Friday, May 25, 2007

And About Time, Too

Well, what do you know? That Republican straw poll at GOP Bloggers finally acknowledges that Ron Paul is running for President.

Yes, I know that Dr. Paul is getting heat from all quarters because of some comments he made in the last debate. Big deal. I'm planning to vote for him because the President pledges to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. He's the only candidate who is, in that sense, a fundamentalist, or strict constructionist if you will. He shows that with every public statement that he makes.

He'll stay in the race to the bitter end, no matter what his chances are, because he is the only candidate who is RIGHT.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Trading Places

Lip synching sucks, doesn't it? So does playing air guitar on a real instrument.

This song is too good to be spoiled by making the performers pretend to play along with a recording!

Sanjaya As News Anchor

Randy Bish at the Tribune-Review has an interesting idea about replacing Katie Couric at CBS, but I need to ask: Is Sanjaya showing off his teeth, or is he wearing a Walter Cronkite mustache?

I'm hoping that it's the latter, because that would be just too cool.

Ed Rendell Says Something Stupid

When politicians or the media don't like the way things are going with regards to a particular issue, they have no trouble pointing the finger at a bogeyman as the source of of their discomfort. In the case of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, the National Rifle Association is the bogeyman of the gun control issue. This is actually pretty common among those who would restrict legal firearms ownership to licensed agents of the government. These types would have us believe that no one would have a problem with gun control if the NRA didn't exist to brainwash us with propaganda of death, or something like that.

Legal gun ownership is decades older than the NRA, and is of course embedded in the federal constitution, as well as the constitution of our commonwealth. The NRA is the loudest voice on the side of those who safely and legally exercise their constitutional rights, but there are plenty of other groups supporting RKBA. Besides that, there are plenty of gun owners and others who can make up their minds to support RKBA without some organization telling them what to think, thank you very much.

As we read in the above-linked Trib article by Brad Bumsted, plenty of legislators from both parties were willing to step up and smack down the groundless allegation that the governor made before a group of Pennsylvania mayors (a.k.a. flock of sheep). If John Street is so concerned about gun violence in Philly, he needs to do something about it without infringing on the constitutional rights of millions of others across the commonwealth.

"Pennsyltucky" seriously needs to consider seceding from any kind of union that includes Philadelphia (and Pittsburgh too if I didn't live here). Give Philly to New Jersey. It has more in common with NJ than it does with the rest of PA. And good riddance, too.

Steelers Coach Gets Penalized

Remember the good old days when athletes were considered positive role models? Not anymore, as Inspector Clouseau would say.

The Steelers confirmed yesterday that one of their employees sent an "inappropriate e-mail" message from the club office to "unintended recipients" last week, violating club and NFL policy., an online blog written by Mike Florio, first reported that Steelers line coach Larry Zierlein inadvertently forwarded an e-mail he received from Doug Whaley, the Steelers' pro personnel coordinator, to multiple high-level team employees and their secretaries throughout the NFL, including commissioner Roger Goodell.

Whaley, according to Florio, received the pornographic video from someone outside the Steelers' organization and forwarded it to others, including Zierlein, who then sent it along to more e-mail addresses than he apparently intended Friday.

Ah, who am I kidding? Kids must do stuff like this all of the time anyway. It's the coach who's following the lead of America's youth, not the other way around. It's a different world we live in.

The media won't tell us anything about the nature of the video other than that it is "pornographic", but somehow I suspect that it's not as bad as they make it sound. In fact, this story will blow over in a couple of days. The Steelers need to take a lesson from the Minnesota Vikings of two years ago, who really knew how to have a sex scandal. The Vikes, or Viqueens as they are sometimes known, were custom made for that sort of thing, seeing as how they were already called the Purple-Helmeted Warriors by many in the know.

The Steelers need some sort of similar appellation. How about "the Big Black Dild..." No, I'll let you figure it out. But BBD thing would make a good chant in a place like Cleveland.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Right Way To Enjoy A Chocolate Fountain

The first time I saw pictures of chocolate fountains, I was awed. There was something a little too civilized about it. Surely we are meant to hold a cup underneath the cascading falls of cocoa liquid and drink what falls therein. But no. It's all about poking things with a stick, getting a little bit of chocolate on them, and nibbling them with dainty little bites.
I experienced a chocolate fountain at Easter 2006 when a relative treated my family to a fancy brunch at a nearby hotel. I could have skipped the rest of the breakfast and just hung out by the fountain all day. But I didn't. It was too civilized a setting for me to really enjoy it the way I would have liked.
Fast forward to today. I have discovered a short film that is a true marvel that exposes the inner workings of the human mind when affected by the presence of chocolate. This is what we ALL want to do. Admit it.
That man is something of a minor culture hero in my book. Everyone wants to do it, but only he had the balls to dive right in. Yes, I would have done exactly as he did, except that I would have peeled the banana first.

Next time I see a chocolate fountain, I am just going to go nuts with it like the man in the movie. He lights the path to chocolatey righteousness.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

We Have A Candidate

Chuck McCullough decided today that, hey, as long as I won, I might as well run after all.

"Obviously, it was by the hand of God and also by the voters of the county (that I won)," said McCullough, who stopped campaigning three weeks ago. "I'm humbled and honored by their confidence."
If this election result had anything to do with God, then God has a sense of humor. Theologically, I prefer the concept of a laughing God to an angry God. McCullough's comments support this theory.

It must suck to be Kevin Acklin today.

Best Place To Get Election Results

Thank goodness the Trib has made it easy to get all of the region's election results. It used to be that you'd have the scroll through a list that looked like it was scanned from typewritten pages.

So Allegheny County Republicans DO Have A Sense Of Humor

The ordinary voters, anyway, not the party establishment. This morning's news does make me laugh.

I am glad, very glad, that I chose to vote for Admiral Turner yesterday instead of either of the two guys running for the County Council-At-Large seat. The youngster who thought he had his nice County Council seat all wrapped up lost the race and conceded to the man who withdrew his candidacy too late to be removed from the ballot:

An Upper St. Clair attorney at the center of a criminal probe into management of an elderly widow's trust fund won the primary race for the Republican Party's Allegheny County Council at-large seat, even though he said he was withdrawing, final election results showed.

Charles McCullough, 52, captured 57 percent of the vote while political newcomer Kevin Acklin, 30, of Squirrel Hill, got 43 percent of the vote, with 100 percent of all districts reporting.

McCullough, a former county solicitor, dropped out of the hotly contested primary for the at-large seat last month, though his name still appeared on ballots because he missed a withdrawal deadline.

Election officials said yesterday McCullough still can choose to accept or decline the party's endorsement. If he declines it, no candidate would appear on the party ballot this November and those choosing to run would need to lead write-in campaigns.

I have had problems deciding whether I wanted to vote for either Acklin or McCullough after witnessing their verbal dust up a couple of months ago. After Chuck McCullough's ethical issues came to light, I could not in good conscience vote for him. I didn't want to vote for Acklin either because I don't like it when politicians get a free ride into office. Man, was I wrong about that one. (Also, I don't like his dimples. He looks like someone painted an Easter Egg with the features of disgraced former Sheriff Pete DeFazio. Very creepy, unless you're an editorial cartoonist, in which case it's a gold mine.)

So...who is my party's candidate for the general election this year? Is it going to be Chuck McCullough after all? Or will he step aside (again) in favor of Kevin Acklin? Or will someone else's name go in the coveted slot? Right now, anything goes.

If I don't like whoever ends up running, I promise you I WILL write in "Tunesmith N. Anthony". I guarantee it -- so come up with someone good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Having Fun Is Never A Waste Of Time

In case anyone missed it, there was a primary election here in Pennsylvania today. You'd think that I might be tempted to stay away on account of the lack of anyone running in most races. But you would be wrong. I exercised my right to write in as many candidates as I was permitted by law -- and I had fun doing it, too.

Three Republican candidates ran for two state Supreme Court nominations. I voted for the two party endorsed candidates because I had never heard anything about the guy from Philadelphia, except that he's from Philadelphia, which is as good a disqualifier as anything else that I can think of.

Pennsylvania Superior Court was also a two-out-of-three falls championship match. I voted for the two ladies because I have had the pleasure of hearing them speak in person and was impressed by what they had to say. I especially like Judge Cheryl Allen, a former Democrat who switched to Republican because she shares the latter party's values. That was a bold move at a time when a lot of Republican rats are abandoning a sinking Republican ship. A couple of months ago I listened to her give a talk and Q&A in an informal setting where one attendee asked her a really stupid patronizing question. He wanted to know what she proposed to do about black-on-black crime in the black community. He might as well have asked, "Hey lady, you're BLACK, so I'll ask you a BLACK question. Why are BLACK people so BLACK?" She's a judge, she explained. By the time the accused get to her, they're already on trial. It's too late to prevent anything -- that's more of a role for community leaders. She was very tactful, treating the questioner with respect instead of reacting with righteous indignation, which would have been justified in the event. I was happy to cast my vote for Judge Allen.

There was only one Republican running for Common Pleas Court, Joe Weinroth. I voted for him, but bypassed the opportunity to write-in three more non-Democrat candidate names. I didn't want to miss my nap time. (Speaking of things to do in bed, I almost voted for one of the Dem candidates because she's just a couple of years older than me and looks pretty hot in her photo, but decided against it because "sexy smile" is no reason to put someone in a judge's robe, even if she's not wearing anything underneath it, which would be kind of kinky.)

County Executive race was a joke, but my vote was not. This weekend, Councilman Matt Drozd -- whom I have heard speak on several occasions and is a very smart, impressive man -- encouraged Republican voters to cast a write-in for his young son and namesake, who doesn't even want the office but will act as "placeholder" for anyone else who would want to step in and take his place. Naturally, I wrote in Mark Rauterkus. Of the many races in which he has thrown his hat in this year's ring, County Executive was the only one in my jurisdiction. I hope enough Republicans voted for him to earn him the nomination. He could teach them a few things about standing for office.

County Controller -- I wrote in my oldest child, who was puzzled as to why she saw her name come up on the electronic screen.

District Attorney -- I voted for my oldest son.

Treasurer -- I voted for my second son.

Sheriff -- Hey, we actually had a guy running! I voted for Ed Kress.

County Council At Large -- Unlike the Sheriff's race, Kevin Acklin is a shoo-in, assuming most Republicans don't press Chuck McCullough's button just for the hell of it. I like people to have at least some competition to keep them working, so I wrote in Richmond K. Turner, deceased former naval person. Unfortunately he's moving to SE Pennsylvania this summer, so in the fall perhaps I will vote for another blogger, perhaps Tunesmith N. Anthony. Heh.

County Council District 12 -- There is a contested Democratic race between a recent appointee incumbent, and the endorsed Democrat. My side has no one, so I voted for me. And I will vote for me again in November.

Local School Board -- My wife hates the public school system, so naturally I wrote her in. She's a Democrat, but there weren't any Republicans running anyway. I also voted for my little daughter because I had already voted for her older siblings. Didn't want her to feel left out.

Local Borough Council -- Three good Republican community activists for three nominations to four-year terms. Too bad they live in a shitty little Democrat burro. (Yeah, I said "burro", as in "Jackass Party". Wanna make something of it?) For a two-year council seat I wrote in my baby son. There was a Republican write-in candidate but I had forgotten his name, and really didn't care.

The statewide school tax referendum was tough, and I will very likely end up regretting my choice. I hope not, though. I chose the penalty for having a job (local income tax) over the penalty for having my own home (local property tax), mainly because I'm a low-income guy who watches his mortgage payments go up every year due to the huge annual increases in local property tax. Our district has one of the highest millages in the commonwealth. I might have voted differently if I were a rich man, but this will be easier on me if it passes.

Cripes. All of those races, and there was only one that I could take seriously. RCAC, please do better next time or I may start writing in swear words instead of candidates' names.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Fine(d) Place To Smoke

A few weeks ago, a Lithuanian Club on Pittsburgh's South Side was fined for violating Allegheny County's on-again, off-again no-smoking law. I don't like being around people when they're smoking, and I purposely avoid smoking establishments on the rare occasions when I go out. It seems that the smoking restrictions ought not to apply to a private club. This one, however, often holds charity events and whatnot, which means that the public may participate. And that makes it a "public house" in the same sense as any other bar on the South Side. Here's a little history: The building that the Lithuanian Club inhabits was, around 100 years ago, the neighborhood's German Turnverein. Several of my ancestors were German-born or ethnically German American-borns who lived on the South Side.

My grandfather was the son of a German immigrant (who was a saloon keeper), and on his mother's side the grandson of German immigrants. He was baptized at a German church in Pittsburgh, and grew up in a bilingual household. At the time, the dominant "foreign element", if you will, on the South Side was German. Many churches and businesses conducted all of their affairs in the German language. During the First World War, this ethnic community was more or less forced to assimilate due to social pressure. At the same time, a new wave of immigrants took over, so that by the time I was born (long after my family left that neighborhood) most Pittsburghers equated "South Side" with "Polish", or generally "Slavic". For a while, both the Slavic and German elements mingled in some minor discomfort...and therein hangs a tale that my father told me.

When he was a little boy, his parents visited the home of some Lithuanian friends and took him along. Alcohol was served. My grandmother, being a responsible parent, did not partake. My father was little enough that he leaned on his father's broad shoulders and relaxed until he started to fall asleep. He wasn't the only one falling asleep at that table. I do not know what they were drinking, but my grandfather tossed back one glass after another, and his hosts did the same. One by one, the Lithuanians dropped off until every last one passed out from the booze. My grandfather was not fazed in the least. The last thing that my father remembered before falling asleep and needing to be carried back home was his father telling his mother: "These hunkies are all drunk. Let's get out of here."

That sounds like the perfect excuse for the Lithuanian Club to get out of paying the $16,250 fine that was levied by the County. At present, it looks like a reduction in the fine is likely to happen. Why not try to get rid of the whole thing? "I'm sorry, Mr. Health Department Inspector, but we were drunk and didn't know what we were doing. It's not our fault that we can't hold our liquor like a German." In college, friends of mine told me that cops would cut them some slack when they were being noisy because the kids were drunk. Why not do the same at the Lithuanian Club? If people were drinking, they could be excused for being noisy and smoky. No fines, no punishments, and promise not to smoke in the Club anymore.

Then everything would just be (forgive me)...hunky-dory.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I Am NOT The Lord Your God...

...but I play one in Asgard. Via Arthur's Hall, a quiz of ultimate manliness:

You scored as Odin. You are Odin. You are the leader of the Norse Gods. You are the wisest and always fight evil. You sacrificed your eye for knowledge, as well as hanging for 9 days with a spear in your side. You are the God of Philosophy and Poetry. You will lead the Gods into Ragnorak (the end of the world)













Which Norse God Are You?
created with

Maybe I should change the name of this blog to "Odinarchy".

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Gimme Some Money

Pardon me if I've said this before, but there are two kinds of people I hate: People who make more money than me, and people who make less money than me. This morning, it has dawned on me that the former group includes a subcategory of the most despicable sort of anthropomorphic leech: the campaigner.

The May 7 edition of the P-G's Early Returns blog updates us on the kind of money that candidates are attracting in races for office here in Allegheny County. We have candidates for County Controller who have each picked up over $100,000 since the start of 2007. We have Pittsburgh City Council candidates who have attracted more money in the same period than I make in a year. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has over half a million bucks to use in his campaign against absolutely nobody.

I won't go so far as to say that these amounts are "obscene", because (unless someone can prove otherwise) these donations were all freely given. But think about what this money is used for.

Campaign donations are used to litter the landscape with ugly plastic signs mounted on metal wire. They stuff our mailboxes with tons of junk mail. They fund obnoxious television commercials that get tiresome after the first ten seconds. (This is why I try to avoid most local TV programming.) And, worst of all, the money pays for these aspiring politicians and their ground-level functionaries to go around and bug us at home.

When I was younger, I voluntarily went door to door passing out flyers for a candidate in the municipality where I then lived. The instructions were simple: Cover as much territory as you can while you're out there, place the flyers in screen doors (but not mailboxes!), and don't worry about stopping to talk to anybody. The campaign was mostly self-funded, and all I got out of it was a little bit of pizza and a lot of sweat. What had I accomplished? I littered a lot of people's porches, that's all.

I'll never do that again. I don't much mind when someone drops stuff on my porch now, but I hate it when they feel the need to ring the doorbell and talk to me. This past Sunday, some skinhead was passing out a scrap of paper for William Lestitian, a candidate for County Council. (That's one of many local races that I don't give a rat's ass about because there is no Republican candidate.) The bastard woke me up from my weekend nap. I didn't know who was at the door and didn't much care, so I told my wife to get it. By the time she got there, my seven year old son (who informed us that the man on my porch had no hair) had answered and the skinhead was gone.

There was no need for him to invade the sanctity of the home. He could just as easily have left his propaganda in the door handle. And I could just as easily have tossed it in the garbage bin without bringing it inside.

That's the sort of thing that these big money donations are paying for: highly organized invasions of privacy on a massive scale. If the yahoos who donate high sums of money to political campaigns really want to spend their hard-earned interest on a less noxious and more worthwhile cause, they should give it to ME. I figure I'm in enough debt that I'm close to being a charity already. If these political donors give me tens of thousands of dollars, I promise to stay in my house and not bother anyone else at home. I promise not to bomb people's mailboxes with annoying junk mail. I promise to not show my face or publish my name in any print or broadcast media. I promise not to place so much as one little plastic sign on any lawn, roadway, or faux campaign office.

Those promises are meaningless, of course. But you know what? If a real politician stepped forward and made such promises, and actually kept them, I would be more than happy to consider giving them my vote. Too bad it'll never happen.

The campaigners will continue to take big money donations to fill their coffers. And none of that money will ever, EVER come from me.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Health Care Of The Living Dead

One month ago, almost to the day, I was subjected to a battery of tests at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital that included x-ray, CT scan, and MRI. The latter was the hardest to endure, as it lasted over an hour (starting at around 2:30 AM) and I had a bad reaction to the IV contrast that makes your insides stand out on the image. I grew feverish, with chills, and felt tingly from head to toe, but not in a good way. For a few moments, I wondered if this is what the onset of death felt like.

Well here I am, one month later, doing mostly all right and suffering no long-term effects of the experience. In other words, I'm ALIVE!, which brings us to an article in this morning's Trib. The daily paper of record informs us that not every patient at Presby has to worry about dying during a medical test, because not all of them are alive going into it:

Like expectant parents squinting at an ultrasound, doctors and anthropologists puzzled over CT scans of a 2,300-year-old Egyptian child mummy Wednesday at UPMC Presbyterian hospital.
Yep, our state-of-the-art medical facilities are being used to look inside of 2,300 year old dead kids. I'm not complaining, mind you, since I don't expect that museums find it economical to invest in this sort of machine -- after all, how many CT scans do museums need? There simply aren't enough mummies in need of such examination methods.

I'm just floored to think that this mummy may well have undergone its (possibly "his", but they're not sure) scan in the same machine that was used on me. Pardon me if my creative side takes over, but if a scan at the hospital made me feel like death, wouldn't it be interesting if another radioactive test makes a dead person feel a little...vital?

That would be a great scenario for a crappy late-night horror film. Radiation reawakens a dead Egyptian child after more than 2000 years...he's all out of blood, and he needs to replenish his supply. So he becomes a vampire mummy, attacking lab techs in the exam room, and when he has enough blood to put the color back in his face, he sheds the bandages and wanders around through the building. A sympathetic nurse sees him crying, and picks him up to cuddle him. He moves his mouth to suck her blood, but feels something other than bloodlust overcoming him. His body suddenly grows to full adult height. He has been wrapped up from age eight to age 2,300, and managed to completely miss puberty. Outraged and overcome with the sudden flood of hormones, but not knowing what to do about it, he leaves the hospital and goes on a violent rampage in the streets. He meets his demise at the end of the film when Accounts Receivable presents him with his hospital bill; the shocking realization that he cannot afford the fees for his treatment causes him to drop dead, for real this time.

That's all it would take to kill the mummy. I had the opposite reaction the other day. My statement from the hospital showed that my week's stay cost more than twice my annual salary...but I was only billed for a $100 co-pay because I have a good insurance plan. All of a sudden, my crappy annual pay didn't seem like such a bad deal.

Stupid mummy!