Tuesday, June 30, 2009

RIP - R.L. (Bob) Burns, Sr.

This one's a long, personal post, so feel free to skip. Bob Burns passed away late last year, although I didn't know it until it showed up a couple months ago in the obit section of C&EN (Chemical & Engineering News). . Bob was a fellow chemist, and a graduate of Rutgers University. Somehow he ended up working in State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University, and one of my alma maters. . I first crossed paths with Bob in the late 90's when I had to revise our company's Chemical Hygiene Plan, which at the time was a holy mess. Most CHP's are 20-30 pages long; ours was a 600-page monstrosity. Having no idea where to begin, I went out to a Usenet site and yelped for help. Bob not only responded, but also offered to send me a copy of the CHP he developed for his company. I quickly accepted, and it became the template for our CHP. . The story might have ended there with no first-hand contact, but by a stroke of luck about a year later, I had to make a business trip to a customer about 40 miles outside State College. So I flew in the night before, and met him where he worked. He gave me a tour of the place, we chit-chatted, and I got to thank him for sharing the CHP. . About a year after that, we crossed paths again - this time at the ACS national convention in Las Vegas. Neither he nor I care for gambling, so after the meetings, we shared a dinner and a bottle of wine at the casino's Mexican restaurant, then both learned exactly what is meant by a "traditional Vegas show". There's a longer story there. but we swore each other to secrecy. . Bob retired in 2003. He wasn't big on communicating by e-mail, but I'd occasionally send him a "funny", chide him about the woeful state of Rutgers athletics, and see how he was liking retirement. . He in turn would give me a short update, pooh-pooh us cretins who followed collegiate sports (he felt that the NCAA was totally irrelevant to a place of higher academic learning), and chide me for not being retired yet. His automatic e-mail signature read, "When you're retired, every day is Saturday". A couple years ago, it just worked out to where Rutgers University wound up playing Arizona State University (my other alma mater) in a bowl game here in Phoenix. I had him half talked into coming out with his wife to see the game. . The last time I checked up on him, he had bad news. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Which left me feeling like I had put my foot in my mouth. Naturally, he was bummed, but said he had his family around him to give him lots of support, so he was in good hands. I never heard from him again. . Regardless of your spiritual/religious beliefs; the truth is (as my plumber racquetball-playing philosophizing buddy notes) most of us are only going to be remembered here on earth for about two succeeding generations. For instance, I recall my grandparents, but my great-grandparents were long gone when I came into this world. For all extents and purposes, those great-grandparents - their dreams, accomplishments, thoughts, loves, lives and people's memories of them - have disappeared. . So this post is in remembrance of Bob Burns. You can read the career aspects of his life in the April 13 issue of C&EN. But that doesn't tell you about his essence. I have no photo of him. but as long as this blog exists (and who knows how long Google will allow that), he will not be totally forgotten. He had a dry wit, would go out of his way to help a total stranger, loved his family and chemistry, and his passing leaves this world a slightly sadder place.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Queen Victoria & Salvador Dali

Something quick, as I've been writing a book review this evening.
It's been a while since we've posted something Daliesque, and a while since we've featured that great comic strip New Adventures of Queen Victoria. So why not combine the two? BTW, you can get your daily fix of NAQV here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Clapton-Winwood Concert

Who : Eric Clapton - Steve Winwood
When : Friday, 26 June 2009
Where : Glendale Arena
Concert Rating : A
. The Friday night Clapton-Winwood concert lived up to expectations. There was no warm-up band and no intermission. Just two full hours of these two virtuosos strutting their stuff. The song-selection was excellent and well-planned. First some rocking; then some blues; then some acoustic work; and finish up with more rocking. . The plusses... They started about 20-30 minutes late. That's actually very good compared to a couple (metal) concerts I've been to lately. The supporting musicians & singers were first-rate. Winwood showed his versatility - switching around from guitar to keyboards to piano. Clapton showed why some people think he's the greatest guitar-player around. . Layla was one of the acoustic numbers. As anticipated, they did a lot of tracks from the Blind Faith album. The last song (prior to the encores) was a b*tchin' 20-minute version of Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Child. They did a couple Traffic songs as well, and Winwood sang a great cover of Ray Charles' Georgia. . The Minuses... The parking sucked. Friday night concerts suck too, especially when you have to drive 40 miles across town to get to the arena; then do the drive back home late at night. . The other stuff... Our seats were at the far end of the arena, although this was compensated by two big screens showing the concert up close and personal. The acoustics were what you'd expect in an ice-hockey arena, and the volume was just about right. Loud enough, and at least the vibrations didn't microwave all the organs of my body. The A/C was okay, considering it was 108°F outside. The light-show was minimal but perfectly done. Except for the damn disco-ball spotlight that occasionally shined right in my face. Think of a camera flash that stays on for 5-10 seconds. . Winwood and Clapton never did introduce the rest of the band, but I guess that's their prerogative. It should be noted that the drummer and back-up keyboardist were sensational. I rate this concert an "A". I saw Clapton once a long time ago - shortly after 461 Ocean Boulevard came out, and he was quite disappointing. I'd never seen Winwood in concert before. Both men's voices are still doing well, and you got your money's worth. It does make you wonder what might have been, if the Blind Faith line-up had lasted for more than one solitary album. And if you don't/didn't get a chance to see this concert, the double-CD pictured above is the next-best thing to being there.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett grabbed the headlines on Thursday, but SCOTUS also issued two important rulings that same day. STRIP-SEARCHING for IBUPROFEN We reported about this bit of Arizona stoopidity here. On Thursday, SCOTUS ruled 8-1 that subjecting a junior high age girl to a strip-search in search of two ibiprofen pills was illegal. The MSNBC report on the verdict is here. . However, just to keep me from gaining too much respect for them, SCOTUS also ruled that the girl couldn't sue the school officials that strip-searched her, and that maybe or mavbe not she could sue the school district. Huh? . The lone dissenter was - no surprise here - Clarence "Who put the pubic hair on my Coke Can" Thomas. I suspect he was fantasizing about doing a strip-search of Anita Hill (Wiki article about her and the Coke can here) during the hearing. Neverthless, it's nice to see the other three wingnut justices finally rendering an intelligent verdict. . THE RIGHT TO CROSS-EXAMINE FORENSIC EXPERTS This SCOTUS ruling also happened on Thursday. The short MSNBC article on it is here. . I'm happy for the result, but I was somewhat dumbfounded that SCOTUS split 5-4 on this case. Isn't the right to cross-examine your accusers a cornerstone of our judicial system? I sorta chalked it up to the four right-wing justices being dittoheads, but - SURPRISE SURPRISE - Antonin Scalia, a Ronald Reagan brownshirt appointee, wrote the majority opinion! . I think this is the second and third time Scalia and I agree on a SCOTUS case. Which now puts him two ahead of me-&-Clarence. I wonder if Scalia's getting smarter, or if I'm getting stupider.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Eric and Steve

We're going to see these two in concert tonight. Hopefully, there will be lots of Blind Faith songs.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP - Farrah Fawcett

Mary Farrah Leni Fawcett
b. : 02 February 1947
d. : 25 June 2009
. Farrah Fawcett, who appeared in more teenage boys' dreams in the late 70's than any other fantasy girl, passed away today at the age of 62. She is best-remembered for playing Jill Munroe in Charlie's Angels, even though she was only on the show a year. Thought of as a ditz, she later proved her mettle in movies like The Burning Bed, and was nominated a number of times for the Golden Globe and Emmy Awards. . Personally, I can't say I was infatuated by her. I wasn't impressed by the Charlie's Angels show itself, and if you're going to make me choose an angel, then I'll go with Kate Jackson's Sabrina Duncan character. What impresses me most about Farrah is the dignity and courage she had while battling the cancer for the past three years. I haven't seen the movie/documentary made about it, but I've heard it's riveting. Methinks Farrah will be remembered as much for her fight against the disease as the iconic poster (above) and Charlie's Angels. . PS #1. It was a tough day for entertainers. Besides Farrah, Michael Jackson passed away (I'm thinking drugs/medications here). But the biggest entertainment loss may have been the death of Sky Saxon (who?). . PS#2. Really, I could take or leave Farrah. My dream girls were, in no particular order : Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha in Bewitched (the mind drools thinking about what she could do in the bedroom by wiggling her nose); Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel in The Avengers (gotta love a woman who dresses in leather and can pick her nose with her toes); and Angie Dickinson as Sergeant Pepper Anderson in Police Woman (a blonde in a uniform and with handcuffs. oh my!).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sanford & Hon'

Republican presidential hopefuls are getting caught with their pants down faster than I can write about them. Last week it was Nevada Senator John Ensign (see here); this week it's the Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford (read about it here). . Of the two, Ensign was at least the smarter dirtbag - he only came forward once his mistress's husband started demanding beaucoup d'argent for his silence. Sanford "disappeared" to Buenos Aires for a week, for some reason thinking that no one would miss a governor for that amount of time. . Sanford did the usual Jimmy Swaggart "I have sinned!!" tearful confession today. Ho hum. He claims he spent the week in Argentina crying and telling his little Spanish hottie that the affair was over. My my, does it really take that long to say, "Hasta la vista, baby"? . Let's be clear about one thing - I'm not suggesting that Democratic politicians are any better. Bill had his "Monica", and John Edwards is particularly scummy for fooling around while his wife battles terminal cancer. But Republicans are the bigger hypocrites because they posture themselves as the "Family Values Party" and espouse their "Contract With America" bullsh*t. All the while boinking away. . So put away your hanky and dry those tears, Governor. You're only crying because your White House aspirations are now completely screwed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The PETA file

Oh jeez, you mean to tell me PETA's miffed at Obama cuz he swatted a fly? Read all about this craziness here. . Listen , PETA. I'm trying to take you guys seriously. So let's get a couple things straight about flies. They ain't endangered. They'll be around long after we humans have nuked ourselves into extinction. They're filthy little boogers. And the first thing they do when they land on you is puke on your skin. . I worked with a girl once who felt this way about insects. If she came across one in the lab, she'd scoop it up and carefully carry it outside. And of course, the Hare Krishnas (are they even around anymore?) hold that all life is sacred. I've seen them do the same when they used to have a temple in Tempe. But normal people know the only good bug is a dead bug. . So get real, PETA. I'm all for you protecting Thumper from getting his eyes poked out at a Mary Kay Cosmetics Testing Lab. But insects don't merit any compassion. If God didn't want us to kill 'em, He wouldn't have invented fly swatters.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The whole world is watching...

Iran is one of three things that I can think of (*) that brings all Americans together. Rich or poor, black or white, left-wing or right - one thing we all agree on is that the present government in Tehran is a bunch of loonies. From public executions for minor offenses to denial of the Holocaust; from Dark Ages mentality about human rights to Nukes for Nutcases; Iran is only rivaled by North Korea as the country most in need of a regime-change. . Then came the blatantly rigged elections. A spark that kindled a bonfire of pent-up frustration at a crumbled economy (despite being rich in oil) and at being isolated from the rest of the world for 30 years by Asinine Ayatollahs. The rich, the educated, and the skilled have all left, and they now help fan the flames of protest worldwide. . So today the whole country, and indeed the whole world (including the Moslem nations) holds its collective breath as Iranian citizens risk their lives - again - in protest of an oppressive tyranny. Frankly, the odds are stacked against them. But that was true when Uncle Sam's puppet, the Shah, was on the throne. There's a movement underway to petition Google to run the above image for one day on its homepage. Find the website, and help play a small part in the protests. You can make a difference. . (*) : Oh yeah, the other two things that bring all Americans together : getting rid of Photo Radar and destroying all Barry Manilow albums.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Summer Solstice!!

Happy Father's Day, too. And Happy Wimbledon Tournament Start Day as well. MSNBC once again ran an article about the "pagans" who celebrated at Stonehenge this year. You can read it here. Alas, "party-goers" would be a more accurate description. . During our March 2004 vacation, we made it to Stonehenge, and the above pic is from then. It was bitterly cold, and the wind just tore across the Salisbury Plain. All of us tourists did a quick walk around the outside of the henge (you can't go in, except apparently on the solstices), then hung out in the warm gift shop until it was time to get back on the bus. The gift shop did a brisk business that day. . Since I'm a time-traveler, I went back a couple millennia today to celebrate the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge. It was a much more spiritual occasion, but the sanitary conditions were just atrocious. We watched the sunrise and toasted some newlyweds with a couple rounds of mead. Which was thrice as strong as the watery beer served in modern Britain. So I'll be nursing a hangover for the rest of the day back here in the present.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Today's Comic

B.C. joins the Twitter-spoofing crowd. Maybe he should follow Oprah.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Priestley Riots

This picture appeared in one of my chemistry journals a few weeks ago. It shows the house of a revered icon in my field, one Joseph Priestley, being burnt to the ground by a mob. Unfortunately, the article offered no background information regarding the pic. . I naturally wondered how a chemist could p*ss off such a large number of people (isn't everyone in awe of us chemists?) , so I wiki'd it and found an enlightening article on something called the Priestley Riots, which you can read here. . I suppose I should be critical of those Birmingham brutes who torched Priestley's house. After all, it's been a long time since Presbyterians and Methodists were viewed as radical revolutionaries. OTOH, Priestley admired the French Revolution, and anyone who doesn't support Royalty - French, British, or whatever - will eventually get his just desserts. . All in all, the Wiki article is quite educational, and it's reassuring to realize Priestley was assaulted because of his Unitarian leanings, not because of his scientific insight into that well-known gas, phlogiston.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Iran Protests in Arizona

These are interesting times in Iran. We may do a serious rant about it over the next few days, but for now, we'll content ourselves with some off-topic comments about a couple pics from the demonstrations here in Phoenix. First up is the above pic. I admit to being influenced by The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, which a friend of mine follows. Now I abuse punctuation marks myself, but jeez, what's the purpose of them on that sign at the right? And why is she using 'single' quotation marks instead of the default "double" ones?
Nothing sarcastic to say about this second pic. It brings back old memories. That bridge is on University Avenue, and that's Manzanita Hall (a 15-story girl's dorm) in the left-background, and the Physical Sciences Building (where all my chemistry classes were) in the right-background.
But the relevant memories here are the anti-war demonstrations I participated in way back in the early 70's. I recognize that the protesting Iranians have a smaller population-base to draw from, but on the night after the US invaded Cambodia, we not only filled up that bridge, but took over University from the foreground clear back to Manzanita. We were drunk, we were stoned, but we weren't about to go to Cambodia for Tricky Dick's little war.
There are two ways to look back on those protests. One way is to say we didn't accomplish much. We marched in the streets around ASU/Tempe - University, Mill, and Apache. The police blocked off the streets from traffic as we made our circuit, and after we had let off our steam (and ran out of joints) we all went home and crashed.
But on a larger plane, there were enough protests nationwide, involving not just students but adults - white & black, rich & poor, liberal & centrist - that eventually Nixon had to do away with the much-hated draft, and bring the troops home.
We'll see if the Iranian protests can also change the world. Two of my co-workers are from there, so this crisis cuts near to me. If it sustains its energy, both in Iran and throughout the world, then great things are possible.
Well damn. I went and got serious anyways.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Word for the Day

. Which has been called the hardest word in the world to translate, and means "a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that both desire but which neither one wants to start". . Read the Wikipedia entry about it here. Now let's see if I can somehow work it into my next book review.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"We were close friends ... really close."

Another member of the "family values" GOP had to admit today that he had an extramarital affair. This time it was Senator John Ensign, R-Nevada; described as a "rising star" in the wing-nut camp, and occasionally mentioned as a 2012 Presidential candidate. . You can read all about it here. I suspect this one's gonna get messier. If you believe Ensign's peeps, the dalliance ended last August. So why announce it now? It sounds like someone told him, "Either you go public, or I will" and had the evidence to back up the threat. . Then again, what can we expect from a party who's #1 star right now is Noodling Newt Gingrich, who seems to go to bed with every secretary he hires? Yeah. Family values, my sphincter. .
. Oh yeah, it got messier alright. Real fast. It turns out doofus Ensign had an earlier affair (in 2002), so this isn't his first indiscretion. Also, he's a member of the Christian ministry "Promise Keepers". Oopsie. Maybe it's time to join "Hypocritical Politicians for God" instead,

Monday, June 15, 2009

Best Pun (so far) of 2009

From last Sunday's Pearls Before Swine comics. A smooth-flowing triple-pun punchline. Gotta love that.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Go get 'em, Jammie !!

There was an interesting article in today's paper about one Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a 32-year-old mother of four and self-described "huge music fan". Happily, in this electronic age, you can read the article here. The eye-popping statistic is that the RIAA goons have filed more than 30,000 copyright lawsuits, and Thomas-Rasset is one of the few who who have chosen to fight back instead settling out-of-court for an average of $3,500. It was also news to me that last December, RIAA announced it was dropping this brown-shirt tactic of slamming lawsuits on individual file-sharers.
Personally, I would never do anything as illegal as downloading songs. I think MP3 is the newest game console and Kazaa is a low-brow musical instrument. But if RIAA ever asked me to resolve the issue of file-swapping, here's what I'd tell them.
Assemble an MP3 database similar to what Amazon.com offers, and charge users a flat fee of $20/month to legally download an unlimited amount of MP3 files. Heck, make it a yearly charge of $250.
Yeah, everybody who signs up will download music like crazy for the first month. The problem is - you can only listen to one track at a time. So after awhile, those hundreds of MP3's you downloaded, but never listen to, are doing nothing more than taking up space on your hard drive. And they're not worth anything, because all your friends can legally download them as well.
This concept may seem undo-able, but I remember the day AOL announced they were going to offer unlimited minutes of Internet access. After the initial round of snickers and predictions of AOL's demise, everybody else followed suit, and today those memories of carefully hoarding the 300-minutes-a-month ration are just a dusty mental cobweb.
So wise up, RIAA. Accept the fact that you can't turn back file-sharing technology, and learn to live with it. I and tens-of-thousands of others will send you $250 annually and we can all do a group hug, sing a chorus of Kumbayah, and get back to what MP3-downloading is all about - promoting the bands and musicians.
Bummer. Jammie got nailed with a 1.92-million-dollar fine. Read all about it here. Which will of course be appealed. Good thing I don't download music files. (Whistles nervously) Good thing also that the RIAA has (said that they have) abandoned this gestapo tactic.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Karl and Ems

Here's guessing that the number of cartoons that have both Karl Marx and Emily Dickinson in them is rather small.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Why I'm a Conspiracy Nut - Part 2

This is Stephen T. Johns, a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, who was murdered yesterday by... ...this 88-year-old scum bag White Supremacist hate-monger, James von Brunn. Just another point to suppport my claim that dittoheads think different from progressives.
Von Brunn left a message in his car - "You want my weapons — this is how you'll get them. The Holocaust is a lie. Obama was created by Jews."
That last sentence reminds me of an e-mail I got from one of my (dittohead) colleagues at work a few months ago. The e-mail (forwarded of course. Dittoheads can't write whole sentences on their own.) basically claimed that Obama was an Al-Qaeda plant. Since the colleague is an otherwise bright guy, I wrote him back and asked if he really was so stupid as to believe that piece of electronic slander. He said he did.
And therein lies the danger of such hate-mail. 30% of the people will find it offensive (I did). 50% will find it ridiculous (my son did). 18% will think that it's true (my colleague did), but take no action beyond sending it to everyone in their address book.
But 2% will think it's true and resolve to kill someone connected to it, if they ever get the chance. And so doctors get gunned down in church, and security guards get murdered while doing their jobs.
For the moment, you will see a bunch of right-wing brown-shirt hate groups half-heartedly distancing themselves from these psychopathic loonies. Deleting inflammatory blurbs from their websites, and saying they never meant that people should take them literally when they angrily yabbered away about (insert non-dittohead target here) not being fit to live.
For a while. Until things calm down. Then it's back to competing as to who can forward the most outrageous, venom-dripping, violence-promoting pack of lies to everyone else on the Internet.
And so it goes...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

guess Who's a tagger...

You may have missed it, but God has sent another miracle to you slackers out there. This time, it's the old "Oil on an icon" ploy, always a crowd-pleaser. You can read the Associated Press's article on it here. Now I know what some of you cynics out there are saying - that this is one weird-a$$ way for God to communicate. Heck if some skateboarding vandal had done this, he'd be sitting in an Israeli jail now. So to help those of you weak-in-the-faith (you know who you are), here's proof that God did this, and a couple of messages He (She?) gave to his favored followers.
Proof that it was God.
"This is a miracle," said Aida Abu Edam, a longtime church member. She knows because the oil has a strange smell. "It's a special, holy smell. It's not ordinary, like olive oil. It's something strange that comes from God." How can you argue with that?
What the message is - Part One.
"People these days, they've forgot God and this is a sign to tell them, 'I'm still here.'" Thus saith Edith Fanous, 31, who's been going to this church since she was a little girl.
What the message is - Part Two.
"There's war and discrimination. I see a lot of discrimination against Arabs here in Israel, and maybe this is a good lesson for everybody to love each other and live with each other with equal rights," said Kosty Tannous, 33, an Israeli customs worker. No word on whether he's a regular church-goer there as well.
Personally, I find it a funny way for God to tell you He's still around. Who knew He'd become a tagger? The two "messages" are quite contradictory, so feel free to make up your own Divinely-inspired interpretation. And if the Spirit moves you (alveit, hopefully not by having you yammer away in tongues), feel free to leave The Message as a comment here.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Columbus pics

A couple pics from my trip to Columbus, Ohio last week. I'm not at liberty to discuss what business we were doing there.

Monday, June 08, 2009


It should be noted that all three of my siblings were - and AFAIK still are - members of Mensa. IIRC, one can "qualify" in two ways. . First, you can somehow get hold of your IQ records, and if you're in the top 2% of humanity (IQ >141, or somewhere around there), they just let you in. If it turns out you are one of the other moronic 98%, you still have a chance by agreeing to take Mensa's "beg us to let you join" test. . According to my brother/sisters, the main function of Mensa is to allow you to hold intelligent conversations with other geniuses. You pay a yearly fee for this privilege, and in addition to the witty repartee, you get a quarterly newsletter, which is mostly puzzles created by fellow Mensans. . In the end, I managed to resist the temptation to give my money to a bunch of elitists. I get all the puzzles I need in a Dell Crossword magazine for a fraction of the Mensa dues. The holiday/pool-party back-porch discussions at our house, which invariably center on politics, music, books, and philosophy, are plenty stimulating. So I'm content to mingle with the common, unwashed 98%.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Tiger Tiger, burning bright

I had a chance to watch Tiger at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio, but passed on it. Two of my work colleagues went to see the second round last Friday, after our business near Columbus was wrapped up. I suppose I should've gone, but... . Just what the heck do you do all day at a PGA golf tournament? I guess I couild've followed Tiger around. Yeah, me and five thousand other people. . Or I could set up a chair at a given hole and watch all the players as the play that one. But after 20 minutes of, "Wow! Great shot! Wow! Great shot! Wow! Great shot!", I'd be quite bored. . Of course, there's always beer to quench your boredom. But one of us would've had to teetotal, so that we could drive back to Columbus airport Friday afternoon to catch the plane back to Phoenix. And that frankly would have been me, since the only way I enjoy a beer is when I'm sitting in a pub in England. . So until someone can tell me how golf tournament spectators keep themselves amused for eight hours, I don't regret missing this event.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Cyberspeak Eye Chart

I'm proud to say I'm acquainted with all the acronyms here, except the "ST" in Line 4.

Friday, June 05, 2009

RIP - Kwai Chang Caine

David Carradine
b. : 08 December 1936
d. : 03 June 2009
. You young'uns will know David Carradine from the Kill Bill movies, but us geezers remember him from the 1972-1975 series Kung Fu, where he played the Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine. . Carradine was found dead on Wednesday in Thailand. Initially reported as a suicide, it now appears he was engaged in a most bizarre practice of combining strangulation with orgasm, something that staggers even my progessive mind. . Kung Fu was an instant sensation in 1972, with Carradine playing an exiled Buddhist monk roaming the American wild west, kicking black-hatted cowboy butt and having philosophical flashbacks to his monastery days. It gave us the immortal line, "When you can take the pebble out of my hand, grasshopper, it will be time for you to leave." . With time, the series dwindled into mediocrity. As with Mork & Mindy and M*A*S*H, the moral lessons got shallower and banal, and the flashback scenes (which are what we all watched the show for) became fewer and farther-between. That made it just another western. By the time he found his long-lost brother, nobody cared. . But in its heyday, Kung Fu was a TV-changing series. Up till then, no one had tried to integrate Buddhist philosophy into a prime-time series, let alone present Kung-Fu martial arts as anything other than mindless fighting. For Carradine, it came at a cost of being typecast for the rest of his life. But there are worse fates than that. Just ask Leonard Nimoy. . So rest in peace, Kwai Chang Caine. And next time remember that with auto-erotic asphyxiation, the emphasis should be on the first half, not the second.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Up, up and away...

I'll be in Columbus, Ohio for the next two days, so no posts. Yeah, it's "a ways" from here. Four hours in the air each way. I'll be doing some serious reading and lots of crossword puzzles.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Why I'm a Conspiracy Nut

The Pro-Life thugs have done it again. They've murdered another abortion doctor, this time in Kansas. 67-year-old Dr. George Tiller was gunned down as he served as an usher at his local church. You can read about it here, although I'm sure there will be daily updates over the next few days. . It's funny how the Pro-Lifers are always the ones killing Pro-Choicers, not vice versa. I guess only certain lives are sacred. This highlights a theory I've had for a long time. . When you look at the notable American assassinations over the last 50 years - John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, the trio of James Chaney - Andrew Goodman - Michael Schwemer, etc. - it's always the progressives that are getting killed. . My theory is this : right-wing radicals think differently from the rest of us. There's something in their psychological make-up that tells them that murdering those who oppose them is justifiable. . "Ho-hum," you say. "It's just your conspiracy paranoia showing again, Terry." But consider this. We've just lived through eight years of the worst presidential regime ever. Led by a moron, we've regressed at least a half-century. Science was repressed while Dubya received messages from God. The "American way" was re-defined as going to war under false pretenses and waterboarding detainees. We went from everyone in the world feeling our pain after 9-11, to being universally despised for our arrogance. . Yet in all this, I never heard anyone on the left suggest that Dubnutz ought to be killed. Why? Cuz it's not in our psyche to solve problems that way. Which puts us at an inherent disadvantage. The wing-nuts have no such inhibitions. . I'm not suggesting that all Republicans are potential killers. I am suggesting that if someone is pre-disposed to murdering for a political cause, 99% of the time, he will be a right-wing militant. Which means Pro-Choicers and other Human Rights Activists will continue to get gunned down, while dittoheads rationalize it away by saying, "He had it coming."