Monday, November 27, 2006

They Call It Stormy Monday, But Random Flickr Blogging's Just As Bad

Slower, but more environmentally friendly than a jet pack, Steven's patented heli-backpack allowed him to visit all the most famous sites in Europe for just pennies a day.

(Original image, #2343, posted here.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Right Answer

Found this image here, and just had to share it.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Monday, Monday, So Random Flickr Blogging To Me

Day 12: The Genie Garage Door Opener is still not responding to my psychic request that it open. I am beginning to question the power of my own telekinesis. Also, the cat food is running out. I hope the owners of the house get back from their vacation soon.

(IMG_1635, originally posted here. Random Flickr Blogging explained here.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Scaramouche Scoops Olbermann

Yesterday, just as I was getting ready to leave work, I saw an email with a link from my blogging compatriot Scaramouche to a post he had just put up about a very disturbing incident at UCLA. I clicked on the link and watched a video of a student in a campus library being repeatedly tasered by campus cops. It was violent and brutal and extremely upsetting. At the time, I thought, I want to write something about this and link to Scaramouche's post with the video clip, but I don't really have time right now. I figured I would do it first thing in the morning.

So I took off, met a friend for a couple of after-work drinks (hello RT!), and went home. Then, while watching Keith Olbermann's Countdown, what was one of the main stories but this same video of the UCLA student getting tasered? I thought, well, damn! Scaramouche had the story before Olbermann did! This is life in the age of the internets.

But aside from being impressed by my colleague's alacrity at getting this story out, I am appalled at the incident itself. If you haven't seen the video, I urge you to click on one of the links above and watch it. This is flagrant abuse, just plain brutality, and there's no other word for it. Repeatedly applying an electric stun gun to a non-violent victim, screaming at him over and over to "stand up!" and then tasering him again, merely because he did not show ID when asked, should be no less than a criminal offense by these sadists operating under the color of authority. When other students tried to intervene, and asked for the badge numbers of the officers perpetrating this violence, they were threatened with being tasered as well.

Apparently this is what we've come to in George Bush's America: We are a nation that condones and practices torture. Torture. Physical violence against our own citizens is deemed acceptable by millions of otherwise rational and allegedly sane people in the mainstream of our society. How sad, how tragic, that this will be a large part of the legacy of this worst president ever. Keep your head down and your papers handy, people, or face the possibility of a shocking rebuke. Personally, I'm stunned by the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Why The Election Mattered, Part I

It looks as if the newly-elected Democratic majority in Congress is already showing signs of flexing some muscle and paying some benefits to those of us who have been desperate for some semblance of oversight for this most criminal of all White Houses. The Guardian UK reports that Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan), set to be the new chairman of the Senate armed services committee, is gearing up to investigate the CIA and the Bush policy of disappearing people extraordinary rendition. Levin is "not comfortable" with the policy, saying that it has made this country less secure, cost us allies around the world and has not produced any useful information. No shit, Senator.

It's about damn time that someone in Congress (and funny that the American media has yet to bring this story to the fore) decided to step up and say that rendition and torture and secret prisons are not -- or should not be -- American policy. Thank you Senator Levin, and may this investigation lead to a change in the current practice; and, with any luck, criminal charges and/or impeachment proceedings for those most deserving. And let this just be the beginning.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Best Line

I forgot to mention the best line uttered at the Stephanie Miller promo get-together last Friday: "Reverend Ted Haggard? Yeah, he's a Crystal Methodist, isn't he?"

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Cocktails With Stephanie

For those of us on the left side of the aisle, this past week has basically been one long celebration. A lot of us are still giddy about kicking the corrupt bastards Republicans out of the majority in Congress; not one incumbent Democrat lost his or her seat. And Don Rumskull is gone -- not to mention likely to be charged with war crimes very soon. Heh. Anyone who has read this blog even semi-regularly knows how I feel about all of that (and if you don't, what the hell are you doing here?).

Personally, I plan on celebrating this week's momentous occurrences with many of my fellow Bay Area bloggers tomorrow at Zeitgeist in San Francisco (come hell or high water -- there is rain predicted), but I started the party early tonight by meeting nationally syndicated radio host Stephanie Miller at O'Reilly's Holy Grail, a very nice (and historic) bar and restaurant right here in my own neighborhood.

Stephanie, who hosts a fabulous syndicated morning radio show out of Los Angeles -- and appears regularly on many of the talking head news shows on television -- was lively, funny and very receptive to comments and questions. She spent a couple hours engaging in conversation with her fans, signing autographs, posing for pictures, enjoying a bit of wine and the delicious hors d'oeuvres and joining us all in a bit of post-election gloating and schadenfreude. Appearing with her was local comedian and activist Johnny Steele, who in the next couple months will be a featured performer on local progressive radio station KQKE (The Quake -- 960 AM, the former Air America station that carries Stephanie, Ed Schultz, Thom Hartmann, and Mike Malloy, among others).

Unfortunately, the one picture I took of Johnny Steele was far too blurry to post here -- but I did get to converse at some length with him and his wife, both of whom are quite entertaining individuals. I look forward to seeing him perform some time in the near future, especially when he starts his regular shows at the Throckmorton Theatre in Mill Valley this coming January.

I also got a chance this evening to talk with plenty of like-minded individuals from all over the Bay Area, which was very enjoyable, and I even had my picture taken with Stephanie in a moment of star-strickeness. I am happy to report that she was quite gracious about posing with me, even though I kept talking through the photo-op, and thus ended up with one of the worst pictures of me ever put out in public. She, of course, looks beautiful, just as she does in real life. I attribute that to her familiarity with the photo-op exercise, and, of course, to the fact that she is just so very good looking in person. In fact, this picture really doesn't do her justice -- maybe it's because she's standing so close to me.

Stephanie, step away from the blogger!

All in all, it was quite an enjoyable evening. How could it not be, when you end up with a picture like this, of a beautiful progressive radio talk show host snuggling up next to you, celebrating the end of rubber-stamp Republican one-party rule? Major props to Stephanie for just being there, and to Myles O'Reilly, proprietor of the Holy Grail, for hosting the event. Let's hope we have many more moments like this to celebrate in the years to come.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gather, Ye BARBARians and Cheer!

I realize this is short notice, but a few folks have approached me about all of us getting together to celebrate this week's momentous election victory, and I have to say I'm certainly in favor of it. So I'm proposing a gathering this Saturday, 11/11, from about 1 in the afternoon until we're all tired of raising our glasses in toasts to an informed electorate at Zeitgeist, 199 Valencia Street, San Francisco. Any takers?

(Cross-posted at the BARBARian Blog.)

Truth In Advertising

At the risk of offending... well, probably very few people who read this particular blog... here's the latest entry from Jesus of the Week that I found especially amusing. Do you think the people who manufactured and marketed this product really meant what they said?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'd Better Play The Lottery Today

First the election, now Donald Rumsfeld has resigned as Secretary of Defense. Wow. This IS a red-letter day, isn't it?

Republicans smacked down, hard, by the people of this country, George Bush's bankrupt policies repudiated in no uncertain terms, Karl Rove exposed as the one-trick pony he's always been, Rumsfeld out the door...

What's next, and can it possibly get better?

Wednesday Vacation From Our Long National Nightmare Blogging

Take that, Karl Rove!

The House and the Senate. Richard Pombo, gone. Rick Santorum, gone. George Allen, gone. Speaker Pelosi. Damn, that's sweet.

Of course, it remains to be seen how this will all play out, but for now, for today... WOOHOO!!!

Punch and pie! Cocktails! And with any luck, our newly-elected majority will be firing up the subpoena machine real soon.


(Seattle PI cartoon by David Horsey, and thanks to my giddy friend Pete in up there in the Pacific Northwest for passing it along.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


In case you missed it in the comments section of the Ted Haggard post (right down there, look, just scroll down a bit), my good pal and frequent commenter here Rey_Fox has collaborated with Neil Diamond on a song about Pastor Ted that is hella Teh Funny, as the kids are saying on the internets these days. Too good to miss, so we're giving it a featured spot here on The Generik Brand today. Of course, now I'll have that tune stuck in my head all day, but that's the price you pay for good satire, I suppose.

Oh, and did I mention that you should all go out and vote?

Your Civic Duty

Hey, what are you doing here? Have you voted yet? If you haven't voted yet, then get the heck outta here and do so, RIGHT NOW! Go! Vote! I'll wait.

For those of you who have voted already, welcome! Come on in, there's punch and pie in the back, and we'll be mixing up some cocktails a little later.

And if there's anyone out there who's still on the fence, who thinks voting is unimportant or doesn't really know why we're doing this, check out this video clip on the Huffington Post. (Thanks to my good friend Scott for the link.)

Mmmm, punch and pie... and cocktails...

Monday, November 06, 2006

More Election News

In another "HAW haw!" moment, it appears that more and more GOP candidates are trying to distance themselves from Preznit Clueless -- like the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Florida who opted out of an appearance in Pensacola with the Chickenhawk in Chief (after it was announced that he would introduce the president to the crowd). Man, stories like that just warm my heart.

And echoing Molly Ivins' piece (see the post just below this one) on what this election is all about, has an article up today fleshing out a dozen scandals (only twelve?) associated with the current maladministration and their rubber-stamp butt-boys in Congress.

Get out and vote, people. It's time to put some grown-ups back in charge.


With a hat tip to Tom Hilton at If I Ran the Zoo, here's national treasure Molly Ivins explaining what tomorrow's election is all about:

With pundits in Washington, who just a few weeks ago were claiming the Democrats would likely take the house by a razor-thin margin, now victoriously claiming they all along knew it would be a wipeout, I just feel that overconfidence juice starting to kick in. "Maybe 20 seats, maybe 40 seats" ... yeah. People could think: "So that's settled. I don't even really have to vote." Folks, step up and make sure there's some control on this regime.

May I remind you what this election is about? Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, unprecedented presidential powers, unmatched incompetence, unparalleled corruption, unwarranted eavesdropping, Katrina, Enron, Halliburton, global warming, Cheney's secret energy task force, record oil company profits, $3 gasoline, FEMA, the Supreme Court, Diebold, Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004, Terri Schiavo, stem cell research, golden parachutes, shrunken pensions, unavailable and expensive health care, habeas corpus, no weapons of mass destruction, sacrificed soldiers and Iraqi civilians, wasted billions, Taliban resurgence, expiration of the assault weapons ban, North Korea, Iran, intelligent design, swift boat hit squads, and on and on.

Bonday Mandom Rlickr Flogging

Failed Superheroes numbers 376 and 377: Baptist Preacher Man and Bondage Boy. Pictured here battling their long-time nemesis, The Monolith.

(Original image, #4884, posted here.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Thank You, Baby Jesus!

And thank you, Rev. Ted Haggard, for exposing yourself to your congregation and to the country as the consummate hypocrite you are at such a politically opportune time. With the Mark Foley scandal fading from view, Jack Abramoff ancient history, and the Republicans seizing on John Kerry's ridiculous (and completely inconsequential) verbal gaffe about getting "stuck in Iraq" with the hope that it would prove to be the shot in the foot necessary to prevent a Democratic tidal wave at the polls this Tuesday, you, Pastor Ted, have single-handedly put the focus back on Republican hypocrisy and corruption at a time that the Democrats need it the most. Kerry's botched joke has all but disappeared from the media's focus since you were outed by your three-year rent boy last week. Your various responses to the allegations have been nothing less than hilarious, too, and assured that the story would have legs as soon as you uttered them. Let's see a show of hands out there, how many people believe that you only got a massage, and that you purchased, but never consumed, methamphetamine? Anyone?

The first time I read about this story -- and every time I've heard or read more about it since then -- all I could think of was the character Nelson from The Simpsons pointing and uttering his trademark "HAW haw!" I mean, it's not that I personally have anything against homosexuality, or am completely against recreational drug use or even consensual prostitution, per se. What I am against is people who say one thing and do another, who preach the politics of morality but in private practice the very acts that they rail and legislate against. I admit to feeling a great amount of schandenfreude whenever hypocrites like Pastor Ted are exposed. The more powerful and connected they are, the more I snicker. And coming when it did, with the election on the line and the media seizing on any and every little scandal and misstep it can find, this story just seemed to drop straight from heaven, gift-wrapped and with a cherry on top (to mix metaphors just a bit), into the collective lap of the Democratic party.

Now, of course, the big event that the Republicans will try to focus on is bound to be the verdict today in Saddam Hussein's trial, and the sentence to hang that he received, but will that dog hunt in the face of all that's gone against them lately? My feeling is that Americans will be more reminded of how badly the occupation in Iraq has gone by this news, and that the bounce that Karl Rove might have expected from it will be weak at best. Sorry, Karl, but sex and drugs beat discredited tyrants in war zones gone south every time.

Thank you, baby Jesus! And thank you, Rev. Ted!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Letters, Oh, We Get Letters

I've been terrible lately at keeping up with my email correspondence in a timely manner. At one time, I prided myself on keeping my inbox up to date, and even emptying it at the end of every week by sending off replies and tucking away messages I wanted to save into various folders for future use. No more. These days I've always got a hundred or so backlogged messages sitting in there, and it can get real frustrating. So today I'm going to try to alleviate some of the congestion by posting links and replies and such here.

*Let's start with a message from my pal lecram, who is one of the principal forces behind Fresno's version of the Fringe Festival, the Rogue Festival (see the banner ad over on the right). This is actually a mea culpa on my part, because I received this message over a month ago, and now the applications for the Rogue are closed. My apologies, to lecram and to all you creative/performer types who might have wanted to be a part of this. Hey, there's always next year!

*From my friend Pete in Seattle comes this link to a Japanese game show that will make just about any man wince and cringe at the misfortune of the contestants who can't properly pronounce a tongue-twister. I'm crossing my legs just thinking about it. Ouch!

*We've got national elections in less than a week, and I want to proclaim myself as cautiously, guardedly optimistic that there will be a surge of Democrats voted into office, who will then begin to conduct some long-needed oversight of this criminal administration, launch investigations, issue subpoenas, etc. etc.; but then I read articles like this one from Mark Crispin Miller, and my hopes sink back into a tepid miasma of abject and utter depression... Sorry, I'm just too much of a cynic and a pessimist to believe that we're really going to escape the current nightmare we're in just by electing a few more Democratic Representatives and Senators. Of course I'll celebrate if one or both houses of Congress are wrested from Republican rule, but I'm not holding my breath. And I'm waiting to be convinced that just changing a few faces in Washington will really be the panacea we need.

*Robert Greenwald's film Iraq for Sale is available on DVD now. Make it a gift to one, five, a hundred friends!

*My friend Peter in Southern California raised some questions about Steve Irwin's recent death by stingray -- like, did he essentially cause it himself by removing the barb and not waiting for medical attention, and why did the media not ask this question? Here's a comment from him on that same subject, which actually brings up a larger issue in my mind:

Last night, on the PBS NewsHour, they were interviewing a doctor about the man who was stung by a ray that leapt onto his boat, and the doctor made the point that the man survived in this case because he left the barb in place, and that Irwin most likely bled to death because he removed his barb.
Now, the funny thing is that up until yesterday, I still hadn't heard any other media outlet report on that point. So, why wasn't anyone asking that question? That seems to be the odd thing about the media -- that something so obvious could be overlooked by thousands of so-called independent journalists, the same way in which journalists operated with a herd mentality in the build up to the Iraq War. The difference in the case of Irwin's death is that there was no ideology or patriotism involved to skew the journalistic response. It was simply a case of no one doing any straightforward reporting.

To me, this is an issue that has been weighing on many of us for the past six years or more -- why doesn't the press do its job? Why don't reporters ask the hard questions, or follow up when given evasive non-answers by professional fabulists? It seems to me that the media in general has abdicated its duty of investigating corruption and criminal behavior and disseminating information to the public in favor of providing entertainment trivia, inconsequential sideshows and manufactured fear-mongering. It's no wonder that the average American today feels that he is not only entitled to his own opinion, but to his own facts as well. No one challenges Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld or Tony Snow (or, heaven forfend!, George Bush) when they spew forth blatant lies and misstatements designed to obfuscate and deceive, so why shouldn't a trusting public believe them?

*For the follow-the-money wonks out there, here's a blog tracking finance, the housing bubble, unemployment and other related economic subjects that could make you feel less rosy about our current situation (if, indeed, you do feel rosy about the American economy right now). Big hat tip to my fellow BARBARian paperwight for this one.

*A scientist friend of mine here at work forwarded this thought from Mahatma Ghandi that he wishes the Democrats would use in their current campaigns for the House and Senate:

In 1947, Mahatma Gandhi, just shortly before his tragic death, listed seven specific blunders that he believed caused the violence plaguing the world.
They are:
wealth without work
pleasure without conscience
knowledge without character
commerce without morality
science without humanity
worship without sacrifice
and, politics without principles.

I'd say the Republicans have most of them all sewn up already.

*My pal Dean in Connecticut passes along this anti-Joe Lieberman site that features plenty of videos and sound bites condemning Bush's favorite Democrat. The last I read, Joe was cruising to a fairly easy victory -- unfortunately -- but that doesn't mean we shouldn't keep putting his feet to the fire. Especially if he does get his job back next week, Democrats nationwide should demand some accountability from Traitor Joe. Here's some ammunition for you.

*My good friend Scott sends this link to a site purporting to display the Worst Political Web Sites on the internets, and it's pretty amusing. It skewers Republicans and Democrats alike; the only criteria is that the website must be really, really lame -- or "under construction" for months at a time.

*The Freeway Blogger is offering, free of charge, a graphic meant as a counterpoint to all the yellow "Support the Troops" ribbons out there. This is guaranteed to stir up controversy, but personally, I think it's right on the money. It looks like this:

And for more from the Freeway Blogger, check out this post about his latest project and his subsequent appearance on Hannity and Colmes.

*Finally, Pete in Seattle sends this link to the great Keith Olbermann's take on the John Kerry tempest in a teapot that the media is having a field day with right now -- to the detriment of any real news that might be out there. Olbermann is one of the few -- very few -- pundits today who actually seems to get it, and is not afraid to say what he thinks. Given the current climate of fear and demagoguery, one has to wonder just how much longer he'll be allowed to keep criticizing the president and his criminal maladministration before the powers that be get just a bit too uncomfortable with his commentary and pull the plug. The fact that his ratings are soaring lately is bound to make a few people in high places just a bit trepidatious. Let's hope he continues to fight the good fight and give voice to the truth that too many Americans don't want told.

Okay, that's it for now. I promise to try to keep up with my email a little better in the future.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wednesday Vacation Blogging: Napa

Last week, the department that my work group is a part of went on an off-site to Napa for some camaraderie, some team-building (Go team. Yea team.), and some wine-tasting. Lots and lots of wine-tasting. In fact, the whole outing was actually little more than an excuse to start drinking champagne at 9:30 in the morning on the bus ride up there, and then keep drinking all day long, with a respite in the middle of the day for lunch and, naturally, more wine. Yikes!

It's a shame we couldn't have picked a nice day for our adventure.
Our first stop was at tiny Tudal, a "boutique winery" that bottles less than 1,000 cases a year.
Glasses in hand, we marched on down the dirt road ready to taste some of the delicious reds that Tudal is famous for.
An ancient wine press is just one of the many artifacts and objets d'art that are scattered around the grounds.
This old, retired tractor is featured prominently on some of the labels of Tudal's wines.
Nothing like a good open-air tasting of some hearty, full-bodied reds (Zinfandel, Table Red, two different bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon) to start out the day.
Grape stompers wanted. Skinny folks need not apply.
Grape vines turn color in the fall, just like many trees. We saw some brilliant golds and reds among the green foliage.
A gazebo out in the middle of the vines.
My co-worker, Philip (L), and Heiko, the Mad, Menacing German.
How many of these can I roll home?
In Napa, it's all about the grapes.
...And more grapes.
Our next stop was Clos Pegase, where the art collection rivals the wine-making.
We gave a big thumbs-up to both the art and the wine there.
It's really a beautiful spot, with all sorts of paintings, artwork and unusual pieces of sculpture throughout the winery.
Fermentation tanks in the wine-making warehouse.
Our host at Clos Pegase (I forget his name -- can't imagine why) was a combination wine-maker and stand-up comedian... who should probably stick to wine-making.
We had lunch deep inside the wine cellar cave underneath the winery. Keep that claustrophobia in check, kids!
All through the cave were various art pieces. Here is one niche, taken without flash...
...And with the flash.
Our final stop of the day was Regusci, a so-called "ghost winery" that has been in Napa since the mid-1800s.
Resisting the urge to use some kind of play on "I heard it through the grapevine" here.
Grapes aren't the only things that grow in Napa.
Heiko relaxing, feeling philosophical. Or maybe a little tipsy. Hard to tell the difference sometimes.
You might expect, with all the wine that was consumed that day, that some silliness would ensue: Whose legs are whiter?
At the end of the day, we bid a fond farewell to Napa and the grapes and vines and wines. On the way home we sampled some of our tour guide's favorites from his own private cellar. Niiiiiice daaaaaay.
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