Friday, August 31, 2007


Countdown's Keith Olbermann illustrates the events that led to the end of the career of Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. Courtesy of Crooks and Liars and MSNBC.

See it now.


Gays want monogamous relationships. Congressmen want anonymous sex in the bathroom.

Gay marriage bans were deemed unconstitutional under equal protection and due process clauses, says an Iowa judge in Polk County. Nutjobs in the county vow an appeal and Republicans in the legislature are going nuts about family values. You know, like Sen Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who likes to have sex with strangers in bathrooms. And Colorado Evangelical Minister Ted Haggard, who trades sex with male prostitutes for meth.

Seriously. Extremist "Christian" right folks are losing the moral "high-ground." The more they call homosexuality a version of perversity, the more eerie men with mustaches come out of the woodwork.

What's going to be the right's reasoning this time for banning monogamous unions?

Dan Savage talks best about the state of crooked congress members having sex in bathrooms, then blaming it on black men...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Artistic Chicago

A family dressed in Medieval garb followed Queen of Salsa Anyes Daskal into the amphitheater at Chicago's Senior Citizen's Park. After I listened to the African highlife and Cuban-infused sounds of the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International, a French women's voice serenaded my ears as she passed me. "C'est ca!."

These sights and sound were part of the Bucktown Arts Fest on the near northwest side of Chicago. The annual festival was celebrated with gusto as 189 individual tables featured sculptors, painters, photographers and potters. Since it's original conception in 1984, Bucktown Fine Arts has used it to launch and sustain the careers of artists on the local scene.

The medieval-clad family was Bucktown's only remaining theater group, Trapdoor Theater, performing their play, "The Statue that Doesn't Lie." Trapdoor Theater has been bringing the microcosm of the stage to the community of Bucktown for 14 years, the same number of years it's been playing at the fest, noted artistic director Beata Pilch. "When we had money troubles, Bucktown Fine Arts has helped bail us out," Pilch noted.
Among other things, the group sends actors to theaters in Europe, to bring home lessons to cultivate local talent as they put on the classics, independent theater and the avant-garde.

Of a tour of the various tangible art: (Click on the picture for better viewing.)

Gabe Lanza paints the evil robots in "Another One Gone Wrong."

Amy Huisinga paints acrylic and accentuates beauty in the Chicago landscape in her rendition of "Lake Street Bridge."

And some pottery by Glenn Woods...

The festival also featured nonprofits; seen here is Sweety, one of the greyhounds taken in by Greyhounds's Only, Inc., an animal rescue agency.

Sweety was carrying a jacket asking for donations. She's a bit shy at first, though became rather curious at that strange box with the clicking noises.

The festival's Sunday evening ended with the groovy, artistic prog rock of The Diminisher. Shown here, they play "Dreaming in Asheville," mixing the sounds of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and the vocals of Andrew Bird in a haunted, sinister Gothic splendor.

They ended with the title track on their latest album, "Imaginary Volcano." The lead singer sang out, "You can't ignore the meanings of your dreams."

Friday, August 17, 2007

Impeach advisory in Madison, no way!

The Dane County Board became the second county board in the U.S. to endorse the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, reports The Capital Times.

I'm skeptical on the amount of value these symbolic resolutions have, although they do give official credence to the illegality of our government and have made Tammy Baldwin -surprise surprise!- take an affirmative stand on the issue.

But what I find twice as hard to swallow are the arguments purported by those who oppose it altogether.

"In my opinion, you are being used to create free advertising for the anti-war left," said Bill Richardson, of Say No to Cut and Run.

Though Richardson's argument is true that the Board wasn't created to opine on Foreign Policy, he seems to think that impeachment is a partisan issue favored by fringe elements on the left.

A Gallup Poll June 6-8 found that 36% of Americans think that starting impeachment proceedings against Bush is "justifiable." Hardly a small minority.

And since when has wanting a government actions free of torture and wiretaps on citizens been a liberal/conservative issue?

Also, a community comment by "Jason" said this:

what a waste of time and money...'symbolic' vote? Jesus H...Democrats sure love spending other peoples money for NO reason at all..

Since when did voting on a resolution, which by the way doesn't spend a cent, become a waste of taxpayer money? Do you like to throw around the idea that Democrats wastefully spend money, even when it has nothing to do with the story in question?

It reminds me of when President Bush blamed high health care costs on government waste during the 2004 election. With Republicans controlling congress and the executive, who's making the waste?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Showing the Softer Side of Syria

Syrian Blogger Ammar Abdulhamid was exiled for saying on his blog that President Bashar Assad is a thug, as noted by my post in early June.

But Imad Moustapha is showing a more diplomatic view of the country, notes the Associated Press.

That would make sense. Moustapha must represent Syria as the ambassador to the U.S. as Cheney and his evil team of robots is linking Syria with Iran in a showdown in Iraq.

Moustapha's blog is mostly about his interests, his family, and living life. His vacations look like those of any well-to-do U.S. family, but only in the coastal region of Syria.

His post on changing the diapers of his newborn baby and introducing her to the sounds of Mozart make Moustapha appear much more gentle than tough-talking swashbucklers in Washington.

He speaks effortlessly on the brilliance of Syria's businesswomen as ambassadors to the world and speaks fondly of his university professor wife, Rafif, who holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science.

"I have a very, very difficult post and you need an outlet, a way of escape," Moustapha told the AP of the blog. He said he tries to steer clear of politics on the forum.

The human depth certainly challenges assumptions of the Arab world, even if there is a possibility that it is written by a "ghost blogger." U.S. foreign policy ought to take a look at who it considers an enemy, and instead seek for the underlying layers of humanity.

Even Cheney-bot has his wife and kid.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Turd Blossom resigns

Karl Rove finally gave into reality and resigned. Citing the desire to spend more time with family, the White House unsurprisingly didn't mention the pressure Rove faced over a subpoena regarding U.S. Attorney firings, allegations over the CIA leak, wiretap influence etc. etc.

Kelly O'Donnell on MSNBC called it a "big deal," calling it a "sign of the changing of the end of the Administration."

Mainly because Chief of Staff Josh Bolton said anyone in the Administration who stays after Labor Day, has gotta stay until Jan. 2009.

Rove joins an increasing number of staff to leave, including Harriet Miers, Don Rumsfeld, Deputy National Security Adviser J.D. Crouch...

Many claim to want more time with family. But with public dismay on incompetence, and the legal heat from subpoenas, it would make more sense to resign and receive a hero's goodbye from the president than to face the heat of being held accountable.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Calamitous Tunnel Accounting

Smoke and the smell of burnt metal filled the Chicago blue line subway at the Division stop Friday afternoon. Not only that, but the operator stopped 15 minutes before moving toward the Chicago stop and inching further toward the loop.

I felt sorry for the train that was behind us, having to wait in the metal coffin, doors closed, until the cars moved on.

All this as the state legislature is deciding against any increased funding to the Chicago Transit Authority in next year's budget. Talk, meanwhile, of increased $2.50-$3.00 fares in the near future has some residents rejecting the CTA altogether, choosing to pay $3.50 per gallon in gas and $15 per hour for parking downtown.

Doesn't seem to make much sense to me, either way.

New York City Transit continues to charge $2.00 per ride, though living in New York requires a %24.29 increase in income to maintain the same standard of living as in Chicago, according to

CTA President Ron Huberman is pleased that the legislature didn't approve the $100 million needed to balance the Transit Authority budget, preferring to hold off for a more long-term solution, reports the Chicago Tribune. This puts him in a rather precarious position as the legislature doesn't appear to be interested in long-term CTA funding, much less creating a needed state budget without $200 million in pork spending.

All this as Gov. Rod Blagojevich threatens to veto any increase on sales tax to pay for CTA renovations, and Mayor Daley earlier this year didn't support a toll for automobiles driving to the Chicago loop.

Also in the Tribune today was London mayor Ken Livingstone, who plans a daily $50 tax for bringing SUVs downtown London. That's up from a congestion zone tax of $16 for cars between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Livingstone refers to the SUV's as "Chelsea Tractors" and their drivers as "complete idiots."

Of course, traveling in their version of the subway can range from $12-24, depending on the trip.

Suddenly, paying up to $2.50 in Chicago doesn't seem that bad... But we can do better if New York can. Paying more to ride through toxic fumes doesn't seem appealing, either.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Journalism continues to open or cheapen, depending on your view.

Google News added a feature that allows sources in the news to comment about the aggregated stories in which they are found, reports the Chicago Tribune.

What this means is that the official news story can take a different shape, receiving a steaming enema of accountability.

After this story appeared in the India Times regarding kids' preference for food in McDonald's packaging rather than the same food in brand X, McDonald's spokesman Walt Ricker, who was quoted in the article gave this pestilent platitude:
"McDonald's brand has earned the trust of customers for more than fifty years. The strength of any brand depends upon its performance, every single day, and if customers decide for themselves that a brand can't be trusted then they take their business elsewhere."

Although the article went after McDonald's alleged contribution to growing obesity among U.S. kids, Ricker could respond. Whether you thought he was spewing bull or giving a good defense may determine how democratic you find this.

In my view, it's good. You can hear another side of the story or at least be amused by bland, patronizing rhetoric.

Media purists (anti-blog), however, may frown. Speaking of, a Tech Dirt posting a while back gave an interesting perspective that news agencies like Agence France Press should embrace greater traffic than whine about copywrite infringement. (Do you hear the giant volcano threatening to eat up that Brontosaurus?)

Little mammals beneath the rocks are deciding to blend with the new media, to constructively take on challenges to the original format. Many newspapers are allowing open comments at the end of stories, including blogs and forums that give easy access to the reader. News stories and organizations are including references to Facebook, Friendster and MySpace.

Such is the growing trend, notes Ragan Communications' August PR Round-up Report.

"Just because newspapers are shrinking, doesn't mean journalism will shrink," says newsman Jeff Jarvis in the Report.

Maybe just climb up a different tree?

Do You Like Having Nice Conversations?

Two New Zealanders strut into New York City in hopes of starting their Indie-folk career. Blending into their new home proves somewhat quirky as they deal with infatuation with American women and internal strife.

Such is the set-up of Flight of the Conchords, a fun look into Gen Y sensibility, or lack thereof.

My sis sent me this absolutely wonderful video. Seen here are Brit McKenzie and Jemaine Clement (glasses), attempting to hit on some filles a la cafe...

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Kids run around, dancing and playing tag in the street as a flood of water from the fire hydrant breaks the scorching 90 degrees.

That was one of the first sights I saw as I started to move into my apartment. A block west of my 100 year old flat is a tennis court and bike trails spanning the acres of Chicago's Humboldt Park.

Thus far I've enjoyed the neighborhood. And on the job front I had a good interview with Ragan Communications for a Web-savvy reporter position. Folks there seem nice, and I could write on how employees use technology and social networking to communicate.

Not that I'm counting my chickens...

On top of that I saw the White Sox lose to the Cleveland Indians. My first trip to U.S. Cellular stadium was fun-filled, and the views were great:

Here's the Sox's only score of the evening by rookie Jerry Owens

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A last promenade around Madison, for awhile...

After being in Madison, Wis. since the Clinton presidency, I've finally decided to head out and make the move to a far away, exotic city of...Chicago.

I'll miss this town, but won't be too far away from the familiarities of the Midwest. I'll be just west of Wicker Park and east of Humboldt Park. Yeah, in 2 days I'll be a FIB.

Looking Back when I started my undergrad here in 2000:

- Tuition per semester was $1,700, as opposed to nearly $3,000 today
- People whined that Clinton was too conservative. Well, that hasn't changed in Madison.
- The U.S. was not embroiled in a war.
- Al Gore was boring.
- Cafe Assisi was the popular coffee institution located above what is now the Reebok store. I miss that cafe.
- Students learned our grades via a computer-generated voice over the phone. She got pissed when C's were earned.
- I could still smoke a cigarette in dive bars.
- The world trade center was still standing.
- The U.S. had a budget surplus.
- Swing dancing was the hip thing to do, and people listened to ska.

Much has changed. In a way, Madison seems more yuppyish, and I've definitely become more libertarian. (I toyed with socialism while a freshman; it was a phase, along with philosophy classes...).

Today, in the midst of packing my things, I biked around to check out a few of my favorite things. Among them:

Memorial Union (duh)

Henry Vilas Zoo creatures

I have a fascination with the tortoise...

The Orpheum, and its decent bar

Isthmus and - Having fun both reading and writing for it. Become friends on facebook!

Picnic Point


Sunsets at James Madison Park and Lake Mendota

Not pictured: Cafe Momo, Escape Java Joint and the Capital Times.

All my best, Madison.