October 31, 2004
The Candy Report
My neighborhood is just thick with kids. So far, all nice. But ya can't swing a dead cat...etc.
How much do I stock up for the Halloween hordes? Laid in a couple of bags of Costco's finest. And so far it's been...mmmmmm...medium. Like once every half hour a big gaggle of kids will show up. Always with parental units lurking along...except for one group that looked rather teenager-ish and uncostumed. Every kid gets handsful of chocolate from me, because I seem to have over-shopped.
Mt. San Jacinto This Morning
October 30, 2004
An account of shopping at the two New Jersey IKEAs. The one close by the Newark airport has tempted me several times during long layovers.
This past week I had run an errand into West Hollywood, and stopped at the IKEA in West Covina on my way back. I considered this my orientation run, as it's the first time I've been to one since I visited the Long Beach store back in like 1997 on the occasion of my first touristy visit to L.A. which eventually included my first-ever visit to Palm Springs.
They've got some nice stuff at some nice prices. It was pleasant seeing the young and pretty L.A. people shopping. The only thing I bought was some ginger snaps and a water for the drive home.
I'm currently watching Sorcerer which is a 1977 remake of the 5-star Le Salaire de la peur (1953) and it's good (Sorcerer, I mean). But it requires suspension of disbelief. In the limited technology of 1953 it made sense to be transporting nitroglycerine over dirt roads in bad trucks, but not in 1977. A helicopter is the obvious alternative, but the helicopter pilot cites vibration and turbulence as absolute barriers, so the explosives must go by land. Okay, we'll give 'em that. But why is the only supply of explosives this nasty old pile of dynamite (or is it TNT?) 200 miles from the oil fire? Once they see that the explosive is unstable, why not use the helicopter to fly in stable explosives? If that can't be done, then why not helicopter in some decent vehicles? Why do they have to build up a pair of trucks from junk? And for that matter, why trucks? They need 4-wheel drive vehicles to negotiate the bad roads, but a Jeep would have done as well, and (being lighter) would have traversed the delicate spots better. And, since this is seems to be the only road to the oil well, and is the road used by trucks to carry workers in and out, why does it seem so inadequate when our guys drive it in their trucks? And why do the speedometers show miles? What Latin American colony of America uses miles? Not even Panama. Puerto Rico does, but they don't drill oil there, and it's not some godawful third-world country without sewers but with a corrupt dictator for President.
If they felt the need to remake, they should have set it in the early 1950s, and things would have gone swimmingly.
October 29, 2004
Let Osama Decide
I don't know how I missed this when it came out earlier this week, but the local Desert Sun has endorsed Bush, reasoning, basically, that we should let the terrorists tell us who to vote for:
to turn our backs on President Bush now would send the wrong message to terrorists around the world. It would be an open invitation to come at us again because when they do, we toss out the leader who seeks revenge and retaliation.
October 28, 2004
Best Editorial Yet
The New Yorker comes out for Kerry with the best-reasoned anti-Bush/pro-Kerry arguments.
Throughout his long career in public service, John Kerry has demonstrated steadiness and sturdiness of character. The physical courage he showed in combat in Vietnam was matched by moral courage when he raised his voice against the war, a choice that has carried political costs from his first run for Congress, lost in 1972 to a campaign of character assassination from a local newspaper that could not forgive his antiwar stand, right through this year’s Swift Boat ads. As a senator, Kerry helped expose the mischief of the Bank of Commerce and Credit International, a money-laundering operation that favored terrorists and criminal cartels; when his investigation forced him to confront corruption among fellow-Democrats, he rejected the cronyism of colleagues and brought down power brokers of his own party with the same dedication that he showed in going after Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal. His leadership, with John McCain, of the bipartisan effort to put to rest the toxic debate over Vietnam-era P.O.W.s and M.I.A.s and to lay the diplomatic groundwork for Washington’s normalization of relations with Hanoi, in the mid-nineties, was the signal accomplishment of his twenty years on Capitol Hill, and it is emblematic of his fairness of mind and independence of spirit. Kerry has made mistakes (most notably, in hindsight at least, his initial opposition to the Gulf War in 1990), but—in contrast to the President, who touts his imperviousness to changing realities as a virtue—he has learned from them.
Kerry’s performance on the stump has been uneven, and his public groping for a firm explanation of his position on Iraq was discouraging to behold. He can be cautious to a fault, overeager to acknowledge every angle of an issue; and his reluctance to expose the Administration’s appalling record bluntly and relentlessly until very late in the race was a missed opportunity. But when his foes sought to destroy him rather than to debate him they found no scandals and no evidence of bad faith in his past. In the face of infuriating and scurrilous calumnies, he kept the sort of cool that the thin-skinned and painfully insecure incumbent cannot even feign during the unprogrammed give-and-take of an electoral debate. Kerry’s mettle has been tested under fire—the fire of real bullets and the political fire that will surely not abate but, rather, intensify if he is elected—and he has shown himself to be tough, resilient, and possessed of a properly Presidential dose of dignified authority. While Bush has pandered relentlessly to the narrowest urges of his base, Kerry has sought to appeal broadly to the American center. In a time of primitive partisanship, he has exhibited a fundamentally undogmatic temperament. In campaigning for America’s mainstream restoration, Kerry has insisted that this election ought to be decided on the urgent issues of our moment, the issues that will define American life for the coming half century. That insistence is a measure of his character. He is plainly the better choice. As observers, reporters, and commentators we will hold him to the highest standards of honesty and performance. For now, as citizens, we hope for his victory.
Believe in Our President
For those who believe in our President George W. Bush, here Thomas F. Schaller revels in the rich complexity of that devotion. Read it and BELIEVE!
I believe the president was right to oppose the formation of the 9/11 Commission, to change his mind but then oppose fully funding it, to change his mind but then oppose granting its request for an extension, to change his mind but refuse to testify for more than an hour, to change his mind but then testify alongside Vice President Dick Cheney so long as transcripts and note-taking were prohibited. I believe the investigation into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal shows it was the fault of a handful of misguided underlings who simply misunderstood a memo signed by the Secretary of Defense which authorized the use of dogs to interrogate prisoners.
Domestically, I believe income tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are the solution to budget surpluses or deficits, high or low inflation, stable or unstable interest rates, expanding or shrinking trade deficits, widening or narrowing wealth gaps, increasing or decreasing poverty rates, rising or falling unemployment, prosperity or recession, wartime or peace. I believe record-setting budget deficits, record-setting trade deficits, and a burgeoning national debt are examples of the president's fiscally-conservative economic leadership.
Today's Front Pages
Lots More Snow
October 27, 2004
I never knew the reason for the recently resolved bankruptcy of the city of Desert Hot Springs. An article in the Desert Sun explained it briefly.
Three years after going bankrupt, the city of Desert Hot Springs is finally having its Chapter 9 status removed today with the city's newly issued bonds expected to pay off its $10.85 million debt.
And leaders say that will help the fast-growing town attract new retail, residential and tourist developments.
The city recently issued 40-year bonds totaling $12.785 million - more than a half of its annual budget - to pay off its debt incurred through a failed 14-year legal battle with a developer over a private housing project in the city.
The repayment of the debts will be made today, with $8.85 million paid to Los Angeles-based Silver Sage Partners Ltd., and another $2 million to other creditors including Bank of America and Citibank, city officials and attorneys said.
The remaining balance - about $2 million - will go to the debt reserve fund, underwriters and the city's general fund.
"People and businesses in particular looked at the bankruptcy as a cloud over the city. We were looked upon as a bad risk," said Vice Mayor Mary Stephens.
"Now that the cloud is gone, they no longer look at us as a bad risk," she said.
The city's ordeal started in 1990 when its city council rejected a proposal made by Silver Sage to buy an existing mobile home park on Pierson Boulevard and build 116 houses there for low-income families.
Silver Sage sued the city, claiming that some of the then-City Council members made discriminatory comments against Mexicans and African-Americans, who were expected to live in the planned housing complex, during their deliberation of the plan in official meetings.
A U.S. District Court in 2001 found that the city's 1990 decision to deny the housing project violated the Federal Fair Housing Act, leaving the city no other choice but to file its bankruptcy in December that year.
"I'm very happy about the news," said William Davis, a Silver Sage attorney who has dealt with the lawsuit against the city for the last 13 years. "We must make sure this will not be repeated."
Now that the city is set to emerge from bankruptcy, Desert Hot Spring officials are already hopeful that the good news will help bring more businesses - especially retail shops - to the rapidly growing city of 20,000, from which the city can expect more sales tax income.
"Once we've got big-box retailers, we're going be in a lot better shape," said Vice Mayor Stephens.
The local business community also welcomed the news.
"It's a benefit that they are getting out of financial woes," said Tom Halleck, president of Six Kids Development and Construction, a local home builder.
Halleck said that the city's exit from bankruptcy would add a momentum to the growth of the city, whose population is expected to triple to 60,000 in five years.
"Desert Hot Springs is actually one of the last areas of the desert to experience major growth," he said.
Halleck's company is currently building about 150 homes in Desert Hot Springs - 50 homes more than this time last year. Halleck is also hoping to open a new 250-unit spa hotel in the city as early as in March - pending the city's approval.
"Desert Hot Springs has been stagnant for so long, but now a lot of developers in the desert are going up there and turning their focus towards the city," Halleck said.
October 26, 2004
San Andreas Fault
At New York Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher, was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule and a calculator.
Attorney general John Ashcroft believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged with carrying weapons of math instruction.
"Al-gebra is a very fearsome cult, indeed", Ashcroft said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on a tangent in a search of absolute value. They consist of quite shadowy figures, with names like "x" and "y", and, although they are frequently referred to as "unknowns", we know they really belong to a common denominator and are part of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.
As the great Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, "There are 3 sides to every triangle."
When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes. "
October 25, 2004
The repairman from Verizon finally came late in the afternoon. He announced himself by walking around to the back of the house and shouting "GILBERT!" How very Kansas City. When I stepped out my back door I spotted somebody's blimp drifting westward along the crest of Mt. San Jacinto. Lighting was not good enough to be able to read the logos on it.
The phone problem, of course, turned out to be at a box some distance away from me, where something had weathered away so that the thing was totally open to the weather.
As We Give Away The Store
It's an old, old story. Man believes he is more powerful than the gods. Gods bitch slap him back into reality through the revelation of man's horrible deeds. Thus it is with any member of the Bush administration. Oh, sure, we like to ascribe the aspects of tragedy to Colin Powell because he "knew better," but we're talkin' Greek tragedy here, motherfuckers, where brazen assholes get the smackdown when they overreach. As Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Rice scramble to say they didn't know they fucked their mothers, we're all just sittin' here, a chorus of non-believers, waiting for them to scratch their own eyes out and head into disgrace and exile.
Chrysler x 2 (+ 4)
I've added 6 more images to my album of
Chrylser Building photos. Actually, there are just 2 photos, but I've done 5 variations on one of 'em.