Neo-Hippie Ramblings - I'm a Non-Conformist Just Like All My Friends: October 2005

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Halloween - My Favorite Holiday

Generally, I try not to toot my own horn, but I do carve a badass pumpkin. That's an original design, not a Pumpkin Masters stencil.

Here's a repost from January (not sure why I was thinking about Halloween back in January -- probably just feeling burnt-out from all the Christmasing).

Top 13 Reasons why Halloween is Better than Christmas

13. Marshmallow ghosts

12. Roasted pumpkin seeds

11. Mr Bones candy in the plastic coffin

10. Putting out a masked scarecrow in a chair on the front porch two weeks before Halloween, replacing the scarecrow with yourself on Halloween night and waiting for the neighborhood kids to knock on the door

9. Dressing like your favorite sci-fi/fantasy character without 'outing' yourself as the supreme geek that you are

8. The kids don't really need to eat all that candy, but it's such a shame to waste it...

7. Carving pumpkins

6. It majorly freaks out the fundamentalists, but Wal-Mart supports it wholeheartedly (although there is some concern among astrophysicists that this paradox may eventually rip a hole in the space-time continuum)

5. Snack-sized Butterfingers

4. Any adult women's costume involving hose or stockings

3. Deck out your house well enough and the Jehovah's Witnesses and/or Mormons may walk right on past without stopping

2. Flaming poop

1. Zero pressure - if you want to skip the holiday completely (except for maybe handing out candy for an hour or taking the kids around the block once or twice in a storebought costume) nobody cares

Friday, October 28, 2005

Ooh, this is too much fun - Einstein Blackboard

The church sign generator was fun, but this is even better!

Monday, October 24, 2005

A shortcut for creating Technorati tags

Something practical for a change: A simple formula for creating Technorati tags automatically in MS Excel.

I can only speak for myself, but I tend to use Technorati tags less than I would otherwise, simply because they're kind of a pain in the ass to string together. To get around this, I just wrote a Microsoft Excel formula that will generate a valid Technorati tag from a text string.

=CONCATENATE("<a href=""",(SUBSTITUTE(A1, " ", "+")), """"," tag=""ref"">",A1, "</a>"))

To use the formula, do this:

  1. Open a blank Excel workbook and paste the formula into cell B1.

  2. Copy the cell you pasted the formula into, select the entire column B and paste the formula into the column.

  3. Type each tag into its own cell in column A.

To use the tags, just copy the populated cells from column B into your html editor. If you're a scatterbrain like me, you might also want to protect column B so you don't inadvertently delete the formulas.

Your spreadsheet should end up looking something like this:

Don't say I never gave you anything. ;)

Ever feel like you were living in The Twilight Zone?

I do, and it's not just flashbacks from my college days.

I saw a news clip this morning (from Meet the Press) in which Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R - TX) suggested that the hefty cost of indicting key White House officials had better be justified by charges more serious than perjury.

White House... perjury... hmm... does that remind you of anything?

Bill Clinton

So I dug back a little bit, and read Sen. Hutchinson's position on the Clinton impeachment. From that statement:

However inappropriate the behavior of the President was, the legal issues in the impeachment trial do not deal with this relationship. All accusations against the President here relate instead to alleged attempts to prevent the disclosure of this relationship in a pending civil rights lawsuit against the President in an Arkansas Federal court and to the public. That is the critical factor that has brought us to this extraordinary moment in our Nation's history when we are considering whether or not to remove from office the President of the United States.

Now here's the funny thing: I think her position has some merit. Not sure if I agree that the gravity of the charges justified the cost and disruptive nature of the impeachment proceedings, but she raises some entirely valid points. I guess cost wasn't as big a concern back in 1999, when we had a balanced budget and before we'd poured over $200 billion dollars into a quagmire called Iraqi Freedom.

Unfortunately, Sen. Hutchinson also seems to have a very short memory regarding her own position -- that the perjury charges against Clinton were simply the tip of the iceberg. Here's the thing: the expected perjury charges are based on the White House retribution for a former public servant's refusal to help fabricate evidence to justify an illegal war that's killed and maimed thousands of US troops and tens of thousands of civilians.

Technorati Tags:

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson
Bill Clinton
downing street memo
yellowcake forgery
Valerie Plame
Meet the Press
Scooter Libby
Karl Rove
Dick Cheney
Patrick Fitzgerald
Joseph Wilson

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Lost - A rare foray (for us) into 'grown-up' TV

P and I borrowed the first season of Lost from a coworker. We've been able to watch the first four episodes so far. I'm enjoying it. I have a couple of theories about what might be happening, but nothing I'm ready to commit to yet.

I don't get to watch many 'grown-up' shows anymore. Most of my TV time involves annoying animated characters, talking animals, a boy with a lightning scar on his forehead, or giant monsters that trash Tokyo.

We watched X Files religiously until it started to get lame. Ditto for Millenium. The last two shows we watched regularly were Buffy and Angel. And I was totally hooked on The Shield for the first two seasons -- but I started missing episodes when we had my nephew living with us and got so far behind that I just gave up trying to tape it. P found it far too violent, so she didn't watch it anyway.

I detest reality television, so I get the impression that I haven't missed much over the past few years. Like I said, though, I'm enjoying Lost.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

My entry for the CampusProgress GWB Crony Correspondence Contest

Here's my entry for Campus Progress' George W. Bush Crony Correspondence Contest:

Dubya's Desktop

It's about a 300kb file, so if you're on dial-up don't make any plans for the next couple of minutes...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Finally figured out what I'm supposed to do with the duct tape

I finally figured out what I'm supposed to be doing with the duct tape in my emergency preparedness kit to help protect my family. Duct-taping Rick Santorum to the wall and leaving him there would be an excellent start.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Medical pot user yanked from hospital bed

Original source - Duluth News Tribune

Medical pot user yanked from hospital bed



SEATTLE - An Army veteran who fled to Canada to avoid prosecution for growing marijuana to treat his chronic pain was yanked from a hospital by Canadian authorities, driven to the border with a catheter still attached and turned over to U.S. officials, his lawyer says.

He then went five days with no medical treatment and only ibuprofen for the pain, attorney Douglas Hiatt said.

Steven Tuck, 38, was still fitted with the urinary cath-eter when he shuffled into federal court for a detention hearing Wednesday, Hiatt said.

"This is totally inhumane. He's been tortured for days for no reason," Hiatt said.

(Article continues online.)

Man, it sure is a good thing the Feds pressured Canada to turn over this dangerous criminal state-licensed patient who was running a terrorist cartel growing for his own personal use and selling it to schoolchildren treating chronic pain from injuries he sustained during a life of crime in the service of his country. We can all breathe a little easier now smell the stench, knowing that this rotten poor bastard is safely off the streets suffering unnecessarily.

At least he made it through the ordeal with his life, which is more than can be said for Jonathan Magbie.

And as for Canada, I can only suggest: Do feel free to disobey this evil empire of ours any time you want, eh?

medical marijuana
Steven Tuck
state rights
legalize it
med pot
Jonathan Magbie

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fitter, Happier

I've been in a bit of a funk, lately. (Listening to OK Computer repeatedly probably hasn't helped -- having Fitter, Happier bleeding into your dreams is never a good thing.) I don't remember exactly when it happened, but at some point I started hating my job.

I just spent over a year on the Project From Hell and for some reason I can't shake the tangled ball of stress and anger that grew out of it. Things that I used to shrug off easily just bug the living shit out of me now. I'm honestly trying to get past it, but I seem to have developed a hair-trigger temper somewhere along the way -- something I never had before.

To some degree, I'm just not a good match to the corporate world. I like the sort of work that I do, I seem to be pretty good at it and I get along well with co-workers, but at the same time I just don't feel like I fit. Case in point: I can't fathom the idea that someone would want to live in a subdivision, belong to a homeowner's association or go on a golfing vacation.

I'm not sure what it is that I'm 'supposed' to be doing, but it doesn't feel like what I'm doing right now is it.

Iraqis Probe 'Unusually High' Yes Tally

From Yahoo News:

Iraq's election commission announced Monday that officials were investigating "unusually high" numbers of "yes" votes in about a dozen provinces during Iraq's landmark referendum on a new constitution, raising questions about irregularities in the balloting.

Article continues here.

I see that they've learned everything that the Bush administration had to teach about running fixing an election. Good job, guys.

election fraud

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Which classic movie are you?

I'm Easy Rider. g/f

Rep McKinney censored in House transcript for mentioning impeachment

Sorry this is a bit dated, but I just ran across it. From Project Censored:

U.S. Representative McKinney Censored in Congress

Reviewed by Charlene Jones

Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) used the word “impeachment” on the House floor but, she said, it was not reflected in the official transcript of her September 8 description of “high crimes and misdemeanors visited on the American people.” In a speech entitled Tremendous Challenges that Face our Country, McKinney recounted the incompetence of the Bush Administration in addressing the needs of hurricane Katrina victims and the policies of Republican elites responsible for rampant poverty and an increased racial divide. Questioning everything from the lack of action on Katrina to rewarding the rich, the congresswoman later promised to use the word repeatedly on the House Floor until she sees it reflected in the Congressional Record.

Here's the story in her own words.

impeach Bush
Cynthia McKinney

Friday, October 14, 2005

The long, cold winter

God help the poor. I said it to my wife in November 2000, and I'm saying it again now.

If the federal government had set forth with the intent of crushing the lower and middle classes this coming winter, it couldn't have done a much better job.

The first blow is set to land on Monday. That's when a new federal law goes into effect, making it very difficult for individuals to claim bankruptcy. Now, I'm not going to claim that nobody has abused the existing bankruptcy laws -- I know a few people who have.

However, it has also been my personal observation that most people honor their debts as best that they are able, and view bankruptcy as a 'worst case survival' alternative should all else fail. It's a safety net, and that safety net is being cut down.

The next blow is due to land in November. That's when another new federal law goes into effect, increasing and potentially doubling the minimum payment required on credit card debts. For someone with a marginal credit rating and the average household amount of credit card debt, $10,000, that could easily mean a $250/month increase in monthly minimum payments.

Predatory lenders like Capital One and Providian thrive on people who are deep in debt. Combined with the ridiculous interest rates they're able to ask (I've seen them well over 20%), they make a tidy profit on late payment fees -- often $30/month or more.

For a lower-middle class family that's struggling, often it comes down to a decision of whether to pay the credit card bill on time or to put groceries in the cupboard, and that extra $30 fee seems unavoidable.

The minimum payment increase alone might be enough to drive a number of households close to the poverty level into bankruptcy. Oh, wait... isn't that interesting?

The killing blow will land sometime over the next few months, when energy costs are expected to spike 50% or more. That might not seem like a huge deal to those living in warmer states, but here in the north, and through the midwest, it's a disaster.

At current gas and fuel oil prices, a good-sized, older house or duplex (like those that make up the lower class neighborhoods in Erie and Pittsburgh, and many throughout rural PA in general) can cost up to $300/month to heat during a cold snap. Bump that up to $450.

I started writing this thinking that rising energy costs were more a result of bad luck than government SNAFU, but that's not really true. We have the war in Iraq to thank in major part for the rising cost of oil, excabarated by repeated supply-chain disruptions in Iraq. (Those ongoing 'last throes' we keep hearing about.) Thanks, George.

And finally, to add assrape to injury, my home state of Pennsylvania has recently enacted legislation to reduce the minimum delinquency period required prior to shutoff for utilities. The float time between delinquency and shutoff of a utility can be a lifesaver for a poor family (literally, in the winter).

I don't know offhand if the electric and gas suppliers are still restricted from shutting off utilities during the winter months, but I sure hope so. Otherwise, we're going to be seeing frozen bodies pulled out of the houses of seniors on fixed incomes, as well as an increase in carbon monoxide poisonings and fire casualties resulting from the use of unsafe heating sources.

Like I said, God help the poor.

energy costs
iraq war
bankruptcy law
minimum credit payments
poverty in America
predatory lending

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Which rock star are you?

I always get a kick out of doing the Web quizzes that categorize you into something. I ran into a site today called Quiz Farm that lets you create one -- I put a basic one together in less than an hour: What kind of rock star are you?

Pretty cool site, though the interface is just a tad buggy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

One more for Cafe Press

When Clinton dropped a load...

Harriet Miers - My Little Crony

Hippie Sr. sent this one along to me. I start laughing every time I look at it.

Harriet Miers
Bush Cronyism

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

George W. Bush poops on the White House lawn: a timeline

8:00 am EST

George W. Bush runs from the front door of the White House buck-naked and cackling like mad, defecates on the front lawn and runs back inside.

8:01 am EST

Yahoo News publishes a Reuters story, complete with color photos. The scrolling news ticker of cable channel MSNBC reads "Bush drops tur..." and promptly cuts to a commercial for Geico.

8:02 am EST

CNN sends out a breaking news e-mail & text alert: "Sources say Bush takes dump on White House lawn. Go to CNN for complete up-to-the-minute coverage." No related story can be found on

8:06 am EST

27 left-wing-nut bloggers post various conspiracy theories and fantastic accusations about the incident. 4234 liberals and moderates also express disgust and outrage.

8:42 am EST

The Drudge Report showcases and ridicules the 27 left-wing-nuts, and ignores the 4234 other criticisms.

8:47 am EST

Fox News reports the Drudge Report version of events, uncorroborated.

9:03 am EST publishes an AP story on lawn incident, buried in 'other political news'. The splash page of CNN shows a photo of Paris Hilton and her dog, and includes a related 2000-word story about her fingernails.

9:47 am EST publishes a series of high-resolution photos of Bush pooping on the lawn. The photos highlight what appears to be cocaine residue under his nose.

9:48 am EST

CNN begins playing a short clip of the President's turd, ad naseum.

9:49 am EST

A questionable presidential nominee is confirmed. The Senate disbands the EPA. 17 US soldiers are killed in Iraq. Nobody notices.

9:53 am EST

The FBI raids Indymedia's South American offices and seizes their servers (again).

10:00 am EST

Scott Mclellan deflects all questions at a short White House press conference, feigning outrage and downplaying the importance of the event.

12:05 pm EST

Rush Limbaugh states that taking a dump on the White House lawn was the only logical thing to do and that anyone who thinks otherwise is a moron.

12:07 pm EST

5347 right-wing-nut bloggers write posts on the event. Each offers an uncredited summary of Rush Limbaugh's asessment or Matthew Drudge's earlier post.

12:08 pm EST

Right and left-wing bloggers begin an 'I know you are but what am I?' comment war that continues unabated for three weeks.

1:00 pm EST

On The 700 Club, Pat Robertson leads a prayer for the president and makes a vague insinuation that Hugo Chavez was responsible for the turd.

2:25 pm EST sends outraged e-mail titled "Hold George Bush accountable for pooping on the White House lawn" asking for phone calls to legislators and donations for an advertising campaign. Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid follow suit.

3:17 pm EST

Robert Novak leaks the name of the Secret Service agent who accidentally let Bush outside while high as a kite. Novak refuses to name his source.

3:43 pm EST

Jib Jab publishes a catchy Shockwave spoof of the Brittany Spears song 'Oops, I did it again' called 'Oops, I pooped on the lawn'.

4:45 pm EST

Internet traffic slows to a trickle due to 34,565,356 office workers trying to download the Jib Jab video simultaneously.

6:00 pm EST

The mainstream news media's talking heads begin an 'I know you are but what am I?' war that continues unabated for 3 days.

George Bush
mainstream media

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Modern Man-Made Disasters

Added another design to my Cafe Press store.

What do the Hindenberg, the Titanic, Chernobyl and the 2000 US presidential election have in common? They're all modern man-made disasters.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My first venture into t-shirt design - eye sofa king stoned

I decided to see if I could make a go at selling some stuff on CafePress. Here's the first thing I uploaded:

eye sofa king stoned

Dunno if I'll sell anything online, but I think they'd definitely move in the parking lot of a jam band show.

A friend of mine also had a really good idea for a bumper sticker. Once I get the design just right, I'll put that up as well.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Posse Comitatus

My first attempt at using Windows Movie Maker. Lemme know what you think...

Technorati tags:
Posse Comitatus
George Bush
Avian Flu
Martial Law

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Congressman Tom Delay -- Ye Most Scandalmonger

Just a little fun with Paint Shop Pro and Animation Shop (at the expense of Hot Tub Tom DeLay), using an anagram served up hot and steamy from the Internet Anagram Server:

Technorati tags:
Hot Tub Tom
Tom Delay
Campaign Fraud
Money Laundering
Stuck Pig
DeLay Indictment

Scene from a Bush Fundraiser

Ever wondered what happens at those $1000/plate dinners?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Encore - Tom DeLay - Why is everybody always picking on me?

Under the circumstances, (i.e., today he's been squealing like a stuck pig over how unfair it all is that all the campaign fraud is finally catching up with him) it seems almost a moral imperative to sing an encore round of the little ditty I put together for Tom Delay back in April:

With apologies to The Bloodhound Gang...

Why's everybody always pickin' on me?
(Cause I have no conscience with campaign mon-ey.)

Why's everybody always pickin' on me?
(Cause I slipped a half a million to my fam-i-ly.)

Why's everybody always pickin' on me?
(Cause I stacked the Senate ethics com-mit-tee.)

Why's everybody always pickin' on me?
(Cause I took more shady trips than Tim-o-thy Lea-ry.)

Why's everybody always pickin' on me?
(Cause I'll turn the capitol into the Ho-ly See.)

Why's everybody always pickin' on me?
(Cause I threatened all those judges for de-fy-ing me.)

Why's everybody always pickin' on me?
(Cause the cash I scrubbed from Texas did a 180°)

Why's everybody always pickin' on me?

Cause nobody likes ya, monkey boy.

Technorati tags:
Tom Delay
Bloodhound Gang
Campaign Fraud
Money Laundering
Stuck Pig
DeLay Indictment

OMFG - Harriet Miers is Michael Brown in a dress

You heard it here first. And it just works on so many levels, doesn't it?

Harriet Miers - Brownie in a dress???

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Spc. Charles Graner, Before Iraq -- Some Background Reading

Apparently, at least one of the fact checkers at USA Today is suffering from a severe case of cranial-rectal inversion. In the May 6th, 2004 edition of the paper, an article about Charles Graner and Lynndie England stated the following:
The only known blemish on [Graner's] work record came when he refused to work mandatory overtime one night because he had to care for his kids.
Um, not exactly. Apparently, putting Mace in a co-worker's coffee or a razor blade in an inmate's food don't count as 'blemishes' on one's record, at least when one is employed in a prison system where inmate abuse is epidemic and systematic, and officials routinely refuse to investigate allegations of abuse. Some individual accounts of abuse at Graner's alma mater can be found here.

More info about Graner, sadist and wife-beater extrordinaire, can be found here, here and here.

So here's the $64,000 question: How does someone become a guard at a prison which houses prisoners ostensibly considered a high risk to our national security? Theoretically, wouldn't said person need to pass some sort of background check? And if so, how would someone like Graner slip through?

At best, it suggests serious incompetence higher up the chain of command. At worst, it implies that Graner might have been just the sort of guy the military was looking for. All things considered, it doesn't seem much of a stretch.

Technorati Tags:

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Abu Ghraib, USA

The link at the bottom of this post will take you to an article written by Anne-Marie Cusac. The article ran in The Progressive. It discusses prison abuse within the United States and direct parallels to the abuse that occurred at Abu Ghraib. In at least one case, the same individual, Charles Graner, has been implicated in both civilian and military atrocities.

I'm hoping that some of the information in it will matter to you, that you're not so numb to this sort of mayhem that you shrug your shoulders and say,"So what else is new?"

The bottom line here is this: Whether it be rape, torture or murder, the guilty parties at Abu Ghraib didn't break any new ground. They didn't commit any atrocities upon foreign prisoners that we hadn't already been inflicting on our own citizens.

The only difference, perhaps, is that the mainstream media in other countries has been less willing to ignore it and has therefore put pressure on the US media to pay attention as well.

Some key points:
California: Class action suit settled against the Sacramento Sheriffs Department for various acts of torture, including mock executions.

Abu Ghraib: The Guardian of London, UK reports of soldiers being trained to perform mock executions on prisoners.

Texas: Guard training videos include footage of beatings, stun gun use, and dogs being encouraged to attack inmates. At least one inmate tortured to death with a stun gun. Prisoners exposed to 120+ degree heat for extended periods.

Abu Ghraib: Reports of beatings, stun gun use and dogs attacking inmates. Hooded prisoners exposed to 120+ degree heat for extended periods.

Pennsylvania: Prisoners sodomized with nightsticks, beaten and subjected to public sexual humiliation at the same prison where Charles Graner was employed as a guard. Graner was not implicated in that particular scandal, but he was specifically named in a lawsuit involving the beating and mistreatment of another inmate, though the suit was later dismissed.

Abu Ghraib: At least one prisoner sodomized with a chemical light and possibly a broomhandle. Multiple prisoners beaten and subjected to public sexual humiliation. (Maybe Graner was just taking notes at his civilian job?)

So was the abuse at Abu Ghraib worse than what's been happening right here under our noses? I guess that depends on your perspective.

The prisoners subject to abuse at Abu Ghraib are POWs being held in flagrant disregard of the Geneva Convention -- one of the charges which should be leveled to help impeach George W. Bush. Innocent or guilty, many either haven't been charged or have been subject to sham trials.

And in the case of Charles Graner in particular, why was he placed in a position of authority at Abu Ghraib? Given the nature of the prisoners being held there, he must have been subject to extensive background checks prior to being assigned to that post. Perhaps his 'resumé' had some job skills that Rumsfeld et al considered desirable.

On the other hand, those being abused here in the US have been, by and large, convicted criminals. But as one Florida woman told NBC news, "That was not part of my sentence, to... perform oral sex with the officers."

I would argue that neither situation is acceptable and ask, "Why does it take despicable behavior overseas to get the national media's attention, when the same despicable behavior is taking place right here in the US?"

Anyway, here's the article: Abu Ghraib, USA.

Many thanks to Hippie, Sr. (aka Dad) for the link.

Technorati Tags: