Sunday, July 31, 2005

What's the difference?

I seek knowledge from those more learned than I.

I am looking for a good dictionary. You'd think this would be easy, but my Miriam Webster at home is easily 25 years old, so it's out of date. I went to Barnes and Noble and couldn't decided between a Webster's and a Miriam Webster's (Oxford's were a little pricey). In my old office there were more than a few copies to be had in someone's cubicle, so I never bothered to get one for my own.

Back in the days I worked in Manhattan, I learned well that (at least in those days) Webster's wasn't a copy-protected name, and anyone could slap Webster's on any lexicon, regardless of accuracy, and sell them for a $1 on street corners (many an afternoon was spent finding the incorrect words). I am certain the collections in B&N would be legit, but that still doesn't address my question on the names.

So I am seeking a good desktop reference for my office, and maybe an all-around one for home as well. Heaven knows a good style guide wouldn't hurt me either.

And can you tell me the difference between Webster's and Miriam Webster's?

Anyone have suggestions?

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Some pols have a conscience, and it cost them their jobs.

While I realize many folk who read this do not live in Pennsylvania, this is interesteing for all who vote.

HARRISBURG1 - Fifteen House Democrats who voted against the controversial legislative pay raise were stripped of their committee leadership positions in an unusual midterm shake-up that some members viewed as payback for their "no" votes.

In a letter to House Speaker John Perzel (R., Phila.) last week, House Minority Leader H. William DeWeese announced changes in 16 House committees. Committee assignments are routinely made at the beginning of a new session, not mid-session.

The moves appeared designed to reward lawmakers who voted for the 16 percent pay raise and punish those who did not. Under the new salary structure, those in committee leadership positions receive an additional $4,050 a year.

DeWeese would not comment on the shake-up. His spokesman issued a statement but refused to discuss the timing of the changes or why they were made. "The leader has discretion to change assignments whenever he wants," said Tom Andrews, press secretary for DeWeese. "This is just a shuffling of positions."

Others said the reason was clear: It was payback time.

So lets get this straight, if you vote to give yourself a raise, you get promoted.

Here's hoping the electorate votes to bring a conscience back to Harrisburg.

1 Need a login, click here.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Another bureaucrat who should be flogged

This is priceless...

A real-life drama is being played out in Carbon County as a mother and her children are living in a tent instead of their new home. They blame a building inspector for standing in their way.

Theresa Livingston is a mother of three children, twin girls aged 12 and a son who is nine. She has a modular home near Lehighton which she bought for the family to live in but contractors have been stopped from finishing the job. So the family eats, sleeps and spends time together in a tent.


There is already a new foundation for the modular home. The family's other house stood on the same spot but in February a fire destroyed it.

One township official said the building inspector stopped the job because the land could be flooded, even though the new home would go in the same place as the old one. There's a dispute over whether the land is in the flood plane. An expensive study would be needed to determine that.

"I think I'd like him to see the children and how we're living and please explain to me why. I've done everything he told me to," Livingston added.

The tent contains a portable toilet and bottled water and the family showers at a nearby park. One child occasionally has to use a wheelchair.


The dispute may come to a head at the township supervisors meeting August 8. That's when the mother and her builders will demand answers from community leaders

I can see it now! The Township Supervisors will order Children Protective Services to take the kids.

Yeah, call me the cynic. It's getting hard not to be...
  • Leather Penguin on the atrocious behavior of Pennsylvania's Lt. Governor

  • VHMPrincess on a parent who ought to be in jail

  • mdmhvonpa on other parents who ought to be dealt with severely

  • I need a drink.

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    Wednesday, July 27, 2005

    Pregnant Philadelphia woman missing for 9 days

    I hate to use another persons' situation to make a point, but unfortunately I am compelled to do so.

    We are still bombarded with live remotes from Aruba, and while I've hesitated to comment previously on the Natalie Halloway Holloway story, it is indeed a sad one. Fine. I have silently bristled at how an 18 year old woman is still considered a 'teen', and how a US Senator seems to think he can order Dutch and Aruban authorities how to govern in their own states, but hey! I suppose Sen. Shelby would turn over US sovereignty were the tables reversed. But those rants will wait for another day.

    I live north of Philadelphia, and only heard about this story today:

    PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- Police in Philadelphia are searching for a 24-year-old pregnant woman who has been missing for more than a week. Latoyia Figueroa was last seen on the afternoon of July 18 in the area of 59th and

    Figueroa, a 5-foot-2 African American, is five months pregnant and has a 7-year-old child. She has long, dark brown hair and brown eyes and two tattoos -- an angel on her right wrist and her daughter's name on her left arm.

    Now only a cynic would suggest that the reason this story isn't getting wall-to-wall coverage as did the Jennifer Wilbanks story or Ms. Holloway's is because Ms. Figueroa is black.

    And while I am hopeful Ms. Figueroa will turn up as did Ms. Wilbanks, I can't help but wonder why there isn't more attention being paid to her plight.

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    The Increasingly Ugly Left

    In more than one post I have suggested the Left should do more to give people a reason to vote for their candidates instead of making personal, vicious - and, more often than not, false - attacks against their opponents.

    Author/Talk Radio host Tammy Bruce has an excellent piece that further demonstrates how the Left is unable to find anything relevant to debate about:

    It's always shocking when the left unmasks itself - it's usually very brief but when it happens not only can't you turn away, it's actually important that you don't. While it would seem impossible, the left has found a new low, this time courtesy of both the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

    On the same day, both newspapers published bizarre attacks on the most basic values of personal appearance and physical health of the president and those he supports. It's the newest indication of how frustrated and frenzied the left has grown in the face of an America which refuses to join them in their drowning pool.

    In a piece for the Los Angeles Times on July 22, 2005, titled "The (over)exercise of Power," Jonathan Chait notes he finds the president's interest in exercise "disturbing." He bleats, "What I mean is the fact that Bush has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy." As opposed to a president's obsession with Big Macs and a certain intern?


    Chait finds the fact that the president makes time to exercise "astonishing," he then notes "My guess is that Bush associates exercise with discipline...The notion of a connection between physical and mental potency is, of course, silly..." Really? Not according to the medical establishment and the surgeon general's office which notes the benefits of exercise. Such as? Better sleep, reduced tension and stress, reduction of high blood pressure, reduction of anxiety and depression, reduced risk of colon and breast cancer, healthy bones, muscles, and joints, improved self image, and generally improved physical health.

    For the most powerful man on earth, the man on whose shoulders the fate of the free world rests, the president clearly recognizes exercise is an imperative component to his being able to do the job.

    Chait tries to assert his point about the "silliness" of connecting exercise with mental acuity by arguing, "Consider all the perfectly toned airheads in Hollywood" or perhaps, even the president himself." The last time I checked, most actresses in Hollywood are emaciated, they are not "perfectly toned." There is a difference between being thin and being healthy -- a distinction lost on Chait and Hollywood in general.

    It would be easy to dismiss Chait as just another "journalist" who makes a living hating the president, but there's more to it than that. You see, leftists harbor a personal jealousy of people unlike them. And who would that be? People considered "on the right" or "conservative," those who have a healthier, happier, more positive view of life. When you view the future with optimism, when you feel you are in charge of your destiny, you're going to be kinder to and take better care of yourself.

    The pettiness of Chait's argument reaches its pinnacle of envy with an insistent but unconvincing shout of I-Have-Self-Esteem-Too! in his last gasp. Chait closes by accusing the president's encouragement of exercise among Americans as a further indication of how "out of touch he is. It's nice for Bush that he can take an hour or two out of every day to run, bike, or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does."

    Wow, that says it all, doesn't it? Chait is smarter, more clever, is much busier and certainly more important than the president. And he doesn't even need to lift his keester out of his chair! Make no mistake here--the Left is obsessed with one thing--mainstreaming their nihilistic, empty lives. Within their narcissism and desire to be 'normal,' society must be made to look like them, and let's be honest here -- their world of victimhood, depression and hate is not a pretty one.

    Consider their political and public leadership -- those who are supposed to be the cream of the crop, meant to attract others to their camp, the Role Models --Teddy Kennedy. The Clintons. Lynne Stewart. Barbra Streisand. Whoopi Goldberg. Rosie O'Donnell. Michael Moore. Alec Baldwin. Al Franken. Need I say more?

    During my time with the National Organization for Women one of the (many) things that disturbed me during national board meetings was the fact that many of the women seemed to be allergic to bathing, and especially frightened of the concept of 'grooming.'

    The simplest things reveal you are in a room full of unhappy people -- many were significantly overweight, and by grooming I mean engaging in the simple act of running a brush though your hair, brushing one's teeth, visiting a dentist if need be (at least on occasion), and simply caring enough about yourself to at least attempt to appear healthy.

    When I would dare to bring up the issue of appearance (as gently as one could imagine), that notion, of course, was rejected as "surrendering to the male dominated view of female beauty." Hey, how about surrendering to not being repulsive? That helps every cause, whatever it may be.

    Of course, on the Left, one gets lost in groupthink. Personal health, exercise, and being aware of ones own body in itself is an indication that you're conscious of yourself. Yet, it is personal unconsciousness which is encouraged and fostered in leftist activist and leadership circles. Being Unhealthy and celebrating the Ungroomed is an art form on the Left. And ultimately, as evidenced by Chait's opinion piece, those who do take care of themselves, and dare to remind society of how things should be, are demonized. Why? Because they serve as a counterpoint of what the left is not.

    You see, it now cannot be ignored that one side of the political spectrum even looks unwell. And how does the left strive to make that irrelevant? By marginalizing those who are unlike them--the physically healthy, those who actually take care of themselves, are to be mocked and shunned.

    Think I'm being too extreme? Consider Robin Givhan's coverage of John Roberts' family at the president's press conference announcing Judge Roberts as his nominee for the Supreme Court. In her Washington Post story also on July 22, 2005 titled "An Image A Little Too Carefully Crafted," Givhan eclipsed Chait with an astounding pettiness thought only in existence on the elementary school playground. Givhan actually attacks Judge Roberts' wife and children for being groomed and well-dressed.

    "His wife and children stood before the cameras, groomed and glossy in pastel hues--like a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of Jelly Bellies, three little Necco wafers... Separate the child from the clothes, which do not acknowledge trends, popular culture or the passing of time. They are not classic; they are old-fashioned. These clothes are Old World, old money..."

    In other words, the Roberts children should have been dressed in GAP clothes, preferably with a piercing of one body part or another. While Josie, their daughter, would have been more appropriate in a pair of low-rider jeans which make
    refrigerator-repairmen out of little girls.

    President and Mrs. Bush, and the Roberts family make the mistake of not pledging allegiance to the decline of culture. They insult the Left by reminding intellectually lazy Slaves to Decay like Chait and Givhan that class, decorum and respect still exist. Tradition, caring for ones family, and caring for oneself, are still values that prevail.

    Is Lynne Stewart to be the new American beauty standard? Is Michael Moore, and the slow suicide of morbid obesity, to be sought after? Is Ward Churchill to be the New Ideal Man? Is the discipline brought by exercise and self-restraint so frightening that we would prefer to have a quadruple-bypass like Bill Clinton?

    After all, if you care enough about yourself to resist a Big Mac and Krispy Kreme, you would also have the discipline to resist an intern. Unless, of course, your world is one where there are no standards, exercise is "creepy," and looking good is "old fashioned." Theirs is a world, as Bill Clinton mused, where you do what you want 'because you can.'

    Thank goodness Americans are deciding they deserve better.

    Tammy Bruce

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    Tuesday, July 26, 2005

    Judge Roberts: Would he really recuse himself?

    GOP bloggers points out this contradiction:

    In a column in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said Judge Roberts told Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, that he would recuse himself from deciding cases where the Constitution conflicted with Catholic teaching.
    But both Durbin's office and Roberts supporters disagreed.

    "Jonathan Turley's column is not accurate," Durbin press secretary Joe Shoemaker said, adding that his boss never asked that question and Judge Roberts never said he would recuse himself in such a case.

    "Judge Roberts said repeatedly that he would follow the rule of law," Mr. Shoemaker said. Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, met with Judge Roberts yesterday and said he asked him about the column.

    "There is no conflict for Judge Roberts," Mr. Cornyn said later. "He assured me that he would not have any difficulties ruling on such issues."

    If both Durbin's office and Roberts say this is wrong, who's Turley's source?
    An obvious guess would be Karl Rove, but that's just too easy. What we are really seeing is partianship self-destructing. Since they are unable to articulate ideas that voters want, they are grasping at anything to make a candidate look bad.

    Assuming that Jonathan Turley's source can be validated, lets focus on this for one moment: Senator Durban question Judge Roberts on a matter involving he faith with regards to a hypothetical verdict he would render. Gee, doesn't that sound like a religious test for a federal office?

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    With just about 7 minutes left to countdown, Godspeed Discovery and crew.

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    AirAmerica Double Speak

    Every now and then I give AirAmerica's rating a boost by tuning in for a while1. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to listen to the following, spoken by Randi Rhodes:

    I am not asking you to fall in love with these Democratic candidates. I'm asking you to fall in line. It's time to stop dividing us, and start dividing them. - AirAmerica 25-July-05, 15:50
    Now I haven't a problem with Ms. Rhodes stumping for her Party, and I fully endorse and support the right everyone to 'get out the vote' and what not.

    But if I hear Ms. Rhodes, or an other talk show host, or any pundit complaining that President Bush and/or the Republicans are 'dividing the nation', it will prove their hypocrisy.

    1 Having had a brief stint in college radio, and having participated in more than a few Arbitron ratings in my lifetime, I know fully that my brief and undocumented listening to AirAmerica did nothing for their ratings. However, it is funny to think that had I been reporting for Arbitron, I could have practically doubled AirAmerica's ratings for that period.

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    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    Incomplete List of Things That Bug Me

    I started this list more than a week ago, and left it in my drafts folder. Earlier this week, Michele at A Small Victory started a thread of her own on the same topic, so I posted my incomplete list at her fine site. Her readers offered a number of good complaints, so I decided to see if readers here could add to my list (or hers, if you want to add to it).

    I'll be updating this list infrequently, for I am sure there will be other things that get under my skin. However, for now, here is

    My Incomplete List of People and things
    (and things that people do) that annoy me

    1. People who go on vacation but don’t indicate they’re away in their voice mail, e-mail, etc. This is specifically regarding their office communications. I’m thinking the guy is either fired, dead, or otherwise unresponsive, and that makes my job harder. If no one is covering your voice mail/e-mail, you ought to tell folks who to call while you are away.

    2. People who set their office voice mail to something non-descript, i.e. “I can’t take your call now, please leave a message.” You can’t take my call? No kidding! How do I know for sure you are the person to whom I wish to speak to? How about mentioning something like…, I don’t know: YOUR NAME?

    3. People who expect you to know what is on their computer screen, even when it is apparent I can’t see it. Especially annoying if they’re in a different state.

    4. Drivers who cut you off and then wave, as if that makes it OK. "Did you see that? I nearly hit the bridge abutment because I was cut off… wait, wait… he waved, it’s OK." (I think George Carlin may have pondered this before. Or Jerry Seinfeld...)

    5. Toenails and the appendix. Why evolution hasn’t done away with them is beyond me.

    6. People who drink decafe coffee while they proselytize that everyone should. “Do you know how much better you’d feel if you drank less caffeine?”

    7. People who use the expression “I know what you’re thinking…” No, you don’t. Not a clue. Guaranteed.

    8. Overpriced coffee. It’s coffee for Pete’s sake. I must admit some hypocrisy, since I buy it for much-better-half and myself when we’re out.

    9. Tip cups at Dunkin’ Donuts.

    10. The bastardization of the word ‘doughnuts’.

    11. FNC’s overuse of their ‘Fox News Alert’ banner.

    12. Overzealous Corporate IT personnel who block feed readers. What the hell else am I supposed to do on my short lunch breaks?

    13. People who complain about another's Hummer (or other SUV) just because the vehilce is bigger and safer than theirs. I don't own a Hummer, but I hope to one day own one (a real one, certainly not an H3). If I pay through the nose for gas, that's my problem. If it's too big to see around, slow down. We have trucks on the road that are bigger than any Hummer, but we don't disparage them. I agree that bad drivers are bad for all; but I won't demonize a vehicle because a person behind the wheel can't drive. Hummers don't drive bad, bad drivers do.

    Your turn, what peeves you?

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    Friday, July 22, 2005

    Start your engines

    Image hosted by

    Can you imagine living less than 40 miles from here, and having never attended a race?

    A woman I know says she regularly works overnights on race weekends parking cars, and gets paid with free passes.

    She told me that she'd hook me up with the parking gig if I wanted, all I had to do was call her.

    Damn it all if I forgot. Again.

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    Don't forget to close the window shades

    I started playing with last night. Not only maps, but clicking the Satellite button gives you a birds' eye view of things.

    Living in a rural area, I simply can't enter my home address -- it is RR 1, Box xxxx, city,PA zip -- so I had to use two cross streets to find my house. Ignore Google's red arrow, and look for the mouse pointer:

    Image hosted by

    Not bad, but I can see how some may feel creepy about this level of detail.

    Update I should point out: the area isn't as barren as it appears. All things green are rendedered in that brown shade. For additional Google fun, zoom in close on the Moon's surface.

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    Thursday, July 21, 2005

    Valerie Plame: In case there's any doubt

    Reality Hammer hits the nail... again:

    As more and more evidence comes to light, the fact that Karl Rove did not commit a crime becomes more and more clear:

    The memo said Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and suggested her husband go to Niger because he had contacts there and had served as an American diplomat in Africa.

    Just as I said last year, Valerie Plame "outed" herself by campaigning on her
    husband's behalf.It has been established that Karl Rove did not leak Valerie
    Plame's name, nor did he lie about his actions.On the other hand, we do have evidence that Joe Wilson lied. So which one should be banished from government service: Joe Wilson or Karl Rove?

    Needless to say, the fact that Ms. Plame was an overt operative, the entire issue is moot. Let's not forget the photo she posed for after Mr. Wilson claimed she'd never do. Seems to these two are the ones who are orchestrating the entire issue.

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    Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    Judicial Nominee

    President Bush's pick for Supreme Court, John Roberts, sounds to me to
    fulfill his promise to nominate a justice whose judicial philosophy
    is not unlike that of Justice Scalia or Thomas. Now we wait to see
    if the Democrats will implode.

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    Need work? How about $16/hr to start?

    A few weeks ago I read a post on The MonsterBlog regarding jobs considered to be at the bottom of the barrel. One of them, septic tank cleaner, came to mind over the weekend.

    The next section is a bit of detail about septic tanks you may or may not be interested in reading. If you want the entire detail, follow the link. My overall point does not require knowing the details of septic systems.
    Click to read the full detail...

    For those reading from a non-rural area, modern septic tanks have a concrete tank below ground, covered by about 6" of soil.  All liquids
     are pumped off a 'sand mound' field, where layers of rock, sand, hay and other such natural filters literally purify the water before it eventually reaches the water table (and the process begins again). That's right...    

    Natural decomposition takes care of much of what remains in the tank. Every 3-5 years (depending on family size) the upper tank needs to be pumped (failure to do so will result in a back up into the lowest point, usually the downstairs shower stall. That's right...).

    Pumping the tank is not a task for the weekend handy-man, to say the least. A professional with a large tank truck will roll up, and after uncapping your upper tank, he (or she) will insert a large hose into the tank, and suck up anything not yet decomposed. The size of these tanks can vary, based on the size of the home/business; mine is rated at 1000 gallons.

    This is certainly not a job for the faint of olfactory. For good measure, the cleaner will often empty what's sitting in the upper tank, inspect the tank pump, baffles, and other hardware.

    In less than an hour, the vendor collects his payment and is off. He hauls the sewage to a municipality who will let him dump it into their sewer for a fee.

    Last Friday was a work-at-home day for me, because I needed to home to receive my septic serviceman. While we stood over my open upper tank, we chatted about the stuff people usually chat about. Of course, I eventually asked 'how is business?'

    As an aside: 'How is business' is one of those expressions that is meaningless, like 'How about this weather?'; what do I care how his business is? If he was near bankruptcy, would he tell me? Would I care?
    He told me he would hire 2 people tomorrow if he could. He can't find anyone who wants to work 8-10 hours per day for $16/hour to start. His own name is on his trucks, so it is understandable why he wants only reliable people, but I found it amazing no one would have stepped up to the plate and accepted his office.

    Yes, this job is not exactly glamorous. But the man has a shiny truck, and certainly did not look like he was starving. He wore work gloves, and while there is a very clear potential he could get dirty, those gloves and his clothes were not at all stained. $33K is not a laughable salary in these parts. Hell, it is more than I was making when I was in between career jobs a year ago. But it is honest work, and I've seen harder jobs, to be sure.

    Don't tell me there are no jobs out there; there are plenty, but too many people are too proud to look for them.

    And the next time you complain about your job, remember there are less-desirable things you could do instead of what you are doing now.

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    Ebonics be back

    Michelle Malkin points the absurdity in San Bernardino, CA where ebonics is now considered a civil right.

    Being of Italian decent, I demand Paisonics.

    Just. As. Ridiculous.

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    Monday, July 18, 2005

    Catching up

    I have an unfinished piece on allegedly 'bottom of the barrel' jobs, but that will wait for now.

    • Karl Rove has done nothing wrong. Somehow, the idea of a prosecutor suggesting a journalist is in contempt of court while letting the alleged target of an investigation walk free is a little too much to accept. Why hasn't the NY Times turned over Judith Miller's source? It can't be Mr. Rove or anyone in the Administration; they would have rolled on them long before Ms. Miller put on her jumpsuit.

    • Harry Potter: Everyone else seems to be talking about him, guess its my turn. I don't care about Harry Potter. If you want to read the books, go ahead. I've written before about my lack of patience for novels (here and here), so this would be no different. However, I question those who take their youngsters (pre-teen and younger) to a bookstore at midnight. Can you say instant gratification? If Jaime and Johnny couldn't wait until 9AM Saturday, then there is something very wrong with this picture.

      My theory is those parents who indulge such behavior were youngsters themselves when their mothers got into fist-fights over Cabbage Patch dolls 25 years ago.

    Have you played in the SummerMeme?

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    Wednesday, July 13, 2005

    I'm talking about beer, ear wax and chiropracty

    Last night I enjoyed a simple pleasure I hadn't had in some time.

    I sat at a bar and enjoyed a draught of beer.

    OK, so my life is exceedingly dull for this to be a pleasure, but hey! this is my blog. And besides, I don't get out much.

    I had gotten home late, the kidlets ate with their aunt, and my much-better-half was en route home, so I stopped at a local Pizza/Brew-Pub to bring home dinner.

    Liquor licensing in Pennsylvania is fairly strict, especially in the area of 'to go' sales. Bars are allowed to sell 6-packs, individual bottles/cans and quarts of beer (but not more than 144 oz at a time), and beer distributors are permitted to sell cases and kegs. There is a middle-ground license for small restaurants/pizzerias: they, too can sell beer (as above), and sell draughts in a separate seating area from the main dining room (you can bring food to the bar, but not beer to the other dining room). Certain convenience stores can also sell 6-packs, but not draughts. And, of course, the larger restaurants can have a full-bar, but they tend not to offer 6-pack sales.

    So I placed my food order and went to the next room to have a sit down at the bar. This place is laid out like any fine watering hole: tables, video games in the far corner, darts, and a pool table. The fact that a proper mixologist need not apply would be the only indication this was a beer-pub. Fine. I ordered a tall Yuengling (simple pleasure, remember) and settled in.

    Nearby I was trying to ignore this guy who was, for lack of a better word, evangelicizing to a young lady. Hey, it's a free country, and she could have moved on at any time, I suppose. She didn't seem that interested, but she didn't seem to be inclined to change the topic either. A few moments later, their conversation changed to health care. I haven't a clue how religion folds into health care, but what do I know?

    She: So what do you think I should tell my doctor?

    He: Darling, you're going to the wrong doctor. You ought to go to my chiropractor. Pure genius. I have been going to chiropractors for 20 years, and in the 90's it was hard to find a good one. But this one is tops!

    She: Why is he so good?

    He: I never felt better! No more colds, no flu, nothing. Plus, he's got me into ear-candling.

    Now I have no real affinity to the practice of chiropracty. I have read more than enough to reach the conclusion it is not a type of medical procedure I would ever want done to me. I have also heard enough people swear by them, so I am not automatically inclined to discount them in total.

    However, I nearly spit my beer out when I heard 'ear candling'.

    For those who may not have heard of ear candling (or ear coning), it is (at best) a dubious practice that allegedly removes ear wax and other impurities from the ear canal. You (the 'willing' patient) lay on your side, and an accomplice (an alleged medical practicioner) places a cone-shaped, wax-infused paper (or hemp in some applications) that is then ignited.

    As the 'candle' burns, the chimney effect sucks all that is wicked, evil and bad out of your ear canal and into the paper.

    To borrow a phrase from Dave Barry: I am not making this up.

    Ear candling has been credited with improving a persons hearing, sinuses, and may even help the heartbreak of psoriasis, for all I know. Sure, it has been around for centuries, and that the Amish allegedly still use it, but come on!

    When does mythology end and science take over?Anyone care to relieve their gout with a leech?? Hell, the first pharmacies used to dispense voodoo powder, but they don't any more (huh... maybe religion and healthcare do have a connection).

    And as if that description alone isn't enough, you can buy ear candles for use AT HOME. Oh that must be grand!

    Google 'ear candling' and read for yourself. Between the tests that show nothing was actually being sucked out of the canals to the reports of people needing surgery to remove melted wax from their ear drum, you can file this procedure under Q for quackery.

    So to hear what can be concluded as a local chiropractor using EAR CANDLES as a method of medical treatment strikes another blow to my distrust of chiropracty.

    Many people swear by chiropractors, particularly those who have found relief from neck and back injuries; to those people who have found their spinal manipulations to relieve their pain without drugs: my hat is off to them.

    But to those who practice such art as I describe, it is my opinion they cast the specter of charlatan upon the entire profession.

    My food order was up, and I did really want to enjoy my pizza in peace at home, so I resisted the urge to challenge the chap and left. Besides, the gal seemed to be genuinely interested in what he was saying at that point.

    Who knows? Religion to health care may have been this guy's ticket...

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    Tuesday, July 12, 2005

    Important Words from both sides of the fence

    A reprint of an interview of someone who is is decidedly on the Left...

    Semi-regular USA Today columnist Julianne Malveaux said Monday that President Bush is “a terrorist” and that America is “a terrorist nation.”

    In an interview that began with Malveaux accusing U.S. troops of “beating” terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, the controversial author and economist told ABC Radio host Sean Hannity: “Terrorism in the United States is as old as we are. You want me to give you a litany of terrorism? You want me to start with what’s happened to the Indian population? You want to go on to what happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921?”

    “C’mon now, Sean,” Malveaux told Hannity. “We are terrorists.”

    Asked point-blank if the U.S. was a “terrorist nation,” Malveaux shot back: “Oh, Absolutely.”
    “You know [the WMDs] weren’t there. I know they weren’t there,” she told Hannity. “George W. Bush is evil. He is a terrorist. He is evil. He is arrogant. And he is out of control.”

    ...and words from someone who is often an annoyance to the Right, but who makes perfect sense today:
    Sen. McCain [R-AZ] Strong Words On Supreme Ct Nomination at Dallas Fundraiser: 'During the campaign, President Bush said he will appoint judges who will strictly interpret the constitution... thinking anything else is either amnesia or ignorance... elections have consequences... whomever he nominates deserves an up or down vote and no filibuster... and an up or down vote is what we will have'... DrudgeReport
    Emphasis by me; YES, elections do have consequences. That is a single most important point that seems lost on so many.

    Have you played in the SummerMeme?

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    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Democrats Core Values

    Excerpted from The ORLANDO SENTINEL
    About 500 people rose to their feet in a standing ovation worthy of a rock star as U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., hit the stage Saturday at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.

    The charismatic black politician from Chicago, who at 43 has achieved almost icon status since his wildly popular speech at last year's Democratic convention, was in town to bolster the upcoming Senate campaign of his colleague U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

    "This is your meeting," Nelson told the racially mixed crowd from around the area. "Barack and I want to hear from you."
    Nelson, 62, who faces a tough re-election campaign next year against U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Sarasota, returned the favor, calling Obama "a rock star who carries himself with dignity and humility and is so smart."

    Only seven people stood to address the senators during the hourlong meeting. But everyone listened closely as the two men responded to issues that ranged from worries over the out-of-power Democratic Party to the rising cost of health care and Florida's inadequately funded pre-kindergarten program.

    The most provocative question was the first.

    "I see a Democratic Party afraid to say they're Democrats, who voted for the war in Iraq and voted for tax cuts for the wealthy," said Glenn Anderson of Orlando. "Why should I remain a Democrat?"

    It was a tough question. But Nelson and Obama tried to answer it.

    "The Democrats at times have lost their way," conceded Obama. "We are trying to decide what our core values are."
    So says Illinois Senator Barack 'Osama bin ... Osama ...' Obama.  (Emphasis above made by me)
    In November, after the election, I heard many deride President Bush's re-election as being caused by 'values' over 'issues' -- as if they're inseparable.  I hear complaints that the alleged 'Right Wing Media' blocks the Democrats from getting out their message.   Here I am, an affirmed Conservative (in the model of Ronald Reagan), presenting a quote from the Democratic Party's rising star:
    "The Democrats at times have lost their way," conceded Obama. "We are trying to decide what our core values are."
    Now I know more than a few Democrats, Moderates, and Independents visit this site.   Please, can anyone defend Sen. Obama's comments?  Can you argue he's wrong?

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    Summer meme

    It's summer and for us in the NE, it's going to be a scorcher. That it is a Monday, and that the rest of week will be a wash-out from the hurricane's last gasp, what better time for a meme?

    How to play:

    • Leave a comment here that says hello. (who will be the first??)
    • Now, go visit the person who commented above you and say Hello, Charlie on the Pennsylvania Turnpike sent me.
    • Visit that site; read a post or three.
    Please play along.
    You may find a new Blog that you'll like to visit again!

    I tried this once before, and am pitching it again. Have at it!

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    Misplaced comment

    Recently, I added a piece of script that would show the names of those who recently added comments to my postings (its on the right after 'Recent Posts'). I did this because I have yet to pay the $12 to buy a 'real' HaloScan comment account, so the only ways to view my comments are to look for the change in the number of comments after my posts, or to check the RSS feed in my Bloglines account. The former method was inefficient, and the latter is getting harder to do (my feed list is in dire need of pruning). So I thought having the names showing would be a free plug to whomever posted, and would make it easier for me to know when someone made a comment.

    One of the few downsides to the Free HaloScan account is that the comments shown in the specific RSS feed show only the comment, without any link to the post I wrote to inspire the note. Take this comment from Ebonne Cabarrus. Clealy, Ebonne is disagreeing with me on some point I made, but I can't reply because

    1. I do not know which post is being referenced
    2. Ebonne left no contact information
    If nothing else, it's time I pony up the $12 and get a real HaloScan account. The old one serves me well, but fair is fair, and I ought to do my part.

    One day... one day ... I'll cough up for my own domain name ...

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    Friday, July 08, 2005

    Economic News

    In case you missed it (or it is under-reported):

    U.S. EMPLOYERS ADDED 146,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in June and hiring in the previous two months was revised higher by a net 44,000 jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 5%.

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    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    Another reminder the war on terror isn't over

    In March of 2004, the day after the commuter station bombing in Spain, I referenced an piece:

    The Madrid bombings are a reminder that terrorism remains the largest single threat to Western freedom and security. It threatens every country that refuses to cower in fear and dares to take the battle to the terrorists. We've made large strides in this war since 9/11, thanks in part to friends like the Spanish. Their current grief should inspire America's renewed determination.

    Those words are true today as well. Three days later, after the Spanish elections went the exact opposite as they were predicted days earlier, newly elected PM Luis Rodriguez Zapatero came into office and pledged to pull his nation's troops out of Iraq, I wrote the following:

    Remember, Osama Bin Laden himself said he was emboldened by our pull out of Somalia after our troops were left unprepared for their mission. Spain has now become the new 'paper tiger', and their citizens will live with that consequence, but the US can not give in to the terrorists. People get ready: if they think they've 'won' in Spain, it's only a matter of time before they try to so forcefully persuade another nation; possibly even this one.

    I look back on those words and am relieved to see my dire prediction was wrong; despite Spain's cut-and-run approach, no one else has joined Bali, Istanbul, Mombasa, Riyadh, Casablanca or Madrid ... until London today.

    From a purely militaristic point of view, todays attacks - while bloodthirsty and sinister - paled by comparison to other Al Qaeda attacks. 40 dead is 40 too many, but it isn't the 200 who died in Madrid, or the 3000 in NY, PA, and Washington, DC.

    London's grief, today, should be an inspiration to our resolve. Al Qaeda may have won this battle today, but if the freedom loving nations stand their ground they won't win the war.

    We dare not let them.

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    Bashing the Smiley Face

    National Review, July 18th issue: Wal-Mart is American liberalism’s favorite corporate punching bag, and the pugilists of the day are Sens. Ted Kennedy and Jon Corzine and Rep. Anthony D. Weiner. This trio has introduced a bill that would require states to report the names of large companies whose employees receive government-funded health care. Here’s Weiner: “Part of the plan is to embarrass companies like Wal-Mart.” And Kennedy: “Every worker in America is paying a part of their taxes to pay for Wal-Mart” (the idea being that, if Wal-Mart provided more benefits, its employees wouldn’t rely on government programs). Now the issue is not whether Wal-Mart offers health insurance; it does— but not on terms Kennedy approves of. Suppose Wal-Mart agreed to such terms. When the corresponding decline in its profits required it to lay off employees, and these employees filed for welfare, Kennedy could say, “Every worker in America is paying a part of their taxes to pay for Wal-Mart.” Let us debate the wisdom of emulating the welfare-state economics that has brought Western Europe its famous growth of late. But don’t let’s pretend, like Kennedy, that there are no tradeoffs.

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    Hello, my name is Charlie, and I am a statistic.

    For what its worth to society as a whole:

    Take the MIT Weblog Survey

    Oddly, the survey asked for my WebLog URL so it could sample some of my links for questioning. It kept reporting 'no links found;' guess it can't read BlogRoll.

    As seen at Crystal Clear.

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    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    Update on Plame Investigation

    I can't believe how long it's been since last I mentioned Valerie Plame.

    Michelle Malkin points out an interesting passage in today's Washington Post:

    Sources close to the investigation say there is evidence in some instances that some reporters may have told government officials -- not the other way around -- that Wilson was married to Plame, a CIA employee.
    The Post goes on to say:
    Likewise, {special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald }has repeatedly said he already knows the identity of Miller's source and that person has relieved Miller of her duty to protect the source's anonymity. Yesterday, he suggested Miller will likely spend time in jail thinking about "whether the interests of journalism at large, and even more broadly, the proper conduct of government, are truly served" by her continued refusal to discuss her sources.
    So what do we have here? We have people who are willing to stand on principle, a worthy enough endeavor, and go to jail to protect a source. A source that appears to have no connection to the Bush Administration.

    I reach this conclusion simply: even if it meant 'compromising a source' you can't tell me that Time Magazine and NY Times would not drop the name of an Administration big-wig (did someone say Karl Rove?) just to make the Administration look bad. After all, we've just recently relived the tales of Woodward and Bernstein and their questionable methods for getting their information, who wouldn't want to be part of that wave again?

    No, I think it is clear: someone on the outside dropped Valerie Plame's name first. Its now down to matter of when someone will cough up the truth.

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    SCOTUS Shuffle

    Never mind the debate of Justice O'Connor's replacement. Alex at Pstupidonymous lists as many 5 Justices soon to be retiring.

    And you all thought the 2004 elections were a wild ride!

    So what are my thoughts on the Supreme Court nominations? Simple. Referring to our Constitution as a guide, the President nominates and the Senate offers 'advise and consent'. Pretty simple, huh?


    Of course, advice and consent comes into varying interpretation. People are quick to point out President Washington had one of his own Supreme Court nominees, Benjamin Fishbourn, rejected by the Senate. Whether it was because of political stance or sanity is left for the historians to debate; clearly, President Washington was a thorough enough of a leader and statesman not to have to nominated anyone who would have put the nation at any risk.

    This blog has discussed filibusters in a few different posts. Clearly, they were never intended to be used when a judicial nominee had popular support (not to be confused with Abe Fortas).

    Despite the rhetoric, the following is true:

    • President Bush won the election.
    • Twice.
    • The House of Representatives has a decidedly Republican Party majority.
    • The Senate has a Republican Party majority; not a decisive as the House, but a majority nonetheless.
    • The numbers of Republican Governors grows with nearly every election cycle.

    The mandate exists, and it is clear. 30 years ago and more, the Political Makeup of the Congress was decidedly different than today. Then it was decidedly Left leaning, today it is decidedly Right leaning. This cannot be disputed.

    The President has a Constitutional role to leave his imprint on the nation, bolstered by his re-election. The Senate has their job of 'advise and consent'; so long as both sides agree to play fairly -- President Bush to nominate a Judicial candidate that is capable of fair rendering of justice in accordance to the original intent of Constitution -- and the Congress to decide if said nominees are capable of the same.

    There is no need for a 'war' from either side. No need to repeat the circus that was Judge Robert Bork's or Justice Clarence Thomas' hearings. Stick to the facts, stick to the Constitution, and the nation will be better for it.

    This is my call to both sides: abandon the terms 'war over the Court'; it won't play well on either side. Use the Constitution as your guide.

    Pretty simple, huh?

    And then we can hear arguments on Justice Souter's home...

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    I didn't know JACK

    Well my eyes (and ears) have been opened.

    A few weeks ago I noted the passing of Oldies 101.1, WCBS FM in NYC and the advent of JACK 101. I mentioned that I briefly tuned to JACK and found their playlist to be eclectic. I had no clue how much so until recently, when I began to listen to their stream (AOL users can hear JACK here or here).

    JACK brings me back to the days of MusicRadio 77 WABC of my youth, playing a broad range of music styles. I won't say I love every tune JACK plays, but I dislike less on JACK than I do on other stations. Have a gander at their playlist from last evening:


    • Echo & The Bunnymen
    • Arvil Lavigne
    • Peter Gabriel
    • Men At Work
    • Jesus Jones
    • B-52's

    Nice spread!! If I had to make one disparaging comment, its that JACK is all automated, and thus people I know in the Broadcast Industry see them as threat ('all money, no talent' as my friend Jude put it). And he has a point (I once had an automated station as a client when I worked for a software reseller, but that's for another post). While I admit to enjoying the playlist, there is something sterile about not having a live DJ on the other end.

    So for now I'll be streaming when I can, and searching out for that elusive live-jock that can deliver the kind of music I long for.

    Readers: share your favorite radio stations!

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    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    Marketing 1001 strikes again

    In what will prove to be another bust for Coca-Cola, they've tampered with another classic (hat tip to Jen at VeryBigBlog).

    Many of us still remember the 1971 TV commercial featuring a bunch of kids singing a about 'buying the world a Coke' (my most vivid memories of the song came during one of the many Peanuts' holiday specials, intermixed between commercials for McDonald's, York Peppermint Patties, and those pre-packaged cakes -- like Drakes, but not that brand... can someone fill my mind void??)

    Jen writes:

    They changed the Coke Song. You know the one from 1971 (I was two) and played every so often when we were all growing up as they'd show it near holidays and junk, the "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" song. That one. THE Coke song. It is such a classic is it it has it's own page at the Library of congress! but that's not good enough for Coca Cola, who just ruined it.

    The line "I'd like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company"
    has been changed to - and I'm not joking, those who have seen it can attest this is true - "I'd like to buy the world a Coke, and CHILL WITH IT AWHILE" in the new version now playing on introducing the release of Coke Zero


    See for yourself...

    The original, the classic - Called "Hilltop", click
    here and go to the last clip
    The new one - Called "Chilltop" (har har) click
    here then on the Chilltop section the the "commerical" selection.

    Not since NEW COKE have we seen such a bad move. Let's hope the ad campaign doesn't last too long.

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    Gotta love Italian innovations

    As seen at

    How else can one improve on a simple baby stroller?

    Image hosted by Image hosted by

    I've always thought those cup holders on American strollers were just too shallow...

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    Why can't Johnny (or Janie) read?

    Why can't Johnny (or Janie) read? Consider the source:

    Morning Call: When Johanna R. Schechter received her Northampton Area High School diploma June 11, she expected the document certifying that she had fulfilled all the requirements of graduation to be without errors.

    So it was a bit of a shock when the 18-year-old learned from fellow graduate Jamie Lambert that the name of the school was spelled wrong within the body of the document.

    ''It was kind of like a slap in the face,'' Schechter said Wednesday. ''It was a little disrespectful. I would've hoped the school would've screened the diplomas. Obviously Northampton did a slap-dash job and that's what they're leaving us with.''

    Denise Rader, district community relations coordinator, said school officials discovered the day after graduation that the fifth reference to Northampton was spelled with two h's. Rader said all other references were correct.

    Now anyone who has spent any time reading this humble Blog knows I am not always a master at spelling, but then I am not an high school educator, either. The mistake was made, the reprints ordered, let it go. Anyone who takes grand offense at the issue has to learn that sometimes crap happens in life; if that's the worse thing to ever happen to you...

    Furthermore, if it was such a slap, how come Schechter didn't notice it herself? If she couldn't be bothered to read her own diploma, how much of an insult could it have been to her?

    However, I predict at least one lawsuit will be filed for duress. I'm surprised one hasn't already been filed over the case of the bad yearbook photo.

    Heh... every photo of me has been bad; imagine the claims I could have had...

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    Monday, July 04, 2005

    Falling back: Fact or Myth?

    The other night my much-better-half and I were watching TV when a commercial for ABC’s BRAT CAMP came on. This appears to be another in a seemingly endless parade of ‘reality shows,’ this time focusing on a bunch of troubled youths who are transported to a boot-camp style rehab.

    Ok, so it won’t go into the record books as good TV.

    But that’s not what I am talking about. In one snip of the preview, we see a scene probably taken from late in the campers stay: the stereotypical ‘I’ll fall backwards off this step-stool (or other such platform) and you guys will catch me.’

    I scoffed at it, calling it as I did above, ‘stereotypical.’ While I’ve never been to any of these ‘corporate growth’ workshops, I’ve seen enough sit-coms and Dilbert toons that ridicule such seminars, and I suppose that has underscored my conclusions of the act.

    She told me she’s read of the act being used to demonstrate trust among team members for years, and she thought it was apparently legit.

    So I Googled for ‘falling backwards trust’ and received a surprising number of hits. Some with photos! Apparently my ridicule isn’t shared by many others.

    Thinking back to BRAT CAMP, what does ‘falling off a stump into other’s arms’ prove? That the Brat Kids wholeheartedly trust a group of people whom they met a short time ago? For whom, presumably since they were all similarly bratty, felt contempt for their peers from day one?

    Over the last few days I’ve pondered how many people I would trust to catch me were I to decide to propel; myself from a pedestal. Right off the bat: my much-better-half, but that would be a given
    (that is, if I haven't found a way to piss her off in the last few minutes....).

    I can eliminate my parents, not that they wouldn’t catch me, but they are past 70 in age, and why would I subject them to such a task? I think that assuming any given person is on speaking terms with their parents (and assuming they are still alive), we would all agree our parents would catch us, barring physical limitations. Fine.

    I have three brothers, a pair of brother-in-laws and a pair of sister-in-laws, assorted cousins, etc. For the purposes of this discussion, I’ll discount them as well, since I am on speaking terms with them (well, most of them) and I would risk landing flat on my back with them in the receiving line. They're family, so again, they're a given.

    Beyond family… now we’re getting thin. I can think of about a dozen people who I would count on preventing me from fracturing my skull should I be so foolish to fall backwards. Most of them are people who I worked alongside of for nearly 7 years at my former place of employment (here's a hint: it's been a year since I left, and I still e-mail or IM with them). The other few are people I’ve known since college.

    What would possess me to put this blind faith in a group of people I recently met at an event that I was coerced to attend? Even if I volunteered, why would I suddenly feel so carefree about a group people with whom the only common denominator in our relationship is our work address?

    So I open the input from readers: have you ever participated in this kind of event, and if so what are your thoughts. Who would you trust to catch you? Anyone else think its so much nonsense?

    Or am I as lost here as I was with 'comfort food'?

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