Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Oh, Christmas Tree


In the first such ruling in the federal judiciary in M, a judge in Boston agreed yesterday to allow video cameras in the courtroom to provide live Internet coverage of a high-interest lawsuit against a Boston University graduate student accused of downloading music illegally.

US District Court Judge Nancy Gertner said she will allow Courtroom View Network – a New York-based company that webcasts trials, primarily in state courts – to chronicle a key hearing Jan. 22 in the suit against the student, Joel Tenenbaum, by a group that represents the US recording industry.

from the Boston Globe

Hitting a little close to home. We actually heard about this case when we were at the courthouse on Tuesday.  We were in an Appelate Division courtroom with a group of Asian college students getting a tour of the joint. They were so disinterested that several fell sound asleep during the demonstration and explanation, including the kid sitting in the Judge’s bench! We were mortified.

This case obviously deserves careful attention. According to our docent Tuesday, the RIAA objected to the judge’s decision to allow a netcast of the proceedings, and both sides are preparing to argue the issue. Should the netcasting proceed, we will endeavor to give readers a head’s up.

Scary Scenario


Whatever else can be said about Barack Obama, the guy has guts.  Naming Hillary Secretary of State puts her square in the line of Presidential succession. According to the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution, the Secretary of State is 4th in line to succeed the President if he, the VP, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Temp of the Senate are simultaneously killed or incapacitated.

If I were Obama, I would keep a close eye on Hillary during the annual State of the Union address. Should she suddenly siddle towards the door, I would feel very, very nervous…..

New Features on WordPress


Appearantly, the version of WordPress running on the server has gotten a major upgrade. Unfortunately a busy RL schedule and a broken hand have limited out ability to fully explore this brave new world, but tonight, at the Thrusday Blogger’s Groupo, I am giving one of the most exciting new fapacities – embedding video – a trial run. Without further ado, lets see how it works…

Dowbrigade Denies V.P. Rumors


Barack Obama’s press conference this afternoon may have been the death knell of his ersatz presidential campaign, if not of his aspirations. In an ingenious twist in the script, by utilizing a surrogate as the scandal object, Obama can lose elegantly and remain a viable player in future electoral cycles. It’s nice he’s going quietly; he possesses a gentle grace rarely seen on the political stage. The Clinton’s scriptwriter (the Mastermind?) is to be commended; having their support-sapping surrogate undone by a surrogate of his own is both ironic and karmicly balanced.

The press conference was almost embarrassing. Although he handled his prepared statement fairly well, when the reporters began their aggressive questioning, he stopped speaking grammatical English and started wandering down twisted paths of hems and haws and”…umm, that is, I, or rather we, ummm, let me say this, that was not my intention…”

Everybody knows that kind of hesitant pussyfooting is prima facie evidence of guilt and moral vacillation. Your President can be as guilty as Lee Harvey Oswald, but you don’t want him or her looking or feeling guilty. And the last thing Americans want right now is a President experiencing the kind of moral vacillation or personal reorientation that renouncing ones Spiritual Advisor usually involves.

So, bye bye Barry and hello Hillary. The Clintons cut it close; they almost let this one get away from them. They clearly underestimated the speed and ferocity with which the ABC (Anyone But Clinton) forces aligned behind even as deeply flawed a candidate as Barack Obama. It is probably better for all concerned they managed to stop the runaway freight train before it crested the hill. Had Barry actually accumulated a majority of the delegates, the opposition would have had to resort to Plan Z to blow him out of the water, which probably would have involved large quantities of drugs, underage kinky sex, or similar evidence of moral turpitude, and from which resuscitation would have been unlikely..

Which brings us to the question of the day – who is going to be Hillary’s VP? Despite rumors to the contrary, the Dowbrigade is not in the running to adorn the Clinton ticket. Although we have no doubt we could bring sizable demographic support to the ticket (never underestimate the dingbat vote), after considerable divination and soul-searching we have concluded that those unsubstantiated rumors of our connections to white slavery rings and previous ayahuasca abuse have rendered us unelectable.

Which leaves a sorry field of party hacks, corporate sell-outs and career sycophants. Let us review the field.

Barack Obama – while his apparent graceful fade and considerable support would seemingly recommend him, and we can certainly see him on the stage in Denver with one arm around Hillary and the other around Bill, we don’t expect him to be the candidate. It would be the most unbalanced ticket in recent Democratic history; something for almost everybody to hate. The problem is that people hate Hillary and Barack for different reasons, so if you add together all of the people who can’t stand one or the other you have built an electoral majority.

No, what Hillary needs is a nice stable adult white male, a jocular, reassuring Daddy or Granddaddy figure to inspire confidence and buff down some of her sharp edges. Someone who makes voter’s say, “Well, if Hillary shits the bed we can always impeach her like her old man and bring in good old Frothington.” But who can play the role convincingly?

John Edwards – as an affable Southern gentleman who could deliver a valuable demographic and geographic segment, he would seem to be a prime candidate, and he is obviously interested (why else has he not endorsed anyone yet). However, we have a hard time seeing Hillary picking someone prettier than her. Think how bad it would look on all of the posters and campaign buttons.

Bill Richardson – our personal favorite with the requisite affable, reassuring personality and a demo-geo-graphic contribution to make, but it appears that Hillary already has the demo (Hispanics) part locked up, and she hates redundancy.

Al Gore – the surprise pick of the litter is actually the logical choice for a number of reasons; he hits the same southern gentleman note as Edwards but is not as pretty, he has proven he can do the job (and be an effective and loyal Clinton consigliere), and has given every indication he enjoys a lifestyle with a high profile, little real work, and an endless series of dinners and banquets. Those who say he has lost the lust for politics underestimate the addictive allure of the Big House, dwarfing anything a dynamite baron can offer.

Of course, she could always go the other way, and select someone so scary that all potential usurpers would give serious pause before proceeding. Someone like, say, one of the Jesses (Jackson or Ventura) or Barney Frank. If she’s got the goods on John McCain like she has on Obama, she may just go that route.

999 Luftballoons


SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — A Roman Catholic priest who floated off under hundreds of helium party balloons was missing Monday off the southern coast of Brazil.

Rescuers in helicopters and small fishing boats were searching off the coast of Santa Catarina state, where pieces of balloons were found.

Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli lifted off from the port city of Paranagua on Sunday afternoon, wearing a helmet, thermal suit and a parachute.

He was reported missing about eight hours later after losing contact with port authority officials, according to the treasurer of his Sao Cristovao parish, Denise Gallas.

Gallas said by telephone that the priest wanted to break a 19-hour record for the most hours flying with balloons to raise money for a spiritual rest-stop for truckers in Paranagua, Brazil’s second-largest port for agricultural products.

from AP

He probably had a date with the Flying Nun… 

The Party’s Over


The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies
Barak Obama is not a black version of John Kennedy. He is a pathetic but apparently successful attempt to repackage tired political hackery as this season’s hot new reality show. And yet, he is not what is wrong with American Politics.

Hillary Clinton is a nakedly ambitious, calculatingly manipulative career politician who wants to create a dynasty by keeping the presidency in the hands of two families for nearly 30 years. And yet, she is not what is wrong with American Politics.

John McCain is an authentic war hero who now wants to lead an American permanently at war with all who resist the American Way, for thousands of years if necessary, making the Hundred Year War flash by in comparison. And yet, he is not what is wrong with American Politics.

George Bush has been easily the most disastrous president in modern American History, squandering decades of goodwill and consensus building within and without our nation, shattering the emerging unity of progressive democracies and savaging the American economy for the enrichment of the narrow sliver of socio-economic stratum from which he hails. And yet, not even he is what is wrong with American Politics.

What is wrong with American politics is our outdated, terminally corrupt and putrefying political parties, which have grown like cancers within the body politic, choking the life from its once robust physique.

The enduring genius of our system of government is that it was established, and continues to operate, on a set of timeless principles embodied in the oldest functioning Constitution on the face of the planet. This document has withstood the test of time because it does not try to solve the issues of the day, or reflect current thinking on the inevitable conflicts of interest groups which occur within any authentic democracy.

Rather, it was intended to be an enduring paradigm for the peaceful interplay of interest groups which is at the heart of modern democracy. As times changed, the issues of the day and the interest groups involved in them would change, but the system, with its checks and balances, would endure.

When a group of individuals with common interests in one or a group of issues of the day, they band together in an orginazation to promote those interests. These groups are called political parties.

Unlike the underlying structure of the US government, they were never meant to be permanent. Quite the contrary – by their very nature they were meant to be transitory. They were meant to be spontaneous and ad hoc, and as interests, demography and development changed, new parties would be born and old ones would wither away.

And thus it was during the early years of the Republic. Some of the most memorable parties in our nation’s past lasted only a few election cycles. The famosisimo Federalist Party, which was formed by Alexander Hamilton and controled the government until 1801, only really lasted 24 years (1792-1816).

At around the same time, the Democratic-Republican Party, also called the Republican Party, but not to be confused with the modern-day GOP, founded by Thomas Jefferson, outlived the Federalists by a few years (1792-1824) before it lost power, split, transformed, and changed its name.

Other notable names had even shorter existences. The Whig Party withered away after 22 years (1833-1856) and both the Know-Nothing (American) Party (1912-1916) and the Bull Moose (Progressive) Party (1912-1914) made it through a single election. The Liberal Republican Party (1872) and the Constitutional Union Party (1860) lasted less than a year.

Today newly formed parties don’t seem to stand a chance. They are short lived, puny and powerless compared to the major parties. Remember the Citizen’s Party (1979-1984), the Vegetarian Party (1948-1964) or the American Worker’s Party (1933-34)? Neither do we.

We do, however, remember the Natural Law Party (1992-2004), which we actually voted for in three presidential elections because their candidate, Dr. John Hagelin, a physics professor at Maharishi University and MIT, promised to deliver world peace through Transcendental Meditation and Yogic Flying, which we have always wanted to try.

This is what political parties should be all about. The excitement of forming something new, of sweeping away the old, of constant renewal through throwing out the soiled and patched-up plans of the previous generation, and starting from scratch with a fresh piece of paper on the political drawing board.

But for over 150 years the American political panorama has been dominated by just two behemoths, the Republicans (b. 1854) and the Democrats (b. 1820’s). They are now ancient, by historical standards, and have become much more of an impediment to than an implementation of a modern functioning Democracy.

Old parties are dominated by old men, and the adage that power corrupts holds just as true for political parties and their leaders as it does for kings.

The major American political parties have become institutionalized to the point that they are incapable of acting as agents for real change in the political system, which clearly is failing us in this, our hour of need. The insidious and incestuous coupling of political parties with centers of economic power has reached the point, after 150 years, where they cannot be separated.

Feeble efforts at campaign reform, like the McCain-Feingold Act, are doomed to failure because the clannish cadres at the cupolas of capitalism and the political parties have merged; they share the same values and interests, and they act in almost unconscious concert.

The fact that the two major party candidates in the last presidential election belonged to the same Yale University secret society 40 years ago, as did the heads of dozens of major American corporations, is NOT serendipity.

Because the cancer of Special Interests has spread too widely and penetrated too deeply into the major parties to be excised, these parties need to die. At present, they are staying alive thanks to transfusions of young, relatively uncorrupted blood. But they are capable of giving nothing in return, and will eventually and inevitably infect the donors, who will develop an antipathy or active antagonism to the political process as a result.

Barack Obama, we repeat, is NOT The One. He is a clever repackaging of the same tired old Democratic Party pseudo-populism, a political philosophy which should have died with the industrial revolution. Because he is young and good-looking, because, unlike most other candidates since JFK he can give a humdinger of a speech, and most of all because Democratic voters are so desperate for real live human alternative to the animatronic robots they keep foisting on us, he seems to be the front runner. Besides being a fraud and a cruel mirage, Barak Obama is a Republican wet dream.

But it really doesn’t matter who wins this election. We are more convinced than ever that The One will not emerge from either the Democratic or Republican parties. Whoever wins this election will be faced with intractable problems, and saddled with so many promises and debts that he or she will be unable to effect change on the level needed to right the course of the ship of state.

The American public, groping its way by instinct, is aware that the major parties are bankrupt. The 22% approval rating for Congress is a much better measure of the public esteem for the parties than the interest in the presidential race, which is powered by the vain hope that the victor will actually be able to change anything.

Unfortunately, things will have to deteriorate way past where they are now before a majority of Americans get desperate enough to abandon the doomed relics of parties past and start thinking about how to design a functional, transparent, participatory political party in the internet age.

Despite our curmudgeonly and cynical attitude, the Dowbrigade is a dreamer at heart, and a believer in the dream of democracy. To us, the Democratic and Republican parties are the most significant impediments to a rebirth of Democracy in this country. We truly believe that a better model is waiting to emerge, and that The One is waiting to lead it.

We just wish that he or she would hurry up.

Tantric Master Creates Giant Slushie



NEW YORK (AP) — A man who calls himself a tantric master broke his own world record by standing engulfed in ice for 72 minutes.

Wim Hof, 48, stood on a Manhattan street in a clear container filled with ice for an hour and 12 minutes Saturday.

Hof said he survives by controlling his body temperature through tantric meditation. Tantra is an Eastern tradition of ritual and meditation said to bring followers closer to their chosen deities.

Hof set the world record for full body ice contact endurance in 2004, when he immersed himself in ice for an hour and eight minutes.

Hof’s feat kicked off BRAINWAVE, a five-month series of events in New York exploring how art, music, and meditation affect the brain.

from AP

Not well, apparently…..

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Study Explains Why Pregnant Women Don´t Fall Over


CAMBRIDGE – A hugely pregnant woman teetering along is actually a sublime feat of evolutionary engineering – ages of adaptations have gone into her backbone to make sure she doesn’t fall on her face, scientists say.

Women’s spines have evolved differently from men’s to better carry the weight and awkward proportions of pregnancy, according to research being published today by the journal Nature.

from the Boston Globe

We have always wondered about that….Actually, we thought it more logical if evolution had put the necessary equiptment on her back, like a backpack or papoose, like all intelligent cultures do with babies once they come out. Easier to carry the weight,  sleep and use a computer.

One more piece of evidence that God is a man, and is responsible for other forms of female torture  like high heel shoes and foot bindings.

Resurgent Celtics Crushing Opponents


As we watch the resurgent Boston Celtics in another methodical demolition of another supposedly worthy Atlantic Division opponent, we can’t help but marvel at what the Celtic’s brain trust hath wrought. In what other professional sport is it possible to go from worst to first in one off-season?

As a matter of fact, it is not an unprecedented feat in any American sport. In baseball, within relatively recent times, the 1991 Twins and Braves and the 1997 Giants rose from last place to a division or league crown the following season.

And in football, it turns out that worst to first is practically pedestrian; in the last 30 years, starting with the 1967 Houston Oilers, it has happened fourteen times. The  Bungals have accomplished it three times — in 1970, 1981 and 1988.

The two biggest turnarounds in football history were the 1975 Colts, who improved from 2-and-12 to 10-and-4 and the 1988 Bengals, who improved from 4-and-11 to 12-and-4, both winning their divisions.

But let’s not let that detract from the truly delightful brand of basketball being played these days down on Causeway Street. For a Boston round-ball junkie, watching the Celtics these days is like a long cool glass of lemonade after a forced march through Death Valley. Now, after 20 years of wandering in the doormat desert, the promised land is in sight.

We are even willing to concede a modicum of credit to Dastardly Danny Ainge. Six months ago were were ready to tar and feather his whiney ass out of town, holding him personally responsible for the decay and denigration of one of our favorite franchises of all time.  Had we accidentally run into him at a Mitt Romney rally, we would have had to be physically restrained from strenuously expressing our displeasure. From the perspective of the best record in the NBA, however, we have to admit Danny Boy’s dim bulb is looking a bit brighter these days.

Like all of the aforementioned worsts to firsts, the Celtics are doing it with defense and team play. A rigorous statistical analysis of these teams show that although their offensive production rose marginally (less than 8% on average) their defensive statistics jumped big time. After years of preaching Defense First to little apparent effect, Doc Rivers finally has a choir of players who are listening. While a respectable 10th in the NBA in scoring, the Celtics lead in just about every defensive category ever defined; opponents points, opponents field goal percentage, opponents 3 -point field goal percentage (tied for 1st); and margin of victory.

They are not just winning games, they are embarrassing teams, and making it look easy. Last year, the Celtics led opponents by 20 points or more in nine of the 82 games they played. This year, so far, they have had 20-point-plus leads in 12 of the 18 games they have played. At one point they led the hapless Knicks by 50. That’s sick.

They are doing it through defense, teamwork and unselfish play. They have thrown together three superstars with different games and skill sets, but with one thing in common. Each of them has been ‘The Man’, carrying a franchise on his shoulders, setting scoring records, accumulating personal awards and recognition, and found it ultimately hollow. They are no longer driven by the lust for money (all are mega-millionaires) or fame or points or playing time. All they really care about is the one reward they haven’t yet achieved – the Ring.

To that end they are willing to sacrifice the individual stats for the only number that really means anything – W’s. In the process they are rediscovering what a beautiful thing basketball can be; a veritable ballet of highly coordinated, enormous athletes, improvised on the fly after arduous hours of practice and laid down on a preconceived structure of organized chaos. Kinda like a jazz quintet, when they know what they are doing.

We’ve seen this kind of basketball before in Beantown, and for those of us old enough to remember, it’s been a long dry spell. Let’s try to enjoy the visual and vicerous feast which will be laid before us in the coming months, and try not to gloat at the teams near the bottom of the tables, going nowhere fast, and looking an awful lot like the Celtics did last year, and the year before, and the year before that……..

Accidents Cannot Happen


A federal review of a controversial laboratory being built by Boston University was “not sound and credible” and failed to adequately address the consequences of highly lethal germs escaping from the project, according to a blistering report released yesterday by an independent panel of scientists.

Despite the pointed rebuke, the analysis presented yesterday at a Washington press conference does not have immediate implications for construction of the nearly $200 million Albany Street project that is 70 percent complete.

The lab building, scheduled to open in about a year on BU’s medical school campus, has as its centerpiece a Biosafety Level-4 facility, designed to allow scientists to work with the world’s deadliest germs, including Ebola, plague, and Marburg virus.

from the Boston Globe

The BU Dental School, where faculty gets treated by faculty, is also on Albany Street, directly across from the swiftly rising biolab. Although we understand on an intellectual level that our unease is at the very least premature, we must confess we have not been to the dentist since construction began.  Between the BU bio-hazards in Boston and the residue from the Watertown nuclear reactor in our backyard, we seem to be stuck in an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

We don’t really understand why they need to play with pathogens in the first place. The official line about keeping up our defenses in case of bio-terrorist attack not only ring false, but seems counterintuitive: wouldn’t the presence of so many deadly bio-weapons in the middle of a major American city be but an attractive target for maniacal malfeasors? Why does the damn thing, even if it needs to exist, have to be in the middle of a city anyway? Just so the doctors, technicians and administrators have a shorter commute? For that we are risking panic, plague and pandemic?

As for what to do with the brand-new, $200 million state of the art building across from Boston City Hospital and BU Dental, we are sure there are lots of wards and programs dedicated to killing germs and viruses rather than preserving and playing with them which could use the space…

Photo of the Day


Testing the waters

from Sawse

Parting Image


The end of the Evil Empire, as we know it. That is so gay.