National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.There is no rule that your novel must include a wise-cracking robot, but I think that can improve any story.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Protective CoverThis entertaining and educational short should be shown before every R-rated movie.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Iran has an economy the size of Finland's and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran.Planet Bush.
And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order?
What planet are we on?
And over the last six years, Zakaria and his colleagues in the corporate press were instrumental in relocating us -- and our fellow Earthlings -- to this hostile world.
I hope that Zakaria's piece on Iran is a sign that the more thoughtful members of the media are ready to help re-terraform Planet Bush.
The dominant issues are Government Ethics and Corruption, Very Important to 72% of likely voters; the Economy (68%); and National Security and the War on Terror (68%) ***Tip for 2008: Update your insurance policy and stock up on non-perishable goods and ammo, because the only way for the GOP to win the White House is for the "War on Terror"TM to become front and center.
Republicans are accorded preference on only one issue, National Security and the War on Terror. Forty-five percent (45%) trust Republicans more on national security while 41% trust Democrats more. Historically, over the past generation or so, Republicans have typically enjoyed a larger edge on national security issues. However, during the current election cycle, the parties have consistently been close to parity on the topic.When your only tool is a hammer you tend to see every problem as a nail, so expect the Republicans to pound away at the "War on Terror"TM despite their slim lead on the issue.
On the economy, Democrats have a modest advantage of 46% to 41%. That’s down from a 12-point edge a month ago.Democrats -- other than John Edwards -- need to start talking to middle-class Americans about the crisis in the mortgage/housing market and what they intend to do about it. Far more Americans will lose their houses to foreclosure than will lose their houses in the California wildfires -- a new report from Congress’s Joint Economic Committee predicts that there will be two million foreclosures on subprime mortgages by the end of next year -- but because it will happen more slowly and over a wider expanse of the country, it is more difficult to grasp it's magnitude.
But that's no excuse. Democrats are supposed to be the party that can understand numbers and recognize people in need. It's time to start acting like it.
Democrats have a bigger "lead," 38% to 30%, on government corruption. But even when one party seems to have more big scandals in the news, voters and especially unaffiliated voters lean toward a pox-on-both-your-houses attitude. This month, almost half of unaffiliateds (47%) don’t trust either party on the corruption issue.The Democratic leadership has done a terrible job with this issue. Start having oversight hearings on every aspect of the Iraq War and the billions of dollars poured down that rat hole. Not only will it justify a perception of the Democrats as the party of good government, it would increase Americans support for bringing the troops home.
One of the reasons Republican Presidential candidates are so eager to talk about Senator Hillary Clinton is that the issue environment is so treacherous for the GOP. While the country is evenly divided in its opinion of the former First Lady and current Presidential candidate, there are few issues where Republicans are trusted as much as Democrats. At the moment, voters trust Democrats more than Republicans on nine out of the ten issues tracked by Rasmussen Reports. This tilt toward the Democrats continues a trend of many months.Nine out of ten!
Any other group would be a lock in the next election -- but we're talking about Democrats.
Despite the Republican edge on national security, Democrats are more trusted on the War in Iraq, 45% to 41%. As an issue the war is Very Important to 63%.Americans trust Democrats on the Iraq War because there is a perception that the Democrats are more likely to get us the hell out of Iraq. But continued war-funding and mealy mouthed half-measures could easily change that view.
Democrats have a five-point edge of 41% to 36% on the issue of Immigration, Very Important to 54%. In early August, not long after the death in Congress of a bitterly debated immigration reform bill, Immigration was Very Important to 58%. Democrats then had a ten-percent margin over Republicans on the issue.Someone forward the results of this poll to Rahm Emanuel ASAP!
Even on Taxes, which most voters would like to see cut, Democrats are preferred by a margin of 45% to 40%. It's Very Important to 55%.It is way past time for the Democrats to make an issue of, and then repeal, Bush's tax cuts for the hyper-rich.
The Democrats have double-digit advantages on Education (48% to 35%), Social Security (49% to 33%), and especially Health Care (53% to 32%). Education is Very Important to 58%. Social Security and Health Care are Very Important to 61% and 66%, respectively.No surprises here. So I hope to see another S-CHIP funding bill back on the President's desk by Thanksgiving. And then by New Years... and then by Valentines Day... and then by Easter...
Last month, when Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton was making headlines with her plans for Health Care reform, Democrats had a 51% to 35% advantage on the issue. So the Democrats' advantage has widened.
Democrats have an eight-point advantage (43% to 35%) on abortion, Very Important as an electoral issue to just 38%.Say it with me: Safe, Rare and Legal.
Overall, the Republicans have only a narrow edge or no edge on issues like Taxes and National Security, where they were once strongly favored. But the Democrats enjoy unambiguously wide margins on their own signatures issues, like Social Security and Health Care.Long story short: The Democrats have Nine Winning Issues to talk about, so it's time to stop letting the "War on Terror"TM monopolize their agenda.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
A little while ago, I tuned in to CNN and saw Wolf Blitzer interviewing someone, and there were two smaller boxes on the screen. In one, they just had footage of raging fires consuming homes in Southern California. There was no information about this being given. The box was just for people who wanted to see homes burning down.Maybe if everyone who read this blog went to Mr. Evanier's site and subscribed to his RSS feed, I could beat this compulsion to cut-and-paste his posts.
The second box was promoting Anderson Cooper's upcoming special on Global Warming. It was filled with shots of glaciers melting, water rising, drought-stricken land, etc.
In the main scene, Blitzer was discussing the War in Iraq and the latest casualty figures for American troops and Iraqi civilians.
And then along the bottom, there was a crawl telling us that portions of New Orleans that had been rebuilt since Katrina have been destroyed by the latest flooding.
I watched it all for about three minutes and then came to the following conclusion: The greatest threat facing us today is that Barack Obama doesn't wear an American flag lapel pin.
A regular SCAM correspondent compared it to a politician being killed by a mob of Smurfs.
But as I told him, Deputy Mayor Bajwa was not attacked by westernized organ-grinder monkeys, decked out in jaunty vests with matching caps, although that does create a striking mental image. No, Bajwa's killers were wild, savage monkeys.
And let me remind you, as I reminded him, that monkeys possess the uniquely lethal combination of 1) Opposable Thumbs, and 2) Fangs.
Thumbs and Fangs!
The deadly combination of thumbs and fangs is a powerful natural arsenal. Can there be any doubt that if tigers had thumbs they would rule the Earth? In fact, the thumb-fang combo is so powerful that God only gave it to two of His creations: Monkeys and Vampires!
Over the centuries, mankind has had great success in containing the threat of vampires. Perhaps the death of Deputy Mayor Bajwa is a sign that it is time to turn our attention to the other member of the Axis of Fanged Primates.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
J.K. Rowling has outed one of the main characters of her best-selling Harry Potter series, telling fans in New York that the wizard Albus Dumbledore, head of Hogwarts school, is gay.Boy, this is really going to irk the Pope.
Speaking at Carnegie Hall on Friday night in her first U.S. tour in seven years, Rowling confirmed what some fans had always suspected -- that she "always thought Dumbledore was gay," reported entertainment Web site E! Online.
Rowling said Dumbledore fell in love with the charming wizard Gellert Grindelwald but when Grindelwald turned out to be more interested in the dark arts than good, Dumbledore was "terribly let down" and went on to destroy his rival.
That love, she said, was Dumbledore's "great tragedy."
"Falling in love can blind us to an extent," she said.
The audience reportedly fell silent after the admission -- then erupted into applause.
SCAM Bonus: Gay Wizard Fun Facts!
Albus Dumbledore, the gay wizard, was played on the screen by straight actor, Richard Harris (left). By contrast, Gandalf, the wizard from the Lord of the Rings films, was played by Ian McKellen, an openly gay actor.
Friday, October 19, 2007
The measure fell 13 votes short of the two-thirds requirement to override the veto. The vote was 273-156, as 54 Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the bill, compared with 53 GOP members who voted for the bill when it first passed. Only two Democrats voted to sustain the veto compared with six who voted against the bill originally.And Bush couldn't be happier.
In the Illinois delegation, all 10 Democrats voted to override. Seven Republicans voted to uphold the veto while two, Reps. Mark Kirk and Ray LaHood, voted against the president.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up.If only Ann Coulter had been joking when she expressed the exact same sentiment.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Appearing on Donny Deutsch's CNBC show, "The Big Idea," on Monday night, columnist/author Ann Coulter suggested that the U.S. would be a better place if there weren't any Jewish people and that they needed to "perfect" themselves into -- Christians.And just what would an America filled exclusively with happy, smiling Christians be like?
It led Deutsch to suggest that surely she couldn't mean that, and when she insisted she did, he said this sounded "anti-Semitic."
Asked by Deutsch whether she wanted to be like "the head of Iran" and "wipe Israel off the Earth," Coulter stated: "No, we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say. ... That's what Christianity is."
Probably more folks like this "perfected Jew" from Springfield:
An Illinois "Christian clown" has been charged with possession of child pornography and sex tourism stemming from a trip to a Filipino orphanage. After several months of investigation A. Paul Carlock Jr., who performs under the name Klutzo, was arrested Tuesday at his home in Springfield.The Lincoln Courrier gives us Carlock's background
The 57-year-old former law enforcement officer and juvenile councilor, was originally detained on June 11 at San Francisco International Airport while returning from the Philippines, where he says he performed at an orphanage called House of Joy. A routine inspection of his digital camera and phone uncovered a variety of images of naked pre-teen boys, according to his arrest report. When questioned about the images, Carlock reportedly told officers, "That's how they live."
Lifestyles aside, three of the boys featured in the photographs later gave sworn statements that Carlock came into their rooms at night and fondled their genitals. They further asserted that he sneaked out when they woke up. Those statements lead to a search warrant, which was executed on Sept. 28 and which uncovered at least "21 movies on six compact discs that contain child pornography," according to the affidavit.
When hired as a Springfield police officer in 1973, Carlock said he previously had been employed by the state of Illinois at DuPage Boys School in Naperville.Carlock's hard-on-crime cover story reminds me of the former chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, Republican Mark Foley.
For four of his years as a Springfield officer, he served as a youth division detective. He was a minister at the Rosewood Heights Nazarene Church in East Alton, where a former church member said Carlock and his wife at the time would invite over kids to watch movies and eat popcorn.
Carlock worked for four years for the Illinois Department of Public Health's Child Health Division. He served as the Grandview Police Department's certified juvenile officer. He volunteered with Big Brother/Big Sister for a short time. He and his most recent wife performed as the clowns "Klutzo" and "Smilee" for more than 10 years, entertaining at children's events and school programs. He was a marriage and family counselor, too.
It is unclear whether Ann Coulter considers Rep. Foley "perfected" like Klutzo Carlock.
Rumors that John Bolton stormed the Oslo offices of the Nobel Prize committee shouting, "I'm with the Bush-Cheney team, and I'm here to stop the count," have not been confirmed.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Mr. Pearlman, currently jailed on federal fraud charges, is fat and white. And now he's denying "inappropriate relationships with many of the young men and boys he made famous."
A corrupt, fat, white guy accused of fondling young men and boys?
Do I really need to tell you Mr. Pearlman is a big Republican donor?
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
And there is something strangely poetic about Wikipedia's recently featured articles: William Shakespeare, Night of the Long Knives and Guinea pigs.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Although others are trafficking in mere rumor and speculation, I can give you the full scoop:
Now that the mystery has been revealed, you can get back to your work.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
A short film by Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men) based on Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.
And what statement about flag lapel pins could possibly be so outrageous that it merits team-coverage by the S-T? This statement from Sen. Barack Obama:
You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest, instead I'm gonna try to tell the American people what I believe what will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.Obama thinks that words and actions are a better indication of patriotism than accessories? Where's the controversy? I don't see it.
But maybe Obama's chief rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, will identify the offense in Obama's statement and use it to her political advantage:
I think there are so many ways that Americans can show their patriotism: wearing a flag pin; flying the flag; pledging allegiance to the flag; talking about the values that are important to America; teaching your children about what a great nation we have; standing up for those values; speaking out; there are just so many ways that one can demonstrate patriotism.Okay... It appears that Sen. Clinton doesn't see the offense either.
I guess we will have to seek the wisdom of the Sun-Times editorial board to understand the controversy raised by Obama's "patriotism means actions not just pins" statement:
We'll concede that pinning a flag to your chest is a phony litmus test of patriotism. But wearing a flag doesn't have to be phony. Just ask any Iraq war veteran, or any soldier from a previous war, or anyone else who believes that the flag represents the best of America. Why not wear one, and wear it proudly, and explain what it means to you? Isn't that better than having your red, white and blue credentials questioned?Great Cesar's Ghost! Are you kidding me?
What a profoundly craven and shameful sentiment. It is wretched and gutless.
Just how gutless?
A simple, historical analogy makes the pathetic, moral cowardice of the Sun-Times' board self-evident.
The Sun-Times circa 1950: "We'll concede that [Sen. McCarthy's loyalty oath] is a phony litmus test of patriotism. *** Why not [take one], and explain what it means to you? Isn't that better than having your red, white and blue credentials questioned?"
Litmus tests of patriotism aren't just phony - they are anti-American.
Some time ago, several chapters back in the dystopian sci-fi novel that is the Bush Presidency, a friend and I were discussing the assent of authoritarianism in America. In particular, we talked about the invidious manner in which quiet submission to authority was taking root in the guise patriotism.
The way that the measure of an American had shifted from the values you espouse and the life you live to how much you resemble an entry in a Fourth of July parade. The way that people who were willing to cast aside the Constitution, the sacred source of any patriotic pride, questioned the loyalty of Americans who did not bear the external trappings patriotism. The creeping expectation that U.S. citizens must bow down before red, white and blue idols, lest they be be considered un-American.
And we lamented that so many cowards sat silently and let it happen.
"Why not?" asks the Sun-Times.
Why not hide behind a cheap, little pin out of fear of "having your red, white and blue credentials questioned"?
Because a man stands up, goddammit.
A man stands up.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Limbaugh compared a U.S. military veteran to a suicide bomber.
But don't take it from a left-wing nut-job like me. Take it from the right-wing nut-jobs at FoxNews.com:
"This is such a blatant use of a valiant combat veteran, lying to him about what I said and then strapping those lies to his belt, sending him out via the media and a TV ad to walk into as many people as he can walk into. This man will always be a hero to this country with everyone. Whoever pumped him full of these lies about what I said and embarrassed him with this ad has betrayed him, they aren't hurting me they are betraying this soldier," Limbaugh said.Mark Silva of your Chicago Tribune notes why this is even more disgusting that it seems at first glance: It was an actual suicide bomber who had attacked Brian McGough, injuring his brain and earning him a Purple Heart.
Brian McGough showed his warrior spirit in his response:
So, Rush Limbaugh called me a "suicide bomber." More slander from the high and mighty sitting in his chair nursing the boils on his ass. I can assure you that I am no suicide bomber and that I can think for myself. ***Rush Limbaugh never spent any time in the trenches, so maybe he never learned the First Rule of Holes.
I spent over a week on a side of a mountain in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda. I received The Bronze Star medal for my actions during that battle. I crossed the border into Iraq with the first wave of the 101st Airborne. I sustained an open head injury on the streets of Mosul after a vehicle borne IED exploded next to the vehicle I was riding in. I have seen the aftermath of a real suicide bomber. I had loved ones who died in the 9/11 attacks. I have friends and colleagues who returned from the war in body bags.
How dare you call someone like me a phony soldier and a suicide bomber? In the commercial I just taped, I told you unless you had the guts to say something to my face, stop telling lies about my service. Well you haven’t had the guts to say it to my face, but I am waiting and the offer is still on the table.
Still, you would think that Limbaugh, who ducked service in Vietnam due to a boil on his butt, would understand that when you have opened a painful and oozing wound, stop picking at it.
From the Huffington Post:
Last week, Rush Limbaugh labeled any American soldier who supports an end to the war in Iraq as "phony." We challenged Limbaugh through an email campaign to invite VoteVets.org's Jon Soltz to his show and repeat these same insults to an Iraq war veteran's face. Over 10,000 people responded and emailed Rush -- but to our disappointment, he has refused to respond to our request.And when the narco-criminal is removed from Armed Forces Radio, he will no doubt claim it was due to a football injury.
It's time to put real pressure on Rush Limbaugh. His show is broadcast on Armed Forces Radio, and this time we are going to go straight to the lifeblood of Rush's show -- Congress. Congress has the power to remove Rush Limbaugh from Armed Forces Radio, and it won't be as easy for elected officials to ignore our call.
Tax dollars are used to fund Armed Forces Radio, and that money is not intended for radio show hosts to spout insults at our soldiers. These "phony soldiers" have simply exercised their right to free speech, as Rush Limbaugh does on a daily basis. Simply because a majority of our troops who return from Iraq disagree with Rush on Bush's failed war policy does not give him the right to dishonor their service.
Unlike Rush Limbaugh, members of Congress cannot casually brush off the concerns of citizens. Since Rush won't listen to us, we're going directly to Congress, who can prevent him from disrespecting and censoring the voices of our soldiers.
How have Republicans in Congress chosen to respond so far? Congressional Republicans have actually drafted a resolution supporting Rush Limbaugh, "commending [his] relentless efforts to build and maintain troop morale through worldwide radio broadcasts and personal visits to conflict regions."
That's outrageous. Rush Limbaugh's "phony soldiers" comment should not be commended -- it should be condemned. And it's time to tell Congress to act swiftly to hold Rush Limbaugh accountable.
Click here to hold Rush Limbaugh accountable for his offensive and outrageous comments -- tell your members of Congress to take Rush off Armed Forces Radio today!
Our armed forces have served us honorably in Iraq, and the least we can do is respectfully listen to what they have to say about their experiences and perspectives on the war. To question the sincerity of our "phony" troops is disgraceful and must end.
Thank you for speaking out.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Every two months or so, Sy Hersh writes an article in The New Yorker magazine, and CNN provides him a forum in which to talk about his article and all the anonymous sources that are quoted in it.And then the White House does exactly what Mr. Hersh reported they would do.
“Today, a mega-yacht is indispensable,” said Olivier Milliex, head of yacht finance at the Dutch bank ING. “It’s not like 15 years ago, when a yacht was a luxury item.”Reminder: After two terms of Republican priorities, a mega-yacht is indispensable but health care is an unaffordable luxury.
Monday, October 01, 2007
"The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. *** We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America." -- Barack Obama, July, 27 2004
She applied [to volunteer for UNICEF in Latin America] jointly with Mia Baxter, an old friend who had been working as a photographer for Glamour magazine.From the Washington Post piece on Jenna's father and his cold-hearted plan to veto a bipartisan healthcare bill that would provide for marginalized American children living in exclusion:
"Our friendship is sort of based on challenging each other," Bush says, grinning, "and I think she was ready to photograph something besides mascara."The pair set out to document the lives of young people who are living in what UNICEF staff members call exclusion, meaning that, for a variety of reasons, they have been marginalized and don't receive basic education, social services, or healthcare.
President Bush appears determined to veto the $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program that the House and Senate approved last week. ***In the Spoiled, Drunken Children of a President Bush Sweepstakes, Jenna has now passed Barbara. And both twins continue to pull far ahead their uncle Neil.
[T]he measure would limit enrollment in the program to children in families making up to three times the poverty level -- about $64,000 for a family of four. ***
The legislation would extend the program for five years, and the costs would be fully covered by a 61-cents-a-pack increase in the tobacco tax, which is a good idea in itself. ***
The administration's proposal, to increase spending by less than $5 billion over five years, would fall $14 billion short of what's needed to maintain existing coverage in SCHIP alone -- never mind adding the millions of eligible but uncovered children the president once said he was determined to sign up.
George W. remains in last place.
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- November is National Novel Writing Month
- A Modest Proposal
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- Hey Kid -- It's Called "Journalism"
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