Monday, February 28, 2011

OK... with corrections

This is dedicated to anyone who works in graphic design, web design, advertising, or any other field where it's your job to try and communicate someone else's ideas.

I dread to take a picture to the man who wants to change things.
Who says, "That's fine, just what I want, but let us rearrange things.
Let's move that building over, and give the man a cane,
And add an umbrella just in case it starts to rain.
And change the girl's expression to one of glad surprise.
If it ain't too damn much trouble, change the color of her eyes.
Don't clutter up the picture with meaningless detail,
But get a dock in somewhere with a boat about to sail.
I suggest a troop of soldiers and a fat man with the gout,
Also a railroad station with a train just pulling out.
The man is running for the train and fears he might be late,
So have him looking at his watch with hands at half past eight.
Don't let the thing get crowded, we must have room for copy,
But give the girl galoshes because the weather's sloppy.
And make the oak a maple, and make the horse a cow.
And make the hen a rooster, and make that rake a plow.
With these few minor changes everything's OK.
We're much behind our deadline, please finish it today."

No... I didn't write it. it was written a long time ago and still holds true. I believe that it always will.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

E Pluribus Unum

The weekend is something that exists because of Unions. Without the power of collective bargaining, corporations would snuff out workers like burnt cigarettes and keep on smoking them one by one. The workplace would be unbearable. There would be no breaks, health care, vacations, or safety provisions. We would be at the mercy of their good naturedness.

Here's a video from the rally in Austin on Saturday. The lead singer is Leeann Atherton, who is a musician as well as a teacher who was just let go in the recent school budget cutbacks. Texas will fire teachers by the thousand, and close many schools. This is happening right now.

I am very proud of everyone who is doing everything they can to fight this battle.

The beaches are open.

Don't you feel kind of funny when there is some big disaster and you are worried sick because the consequences just might be catastrophic or at least highly dangerous... then someone who happens to have a vested interest in things assures you that everything will be fine. Those assurances just don't work very well on the skeptical.
I mean, you have to keep the beaches open, keep the fishermen and shrimpers working, keep people coming to the hotels and restaurants. Remember last Spring and Summer when the reports seemed to be rolling in about how seafood was pretty safe to eat, and even that the oil had nearly disappeared!?! (except for those tar-balled beaches)

Like this report from April of 2010:
Expert: Gulf Oil Spill Won't Ruin Your Shrimp Dinner
Says Mike Voisin, past president of the National Fisheries Institute:
“No one should be worrying about whether the shrimp they're having for dinner is going to have oil on it... First, no company wants to put that kind of product on the market... And those areas that have oil in them will be blocked by state health officials and not harvested.”

Voisin also claims that fish like tuna and shrimp will instinctively migrate away from the oil spill. He did admit that oysters are the most at risk because they lack the ability to move.

Here is something more recent that suggests otherwise:
Multiple independent lab tests confirm oil in Gulf shrimp

In two separate cases, a toxicologist and a chemist independently confirmed their seafood samples contained unusually high volumes of crude oil and harmful hydrocarbons -- and some of this food was allegedly being sent to market.

One test, conducted by a chemist from Mobile, Alabama, employed a rudimentary chemical analysis of shrimp pulled from waters near Louisiana and found "oil and grease" in their digestive tracts.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) tests, which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have focused on the animal's flesh, with samples shelled and cleaned before undergoing examination.

Unfortunately, many Gulf coast residents prepare shrimp whole, tossing the creatures into boiling water shells and all.


I don't eat seafood, as you probably already know, but this is a pretty big concern for the health of the general public, in my opinion. Have you read about the recent rash of baby dolphin deaths? At last count it was up to 60, which is many times what is considered normal. Dolphins are on top of the food chain, and it's still not clear what is causing this death. Wondering how long it will be before the human health consequences become evident, and also wondering how the corporate-influenced media will spin it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

News and papers, recycled and a little *funny*

We all know that you can become an Ordained Minister simply by filling out some online stuff, and there you have it. Ta-da.

Someone with an *actual* Ph.D. conducted an experiment to see how easy it would be to obtain completely bogus credentials in a couple of fields - he succeeded, and the person he obtained them for was a cat. Zoe is a certified hypnotherapist by the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH), the International Medical & Dentistry Hypnotherapy Association (IMDHA) and the American Board of Hypnotherapy (ABH). {dentistry hypnotherapy???}

Dr. Zoe D. Katze, Ph.D., C.Ht., DAPA.

During the process, he listed some real organizations and some fake, such as Ms. Zoe being a Consultant at the Tacayllaermi Friends School (Tacayllaermi is "I'm really a cat" spelled backwards.)

Here's the account from the source: The Credentialing Con. It has photos of the real Dr. Katze (who is a regular furry kitty and not a Sphinx as she's been recently depicted for some reason) and her papers. When I look for an MD, I do check and see if they are board certified though, it's somehow important, especially if they will potentially be cutting on me. It's disturbing that you can make stuff up and get by with it, such as the what Rand Paul did... the "American Board of Ophthalmology" (an AMA-certified board) apparently wouldn't certify him so he invented his own group called the "National Board of Ophthalmology" (consisting of him, his wife and his father-in-law) and claims to be certified by them (them? him? her?).

It's a head shaker.

Back to the story of Dr. Katze... this is an old story dating back to 2002 but has recently resurfaced and again made the rounds in a phenomenon completely unrelated to the unreliability of credentials theme I started with. I've noticed this happening before, an old story gets noticed and starts trending again (and in this case, Zoe returned as a Sphinx! That's like a con with a hoax on top!). See Time, io9, Gizmodo, then there was FARK, Raw Story, etc. and so on. Like that other "recent" story about cats-on-call, there was the cat who was called for jury duty. The story was true enough (and pretty funny as he was required to explain why he couldn't serve, and they checked "doesn't speak English") but it happened in Jan. 2010! Looks like HuffPo has the egg on its face over this one, and have added a correction to that effect, but plenty of other news outlets picked it up without question and posted it as a new story.

... and then there's Clay Henry III, the beer-drinking goat who was the Mayor of Lajitas, Texas... now that's news. Somebody run with it!

Not a headline I like to see

OK, I don't eat meat of the 2-legged, 4 legged or no-legged variety, but 6-legged food is not for me. 8-legged food will not be considered.

I am starting to see bugs being sold as food in the grocery store...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011

How is Norma?

Someone sent me this story via email:

A sweet grandmother telephoned St. Joseph’s Hospital. She timidly asked,

"Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing?"

The operator said,
"I'll be glad to help, dear. What's the name and room number of the patient?"

The grandmother in her weak, tremulous voice said,
"Norma Findlay, Room 302."

The operator replied,
"Let me put you on hold while I check with the nurse's station for that room."

After a few minutes, the operator returned to the phone and said,
"I have good news. Her nurse just told me that Norma is doing well. Her blood pressure is fine; her blood work just came back normal and her physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged tomorrow."

The grandmother said,
"Thank you. That is wonderful. I was so worried. God bless you for the good news."

The operator replied,
"You're more than welcome. Is Norma your daughter?"

The grandmother said,
"No, I'm Norma Findlay in Room 302. No one tells me shit."


Saturday, February 12, 2011


Ran across this post which really touched on one of my big pet peeves when it comes to singers. There are words for these things, thank you John Eskow. I love finding a new word or two.

The first new word I learned there was melisma, which is defined as the bending of syllables for bluesy or soulful effect. Melisma is great, but like anything it can be abused. I like his graphic descriptions of such abuse, such as "17 different notes for every vocal syllable."
You will hear more of this tonsil-twisting insincerity -- to your eternal sorrow -- if you watch any episode of American Idol.

The great Jerry Wexler -- who produced both Ray and Aretha -- coined a great term for it: "oversouling." He described it as "the gratuitous and confected melisma" that hollows out a song and drains it of meaning. Wexler, who knew more about soul than any producer before or since, said:

"Time and again I have found that flagrantly artificial attempts at melisma are either a substitute for real fire and passion or a cover-up for not knowing the melody... Please, learn the song first, and then sing it from the heart."

I've never seen more than a few minutes of American Idol, and I have heard modern mainstream pop music and country music (sometimes it's hard to tell them apart) and really don't find it to be memorable or interesting at all.

Here's a good unintentional sampling of this style. I want to add that these women all have fantastic and amazing voices. It's just an influential style of singing that more and more singers are choosing, even ones that already have a different established style in some cases.

It's like shredding on an electric guitar.

weedly deedly deedly deedly deedly weedly deedly weedly deedly deedly deedly WEEEEEEEEEEEE

It'll win the contest for notes per minute.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Dominion, use and abuse of power

When I first saw this event, all I could think about was the fact that I wanted to go see it! I had seen a video of actual cats plinking guitar strings and banging on drums and keyboards, but after realizing that these are not just some local pets who have been trained, they are not only required to dress up and perform, but they must travel in order to do it. I was thinking that makes them a Circus. Maybe this example is pushing the definition a bit though. What do you think? It looks like what these kitties are put through (being trained to do tricks for treats – maybe it’s not that much different in their case than what anyone would with their pet). Making them travel? I don’t think that’s a good idea for a bunch of cats, but I guess it could be worse.

I am (obviously) in favor of keeping certain animals as pets (a.k.a. family members, a.k.a fur people) but am against using animals purely as workers or entertainers. Something that falls under the both categories is dog sledding. Now, I understand that, under primitive conditions, certain animals are utilized as the only possibly form of transportation, where transportation of a certain speed is required for survival. This might take the form of horses, camels, dogs...

Here is the horrible story of the slaughter of 100 sled dogs (out of 300). After the BC Olympics, tourism dropped and the dogs were no longer needed so they were sentenced to be shot and throats slashed. Many of them reportedly did not die quickly enough to be called humane, and that is the only part of this incident that broke the rules. It's not even clear that charges will be brought.
This is enough to shock just about anybody, but we don't give that much thought to racing horses or dogs, performing circus animals, or even those poor urban carriage horses who clip-clop you up and down the streets among the downtown traffic jam - endlessly. I always think they must be wondering when in hell they applied for that job.

Seems like the Olympics brings animal death as a matter of course, such as in China when they rounded up a half million cats (many of whom were pets) under the guise of a SARS scare but in reality a way to *clean* the streets for Olympic visitors, then they were beaten to death or sent to death cages out of town. Similarly, in Greece 2004, there was suspected activity of this kind to clean the streets of strays, although not in the same staggering volume.

Humans have it in their heads that we are in charge of the earth and all the things that live on it (and more)! The principle of Dominion is written in the Bible, but even if it weren't, it would still be accepted by most of mankind. That's what I think. People write down what they believe in their sacred books, and blame the writings on a god.

Getting back to the Acro-Cats/Rock-Cats... they are starting to seem not so bad. Apparently they are rescue kitties, which gets a gold star, and if they are well cared for, taken to the vet regularly, given enough days off, not overly stressed, never hurt, and really, really loved... I am OK with it. It has to be done for love, not just for money... or power.