Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Well, there's this - German prostitutes retrain as nurses, telemarketers
A reading of both articles reveals this much - German prostitutes have a much better chance of retraining for a new career and making a living wage than laid-off American workers.
Both Democratic and Republican are guilty of trumpeting their retraining programs, but neither party has so far produced anywhere near the well-paid jobs for everyone needing them.
The NY Times piece (not the German prostitute article) takes a look at the brutal world of the highly-skilled, laid-off airline mechanics, and is well-worth a read.
Government retraining programs are a godsend for some, but they assume the worker is young enough to start over and doesn't have a family to support while he/she is starting over.
As the well-paid jobs are outsourced to cheaper labor elsewhere, the fortunate region attracts new employers - often paying barely over minimum wage with little or no benefits.
The global economy is a grand and glorious thing - if you're a company owner. But I've said it before and I'll say it again...you want to use cheap Chinese labor? Then you can sell your product to the Chinese.
If you want to sell it to Americans, either give American workers a decent wage and benefits or pay a hefty tariff.
I'm tired of riding down the road and seeing shut-down factories that once employed thousands. And I'm heartily sick of our local and state governement bribing corporations to build facilities in this area and seeing people's pay and benefits cut in half just for the privilege of working with the new company.
I'm at the point where any candidate who promises to get tough on Big Bidness and out-of-control capitalism will get my vote.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
ABC - From a two-day conference called "The War on Christians," sponsored by the conservative evangelical group Vision America -
Political observers say so-called values voters were key to President Bush's re-election victory. But at the convention, many of those same voters, their pastors and their leaders said they felt duped by Bush and the Republican Party.Rev. Scarborough has been involved in the ministry since 1969 - so involved, in fact, that he apparently missed an entire block of time between 1980 and 1992 when the Reagan and Poppy administrations made a living out of duping conservative evangelicals.
"In the latest election, values voters were used," Rick Scarborough told the convention audience."
And now, by golly, it looks like those Republican scamps have done it again. Who woulda thought it? By the time Dubya slinks out of office, that will be twenty years worth of being used by the GOP.
Here's a bit of advice to conservative evangelicals - faith can, indeed, move mountains. But placing your faith in Our Lord and Savior (name your candidate) ain't working so well.
Surgeons Remove Two Fetuses From Infant
Surgeons operated on a 2-month-old Pakistani girl Tuesday to remove two fetuses that had grown inside her while she was still in her mother's womb, a doctor said.
The infant, who was identified only as Nazia, was in critical condition following the two-hour operation at The Children's Hospital at Pakistan Institute of Medical Science in the capital, Islamabad, said Zaheer Abbasi, head of pediatric surgery at the hospital.
Abbasi, the chief doctor who led the operation, said the case was the first he was aware of in Pakistan of fetus-in-fetu, where a fetus has grown inside another in the womb.
"It is extremely rare to have two fetuses being discovered inside another," Abbasi told The Associated Press, adding that he did not know what caused the medical abnormality. "Basically, it's a case of triplets, but two of the siblings grew in the other."
The baby comes from Abbotabad, about 30 miles north of Islamabad. She is the fifth child of a woman in her 30s, who was at the hospital to be with her daughter. Her father works in the Arabian Gulf.
Abbasi said surgeons removed the two partially grown fetuses, totaling about two pounds, that had died at about 4 months.
Other fetus-in-fetu cases have been reported elsewhere in the world. A report in a June 2000 issue of the U.S. journal Pediatrics called such occurrences rare and estimated their rate at about 1 per 500,000 births.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Given recent events, this headline doesn't inspire me to move to the Gulf Coast any time soon -
FEMA to Prep Gulf Coast for Hurricanes
FEMA's top Gulf Coast official says the federal government is stockpiling supplies and ready to give disaster planners guidance ahead of the new hurricane season.If, God forbid, another catastrophic hurricane hits the coast I hope the disaster-preparedness folks will be more on the ball this time.
I'd sure hedge my bets by taking my own safety in my own hands. Bush declared government bureaocracy the enemy, then set out to make it so by placing vital services in the hands of political nincompoops.
BBC: An anonymous blog by a young woman in war-torn Iraq has been longlisted for BBC Four's Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.A well-deserved recognition!
Baghdad Burning, a first-hand account written under the pseudonym Riverbend, is one of 19 books in contention.
The winner will be announced on June 14th and will receive prize of thirty-thousand pounds.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
This is good news; only an idiot would argue hurricane tidal surge is ordinary old flooding.
And the insurance companies have sure been acting like idiots.
Judge rules against Allstate
Senter: Insurer bears burden of proof for water exclusion
Allstate Insurance Co. cannot rely on ambiguous clauses in a homeowner's policy to deny policyholders coverage for damage from Hurricane Katrina's wind and rain.
In an opinion issued Friday in Jackson, U.S. District Judge L.T. Senter Jr. denied Allstate's motion to dismiss a lawsuit by Gulfport residents Elmer and Alexa Buente.
Senter ruled policy provisions excluding coverage for water damage are valid, but added:
"To the extent that plaintiffs can prove their allegations that the hurricane winds (or objects driven by those winds) and rains entering the insured premises through openings caused by the hurricane winds proximately caused damage to their insured property, those losses will be covered under the policy and this will be the case even if flood damage, which is not covered, subsequently occurred."
Senter said language in Allstate's policy that attempts to avoid paying the plaintiffs for wind and rain damage is ambiguous and unenforceable. Allstate had paid the Buentes $2,600.35 for their losses.
State Insurance Commissioner George Dale has allowed insurance companies to add exclusions to their policies that have been used to tell policyholders they are due little or no payment for wind damage when their homes were also subjected to tidal surge. Dale said Friday he did not intend such exclusions to be interpreted to deny wind coverage.
Senter also ruled that Allstate bears the burden of proving the water exclusion in its comprehensive homeowner's policy applies to the Buente's damage.
The Buentes, who are from Missouri, bought their home five blocks off the beach in June as a place to visit and eventually retire. They said their Allstate agent sold them a policy to provide up to $252,000 for all damages from a hurricane and told them they did not need flood insurance.
If evidence shows the agent misrepresented the policy, Senter ruled, Allstate may be liable for all damage to the property.
The Buentes' attorney, Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, said, "The federal court's ruling today in the case against Allstate is a monumental victory for Allstate-insured homeowners.
"Allstate and the other insurance companies bragged that they would win every case in federal court. They lost this one as bad as you can lose."
Scruggs' Katrina Group, which has more than 4,000 clients, also has seven other lawsuits pending against property-insurance companies.
Allstate's attorney could not be reached to comment, but a spokesman for the company told The Associated Press the company was pleased the judge validated its policy exclusion for water.
Attorney General Jim Hood has a lawsuit pending against insurers that argues damage from Katrina's tidal surge should be covered.
Report: Russia Gave Iraq Details About War
Did Rove Blow a Spook's Cover?
Dubai Ports Deal: A Brouhaha That Won't Die Down
....and the White House responds...
Bush pushes security as top Republican issue
Friday, March 24, 2006
Congratulations to Andantette, first & only born child, for her nomination to the Alpha Chi National Honor Society.
I feel somewhat like the goose who gave birth to a swan. If I ever figure out where she got her brains, I'll bottle it and make a fortune.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Here's what I want to know; how is it one of the ugliest men in the world has such beautiful daughters?
Aerosmith's Steven Tyler to Undergo Surgery
The surgery is for an 'undisclosed medical condition', but I'm hoping it's for "chronic scary-face ugliness".
Here's Mia Tyler -
...and the equally lovely
Thank God Mr. Tyler has the good sense to mate with attractive, dominant-gened ladies.
Bryan has left the loving yet capricous arms of Blogger.
Change bookmarks & blogrolls.
Over and out.
If you agree with me that Raw Story is a 'must-read', they could use some $$$.
Their goal is just 1,000 donations. Fifty bucks will even get you an ad-free account.
The Vatican throws gas on the east-west culture war -
Vatican change of heart over 'barbaric' CrusadesRatzinger and his peeps aren't any different from our homegrown neocons - they want a "do over", this time with shock and awe.
THE Vatican has begun moves to rehabilitate the Crusaders by sponsoring a conference at the weekend that portrays the Crusades as wars fought with the “noble aim” of regaining the Holy Land for Christianity.
The Crusades are seen by many Muslims as acts of violence that have underpinned Western aggression towards the Arab world ever since. Followers of Osama bin Laden claim to be taking part in a latter-day “jihad against the Jews and Crusaders”.
The late Pope John Paul II sought to achieve Muslim- Christian reconciliation by asking “pardon” for the Crusades during the 2000 Millennium celebrations. But John Paul’s apologies for the past “errors of the Church” — including the Inquisition and anti-Semitism — irritated some Vatican conservatives. According to Vatican insiders, the dissenters included Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
The Uwharrie Mountains are over 500 million years old - the oldest mountain range in North America. The years have 'gentled' them into rolling hills no more than 1,000 feet tall, but they are every bit as beautiful as any other mountain range in the country.
The entire Uwharrie, prior to becoming a national forest, was cleared for timber and farming. Today you'll find young second- and third-growth mixed forests have grown up to provide new habitat for wildlife eradicated by earlier development. The Uwharrie also boasts more archaeological sites per acre than any other forest in the southeast. (link)This happens to be the same area where you'll find the world-class North Carolina Zoo.
Even though I'm buried out in the sticks and surrounded by wingers, I feel lucky to live here. It's quiet, and you can see the stars at night.
I also feel not very surprised that George Bush wants to sell off about 10,000 acres of our forests to developers.
Gov. Mike Easley said Tuesday that he does not want the federal government to sell nearly 10,000 acres of national forest in North Carolina, even if the money raised would go to education.Here's a thought, George - if you're looking to fund rural schools, why don't you bring the troops home from Iraq and stop pouring money down that rathole?
"We don't like it," Easley said Tuesday in a brief moment with reporters at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington. "We're hoping to acquire more [land] at every opportunity."
Although the governor has used conservation money in the past to plug holes in the state budget, he has pushed recently for increased conservation efforts.
On Tuesday, the Bush administration released details of its proposal to sell about 300,000 acres of federal land across the country. In North Carolina, the proposal includes 9,828 acres scattered across the state's four national forests -- Nantahala and Pisgah in the mountains, Uwharrie in the central part of the state and Croatan on the coast.
The $800 million raised nationally through the sales would fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. The six-year-old act was created to help rural counties make up for the decline in revenue from timber harvests. The money would pay for the program for another five years, and then it would be phased out.(link)
Big, honkin' Category Five Tropical Cyclone Larry cyclone smashed into Queensland, Australia on Monday.
Flooding and broken levees (a la Katrina) make things much harder, but let's see how Queensland is doing:
BBC: Troops began moving aid into Innisfail on Tuesday, as residents picked their way through the debris-filled streets.Not bad; one day response time rather than weeks and months; millions of dollars instead of billions.
Speaking from Innisfail, about 95km (60 miles) south of Cairns, Mr Beattie said food, clean water, power generators and tarpaulins would be delivered to affected areas on Tuesday.
"The whole bloody place is blown apart and [the emergency services and local communities are] standing there fixing it up," he said. "I just think it says a lot about us as Australians."
He said the bill for the cyclone was likely to run into tens of millions of dollars.
Officials said it could be a week before power was restored to more than 80,000 homes left without electricity.
Bush: U.S. will succeed in Iraq or troops will leave
That sounds better than the current 'plan' -
'Maintain or increase troop levels regardless of how it aggravates the deteriorating situation so Dubya won't be blamed for turning tail and leaving'.
"We are doing the right thing. A democracy in Iraq is going to affect the neighborhood. A democracy in Iraq is going to (inspire) reformers in a part of the world that is desperate for reformation."SIS-BOOM-BAH!!
Monday, March 20, 2006
But if you would like an accurate countdown to the next equinoxes, solstices & cross-quarters from either northern or southern hemisphere, check it out.
Friday, March 17, 2006
You want me to support your candidacy for President of the United States?
I don’t care if you’re a man, woman, gay or straight. I don’t care if you’re evangelical, Episcopalian, Buddhist, or atheist. I don’t care about your skin color.
Here’s what I do care about, and it’s non-negotiable:
It’s okay if you supported the war when the Bushies were hyping all that cooked intelligence. You didn’t - couldn’t - know any better. They withheld evidence and lied to you and the American people.
But you better be against it now if you want my support.
2. Social security
If you’ve ever given a second’s thought toward privatizing Social Security, you’re off my list.
3. Medicare drug scam
Did you support or vote for the Medicare prescription rip-off? If so, forget my vote.
Did you ever advocate or vote for the bankruptcy bill? If so, go beg for votes somewhere else.
5. Sen. Feingold’s censure resolution
How about it? Have you supported it? It’s non-negotiable. When push comes to shove, are you willing to hold Bush’s feet to the fire?
6. Are you a whiney-butt?
If you’ve ever worried about offending voters who wouldn’t vote for a Democrat to save their life or spoke the plain truth, then apologized to the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy – forget it. I won’t be voting for you either.
There are a number of areas where we can compromise. If you can look me in the eye and answer correctly to all of the above – I’ll listen.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
In 1999, you saw fit to censure former President Bill Clinton for a blow job.
What will it take to get your support for the Feingold resolution to censure George Bush for illegal wiretapping?
Daniel Akaka - email@example.com
Max Baucus - http://baucus.senate.gov/contact/emailForm.cfm?subj=issue
Byron Dorgan - firstname.lastname@example.org
Dick Durbin - http://durbin.senate.gov/contact.cfm
Dianne Feinstein - feinstein.senate.gov/email.html
Daniel Inouye - inouye.senate.gov/webform.html
Jim Jeffords - jeffords.senate.gov/contact.html
Ted Kennedy - http://kennedy.senate.gov/contact.html
John Kerry - kerry.senate.gov/v3/contact/email.html
Herb Kohl - kohl.senate.gov/gen_contact.html
Mary Landrieu - landrieu.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm
Carl Levin - levin.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm
Joe Lieberman - http://lieberman.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm?regarding=issue
Blanche Lincoln - lincoln.senate.gov/webform.html
Barbara Mikulski - mikulski.senate.gov/mailform.html
Patty Murray - murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm
Jack Reed - http://reed.senate.gov/contact/thoughts.cfm
Harry Reid - reid.senate.gov/email_form.cfm
Jay Rockefeller - rockefeller.senate.gov/services/email.cfm
Chuck Schumer - http://schumer.senate.gov/SchumerWebsite/contact/webform.cfm
Ron Wyden - http://wyden.senate.gov/contact/
(Direct links here)
Monday, March 13, 2006
There is a special place in hell for blue jean designers and manufacturers.
There's a special place in heaven for mommas who take their young-adult offspring jean shopping.
When Mr. Andante wants a pair of jeans, he goes to the local K Mart or Target or whatever, picks up the least expensive pair in his size - and voila', they fit.
When Andantette wants a pair of jeans (why is it never ONE pair, always three or four?) it's a week-long event of going from store-to-store, finding a clerk to open the dressing room, wondering why two pairs of the same size in different brands are an inch shorter, and so forth?
And the rattier they look, the more expensive the jeans?
I'm clearly in the wrong business. I should be buying yards of defective denim, running it up any old way on my old Singer machine, and then let the dogs chew on each pair for a while.
I'd make a fortune.
I like the sound of that.
Gore's got the experience, and every time I see him these days, he's in good fighting trim. His emphasis on finding and developing alternative fuels is no longer considered a fantasy.
But the speculation is from Dick Morris, who has never been right about much of anything.
I still like the sound of it.
Friday, March 10, 2006
If we could roll back time and somehow keep the Bush's sticky little fingers out of Iraq, what would have happened?
I've always figured Saddam, who is around 69 years old, would eventually die or be killed. One of those two is a pretty sure bet.
And what would happen? Probably civil war.
If Iraq were to plunge into all-out civil war the U.S. military would depend on Iraq's own security forces to deal with it "to the extent they are able to," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday.Billions of dollars, buckets of blood, our standing in the world in shreds...all for the inevitable?
A staple of North Carolina TV folklore passed from this life on February 24, 2006.
Jesse Donald (Don) Knotts portrayed the intrepid lawman (Barney Fife) on The Andy Griffith Show from 1960-1965, bagging five Emmys for his work.
The Andy Griffith Show was far from his only accomplishment, but is perhaps the role for which he will be most remembered.
The images are unforgettable -
That World War I vintage motorcycle with side car...
A mouthful of 'shine....
The decoy bride for Ernest T. Bass.
Rest in peace, Mr. Knotts - and thank you for what you leave behind.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
...but probably not for the aged.
The savings rate in the United States is pretty dismal.
The personal savings rate used to be 10 percent of disposable income from 1974 to 1984, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It fell to 4.8 percent by 1994, and was negative for all of 2005. As of January, the personal savings rate was minus 0.7 percent.I don't know about your household, but the Collective Sigh household is probably largely responsible for that 'minus' percentage. My definition of 'savings' these days is when I find a loaf of bread for less than $2.00 per loaf.
So, I was thrilled to see the sage advice of gazillionaire Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi:
Make more money, Berlusconi tells poor ItaliansCentre-left - there's your ball. Run with it.
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's recommendation for Italians trying to escape poverty: do it my way and earn more cash.
Asked in a television interview late on Monday what the government could do to help a worker earning only 1,500 euros ($1,793) a month, Italy's richest man said: "The answer of Berlusconi the businessman is, try to earn more."
He then launched into an account of how he scraped together his first earnings that laid the foundation for his media empire, by helping out at a local market and by collecting paper in the street, scrunching it up into balls and reselling it to people who used it to light their stoves.
"When someone gave me a camera, I used it to take pictures at funerals, weddings and I took portraits," he added in an interview with northern Italian Telelombardia.
Berlusconi's popularity has suffered as his country is struggling to pull out of an economic slump and opinion polls show his centre-right bloc trailing the centre-left coalition led by Romano Prodi ahead of a national election in April.
I'm not a total socialist - I'm glad to see Berlusconi's scrapping and struggling paid off for him. That advice works pretty well if you're young, healthy, and childless.
If you're older, disabled, or have a passle of kids to feed, clothe, and educate - not so much.
Under the category of 'what's good for the goose is good for the gander', I'd like to take a little peek at South Dakota's bill banning abortion.
I've seen discussion in various places regarding the penalty for violating the law. Should the woman be penalized? Should the doctor be penalized?
How about - should the father be penalized?
After all, it takes two to tango - and it the tango results in an abortion, aren't both partners liable?
I say - haul 'em in. Book 'em, Danno. Throw those sperm-wasting fornicators in the deepest dungeon.
If anti-choice men are determined to dictate what a woman can or can't do with her own uterus, they should take responsibility for what they help create.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Back around a year ago, I indulged in a bit of nonsense called the "Saddam Double Page".
Cat Daddy & Dr. Squeeky spotted Osama in Hollywood, but I think he wins the prize for a Saddam double, too.
(You can enjoy the latest Cat Daddy & Dr. Squeeky works here)
At least I came by my added bulk honestly - through jelly doughnuts and Fritos.
Beginning in 1998 with injections in his buttocks of Winstrol, a powerful steroid, Barry Bonds took a wide array of performance-enhancing drugs over at least five seasons in a massive doping regimen that grew more sophisticated as the years went on, according to Game of Shadows, a book written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters at the forefront of reporting on the BALCO steroid distribution scandal.Anyone who has seen 'before' and 'after' pictures shouldn't be surprised.
The authors, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, describe in sometimes day-to-day, drug-by-drug detail how often and how deeply Bonds engaged in the persistent doping. For instance, the authors write that by 2001, when Bonds broke Mark McGwire's single-season home-run record (70) by belting 73, Bonds was using two designer steroids referred to as the Cream and the Clear, as well as insulin, human growth hormone, testosterone decanoate (a fast-acting steroid known as Mexican beans) and trenbolone, a steroid created to improve the muscle quality of cattle.
The guy is a cheat. Throw out his records, throw him out of the game.
George Bush must be the last person in the world capable of a hands-off managerial style.
In order to pull off a hands-off style, the top dog must have three qualifications:
1) Enough smarts to know when things are going wrong.
2) Enough curiosity to find out why.
3) Enough guts to fire incompetent underlings.
Though there are plenty of examples from which to choose, the botched response to hurricane Katrina takes the cake.
It's evident that Clueless George relied on Clueless Chertoff who relied on Clueless Brownie...and so on down the line until the response to a monstrous catastrophe ended up pretty much with a poor slob wielding a mop and bucket.
For the life of me, I can't understand what this administration does all day, unless it's trying to figure out who to blame for their screw-ups.
Lately, I've been wondering how the Deputy Chief of Protocol at the State Deparment spends his time.
That would be Raymond P. Martinez. Officially, the State Deparment website says:
...the office is responsible for activities including the planning, hosting, and officiating of ceremonial events for visiting chiefs of state and heads of government, as well as coordinating logistics for the visits; managing Blair House, the President's guesthouse; and overseeing all protocol matters for Presidential or Vice Presidential travel abroad, working alongside the White House.I suppose it's a good thing Dubya wasn't a world traveler in his pre-preznit days because back then he didn't have immunity from prosecution.
What is it with this guy? He visits England and his
On his recent trip to India, the security folks once again pulled a no-no, ignoring culture and custom to defile the Mohandas Gandhi memorial.
Hindu priests who look after the memorial of Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi conducted a purification ceremony at the shrine after a visit from President Bush. But it wasn't the president who offended them, it was the sniffer-dogs who scoured the area ahead of his visit.Note to Hindu priests: You probably want to purify the whole dang country. And when you're finished, we could use some Bush-purification over here.
After the dog visit, the memorial was cleansed with water brought from the Ganges river, which Hindus consider holy, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported Sunday.
The United States has gained a bad enough reputation world-wide without George personally making things worse.
As I'm sure his mamma learned many years ago, you just can't take him anyplace nice.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
If there's one thing this country has in great, magnificent abundance - it's bullsh*t. Not only the kind coming out of Republican mouths, but the real thing.
I always thought the real thing was only good for working into the garden soil or maybe as second base in a cow pasture ball field. But the Japanese are way ahead of me:
Scientists in energy-poor Japan said Friday they have found a new source of gasoline — cattle dung.Develop cow dung for gasoline and pig poop for electricity and soon the U.S.A. will be full of it.
Sakae Shibusawa, an agriculture engineering professor at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, said his team has successfully extracted .042 ounces of gasoline from every 3.5 ounces of cow dung by applying high pressure and heat.
"The new technology will be a boon for livestock breeders" to reduce the burden of disposing of large amounts of waste, Shibusawa said.
Energy-wise speaking, that is.
Friday, March 03, 2006
"People do lose jobs as a result of globalization. And it's painful for those who lose jobs," Bush told an entrepreneur during a discussion at Hyderabad's Indian School of Business.Why don't you come over here to North Carolina, George Bush, and say that to all the workers who have been laid off due to outsourcing in the furniture and textile industries?
The United States would counter it by educating people to acquire the skills needed for jobs emerging in the 21st century rather than discouraging outsourcing, he said.
"The United States will reject protectionism. We won't fear competition. We welcome competition, but we won't fear the future either because we intend to shape it through good policies," Bush said.
"People in America should, I hope, maintain their confidence about the future," said Bush, whose job approval ratings have been tumbling in part because of concerns about the U.S. economy.
It's easy enough for business owners and politicians to glibly call for job retraining programs. Tell it to those near retirement age with a family to feed, kids to educate, and bills to pay.
If the government is going to encourage and reward corporations for moving jobs overseas, the government has a responsibility to not let those workers and their families starve.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Gov. Joe Manchin called for all coal companies in West Virginia to halt production and perform safety checks after two more mine workers were killed Wednesday in separate accidents.The Republican:
"We're going to check for unsafe conditions, and we're going to correct any unsafe conditions before we mine another lump of coal," Manchin said.
In its drive to foster a more cooperative relationship with mining companies, the Bush administration has decreased major fines for safety violations since 2001, and in nearly half the cases, it has not collected the fines, according to a data analysis by The New York Times.
It doesn't matter what the calendar says - it's sunny here, pushing 80 degrees, and the early-blooming stuff is starting to show color.
And spring always brings to mind three things....the beach, warm beer, and the shag.
Presumably, everyone is familiar with the beach and warm beer. But the shag is a peculiar tradition to the southeastern coast, particularly the Carolinas.
According to About.com:
Shag dancing is essentially an offshoot of swing, specifically postwar styles like the Lindy Hop and East Coast Swing. Unlike either, however, shag is "slotted" -- that is, moving in essentially a straight line -- and keeps the footwork close to the ground and the upper body movements to a minimum (although shaggers in competition will use the arms and shoulders more). It's danced from the waist down, which accounts for its continuous appeal to tipsy college students.Additionally, the shag partners hold hands, leaving one hand free for a plastic cup of warm beer.
The shag is best performed on a slick, hardwood floor in an open-air pavilion no more than one block from the beach with uncoordinated people like me sitting at the bar, watching and admiring.
Done correctly, it's very smooth, very fun, and very sexy.
While the shag can be danced to anything around a lazy-ish 110-135 beats per minute, the only genuine article would be actual beach music such as "Carolina Girls", "39-21-46", and my two personal favorites by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs - "Stay" and "May I?"
There are shagging clubs all over the southeast, and maybe someday I'll convince Mr. Andante we have a right and left foot between us...enough to learn some basic steps without tripping over each other.
Until then, I can enjoy this little video at the Dance Store Online. Scroll down a bit on the right to "Free Video Instruction - An Introduction to the Carolina Shag" and choose your media flavor.
Although it degenerates into an ad for North Myrtle Beach toward the end, the first half is delightful. There's even some old footage of non-pros. If you look closely you might see me, sitting at the bar and cheering them on.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
'Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see'
The words of the hymn tell us that God's grace is limitless; that those who seek shall find.
But there's got to be a limit to the grace granted one human to another.
Do we need to impeach him (Bush) to bring some focus to this man's life? The man was lost and then he was found and now he's more lost than ever, plus being blind.He was warned prior to 9/11 that an attack by al Queda was imminent
Garrison Keillor, Salon
He was warned - repeatedly - the insurgency in Iraq would likely get worse and more widespread.
He was warned in advance that New Orleans faced destruction from hurricane Katrina.
He's not fighting terror - he's a terrorist.
Time to dig up a 'three strikes and you're out' law and apply it to George Bush.
Maybe it's just me, but I get irritated at Bush's faux-folksy speech.
Example from today's press 'availability' in Afghanistan -
"I am confident he will be brought to justice. What's happening is, is that we got U.S. forces on the hunt for not only bin Laden, but anybody who plots and plans with bin Laden. . . ."Am I being picky, or is it too much to expect the President of the United States to speak proper English? 'We have U.S. forces...'
You'd think all that schoolin' from Yale and Harvard would have taught the boy something.
But wait...a bit further along in the 'availability' -
"I hope people of Afghanistan understand the people of America have great -- got great regard for human life and human dignity, that we care about the plight of people," he said.Well, thank goodness he caught himself before he sounded like some elitist.