A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Follow The $$$

During the last US presidential elections, I received plenty of grief for supporting Ralph Nader from my Democrat friends. No matter how I tried to convince them that the Democrats were just as guilty in the crimes of gutting the American working class and tainting American politics, they held their ground and claimed the Democrats were the party that would save America from the clutches of the Republican war-mongers.

A few years down the line, it seems that besides not doing a single thing to stop the Bush administration’s rampage on America, (see judge appointments, war funding, tax cuts) they have been quietly laughing all the way to the bank. Yep, you guessed it, the Democrats are making some big time cash in a war in they can’t decide to support or oppose.

When you want to find out who is winning a war, just follow the $$$.

Here is a nice place to start:

Click on Iraq/Afghanistan Contracts: A comprehensive examination of who won contracts to do business in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's like a real life Syiriana of who's who in politics and business. Apparently Senator Feinstein’s husband Richard Blum has racked in millions of dollars from Perini, a civil infrastructure construction company, of which the billionaire investor wheels 75 percent of the voting share.

For more on the Senator do some research yourself or check out BrickBurner for a great blog on Feinstein. While at BrickBurner, snoop around; it's a great site.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A little blatant self-promotion never hurt anyone. Right? But fear not my faithful lemurs, I will soon contribute to this venue as well. Garage Door Opener was great. in the mean time, when you are done here, cruise on over to the flame: Intrepid Flame

Garage door opener

No matter how far away from home I am, I am afraid of pushing the button on the garage door opener. Somehow, miles and miles away, my garage door could open. That's why whenever the button gets pushed I always push it a second time, to make sure it is closed. But then I think, what if it didn't open on the first push, but then it opened on the second? Before I know it, I've pushed the thing, you know, ten, twelve times. Then I remember, oh, this garage door opener was for my old house; I don't have a garage now. In fact, I don't even have a house. Who are you people, and why are you trying to take my opener away from me?

He's not dead, he's just my hero.

Far too often, the prettiest things grace us with their presence for an instant. Then they leave. Often to ESPN's Baseball Tonight.

Such is the case with one John Kruk. Also known as One Nut Kruk.

He's still alive, but I thought an ode to Monsieur Lefticle would only be appropriate as we approach spring training and the delight of MLB Baseball.

Perhaps Mr. Kruk's best season was in 1993: .316 AVG ; .905 OPS ; 111 BB; 100 R; and most impressive for a man of his huskitude, 6 SB.

There is even a buffalo wing eatery in Providence, RI that boasts a mural on its wall depicting Senhor Kruk in the dugout gnawing on a chicken wing. And that's how he would've liked it, certainly.

I am so very excited about the upcoming MLB season. We've pretty much decided to spring for the MLB season ticket or whatever it is called. Oh yeah: every night, picking the best pitching matchups that never get televised (think Roy Halladay vs. Rich Harden) and just watching them go at it. It will also help because otherwise we would only be watching our beloved Cubs BLOW ANOTHER 8TH INNING LEAD to the Pirates or some shit.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Just remember...

...there's no race problem in Europe like there is here in America.


Let this happen to you

So it's Sunday morning, you're all congested and shit from some vicious head cold that's plaguing your body, and you just played a really shitty hand of poker where you went all in on an open-ended straight draw with 6-6, board was 3-4-5, and other dude had 6-7.

What do you do?

Well, you obviously look for solace in Dish Network. I finished watching Sweden eke out a victory in OT over Finland (great game), and looked at the next channel below channel 2. Of course, it was channel 9415, Free Speach TV. This is the same channel that has the Democracy Now! woman who is a little too real for me. But they had an awesome program (I think it was called "War of Mass Deception") on the US media and their role in the Iraq invasion. Pretty fascinating stuff. It reminded me of Control Room, but this time taking all the major networks to task. Really explained a lot about how and why the war came into our living rooms. It was certainly a lot of information: after all, they covered about 2 years in 2 hours. But I look forward to more programming like this. Of course it was leftist, but once you see a show like this, you realize how utterly ridiculous all the "liberal media" outcries really are. Anyway, check out a program on it sometime; the website is here, though it really doesn't do or say much so I'm just adding it for a source should you need to know it exists.

Late Night Question:

Ok, you're playing Ice Hockey on the NES... do you take?

A) 4 fat guys
B) 2 Fat guys 1 skinny guy, 1 medium guy
C) 2 Fat guys 2 skinny guys

Clearly you need at least two fat guys to take down the USSR as Poland or Sweden... but what's the real utility calculation of medium guys vs. skinny guys?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ugandan President wins reelection

You know, I've always had a problem with this because I've always sort of liked Yoweri Museveni. I mean, I don't know if I could have a beer with him or anything but I've always generally approved.

Ok, yeah, clearly a dictator. But he generally doesn't kill his own people, he implemented the massive and successful campaign for safe sex against the AIDs virus (where democratically elected Mbeki won't even admit HIV causes AIDs and has a panel looking into that important science), he allows local politics (at least in the Bugandan south) to be relatively free, supported the Tutsi invasion force that interrupted the Rwandan genociders, led the rebels who took power from the heavyweight champion of Uganda Idi Amin and he has his troops fighting against the most disgusting rebels perhaps in the entire world, Koney's Lord's Resistance Army. All in all mostly a regime I could get behind, besides the nasty dalliances in Congo to steal diamonds and whatnot.

So I'm not sure how I feel about this. Seems like it's better than Nigerian democracy or something...?

Take the Bush quiz!

Sorry for the not-so-new posting, but I ran across this after I bought an old New Yorker at the public library for 50 cents. These quizzes never get old, and never cease to make my entire mandible dislocate itself. Obviously written just after hurricane Katrina hit.


Issue of 2005-10-31
Posted 2005-10-24

1. Who is Ben Marble?

(a) The Pentagon official who said that George W. Bush’s staged videoconference with U.S. troops in Iraq made him “livid.”
(b) The Texas liquor-authority agent who arrested George W. Bush’s intoxicated nephew John for resisting arrest.
(c) The former White House speechwriter who said that Harriet Miers, the Supreme Court nominee, told him that George W. Bush was the most brilliant man she’d ever met.
(d) The Gulfport, Mississippi, onlooker who twice interrupted Dick Cheney’s conversation with reporters to tell Cheney, “Go fuck yourself.”

2. True or false: During Sky News Ireland’s coverage of George W. Bush’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina, the network paraphrased his comments with the caption “BUSH: ONE OF THE WORST DISASTERS TO HIT THE U.S.”

3. To what was George W. Bush referring when he said, “The best place for the facts to be done is by somebody who’s spending time investigating it”?

(a) The investigation into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s stock sale.
(b) The investigation into the role of the White House aide Karl Rove in the Valerie Plame case.
(c) The indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on money-laundering charges.
(d) The indictment of the former Bush Administration budget official David Safavian on charges of lying and obstruction of justice.

4. What did Dick Cheney say when asked why he didn’t cut his Wyoming fly-fishing vacation short until several days after Katrina hit New Orleans?

(a) “Go fuck yourself.”
(b) “I didn’t stop smoking until after my fourth heart attack, so some things take a while to sink in with me.”
(c) “I came back four days early.”
(d) “The trout were biting big-time.”

Who said what about stranded flood victims?

5. Barbara Bush.
6. Wolf Blitzer.
7. Bill O’Reilly.

(a) “So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway. This is working very [chuckling] well for them.”
(b) That many of them were “drug-addicted.”
(c) “So many of these people, almost all of them that we see, are so poor, and they are so black.”

8. While speaking to hurricane victims in Mississippi, Laura Bush twice mistakenly referred to the storm as:

(a) Catalina. (c) Condoleezza.
(b) Corina. (d) Karenina.

9. What was notable about the memo sent by FEMA’s director, Michael Brown, to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff hours after the flooding of New Orleans began?

(a) His repeated references to FEMA as the “Federal Emergency Management Association” instead of “Agency.”
(b) The lack of urgency in his request that a thousand workers be sent to the region “within forty-eight hours,” and his suggestion that those workers bring cash, because “A.T.M.s may not be working.”
(c) His prediction that the disaster could be “just the thing” to lead an “already shaky” George W. Bush to start drinking again.
(d) His suggestion that the agency see about setting up “foster barns” for the region’s Arabian horses.

10. Who is Norris Alderson?

(a) The Food and Drug Administration official who resigned in protest of the agency’s refusal to allow over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill.
(b) The veterinarian with no experience on women’s-health issues who was initially named to run the F.D.A.’s Office of Women’s Health.
(c) The lawyer who was named to run the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency despite having minimal experience in immigration, customs, or law enforcement.
(d) The Manhattan shopper who confronted Condoleezza Rice at Ferragamo, where she was spending thousands of dollars as the situation in New Orleans was deteriorating, and demanded, “How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless?”

11. Three of these statements were made by George W. Bush. Which one did Michael Chertoff make?

(a) “One of the things that people want us to do here is to play a blame game.”
(b) “So please give cash money to organizations that are directly involved in helping save lives—save the life who had been affected by Hurricane Katrina.”
(c) “Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater.”
(d) “We look forward to hearing your vision, so we can more better do our job.”

Who did what?

12. Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).
13. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
14. Representative Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).
15. Representative Richard Baker (R-La.).
16. Representative Tom DeLay (R-Texas).
17. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

(a) Said that God “finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans.”
(b) Complained about the people who refused to evacuate, and suggested that “there may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving.”
(c) Said of Dick Cheney, “I would like to believe he’s sick rather than just mean and evil.”
(d) Said that if anyone, including George W. Bush, spoke another word trying to blame local officials for the magnitude of the disaster, “I might likely have to punch him. Literally.”
(e) Approached three newly homeless children in the Astrodome and said, “Now, tell me the truth, boys, is this kind of fun?”
(f) Said of George W. Bush’s photo op in San Diego as New Orleans flooded, “The President was enjoying the day; he was strumming a guitar. I don’t deny him the pleasures of office, but people were drowning.”

18. What did George W. Bush say to reassure people about Harriet Miers?

(a) “She’s the most brilliant woman I’ve ever met.”
(b) “She’s got the best heart of anyone I know, just a super heart.”
(c) “She helped hide the bodies in my National Guard record.”
(d) “She is plenty bright.”

19. What prompted George W. Bush’s response “I’ve got a life to live, and will do so”?

(a) A question about the propriety of taking a five-week vacation when U.S. soldiers were dying in Iraq.
(b) A question about why he was out bike-riding instead of talking to the war protester Cindy Sheehan.
(c) A question about why he flew to California instead of Louisiana after he heard about the New Orleans flooding.
(d) A question about the propriety of wasting so much fuel on trips to New Orleans that had no purpose but to make the public think he was in charge.

20. What did George W. Bush say that the government had to do in response to the New Orleans flooding?

(a) “We’ve got to solve problems. We’re problem-solvers.”
(b) “We’ve got to do the work. We’re work-doers.”
(c) “We’ve got to fire Brownie. We’re Brownie-firers.”
(d) “We’ve got to get rid of that water. We’re water-getter-ridders. Of.”


(1) d, (2) True, (3) b, (4) c, (5) a, (6) c, (7) b, (8) b, (9) b, (10) b, (11) c, (12) b, (13) d, (14) c, (15) a, (16) e, (17) f, (18) d, (19) b, (20) a.

"With every decision you make, ask yourself: is this good for America?"

Thanks for the invitation bro. Sorry to start my first post with politics, but so be it.

From deep inside the what the fuck files, I flip by Fox News and am stopped by four pasty white talking heads (one of them is Oliver North) apparently discussing the prominently displayed prompt: "Is Civil War in Iraq good for the US?"

Friday, February 24, 2006

Radio feed/podcast

I am quite excited about this upcoming weekend. Not only is it Mardi Gras, but also I will be busy working on the blog to include an embedded radiocast to stream some of my favorite tracks on TVL. It looks easy; I just need to go to my personal computer to upload the songs from my library. Further, I hope to get the podcast hosting up and running. This also looks fairly simple--there are tons of little RSS/XML programs (still a little shady on what they actually mean/do) that seem like they will do the trick. Dylan edited about 6 episodes of "Peace Corps Mozambique tales" which are ready (in MP4 format and everythang) to podcast. You'll certainly know about them if you are on here.
On other fronts, I will be working on completing my memoirs from Mozambique. They are technically finished, in a sense, but I still am working on adding footnoted annotations and also including a glossary of "Mozambicanismos." Many fellow volunteers helped out quite a bit on the glossary bit--and, technically, the memoir bit as well--so it's been a nice sort of Community Content Based Initiative [trigger insider Peace Corps chortle here].
We missed out seeing Capote in Galveston (amazing that it even came here) but we were hoping to try to go into Houston to the swanky theatre to catch either Good Night and Good Luck or Match Point. Chances are, however, we will be lazy and see neither, instead settling for some sweet WPT action on Saturday and some even sweeter Cops marathon on Sunday (actually I don't really know if there is a marathon Sunday, but I do know it is the day of the Lord, and it would be only fitting to have Jesus's "lil' soldiers" on all day, reminding us of His omnipotence). We were hoping to have our neighbors over for some grilled meats this weekend, but we'll have to see if both of us are feeling up to snuff.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Cool, clean, Sani-refreshing.

Cooties and refreshment. The concept was never made more clear than in this piece. Marcel Duchamp, Fountain

Hydration vs. cooties: a risk-assessment.

I gotta say, there certainly is something special about ye olde bubbler/drinking fountain. Doesn't it just remind you of hot summer days, invariably turning that spigot only to be tempted by the dribble drabble that slowly seeps from the rusty opening? Do you put your mouth close to the faucet (what the hell do they call those things anyway?), risking eminent cootie infestation? God knows Lisa Jane, perhaps the single most cootiful 2nd grader in all of Cheeseboro Elementary, had slobbered all over the dastardly thing. But, oh Lord, if that sweet nectar of luke-warm, ironized water isn't worth the peril.

Thanks to Jefe for the invite to the VL. It's my hope that together, we'll learn, grow, and live, dammit, just live. Over the next several years and as we spend summer vacations together (including the Caribbean cruise Jefe and I have planned for spring 2007 - Jefe, call me!) I hope they'll be no secrets between us. My Social Security number is 450-32-0907. And now, my first post:

I find it very disconcerting when, while drinking from the water fountain just outside the public bathrooms, there is a sudden loss of pressure as a toilet flushes inside.


Friday, February 17, 2006

St. Arnold's brewery

Damn this the shizznit! So last weekend we drive through the endless wasteland known as Houston and its suburbs for a few hours. We finally get off at the part of town where all the billboards are in Spanish and large trucks are pulling in and out of industrial complexes. Somewhat auspicious. Once we got there, we stood in a foyer for a while, surrounded by a mix of 20-something socialites, middle management types, and young Texas dudes. (Some guy had a shirt that said "BIG ROOSTER," then a picture, and underneath the picture it said "(cock)." Yes, I got it without the legend, dude. But thanks for thinking of me.) Anyway, we go inside and it quickly becomes apparant that this is a weekly ritual. Ok, good sign. There is a 15 minute overview of beer and the brewery (which was well done: informative and humorous) and then the floodgates open. Everybody gets in line for the free beer tasting. When you enter, you get 4 free tokens. If you have your own St. Arnold's pint glass ($5 at the gift counter), they fill the thing up at least 2/3 of the way. If you don't, you get a nice 6-8 oz. lasting glass. And so I drank with a bunch of other strangers also, with the atmosphere turning more and more party-like as the afternoon wore on. Great beer, free (!), and a fantastic atmosphere. In fact, it seemed to double as a sort of "singles-meetup" place as the day wore on. And yet again the paradigm is verified: Only in Texas!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Paris Hilton and fur

Recently, it seems Paris Hilton was the recipient of some unwanted attention; namely, she was pelted (along with some guy wearing a Sgt. Pepper's style tunic) with flour by animal rights activists. I'll be the first to admit: anytime a "celebrity" of the likes of Paris gets pelted with baking particulate, I'm the first one to laugh. However, the episode did raise some ethical issues that always lurk somewhere in the minds of those who are in some way associated with biology/biological research. I agree that wearing fur as fashion is pretty sick and wrong. It seems like anytime an animal is sacrificed in order for somebody to look good, that just ain't right.

But I have worked in places that use animal subjects in experiments. As much as possible, I have tried to stay away from those areas where the experiments are taking place because, honestly, it disturbs me. I know that anesthesia is used, they don't feel a thing, etc. But it is still creepy.

The other side of the story (and there always is one) is this: beyond the bloodiness, these animals are being sacrificed in order to better treat burn vicitms, people who suffer brain injuries, smoke inhalation patients, and so on. Of course, that justification never trumps the immediate viceral reaction one (or at least I) feels when seeing rats with sutured skulls and sheep with extensive burns and wires sticking out of their skin.

So I end up in a middle ground: my gut says it's wrong (or at least disturbing) but my mind can justify the need for these experiments. I know I've heard plenty of doctors/professors spout something to the effect of, "Those card carrying PETA members sure get grateful real quick when their lives are saved from a treatment discovered because of animal testing." But sometimes, the images and (imagined) cries of pain just burn themselves into your brain; no amount of rationalization can cut that bitter taste in one's mouth.

Friday, February 10, 2006

random gibberish

Well it's been an interesting day. First off, it actually rained today, which is certainly a rarity here in Tejas. Second, I'd been following the Senate hearings on the Katrina debacle. Apparantly, everyone dropped the fucking ball on that one. You can read about it in much more depth on NYT or AP than I can provide, but let's just say it was the reaction itself was catastrophic. No mandatory evacuation announced until SUNDAY; Brown calls the White House Monday night to report that the shit has totally hit the fan, contradicting their statements that they didn't even know about it until Tuesday night or something; no contigency plan ("10% ready in August); no supplies to provide survivors. How would we ever be able to stop an attack on our soil again? Oh, that's right, thus the pre-emptive strike...now it all makes sense.

Anyway, so I got worked up about that and went to lunch with some "colleagues." I started talking about the hearings, and after I got done, one person at the table started his diatribe against, well, blacks and New Orleans. Not only are they "lazy" (his words), but they decided to live in the path of the hurricane so they should be the ones to bail themselves out of this mess, not us "hard-working blue-blooded Americans, Goddammit!" I got pissed but realized that this would never turn into a discussion--he knew he was right, and damn if he wasn't gonna try to show the err in my logic. So I shut my mouth to not cause a scene.

So I've been thinking about his argument. He's tired of "bailing out" them lazy sons-of-bitches who live a life of leisure along the Gulf of Mexico. There's a lot of problems inherent in that observation in and of itself. But let's extend this thought. He doesn't want his tax dollars going to issues that don't really have anything to do with him and don't directly benefit him. Huh. Ummmmmmm can somebody say "farming subsidies?" Sure they're a hard-working, morally righteous, mean-and-potato lot. But how in God's name does paying a bunch of farmers to produce food that is not needed by anyone help us? That's "our" tax dollars going to benefit, essentially, people who make a totally symbolic product. It helps no one. Yet it's that illusion of the hard working farmer that everyone doesn't even question. And of course, the votes that this demographic represents. You know they all vote. A valuable group.

But let's extend this further: he's from the midwest. I wonder how he feels about all his hard-earned tax dollars going straight into the Dept. of Homeland Security's coffers? Does this bother him, or is it okay because it is ostensibly to fight terrorists (though one might argue that it simply allows hurricane to reach their maximum destructive course, a la NOLA)? But why should his tax dollars be used to fund anti-terrorist activities if his town in rural Illinois would never be targeted? How you like them apples? In the same way that your tax dollars are "wasted" and spent on coastal communities, they are also "wasted" and spent on large urban cities.

I guess what really irks me in the end, is not only how common this opinion must be in the United States, but how it reflects such a messed up view of governance and nationhood. You can't just ignore certain factions because they're imperfect; they still are part of the country. I guess this is falling on deaf ears, but I just realized how messed up this place really fucking is. I need to move back to Africa. At least people there are civilized.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Randy swigs beer from a Crazy Horse tall boy
Wrapped tight in a paper bag
The odd jobs always find him:
Washing bicycles, detailing cars.
“I’m a hustler,” he told me
One night, while I smoked a cigarette
And sucked down a beer.
“You got any smokes?”
His white towel
Spilled out his back pocket;
I gave him five dollars.

Early one morning,
I tried to buy weed.
“No problem.
But I’ll be needin’ the money first.”
He came back 15 minutes later
Handed me a half-empty baggie.
“They goin’ to get the rest.
Up Texas City way.”
Later, Randy told me the rest:
“Shit, they got busted.
Cops took ‘em down.”
I never saw my weed or my money.
But Randy still asks me
For a cigarette and a cold one.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Wooster Collective Still Kicking Ass

Wooster Collective is a great site featuring street art that makes you stop and think.

note: While I can totally appreciate Jefe's new direction, I have my own blog where I will be "blowing your motherfucking minds into oblivion", so I will continue to use this space as my supplemental sounding board. Good luck and I look forward to hearing you rant. This new Lemur does not sound so vapid.


Alright fuck all that bullshit. This is the new and improved Vapid Lemur. That's right; no more pussyfooting around, getting on my indie high-horse trying to talk up some obscure artist that I and 550,000 other obsessive-compulsives are currently fawning over. No Sir-ey. This is it. This is going to just blow your motherfucking minds into oblivion. Time to batten down the hatches.

Time for some action
just a fraction of friction
I've got the clearance
to run the interference.

It's time to get down and dirty, to slather our arms with laquer and construct something, anything, that is different and worth your time. Yes indeed. Time to get down to fucking bidness.