Friday, April 28, 2006


My mom's having heart surgery on Tuesday. My parents say it's nothing. I know they don't want us (my brother and I) to worry. And they certainly don't want us to come up to the hospital. Just a simple procedure to put a stent in. Less than 50% blockage in one artery. Only have to stay over night. Doctor says not to worry. The folks say not to worry. Why does everybody keep telling us 'not to worry' if there is nothing to worry about? Is there such a thing as "simple" or "routine" when you are talking about the heart?

Mom's healthy otherwise. She quit smoking a few years ago after having smoked for over 40 years. I never thought she would be able to that. Did it cold turkey.

It's not that we see them a lot ... maybe once a month. Talk to them once a week. We don't rely on them ... they're retired and living in Kingman. But you always knew they were there. Then something happens to make you wonder if they always will be.

It's not just about me being worried about losing my mom. I'm worried what it would do to my dad. My folks have been married for 40 years and are so completely entwined. Some would say they are old-fashioned and they are. Dad has always worked and brought home the money. Mom took care of us kids and ran the house. But they were content in their roles. Dad would have a hard time taking care of himself. I don't think my dad could boil water on his own ... let alone fix a meal.

My dad's not overly emotional ... but he's not cold. He has a good sense of humor. But I've only seen him cry once or twice in my life. I know losing mom would absolutely destroy him.

Mom and I haven't always got along perfectly. We're probably too alike in a lot of ways. We get too emotional about things. We both have a tendency to worry too much about what other people think. But our relationship has been pretty good for the last year. You get a little older and you forgive some of those things that you've always held against your parents. Like you, they're not perfect. Heck, my mom and her twin brother reconciled this year after not having spoken for 20 years. If that wall came down, our problems are nothing in comparison.

I feel guilty for even worrying. Michelle's dad passed away last year, was younger, and had went through a lot more before he passed. A lot of my friends have either lost a parent or are children of a divorce. Maybe I'm just being a baby. I've been spoiled by having healthy parents. You don't want to think about your parents' mortality because you don't want to think about your own.

I know I'm just being silly. But it's too late to think about these things after something happens.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Mouth of Sauron

Least suprising news of the day:

Fox anchor named Bush press secretary

... and in other news, birds fly and the sky is blue. Is it just me ... but I thought Fox News already was the White House Press Office? Is this what you would call a lateral move? :-)

These people truly have no shame.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Worst President in History?

"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation." -- Abraham Lincoln

"Worst President in History?" ... certainly a lot of people (especially liberals) try to make that case about Bush. Is it just partisanship or is there something more to it. A recent article that shares the views of a large group of historians with no particular axe to grind leads one to think it isn't just political name-calling:

One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush

Some highlights:

"... Now, though, George W. Bush is in serious contention for the title of worst ever. In early 2004, an informal survey of 415 historians conducted by the nonpartisan History News Network found that eighty-one percent considered the Bush administration a "failure." Among those who called Bush a success, many gave the president high marks only for his ability to mobilize public support and get Congress to go along with what one historian called the administration's "pursuit of disastrous policies." In fact, roughly one in ten of those who called Bush a success was being facetious, rating him only as the best president since Bill Clinton -- a category in which Bush is the only contestant. "

" ...The lopsided decision of historians should give everyone pause. Contrary to popular stereotypes, historians are generally a cautious bunch. We assess the past from widely divergent points of view and are deeply concerned about being viewed as fair and accurate by our colleagues. When we make historical judgments, we are acting not as voters or even pundits, but as scholars who must evaluate all the evidence, good, bad or indifferent. Separate surveys, conducted by those perceived as conservatives as well as liberals, show remarkable unanimity about who the best and worst presidents have been.

Historians do tend, as a group, to be far more liberal than the citizenry as a whole -- a fact the president's admirers have seized on to dismiss the poll results as transparently biased. One pro-Bush historian said the survey revealed more about "the current crop of history professors" than about Bush or about Bush's eventual standing. But if historians were simply motivated by a strong collective liberal bias, they might be expected to call Bush the worst president since his father, or Ronald Reagan, or Nixon. Instead, more than half of those polled -- and nearly three-fourths of those who gave Bush a negative rating -- reached back before Nixon to find a president they considered as miserable as Bush. The presidents most commonly linked with Bush included Hoover, Andrew Johnson and Buchanan. Twelve percent of the historians polled -- nearly as many as those who rated Bush a success -- flatly called Bush the worst president in American history. And these figures were gathered before the debacles over Hurricane Katrina, Bush's role in the Valerie Plame leak affair and the deterioration of the situation in Iraq. Were the historians polled today, that figure would certainly be higher."

"...No other president -- Lincoln in the Civil War, FDR in World War II, John F. Kennedy at critical moments of the Cold War -- faced with such a monumental set of military and political circumstances failed to embrace the opposing political party to help wage a truly national struggle. But Bush shut out and even demonized the Democrats. Top military advisers and even members of the president's own Cabinet who expressed any reservations or criticisms of his policies -- including retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni and former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill -- suffered either dismissal, smear attacks from the president's supporters or investigations into their alleged breaches of national security. The wise men who counseled Bush's father, including James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, found their entreaties brusquely ignored by his son. When asked if he ever sought advice from the elder Bush, the president responded, "There is a higher Father that I appeal to." "

I think that Bush genuinely believes he is making history ... in a good way. That is what is scary about the neo-conservative agenda. The broadening American presence in the Middle East is a planned agenda ... not a reaction to Sept. 11. Sept. 11 was just a convenient event that they could use to further that agenda.

No one can truly say how history will judge this President and this administration. But the signs are not encouraging. If this was just about the historical legacy of a single person, that would not be a big deal. It's a big deal because his legacy will affect the future of our country and the world.

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." -- Karl Marx

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Earth Day

Easy Ways to Make a Difference this Earth Day

WASHINGTON - April 19 - This Earth Day, April 22, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) -- the largest conservation organization in the world -- challenges everyone to try some of these simple actions that can make a big difference.

1. Don't leave the water running. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth or washing the car. Fresh water is one of our most precious natural resources.

2. Flick off the light when you leave the room. Power plants burn fuels to create energy for your light bulb. Burning fuel makes smog that pollutes the air and adds to global warming. The less energy you use the less they need to make. Plus you'll save on your energy bill.

3. Print on both sides of the page at work. It's easy to change your printer settings -- you'll use half the paper and save trees.

4. Wash your clothes in warm or cold water. It works just as well as hot in your washing machine and cuts back on energy use.

5. Ditch the paper cups. Bring in a glass to keep at work instead of using the paper ones by the water cooler.

6. Use the right settings on your appliances. Many appliances, like your dishwasher and refrigerator, come with energy-saving settings. Make sure they're turned on.

7. Turn off your computer at the end of the day. A monitor left on overnight uses enough energy to print 5,300 copies.

8. Give your loose change to an environmental charity. After checkout at the supermarket, instead of tossing the coins into your pocket drop them into a Coinstar Center(r) to donate to WWF. Just select the "donate" option from the menu and choose WWF as the charity. There's probably a machine right in the store so it's an easy stop on your way out.

9. Pay attention to labels. Buy paper items with the "recycled" emblem over the ones without. Also, look for the Energy Star symbol when buying new appliances.

10. Sign up for an e-newsletter. Get updates on environmental issues and solutions emailed to you and glance through at your leisure. The WWF e-newsletter is easy to sign up for and comes out once a month, so it won't crowd your inbox. Visit to sign up now.

For more information on World Wildlife Fund and how you can make a difference this Earth Day and every day, World Wildlife Fund for their special Earth Day coverage.

About World Wildlife Fund

World Wildlife Fund is the largest conservation organization in the world. For 45 years, WWF has worked to save endangered species, protect endangered habitats, and address global threats such as deforestation, overfishing, and climate change. Known worldwide by its panda logo, WWF works in 100 countries on more than 2,000 conservation programs. WWF has 1.2 million members in the United States and nearly five million supporters worldwide. For more information on WWF, visit World Wildlife Fund

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wal-Mart: The High Cost of a Low Price

We finally had a chance to see Wal-Mart: The High Cost of a Low Price. For a great review of it, see Sadie's blog. I'll try not to repeat the points she made ... as she did a nice job.

It's not that Wal-Mart tries to make money. Money drives our economy. It's not they can't provide healthcare for all their workers. Many companies have that problem. It's not that they are successful. There are a lot of successful companies that do not garner the negative attention Wal-Mart does. It's not that they offer inexpensive products. After all, who isn't looking for a bargain?

So what is the problem with Wal-Mart?
  • -- They are the most successful retailer and one of the most profitable companies in the U.S., yet they do not pay their workers a living wage. Associates and cashiers, their most common jobs make wages well below the poverty line.

  • -- They have agressive union busting practices.

  • -- They have unsafe environmental practices ... some of which are highlighted in the movie.

  • -- They champion themselves as a marketer of "Made in the USA" products while being the largest importer of Chinese products. Many of which are produced with slave labor.

  • -- They have substandard healthcare offerings and actually encourage their employees to get assistance from the government as a substitute.

  • -- Wal-Mart seeks and receives over a billion dollars in incentives to come into towns. The result of which is a double-whammy. Cities are subsidizing the failure of their own businesses because Wal-Mart drives out small retailers.

  • -- They have been guilty of management practices that are racist and that descriminate against women.

For a more detailed listing of Wal-Mart's problems: The Real Facts about Wal-Mart

The odd thing about it is that it doesn't have to be this way. Costco is just one example of a company that is doing it differently ... and successfully. From The Costco Challenge: An Alternative to Wal-Martization? (July 5, 2005):

Costco Wholesale Corp., now the fifth-largest retailer in the U.S. While Wal-Mart pays an average of $9.68 an hour, the average hourly wage of employees of the Issaquah, Wash.-based warehouse club operator is $16. After three years a typical full-time Costco worker makes about $42,000, and the company foots 92% of its workers’ health insurance tab.

How does Costco pull it off? How can a discount retail chain pay middle-class wages and still bring in over $880 million in net revenues? And, a cynic may ask, with Wal-Mart wages becoming the norm, why does it bother?

A number of factors explain Costco’s success at building a retail chain both profitable and fair to its workers. But the basic formula is one the labor movement has been advocating for decades: a loyal, well-compensated workforce means a more efficient and productive one.

Though only about 18% of Costco’s total workforce is unionized, union representation creates a ripple effect and helps determine labor standards in all stores. The Teamsters represent about 15,000 workers at 56 Costco stores in California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. Workers are covered by West coast and East coast contracts, negotiated in February and April of last year.

“The agreements lock in wage and benefits packages that are the highest in the grocery and [discount] retail industries,” said Rome Aloise, chief IBT negotiator for Costco and Secretary-Treasurer of Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif.

Costco passes on similar compensation packages to its non-union workers; the contracts act as templates for other stores’ employee handbooks.

“The union contracts raise the bar and set the standard for all employees,” explained Aloise. “Still, while the company extends wage and pay raises to non-union employees, only union members enjoy benefits like seniority-based promotions, a grievance procedure and minimum hours for part-time workers,” he added.

Strong union representation isn’t the only reason Costco jobs are so well compensated; the company itself has an unusually forward-looking corporate philosophy.

Costco CEO Jim Senegal has said: “We pay much better than Wal-Mart. That’s not altruism. It’s good business.”

Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti explained: “From day one, we’ve run the company with the philosophy that if we pay better than average, provide a salary people can live on, have a positive environment and good benefits, we’ll be able to hire better people, they’ll stay longer and be more efficient.”

A 2004 Business Week study ran the numbers to test Costco’s business model against that of Wal-Mart. The study confirmed that Costco’s well-compensated employees are more productive.

...By compensating its workers well, Costco also enjoys rates of turnover far below industry norms. Costco’s rate of turnover is one-third the industry average of 65% as estimated by the National Retail Foundation. Wal-Mart reports a turnover rate of about 50%.

... Other analysts of the retail industry agree that happier, well-compensated workers help generate bigger profits. George Whalin, president of Retail Management Consultants in San Marcos, Calif., disagrees with many of Wal-Mart’s critics, but said: “There’s no doubt Wal-Mart and many other retailers could do a better job taking care of their employees. The best retailers do take care of their employees — Nordstrom’s, Costco, The Container store — with fair pay, good benefits and managers who care about people. You have fewer employee issues, less turnover and more productivity. It lessens costs to the company.”

... After California Costco workers ratified their Teamster contract last March, CEO Jim Sinegal said Costco workers are “entitled to buy homes and live in reasonably nice neighborhoods and send their children to school.”

“When companies like Wal-Mart are setting the standard, we have to ask: Do we want to live in a country where the largest employer pays below poverty-level wages, whose workers cannot afford health care?” says Paul Blank, chief spokesperson of Wake Up Wal-Mart, the United Food and Commercial Workers’ new campaign to change the company’s practices. “Or do we want Americans to enjoy a decent income and a sense of security in return for their work?”

Costco v. Wal-Mart: How They Stack Up

Global Workforce
Wal-Mart: 1.6 million associates
Costco: 113,000 employees

U.S. Workforce
Wal-Mart: 1.2 million
Costco: 83,600

U.S. Union Members
Wal-Mart: 0
Costco: 15,000

U.S. Stores
Wal-Mart: 3,600
Costco: 336

Net Profits (2004)
Wal-Mart: $10.5 billion
Costco: $882 million

CEO Salary + Bonus (2004)
Wal-Mart: $5.3 million
Costco: $350,000

Average Pay
Wal-Mart: $9.68/hour
Costco: $16/hour

Health Plan Costs
Wal-Mart: Associates pay 34% of premiums + deductible ($350-$1,000)
Costco: Comprehensive; employees pay 5-8% of premiums

Employees Covered By Company Health Insurance
Wal-Mart: 48%
Costco: 82%

Employee Turnover (estimate)
Wal-Mart: 50%
Costco: 24%

As citizens, we are supposed to have a say in how we are governed. But we all know how that turns out usually. Money is ultimately the only thing that decides anything. So if it has to be that way, then vote with your money. If you continue to shop at Wal-Mart despite the preponderance of evidence of their practices, then we know how you are voting. And that is your right. But don't do it without knowing the truth. Don't believe me. Don't believe the director of this movie. Research for yourself. And then decide. We can decide how companies behave. They listen to our money. And there is some evidence that we are having some effect on Wal-Mart's practices. But there is a lot more to be done.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Worldwide Suicide -- Pearl Jam

One of my favorite bands, Pearl Jam, made a rare TV appearance on SNL this last weekend. As usual, they rocked. One of the songs they performed was a new song, "World Wide Suicide". They've never been afraid to be political and this song is no exception:

I felt the earth on Monday. It moved beneath my feet.
In the form of a morning paper. Laid out for me to see.

Saw his face in a corner picture. I recognized the name.
Could not stop staring at the. Face I'd never see again.

It's a shame to awake in a world of pain
What does it mean when a war has taken over

It's the same everyday in a hell manmade
What can be saved, and who will be left to hold her?

The whole world...World over.
It's a worldwide suicide.

Medals on a wooden mantle. Next to a handsome face.
That the president took for granted.
Writing checks that others pay.

And in all the madness. Thought becomes numb and naive.
So much to talk about. Nothing for to say.

It's the same everyday and the wave won't break
Tell you to pray, while the devils on their shoulder

Laying claim to the take that our soldiers save
Does not equate, and the truth's already out there

The whole world,... World over.
It's a worldwide suicide.

The whole world,... World over.
It's a worldwide suicide.

Looking in the eyes of the fallen
You got to know there's another, another, another, another
Another way

It's a shame to awake in a world of pain
What does it mean when a war has taken over

It's the same everyday and the wave won't break
Tell you to pray, while the devils on their shoulder

The whole world,... World over.
It's a worldwide suicide.

The whole world,... World over.
It's a worldwide suicide.

I'm going to post a more detailed account of Pearl Jam in the next week with my favorite political songs of theirs.

A frequent collaborator with Pearl Jam, Neil Young, is also set to release an album with his take on our government: Impeach Bush

The subject of pointed and political lyrics had came up recently with the discussion of lyrics off of Pink's new album (thanks to Sadie). Several commenters had attested to the quality of that album. Check out the discussion here.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


More Easter fun with Alex (and cousins) at the Eggosaurus Hunt, put on by Phoenix Parks and Rec:

They do a great job and the kids really have fun. Free egg hunts and a craft area for everyone to get artistic.

And Alex at home. Notice we come at Alex from both directions with the gifts (dinos and Narnia). :-)

Last year's festivities, Easter '05, show just how much Alex has changed.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger." -- Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Bumper Stickers

A comment by my wife the other day about a bumper sticker we saw got me to thinking: What are people really trying to say with their stickers and magnets? So, as a public service, I am going to translate some of the ones that I have seen recently:

This is the one that my wife brought to my attention. She said, "Oh, isn't that sweet? That lady's husband loves her so much that he has a bumper sticker saying it." Not quite. My translation: "I love my wife ... not my domestic partner, not my lover, not my longtime companion. If you do, then you are going to hell."

To continue on that theme, don't you think this one could have made a good poster for Brokeback Mountain? :-)

People with this one are O.G. Bushies. They're keeping it real and kickin' it old school. They're so hard core that Bush could tell them they had WMD's in the arse, and they would buy it. Actually, I had a college roommate who I could swear had WMD's in his ass ... but I digress.

It says, "Support Our Troops". It means, "I'm too cheap to give money to an organization that will actually help troops and their families ... or better yet bring them home. I'd rather plop this "Made in China" magnet on my gas guzzling SUV and feel superior and 'holier than thou'."

"Bush Youth" ===>>> "Hitler Youth"?

Sorry. What was the question?

Yeah, I think that must be a Ghandi quote.

We can only hope there will be some convictions.

These people have evidently never seen Dr. Strangelove. They'd be the ones hootin' and hollerin' like Slim Pickens riding the bomb. They'll bring marshmallows when the planet is roasting.

This one serves two purposes. First, it's for people that are still in denial that it all happened. Secondly, it makes sure you don't mistake them for a Bushie. BTW, I still have this bumper sticker on my truck.


That's it. I had to vote a couple of you off the island (my list of blogs). My dear friend JC at Masterpiece in Progress has been somewhat less than prolific and does not appear to be visiting any of our blogs. If you are out there JC, let me know. We pretty much agree on nothing, but I miss our debates.

Also, Alpha Liberal appears to be DOA.

But, I'd like to welcome two frequent visitors to Cyberkitten's blog, Seeking a Little Truth, to my list:

Vancouver Voyeur at Vancouver Calling


Aginoth at Aginoth's Ramblings

Both are intelligent and irreverant and worthy of your visit.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A-Z Meme

Tagged by Jewish Atheist

Accent: Have moved around a bit too much to have a very pronounced one. Have lived significant amounts of time in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest and Midwest.

Booze: Like JA, a bit of a liberal elitist on beer. Prefer micro-brew pale ales and imports. Favorites being Stone IPA and Guinness. But I grew up white-trash, so I'll throw back a few Milwaukee's Beasts when visiting the folks. Trying to become a wine snob but have no real knowledge so I just buy the bottles that look cool.

Chore I hate: Not a big fan of cleaning bathrooms.

Dogs/cats: Dogs. Cats are independent uncaring bastards. :-)

Essential Electronics: Computer. DVD, decent home theater.

Favorite Perfume/Cologne: No you don't. Not going to peg me as a metrosexual.

Gold and silver: Not much for bling.

Hometown: I'd like to be clever and secretive and protective of my identity like JA, but I believe I blew that a long time ago. Live in Phoenix, grew up in Iowa.

Insomnia: Sometimes. Don't obsess about things as much as I once did.

Job Title: Computer Consultant -- have my own business

Kids: 1. Alex rules.

Living Arrangements: Own a new house in suburbia. I make myself sick sometimes.

Most Admired Trait: Thoughtful.

Number of Sexual Partners: 3. Sorry, not the stud-muffin you all thought I was.

Overnight Hospital Stays: Nope.

Phobia: Can get claustrophobic at times.

Religion: No thanks. I gave at the office.

Siblings: 1. Younger brother.

Time I usually wake up: Determined by my clients. Usually 7ish.

Unusual Talent: Interested in everything. Master of nothing. Decent at chess.

Vegetable I refuse to eat: Will pretty much eat them all.

Worst Habit: I start too many concurrent projects and then jump back and forth between them.

X-Rays: Like JA, of my chompers.

Yummy Foods I Make: Chili, Mushroom Soup.

Zodiac Sign: Aries ... but it don't mean a thing.

I tag GWB, Isabella, and Eric.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I'm Confused

I'm not going to beat a dead horse with the Libby/Bush classified leak thing ... as all of us have read plenty about it. But could you guys clear a few things up for me? Riddle me this:

Why does the Right make a big deal about someone coming across the border to get a sub-minimum wage job with no benefits while lauding crooks like Kenneth Lay who bilked thousands of people of millions of dollars of retirement funds?

Why is lying about a consensual sexual encounter (Clinton) a bigger problem than consistently and repeatedly lying about the release of classified information for political gain?

Why are corrupt men (Abramoff, DeLay) whose string of behavior ranges from unethical(political pranks) to illegal(fraud, political favors, possible murder) viewed admiringly by Republicans?

You know why? They use the cloak of religiosity and piety and fool a surprisingly large number of Christians. As Abramoff has said: God had chosen him to return American to a "biblical worldview." And they lap it up.

People that voted for Bush and continue to give him a free pass because of religion or some perceived strength he has in fighting terrorism are not merely harmless dupes. They are complicit and are as guilty as those carrying out the crimes.

Cyberkitten had a great quote in a recent comment:

"In order for evil to prosper, it is enough that good men do nothing".

In my view, people that continue to stand by are not good men. You cannot claim to be pious and allow this to continue.

"America's Blinders"

Excerpted from Howard Zinn's America's Blinders in The Progressive:

" ... President Woodrow Wilson—so often characterized in our history books as an “idealist”—lied about the reasons for entering the First World War, saying it was a war to “make the world safe for democracy,” when it was really a war to make the world safe for the Western imperial powers.

Harry Truman lied when he said the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima because it was “a military target.”

Everyone lied about Vietnam—Kennedy about the extent of our involvement, Johnson about the Gulf of Tonkin, Nixon about the secret bombing of Cambodia, all of them claiming it was to keep South Vietnam free of communism, but really wanting to keep South Vietnam as an American outpost at the edge of the Asian continent.

Reagan lied about the invasion of Grenada, claiming falsely that it was a threat to the United States.

The elder Bush lied about the invasion of Panama, leading to the death of thousands of ordinary citizens in that country.

And he lied again about the reason for attacking Iraq in 1991—hardly to defend the integrity of Kuwait (can one imagine Bush heartstricken over Iraq’s taking of Kuwait?), rather to assert U.S. power in the oil-rich Middle East.

Given the overwhelming record of lies told to justify wars, how could anyone listening to the younger Bush believe him as he laid out the reasons for invading Iraq? Would we not instinctively rebel against the sacrifice of lives for oil?

A careful reading of history might give us another safeguard against being deceived. It would make clear that there has always been, and is today, a profound conflict of interest between the government and the people of the United States. This thought startles most people, because it goes against everything we have been taught ... "

Zinn's article gives an interesting perspective on how we have been led into war throughout history. It seems we are doomed to repeat our past mistakes. Hopefully, our information age and 24 hour news culture won't allow these things to happen as much. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant." The reek emanating from Washington sure could use some disinfecting.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Clash/Zep ... Terrorists?

From Yahoo News:

LONDON (AFP) - A love of punk and hard rock anthems by The Clash and Led Zeppelin reportedly led to a British man being hauled off a plane bound for London by police on terrorism fears.

Indian-born Harraj Mann, 23, played "London's Calling" by The Clash and Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" through the stereo of a taxi he caught to Durham and Tees Valley Airport in northern England.

The taxi driver, however, grew suspicious of his passenger after listening to the lyrics of his chosen songs and alerted the authorities after they reached the airport.

Two police officers boarded Mann's flight to London's Heathrow airport shortly before take-off last Thursday.

"I got frogmarched off the plane in front of everyone, got my bags searched, asked every question you can think of," Mann, a mobile phone salesman, told his local newspaper, the Hartlepool Mail, on Monday -- a story that was picked up by the national press on Wednesday.

"I was being held for questioning under the Terrorism Act," he said.

By the time Mann was set free his plane had already departed.

The offending lyrics by The Clash include the lines: "London calling from the faraway towns, now war is declared and battle come down.

"London calling to the underworld, come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls."

"Immigrant Song", for its part, starts: "The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands, to fight the horde singing and crying Valhalla, I'm coming!"

A spokeswoman for the Durham Police confirmed that a man was escorted from the London-bound flight, questioned by police and released without charge.

"Safety is paramount and we respond to concerns from members of the public in the way they would expect us to," she said.

"In this case the report was made with the best of intentions and we would not want to discourage people from contacting us with genuine concerns regarding security."

Is the culture of fear that Bush and Blair are fostering making us all just a little bit jumpy? 1984 and V for Vendetta look more and more real every day. I'd be locked up for years for half the stuff that I listen to. Hell, even the titles would probably get me in trouble:

Vote With a Bullet -- Corrorosion of Conformity
Stigmata -- Ministry
Bullet in the Head -- Rage Against the Machine
Fuck Tha Police -- N.W.A., Rage Against the Machine

Free thought and free speech are not crimes.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Air America Phoenix Strikes Back!

As many of you know, Air America Phoenix 1010 KXXT went off the air about a month ago under dubious circumstances. But thanks to a great station manager and staff and a very enthusiastic group of libs in the land of Goldwater ... Air America Phoenix has a new home, KPHX 1480 and is scheduled to be back on the air April 3rd!!

It's been a strange month because I drive around the Valley a lot in the course of my job and I listen to a lot of radio. For about a year and a half, it had been almost exclusively tuned to Air America. But with the sinking of KXXT, I was forced to listen to NPR for the last month. That's not so much a complaint. I love NPR. It's just that in trying so hard to be neutral, sometimes they don't take a story as far as it needs to be taken. But they also bring to light international stories that you don't hear elsewhere. So, in the grand scheme of things, if the temporary lack of Air America got me to get back to listening to NPR occassionally, that's OK.


I'm a busy guy. Work a lot. Read a lot. Blog entirely too much. Coach my son's T-ball team. Don't take many vacations. So what do I do? ...... I sign up for 5 different fantasy baseball teams!!!!!!!!!! I'm a moron. I had a life once ... I swear.