first ridge and follow a game trail down to the road that descends to the bottom of Eucalyptus canyon. Once I reach the road at the bottom I'm just over three miles away from my truck, I take a second to take stock and decide that I feel good and so I boogie down the road to where it intersects with a trail and head off along that. The trail winds along the south-east side of the canyon ridge and heads to a gap where a road cuts across into the last deep canyon of the old base. Once I reach the gap and begin to climb I decide not to take the road and instead I take a trail that climbs up along a small box canyon to "Lookout Road". As I climb this trail I'm looking at this small canyon and I quickly realize that this is the target canyon! Hot dog! I continue up the trail because it gives me a great view of the entire canyon and I take mental notes on how I'm going to search it in the future. I finally get to the top of the canyon and it does look out onto the great canyon below. I stop and take my pack off and eat some breakfast bars I'd stowed inside. I then refill my canteens and take in the view. Then I look at my watch.
Oh shit...
It's 4:30pm, I'm six miles from my truck and I have an hour of daylight left. Oh shit. I am standing in the middle of Mountain Lion central all by my lonesome. Oh shit! Well, okay, I'm not totally screwed because I have my day pack, which means that I have a warm sweater and two flashlights. So I put on the sweater and clip one flashlight to my shoulder strap and put the other in my cargo pocket and I gear up and start the long move back. It took me forty minutes to climb back down to the road at the bottom of the second canyon and reach the road that would take me out. The problem now is that the forty minute/three mile hike had thrashed my legs and feet. My lower body was now a symphony of pain as each muscle group sang out and my right leg was shaking uncontrollably. I could feel blisters on both feet. All this would make the next mile no fun because because I would be climbing a 20% grade the whole way.
Somewhere before I reached the top the sun went down.
At the top I tried to kick it into gear but my legs were just done. I had two miles to go and it was 5:30pm. I just lunged down the road thankful for the darkness because I now looked like Frankenstein's monster as I thudded my way back to my truck. I swept the sides of the road with my second flashlight in order to catch the reflection of eyeballs that might be looking at me. Early on I did manage to catch a large cat in my beam of light but I'm pretty sure that it was a Bobcat and not a Cougar, either way I wasn't going to hang around and get a closer look. It's amazing how your world changes in the dark, especially when you are under stress; everything becomes impossible and every noise becomes a threat. I tried to sing but everything quickly boiled down to "Shit,Shit,Shit,Shit". The few times that I stopped for water I found that I paid for it in new kinds of pain as my muscles locked up. Usually I can daydream to take my mind off of the pain but not this time, I was living each and every moment as they came. I was never so happy as when I saw my truck.
I closed on it and opened the door. I slid off my gear, dumped my canteen out over my head and then sat down behind the wheel. Ahhhhhh! Oh baby, you know what I like. I had found my wall, somewhere out around the seven mile mark and I passed it and discovered a world of pain. When I got home I found that my socks had disintegrated at the toes and I had big blisters on both feet. I ended up removing the nail on my little toe, which actually came off pretty easily. The next day was no fun as I dealt if stiff muscles and foot pain but a few days later I felt great...really a new man kinda great. I picked up 4mph on my exercise bike and I felt better than I had in a long time. The body is a strange thing because the whole way back to my truck I'm cursing myself for being so stupid to even think about hiking that far and now all I can think about is getting back out there and maybe even going farther.
I think I'm brain damaged.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Want To Screw Defense Contractors?

This is a subject near and dear to my heart, it also underlines everything that is wrong with Washington D.C., so bear with me.

I used to be a hobby buyer for a small toy store and I’m also a life-long builder of plastic models. I’ve built almost every plane in the US Air Force inventory, a fleet of battleships, destroyers and aircraft carriers. I’ve mastered 1/35 scale armor and figures and made cool dioramas. I’ve built the Starship Enterprise from A to E, the Millennium Falcon and all of those cool Aurora movie-monster kits. I’ve even done a few dinosaurs.

I love building models. Almost as much as I love blowing them up with firecrackers. That’s another thread.

The most common question that I used to be asked was where are the modern kits? You could find the M1 Abrams and Bradley but only from Tamaya (a Japanese company and very expensive), the UH-60 was only made in 1/48 and 1/72, but not in 1/35. You couldn’t find a 105 Howitzer or 90% of current US military hardware. It was frustrating because I could never get an answer. Eventually new Chinese based model companies started to pick up the slack and I could finally stock Los Angeles-Class submarines, Arleigh Burke destroyers and funky Oshkosh fuel trucks. I even stocked prototypes of the F-23, which was never built.

The thing was that these kits were always more expensive than their Russian counterparts by 15% to 25% and that never made sense to me because the details for a T-72 are a tougher cast than an M1. A modern Destroyer model, which has less clutter on its deck, was more expensive than a WWII battleship, which has all kinds of guns and deck items to detail (thus more plastic). Then, for every modern vehicle introduced model companies would release 7 to 15 new WWII kits. You can buy every variation of the Tiger tank; you can buy Nazi prototypes and even German tanks that only showed up on the battlefield in the last months of the war. The reasons that WWII kits are more popular vary; some of it has to do with the fact that WWII tanks, fighters, bombers and warships are just more interesting as a subject than modern equipment. I’ll never get tired of building B-17s, PT boats and the F4U myself so I understand this. Then there is basic politics, Japanese kids (who dominate the model building world) aren’t as hot on American stuff as they are on WWII German stuff. Some countries even restrict the model industry to only that country’s weapons systems (France), or that a percentage MUST be domestic kits. That’s why Heller makes some great, unique French stuff.

Then I found out the main reason that it’s so damn hard to get modern stuff. It turns out that the reason modern US kits are few and far between is due to Defense contractors demanding a licensing fee from model makers. Not just the primary contractors either, even sub-contractors have gotten into the game. Even if that sub-contractor’s equipment is not represented in the model (the numerous black boxes on an F-22 for example) they still sick their lawyers on the model companies. That slows everything down and drives the price of the kit up. Why would any model company want to produce the new armored cars, for example, when it’s just easier, cheaper and more profitable to roll out yet another sub-type of the Super Tiger from WWII?

This sucks, here’s why…

Who pays for the F-22? Who pays for those little black boxes in the F-22’s avionics bays? WE DO! Yep, John Q Taxpayer owns those F-22s and those little black boxes inside of them. In fact, if it wasn’t for Mr. & Mrs. Taxpayer, the F-22 wouldn’t exist and neither would all of those little black boxes. These defense companies are double-dipping, they are getting paid twice and it’s wrong. I paid for all of those Blackhawks and if I want to buy a 1/35 MH-60 variant I shouldn’t have to reimburse Hughes for a box that nobody could see even if it was part of the kit. In fact, that particular box is classified; if I have to pay Hughes then I want to know how it works and what it does.

This is just sleazy.

Now New Jersey Congressman Andrews has introduced a bill to end this scummy practice:

It’s not going to save the world, end the war or make healthcare affordable but it IS a quality of life issue. It’s also a chance to set a small wrong back to right again.

Sorry to vent but this is something I’ve followed and feel strongly about.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Party Girl" by Anna David

Okay, I know what you’re thinking, WTF? Axxman, what are you doing reading a book about some hot Hollywood reporter? Well, everyone in a while I like a good novel that takes me into a different world. Now, the last three books I’ve read were a couple of books by James Joes about Counter-Insurgency and “Blood & Thunder” A Tale of the Old West. In the last five years my life has been consumed by all things United States Army, Counter-Insurgency and Counter-Terrorism. Essentially reading about how good men train to kill other, not so good men and it can be very depressing at times. Now, I like to take a break here and there and one of my favorite ways to break up the military stuff is to tune into G4’s “Attack of the Show”, which is a silly, snarky show that covers video games, computers, technology, movies and other pop-culture stuff. It’s an hour long and a pleasant oasis of non-serious activity. On Wednesdays the do a segment called “In Your Pants” which covers sex and relationship advice and the co-host of this segment is a cool lady by the name of Anna David. She writes columns for a variety of magazines about sex and relationships and she comes across as being wise beyond her years. A wisdom that can only come with mileage. She’s usually dead on with her assessments and has an amazing ability to articulate how a woman feels during certain physical acts as well as how the female mind often perceives the world differently than men. So when I read that she had her first novel come out I made a point to hunt it down and buy it.

I’m glad that I did and I think that you should grab a copy too.

Through her character, Amelia Stone, Anna David slips the reader through those red velvet ropes of Hollywood, beyond the red carpet and into the world of a Gossip Magazine reporter. Using the fictional Amelia, Anna incorporates her biographical accounts into a story of a smart, educated young woman who’s keen and hilarious observations of the Hollywood party scene juxtapose harshly against her failure to realize that she has become a Cocaine addict.

The story starts at a wedding where Amelia’s adventurous nature, fueled by coke, gets her into an encounter in a pool house bathroom and later she finds herself in bed with two men. Definitely a great way to open a book if you ask me. From there we follow Amelia as she works a Movie premier, here Anna shows some skill as a writer because this brief chapter sets the tone and style for her story because buried underneath the humorous observations about certain actors and the catty remarks about skinny actresses it becomes apparent that Amelia is simply biding her time until she can get into the lady’s room and do coke. From there, Amelia ends up at a small party at a Malibu beach house where a game of “Truth or Dare” breaks out.

From there we follow Amelia as she goes to some Rock Star’s house where he insists that she interview him in bed. Shortly afterwards we watch as Amelia is surprised as she’s fired from her job because of her cocaine use. It is here where Anna David’s story-telling shifts into a different gear because this kind of story has been told a zillion times before and she manages to keep it original and true to her character, which is very hard to do even for someone who’s writing from personal experience. To be blunt, Anna does a masterful job of writing from an addict’s perspective as Amelia goes from a good paying job at a magazine, where all she does is go to parties and premiers and next finds herself picking up dog crap from a pet of a high caliber Hollywood exec for $10.00 an hour. Amelia’s coke-fueled rationalizations leave her oblivious to her circumstances as she spends what money she has left on more cocaine.

I can relate to this. I’m an alcoholic and it wasn’t until I’d stopped drinking that I began to realize that the reason my life sucked was due to booze. While I was a drunk this fact escaped me. It never occurred to me that these amazing women in my life kept dumping me because I had a drinking problem.

For the first half of the book, the only reliable man in Amelia Stone’s life is Alex, her coke dealer.

Anyway, from there we see the inevitable crash and Amelia passes out in her own vomit next to a dumpster following an amazingly dangerous encounter that I’ll leave for you to read about; and then it’s off to Re-Hab. Once again, Anna David keeps this story from becoming a cliché fest as she cleans herself up even though they’re all in here. This is due to this being more autobiographical and Anna’s sense of humor and honesty keeps the story above average. Often, writers who stray into re-hab stories either over dramatizes, over emotionalize or over do the whole event. Sure, it’s often a life-changing event for them but too often these stories end up dripping with self-indulgence that Anna manages to skate over in a classy way. You get enough emotion so that you get a good feel for Amelia’s transformation (more of an escape, actually) from coke-head to sober person without being beaten over the head or having our intellect insulted.
Once Amelia’s out of re-hab the story then becomes another challenge as she is hired to write a column about her crazy adventures for a prestigious magazine, crazy adventures she doesn’t plan on having any more in her new and sober life. She learns that the re-invented Amelia Stone can have just as many wild nights sober as the old Amelia Stone did.

“Party Girl” is a darn good book and an excellent first novel from Anna David. It’s a book that people who’ve dreamed about going to Hollywood to “Be a Star” should read. It’s a book that someone who’s smart and at risk should read, maybe you could get it as a gift for them. The narrative about cocaine use is bluntly honest and unglamorous and illustrates how a smart person can find themselves in trouble quickly and not even know it. Anna shows that as an addict, people become unaware of themselves and will rationalize all kinds of destructive behavior in their quest for their next fix. “Party Girl” is also a wonderful look at Hollywood and the people that populate the entertainment industry and the industries that feed of the entertainment industry. People who don’t believe in other dimensions should read this book because Anna illustrates the netherworld of the “Special People” of Hollywood, who move through the night like Vampires and hide in the shadows of the spotlight. There’s an insightful remark Anna makes about watching old TV shows; she becomes depressed because:

“These people were once this town’s big deal. They ate at all the right restaurants, and got invited to all the right parties, and had their names in Variety and were adored, and I’ve never heard of any of them, and now they’re gone and who the hell cares about them today?”

If I were governor, I’d have that written on a giant plaque and put it just below the “Hollywood” sign.

Smart Stuff.

Smart book.

Check it out.

Kinda Blue

October has always been a time when I start to feel a little down. I don't know why. As a dude who loves a good ghost story I should be stoked because the TV and newspapers are full of true ghost stories. Then there's all of the Halloween parties with the slutty outfits that the ladies wear (I use 'Slutty" in a good way) yet I don't seem to get anything out of it like I once did. I think it's because the year's almost over and that means I pissed away another year of my life. At least I have my book which keeps me going but that has been slow because the Army doesn't keep records as well as you'd think that they do. If it were a fiction piece I could have been done already but I need to document and check facts and that just takes time.

So I'm frustrated , I'm frustrated in October. Yay.

Then the holiday season comes and I'm reminded again about how much money I don't make and the number of friends that I have who appreciate Christmas as a time for simply being with the people you love and sharing yourself have thinned out and all that are left are the materialists. As I've aged I tend to embrace the Christian aspect of the Holidays as a time of hope, it makes me feel like a better person and it's much cheaper.

I think that the real issue is that this is going to be my 43rd October and this year is seemed to show up right after April. Time has its way with everyone and I am no exception, I feel like I'm watching my life through the window of a bullet train. WHOOSH! Its not all bad though, I'm losong weight and I have an exercise routine that is helping with that. Things have been quiet at home and stuff seems under control. I'm not even as down as I have been in the past so who knows, maybe this October thing is just a mid-life phase.

I hope.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Into The Woods Again.

I love to hike.

Before I wrecked my back I used to love long-range monster hikes where I'd cover 14 miles in 6 hours. I have no idea why, I think it was just the idea that I could haul ass through some serious terrain with no problem. I also think it was because I secretly hoped I'd just keep walking and never come back; just live out there in the woods and become a wild-man. That just never happened. Since I live in Monterey County I have access to all kinds of environments to explore and enjoy. I have the Central Coast Savannah, which is the low rolling hills filled with Sage and Oak Trees and mostly brown grass. All that it's missing are Zebras and Elephants and it could be Central Africa. Then there's the Coastal Mountain ranges and canyons. Seriously steep ridges that rise sharply to a height of 2000 feet. Certain times of the year you can see migrating whales. Then there are the Redwoods.

The Redwoods can be found either down in Big Sur or up in the Santa Cruz area. There are more tourists down in Big Sur but up in Santa Cruz it's more of a local mix. The park I like will remain nameless but it's the only one in Aptos, CA., so if you need to know the Google is your friend. The Redwoods had been in the back of my head for a few months but I'd always find a reason not to go. So on my last day off I just forced myself to drive up and I'm glad I did. Wow! It was the perfect day.

It was the day before we would get some rain and if you've ever been in a forest before a storm you can feel the trees exhale in anticipation. So as I started my little jaunt I was greeted with the rich aroma of Redwood bark as the trees prepared for a good drink. The Redwoods drop their needles which creates a carpet to walk on, you make no sound as you walk and so long stretches of the hike are almost silent. The wind becomes your partner as if whispers through the trees, I wonder what secrets I would learn if I spoke it's language because the trees seem to not only understand but they were having quite a conversation. The Aptos Creek runs along the side of the canyon and it leisurely babbles it's wonderful song on it's way to the sea.

It's the kind of day that makes you believe in Magic.

I had a secondary motive for coming here. The epicenter of the 1989 Earthquake is right under the park and that earthquake was landmark event in my life. It was one of the things that lead me to stop playing guitar and to pursue more serious things in life. I'll have to tell that story later but coming here is to me just like those old guys going back to Vietnam or Normandy. Something happened here that almost killed me 18 years ago, I like to come here every once in a while and say "Howdy". The great thing is that my last back surgery did the trick and I was able to move around without pain and that means that I'm coming back here again soon. The earthquake was the first life-changing event and my back injury was the second so knowing that I can enjoy the outdoors again has been a great relief to me. Maybe I'll get my foot speed back too, who knows.
The one thing that came to me on this hike was how sad that it is that there are people who'd come here and think "What a great place to build a shopping mall!". I genuinely pity these people because anybody who could stand in a forest like this and only think of cutting it down is spiritually dead. I felt true sadness for people like that because when they win, and get to tear down places like this, they lose and lose big. Well, one can always hope, right?
The rains came the next day and this means that next week that creek will be a little deeper and much faster. I can't wait to return.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Why I Don't Hunt Ghosts Anymore.

I used to hunt ghosts. Really. I'd go to people's homes or businesses and check out their claims of things going on that didn't make sense. Out of eleven "Cases" I was able to explain to the folks what was really going on. In ghost hunting you learn quickly about heating and plumbing issues as well as general construction. Most of the people were relieved but a few were bummed out that they didn't have a ghost. Back in the 1980s, before Electra Magnetic Field detectors and affordable infra-red cameras an investigation was done in the library and at county records pouring through microfilm. Then you went to the house and did a perimeter walk and then inspected each room and then interviewed the inhabitants. Often times the problem was an over-active imagination coupled with a plumbing problem and since the average plumbing job at that time was 40 years old you had all kinds of sounds being made. The thing that I loved the most was the history aspect of it all; forgotten crimes, Spanish land-grants and all sorts of colorful people made it all worthwhile even though I never found a spook.

Don't get me wrong, I've run into a few ghosts. They are certainly real, they're just not what everyone thinks they are. That's another post.

Now, I don't know if I've ever talked about getting kicked out of M.U.F.O.N. for being a government spy (which ticked me off because Spy's make three times as much as I do ) but the short story there is that they weren't interested in facts and became hostile when I suggested that whoever was flying around the night skies might not be friendly (again, it's a long story). This is when I learned what JFK Assassination Theorists already knew, out here on the wacky fringe things get ugly when your theory contradicts some other guy's theory. That's because often the other guy has written a book, does conventions and your theory is a threat to his livelihood. Go to a Psychic Fair or UFO Convention sometime and you'll see what I'm talking about, there is a lot of petty ugliness between "Researchers". However bad the UFO guys are the worst of the bunch are ghost hunters as far as immature reactionaries go.

Oh man, where do I start?

First off, you have the groups that are ruthlessly territorial and are almost gang-like in the way they protect their turf. There are stories of one group hoaxing another as well as tales of cars being vandalized. Then you have the groups that charge people for an investigation, these guys are frauds because there is little accepted proof that ghosts exist so it's akin to an exterminator charging to get rid of Fairies. Then there are the ghost hunters who are just green with envy when another group gets it's picture in the paper or is featured on TV. Man, these people can just ruin your day.

I'm glad I'm out of that world. Now, I need to stress that not all ghost hunters are assholes, it's about half that fit the bill these days. The thing that has those guys all in a twist these days is the "Ghost Hunters" show on SciFi. All kinds of names are thrown around and accusations of frauds and hoaxes are thrown in the direction of the TAPS crew. Basically though it boils down to jealousy, the TAPS guys are on TV and they're not. Boo Hoo. Check the boards sometimes and you will see some petty stuff written about the guys from Rhode Island, it's pretty sad to say the least and worst of all it speaks to the over-all unprofessionalism of many ghost hunters. At the end of the day it's just TV, you turn it on and have some fun, there is no reason to make such a big deal out of it. But some people just can't help themselves.

I enjoy "Ghost Hunters" for what it is and I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the show beyond that. I don't think that the TAPS guys would want me to either.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Captain Old Guy

I had to whip into Monterey to deposit my paycheck which is something I enjoy because it involves a seven-block stoll through downtown. It's a nice October day and that means that there's fun mix of people on the sidewalk. Perfect day too, no line at the bank or at the drugstore so I was able to finish my business quickly. As I was standing at the corner waiting for the light to change I notice an old guy on the opposite corner wearing a Captain's hat, you know like the 'Skipper" on Gilligan's Island? This got me to thinking:

At what point did this guy look in the mirror and say " I've got it, a Captain's hat!"

See, I grew up around a lot of retired military and none of those guys ran around in their Caps once they'd retired. You'd think that the guy who'd commanded the Enterprise in WWII would wear his Admeral's Cap and a t-shirt that said " I Commanded the REAL Enterprise in a REAL war, so suck on it you dirty Hippie", yet he preffered Flannel and sometimes a fishing hat (when he was going fishing). You'd think a guy who'd shot down 12 ME109s over Germany would dress like Colonel Hogan every friggin' day but he didn't. So what promted 'Captain Old Guy" to dawn a $25 Captain's hat and wear it when he goes out on the town? Does he sit at the bar and tell stories about the sea and the "One that got away"?

In Monterey, CA, there are maybe fifteen old-timers who can be spotted wearing Captain's hats. To be fair, some of these guys are retired Sardine and Squidboat Captains and to be sure they'd earned those caps but what about the other guys? Sometimes I go down to the Warf and watch the fishing boats pull in and I've noticed that today nobody wears a Captain's hat, today they wear Giants or 49ers ball caps. I wonder how many of those guys will one day exchange their sports cap for a Captain's hat? I don't know what would be worse, guys sitting around in their Captain's hats or walking around Monterey one day and noticing that the old guys wearing those caps have gone and nobody has replaced them.

You go, Captain Old Guy!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Maybe We Should Just Bring Back Lead Paint

You know, for a great many years there was Lead in paint. The paint in your house, the paint on your car and just about everywhere else. If it is so toxic then how did modern man survive? Seriously, why isn't making extinct? Lead paint was everywhere and yet those people who grew up in homes with lead paint went on to cure Polio, develop Heart Transplants and fly to the Moon.

Maybe it's because they weren't stupid enough to eat lead paint chips? I think so.

Look, being exposed to Lead isn't healthy and taking it out of paint and gasoline was a smart idea but the presence of lead paint IS NOT An IMMEDIATE THREAT TO YOUR HEALTH. There is an entire Environmental Cleanup industry that has grown up around this myth and has even perpetuated it. They would have you believe that by simply walking into a building painted with lead paint will cause you harm. That's just not true. Think about the guys who won WWII, even their ships and tanks were painted with lead paint. Ike, Truman and Kennedy all grew up around lead paint with Kennedy even over-seeing the painting of his PT-Boat and inhaling fumes. If you buy into the hype then JFK should have been a brain-damaged vegetable before the Japanese sank his boat, yet somehow he was able to save his injured crew members and work out a rescue, not to mention that whole getting elected to the Presidency thing.

Maybe we should feed our kids lead paint chips...

We have become a race of fraidy-cats, yet our Lead-Fueled Grand parents weren't affraid of anything. They ate produce sprayed with DDT, they rode motocycles without helmets, they used to get into bar fights and up until 1966 they didn't even make cars with seat-belts. They just woke up every morning and walked out the door into this very dangerous world without a second thought. They most have been seriously tweeked from all that lead in their environment because not only did none of this stuff scare them they never filed a single lawsuit about having their feeling hurt. Poor bastards. Worse, if their Congressman had suggested regulating this stuff our Grand Parents would have lynched them.

How did we make it this far?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Hey De Palma, I Have an Idea for a Movie

Hey Brian, can I call you Brian? Anyway, I just read about your latest crappy movie about US troops raping a young girl in Iraq.

I have an idea for a follow up movie.

Since you already did “Casualties of War” and now this flick I perceive a theme: Out of control people, drunk with power abusing and damaging the lives of people under their control.

Okay…We do a movie about a famous Hollywood director who lures a 13 year-old girl to the empty home of an actor friend. There he slips her a Quaalude and rapes the hell out of her. Then he uses the fact that he was a survivor of Nazi concentration camps as an excuse to undergo psychiatric tests, then when he’s supposed to be sentence he flees to France and becomes a Hollywood folk hero. You can end with footage of Hollywood giving him a standing –O after he wins an Academy Award thirty years later.


How about a film about a famous Record Producer who beats the shit out of women who invites an aspiring actress back to his estate where he attempts to put the moves on her, a struggle ensues and he shoots her in the head and kills her.


How about a story about a Hollywood Director who’s shooting a movie and he’s violating basic safety procedures AND Child Labor Laws, then he ends up pushing too hard and an accident happens where a helicopter crashes and kills the lead actor and to children – ON SCREEN. It’s pretty gory, you’d love it!


Okay, how about telling the story of a shady Hollywood Private Detective who does all kinds of dirty work for Hollywood’s most powerful people. Stuff like wire-taps, intimidate witnesses; threaten reporters and all kinds of nasty stuff.



These stories would give the “Wrong Impression” about Hollywood and paint the hard working and talented people in a negative light? REALY?

I should point out that the soldiers who committed this crime are all in prison and will be there for a very long time. Not a prison like rich Directors would go to, a serious prison. See, unlike Hollywood, the Military doesn’t condone nor accept criminal acts and punishes those in their ranks who commit them. The “10% Rule” applies in the military just as it does in Hollywood, it’s just that the military eventually catches its defectives and puts them away. But that would ruin your morality tale now wouldn’t it?

I know your movie will fail and I will be glad when it does.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The "New" Al Qaeda Threat ?

So this week we saw Department of Homeland Security, Michael Churtoff, say that he had a gut feeling that Al Qaeda would try to attack somewhere in the U.S.. Then ABC News reported that the there had been a "Graduation" of Jihadists in Pakistan and that they were now headed to the West. There were other stories in the news, usually from unnamed Justice Department and Department of Defense sources that confirmed a variety of nightmares to come.

My only comment is: When were they never a threat?

See, I'm not saying that Al Qaeda isn't planning a strike on the U.S., they're ALWAYS planning a strike on America, it's just that this story plays into the media's theme of failure in Iraq and specifically that our involvement there has been a boon to Al Qaeda and is now enjoying a resurgence. While Iraq hasn't helped the fact is that Al Qaeda had 20,000 men in their training camps in Afghanistan back in October, 2001, and 10,000 of these men scattered to the winds before we started attacking the camps. Some of them have turned up in Iraq but most of them are unaccounted for. 9/11 was carried out by only 24 men. That 10,000 number, even if it's high, should give wise people pause because they can be anywhere today.

So while all this attention is probably good (the State Department Travel Warning of August, 2001, stating that Al Qaeda was planning to hijack civilian jetliners went largely unnoticed by the news media), I think that it's too bad that the press still hasn't figured out that the terrorists declared war on us first and that they have yet to call it all off.

Welcome to the party.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How To Get The News

Back in 1980, when I was sitting in my high school Journalism class , someone asked why the newspaper never covered the "Hard News". My teacher, Mr. Walsh looked at this guy like he was a dipshit, and then he proceeded to tell us that the news was there and that you had to know how to find it. Even back then, the important stories weren't on the front page, they were buried in the back pages near the classified in postage-stamp sized columns. So Mr. Walsh pulled out that day's paper and sure enough, on the page where the classified adds started were stories about problems in Africa and Argentina.

This revelation changed my life in that I always was one step ahead of my peers about world events that continues to this day. The Falklands War? Saw it coming. Marine barracks bombing in Beirut? Wasn't a big surprise. 9/11? Guess what? The government (in the form of the US State Department) actually issued a travel warning about Al Qaeda threatening to hijack commercial airliners. didn't say anything about crashing them into American buildings, they thought this might happen in Africa. This warning was issued in August, 2001. For all of the grief the mainstream news outlets get, the fact is, they do a good job. Could it be better? Hell yes, but in all if you know where to look and how to look you can find all kinds of interesting news.

Take the tragic fire in Charleston. Someone complained that there wasn't enough news coverage on the TV and on Internet sites. They forgot that most newspapers are now online and all they had to do was go here:

And then click on the proper state's link. Bingo! More news than you can possibly use.

The sad thing is that places you'd expect to find current events, the Network and Cable news networks, are painfully lacking. I've talked about this before, Cable News has embraced the tabloid mentality in their quest for ratings so instead of the daily events in Congress or Iraq we are presented with missing pregnant women and Paris Hilton. The problem today is that the Networks have given up and they use the Internet as an excuse. I like to think that this attitude comes from outside of the Network news department , a short-sighted mandate from the corporate Spread-Sheet-Nazis and not from the editorial staff. Since 1981, the major networks have closed their foreign desks simply to save money. This means that for the most part they rely on freelance journalists and this isn't always good. Most of these freelancers are European and they lack a basic understanding of America, this means that they lack the ability to tell the stories in such a way that engages American viewers; who always ask the question : "Why should I care?". The other problem is that when events blow up and the networks finally send an in house reporters to the scene, they often lack knowledge about the situation's back-story and they lack knowledge of the nuance found in the local culture that can better explain the underlying situations. As a result, Americans get a handicapped version of the events by reporters who don't know better.

The worst part of news today is the Tablification of the mainstream. This is a direct result of the OJ Simpson trial and the wall-to-wall coverage that it received from every network. It was a giant set backwards from the highpoint of Cable news: The start of Desert Storm on CNN. CNN's downward spiral can be traced to it's relocation to New York City from Atlanta. The advantage CNN had over every other network was that it wasn't based in New York, so there was no inbreeding with the other networks and this gave them a better view of the world. That's gone today as CNN has sold it's soul for ratings.

So this means that it's up to you, loyal reader, to develop a foundation of knowledge on a wide spectrum of issues so that when you come across a small story buried in the newspaper you can treat it like you would a box-score from a baseball game. The Box-Score was an exercise from my high school Journalism class. You had to write a narrative of a baseball game using only a box-score. Obviously, the more you know about baseball the better job you'll do but even with just the definition of the abbreviations and symbols anybody can write a basic run-down of the game. It's not fair that we all have to work harder but the good news is that it's harder for the news to pull something over on you.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Evolution Continues

I'm sitting in my car eating lunch. It's a nice sunny day and the parking lot is about half full and I watch the world go by as I take in the news that's on the radio. My eyes drift around and take in the familiar surroundings and I spot something hopping around the SUV parked across from me. I focus in to see a small bird, a Finch possibly, hop up onto the front bumper and begin surveying the grill. It then plucks a fat bug from the radiator grill and then flies off. I then notice that there's a small army of birds hopping and popping around inspecting every car for bug-kill and I see that they're ignoring other parts of the car and concentrate on the front grill.

That's because the heat of the engine cooks the bugs.

I think about those birds that hang out on the backs of African Crocodiles picking off ticks and parasites. It makes me wonder how these birds might evolve in the future. I wonder if they will evolve to eventually understand the automobile enough to one day repair them.

I then think about what the impact on these birds will be when cars go the way of the horse. Will their taste for cooked butterflies be such that they cannot go back to regular old insects?
Either way, I think that it's cool when nature figures out a way to live with us instead of the other way around.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Stuff I Always Wondered About Superman.

What if Superman gets a boner? Does it punch out through his shorts, or does he get his shorts from the same people who make the Incredible Hulk’s pants?

If he get’s diarrhea, can he use a regular toilet? Or does he have to fly all the way up to the fortress of solitude to use a special Kryptonian shitter? Could Superman use his diarrhea as a weapon? If he doesn’t quite make it to the Fortress Of Solitude, can he use a volcano? If he goes in his pants, will the force of his Kryptonian diarrhea blow his boots off?

If Superman craps his pants, can he wash them in a regular washing machine?

If you break it, you’ve bought it. How much has this cost Superman over the years?

Since Krypton’s sun was more powerful, does Superman’s snot dry? Ever?

When Superman farts, how long does the stink last?

If his farts smell real bad, does he have to fart in space?

What if Superman’s farts smell good? What if they smell like Popcorn, Coffee or Cinnamon? If they did, do you think he’d tell anybody about it? I mean, every time someone made a fresh pot of coffee they’d be all “Jeez, Superman must have had Tacos last night!” Worse, Lex Luther would give him an embarrassing nick name like “Redenbacher”.

How it is that Superman never gets a wedgie?

Do you think that Superman’s sperm is powerful enough to get a woman pregnant even if he bangs her in the ass? If a baby was conceived in this way, would it grow to love Superman? Or would it grow to hate him because it was a butthole-baby?

What kind of super powers would a Butthole – baby have? Would the fact that it was conceived in a colon instead of a uterus negate the half that is Kryptonian?

Does Superman use the Justice League’s super computer to download really good porn?

Even though he can fly, do you think Superman drives to work to the Justice League headquarters? If he does, will he use his own parking spot or does he park where ever the hell he want’s to because he’s Superman, bitch!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Iraq: The Way Out.

It's time to blow this taco stand.

We've done everything that we can for Iraq. There's a point in a military operation where you have to ask the questions : "What will change if we stay?" and "What will change if we leave?".
If the answer to both questions is "Nothing" then the operation has reached it's null point.

I supported this invasion and I still think that it has been a worthwhile mission on our part. The way I see it we've had all the success that we're going to. Anything more relies on the Iraqi people and they've demonstrated that they're not willing to step up and function as a society. They've regressed into a tribal state and it's like balancing a marble on a two by four to keep any kind of peace in that country. I know Al Qaeda's there, I know that they have tax-collectors and torture shops set up in various towns, but the locals know where they are and they're not telling our forces where they're located. I know Iran is asserting itself, but I think Iran is making a mistake that it will pay for in the future and it will have nothing to do with us.

Hand it over to Special Forces and the Air Force.

If all we need to do is train the Iraqi Army then we need to hand this task over to Special Forces. Army SF guys are the best at this task anyway as it is part of their job as is counter-insurgency. If the only forces left in Iraq are the most qualified to deal with the problems as they are now then it puts the US and Iraq in the best situation. What is need isn't a complete with drawl but a visibly smaller footprint, a draw-down to a smaller force of Special Operators and a Quick Reaction force of Rangers and/or armored Cav should do the trick. Part of the problem now is that it sucks to be an Iraqi right now and every time they see a tank, helicopter or convoy they find an easy target for their anger. It doesn't matter if the anger is justified or not, we're the visible factor and we're foreigners so we're easy targets. If we draw down to a few forces, who are based out in the desert, then our presence will no longer be as obvious and Iraqis will look elsewhere for solutions. Iraqis can be clever when they want to be and our large numbers there allow them to be lazy about their own situation. If they don't see us on the corner any more and they realize that their problems are now THEIR PROBLEM then we will get progress in that country.

Here's the bad news...

We're going to still have forces in the Persian Gulf even after we leave Iraq, just as we have since 1979. Iran is still a problem and the situation that we'll be leaving in Iraq will require attention from time to time (yes, we might even have to go back in at some point). A draw-down frees up manpower for Afghanistan and takes pressure off of the National Guard and reserves.

We've done a lot of good in Iraq. Our forces have much to be proud of and in the end, taking Saddam Hussein out of the picture has made this whole expedition worthwhile. Our soldiers have prevailed in spite of some lousy leadership at the Pentagon and have succeeded in what should have been impossible missions. It's just that aside from the Kurds, there's nobody in Iraq left worth dying for. Turning the situation over to a small, elite force gives the bad guys there fewer targets to hit, and it will allow us to continue the mission in a way that will make that has the most promise for all involved. This plan would allow the President to "Stay the course" and it would also allow the military to take a breather and it gives the Democrats news images of soldiers coming home. Everybody wins.

Wasn't that the idea to begin with?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech, Can the Media Hit A Record Fo Milking A Subject?

The cable news networks were in rare form this week.

They had a tragedy land about 4 hours away from media centers in Washington DC. They had their cookie-cutter templates ready and they had a subject (Hand guns) that they already had an angle and experts whom to call. The only thing more out of control was the shooter (no, I won't mention his name. Fuck him) were the reporters who decended on that poor campus before the bodies were cold. While the tragedy stands alone, the tragedies to follow because of a rabid and frothing news media will be countless.

I could give my usual breakdown of media failings and overkill but out of respect for the fallen I'll wait and see how it developes.


Computer animations recreating where everyone was shot.

Interviews with wounded students.

Lots of "Expert" commentary about security and mental health.

Plenty of crying.

You just watch....or better yet - change the channel

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Keeping Busy

I haven't posted in a while. I think this happens to a lot of normal people who blog.

In my case, there's just been a lot of chaos around the Axxman household. My Mother and brother are ill, and some crazy do-gooder decided to "Help" us by tearing out our floors and putting in new carpet. At least that was the plan, we did get new carpet in the front of the house but not the back. The guys who put in the floor didn't know what they were doing (evidently there are "Floor Guys") so the linoleum people couldn't put down the new floor. The floors WERE in bad shape, there has been serious water damage and since I'm disabled there is no way I can repair them without help. The thing is that I actually have the tools to do this part, I just need someone to coach me through the set up. So, now I get to repair the repairs.

The best part, all of this "Donated" work cost me around $1200. So I'm looking for a second job to pay off my credit card.

So my book writing has gone to shit. When I'm at home I feel like I've got a million things to do and they're all sitting on my shoulders. I'm thinking of taking my laptop out to Fort Ord and sitting under an Oak tree or inside one of the barracks and writing there. I'm at the point where I just want to finish this and go back to school. The only reason that I don't quit all together is because I owe the men of the 7th Infantry Division, they're counting on me. So I will drive on.

I hope I don't come off as depressed because for some reason I'm not. I've lost 30 lbs and things have been much worse. I think I'm just overwhelmed.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

So a Former Centerfold Died Today

I’m at the computer writing and listening to the radio when around noon the announcement about Anna Nicole Smith being found dead in her hotel room comes. I’m not surprised for a variety of reasons and I continue working. About an hour later, as I’m fixing lunch I switch on MSNBC and to my horror they’ve got wall to wall coverage of her death. Then I switch over to CNN and damned if Wolf Blitzer and his team aren’t doing the same damned thing. He’s got their house doctor speculating on how she may have died, as if he’s psychic, instead of being professional and waiting until they had the facts. The local news had scrambled a helicopter so they could get footage of her body. I’d expect this from the tabloid media, but NEVER from mainstream media (i.e. Professional news departments), worse than that, there was no hint of guilt. They all jumped on this story like…flies on shit.

Can any professional journalist or news person answer these questions?

Can you name ONE movie that she starred in?

Other than the Playmate of the Year (Playboy), what significant achievement had she accomplished?

If she had not married a 92 year old Texas Billionaire, would she have captured the imagination of the media?

What did Anna Nicole Smith do to warrant a helicopter fly-over to photograph her dead body being loaded into an ambulance?

For those of you who are of average intelligence, you already know the answer but for you professional journalist/serious reporter types, let me give you the answer:


Not a goddamned thing. The only reason Anna Nicole Smith was famous is because the MEDIA decided she was good for business. Without Anna, there’d be no Paris Hilton, another vapid, drug-addled, no-talent skank. Cold blooded? You bet! Anna Nicole Smith sold her soul to the only thing worse than Satan – the Hollywood Entertainment Industrial Complex. She didn’t care who or what she had to do to stay in the small spotlight she was in. Her “Reality Show” was a depiction of a brain-damaged woman walking around in Hollywood, the only place in the world where nobody noticed nor cared about her obvious handicap, a town where intelligent people make decisions that only someone with a serious brain injury would make. Instead of getting this woman serious help, they made it into entertainment and then everyone else could Yuk it up. Then she had plastic surgery and then endorsed a diet supplement for big bucks, at least until she put weight back on. Then she dropped out of the spotlight for a while only to drop back into it when her sun died from drug-related complications. She then used her son’s death to pull that spotlight back onto herself, granting interviews to “The Insider” and “Entertainment Tonight” (ET) as well as MSNBC, FOX and CNN. She was oblivious to the fact that this spotlight showed that she had surrounded herself with people who obviously didn’t have her best interest (health) at heart. In the last week before she died. ET and the Insider both were in her face, asking her if her new husband had murdered her teenaged son. They were grilling her hard to. Like she was some kind of master criminal, I mean the USC marching band could have come into her hospital room and killed her son with a chainsaw while playing the theme to Shaft and she wouldn’t have caught on.

But she did understand what they were accusing her of. So she hit the meds, maybe the booze too. I don’t know. Maybe she tripped and fell. I will wait and see what the cause of death is.

The thing about this goes back to my central problem with the news media. I never saw the Vice President grilled like Anna Nicole Smith was by ET. I’ve never seen any public official in the last 15 years get a serious interrogation like Ms. Smith received. She was a NOBODY, at best a Playboy Playmate; she never controlled the fate of millions of people. Her finger was nowhere near the nuclear button; she never sent men off to war or raised our taxes. She didn’t cure disease, she didn’t write laws; defend the poor or even act. Yet she was a star, a D-List star, but a star and only because the media said so. So the media made her and then killed her.

This over-coverage is a form of misdirection, they’re diverting our attention to the real culprits behind her death – them. The media killed a stupid woman today. A woman who was maybe intellectually 10 years old. Did they head off a war? No. Did they uncover a great fraud? No. Uncover government waste? No.

They killed a fat Barbie Doll.

Monday, January 29, 2007

I Want Answers! Damn You!

Okay, a question was asked over at the Van Halen Links forum about the latest issue of Guitar World magazine’s interview with Eddie Van Halen. The guy wanted to know why they didn’t ask about a bunch of non-guitar stuff, which is a fair question, but then others piled on demanding that “Hard Hitting “questions be asked of the legendary guitarist. Questions about his *alleged** drinking, why he had fired Michael Anthony and a bunch of other stuff. I have to ask why Eddie should have to answer these questions. They’re only going to piss off the haters anyway and the answers won’t make much sense to anybody but Eddie. The actual interview focused on the creation of his infamous red & white striped guitar , nicknamed “Frankenstein”, which Eddie had constructed himself back in 1976. It’s a good article and any guitar playing Van Halen fan will get a kick out of it. It’s understandable that since Eddie has been out of the spotlight for a few years that fans will have questions, but Eddie is usually a pretty open guy and he will get around to filling in the blanks.

But it got me thinking about something that has pissed me off for a while now.

What the hell is anybody doing asking a 50-something Eddie Van Halen, or any other celebrity for that matter, hard-hitting questions? What possible good will it do if you knew what Eddie’s been doing IN HIS PRIVATE LIFE? Some magazine writer is supposed to nail Eddie to the wall for feeling sad because his Mother died? Because he had cancer? Because he divorced Valerie Bertinelli? WHY? How do the answers to any of those questions move the human race forward? How does knowing the depths of Eddie’s suffering enhance his music? A decent person wouldn’t ask those questions because morally they’re obscene. Yet in most major celebrity rags this kind of crap is now standard. Worse, some celebrities indulge the media with their legion of personal flaws. Some celebrities have become celebrities purely because of their personal life (Anna Nicole Smith is at the top of the list) and the media and a frightening number of people go along with it. Worse, they expect other celebrities to degrade themselves too. So when an old-school guy like Eddie Van Halen doesn’t view his divorce or his mother’s death as a reason to call up VH-1 and arrange to film a reality TV show around his suffering; a disappointingly large number of Van Halen “fans” have turned the simple guitarist into a cross between Joe Stalin and Gene Simmons. It is a sign of our society’s declining civility that these angry fans are unaware just how immoral and inhuman they are.

I give points to Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex for having the good sense and self respect to keep their personal issues out of the public domain. It means that their late mother raised them well.

My other problem is that while Matt Lauer is grilling Tom Cruise about a subject that neither one know enough about to write a freshman 1st quarter paper, no journalist are asking hard questions in interviews with important people. The people who run our banks, hospitals, health insurance, highways, schools, and the Pentagon seem to get a pass except when a situation develops. Nobody questioned the accuracy of US intelligence on Iraqi WMDs. If they had asked, oh say back in 1998, when President Clinton bombed Iraq for failure to comply with UN resolutions and deal a serious blow to Saddam’s ability to produce, store and threaten his neighbors with WMDs, what is the intelligence for these raids? You might have found out that the Intel came from satellites and Iraqi ex-patriots with questionable backgrounds and motives. We might also have found out that the United States had only ONE CIA agent inside of Iraq during the 1990s and that Iraq had been relegated to the back-burner in the US intel world, leaving thousands of Gulf War documents untranslated and literally rotting away at a Virginia CIA storage facility. Nobody asked in 1998, nobody asked in 2003. To be fair, the Iraqi Army thought that they had WMDs in 2003 too, but we might have gotten a better picture of how fucked up our intelligence agencies were (and are). We might have even headed off 9/11. Who knows?
Why is it that nobody asked hard hitting questions from the Dotcom industry before the Tech-Bubble burst? Why was Bethany McLean the only financial journalist to look at Enron’s numbers and then ask “What the fuck?” just like many of the same financial journalists failed to notice the whole S&L scandal thingie of the 1980s? The news media has been patting itself on the back since Watergate, so they’re out looking for the next big story instead of doing their jobs and reporting on the little ones. Watergate started as a little story about a break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters, today’s Washington D.C. press corps and beat reporters would never have caught on to Nixon and his crew because they … well… suck. They confuse buzz and common wisdom with facts, so they screw up almost every story that comes out of Washington. The war in Iraq cannot be won, they tell us, even though it is being won right now. You know things are bad when the National Enquirer can do a better job covering a news story than NBC or CNN can.

So, while sad little men are demanding answers from Eddie Van Halen that are nobody’s beeswax , nobody’s watching the store in Washington D.C, your state’s capitol, your city hall or your bank.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Quick Thought On Iraq

Even before Bush made his announcement, the political games had started. The Democratic Party is hell bent on loosing the White House and they Congressional majority as quickly as they can. When I say games I mean GAMES. The President doesn't need Congresses permission to send more soldiers to Iraq or anywhere else, they know this but they can't help playing games. A "Non-Binding Resolution Against More Troops In Iraq"? That's simply hot air, a do-nothing, feel-good move on a questionable principle.

Then Harry Read(D, asset,Nevada) makes a statement that the President cannot make a move on Iran without permission from Congress. What a fucking moron. The President can invade any country he wants to for 90 days, at little thing called the "War Powers Act" says so. Plus, and this is the saddest thing, the President isn't planning on making any moves on Iran, nor has he even threatened Iran. However IRAN HAS THREATENED US.
So who's fucking side is Read on? Ours or Iran? If he sides with Iran, why? Is it because Iran has pledged to wipe Israel off of the map? I doubt Read is anti-Semitic, I think he's a dipshit.

Lost in all of the Capitol Hill BS is this fact, Rumsfeld is gone.

We have a SecDef who understands counter-insurgency, we also have a SecDef who would have kept us out of Iraq had he been in charge in 2003. Bob Gates talked the President out of a massive troop increase and down to the 20,000 that he now plans to send. These 20,000 troops are mission specific, have specific tasks and have a limited time table in country. In short, this is smart. As soon as Gates took over, things on the operational level in Iraq changed. We have been attacking insurgent and terrorist strongholds intensely every day and have become more aggressive over all. We will see a draw down of those 20,000 plus an additional 30,000 by the end of this year. Things are getting back on track in Iraq, thanks to Bob Gates, the democrats should shut the hell up and give the President this one last shot.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Well, What Do You Know?

Here's the burger update.

I have had a few burgers here and there but I'm definately at a 80% reduction. I even bring my own lunch to work a couple of days.

I've lost 12 lbs.

This is freaking me out. I'm not exercising more. I'm just eating better.


Who knew?