12.31.2008

Michael Griffin is Pathetic

The wife of NASA Administrator Michael Griffin is trying to lobby the President-elect to keep her husband from being fired.

And he has real reason to be concerned. Mouthing off to and insulting the transition team is not smart politics, no matter how many degrees you have.

Right now NASA is spending billions in U.S. taxpayer money and really resents having to account for it. Let alone actually having to produce something.

The time for actual results is coming, and Michael Griffin is terrified. Maybe it would be better if he resigned.

12.30.2008

Sunglasses That Can Save Your Life !!

Sunglass with solar panels on the lenses! Totally geek - which is to say totally cool.

So what if you are stuck on a remote mountain pass and freezing? You can use the extra solar-generated electricity to recharge your cell phone.

I am tickled pink at the idea we can generate energy just by walking around.

Sullivan's Toy Store in Washington, DC - Be the Greatest Aunt or Uncle Ever !!

Let's start a campaign to Keep DC Different. Support local stores and merchants. We can create an atmosphere that can only be found in Washington, DC by supporting shops that are locally-owned and operated by sticking together during this economic crisis and patronizing local stores that are DC institutions. One of these stores is Sullivan's Toy Store.

Put another way - do you want big box, bland toy stores to be the only ones standing two years from now? What makes a location unique are the local stores. Every patch of land in the United States looks like the next because all the same stores are there, and the stores are identical to each other. Each town is just like the next one.

Sullivan's Toy Store has the most creative and innovative toys I've ever seen. You will stand out in gift giving to the kids in your life if you shop here because Sullivan's Toy Store has items that chain stores don't carry. They also carry toys you enjoyed as a kid but can't find anymore, or the updated version.


Sullivans Toy Store

3412 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016
202-362-1343

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12.29.2008

Russia Today - Fabulous PR Gimmick

Russia Today is a publication borne of necessity. The public image of Russia has been getting rightfully hammered what with the assassinated journalists (Anna Politkovskaya), murdered Russians living in the UK (watch out for that sushi) who were asking questions about assassinated Russian journalists, threatening to cut off heating oil to Eastern Europe in winter, and invading a neighboring country when they don't like their internal policies.

What better than a fake news source to pretend there's anything like real news coming out of Russia?

I'm waiting for the story on the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya. Or the story on Russia's use of torture in Chechnya. Or the murder of the the Fortune magazine editor in Moscow.

It'll be a long wait, I know.

12.27.2008

Fat, Carbohydrates and Booze

Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, a paleo-Conservative magazine (essentially Klansmen with Bachelors degrees), has an article this week about the obese. After the usual statistics about obesity in America, the article goes on to attack health insurance as we know it.

Their big complaint is that health insurance subscribers are not given higher premiums based on lifestyle decisions. You know - fat, carbohydrates and booze.

Now that we are breathing on the possibility of universal health insurance, would it be so awful to charge more to the people who will cost the system more by virtue of their choices? No.

This article attacks the political correctness of not penalizing people for being fat, lazy alcoholics. I guess the readership of Chronicles is all fit and non-smoking in their moral superiority.

But - they have a point. The health-conscious among us should not pay higher premiums than others who eat like there's no tomorrow. It is actually basic common sense. The worst drivers pay higher insurance premiums than good drivers. Bad eaters should pay higher health insurance premiums than good eaters. It just makes sense.

12.25.2008

Angel Caught on Camera at a Hospital? You Decide

A video in a hospital captures a bright light that some people thought was an angel. Thought it would be a good little Christmas story.

Some medical miracles happened at the same time.

The question is: why would we need to see anything for angels to be at work?

Perhaps it is to inspire faith and hope, which are very powerful and the lack of which can kill you.

I'll bet if there are angels they are doing stuff all the time and don't need for us to see them.

I know the claims in this video will be dismissed as magical thinking. And maybe the mind does create associations to help its host cope, function and move on. But does that mean the angel doesn't exist?

I maintain that angels exist at least as much as phobias do. If a person has a phobia it is real to that person. The existence of the phobia will alter their actions and reactions and could possibly greatly influence their life. Why would that be less true for an angel?

So for a certainty, we can say angels exist, if only in the minds of those who perceive them. But that doesn't make them any less real.

Further, I maintain that things exist even though we may not see them. Obvious examples are gravity and time.

So why wouldn't angels exist? Because we can't dissect them?

Proving a negative is not possible. So why would you try? Uncertainty is not that painful.

Going Green=Going Broke... by drinkingwithbob

I don't agree with him, but damn, he's interesting to listen to. And he raises good points about bottled water and the role of media in consumerism.

12.20.2008

Mika Brzezinski Gets Mugged in the Right Neighborhood

Great commentary by the Young Turks about the absurdity of the outrage by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough.

12.19.2008

Obama Throws Gays Under the Bus

"Thanks for the lift, guys!" shouts President-elect Obama as he pulls away in his Presidential limousine, waiving to his gay supporters.

President-elect Barak Obama is not yet President Obama, so it is too soon to start screaming bloody murder. After all, his public and official embrace of known gay-hater Rev. Rick Warren may be part of an "Only Nixon could go to China" strategy fully unveiled after January 20, 2009.

Much as President-elect Obama wants to distinguish himself from Clinton, his centrist ways are strikingly similar. Will the leftists be shafted once again? Or is this a little sugar to make the rest go down easier? We'll see....




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Fox News Sues Treasury Department! Good!

Fox Business News has filed two Freedom of Information requests for the Treasury Department asking for information on how the financial bailout money will be spent with regards to Citigroup and AIG.

Since they received no response, Fox Business News is now suing the Treasury Department. Hooray!

The Treasury Department has no idea how the money is being allocated to the bailout recipients. They either can't answer the question or the answer is so embarrassing they are hoping that Fox Business News will go away if they are ignored.

As an aside to Secretary Paulson of the Treasury Department, when you go to the U.S. Congress and ask for billions to bail out your former colleagues and let former competitors - Lehman Brothers - go down the drain, people are going to want to know how that money is spent.

I'll bet if Secretary Paulson had a teenage girl who wanted $500, he would want to know what she was going to spend it on before giving her the money. And if he forgot to ask, he would want to know later.

You can't just show up like an irresponsible child, say you've gotten into trouble and need a bailout, and then expect no one will want to know what you've done with the money.

Or maybe you would try. But that makes you more like a teenage girl than Secretary of the Treasury.



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12.16.2008

Why Health Insurance Cost So Much!

Some blather in the beginning. Skip to minute four to get to the meat of it: if health care costs go down, then premiums would go down. So health insurance companies make more money from disease management than keeping people healthy.

Ottis Toole, Adam Walsh, and America's Most Wanted

Constructive action that alleviates grief. That's how I would describe Adam Walsh's work to protect children and to highlight the issue of missing children and crime victims. Back then, for those of you who don't remember, the idea of support for crime victims was unheard of. And crimes against children was not given the attention it is given today.

The idea that there were scores of children that disappeared every year was just not thought of. At that time, there were District Attorneys that just refused to prosecute rape cases. All rape cases. Imagine being a woman in a jurisdiction like that. Ted Bundy was still alive and well then, as well as other serial killers and rapists.

As you can tell, America has changed a lot. The feminist movement has had a lot to do with that, too. Women, as they gained political power, began to insist that sex crimes and crimes against children were taken seriously. Before then, they were the backwater where the losers of the office were sent to work.

Adam Walsh's work on behalf of his son John Walsh's memory has done untold good for thousands of people in providing relief for the victims of crimes. He has highlighted people sought by the police in a way that has led to the capture of dozens of people.

This is in sharp contrast with crime vampires like Nancy Grace who deal in abusive exploitation and missing white girls.

Brittany Zimmerman

The vampire jaws of Nancy Grace have found another white woman to feed on: Brittany Zimmerman.

You really can't blame Nancy Grace. She has stumbled on a winning formula: white girl in peril, white girl dead, and someone could help her if only we make them talk. Hey! You can be a part of the interrogation! Watch!

The Nancy Grace formula has the benefit of making the viewers exact revenge from the evildoers, or scapegoats, of the show. The audience becomes part of the investigating squad, with Nancy Grace at the lead investigator and the viewer as the silent cop who is loyal and ready to spring into action when called upon.

It is an empowering experience to humiliate people on t.v., even if your job is just to watch and judge. Maybe it is nice to imagine that the criminals you are afraid of can still be punished even if they escape arrest.

And if one or two of them commit suicide, they must have been guilty anyway. So no moral culpability there.

Maybe once in a while we could be concerned that a black girl is missing or dead. Just once. We have a black President, don't we? It is time to integrate our true crime genre as well.


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12.14.2008

Suicidal Skateboarders

Who was that suicidal skateboarder that I saw on 11th & H Streets Saturday around 3:30 p.m.? He was skating on the street, going through red lights, and without a helmet. He skittered all over the streets for blocks.

Why pick on him? I see the same thing over and over again. What is wrong with people? Have they been raised on a farm and have no idea how dangerous traffic in DC can be?

When a GW student was killed by a cab driver, the entire city went into an uproar. A murder conviction was stopped by one juror who stated that he told his kids not to skate in the streets for that very reason: you could get killed. Why should he convict someone of murder when the dead skater was so oblivious to the consequences of his actions?

Good point.

12.13.2008

Does Blagojevich Have a Brain Injury?

I honestly can't think of anything else that would explain it.

He's under investigation for corruption, and knowing this, he decides to sell a U.S. Senate appointment. Oh, on the phone. Let's not forget that one.

But how would a brain injury explain his wife? And his aides?

I am having a hard time imagining how any one person could be so reckless. Or arrogant. Or crazy. But all of them? Together?

You mean that none of them said "Wait a minute. Aren't we under investigation right now? Maybe this isn't a great idea." But none of them did. So they are all going to prison.

I've heard the Nazi movement in Germany described as mass mental illness. This might be another example of it.

12.12.2008

Hate Crimes in Columbia Heights

It happened again. A group of black teenagers knifed two Hispanics behind the Giant on Park road. A few months ago, a similar attack happened at 11th and Otis streets.

It's too soon to tell if there was a fatality. The Otis street incident did result in a death.

14th street was closed by the police, as were all the streets going west and east towards 14th street.

Is this a trend across the city, or just in Columbia Heights? What on G-d's Earth is prompting it?

The Inauguration: DUIs and Revelry

What are you doing for the Inauguration? The greedy little Washingtonian in me wanted to rent sleeping space at $150 a night. We have a big house and would do quite well by that.

But really, I don't want strangers all over the house. In fact, I didn't even want to leave the house for the festivities because of the mobs of people who will be coming to town. Just getting a pizza will be a struggle with those kinds of numbers.

And then, my little chickadees, the DC Government announced that bars will stay open Inaugural week until 5 a.m. That's when I decided not to leave my house for a week.

Now maybe I don't want to be an active part of the wild partying. Personally, I consider myself well past such things for many years now. I might even consider such a policy move as 24 hour drinking to be less than wise. However, when I heard members of Congress paternalistically yammering on about the evils of 24 hour drinking, I got annoyed. Who are those losers to tell the residents of the District of Columbia ANYTHING?

Maybe I don't want to party. Maybe I never do. Maybe a good time for my husband and I is discussing children's books from 1925. But, by God, don't let those interfering smarty pants in Congress tell me what's wise or not. Let's see Congress intervening on decisions in their local districts and watch how much they would scream and holler.

We don't care what you think, you stupid idiots. Shut up! Meanwhile, I'll be doing the funky chicken in the comfort of my living room.

Auto Bailout News and Opportunity

The latest seems to be that the bailout of the auto industry is not going to happen after all. Some of what they were talking about yesterday really sounded good to this blogger, though.

Like getting money towards a deposit for trading in your old, gas-inefficient car.

And if they did go bust, what are they going to do with all those cars? Bankrupt or not - I'd take my chances with a new Ford Explorer hybrid over the rattle trap I've got now. I might be alone on that one. But that's fine. There'd be more for me to choose from.

And let's think a moment about the whole car selling setup. I mean, don't dealerships lose money on selling cars? And they make that money up through repairs and parts. The whole system as it exists now would collapse if cars were made that lasted longer and were built better. Maybe ripping down the whole system isn't such a bad idea.

But then there would be the political fallout of all those dealers and service people who would be out of jobs. And that's where you get into the problem of Congress and politicians making decisions for the industry. I hear Senators talking about those dealership jobs and protecting them which may not be the best idea. If the long term success of the industry means that the whole "I make money on your car breaking" paradigm has to go, then preserving those dealer jobs in the short term would be bad for the auto industry and America.

So now we are going to see how well the marketplace really works to solve its own problems. The hard way.

Travelzoo is the Best Travel Bargain Site

Through Travelzoo, we got a round-trip ticket to South Africa for $500 through Iberia airlines. By the way, the food on Iberia Airlines is great.

What Travelzoo does is poll all the travel web sites on the web for you and collects the best deals and presents them to you in a weekly e-mail. Travelzoo itself does not offer any travel deals. I guess they just get a cut of whatever they advertise.

I used to spend hours trolling travel web pages and just did not find anything that beat what Travelzoo found.

The next big vacation is going to be to Costa Rica, I think. My husband has been bugging me to go there for two years now.

12.11.2008

Holland House Candles Remind Me of Aunt Annie

This Christmas I am getting my Aunt Janice a Holland House Candle because her house is so classic in its decoration. I just love the way they look like a sculpture and are a great centerpiece for a formal dining room table.

I associate candles like that with Great Aunt Annie, who passed away many years ago, but used to keep me as child for the weekends sometimes. Her house was neat as a pin and she tried to keep explaining to me why I couldn't use the guest towels in the bathroom. She took such pride in her clean house and nice belongings, some of which are in my living room now.

She used Oil of Olay and to this day I love that smell.

I wonder if part of what we love about our holiday traditions has to do with our loved ones as a child. Would I still appreciate the same things if they didn't remind me of Aunt Annie? There's no way to tell.

What I can take away from this pondering is to practice putting love and fun into the lives of the children in my life now. That's what I can give for Christmas.

Caylee Anthony's Body Found

It is so sad to realize that Nancy Grace had it right with her drooling anticipation of bloodshed. We all wanted it to be wrong, and that somehow little Caylee was about five miles away and perfectly fine. Anger at Caylee Anthony's mother for her neglect of her child and her partying after her child's disappearance is very valid.

Of course, innocent before proven guilty. Let's all remind ourselves, while we're sharpening our spears, that anything could have happened and we have no idea if it is even Caylee Anthony's remains that were in that plastic bag.

I feel sorry for the utility meter reader who had the head of a small child fall out of a bag he picked up. How could you go back to work after that?

Murder: WWL and Vince Marinello

It doesn't always pay to be organized. That's what Vince Marinello found out when the police found his "to do" list for the murder of his estranged wife.

Does that mean he wanted to get caught? No. That means he wanted to make sure he got it right. It also means planning and intent to kill, versus intent to scare or self-defense.

Don't people realize that the best revenge is living well? She will never be alive to look at you and grind her teeth in frustration and anger. She will never see you happily moving on. She will never feel the pain of your indifference.

By killing her, Vince Marinello made her into a dead albatross to carry around his neck forever. I wonder if he planned on that.

Botulism and Heroin in Dublin - What you dealer doesn't want you to know

There's a health concern in Dublin these days: an outbreak of botulism among heroin users.

There's another unspoken health problem associated with heroin: heroin causes diarrhea. For the life of me, I can't figure out why nobody mentions this when warning kids against drugs. All those movie scenes with heroin addicts on the floor next to the toilet are no coincidence, I suppose. You would have to be an addict if you are willing to get diarrhea to get high. Bleh! What could be a better buzz kill for "heroin chic" than a shot of someone having diarrhea at the same time. The cool would be gone instantly.

And suppose - just suppose - you live long enough to kick heroin. Then you are stuck with a lifetime of constipation! It's true! Who would want to be a heroin addict knowing that? I'm sure they're out there, of course. Hopefully you can smell them coming.

What's surprising about this botulism problem is how infrequently it occurs. Not even accounting for the dirty needles, heroin is a risk because people selling it to you will make their batch bigger by adding sugar or salt to it. Then they will sell it to you.

And why not? It's not like you're going to sue them.

CONFESSION: No, I am not a drug addict, nor have I ever been one. Maybe that's why I don't understand this.

Jennifer Aniston Nude on 2009 GQ Cover

So Jennifer Aniston is showing her stuff. Good. I hope she gets great movie deals and forgets that stupid ex of hers- what's his name. But is she REALLY nude? Completely? There might be some pasties there.

I for one would be really happy for Jen if she was starting a new life, going in a new direction and throwing some of the over-wholesomeness aside.

She looks good, anyway. I just wish she'd stop talking about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Honestly, I think Brad Pitt is doing this whole "I am not getting married until gays have the right to marry" thing because he doesn't want to marry Jolie. Can't blame him. She seems a little spooky to me with her sphinx-like smile that never looks sincere.

Nightmare at Miss Porter's School

For a long time, I have heard horrible stories about how girls are treated at these elite schools and how the school will look the other way. I've lived in Washington, DC a long time and there are more elite schools here than fire hydrants.

"Mean Girls" was based on the National Cathedral School, for instance.

I heard a mother complaining once about how vicious and brutal the girls at the National Cathedral School were to her daughter when she transferred from the International School. And when she complained to the school, it brushed off as just "they way girls are."

I guess people aren't willing to take it anymore. Nor should they, with that kind of tuition.

And girls are only that way because they can get away with it. A teen hasn't reached moral or emotional maturity and still needs limits and social skills. No society has ever let teens stomp around and do whatever they feel like doing to one another. Limits have always been in place. The 21st century is no exception. A school needs to take responsibility for what its students do to one another.

All the girl did was suggest holding their prom with some other schools.

12.09.2008

Washington Gas Outsourced All Customer Service to the Phillipines!

Are you kidding me? Now it is impossible to get an answer about your Washington Gas bill without going into their offices.

Just when Americans need jobs the most. And we're in the middle of winter when people need to talk to someone about their bill or risk freezing.

Who made this decision, anyway? What on Earth were they thinking? They should be tracked down and made to account for it publicly.

This is outrageous. How about hiring some DC residents? After all, it's our money you are collecting. How about cycling it back into the community.

12.07.2008

The Trash Guys in Columbia Heights Strike Again!

Once upon a time, little Econo-Girl would stand on her back porch, coffee mug in hand, and wait for the DC Department of Sanitation trucks to arrive. No matter the weather, no matter the chill, she would wait patiently.

As the garbage truck inevitably rolled through the alley, past her house, she would give a shout. "Hey! What about my trash?" With reluctance, the garbage men would stop the truck and pick up her garbage.

If, perchance, little Econo-Girl was not there to remind the garbage men of their duty, her trash simply would not be picked up.

This past Friday, in the alley behind the 3500 block of Tenth St NW, little Econo-Girl got to her back porch just after the garbage trucks had passed. So she ran down the alley and asked why they had left her trash untouched. Her tone of voice was, perhaps, a little less than refined. This sad fact was brought to her attention. Little Econo-Girl then mentioned, in a less-than-cheerful melody, that for six years she has had her garbage ignored. The attendant claimed to only be responsible for one year's neglect, not six.

Little Econo-Girl then observed that today, if she were not present, her trash would not have been picked up, and what was the excuse for that? The response was "We're backing up the truck now." Not a direct answer, to be sure.

But the trash truck was backed up and the trash picked up, after some hectoring by little Econo-Girl.

The question one is left with is: how is it that the garbage men in DC only pick up your trash if they feel like it, and only if you are out there to watch them and remind them to do it? This would be a great question for the Mayor.

12.05.2008

Big Three Bailout: Making Them Beg

We all know the big three American automakers are going to get financial relief in one form or another. Until then, Congress is having fun making them beg.

For decades, the U.S. Automotive industry has been the big gorilla in the room. They crushed the electric car. They opposed environmental standards. They opposed fuel efficiency requirements.

Now the rest of the country has the chance to harass them, and is having a ball.

"Sir, I don't see a plan for the money you want. I need to see a plan for how this money is going to be spent."

And then, "This plan doesn't go far enough."

Or the spectacle of corporate jets. "Did you fly here in a corporate jet? Let's take a poll." Imagine, being forced to drive those cars you want the U.S. taxpayer to rescue. Well, they did, with a smile.

Congress is enjoying this, and America is too.

12.03.2008

Keep the Clothes

OK, so Sarah Palin was caught wearing some of those expensive clothes she said she would give back. So what.

I hear the screams of corruption allegations - and couldn't care less. If given the chance to update the old wardrobe with designer clothes that made me look GREAT, I'd keep the clothes too. And frankly, so would you.

Sarah Palin was ridiculed, mocked, shamed, and humiliated in her run for office this year. Yes, that's because she was unprepared to be Vice President. She represented a side of the United States that frankly embarrasses the rest of us. And she is nakedly ambitious in a way that is still seen as unseemly for a woman in America.

Still - keep the clothes. Consider them war trophies. It's got to be tough to run for Vice President and if all she's got to show for it is great clothes, keep the clothes.



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