Friday, October 31, 2008

And the Obama-nations Just Keep on Comin'

Looks like Obama loyalists ordered the illegal use of government files to check out Joe the Plumber, whose crime was to question The One. Read more here.

Meanwhile, Obama has said that anyone who doesn't want higher taxes under his plan is selfish. But he's demonstrated just how selfish he is; not only is his brother living in squalor overseas, but his aunt is living in a slum in Boston, and Obama has done nothing to help her out.

And speaking of Obama selfishness, howsabout this look at Obama's charitable gifts for the past seven years?

It appears that Barack was giving 1% or less of his income to charity until he decided to run for President in 2006 (remember, his 2005 income would have been filed in 2006, after the point where Obama began to launch feelers for his Presidential run). And even now, his charitable donations are much lower than those greedy Republicans he so condemns (Bush, Cheney, or McCain).

Then there's the Obama hubris: he has exiled from his plane reporters who work for newspapers that didn't endorse him. This is, of course, in keeping with the petty vindictiveness of the Obama machine (as Joe the Plumber knows all too well).

What a dismal choice for a potential president.

My earlier analysis saw Obama as 1/3 Gatsby, 1/3 Babbitt, and 1/3 Stark (Willie, not Tony). I'd reduce the Gatsby ratio to about 5% (at least Jay tried to better himself), and increase the Babbitt and Stark to about 47.5% each.

Oh, and in reference to the whole Rashid Khalidi thing? One person who was there reports that there were comments made to Israeli genocide and the need for continued Palestinian terrorism, and that Obama never said one thing to disagree with any of this. Had it been McCain at the same rally, do you suppose for a moment that the LA Times would be burying that video?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Obama-nations

Here's a great story about how, under Ayers and Obama, the Annenberg Challenge and Woods Fund distributed money to (among others) ACORN (the group that Obama has claimed to have little to do with), Obama's own church (with no reasons given), and the South Shore African Village Collaborative, a group who condemns American values and whose ideologies are more in line with the racism that was an inherent part of Jeremiah Wright's teachings. (Notice the usual Obama evasion--rather than deal with the issue, attack the news source. Maybe they can ban them from future interviews as well... it seems to be the other standard practice of Obama's propaganda machine.)

And speaking of Barbara West, the reporter who was banned from future interviews by Obama's Ministry of Propaganda--you'll notice that McCain and team had no problems with her for asking them hard questions.

And if you'd like to learn a little more about the radical extremism of the SSAVC and its radical racism, here's an insightful piece by Stanley Kurtz.

Meanwhile, even strongly pro-Democratic voices like Linda Bloodworth-Thomason recognize the bigotry and vitriol behind some of the pro-Obama media venues' assaults on Sarah Palin and its totally unbalanced pro-Obama propaganda.

And even Politico finds it hard to defend the LA Times' refusal to release the potentially damaging videotape of Obama at a gathering reportely rife with anti-Israel sentiment.

If a combination Babbitt-Gatsby-Stark like Obama wins this election, it'll be in large part because the media worked to make it happen.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Journalistic Integrity - 2008 Oxymoron

Here's a great piece by Michael Malone about the erosion of journalistic standards, particularly in regards to coverage of the 2008 election.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why the Bailout Was a Bad Idea

So remember that $700 billion figure that someone at the Federal Reserve just made up on the spur of the moment? Remember how it became the holy grail of the bailout, and how that $700 billion given to banks was going to help them restore credit to American consumers and make it easier for the economy to recover?

Well, not so much.

It appears, according to this article citing an executive at Chase Bank, that the main purpose of all that money is to allow banks to use our money to buy other at-risk banks.

Read it for yourself.

And let's see if it's too late to get our money back...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More News You Won't Hear Much About

Did you hear that there's a video of Barack Obama attending and participating in an event in honor of radical Islamist Rashid Khalidi (an event that reportedly was strongly anti-Jewish)--but because the public dissemination of such video would work against Obama, the LA Times is refusing to release it or tell where they got a copy? (Do you think for a moment they'd hold back on a video if it showed John McCain at the same gathering?)

Or that tough questions regarding Barack Obama's socialist tendencies in fiscal policies not only don't get answered, they get the questioning reporter banned from any further interviews with the Obama-Biden media coup... err, campaign?

Or that within hours of Joe the Plumber's talk with Barack Obama, government computers were illegally used to access supposedly private information... and that information was leaked by Obama politicos in an attempt to discredit and/or smear Joe Wurzelbacher, the man who dared to question Obama?

Or that while people are arguing about the cost of Sarah Palin's clothes, no attention is being given to the $5+ million spent for the Greek Temple of Obama constructed for the Democrat's convention?

Or that Obama volunteers decided to withdraw their fraudulent Ohio ballots when they were told that they would face felony charges for voter fraud if they cast ballots without meeting the requirements?

Or that, in order to raise maximum funding while circumventing FEC regulations regarding overseas donations and untraceable funding, Barack Obama's donation website has purposely disabled all credit card security, allowing people to process credit card charges under false names and false addresses--the sort of thing that would result in a business's credit card processing account being shut down in days?

Unfortunately, you don't hear much about any of these things, because widespread national dissemination of this information might work against the media's attempted coronation of Barack Obama as the country's next President. But it's important for people to know that this is the modus operandi of the man who may become our next President.

As Orson Scott Card said, "would the last honest reporter please turn on the lights?"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Taxing the Rich, Huh?

The Democrats haven't won the election yet, and already they're looking to commit the largest middle-class theft in government history: they want to nationalize all the revenue in private 401k accounts, and turn these tax-free retirement accounts into huge sources of tax revenue. Read all about it here.

A few years ago, I heard someone who insisted that the next time a Democrat moved to the White House, this would be among the first sources of funding they would target. I thought for sure that he was wrong; surely they would never do anything so brazenly anti-middle class, something that would remove billions of dollars from the very people they claimed they were trying to help.

Guess I was wrong.

Let's hope that the word gets out on this in time for people to run some numbers and see just how much this would cost them. It appears that "spreading the wealth" isn't just a casual aside from Obama: it's the new Democrats' mantra, and no revenue is off limits.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Card Deals It Out

Here's a great piece by Orson Scott Card about the media's totally shameless attempts to present propaganda in place of news in order to influence the results of an election.

Had the news media exerted even a small percentage of the effort to investigate ACORN and Obama, or Ayers and Obama, that they've exerted in attempting to smear Joe the Plumber for his legitimate questions regarding Obama's socialist fiscal beliefs, then we might be able to call these guys reporters. Unfortunately, the purported news sources (major newspapers, television, and even news suppliers like AP) have abandoned any pretense of neutrality in this election; they're part of the campaign team now.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I'm 20, 143 days old.

Ever figured out exactly how many days you've been alive? Ever since my brief death, I've calculated how many post-heart-attack days I've lived. Recently, I calculated backwards to the date of my birth, and now I have a script that updates my age by one day each time the clock hits midnight.

20,143 days. I remember so very many of them--some vividly, some in fragments and mental snapshots.

And there's something about a precise count that makes you want to avoid wasting a single day. When you're more than 55 years old, as I am, a day may not seem like much. But when you're 20,143 days old, a day seems more significant.

Think of it this way. Most of us make more than $20,143 a year. But I don't think there's a single one of us who'd pass up a free dollar, or who'd be willing to throw a dollar away for absolutely no purpose. So why should a day be less valuable than a dollar?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Buck Stops Here

Remember a couple of months back, when I mentioned that I had let my TV Guide subscription lapse, leaving our home TV Guide-less for the first time in thirty-five years? Well, apparently I'm not the only one who decided the new guide-less, larger-size gossipy format was unnecessary--TV Guide has become a massive money-loser, and as a result the publisher has sold the magazine to another investor for $1.

That's right--TV Guide the publishing venture, once the second most profitable magazine in the US, has become such a money loser that the entire operation sold for 1/3 the price of a single issue. Don't take my word for it--read all about it here. I'll wait...

Even better, they get a $9 million-plus loan at less than current market rates in exchange for paying a buck. And when you consider how tough loans are to come by right now, that's doubly amazing.

It's also sort of sad. I remember a time when TV Guide was so integrally linked to my entertainment that the new issue was the first thing I grabbed from the stack of mail when it came in. We usually got our TV Guide on Thursday for shows starting on Saturday, giving me a scant two days jump on the first listings. Bear in mind that we had no VCRs at this time, so actually planning our schedule around must-see TV shows not only made more sense, it was necessary. There was no other way to see them, other than hope they'd be rerun at some point in the future.

When VCRs did come along, TV Guide made it possible for us to plan our schedules for viewing and for recording; I'd spend an hour or so scanning the lists for rarely-seen movies so that we could record them and watch them without having to sit up until the wee hours of the morning.

Back then, TV without TV Guide seemed only half as enjoyable. Now, TV Guide seems less useful than a number of media websites. Oddly enough, the one site I never visit is...

I wish the new owners lots of luck. But until they can find a way to convince former diehards like me that the magazine has any value in today's world, there isn't a chance that they'll turn it around. I suspect that there will be no TV Guide five years from now... but I hope these guys can prove me wrong!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Random Thoughts

You may remember, if you've been reading my ramblings for a while now, that I had one problem with the Hyundai Genesis' Lexicon 17-speaker stereo system: they took off the random button, but they forgot to add a random feature to the software to compensate. So you can hook up an iPod just fine, and it'll play back wonderfully--but it wants to play back in alphabetical order and steadfastly refuses to randomize. I tried randomizing through the iPod itself, and it would work on a hit-or-miss basis on an "all song" basis, but nothing I tried would randomize songs in individual playlists.

Then someone suggested that I quit focusing on the two most obvious elements in the equation--the Lexicon system and the iPod--and instead turn my attention to the third element--the iTunes-running computer that puts the music on the iPod to begin with.

Turns out that iTunes' "smart playlist" feature allows you to create pre-randomized playlists; you can specify how many songs you want and set all sorts of qualifiers, then click once. The result? A totally randomized list built to your parameters.

Needless to say, once I verified this I spent a half an hour or so building Genesis versions of all my playlists, randomized and ready for listening. Hoorah!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dare to Be Grating

I have now watched one episode each of two of the worst sitcoms ever made.

I've mentioned previously that I'm a sucker for sitcoms; I think the half-hour situation comedy is probably television's greatest accomplishment (yes, I know that the concept was derived from radio and from film shorts, but television perfected and polished it until it made the sitcom a uniquely televisionesque product).

The first sick-com I endured was Worst Week. The premise here is that the main character continues to cause bad thing after bad thing to occur, and they get worse as each episode goes along. Apparently he'll cause the large hadron collider to create a black hole and destroy the planet before the season ends--that's about the only way they can end a story of progressive disaster like this. One episode proved to be slightly less pleasant than my dental crown-replacement appointment--but at least I got to deal with a likeable person when I went to Doc Sturn's office. There's no one likeable on Worst Week.

Last night, I watched one horrifyingly bad episode of Kath & Kim, a sitcom starring Molly Shannon and Selma Blair. I'm not sure why this is a sitcom; there's nothing comedic about the situation, there's nothing likeable about the characters, and there's nothing appealing about the writing. Molly Shannon remains one of those comedians whose appeal eludes me--and Selma Blair demonstrated that she has no concept of or skill for comedy.

I actually tried a third disastrous sitcom, a Jerry O'Connell vehicle called Do Not Disturb, but it was so irredeemably bad that even the network couldn't sit through it for very long; the show was cancelled after three episodes, which was two more than I could bring myself to watch.

But I've found one good sitcom--Gary Unmarried--and some old favorites are back. The Big Bang Theory remains the best new comedy on television, closely followed by How I Met Your Mother. The Office and My Name Is Earl are still perfectly adequate (although nowhere nearly as good as their first seasons). So I have no shortage of sitcoms to fill my exercise-room DVR (one sitcom is just about the perfect length for one exericse session).

Food for Thought

When we were having dinner at the Canton Road El Rodeo (the Mexican restaurant we frequent every Wednesday night), I had a conversation with the manager (a wonderfully thoughtful and generous woman who never fails to make us feel at home) about business. Unfortunately, the news wasn't good. Like most of us who rely on the public to come in and spend money, her business was hit hard by the two-week-long gas crisis in metro Atlanta. When people aren't sure they have enough gas to get to work for the week, many of them quit going anywhere non-essential. And while I certainly don't agree, many of them apparently define Mexican restaurants and comic book shops as non-essential.

And like us, some of her customers still haven't returned to their old habits. Almost everyone I've spoken to in the metro area has seen the same problem: traffic is down from its pre-gas-crisis levels. It's like 10% to 40% of the customers (the percentage varies depending on the nature of your business, but it seems the restaurants are suffering the worst) just haven't come back to the places they used to frequent. It wasn't a gradual change, either; for almost everyone, the problem began between September 8th and September 11th, the first week of the post-Ike gas problem.

Of course, we left a better than usual tip--and usual for us is 35% to 40%, but I kicked that up to 55% or so instead--but I know that's not enough to make up the shortfall. I hope there's a turnaround soon; I always hate to see friends forced to endure hard times...

Biden His Time

Apparently, Joe Biden would have done better had he been able to plagiarize his debate responses the same way he did his speeches.

During the Vice Presidential debate, he managed to flub all sorts of things, including the duties and role of the Vice President, for which he chastised Sarah Palin. Problem was, she got it right and he got it wrong. He got lots of other things wrong, too--and you can see a list here. (And this is the guy whose supposed to bring experience and wisdom to the Obama campaign?...) Don't look for a list of these errors in most other news venues, though; somehow, they forgot to mention them...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

So long, AJC

I've decided to let my subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution lapse when it comes up for renewal in January.

It's not primarily a political thing. It's a content thing. Believe it or not, the comic strips are an important factor in my decision to subscribe, and they won't be carrying two of my favorite strips when the renewal comes up. They've already dropped For Better or For Worse, even though Lynn Johnston is still producing revised versions of the original strips (most of which I've never read). And Opus is going away in early November as Berke Breathed ends the strip.

The other thing for which I buy the paper? Coupons--but the AJC now distributes those coupons for free in a weekly distributed only to non-subscribers. So why bother spending money for 'em when they'll show up in my driveway if I don't?

News? Forget it. Like it or not, the newspaper is no longer a source of current news--it's a source of recent history instead. And they make all of their news content available online anyway, where you can read it when it is news.

So long, AJC.

The Audacity of Treason

The Washington Times has reported here that Barack Obama tried to prevent the completion of an agreement to keep American troops in Iraq--in effect working against the interests of his own nation and against the proper negotiations of our nation's elected commander in chief. And the source on this information isn't one of those anonymous third-party sources, but the Iraqi government itself.

Obama demonstrated his willingness to sacrifice the truth in order to win the presidency. Now he's proven that'll sacrifice the safety of our troops and the interests of our nation as well.

Maybe, if Obama wins, he can appoint William Ayers to handle our negotiations with the Iraqis on his behalf; who better understands the threat of murderous bombers, after all, than those who have embraced the concept for decades?

Classic Concept

Just read an interview here with the folks who are re-releasing the original Classics Illustrated. Problem is, they're only rereleasing them in the UK and select regions that do not include the United States--probably because Papercutz has the license for the Classics name here. The news is great for UK readers--the publisher has gone to great trouble to restore the art for these classics, they've located original plates for many of the covers, they have an ambitious release plan and sufficient funding to make it work...

And unlike the American releases, they're actually giving readers the Classics Illustrated they want, not the ones the publisher wants to force on them.

Here in the US, the Classics name is attached to a number of works on the Papercutz line--but none of them are produced in the style of the original Classics Illustrated. Some of them are the product of the short-lived First Comics/Berkley Books Classics relaunch that saw creators like Bill Sienkiewicz brought in to re-adapt the classics. I tried to use those in the classroom when I taught; give the Sienkiewicz version of Moby Dick to a high school student, and within ten minutes he'll be longing for the clarity and simplicity of the Herman Melville prose.

The original Classics were simple, straightforward, traditional... perhaps even a little staid in their approach. That's what was necessary; if the idea was to sell readers on the classics that they might otherwise not read at all, then simplicity and understandability is paramount. I often compare Classics Illustrated to Cliff's Notes; if you're buying the Cliff's Notes of a book you might not otherwise read, you don't want the author of those notes to take a bold, experimental literary approach to adapting the work, do you? Of course not! You want the story, simplified and clarified.

The other problem with the PaperCutz Classics Illustrated is that they're using the name as a home for previously-released non-CI adaptations of works like Wind in the Willows, figuring that the Classics Illustrated logo might sell them into a new audience. But these aren't the major classics that readers are looking for; this is advantageous publishing that hopes to ride on the established reputation of a brand name to sell a product that really isn't. It's sort of like buying the rights to the Kentucky Fried Chicken name so that you can fill the box with McDonald's Chicken McNuggets; odds are people will notice that what they're getting isn't what they want.

I hope that some American publisher--perhaps PaperCutz, but if not then someone with a real understanding of what the market wants--will put these UK editions out in the US. I'm not too optimistic right now, though...

Genesis Revisited

Had to take the Genesis back to the dealer's yesterday to correct a glitch. When I walked into the garage at 7am, the first thing I heard was the loud whirr of the cooling fan. However, that fan had not been on when I went out for a walk at 12:30 am, and there was no reason it should be on at all--the car hadn't been driven since 5:30 the previous day.

Of course, the continually running fan had drained the battery to the point that I had to get a service truck sent out to jump-start the car. (Since it was in the garage and there was no way to put it into neutral until it cranked, it was a good thing that the Genesis' battery is in the trunk, underneath the floor mat--it made it easy to hook up the jumper cables.) Got it to the dealer's, and they verified that the problem was actually an issue that had cropped up in a few other cars recently--a cooling sensor switch that had failed, deceiving the engine into thinking that it was hot when it wasn't.

New problem: Hyundai had all the replacement sensor switches in one warehouse in New Jersey. No chance of getting it fixed that day, so they gave me a loaner. Alas, it wasn't another Hyundai Genesis--or a Hyundai Santa Fe or a Hyundai Azera--but a Ford Fusion that I found myself driving.

I didn't think much about it until I cranked the car. It was loud, uneven, and coarse; it reminded me of an old pickup truck, not a contemporary car. This wasn't an old beater of a car, either; it was a 2008 with only 20,000 miles on it. All of the sudden, I remembered why neither Susan nor I had bought an American car in thirty-eight years; this was so substandard, that I was surprised Ford would want it to go out with their emblem on it.

The car was sluggish and weak; the seating was functional but unappealing; the sound system was boomy and muddy. There was nothing about this car that would ever make me consider owning one. I pointed out to them that had they given me a Santa Fe--a vehicle that Susan was considering for a purchase--they might have generated a sale. No chance this car would generate anything other than disappointment...

When I talked to Hyundai Consumer Affairs, I mentioned my disappointment. They seemed to take it seriously, as did Jamie, the sales manager at Woodstock Hyundai; the next day, I heard from him that had he known of the problem, he would have gotten me a Hyundai no matter what. He offered to have an Azera sent out to me right then, but the service department had told me the part had arrived and my car would be ready in an hour, so there was no need for that extra effort (although it was much appreciated).

Picked up the car this afternoon; they had to replace the battery as well, since they were getting anomalous readings indicating that it wasn't holding a full charge.

End result, I got a repaired car and a restored confidence in Hyundai's support for Genesis owners. I also learned that sadly enough, American cars had done nothing to close the gap between them and their foreign competitors. I was honestly surprised; I figured that with the move towards globalism, car manufacturers had taken steps to ensure that everyone gained from the improvements in technology and manufacturing standards. The Fusion proved me wrong; I couldn't believe that a Honda Accord competitor would have such poor performance and such shoddy fit and finish. At one point, I had toyed with the idea of a Lincoln MKS or an MKX; now, knowing that Lincoln is a Ford division, I don't know that I could feel comfortable spending so much money on a company that produced such low-end mediocrity.

(The last American car either of us bought? A 1970 Mustang Mach I, purchased by Susan in September of 1970 and disposed of in 1973 after several years of phantom stalls, start failures, hot-engine warnings, and trips to the dealership. The dealer never solved a single one of the problems; had this occurred today and not in 1970, the car would have qualified for replacement under the lemon law, but back then there was no such thing. Pretty vehicle, but the most unreliable car either of us has ever owned...)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Numbers Game

Today I laid claim to Mom and Dad's phone number. Since I don't live in Rome, I can't have an actual number because there's no actual address to link it to--but I can have a standalone voice mailbox, which means that whenever anyone calls the old home number, they'll get a chance to leavea message.

Cole and Christy had the phone number for a while after Dad passed, but when they switched to Comcast, they weren't able to port the number over, and they lost it. When ATT contacted me about another matter, I asked what I might do about reclaiming that phone number, since it hadn't been assigned yet. Initially, no one really knew what to do--then I heard from a remarkable ATT rep named Lisa, who had not one but two possible solutions. The memory call seemed like the better of the two solutions (and the more affordable), so here we are. As of now, 234-5781 is once again the Biggers phone number.

Can't say why this is important to me, really, but it is. I had always thought of that as our real "home number," in that it was the one number that had belonged to all of us--Mom, Dad, Kim, me, and Susan. Back when Susan and I couldn't afford our own phone, Mom and Dad were good enough to act as a surrogate phone service for us; people could call and leave messages (and back in the early 1970s, that meant someone had to physically write the message down, because Mom and Dad didn't have an answering machine--did they even make answering machines in 1971-1973?) and Mom or Dad would relay the info the next time they talked to me.

And today, I realized that this number has been the Biggers number for fifty years now. Mom and Dad first got this phone number way back in 1958, when all of north Georgia had the 404 area code, no one had dreamed of mobile phones, and we were making our first home in Rome. Fifty years... one number... and now it's ours again.

Thanks, ATT!