"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

About to comment here for the very first time?
Check Where'd my Comment go?!!! to avoid losing it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


-Say WHAT?!  Huh?!!!

I've watched TRON: Legacy twice now.

I saw the original TRON when it first came out in 1982, and in 2002 I added the 20th Anniversary Collectors edition to my DVD collection.  It somehow survived the many purges and sell offs I had gone through over the years.

With the new movie sequel coming up, I was very surprised to not see the original all over the place; Disney has absolutely no peer when it comes to milking something for all it's worth.  It's been out of print for years now, and I've learned that my copy truly is  a collectors item; prices starting at $130.00 on Amazon.com for new copies still in the original factory wrap.

A relook at my copy of the original verified my memory of it; it was fairly good, but not all that fantastic.  I suspect the suits at Disney took a look and decided that it would not compel people to put the sequel on their "must see" list.

Which is a shame, as they did something truly amazing with the sequel, elevating it into one Hell of a fine movie, with a simple (deceptively simple) storyline that has a lot more going on than at first appears.

(Jeff Bridges also has had an amazing year, appearing in this, and  in True Grit ; THE best movie of 2010, so far. He deserves a post of his own, so I'm not going to cover him here.)

The first thing that grabbed me (really grabbed me) was the music; seemingly a marriage of Phillip Glass and Tangerine Dream (with bits of John Carpenter and John Barry thrown in). The music is mostly for motion (and there is a lot of motion here) and it puts the movie into overdrive.

I had to wait until the end credits to learn that DAFT PUNK (an electronic music duo consisting of French musicians Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter) did this score.

I had never heard of them before, and this appears to be their very first film score, but they've been around for awhile.  I can see now that my next bankruptcy may well be engendered by seeking out what else they have done.

Hunt up the CD soundtrack of TRON: Legacy and give it a listen.

If it doesn't move you, and make you want to check out the movie, you might as well pack it in;  you're already dead!.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dr. Sanity's already been here.

I had thought (in my post  Dr. Sanity nails it! ) that she had said it all about nanny-statism.

That clearly shows my lack of imagination. 
Check out one of AJStrata's latest:  Dumbest Lawsuit Evah ...
The left truly is insane. Who else would champion a lawsuit that basically cries out: “Mom has no damn backbone“:

"The lawsuit alleges that “McDonald’s exploits very young California children
said she was bringing the case because of the constant requests for McDonald’s Happy Meals."

Good lord, what a moron.  Her kids want Happy Meals and so she is suing McDonalds to shut them up.  Just let that one settle in for a bit.


There appears to be truly no limit to this urge to place restrictions on absolutely everything we do in life. In total contradiction to everything I've ever believed in and advocated, she makes me feel that, in her case at least, some people really shouldn't be allowed to run around loose. :(

Monday, December 13, 2010

"What is THAT for?"

I'd love to post the whole Strategy Page  article that answers the question, but that might strain their patience on copyright, so look for "What is THAT for?" on this page...  http://www.strategypage.com/cic/docs/cic324b.asp

(Somehow, this brings to mind Jerry Van Meter's "Glooshmaker" joke.  No, you probably wont find it on Google; it's peculiar to his sense of humor.  If any of my Air Force buddies see this, they will know it.  I could tell you, but then... :-)

Bureaucracy forever.

Friday, December 10, 2010

HOW do spambots evade my site meter?

I occasionally get anonymous comments of the type that neo-neocon has posted about as "Spambot of The Day", when a new or somewhat original example came through her spam filters.

Often whimsical, with wonderfully loose language, and sometimes no other apparent purpose than to show that it could  be done.
(Updated - With an answer)

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

December 7

My calendar shows today as...
   1) Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
   2) First of Muharram (First day of the first month in the Islamic calendar;
       making it the Islamic equivalent of New Years Day)

Any bets on which one will most likely be honored (or even mentioned) by The One?

ADDENDUM - After that vent, I remembered this...

Today (Dec 7) is also the 38th anniversary of the Apollo 17 launch;
the very last manned lunar exploration mission.

This is very personal to me, as described in...
  Adventure of a Lifetime
  The Adventure - Continued

(Yeah, I'm blowing my own horn here.
 Well -- So What? :-)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Help! - Carpal Tunnel Syndrome???

That's a term I've heard for a long time, and always thought of as some kind of arthritis-like pain in hands and fingers.  (Updated below) 
(Updated again 05 Dec 2010 below)

For months now (since my 68th birthday on May 25) I've had problems with my fingers and thumbs feeling numb and thought it to be a circulation problem; hence the walking regimen I've forced upon myself since the end of May. While good for other things, it may turn out to have been an exercise in futility for this particular problem.

You see, a number of people where I work, observing my problems, have raised the possibility of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). While that sounded just plain wrong to me, I finally decided to look it up on the internet.

So, what did I find?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving pizza...

...will have to wait 'til Friday.

You see, Pizza Hut will be closed on Thanksgiving day (the one convenient to me at least).   For some time now, I've favored them over others; having long considered grease an essential ingredient of a good pizza. :-)

Wasn't always so; when I first came to Houston in the mid '60s, the absolute best pizzas, bar none, were served by Shakey's, but they became history here when Hunt International bought them out in the mid '70s and closed the local restaurants (Domino's taking over most of them).

A lot of other buyouts followed, with the results that an outfit once having hundreds of locations all over the country has now been reduced to a few dozen, mostly in their home state of California.

Second best (also now history) was the Post Oak Drive-In Theater.  Instead of pulling out a frozen pizza and shoving it into the oven, they made theirs from scratch, just like a real pizzeria.

One of their toppings  was chili.  When washed down with the beer I had snuck into the the drive-in, it was fantastic. (Just had to be sure to also bring along a trash bag, a roll of paper towels, and some wipes; messy doesn't begin to describe it. :-)

Once in a while I try to duplicate that experience by adding chili to a frozen one.  Close, but somehow just ain't the same.

By now, instead of asking "What about turkey?!!!", you've probably deduced that I'm not a big turkey fan.  Give me pizza and beer, and throw in a DVD to watch (there'll probably be nothing but football on TV that day), and I'm all set.

Did I just commit blasphemy with that "there'll probably be nothing but football on TV that day" above?

Well, I've never been much of a football fan either, except for a brief shining moment in the late '70s when coach O. A. "Bum" Phillips raised what was then the Houston Oilers to superbowl material, twice actually making it to the playoffs (only to run into that steel wall called Pittsburgh).

Something I'll always remember was the wonderful welcome the team got from cheering crowds that greeted them when they came home. They had to be feeling pretty low from those defeats, and for those fans to give that kind of "Welcome Home" made me proud beyond description.

(For a while, before those playoffs, I'd considered the Oilers as mostly just their two prima donnas (Dan Pastorini and Earl Campbell). But, while on vacation with friends in New Mexico, I saw a game (don't remember who they were playing), where both of them were benched and the remaining players went out there, just like a real team, and WON!)

Unfortunately, Phillips was getting more publicity than team owner Bud Adams (worthy of his own story) and many of us felt his days were numbered.

Sure, enough, Phillips was eventually fired and went to New Orleans to coach the New Orleans Saints (at that time owned by River Oaks native (and neighbor of Bud Adams) John Mecom.  I think there was a rivalry between them worthy of a TV movie, if it hasn't already been done.)

So many Oilers' players (Campbell, Pastorini, others) followed him there, our secretary began referring to the team as the Houston Saints.

Well, I've managed to wander all over the map this time, even including one of my least favorite subjects. So, I think it's time to close this one.

Hope you have a really wonderful thanksgiving. I'm gonna give it a shot. :-)


Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Anvil of Life

To be smart as Hell and to not have a lick of sense are not mutually exclusive.

In my previous post Ready for a firestorm? :-)  (about an Ann Coulter article on the insanity of letting young people vote) a commenter noted...

"After reading Ann's full article, if it's true that 18-24 yr. olds broke for Obama by 19 points (I still question who's polling them and where because I don't recall any pollsters anywhere in my neighborhood) but if that's true, with a military service exemption, I would be for. Sigh. There really are millions of stupid Americans.

I replied in a comment of my own, and after further reflection, decided to tweak and expand the comment into the post you are now reading.

There really are millions of stupid Americans.


But, in the 18-24 range, I suspect it is ignorance more than stupidity.

I've always viewed ignorance as simply lack of information, whereas stupidity consists of going ahead and doing something when you damned well (or should) know better.

In 1962, I was in the USAF, newly stationed at Goodfellow AFB outside of San Angelo, Texas. One weekend, I went with three other Airmen down to Del Rio and across the border into Villa Acuña (now Ciudad Acuña) to check out "boystown" (the local red light district) and to buy and bring back cheap duty-free booze.

A little background necessary for what follows:

We were in the United States Air Force Security Service (now the Electronic Security Arm, I think).  (See update below)

When you enlist in the service, you are given a battery of tests on almost anything imaginable (of course, to see just what, if anything, you're good for).

The spook shops have the privilege of being the first to troll through the results and they pick from the top 2%. If they're interested in you, background checks will be performed while you are still in basic training ("Some people from the government were asking about you, but we lied and said you were Ok." :-) but they'll likely wait until they're sure you aren't going to flunk out of basic training before informing you.

In my case, about 2/3 of the way through basic, after being marched to a class one morning, and standing at parade rest waiting to go in, my drill instructor comes up to me and quietly tells me that, "at 1300, you will report to Bldg. ####, Room ###, in the Uniform of the Day. That is all."

The strangest thing is that, for the first time in 8 or 9 weeks, he's not looking at me as if I scuttled out from under a rock, but has a quiet smile, as if he's proud or something. Also, I'm the only one in my flight (40+ Airmen, the USAF equivalent to a platoon) to receive that attention.

Upon reporting to that room, I find a couple of dozen other Airmen, NCOs and Officers also there to see what the Hell this is about. We're told that they are seeking linguists to attend a one-year intensive language course at the Institute of Far Eastern Languages at Yale University (this was 1961 - The USAF departed Yale in the mid 70's and now uses the Defense Language Institute or whatever at Monterey, California).

The afternoon is spent on testing our aptitude on learning Mandarin Chinese, although some will be selected for other languages (Korean in my case).

I manage to do Ok, and am selected. I had to drop out of school after the 9th grade, and here I am chosen to go to Yale!  (Well, I did know how to read (see On Reading... for how lucky I've been in this area)). I suspect that I really needed a cap a couple of sizes larger at that point.

I spent a solid year at Yale, with some of the brightest people I have ever met, and that was the greatest thing in the world for me.

After graduation, we were then sent down to Goodfellow for the next phase of our training. Whereupon, the four of us embarked upon the great Villa Acuña sex and booze adventure noted way up yonder.

What I'm trying to convey is that our little bunch was absolutely as sharp as they come (including, modestly, yours truly :-).

And, just how was all that brilliance used?  Stay tuned...

To bring that booze back over the border, you had to be 21, and not one of us had reached that exalted age. So, we cleverly shoved the bottles under the seats as we approached the border crossing.

We had noticed that the Customs guards and Border Patrolmen were just waving through car after car of families that had come over to watch the bullfights and indulge in some very cheap shopping.

So, this bunch of super-smart Airmen (including myself) would later actually conjure up conspiracy theories, about informants in the liquor stores, to explain the mystery of why a Patrolman takes one look at this old Mercury pulling up with a Goodfellow AFB sticker on the windshield, occupied by four young punks sporting military haircuts, and waves us right over.

   "Do you gentlemen have anything to declare?"
   "No Sir."
   "Right!  Step out of the car please."

And they go straight to our hiding place and pull it out.

Not having enough to pay the fine, so help me, I actually asked, "Can I just leave it?"

To which one of the Patrolmen (probably really straining to keep a straight face) replied, "I've got news for you son; you are going to leave it."

Thankfully, one of the others was able to loan me enough to handle the fine.

As I said, being smart as Hell, and not having a lick of sense, are not mutually exclusive.

The missing ingredient, of course, was experience; the hammer with which we're forged on the anvil of life.

Update 12 Dec 2010 - "(now the Electronic Security Arm, I think)" Slightly off, and way out of date.  Its name often changed along with what was covered in its mission.

The various incarnations were...
  United States Air Force Security Service (USAFSS) 1948-1979.
  Electronic Security Command (ESC) 1979-1991.
  Air Force Intelligence Command (AFIC) 1991-1993.
  Air Intelligence Agency (AIA) 1993-2007.
  Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA) 2007-Present.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ready for a firestorm? :-)

Then check out Ann Coulter's latest: REPEAL THE 26TH AMENDMENT!... (Updated below)
Adopted in 1971 at the tail end of the Worst Generation's anti-war protests, the argument for allowing children to vote was that 18-year-olds could drink and be conscripted into the military, so they ought to be allowed to vote.

But 18-year-olds aren't allowed to drink anymore. We no longer have a draft.


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dr. Sanity nails it!

One reason I'm a Republican is that, while we may be cursed with a few of those she describes, the Democrats seem absolutely infested with them.

This lady is well worth bookmarking and reading.

Her latest post (at Dr. Sanity ) ...
Let's get down to the nitty gritty of what "progressivism" is all about, shall we? And, it's all about controlling other people's lives, down to determining the food you and your kids will be able to eat ( because, you know, you are far too stupid to decide that yourself).

For all their happy talk and utopian fantasies, that is the essence of progressivism. Oh, they say it is for your own good...they insist that they are protecting you from the "greed" of those evil capitalists who desire not only your money, but your death--but make no mistake, what they really want is to control your life.


That last emphasis is mine. She has a lot more to say, but she really nails it right there.

Update - 05 Dec 2010 - Dr. Sanity does not permalink her individual articles, and this one no longer appears on her main page. To find the full article, look in the sidebar at the left of her page, go down to Archives, and click on November 2010,  Once that page finishes loading, look for Thursday, November 04, 2010 (near the bottom). The full article WHAT 'PROGRESSIVES' STAND FOR begins there.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Election 2010 - So, where are we now?

...Not nearly as far as I'd hoped we'd be.

As I write this (Wednesday afternoon, 03 Nov 2010) the House appears to be 239 Republicans (for a gain of 60, so far), 185 Democrats, and 11 undecided.

That ain't chopped liver; legislation originates in the House, before being passed along to the Senate and eventually to the President's desk for signing. At the very least, after the new congress is seated in January, there will be enough Republicans to stop any new atrocities from being passed in the House.

Further, Republicans will now chair House committees. As this includes the House Ways and Means Committee, Republicans will now have a very big say on how much (or even if) certain legislation will be funded.

The Joker in this deck is, Will the Republicans actually exercise this power they have won?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"...Don’t worry, you’re boring.”

Found this on John Lott's website... 

  Indian givers?: "FBI demand GPS bug back from tracked US student"

“We have all the information we needed,” were their parting words, “you don’t need to call your lawyer. Don’t worry, you’re boring.”

Now, that's cold. :(

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Early Voting

As I don't know what my unpredictable working schedule will be for Election Day Nov. 2, I took advantage of early voting today, about 15 minutes ago.

A LOT of people there. I'm told it's this way all over. This very likely means lots of people that just can't wait to get their point across, even though it's still a week until the results will be known.

This year, what to do was real damned simple; select "Straight Republican Ticket", then page through the ballot to be sure that every Republican candidate (and NOT ONE Democrat) was selected, and then cast the ballot.

From how quickly many voters were done, I suspect a lot of them were doing the same thing.

From the turnout,  I expect a very bad day for the Democrats when the results come in the evening of Nov 2.

We'll see.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


%)#-#!&^##  &(%^#$-$&#**^%  @(^-($-!-%*%#^!!!

Just got back from the Wings Over Houston Airshow at Ellington Field, just south of Houston.

On May 30, I had posted Ready to hear God laugh?, in which I mentioned health problems and announced a regimen of walking to help with them. I set as a goal, catching this airshow, getting a lot of good shots and having something really good to write about in a post.

Well, here's the post. But it sure ain't what I intended.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I'm going to see if I can play with the order of my posts by editing the publishing time.
(Originally published 10/10/10 11:00 AM)

Result, YES, I can!!!.

There's a post from a while back that I intend to move to the top when the time is right.
Now, I know how.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A Boy and his Vampire

(This post is mostly about remakes)

  Owen: "How old are you, -- really?"  
   Abby: "Twelve, -- but I've been twelve for a really long time."

Let Me In is the story of 12-year old Owen, lonely and tormented by bullies at school, and of Abby; a very unusual girl of the same apparent age, with whom he becomes acquainted when she and her guardian move into the apartment next to his.

Based on the Swedish thriller Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In), from the novel of the same name, it is the latest in the long-standing Hollywood tradition of taking an absolutely superb foreign film and remaking it for those who "don't want to read their movies".

What is not in that tradition is the fact that this remake stands in the same league as the original, to a degree I haven't seen since Gore Verbinski's The Ring.

The Swedes have been cranking out some interesting work lately, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, already scheduled for an American remake with Daniel Craig.  For the role of Lisbeth Salander (the girl of the title), for a short while Emma Watson (Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films) was briefly considered for the remake, before being ultimately passed over for someone else. Lisbeth would have been one Hell of a change for Watson; very edgy and as big a step as Kurt Russell going from the nerdy kids he played in Disney movies to putting on the eye patch and becoming "Snake" Plissken  in John Carpenter's Escape From New York. (Believe it or not, even that one has a remake in the works.)

Before that, I'd have to rate Insomnia (with Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hillary Swank) as maybe one of the most successful re-dos of a first-rate Swedish movie. That particular remake was directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception) and that may have had much to do with it turning out so well.

Of course, Hollywood doesn't have to go overseas to mine something already done (and done very well) before. (They never seem interested in taking something that should have been good but was botched, and giving it another shot.)

Even the Coen Brothers are going down this path. After couple of decades of some of the most original work seen on the screen, they confessed to being inspired by The Odyssey for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, they adapted Cormac McCarthy's novel for No Country for Old Men, and now they are going as mainstream Hollywood as one can possibly get; they are remaking True Grit.

Scheduled for this Christmas, this is one remake that does not fill me with dread. I've not seen any of the trailers now available online (watching videos on a dial-up connection is an exercise in masochism), but some of the stills I've seen give me a very good feeling about this.

Jeff Bridges steps into John Wayne's role as Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn, and looks absolutely perfect for it.

Matt Damon is the Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, and while Damon can make me want to throw things at him when he opens his mouth politically, as an actor he has a lot more going for him than did singer Glen Campbell in the original.

Likewise, I have no problem with Josh Brolin taking over from Jeff Corey as Tom Chaney, the object of the manhunt the story is about.

Who I'll be most curious about is Barry Pepper (the sniper, in Saving Private Ryan, who would cross himself before blowing out the brains of some poor German soldier). He will be essaying the role of the outlaw "Lucky" Ned Pepper, a role that was filled by Robert Duvall in the original.

Now, that will be a challenge on a par with Steven Weber following in Jack Nicholson's footsteps in the TV remake of The Shining. I think Weber did a fine job of meeting that challenge. We'll just have to see how well Barry does.

As of now, the "True Grit" remake is scheduled for Christmas Day, 2010.

December 25th this year occurs on a Saturday. New movies are usually released on a Friday, with an occasional Wednesday or Thursday thrown in. I don't ever recall a Saturday being used before, BUT, this is the Coen Brothers we are talking about. So, anything can be on the plate where they are concerned.

But, WHY does Hollywood depend so much on remakes and sequels? Are they really that devoid of imagination?

I seriously doubt it. I believe some of the most imaginative people on the planet are in that industry, but, you must never forget that there are two words in "show business". Millions (lately hundreds of millions) are at stake in modern movies, and that is a powerful incentive to play it safe by remaking, or making sequels to movies that made money. It doesn't get any simpler than that.

As for sequels; there have been some good ones. But as far as most of them go, consider Robert Rodriguez's violent, over-the-top live action cartoon spoof of late 60's exploitation movies Machete.

As the end credits start, they announce...

Machete will return in




Right there, Mr. Rodriguez says it all about most sequels.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Spambots - Or, why comment moderation is back on.

For a long time now, neo-neocon has posted Spambot of The Day when a new or somewhat original example came through her spam filters. Often whimsical, with wonderfully loose language, and sometimes no other apparent purpose than to show that it could be done.

I've gotten these examples on Anatomy of an eBay Transaction... 


Anonymous said...
Clearly, many thanks for the information.
   July 13, 2010 6:28 AM

Paul_In_Houston said...
Although that comment appears appropriate to this post, my site meter (StatCounter) shows no trace of anyone even visiting my blog around the time the comment was put up, let alone actually reading this post.

In fact, that comment would have been far more appropriate to the follow-up posting "An Ode to PayPal...".

So, I have to conclude that it is almost certainly a spam-bot.

I'd love to learn how it accomplishes this; finding a particular post to comment upon and actually doing it without leaving a trace other than the comment itself.

And as for WHY it was done ("What's in it for them?") I suspect the answer may be because they could.

    July 13, 2010 2:26 PM

Anonymous said...
The excellent and duly answer.
   September 13, 2010 3:47 AM

Anonymous said...
You have quickly thought up such matchless phrase?
   September 13, 2010 11:42 PM

Anonymous said...
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   September 16, 2010 10:41 PM

Beginning today, these are what I'm getting (on Yet again, the Brits know us much better than our own media does.. )...


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    September 23, 2010 11:51 PM

Paul_In_Houston said...
Like other spambots that have visited here, this one left no trace at all on my site meter (StatCounter).

As this one at least provided a URL, I've emailed them, asking how they managed that.

If they simply came here the same way as anyone else, doing nothing special to avoid detection, then I may want to take it up with StatCounter.

In the meantime, I'll leave it up for a while before purging it.

Just a little while; if I'm gonna provide advertising space for someone, I want my cut. :-)

    September 24, 2010 1:09 PM

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    September 24, 2010 4:21 PM

I'm afraid that final one was the last straw. If you want to advertise on my site, we need to negotiate a fee first.

Because of this, I have purged those last three comments and I'm turning comment moderation back on. :(

(And, as I mentioned in my comments before, I would still love to know how they manage an end run around StatCounter.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Flu can really suck, you know.

Back to square one...

If Stephen King hadn't already described the circumstances (in "Danse Macabre") of how he wrote "The Stand", wherein flu (albeit a souped-up version) was the instrument of the downfall of civilization, I would have guessed his inspiration to be a recent bout of it and thinking "What a miserable way to go!!!".

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


- Yeah, others have used that word for what's coming in November.  So, tsu me. :-)

AJStrata, of The Strata-Sphere has used the analogy frequently of late, in There Is An Anti-Dem, Anti-Big Gov Wave Out There, following many other posts on his site.

He points out (in some of those other posts) that, like an iceberg only revealing 1/10th of itself above water, a tsunami wave doesn't doesn't look all that different from other waves out in mid-ocean (unless you can note its length).

It's when it begins arriving in the shallows that the true monster rears its head.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Now, HERE'S an eye opener!

From Strategy Page ...

Chinese General Declares Democracy The Ultimate Weapon
August 19, 2010: Chinese Lieutenant General Yazhou Liu has been giving speeches to his fellow officers in which he insists that China must embrace democracy, or perish. Liu recently got promoted, and his speeches and published articles continue. What is going on here?
Liu's backing of democracy is purely practical, and really has nothing to do with political beliefs. He describes American democracy as a system designed by a genius for effective use by stupid people. As Liu puts it, "a bad system makes a good person behave badly while a good system makes a bad person behave well. Democracy is the most important reform for China, for without it there can be no sustainable growth."
Change is in the air, whether communist officials want it or not. Liu offers a way out, but there's no guarantee that enough of these officials will take it.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

G. Wolf is Howling -- You might want to pay attention.

Sometimes he appears to go on sabbatical for a while (probably this thing called LIFE). But, he's back full-bore now (and, NO! That does not mean "boring"). I'm trying to persuade people to give his site a look. As doing this on my own blog means that only two or three dozen will ever see it, I'm also gonna email the hell out of this.

Now at Wolf Howling ...

"The Lady of Spain"
O'Reilly comments on First Lady Michelle Obama's ostentatious vacation in Spain while a very significant portion of America suffers through our worst economy since WWII. And O'Reilly even let's Charles Krauthammer get in a word or two. Let us eat spinach indeed.

"The Ground Zero Mosque & Our Government's Mishandling Of "Islamic Radicals"
As it stands today, Obama is pretending that nothing about Islam is implicated in the terrorist attacks against us. It is a risible canard that invites disaster. It is not fooling any American with a pulse.

"Can I Have The BS On Rye, Hold The Mayo?"
Afrocity's post this week, Bullshit, It's Not Just For Republicans Anymore.
Here is a snippet:
. . . But understand that bullshit is an acquired taste. That is to say, if someone feeds you crap election year in and election year out, you only know… well…crap. You become accustomed to the broken promises and pointing fingers game. You accept your permanent place in the war of America’s needy versus America’s greedy. Despite your inner brilliance- your wiser conscious plea to ask questions and get real answers, you continue to eat the plate of bullshit set before you. Some like myself ate with small spoonfuls -drinking huge glasses of water between each swallow. Others like my mother and most Obama supporters put the feedbag on with gusto.

"Let Them Eat Argula"
Indeed. Were I the left, I would not fear a second American Revolution in our country. I'd fear a second French Revolution in our country.


Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Texas vs EPA War

From The Strata-Sphere ...

 Texas declares War on the EPA
I have *never* read an official government document that is this bitter and contemptuous of the Federal level – I never thought I would! This is damn close to a new Declaration of Independance.

And, for good measure, this from Liberty Pundits ...

 Texas Tells The EPA To Pound Sand – UPDATED A War Is Breaking Out

I have nothing to add to these, they speak for themselves. I have sent emails to a bunch of other bloggers alerting them to this, because at my site, maybe about two dozen people will see it. The others can do a bit better than that.

The Strata-Sphere post has this link to the actual letter, in pdf format...


(And, not for the first time, I notice that you have to roam, not merely the internet, but bloggers, to even become aware of this. No wonder they seem so desperate to exercise control over the internet.)

Sunday, August 01, 2010


- A twenty-dollar word for "I haven't put up anything for a couple of weeks now".

Why not?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

John Hawkes - Man of Steel

Not so much a movie review, but an Actor review.   (Updated at end of post)
(23 JUL 2010 - New update about sound problems at end of post)

Part I - Setting the stage...

Winter's Bone, by Daniel Woodrell.
Sixteen-year-old Ree Dolly (seventeen, in the movie) is trying to support two younger siblings, and a mother who is no longer quite all there, in the Missouri Ozarks.

The local deputy-sheriff drives up and informs her that her father, Jessup (out on bail for running a crystal meth lab), hasn't shown up for his court date and, Oh by the way, had signed over everything for his bond.

She has maybe a week to find him and haul his ass back, or find proof that he's dead, before losing the property and becoming homeless.

Part II - Meet Uncle Teardrop...

Into the situation enters Jessup's brother, Haslam (Teardrop - so called because of three blue teardrops, made with prison ink, below his left eye; each one denoting some grisly prison deed that needed doing, was done, and probably best not inquired about).

He's the first person she goes to in her quest, only to be advised that such poking around is, "a good way to get et by hogs", and that she should know better than that. (Her best friend, Gail, already fearing the worst, supposes "Either he stole, or he told; that's what they'll kill you for here.")

Teardrop has a reputation that precedes him when some local toughs (and they truly are tough) look out of a garage, see his truck approaching, and react "Oh, Sh*t!" and "Let me get something from the car; I don't want to be standing here naked if that motherf**ker's comin' in."

After he has pulled her out of a very tight situation, Ree confesses to him, "You've always scared me, Uncle Teardrop." To which he softly replies, "That's because you're smart".

Part III - And to play him...

John Hawkes as Teardrop - Photo from Winter's Bone website.

John Hawkes has appeared in an amazing number of movies I've seen, some of which I have, including From Dusk till Dawn  and The Perfect Storm.

He may be best known, at least to Deadwood fans, as Seth Bullock's partner Sol Star ("the hardware jew", as he was sometimes referred to there) whose best line may have been ONE word when Trixie (the whore he's been shacking up with) ends an argument with, "Well, do you want to get f**ked or not?".  To which he replies, "PLEASE!"

At first glance, he may seem a strange choice as he is not in the least imposing physically (sorry, Mr. Hawkes, but that's the way I see it), but there is steel there.

In his character, all he has to do is stand there, quietly looking at you with sad eyes, and the vibe you get (just rolling from him) is, "Son, you do not want to mess with me."

This may be one of the most under-rated actors in the business, because he doesn't work to steal scenes from other actors, but to get the job done. In other words, a professional.

As for the movie itself, it just may be the best of the year, so far. I personally think Hawkes deserves an Academy Award nomination but, since his work is so understated, I wont hold my breath.

As it is an independent film, with very little real support, some of you may not get a chance to see it until a DVD is eventually released, unless there is a local art house theater near you (I am so blessed with one within walking distance of where I live :-).

If you can find a showing within your reach, I promise you it is worth the effort. My only complaint is that the sound quality is not very good, so you really have to pay attention. With my less-than-perfect hearing, I recently devoured the book to better understand some of it (the movie is quite faithful to the book). Here's hoping the eventual DVD has subtitles or close-captioning; I confess to sometimes needing them.

UPDATE - 18 JUL 2010 - The movie has wider distribution than I thought. Check out the official website (linked under the photo). They list theaters where it is currently playing, or about to.

UPDATE - 23 JUL 2010 - This post was (and still is) primarily about John Hawkes, but at the end of the original post I had noted sound problems making much of the dialog inaudible.

After a few rounds here, and in comments on http://maridethsisco.com (blog of Marideth Sisco, music consultant and singer in the film) and on http://moonmooring.wordpress.com/ (blog of Sarah, who oversees Marideth's blog), I got this reply on Marideth's blog...

About the sound problem, I’m advised by the director that similar problems have occurred when the theater playing the film fails to notice the attached tag that says the movie is to be played at Dolby sound level 7.5 — Most films being shown these days are so full of explosions and very loud special effects that if played at 7.5 it would blow their speakers, so they play the audio set at Dolby 5. At that level the WB sound is very muddy.

I emailed this info to the customer service departments of the Landmark theater chain (which runs the theater I went to) and Roadshow Roadside Attractions (distributor of Winter's Bone).

The latter replied, thanking me for the heads up, and promised to get with the theater to see what was going on.

Apparently, they did. Tonight's showing was much better as far as audio goes; while I still had to strain in a few places to catch some of the dialog, it was infinitely better than before. The remaining part of my problems can probably be attributed to hearing I have already described as a bit "less than perfect". Because of that last caveat, I still hope for captioning on the DVD.

But, in the meantime, there is at least one theater in this area that is now playing it the way it was meant to. So, I feel I have managed to accomplish something worthwhile. :-)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"That which does not kill me..."

"...makes me stronger". (Well, at least according to some guy named Nietzsche.)

I started this post, two days ago, in full "whine" mode. I was going to reply to Mr. Nietzsche's quote that I was still awaiting that second part.

This is a follow-up to Ready to hear God laugh? and Day Nine..., in which I publicly announced my intentions to begin and continue a regimen of walking to improve my very shaky health and then told about early results.

Two days ago (Day 44), I was suffering bitter disappointment and depression over the lack of any apparent progress, even though I had told myself that it would most likely take months (plural) to see such.

Today (Day 46) the situation changed, as must the general direction of this post.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

"the bottom line"

(I repeat myself here. Well, so what? Wont be the first time.)

(24 Oct 2010 -This post was originally published 07 Jul 2010. By temporarily altering the date, I am sticking this one at or near the top of the page, until after the election when I will restore it to its rightful slot. The only other alteration is using Red to further emphasize some points.)

(03 Nov 2010 - Restored original publishing date, putting this post back where it belongs.)

The election this November will be nothing less than a fight for our very lives; this is absolutely no time for any conservative to throw a hissy fit (because his candidate may be less than perfect), and just decide to sit it out.

That’s already happened, and just look where that got us.

Blogger Robin of Berkeley, on the American Thinker blog site, nailed it in A Shrink Asks: What's Wrong with Obama?...

(The words are hers, the emphasis is mine; the first emphasized paragraph is really "the bottom line" about what needs to be done.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"...and the sharks will come."

There's a parable in this piece of dialog from Iron Man 2, in which Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) explains to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) just how effective his recent public intimidation of Iron Man/Tony Stark really was:

"If you could make God bleed, people will cease to believe in Him.
 There will be blood in the water, and the sharks will come.
 All I have to do is sit here and watch, as the world will consume you..."

Barack Obama is bleeding over his handling of the Gulf oil spill; when you have devout worshipers such as Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews all but openly wondering, "Can't this jerk get anything right?!!!", there is definitely blood in the water.

(Updated at the end)

Friday, June 11, 2010

What's Wrong with Obama?

While I've often wondered, this time it's a question posed by blogger Robin of Berkeley on the American Thinker blog site: A Shrink Asks: What's Wrong with Obama?

UPDATE - 05 JUL 2010 - I hope she will forgive me for lifting two more paragraphs that immediately preceded the original quotes (as they now do here), because even though they precede, they are in fact the "bottom line" of what needs to be done. So much so that I have emphasized them in toto.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Or, how an engineer and a politician approaches a problem...

"Let's work the problem people."
  (~NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz, during the Apollo 13 crisis - 1970)

"I want to know whose ass to kick!"
  (~President Barack Hussein Obama, during the gulf oil spill - 2010)


Monday, June 07, 2010

Day Nine...

...of my "Let's not drop dead just now, Ok?!!!" project.

In my previous post (Ready to hear God laugh?) I announced a regimen of walking to try to improve my current condition (which ain't so hot, right now).

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ready to hear God laugh?

I may be about to.

The title's inspired by this quotation, "Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh.", uttered by Ian McShane (as Al Swearengen) in "Deadwood". (Some may have noticed that I used that quote as the title of my second post here.)

I'm announcing some plans, hoping some of my friends will nag me about this, and maybe eventually save my life as a result.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Return of Mickey Rourke

(Of course, if he ever saw this post, he'd probably refute my title with, "I never went anywhere; you just weren't paying attention.")

"Presence" is a not-easily defined quality, of an actor, that absolutely compels your attention when he shows up. Some have it, and some don't. For those who don't, it's not something you can just run over to Walmart to get.

In the 2002 movie of Tom Clancy's "The Sum of All Fears", Ben Affleck was tapped to take over the role of Jack Ryan (following Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford), and had the misfortune of having Liev Schreiber playing Mr. Clark in scenes with him, about which a Houston Press review noted, "We can't take our eyes off Schreiber, and we can't keep our eyes open when Affleck's around."

That's a very good example of what this "presence" business is about.

Japanese superstar Toshiro Mifune (of samurai movie fame) had it in spades, as did Sean Connery. American actors Lee Marvin and Robert Mitchum come to mind. It's not really so much how good actors they are, but how well they command your attention.

They were people for whom, if you looked into their eyes, very definitely "someone was home". There was always a feeling of things going on beneath the surface, and that they were capable of absolutely anything.

Now, we can add Mickey Rourke to the list.

He'd been down for awhile, in movies that few saw. His role of Marv in "Sin City" probably did more than anything to put him back on the map. Recently he was nominated for the Academy Award for "The Wrestler" (checking it out is on my "to do" list), losing to Jeff Bridges for "Crazy Heart".

He is easily the best thing about "Iron Man 2", which is a pretty decent show, with plenty of action (maybe too much actually) and really first class work by Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle, but Rourke is a truly worthwhile foe and is what makes it worth seeing.

And, he doesn't even seem to be doing anything special at all; with a twinkle in his eye and a quietly amused smile (as if all of creation is a joke to him, and he gets it), he dominates this movie so much in the scenes he's in that the other actors might as well have stayed home; I doubt you would have noticed their absence had they done so.

If you get the chance to see it, you will get a true demonstration of what "presence" is in a movie.


Monday, May 03, 2010

New Junk in the Sidebar

About 1 in 4 of my posts are ones I feel fairly good about, so I've decided to provide links to these in the sidebar, under "Posts I Feel Good about..."

Further down, I've added "Really Fine Posts by Others..." , linking posts by other bloggers that I really feel deserve a look.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today was a really, really good day...

...one of the best I've had in a long while.


For the first time in 21 years, I can legally drive without any glasses or corrective lenses whatever. When you're closing in on 68, that's a pretty nice feeling.

The Adventure - Continued

In which further attempts at attending launchings in person eventually led to a new career.

(This is a follow on to Adventure of a Lifetime, which should be read first.)

Oh, and special thanks to one of my favorite science and science-fiction writers, to whom I also sent that email notice of that post. He can be as verbose as necessary to get a point across, but with a sniper's precision, he emailed to me a single word, "Indeed", which told me that he actually read as far as the line it most applied to, and by sending it suggested that my writing may not be beyond redemption. I've not given the name here, as he sent it to me in an email instead of making the comment on my blog, so name-dropping just doesn't seem appropriate. Thank you, Sir, for giving my ego much-needed nourishment. :-)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Adventure of a Lifetime

38 years ago today, on April 16, 1972, the penultimate manned moon mission (Apollo 16) was launched.

In early 1972 (February, I think) I saw an article in the Houston Chronicle noting that the Apollo series of manned moon exploration missions (originally scheduled to go up to number 20) would be cut off at 17 (due to budget cuts and declining interest).

Apollo 17 would lift off on December 6, 1972, and it would go at night!!!

I decided right then that "I've GOT to see that!".

I noticed that Apollo 16 was scheduled for April 16th, two months away. I decided to aim for that one also, in case something happened to prevent Apollo 17.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On selling out our friends and allies

Just recently, after spending months snubbing our best friends and allies (Israel in particular, but others as well), Obama announced, to friends and enemies alike, new policies on the use (or NON use) of weapons in our nuclear arsenal that practically screamed to people depending on us for their protection, "Hey, not OUR problem!!!".

Shortly after Obama's election, I posted this comment on many blogs...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Rethinking Recall

My previous post had two questions above the fold, the first of which probably caused many of you to react, "Good Lord! He's lost it. He's gone completely over the edge.", and as a result never even notice the second question (let alone actually open the post and read it).

That second question was "Can individual states enact measures to allow recall of their U. S. Congressional reps and senators?".

That part of the post asked if we could do it.

This post concerns itself with should we do it.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Thinking the Unthinkable

(Apologies to Hermann Kahn, who used that title for a study of thermonuclear warfare)

Two serious questions for consideration: (Relocated below the fold, so the first wont completely turn you off before even reading the rest of it.)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Kids these days... UPDATED

...have no respect. They just don't have a clue as to what our generation had to go through. They take so much for granted."

I'll bet that particular lamentation was conveyed, somehow, amongst our pre-human ancestors depicted in the "Dawn of Man" sequence at the beginning of "2001: A Space Odyssey" before the arrival of the monolith.

It continues down the ages, through poems and sagas, Greek history, and lately through commenters on blogs. A near constant drumbeat of apocalyptic doom, foreseen because of the coming generation.

So, is there any hope at all?

Bill Whittle ( Eject! Eject! Eject! ) pointed me to this link: The Future Speaks, and this article Daddy, I want a Golden Ticket and I want it Now! as proof that the end ain't here quite yet.

The blog is authored by two 14 year old St. Louis residents, Cole Campbell and Lyda Loudon, who still retain sentience and the ability to think for themselves. How they will be when they reach the ages of 18-20 (when they will know everything and become insufferable for most of a decade :-) remains to be seen, so it's probably best to check them out NOW.

That such insight and common-sense can come from these two gives me great hope for the coming generation. That's quite a statement from me, as I can be one of the gloomiest, most depressing people you could ever hope to avoid; sometimes being of the "Not only is the glass half empty, but IT'S LEAKING!!!" type.

I expect to check in on them periodically as much needed therapy for my innate pessimism. :-)

(I see that I've managed to use the word "hope" quite a few times here. I'm going to have to check out good synonyms for it; I'm afraid The Won has poisoned that word for me.)

Update - 26 Apr 2011 - The site appears to have been released.  It's been about nine months since they had posted anything on it (their time being monopolized by school and probably many other things) and the site shows only links to "Where to find..." various things; in short, advertisements.

So, I am deleting them from my blogroll and hope they are doing well.  I suspect that life has intruded, as it will. To them, all the best.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"Obamacare For Idiots"

I put the title in quotes because it ain't mine. It belongs to AJStrata

Often, I'll get the germ of a idea for a post, fiddle with it a bit, only to discover someone else getting there first, and doing it far better than I could hope to.

So, without further ado, take a look at Obamacare For Idiots


Monday, March 22, 2010

I Want To Scream...

"God Damn You!

to the 220 Democrat house members who voted for that atrocity last night.
(Thankfully, ALL 178 Republicans voted "NO", and apparently 33 Democrats have managed to retain their souls.)

BUT, it's not really all their fault, is it?

Remember that election we had in November 2008?

Every single one of you who voted to put that smirking megalomaniac into the White House should take a bow. YOU made it all possible. May God forgive you; I cannot.

Sign seen at one of the first Tea Party protests in April 2009:

   United States of America
   Born  7-4-1776
   Died 11-4-2008



Well, I don't think we're going to rest in peace.

I honestly believe that, come November, there is going to be a House (and Senate) cleaning that will be Biblical. Damning those Democrats to Hell may be above our pay grade, but casting them out of the cloud cuckoo land they currently inhabit and forcing them to make it in our world may be the next best thing.

What can YOU do?

There will be websites showing which of the Democrats voted "Yes". Look for them; they shouldn't be difficult to find. If one of them represents your district, then make yourself determined to fire that bastard in November.

We've just now gotten our noses rubbed in the fact that "Elections have consequences".

We absolutely must show those reps that so do their their votes.

(Addenda 23 Mar 2010 - I know;  the Democrat vote was 219 "Yes" and 34 "No", for the bill itself. The 220 and 33 figures I used at the top of this post was the vote for the reconciliation that sealed the deal.)


Friday, March 19, 2010

Pretty much says it all...

Found this at Americans For Prosperity

Update - 20 Mar 2010 - You really should check out the link above. What I show below is just a simple jpg image. The one on their site is a Flashplayer interactive image that shows details of what each of those little boxes represents.

Update - 09 Apr 2010 - Things have changed; that image below is already out-of-date. Click on the link at the top of this post to see the latest interactive version. I expect they will continue to update it periodically. There are LOTS of things on it to scream at your congressmen about. And, scream you should.

Update - 09 May 2011 - My site meter showed a visit to this post today, so I decided to check the site.  It's still there, and the chart is constantly being updated. It looks quite different now, and it still ain't pretty.  Use the link at the top of this post to see the latest interactive version.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ann Coulter is on a roll with this one...

( AnnCoulter.com February 24, 2010 )

Republicans can't stop the Democrats from socializing health care: They are a tiny minority party in both the House and the Senate. (Note to America: You might want to keep this in mind next time you go to the polls.)"
When it comes to Obamacare, Americans don't want a party of "No," they want a party of "Hell, No!" or, as Rahm Emanuel might say, "*&^%$#@ No!"
"Actually, if the Republicans were really smart, they'd send in 14-year-old Jonathan Krohn, who understands the free market better than most people in Washington. Of course, so does my houseplant

When she's hitting on all cylinders, what can you possibly add?

Monday, February 08, 2010


This shocking development was revealed in a photo of her hand showing seven words ( "energy", "taxes", "budget cuts" (with "budget" crossed out), and "lift American spirit").

THIS, of course, in comparison to one who brings two teleprompters to a sixth-grade class, and cannot talk to his own committees without one.

Probably, the most amazing thing about this is the absolute glee and abandon with which liberals charge into this fray, with totally predictable results. Well, maybe not so amazing; if they had the ability to learn from experience, they wouldn't be what they are.

If Sarah was devious, I’d suspect her of deliberately allowing that palm to be seen, just to get the pathetic and moronic reactions she’s gotten from them so far. (Maybe it was deliberate; being "devious" is not a pre-requisite for having some fun. :-)

She’s totally aware that their self-absorbed narcissism and complete lack of a sense of humor are Achilles’s heels well worth exploiting.

Powerline - Palin Mocks Liberals notes:
"Which didn't stop Palin from getting the last laugh. Campaigning for Governor Rick Perry in Texas yesterday, she wrote "Hi Mom!" on her palm.
It's Palin's secret weapon: she brings out the stupidity in her political opponents."

Update - 14 Feb 2010: I promised commenter Ellen that I would try to reply to her comment, in a new post (as a proper reply would be long enough to justify one). I do intend to give it a shot, but I am just too miserably sick at the moment, so it will probably be a few days yet.


Monday, January 25, 2010

New additions to "Websites I Like..."

I've decided to add Ann Coulter and Roger L. Simon to the list.

Why Ann? Why the Hell NOT?! I mean, LOOK AT HER!!! :-)

As for Roger; well, he's long overdue for inclusion.

I first noticed him, just before last summer, when a link pointed me to TALKING THROUGH MY HAT: How Ahmadinejad Made Me a Believer

I have never been much of a believer.
. . .
Until I went to Geneva, Switzerland a couple of weeks ago. I was there to cover Durban II, aka the Durban Review Conference – an attempt by the United Nations to ratify the results of its 2001 human rights conclave in Durban, South Africa.
. . .
But I didn’t realize the man who turned out to be the conference’s key speaker – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of the Islamic Republic of Iran – would be staying in my hotel. I learned that surprising fact from some Swiss security people only minutes before I saw the Iranian president face to face.
. . .
I heard screaming sirens followed by shrieking motor cycles when Ahmadinejad himself entered, accompanied by a phalanx of Iranian secret service, all of whom were larger than he. He was indeed a small man, almost diminutive, and marched straight across the lobby in what seemed at the time like a goose step a few feet away from me, staring directly at me while waving and smiling in my direction.
. . .
I was in the presence of pure Evil.
. . .
This was the guy that my president wanted to talk with?
. . .
I know I am being irrational here, so I will stop. Being in the presence of Ahmadinejad’s evil, fleeting and haltingly put me in the presence of something else
. . .

There's a Hell of a lot in those extended ellipses. Click on that link above to fill them in, and see what made ME a believer in Roger Simon.

Friday, January 22, 2010

On blogging, obsession, and being too full of one's self...

My previous post, congratulating Massachusetts for electing Scott Brown, noted Chris Matthews reaction to that as, "we need to keep an eye on this guy; I don't trust him."

I rebutted with what I felt was a really good zinger, about how I had a Hell of a lot more trust in a former Lieutenant-Colonel, who had served his country, than I had in a (fill in the blank) who endorses someone for Commander-In-Chief because of a "tingle up his leg".

The problem is, when I searched (and searched, and searched) using Google, Yahoo, Ask, Bing, whatever, I could NOT find any confirmation of him actually saying that.

I was sure I had heard him, but I have to admit that, when channel hopping among the news shows, the pundits all seem to melt together into the same faceless mass.

I cannot be sure who really did say it, but the search suggests that maybe I had the misfortune of stumbling across Glenn Beck, in full Jeremiah mode, with a really disgusting observation, "I don't trust this guy. You're going to end up with a dead intern."


Not being able to back up what I said, I pulled it.

I'd love to restore it; I really loved that zinger.

But, that is precisely the problem with getting obsessed with putting these things out.

By wanting, so desperately, to keep that comment alive and out there, I'm acting as if I'll never get another chance to do one as good. That demonstrates a lack of confidence in myself that's plagued me all my life.

Besides, the notion of not getting another chance, in such a target-rich environment as the current political landscape, is ridiculous beyond words.

Definitely time to drop this and move on.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Congratulations to Massachusetts, and Thank You!

The title still stands.
I've deleted the body of this post, for reasons explained above.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Comment moderation has been enabled. :(

(Above the fold update - 09 Mar 2010 - I'm going to take a chance and disable moderation for awhile. We'll just have to see how that works out. Maybe I'll have to turn it back on, for the reasons noted below, maybe not.)

I truly welcome comments, and would like more of them, but if you choose to leave one, you will now find this little note on the comment form:

Comment moderation has been enabled.
All comments must be approved by the blog author.

So, I'll get an email and it will appear when I Ok it (which I'll almost certainly do as soon as I see it).


Blogger.com's comments form allows anonymous comments, and a couple of those have been in the form of:

Some kind of silly and inconsequential message.................

in which each separate dot was actually a link to an Asian video porn site.

As I only have a dial-up connection, it's just not practical for me to access those videos and check them out for you, to see if they might be something you would like.

Sorry about that, but I gotta maintain some standards. This is just the price of my readership expanding from the single digits to the low double digits. :-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An Ode to PayPal...

NOT an accurate title; I've no intention of attempting any poetry here. I just thought it had a nicer ring to it than "In Praise of PayPal" :-)

My previous post detailed the travails of an eBay purchase gone wrong.

It brought this email response from a good friend...
Hi Paul,

I read your blog about eBay transaction. That's horrible!!!
I hope you continue fighting this one.
He's probably doing the same thing to many other people.
If I lost $300 it would hurt me financially too.


To which I replied...
Oh, I intend to keep fighting, all right.

You may have noticed, in the post, that I redacted anything that could identify him, or where he is, but I DO have that information. (At least, the name and address of the contracting company he owns.)

Options I have include...
1) Opening a case with eBay.
2) Doing the same with PayPal.
3) Possibly Small Claims Court.

(Still have some research to do on THAT one;

I understand that a claim has to be filed in the defendant's county of residence. That makes sense, so the court cannot be used to harass someone by compelling him to appear in person, halfway across the country from where he's at, or forfeit the claim.

At the moment, I only have his business address. If that's not sufficient, I could probably find his actual residence for a small fee (which I could maybe add to the amount that I would seek from him).

What I have to find out is the mechanics of filing such a claim when I live in Houston, and he is in California.

For that matter, I've yet to determine if a Small Claims petition can even be filed across state lines, and if it would be required for me to appear there (in which case I would then have to figure out something else).

So, THAT particular option is up in the air, for now, until I learn more.)

What I'd like most is for the item to arrive and be Ok.
Or, to get an email from PayPal stating that a full refund has been put into my account.

In either of those cases, as I promised him, that would be the end of it.

Otherwise, it would really eat at me to just let it go. That just ain't gonna happen.

I have to confess that I can be a truly vindictive S.O.B. if I feel that I've been wronged.

And, I DO feel that I've been wronged.

After thinking about it a bit, I realized that I had been more than patient with this guy, had utterly failed to get his attention, and decided it was time to haul out a 2x4.

Thinking that PayPal could wield a bigger one than I could, and more effectively, I gave them a call, actually got to talk to a real live human being, and learned that, as to opening a case with eBay or PayPal, it's either one or the other.

He convinced me that opening it with PayPal would be more likely to get results. It would then become a matter between them and the seller.

They would contact him, and give him 10 days to either satisfactorily explain things, or to provide a refund. If a refund was called for, and the seller was unable to comply, he told me that PayPal would provide it.

Their web site has this to say about eBay purchases:

Buyers choose PayPal more than any other payment method on eBay.*
Here's why:
You're covered on eligible transactions
PayPal covers your eBay purchases for the full
purchase price and original shipping costs.

This is a feature that I probably read about PayPal when I first signed up, but forgot because, up to now, I've never had to take advantage of it.

A check of the eBay page describing my item shows these very promising words:

Pay with PayPal and your full purchase price is covered.

If you ever buy anything on eBay, using PayPal, that's a good thing to look for.

Here's their automated email response, received 11 Jan 2010...
Hello Paul Gordon,

Thanks for contacting us. We're looking into your case and will decide the
outcome. Here are the case details:
Transaction details
Seller's Name: **** *******
Seller's Email: **@****.***
Seller's Transaction ID: *****************

Transaction Date: Dec 6, 2009
Transaction Amount: -$290.79 USD
Your Transaction ID: *****************
Case Number: PP-***-***-***
Buyer's Transaction ID: *****************
What to do next
To keep things moving toward resolution, your participation is essential.
As we look into the case, we may ask you for more information and you'll
have a limited time to reply. Please respond quickly so you don’t risk
losing a possible refund.

We'll try to decide this case within 30 days, but if the case is
complicated, it may take a little longer.

Of course, we can't guarantee you'll get your money back from the seller,
but we'll give it our best effort. For more information about how PayPal
investigates complaints, please review the User Agreement.



FOUR days later (15 Jan 2010). they sent this email...
Hello Paul Gordon,

We have concluded our investigation into your claim.

Seller's Name: **** *******
Seller's Email: **@****.***
Seller's Transaction ID: *****************

Transaction Date: Dec 6, 2009
Transaction Amount: -$290.79 USD
Your Transaction ID: *****************
Case Number: PP-***-***-***
Buyer's Transaction ID: *****************

You have received a refund via PayPal in the amount of $290.79 USD.

Protection Services Department


I then logged onto PayPal to transfer the amount
back into my checking account. Got this response...
Hello Paul Gordon,

You asked us on Jan 15, 2010 to transfer $290.79 USD from your PayPal account to your bank account. We are processing your request.

The transfer normally takes 3-4 business days.
The money should be in your bank account by Jan 19, 2010.

We will email you if any problems occur with your request.



Checking on my account today (17 Jan 2001) disclosed...
Transaction Details

Withdraw Funds to a Bank Account
(Unique Transaction ID #*****************)

Total Amount: -$290.79 USD
Fee amount:         $0.00 USD
Net amount:   -$290.79 USD

Date: Jan 15, 2010
Time: 21:03:39 CST
Status: Completed

Subject: Bank Account
Transfer to: ****** (Confirmed) x-****

In much less time than they estimated, it's all done. I've got my money back, and as I promised that seller, THIS IS THE END OF IT.

I note several things from all this.

1) Like many careful business, they allow themselves a safety factor by giving conservative estimates on how quickly they can resolve things. Usually it happens much quicker than they say.

2) Although the rapidity with which funds exit my checking account raises hope that lightspeed may NOT be an ultimate barrier, movement in the other direction takes days. They say that banking rules are responsible for this but, tragically, I've gotten a bit cynical in my old age. I can't help thinking that interest on funds they are holding may have a bit to do with it.

3) When buying anything from eBay, or the many other places that accept PayPal, that is definitely the way to go. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

End of commercial for PayPal.


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Anatomy of an eBay Transaction...

Six years ago, when I was in better financial shape, I bought a Panasonic DVD recorder, which I used a lot and liked very much. But, lately it has been making poor recordings, with errors that make them play unreliably (if at all). I have stuff on its' hard drive, and other stuff on DVD Ram disks that are probably playable only on a similar machine.

One of the options I tried was to search eBay for an identical machine in good shape. I found one, and bought it (via PayPal) after the second email below (that replied to the first)

I have bought many things on eBay, without problems. They have a system where buyer and seller can provide feedback on the transaction (positive-neutral-negative), and a short comment. Normally, it works very well, but is no proof against someone changing after a long record of good feedback.

THIS is the result of such a change:
(His name altered to avoid preempting some of my options)
From: paulgordon1827
To: ebaymembername
Sent Date: Dec-05-09 17:12:58 PST
Subject: You've received a question about your eBay item, Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Dear ebaymembername,

What is the condition of this item?
Has it seen extensive use?

The reason I ask is that I currently have one that I bought new six years ago, and have made hundreds of dvd-r recordings with it.

Lately, the recordings often have errors.

It may be just wearing out and I'm looking at replacement as an alternative to having it shipped somewhere for an overhaul (if that's even practical anymore).

An identical model (such as yours) would allow me to transfer stuff from its' hard drive to yours, via the dvd-ram disks I also have.

So, I guess I'm wondering how much potential life remains in yours.


- paulgordon1827

From: eBay Member: ebaymembername [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 00:35
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Dear paulgordon1827,

I actually never hooked this unit up, so it's unused.

- ebaymembername

From: payment@paypal.com [mailto:payment@paypal.com] On Behalf Of service@paypal.com
Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 11:08
To: Paul Gordon
Subject: Receipt for your PayPal payment to ebaymembername

Hello Paul Gordon,

You sent a payment of $290.79 USD to ebaymembername (**@*****.***)
Thanks for using PayPal.
From: eBay Seller: ebaymembername [mailto:auctionwarranty@squaretrade.com]
Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 17:57
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: Your eBay DVD Player purchase: get year(s) of care-free coverage

SquareTrade is offering a limited-time 20% off your warranty. For just $31.19, you are protected from losing your $275 item if mechanical or electrical failures happen during normal use.
From: eBay Seller: ebaymembername [mailto:auctionwarranty@squaretrade.com]
Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 22:22
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: Your coverage options on your eBay item: Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

SquareTrade is offering a limited-time 20% off your warranty. For just $31.19, you are protected from losing your $275 item.

From: eBay Member: paulgordon1827 [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 23:06
To: eBay Member: ebaymembername
Subject: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #************

Dear ebaymembername,

I was going to ask if this item had been shipped yet, and, if so, can it be tracked.


Today (Mon, 12/14/2009) I just received my SECOND email request for purchasing a warranty on it (the first was on Dec 6).

Is this a pre-requisite for having it shipped to me?

Does it mean it hasn't even been shipped yet, and is awaiting purchase of this warranty?

- paulgordon1827

From: eBay Member: paulgordon1827 [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Saturday, December 19, 2009 23:05
To: eBay Member: ebaymembername
Subject: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #************

Dear ebaymembername,

Do you have any idea where it is?
Can it be tracked?

- paulgordon1827

From: hisrealname [mailto:hisrealemail]
Sent: Sunday, December 20, 2009 13:17
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: Re: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #************

I will investigate this morning and get back to you

hisrealname-via Blackberry

From: eBay Seller: ebaymembername [mailto:auctionwarranty@squaretrade.com]
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2009 18:11
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: Last reminder to cover your eBay Purchase: Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Final Reminder of Warranty Purchase Option
This is your final reminder of the option to get 20% off a warranty on your recent eBay purchase.

From: eBay Member: paulgordon1827 [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 22:49
To: eBay Member: ebaymembername
Subject: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #************

Dear ebaymembername,

Where we are...

Dec 06 - I buy, online, the DVD Recorder described in the subject, and pay in full (via PayPal) $275.00 + $15.79 (S&H) for a total of $290.79, and am told that this item will be sent, by UPS Ground, with an estimated delivery date of Dec 10 to 17.

Dec 14 - I send you a message asking if it has been sent yet, and if it can be tracked (my UPS experience is that delivery typically occurs within in the mid-range of their estimates).

Dec 19 - I send message asking if you?ve any idea of where it is, and if it can be tracked.

Dec 20 - Got your email stating you will investigate and get back to me.

Dec 23 - So far, no item, not one word. I am trying to live on early-retirement social security, and the meager earnings of a part-time job. $290.79 is NOT pocket change to me, but I have paid it (and PayPal confirms that you have received it).

Considering what I've just laid out above, if YOU were in MY place, what would you be considering right now?

- paulgordon1827

From: eBay Member: ebaymembername [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Friday, December 25, 2009 14:58
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Dear paulgordon1827,

I regret the delay. A highly unusual set of circumstances has beset this purchase fulfillment that I won't bore you with as excuses. It's entirely my fault.

I havd two options for you-
I will issue a full refund plus $25.00 for your trouble.
I will ship the item tomorrow-it was not shipped as I thought it had been-but at half the price we agreed, plus shipping-as liquidated damages for not keeping up my end of the bargain. Please advise.

- ebaymembername

From: eBay Member: paulgordon1827 [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Friday, December 25, 2009 17:41
To: eBay Member: ebaymembername
Subject: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Dear ebaymembername,

Sir: I offer a third option to you.

If the item was only DELAYED in shipping, and has NOT been damaged; that is if it is still in the condition you originally reported to me before I bought it, then go ahead and ship it, in a manner that can be tracked, and we'll adhere to the ORIGINAL deal. No price adjustment necessary.

If the delay was caused by some event that may have damaged it, then I'll go for your first option.

If the only screw-up was failure to get it shipped, I can forgive that. (Please keep this to yourself, but I too am capable of screwing up on occasion. :-)

Merry Christmas, and please keep me informed.

- paulgordon1827

From: hisrealname [mailto:hisrealemail]
Sent: Friday, December 25, 2009 17:52
To: gordonp@airmail.net
Subject: Re: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Thank you-you have a deal. It will ship tomorrow. I'll upgrade the shipping speed at my expense. Happy Holidays.

hisrealname-via Blackberry

From: Paul Gordon [mailto:gordonp@airmail.net]
Sent: Friday, December 25, 2009 18:06
To: 'hisrealname'
Subject: RE: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Message received and understood.
Over, and out.
Have a good one. :-)

From: Paul Gordon [mailto:gordonp@airmail.net]
Sent: Monday, January 04, 2010 20:35
To: 'hisrealname'
Subject: RE: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

Sir: That was TEN days ago.

1) HAS it been shipped?
2) WHEN was it shipped?
3) HOW was it shipped?
4) Have you a tracking number?

From: eBay Member: paulgordon1827 [mailto:member@ebay.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2010 09:30
To: eBay Member: ebaymembername
Subject: Message from eBay Member Regarding Item #************

Dear ebaymembername,

Today (Wednesday, 01/06/2010) marks one solid MONTH since I paid in full for an item I have not received.

12 days since you acknowledged failure to ship and promised it WOULD be shipped by a faster method.

I would really appreciate at least some information today.

Thank you.


From: Paul Gordon [mailto:gordonp@airmail.net]
Sent: Saturday, January 09, 2010 16:55
To: 'hisrealname'
Subject: RE: You've received an answer to your question about item Panasonic DMR-HS2 (40 GB) DVD Recorder

My patience has been exhausted.

After you acknowledged (On Dec 25, 2009) failure to ship my merchandise, I forgave you and offered you another chance; which you accepted and in which you promised to ship the item THE NEXT DAY, and BY A FASTER METHOD.

To date (Saturday, Jan 09, 2010) NOTHING. No merchandise, not one word, nada.

Repeated queries as to IF, WHEN and HOW it was shipped, and if it can be tracked, have been ignored.

Your reluctance (or inability) to answer those simple questions raises all sorts of alarms, as does the recent appearance of a negative feedback from another who also has yet to see his merchandise and still another who, while giving positive feedback, thanked you "for your honesty" making me wonder what happened there.

What the Hell has happened to you? Your behavior is completely inconsistent with your feedback record prior to this transaction. (For the money involved, you can bet I checked THAT before buying this item.)

The sum involved is not pocket change to one in my circumstances. You have hurt me, Sir, severely, and if you harbor some illusion that by simply ignoring me, I will get tired, give up, and just let it go, then Sir, you have mistaken my nature absolutely.

If I can get some solid information about when and how it was shipped, and I receive it soon and deem it satisfactory, THAT WILL BE THE END OF IT.

Or, if it has NOT been shipped, please refund (via PayPal) the full amount of $290.79 (note, at the moment, I'm not requesting a single cent more than what I am rightfully due), and when it is in my account, THAT WILL BE THE END OF IT.

Otherwise, I have not even BEGUN to consider my options. Letting go just ain't one of them.


And, that's where it stands, at the moment. I DO have several options, especially since I know where he can be reached, so we'll just have to see what commences.

UPDATE - The next post ( An Ode to PayPal... ) is a follow-up to this and has the resolution.


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